Critics Choice December 2022

This month brings you another bumper crop of great reviews from the leading music magazines, quality dailies and online review sites. There’s no doubt about it: Naxos releases and distributes some of the best music and audiovisual albums!

Highly Reviewed Albums of the Month
Naxos 2.110731
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Ulyanov • Minasyan • Popov • Lyon National Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Rustioni • Kosky

‘This Lyon production, ideally filmed by François Roussillon, is extraordinary from all points of view.’

‘Daniel Rustioni really captures this glittering score’s shifts between bombast and sensuousness in a finely balanced reading…’
MusicWeb International

Bavarian Radio Symphony • Rattle

‘This outstanding new account of the Ninth stands shoulder to shoulder with the finest, as an expression of Rattle and the BRSO’s shared values and their devotion to Mahler’s music.’
MusicWeb International

‘One should be cautious with particularly rapturous adjectives such as “magical” – this concert deserves this description.’

‘This is one of the greatest performances of this symphony you are ever likely to hear. Well worth the investment.’
The Art Music Lounge

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
A. and I. Brantelid

‘Each etude is presented with awe-inspiring clarity and technical precision, tossed off with apparent ease. The result is incredibly impressive and enjoyable to listen to.’
American Record Guide

Merkelo • Jae-Hyuck Cho • Russian National Orchestra • Graf

‘This interpretation, with its fine virtuoso sections and its moody and soulful slow passages, is quite excellent.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

‘I find Paul Merkelo’s virtuosity and ease of expressive and dynamic versatility simply amazing.’
Classical Music Sentinel

Bermel • Otto • Hijmans • JACK Quartet

Intonations is an arresting portrait, not only for its kaleidoscopic range but for the sheer breadth of Bermel’s imagination and interests. That no other recording sounds quite like it is one of the better compliments one could pay to its creator.’

Partridge • Vorster

‘This disc was a terrific discovery for me, and I think it will be for you as well.’

Stefano Greco

‘I second the composer’s enthusiasm over Greco’s masterfully internalised and excellently engineered interpretations. Highly recommended.’

Tom Winpenny

‘Throughout this recital Winpenny reveals that he is a natural Elgarian, coaxing many delicious combinations from the Hereford Willis. […] In sum, this is an album of strong, committed and painstakingly fine organ-playing.’

Naxos 8.660483-84
Dressen • M. Schäfer • Ochoa • Simon Mayr Choir • Concerto de Bassus • Hauk

‘Imaginative, exciting, dramatic and, above all, abundantly tuneful…’
Classical Music Daily

Naxos 8.660498–500
Futral • Ognev • Takova • Hall • Wexford Festival Opera Chorus • Ireland National Symphony • V. Jurowski

‘Here is immediacy, power aplenty and a tremendous sense of the structure of the work as a whole…’
American Record Guide

Janáček Philharmonic • Salvi

‘All tastefully revived and refined…’

Ralph van Raat

‘There is real worth in this music…Raat gives commanding performances of this and the other works that are without a doubt definitive.’
American Record Guide

Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice • Štilec

‘Providing an hour of delightful listening.’

Independent Label Releases (in alphabetical order)
Levickis • Mikroorkéstra • Lithuanian National Symphony • Pitrenas

‘On the one hand, Levickis plays them rhythmically concise, but on the other hand, the sensual is not neglected. A very great interpretation!’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Bisrat • Boelens • Demissew • Lest • Lijten • Meischke • Minyeshu • Nadew • Schueler • Wassenaer • Zenebe • Afrika Mamas

‘[Minyeshu’s] voice is a gloriously singular instrument that puts her up there among the finest Ethiopian female vocalists’
Songlines ★★★★

Celyn • Vrï

‘Entrancing, exciting and ingeniously executed.’
FolkWales Online Magazine ★★★★★

The Crossing • JACK Quartet • The University of Michigan musicians • Percussion Ensemble

‘If you are going to listen to just one piece of contemporary music make it this one.’
MusicWeb International

Vienna Youth Choir • ORF Vienna Radio Choir and Symphony • L. Segerstam

‘Segerstam again shows a gift for shaping dramatic scenes.’
Opera News

‘Jubilant flash of light sets Martin’s plaintive Requiem in golden glow’
de Gelderlander ★★★★★

‘Heinz Zednik has exactly the right tone quality for this music, as well as the ability to weave a coherent musical narrative, something that may also be said of the inestimable Leif Segerstam, whose direction makes these works come alive in no uncertain terms.’

Aznavoorian Duo

‘Hugely touching, well composed, and beautifully performed, this is a real disc highlight.’

