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Critics Choice February 2023

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 2.110737
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Siri • Muehle • Dudnikova • Alaimo • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Harding • Wake-Walker
Gramophone Choice

‘An intriguing and engaging directorial take on Cilea’s opera, with Daniel Harding leading the music-making excellently.’

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra • Oramo
Gramophone Choice

‘The Berlin Philharmonic premiered this work – Langgaard’s First Symphony – back in 1913; under Oramo, they bring immense understanding and instinct to it today.’

‘Oramo delivers an incandescent account of the score, clearly relishing the magnificently committed playing from the Berlin players whose matchless tonal refulgence and blazing energy is exactly what the work requires.’ ★★★★★

‘Truly, a remarkable performance and recording.’
The Art Music Lounge

‘…An exemplary performance of the piece by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sakari Oramo.’
The Arts Fuse

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra • Iceland Symphony Orchestra • Ireland National Symphony Orchestra • Norrköping Symphony Orchestra • Royal Scottish National Orchestra • Willén

‘Most of the performances are conducted by Niklas Willén, for whom Alfvén’s music is something of a cause: Willén understands it deeply and gets to the heart of it again and again.’ ★★★★

‘This is a set to be savoured.’
Classical Music Daily

Yue Yu • Armstrong • Hewitt

‘An excellent album, this, definitely worth investigating.’

Stefano Greco

‘These are rewarding piano works from one of America’s leading composers. Stefan Greco gives superb performances…’
American Record Guide

Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen • Jeter

‘John Jeter and his Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen provide truly splendid performances, vibrant and often pulsating, and superbly balanced.’
Classical Music Daily

Sergio Gallo

‘…[Gallo] exquisitely unfolds the thoughts with delicate discernment. Brilliant.’ ★★★★

Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra • Thomson

‘These impressive and rarely heard works are all played with absolute conviction and panache…’

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra • van Zweden

‘Under the Dutch conductor, this orchestra has flourished; strings are perfectly moulded… van Zweden’s pace is forward-moving but not rushed, the sound and balances in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre superb.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Fischer • Nielsen • Bjellsäter • Knudsen • Elsberg • Royal Danish Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Kamu

‘…Effortless and naturally breathing. …the whole music sounds better than ever.’
Helsingin Sanomat ★★★★★

‘…Okko Kamu sensitively and confidently guides the excellent Copenhagen Opera Orchestra through the adventurous score.’
Rondo ★★★★★

Ralph van Raat

‘These contrasting works evince the sure hand of a master composer, and will surely satisfy the most demanding music lover, both in their composition and in their execution. Highly recommended.’

David • Orchestre de la Garde républicaine • Billard
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘…Sublime musicianship. The recording is top notch.’
MusicWeb International

Naxos 8.660518-20
Ruzzafante • Basa • Leisenheimer • Adam • Hagen Theater Opera Chorus • Hagen Philharmonic • Markson

‘To call the performance solid would be a gross understatement. Rather, all notes are right on the dot and let the work blossom colourfully.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Independent Label Releases (in alphabetical order)
Konradi • Habermann • Berndt • Gaechinger Cantorey • Rademann

‘From the very start it’s clear that we’re in for an exceptionally dramatic performance, as Hans-Christoph Rademann and his musicians bring out all the intensity and eeriness of the ‘Representation of Chaos’…’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Bavarian Radio Symphony • Rattle
Gramophone Choice

‘Sir Simon Rattle brings to Mahler’s Ninth the sense of occasion, unique in the hearing and fresh in the discovery, that all great performances of this music should convey.’

Toyoda • Bathgate • Moore • Brentano String Quartet
Want List | Fanfare

‘Uncompromisingly robust technique that combines modern and Postmodern techniques with a quasi-Beethovenian vision.’

Dierkes • Tsallagova • Bürger • Stuttgart State Orchestra • Meister

‘…Bright and entertaining performances…’

Cedille CDR90000-215
Dover Quartet

‘This is a most desirable release, recorded in great sound, and a fitting end to a formidable cycle.’
Audiophile Audition ★★★★★

Cheli • Kastner • Millstein • Conlon
Editor’s Choice | Limelight Magazine

‘The work of these musicians is impeccable… Bravo!’

