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Critics Choice January 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
Fedorov • East-West Chamber Orchestra • Krimer

‘Wonderful music, wonderfully realised.’
MusicWeb International

‘Performances are sensitive, assured, expressively intense, and well-engineered.’

‘Rostislav Krimer and the East-West Chamber Orchestra deliver exceptionally fine performances of these two works.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

‘This ensemble deserves kudos for its commitment. [It] really makes something beautiful out of [the music].’
de Gelderlander ★★★★★

‘The East-West Chamber Orchestra translates the poignant emotions expressed by the composer with infinite respect, and perhaps goes a step further than the Kremerata Baltica and Gidon Kremer in conveying this dramatic and touching message.’

Kaufmann • Petersen • Bavarian State Orchestra • Petrenko • Stone

‘A new label and a dreamy Tote Stadt at the Munich Opera House’

‘In a transformative production, directed by Simon Stone, Kirill Petrenko’s impassioned conducting inspires Jonas Kaufmann to his best singing in years while Marlis Petersen gives the performance of a lifetime as Marietta/Marie.’

‘Korngold’s operatic masterpiece comes in an exciting production from Munich. This is a compelling account of the opera.’
MusicWeb International

‘No other recordings of this opera features such compelling singing and playing.’
Opera News The Best of 2021 – 10 Best in Opera

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
Nashville Symphony • Guerrero


RTÉ Chamber Choir • RTÉ Sinfonietta • K. Alwyn

‘Alwyn conducts these works with aplomb, and his players respond with some sparkling interpretations full of bouncy vigour and rhythmic intensity.’
Classical Music Daily

Various Artists

‘This is one of the best sampler albums I’ve ever heard. The performances, by a wide variety of artists and ensembles, are stylish and dynamic.’
American Record Guide

Pei-I Wang • Gingher

‘The Wang/Gingher duo infuses these works with finely-honed ensemble values, expert pacing, and tasteful virtuosic élan.’

G. Schwabe • ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • C. Ward

‘Hugely impressive and refreshingly straightforward’
The Guardian

‘Among countless accounts of Elgar’s valedictory orchestral work, Schwabe—with the VRSO under Christopher Ward—can hold his head high too.’
The Sunday Times, London

Various Artists

‘My box set of the year combines classic albums from the defunct Collins catalogue with 13 recorded by Naxos.’
The Sunday Times – Hugh Canning’s 10 best classical albums of 2021

Valencia Baryton Project

‘A superb recording by the Valencia Baryton Project of Haydn’s rarely heard baryton trios.’’s 2021 Favourite Classical Instrumental Albums

Stundyte • R. Morloc • ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • Alsop

‘Marin Alsop presents an exemplary Hindemith album… this album is a great success.’

Alexandre Dossin

‘These are luscious performances. Embrace this fully. You will not be disappointed.’
American Record Guide

ORF Vienna Radio Symphony • Jeter

‘Getting to know [Price] is a genuine treat.’

Alessandro Marangoni

‘Naxos Classics has assembled a group of Rossini interpreters, led by Italian pianist Alessandro Marangoni and accompanied the music-making with an informative booklet, all with terrific results.’
Rafael’s Music Notes

Revich • Ježek • Honsová • Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice • M. Halász

‘Michael Halász and the Czech Chamber Philharmonic bring grace and vigour to the Symphonies Concertantes while the Symphony bounces along full of charm.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★

Gustav Piekut

‘[Piekut] is technically highly gifted and plays with great spontaneity, but his playing also reflects thoughtfulness and emotion.’