‘It is a happy addition to your Armenian collection or for that matter an excellent introduction to Armenian chamber Classical as a Modern whole.’
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

Trio con Brio Copenhagen • Danish National Symphony • Saraste

‘Exciting interpretation…’

‘Superbly performed by Trio con Brio Copenhagen and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under Jukka-Pekka…’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Eleonor Bindman

‘This is lovely, expressive, and intimate Bach playing that never distorts the music’

Fiori Musicali Austria

‘Novel, imaginative, and fresh.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Nicolas Horvath

‘This performance by Nicolas Horvath is disciplined and precise, providing just the right touch for the piano notes under each acoustic condition.’

Lavi • Hybiner • Diffey • El-Bushra • Mannheim National Theatre Orchestra • Pierson

‘The playing is terrific.’
Opera Wire

‘Bracing, memorable, and strongly recommended.’

Apkalna • Latvian National Symphony • Poga

‘This music, absolutely worth listening to, receives a convincing performance and deserves a definite recommendation!’
Klassik heute

‘Bracing, invigorating performances of both symphonies, very well-recorded.’

Armstrong • Hermann • ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • Gielen

‘Worth the 30-year wait as Vienna band waxes lyrical with Zemlinsky.’
Limelight ★★★★

Frølund • Esperilla • Rudersdal Chamber Players

‘These performances are as formidably accomplished as expected from musicians of the highly regarded Rudersdal Chamber Players, and the sound leaves nothing to be desired.’

Barokkbandið Brák

‘This is a gripping if curiously conceived album… There are no doubts about Barokkbandi Brák’s virtuosity or musicality.’

Cordas et Bentu

‘The album brilliantly showcases works with stunning renditions of some of the most famous pieces ever composed for flute and guitar duo.’

Björklund • Fjellheim • Saur • Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble • Westberg

‘I do urge readers to allow themselves the pleasure to be transported to a faraway country without borderlines and a cultural and musical life of its own…A wholly fascinating disc!’
MusicWeb International

Cambreling • Gielen • Viotti

‘Fabrice Bollon’s rendition of The Three-Cornered Hat is one of the most idiomatic around, and brilliantly recorded.’
Limelight ★★★★

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110724
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Pagliero • Paquette • Ciaravola • Heymann • Paris National Opera Ballet and Orchestra • Kessels • Bart

‘Overall this is an outstanding performance, the music is a welcome change from the mainstream repertoire, the choreography and dancing is excellent, and the production very beautiful.’
American Record Guide

Naxos 2.110711
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Jakubiak • Tetelman • Inverardi • Workman • Berlin Deutsche Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Rizzi • Loy

‘What a thrilling experience!’

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings BSOREC1002
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Hannigan • Wilson • Dalayman • Rose • Bavarian State Ballet • Bavarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Meister • Kriegenburg

‘Affecting, lucid and beautiful’
2022 Gramophone Awards

C Major 761208
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Rojas • Gallo • Polegato • Askenova • Volpe • Vienna Symphony Orchestra • Kaftan • Tambosi

‘Magnificent Depravity – Olivier Tambosi livens up Boito’s uneven, unfinished opera with a flamboyant, deliciously gory production.’
Opera News

‘It’s a flawed but fascinating piece…but it’s great now to have it available in a modern filmed version. A most welcome release.’

Dynamic DYN-37928
Also available in Blu-ray Video
and Disc
( CDS7928.02)
Yoncheva • Sturua • Petean • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Noseda • Andò

‘This rarely performed verismo work combines great tension and beauty.’
Opera News

‘The cast is a strong one, led by Sonya Yoncheva’s committed Stephana… Noseda is in his element, bringing out Giordano’s novel instrumentation and imbuing it all with enormous dramatic thrust.’
Limelight ★★★★

Opus Arte OA1344D
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Schrott • Tagliavini • Byström • Papatanasiu • Alder • Behle • Košavić • Magoulas • Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Haenchen • Holten

‘The entire cast is strong, and the video makes for gripping drama that also feels psychologically modern, in a good way.’

‘A beautiful staging of Mozart’s masterpiece, served by an impressive stage set-up and a richly talented cast.’

UNITEL Edition 806308
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Matula • Capalbo • Imbrailo • Revolskaya • Miles • Arnold Schoenberg Choir • Vienna Symphony Orchestra • Orozco-Estrada • Joly

‘All in all a powerful, intelligent account of this fine verismo work.’

Nicholas Boulton

‘Boulton delivers a charming performance of Collins’s entertaining mystery.’

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