Critics Choice January 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 2.110711
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Jakubiak • Tetelman • Workman • Inverardi • Deutsche Oper Berlin Chorus and Orchestra • Rizzi • Loy
2022 Critic’s Choice | Gramophone Magazine
Finalist | International Classical Music Awards 2023

‘Erotic, unsettling and at times extreme, it’s absolutely riveting and quite genuinely unforgettable.’

Opus Arte OA1351D
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Grigorian • Mattila • Spence • Pirgu • Zilio • Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Nánási • Guth
La Clef |
Artistic Quality 10 / Sound Quality 10 |
Finalist | International Classical Music Awards 2023

‘After being an admirable Jenůfa, Karita Mattila dons the black clothes of Kostelnička and sets Janáček’s masterpiece on fire.’

‘Asmik Grigorian, dark, slim, her movements small and tight as if she hardly wants to be seen, still manages to be the centre of our world: each phrase, each interaction means something.’

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
Tom Winpenny
2022 Critic’s Choice | Gramophone Magazine

‘In a strong field of new organ recordings, Tom Winpenny’s complete Elgar stands out.’

Oberlin Trio

‘The Oberlin Trio’s playing of these works is nothing short of fetching. Felicity, finesse, and good cheer are hallmarks of these performances…’

Giuseppe Buscemi

‘Buscemi’s nimble fingers release bursts of energy from the guitar amid lively passagework, and one can only try not to mourn that Malipiero did not write more for the guitar!’
American Record Guide

Butterfield • McMahon • Wollston

‘These are the go-to performances of an important and forward-looking set of sonatas from the glory of the French court’s instrumental music history.’

Shugaev • D. Prokofiev • Rostov Academic Symphony • Uryupin

‘Shugaev plays the work with aggressive exuberance. It left me with the impression that this music was both fun and rewarding to play.’

Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen • Jeter
Album of the Week | The Sunday Times

‘Can her music not simply be allowed to speak and sing? It is here, on a fine set of recordings…under the baton of John Jeter, a champion of Price’s… there are the Concert Overtures Nos 1 and 2, the blowsy, restless – and strikingly poignant – The Oak and the swirling, almost Viennese Colonial Dance.’
The Sunday Times, London

Arabella String Quartet

‘The Arabella Quartet does a wonderful job here. A fine job all around, excellent performance of extremely interesting and delightful works.’

Residentie Orkest, The Hague • Märkl

‘Jun Märkl applies himself to the music, its momentum, its colours, and its dramatic content with unerring sensitivity.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

‘Jun Märkl’s baton is as magical as Saint-Saëns’ pen, and his wholehearted advocacy for these scores draws some sparkling performances brimming with beguiling melodies and exquisite harmonies.’
Classical Music Daily

Goiás Philharmonic • N. Thomson

‘Once again [Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra] demonstrate their feel for the music of their homeland, enriched here with influences from Bach and Brahms.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Janáček Philharmonic • Salvi

‘Sparkling, sparkling, rousing and catchy.’
Opera Lounge

‘The music is sensationally and fulsomely recorded.’
MusicWeb International

H. Plitmann • F. Child • K. Deas • Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players • Falletta
Disco Recomendado | Ritmo Magazine

‘…this is the most conveniently comprehensive of the collections of this music… The American performances are engaged and engaging.’
MusicWeb International

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

‘This is a very characteristic performance of a masterpiece of vocal literature, technically [and] splendidly recorded.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Bavarian Radio Chorus • Munich Radio Orchestra • A. Mustonen
Diapason d’Or | Diapason Magazine

‘This admirably refined performance offers a superb alternative to the recording…conducted by Volodymyr Sirenko.’

The Crossing • JACK Quartet • The University of Michigan Musicians and Percussion Ensemble

‘One of the greatest masterpieces of our century gets the recording it deserves. Essential.’
MusicWeb International

‘With a stellar line-up of performers and crystal-clear recording quality, this is a profoundly arresting album.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Dierkes • Tsallagova • B. Bürger • Stuttgart State Orchestra • Meister

‘Cornelius Meister conducts both pieces buoyantly and with a good sense of their character. The singers sing and play impeccably.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Cedille CDR90000-213
Velasco • Choi • Cerrone

‘Exciting, otherworldly, glistening, and unique…This is a phenomenally inventive disc, in which each and every composer stimulates, with faultless performances from Velasco.’

Dausgaard • Oramo • Storgårds
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘The performances and recordings are exemplary… It is impossible to know how they could be improved.’
MusicWeb International

‘This is music that thrives on really good sound, and Dacapo’s engineers have understood that too. The recordings simply sound very good. ’
Kulturdelen ★★★★★

‘…superbly performed and recorded, by Dacapo.’

Leonard • Polenzani • Callaway • Brugger • Gemignani • Kelly • Lattanzi • Zeger

Gathering is a magnificent collection, and as the songs were written over a span of thirty years, it also offers a superb overview.’
Textura, Top 20 Classical (Vocal) of 2022: #7

Xiaoya Liu

‘Xiaoya Liu’s strong and delineated performances capture the works’ energetic momentum and highlight their extremes of dynamic and mood.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Irnberger • Kašpar • Simon

‘It all adds up to a surprisingly tasty dish.’
MusicWeb International

Gottlieb Wallisch

‘…very imaginative and imaginatively composed. Gottlieb Wallisch plays these works with equal spirit and spontaneity.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Polyphonia Ensemble Berlin

‘Throughout, the Polyphonia Ensemble Berlin play with ideal elegance and emotion. No one interested in these three pieces should hesitate to explore this rewarding release.’

‘…very enjoyable listening: music with a smile.’
MusicWeb International

Kuusisto • T. Nuñez • Finnish Radio Symphony • N. Collon
The Strad Recommends | The Strad Magazine
Finalist | International Classical Music Awards 2023

‘[The ensemble] delightfully exploit the liveliness and different sound worlds of music with their joy of playing.’

‘Throughout, Kuusisto demonstrates an intuitive feel for the work’s enchanting rusticity… Tomas Nuñez traces the music’s emotional contours with compelling immediacy.’
The Strad

George London
Disco Recomendado | Ritmo Magazine

‘London’s voice was massive, focused and dark, with an exciting and secure top. In these recordings he never blusters, and he sings with verbal acuity, noble tone and dramatic verve… The remastered sound is excellent.’
Opera Now ★★★★

‘This is a masterclass in great operatic singing—a must-hear!’
Classical Explorer

Frølund • Esperilla • Rudersdal Chamber Players

‘…the Rudersdal Chamber Players attest in wonderfully lucid accounts of all three works…’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Barokkbandið Brák

Two Sides is likely the first time many listeners outside Iceland will have had the chance to hear the group in action. That’s certainly one reason to recommend the release, but it’s the playing by Barokkbandið Brák that tops the list.’

Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble • Westberg
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘A very desirable tribute to the Alfvén celebrations.’
MusicWeb International

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110738
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Vasiliev • Muzychenko • Shkoza • Tikhomirov • Popov • Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester • Chor der Oper Frankfurt • Weigle • Loy

‘The various colours of this truly magnetic score – from surreal to fantastic, to comedic and burlesque – are painted with inviting warmth.’

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
BelAir Classiques BAC165
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Schager • Kampe • Milling • Gubanova • Daniel • Berlin State Opera Chorus • Berlin Staatskapelle • Barenboim • Tcherniakov

‘For a present to myself…the possibilities opened up by the Barenboim/Tcherniakov Tristan – and by Mike Ashman’s scrutiny of it – promise lasting rewards.’

‘[Andreas Schager’s] tenor is tireless. He really can just keep going and his blend of physicality and vocal strength is astonishing. Anja Kampe’s Isolde is a more subtle being, loving and tender and her soprano’s soft grain is appropriate.’
Opera Now

C Major 760708
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Lindsey • Clementi • Jurenas • Melrose • Bond • Hauman • Eichenholz • Vienna State Opera Children’s Choir • Vienna State Opera Chorus • Pintscher • Graham

‘Everyone is good, there are too many to single out with one perhaps exception…artist Justin Vivian Bond, who belts out their lines with a mix of anger and celebratory gusto.’
Opera Now

Unitel Edition 807908
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Daniel Barenboim

‘Barenboim’s Beethoven is generous and a firm embrace of the composer.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Peter Wickham
Audiobook of the Week | The Sunday Times

‘[Cobbett] wrote about his travels and tirades with punch and panache, recalling his youth and never at a loss for a sharp observation. Peter Wickham conveys all his vigour, explaining why he was such a thorn in the side of England’s rulers.’
The Times (London)

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