Critics Choice May 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
Giltburg • Brussels Philharmonic • Sinaisky

‘Giltburg, armed with nimble fingers and the clean attack of his Fazioli piano, treat [both works] with loving panache…’
The Times (UK) ★★★★★

‘Once more the playing is of a thrilling immediacy and charisma. Hardly a pianist for vague approximations, he lets you hear every one of Rachmaninov’s teeming notes… you can’t help being carried away by Giltburg’s energy and commitment.’
International Piano

‘…the performances are immaculate. Giltburg has a fiercely impressive technique, which allows him to glitter and dash his way spectacularly through the First Concerto…’
The Guardian

Dynamic DYN-37960
Also available in Blu-ray Video
and Disc
Jicia • Castronovo • Iervolino • Cavalletti • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Frizza • Cucchi
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone
Choice | Opera Now
Absolu | Crescendo

‘…A demonstration of how DVDs can champion lesser-staged works.’

‘It is a gem of an opera in a wonderful production.’
Opera Now

‘The musical results are certainly well worth our full attention… the whole thing zips along nicely under Riccardo Frizza’s direction, and the orchestral players relish Mascagni’s rich colours.’
Daily Telegraph (UK) ★★★★

Audio Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 8.574465–67
Danish Chamber Orchestra • Á. Fischer

‘…A new set, in excellent sound, of mature and deeply understanding character, especially at bargain price, is almost too good a set of records to miss… The sound quality is equally fine and this set is self-evidently recommended.’
Musical Opinion ★★★★★

R. Williams • Vasari Singers • Backhouse
Discos Recomendados | Ritmo

‘Roderick Williams brings all the wonders of his superb artistry to this performance—his glowing tonal warmth, superb shaping of the text, and impeccable articulation of it.’
American Record Guide

S. Cameron • Goodyear • Buffalo Philharmonic • Falletta

‘Stewart Goodyear…throws himself into the prolix keyboard-writing, aided and abetted by the Buffalo Philharmonic with their conductor JoAnn Falletta, than whom there is no one better in relaying the warmhearted and exuberant nature of this concerto. I loved it.’

Janáček Philharmonic • Štilec

‘Marek Štilec delivers authoritative, sensitive, beautifully played accounts of this music’
Classical Lost and Found

Ireland National Symphony • Penny

‘I have known this music for over twenty years, and it never fails to please. The performances and recording are a joy, and do the music proud.’
MusicWeb International

Minas Gerais Philharmonic • Mechetti

‘The Minas Gerais Philharmonic play with precision and flair…and, crucially, they make magic in the many hushed moments. This is yet another edifying entry in Naxos’ Music of Brazil series.’

‘Fabio Mechetti leads Brazil’s Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance that combines precision, elegance, and passion, and draws the very best of this excellent ensemble.’
All About the Arts

Matthew Schellhorn

‘…Schellhorn is affectionately appreciative of Howells’s idiomatic keyboard-writing. What’s more, both annotation and production give absolutely no cause for complaint. In all, an undoubted treat.’

‘Schellhorn is fully attuned to this music and is an ideal champion. Recommended.’
International Piano

RTÉ Concert Orchestra • A. Penny

‘…the music has elegance and charm reminiscent of a less complicated Age. