Critics Choice February 2024

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 2.110765
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Sabine • Bré • Antoun • Degout • Pygmalion • Pichon • Pelly
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone
Opera Choice | BBC Music Magazine

‘…a thrilling watch.’

‘Sabine Devieilhe’s Lakmé is superb, with silvery tone and jewel-like above the stave.’
BBC Music Magazine

ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • M. Poschner
ICMA Winner: Special Achievement Award
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone
Joker Absolu | Crescendo

‘This complete set of editions of Bruckner’s symphonies is an exceptional project because it questions our listening habits and musical tradition. In short, the sound of Bruckner, yet innovative too.’
International Classical Music Awards (ICMA)

‘…this is one of the finest recordings of the Fifth to have come my way for some time. …from the start, one feels an impressive sense of conviction in the reading.’

‘This is one of the best entries in Poschner’s ultra-complete Bruckner symphony cycle – a performance full of characterful ideas, perfectly executed.’

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…beautiful melodies that are shaped and balanced by Moskaleva and Pudinov… a fantastic performance.’
American Record Guide

Fort Smith Symphony • John Jeter

‘…captivating… hoping to hear Ballard’s music taken up by orchestras far and wide.’
The New York Times

‘…invigorated, impassioned performances, well-balanced, rhythmically alive, and beautifully recorded. …just what this music needs – and deserves.’
The Arts Fuse

Konstantin Volostnov

‘…the clarity of this instrument in dry acoustics allows the music to speak with great intimacy, aided by heartfelt expression from Konstantin Volostnov… there is much to enjoy here.’
Choir & Organ ★★★★

R. Williams • Vasari Singers • Backhouse
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…splendidly performed. With sure-handed direction, Backhouse elicits just the right style with nicely balanced sound from his singers. …a most welcome recording.’
American Record Guide

Johan Smith
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…Smith makes the art of transcription seem easy – which it definitely is not. For a creative encounter with new repertoire for the classical guitar, listen to this!’
American Record Guide

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin • Tingaud

‘In Tingaud’s hands, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin is an instrument that fully convinces with its coloration and sonority.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

R. Richardson • Black Dyke Band • D. and N. Childs

‘…an album this beautifully done is going to be hard to ignore.’ ★★★★

Guitarra a Seis
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…[Guitarra a Seis]’s sense of energy, musicality, and precision is apparent, with voices clearly delineated and audible.’
American Record Guide

Lyric Fest

‘The Lyric Fest ensemble…succeeds in performing the whole thing in a musically appropriate and gripping way.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Christopher Mallett
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘Mallett performs each piece with technical and musical fluency, and with a strong sense of the style of the period. Definitely recommended!’
American Record Guide

R. Davis Dunn • O. Duval • E. Gray • L.C. Hicks • University of Michigan Symphony • Kiesler

‘…now everyone can experience this Harlem Stride pianist’s talent for orchestration, shaping narrative – and, on occasion, weaving the feel of spirituals into the fabric of American opera.’
– Best Classical Music Albums of 2023, The New York Times

Goldstein • Fine Arts Quartet • L. Burns

‘These interpretations are played in the best Mozart tradition.’
Pizzicato ★★★★

Janáček Philharmonic • Štilec
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘… rich and emotionally committed.’
American Record Guide

São Paulo Symphony Choir and Orchestra • Neil Thomson
Choc | Classica

‘The Naxos recording is a revelation that only recordings can offer us: Sinfonia dos orixás and Pequenos funerais cantantes would make the programming of several French orchestras so much more beautiful. …delighting listeners, conductors and orchestral musicians alike with the way they are performed, full of surprises.’

Residentie Orkest, The Hague • Märkl
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘The performances are terrific – special praise for the first violins.’
American Record Guide

Damerini • Rome Symphony • La Vecchia

‘…characteristic work…played sensitively…in a meaningful, rhetorically shaped interpretation by pianist Massimiliano Damerini to make the music more than just brilliant and virtuosic. ’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Tonkünstler Orchestra • Rudner

‘…a fantastic new recording’
– Discovery of the Week, Classic FM

Ensemble Leones • Lewon
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…it is one of the most effective recent recordings of this repertoire and done with a elegant variety of voices and instruments…’
American Record Guide

Jason Carter

‘…highly listenable and likeable.’
FolkWales Online Magazine

Independent Label Releases (in alphabetical order)
The United States Navy Band • Walden

‘…the US Navy Band delivers consistently professional performances with clean technique, impeccable balance and blend, and judicious displays of sonic power.’
American Record Guide

The Crossing • JACK Quartet • The University of Michigan musicians and Percussion Ensemble
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘Its beautiful, slow shifts of harmony and colour are as magical as anything [Adams]’s written before.’
American Record Guide

McGill • Pacifica Quartet
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide
Nominee | GRAMMY Awards

‘…beautiful and effortless readings replete with clear timbres, fluid technique, warm and lyrical phrasing, and perfect balance, blend, and teamwork.’
American Record Guide

Åstrand • Møller • Malmö Opera Orchestra • Gustafsson

‘…the listener is given a unique opportunity to gain insight into Else Marie Pade’s tonal language in a technically excellent recording with first-class musicians.’
– Album of the Year, DR – P2 Klassisk

Ekaterina Siurina

‘…an enthralling listen from start to finish.’