‘Successful interpretations with impeccable technical preparation’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

‘This release is worth the price for the stunning performance of the Concerto alone. Everything else is a wonderful bonus.’
MusicWeb International

Karner • Añazco

‘Vera Karner plays with a supple sound and a lot of creative joy. ’
Pizzicato ★★★★

Nicolas Horvath

‘…Always engaging and interesting. The attention Horvath pays to every little detail of every little piece makes for a great start to a projected series.’

Danubius Quartet

‘The Danubius Quartet perform with an obvious reverence and love, and their collective voice is as powerful as it is brilliant.’
MusicWeb International

Rasumowsky Quartet

‘The Rasumowskys are simply splendid in all of this. More, please.’
American Record Guide

Lodestar Trio

‘Lodestar Trio possess many traits that signify this is the beginning of a fresh, exciting and enduring collaboration.’
The Sound Cafe, Editor’s Choice: 10 Recommended Debut Albums Released in 2022

Friederike Chylek
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘I would recommend this recording as much to listeners who want to make a first acquaintance with the keyboard works of Byrd as to connoisseurs of his art.’
American Record Guide

Vaitkevičius • Giunter • Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra • Variakojis

‘Audition this recording with lights off and phones silenced. You won’t want to be disturbed.’
Stereophile ★★★★

Ex Tenebris Lux provides something all too rare, especially when it comes to new-music albums: an oasis.’
The Arts Fuse

Konieczny • Frenkel • Schade • Poznan Opera House Choir • Beethoven Academy Orchestra • Fischer-Dieskau
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘The performance seems all that one could possibly want. All six singers of the major roles pronounce the Buber-based text beautifully and meaningfully…’
American Record Guide

Haraldsdóttir • Einarsdóttir • Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra
Gramophone Choice

‘The performances – particularly from flautist Áshildur Haraldsdóttir and the velvety voice of Hildigunnur Einarsdóttir – are highly accomplished and put the music first.’

Meerovitch • Nakariakov • Saarbrücken German Radio Philharmonic • Inkinen

‘This may be the most intuitive Shostakovich I’ve heard all year.’
Ludwig van Toronto ★★★★★

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110707
Also available on Blu-ray Video
van Mechelen • Benoit • Brunet-Grupposo • Degout • Pygmalion Chorus and Orchestra • Pichon • Candel
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘The cast is truly exquisite. Each singer etches a strikingly individual portrayal that projects the story with perfect clarity, enhanced by impeccable diction.’
American Record Guide

Naxos 2.110738
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Vasiliev • Muzychenko • Shkoza • Tikhomirov • Popov • Frankfurt Opera Chorus • Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra • Weigle • Loy
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘Well done, Naxos! The importance of this release, obviously the first, and possibly only version that will make it onto home video, is almost beyond having a critical viewpoint because of its value as a document of the opera.’
MusicWeb International

Naxos 2.110696
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Colaianni • Kabongo • Mastrototaro • Franco • Górecki Chamber Choir • Virtuosi Brunensis • Pérez-Sierra • Schönleber
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…The entire cast is captivating and fully committed to the work. José Miguel Pérez-Sierra directs the Virtuosi Brunensis in a bubbly reading of a score that confirms that the youthful Rossini was already a master entertainer.’
American Record Guide

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
André Tubeuf
Clef d’Or (DVD Documentaire) | ResMusica

‘André Tubeuf, in a deeply moving testimony, invites us to relive the history of the Lied’

Dynamic DYN-37943
Also available in Blu-ray Video
and Disc
Blanch • Lesca • Bordogna • Osborn • Milan La Scala Chorus • Donizetti Opera Orchestra • Spotti • Doñas

‘With superb singing across the board, winning characterisation and witty direction, there is much to enjoy here indeed.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Opus Arte OA1348D
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Monteverdi Choir • English Baroque Soloists • Gardiner • Rooke
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘The English Baroque Soloists’ beautifully articulated, tastefully embellished playing provides consistent pleasure.’
Opera News

Lucy Scott
Audiobook of the Week | The Times (London)

‘[Lucy Scott] skilfully brings out to the full the novel’s unusual combination of humour and tragedy.’
The Times (London)

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