‘Piekut’s relaxed and focused pianism redeems the ecstatic, celestial, religious and boundary-pushing of two important composers of the early 20th century on this album. Amidst all the existential violence and religious tumult, he manages to maintain a core of inner calm. It is very successfully done.’
Politiken ★★★★★

E. Glennie • B. McMillen • Albany Symphony • D.A. Miller

‘For a vibrant and exciting display of technical wizardry, give this disc a listen.’
The WholeNote

E. Baldini • P. Rossi

‘This enjoyable disc deserves a place in any collection of Villa-Lobos’s music.’
MusicWeb International

Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice • Štilec

‘This ensemble deserves kudos for its commitment. [It] really makes something beautiful out of [the music].’
de Gelderlander ★★★★★

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
A.L. Richter • Bamberg Symphony • J. Hruša

‘Highly intelligent, skilful music-making’
Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award)

Bavarian State Orchestra • K. Petrenko

‘An astonishing performance from a quietly unassuming but extraordinary talent.’

Madic • Bavarian Radio Chorus • Munich Radio Orchestra • Repušic

‘The program on this disc brings together something like [Pärt’s] early style and the later derivations of it, all unified under a distinctly spiritual atmosphere. The Bavarian orchestra and choir are sensational.’

Alarm Will Sound • Pierson

‘…wide variation of instrumental colours and harmonic material…’
The New York Times: The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2021

Dupree • Württemberg Chamber Orchestra of Heilbronn • C. Scaglione

‘The dynamic Frank Dupree joins the ranks of Kapustin champions with a thrilling, high-octane recording of the Fourth Piano Concerto.’

‘A fizzy, addictive performance of the Fourth.’
The New York Times: The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2021

Jennifer Koh

‘39 strikingly diverse pieces, among them Angélica Negrón’s playful, inventive “Cooper and Emma.”’
The New York Times: The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2021

Danish National Vocal Ensemble • Windekilde

‘The music gives the choir many moods and colours to negotiate and convey, which it does with total confidence and control.’
Choir & Organ ★★★★★

Coburn • Brownlee • Zheltyrguzov • Kaunas State Choir • Kaunas City Symphony • Orbelian

‘Lawrence Brownlee’s singing sets a new standard.’
Opera News The Best of 2021 – 10 Best in Opera

Frisani • Chierichetti • Marchesi • Nuvoli • Alessandro Stradella Consort • Velardi

‘Stradella’s Cantatas in world premiere: on fire!’

Gramola Gramola99225
Irnberger • Geringas • Moser

‘Each of the three voices is given clear and distinct prominence in the recording, and yet they blend into an ensemble thanks to their shared interpretive approach. With this dedication, they give the pieces presented the energy that makes listening a pleasure.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Elisaveta Blumina

‘[Blumina] plays this delightful recital with affection and attention to detail.’
American Record Guide

‘It’s mostly charming music, light and airy, charmingly played by Blumina.’
The Art Music Lounge

NXN Recordings NXN4005
Also available in vinyl (NXN4005LP)

‘Clearly a major recording event and one of the key albums of this year.’
Jazz Views Albums of the Year 2021

Andreas Bauer Kanabas

‘This recording makes a great impression…a resounding yes.’
Opera Now

‘This is a very musical performance, much to the delight of the ear.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Eglina • Latvian National Symphony • Poga • Kuzma

‘This is a disc I have already returned to with pleasure many times.’

‘The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra is faultless under the deft control of Guntis Kuzma.’
Limelight ★★★★★

‘These well-prepared, deep-feeling performances breathe life rather than simply preserving, which is no less than the music deserves.’

Müller-Schott • Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin • A. Bloch

‘The Saint-Saëns concerto is a joy from start to finish.’
BBC Music Magazine

‘A well-conceived programme, wonderfully performed and recorded’
MusicWeb International

Jens E. Christensen

‘Out of the ordinary, captivating and breathtaking.’