Shihyun Lee
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘…Shihyun Lee impresses with her superb technical facility as well as a sure feel for the ebb and flow even in the most demanding passages.’
MusicWeb International

Pier Damiano Peretti

‘The recording is like a multi-coloured cake, and really tasty!’
The Organ Club Journal

Gottlieb Wallisch
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…Gottlieb Wallisch…plays with enthusiasm and vivid expression.’
American Record Guide

Hansjörg Albrecht

‘Albrecht rises to this immense challenge with full-blooded brilliance, and the way he tackles the technical complexities…is nothing short of breathtaking…’
Classical Music Daily

C. and T. Tetzlaff • Vogt
ICMA Winner: Chamber Music Award

‘These are Lars Vogt’s last trio recordings, and listening to the way he explores Schubert’s music with an almost shy subtlety and makes it resound, often even blossom joyfully, one can only marvel.’
International Classical Music Awards (ICMA)

Trio con Brio Copenhagen

‘Trio con Brio Copenhagen… offer a powerful and compelling interpretation.’
International Piano

Heghine Rapyan
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘…in Heghine Rapyan…Elmas has found his ideal interpreter. Her playing is consistently engaging… Sit back and enjoy.’
American Record Guide

Egilsson • Pálsson • Hirv • Jónsdóttir

‘It is novel, haunting and effortlessly gorgeous. It is stunningly recorded and oozes both integrity and good taste.’
MusicWeb International

Robert Neumann

‘Neumann’s playing is nuanced and subtle, technically finely differentiated… Far from the non-committal elegance or the limitation of romantic thought that one finds in other interpretations, he gives the music something impulsive.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Vox VOX-NX-3032CD
A. Simon • Hamburg Symphony • Beissel

‘Although Simon was an exemplary colourist, he makes most interpretive points through lively delineation and clear-cut accents.’

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110759
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Behle • Kulchynska • Wagner • Soffel • Dutch National Opera Chorus • Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra • Albrecht • Loy
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘This production by Christof Loy is one of his best.’
American Record Guide

‘Olga Kulchynska’s Goose-Girl is perfect, her soprano of the utmost beauty, her presence truly touching’
Opera Now ★★★★

Naxos 2.110756
Also available on Blu-ray Video
D’Oustrac • Talbot • Huchet • Christoyannis • Peintre • Choir Les éléments • Orchestre de chambre de Paris • Leroy • Lesort

La Périchole makes for a refreshing tonic…’
The New York Times

Naxos 2.110761
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Strid • Johansson • Laurenz • Mayer • Pursio • Pauwels • Deutsche Oper Berlin Chorus and Orchestra • Albrecht • Loy

‘…this cast handles Schreker’s lushly complex and demanding idiom with aplomb.’
The New York Times

Naxos 2.107001
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Stemme • Teige • Hilley • Jovanovich • Paterson • Pesendorfer • Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin • Runnicles • Herheim
Critic’s Choice | American Record Guide

‘Herheim’s attention to detail and how they all interconnect is incredible. Runnicles is a veteran conductor of many Ring cycles, and his experience in pacing the entire cycle is immensely helpful.’
American Record Guide

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
Herbert Blomstedt
ICMA Winner | Video Performance & Documentaries

‘Watch this portrait film and you will start to understand what a life for music may mean.’
International Classical Music Awards (ICMA)

Opus Arte OA1334D
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Davidsen • Philip • Tritschler • Forsythe • Neal • Siliņš

‘…Kratzer’s direction of singing actors tends to be marvellous; here, the star soprano Lise Davidsen is truly gripping as Leonore.’
The New York Times

UNITEL Edition 809108
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Winters • Herlitzius • Philip • Hulett • Vienna State Opera Chorus • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra • Hrůša • Kosky
ICMA Winner: Video Opera Award

‘Often and unjustly overshadowed by Jenůfa, Kát’a Kabanová is a true masterpiece by Janáček – and this performance unfolds all the energy and beauty of it.’
International Classical Music Awards (ICMA)

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