Various Artists

‘Alternately bold, expressive, comforting, and engaging, “In Between” follows an annual pattern of late season arrivals that are among the year’s best.’
All About Jazz ★★★★

Spektral Quartet

‘I cannot recommend Thorvaldsdottir’s music highly enough.’
Stereophile ★★★★★

‘It’s a masterly entrance to the genre, and a deceptively vast soundscape conjured with just four acoustic instruments.’
The New York Times: The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2021

‘That the piece comes off so well is a testament to the exceptional playing of the Spektral Quartet.’
The Arts Fuse

Asplund • LuKaS

‘The theatrical dimension is a perfect starting point for Asplund’s dramatic intelligence and mercurial sensibility, capturing the beauty of the cruelest of things, the gasping pulse of the last breath.’
Dagens Nyheter ★★★★

K. Borg • South West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Baden-Baden • Rosbaud

‘Impressive and potent Sibelius from the German master and his Baden-Baden ensemble’
Audiophile Audition ★★★★★

Laura Strickling

‘Announces Volkova as the real deal, full of intelligence, passion, nuance and chutzpah.’
Opera News The Best of 2021 – 10 Best in Concert/Recital

‘Strickling has paid homage to the feminine, gathering her audience in a warm and brilliant embrace of sisterhood, and she has left a weighty chapter of her own legacy here.’
American Record Guide

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110676 (DVD)
Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0123V)
Mazzulli • Baráth • Ascioti • Enticknap • Smith • Allegrezza • Di Bianco • Sacchi • Accademia Bizantina • Dantone • Vizioli

‘Worth encountering in any format but the video edition wins the prize with a gorgeous production of this really entertaining early Baroque masterpiece.’
MusicWeb International

Naxos 2.110691-92 (DVD)
Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0130V)
Uhl • Streit • Koch • Grundheber • Slovak Philharmonic Choir • Wiener Symphoniker • De Billy • Warner

‘Warner’s visually arresting and faultless staging declares Hindemith’s masterpiece.’

‘The result is imaginative and highly atmospheric, and the set design by Johan Engels is both dramatically effective and arresting.’
MusicWeb International

Naxos 2.110694-95 (DVD)
Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0132V)
De Negri • D’Oustrac • Richter • Rivenq • Compagnie Fêtes Galantes • Les Arts Florissants • Christie • Villégier

‘A powerful and princely production worth the wait’
BBC Music Magazine

Naxos 2.110689-90 (DVD)
Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0129V)
Du Theil • Fritsch • Semenzato • Cirillo • Špicer • Richter • Olivieri • Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala • Fasolis • Wake-Walker

‘A fine cast and splendid production – a most enjoyable romp.’
MusicWeb International

Naxos 2.110677-78 (DVD)
Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0122V)
Sadé • Boecker • Akzeybek • Köninger • Kurt • Lindenberg • Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin • Souza • Kosky

‘An operatic spy thriller that also features showstopping dance numbers and a bittersweet love story? Jaromír Weinberger’s Frühlingsstürme is all this and more, and in this stunning reconstruction it packs a real emotional punch.’

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
BelAir Classiques BAC197 (DVD)
Also available on Blu-ray Video (BAC497)
Rosas Company Dancers • B’Rock • Beyer • De Keersmaeker

‘An exceptional recording of the Six Brandenburg Concertos

C Major 759704 (Blu-ray)
Kissin • Battle • Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra • Karajan

‘The 1987 New Year’s Concert is undoubtedly one of the best in the history of this prestigious series.’

Opus Arte OA1335D (DVD)
Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7289D)
Naouri • Ciofi • Rice • Meloni • Lyon National Opera Chorus & Orchestra • Viotti • Pelly

‘I have no hesitation in making this release a first recommendation for those who want to experience this utterly delightful comedy.’
MusicWeb International

‘Definitely worth watching… A good cast has fun at its own expense.’
Opera Now ★★★★

Nicholas Boulton

‘Nicholas Boulton offers a masterful performance of this first volume of Lawrence Durrell’s famed Alexandria Quartet.’

Nicholas Boulton

‘He [Nicholas Boulton] deploys a range of voices and accents that never leave us in doubt about who is speaking…’

Nicholas Boulton

‘This witty tragedy will have you chortling happily until it wrings your heart. And then, if you are like this listener, you’ll begin again at the beginning.’

Nicholas Boulton

‘Boulton finds the humor, pathos, and tragedy in these characters in a performance that feels effortless.’

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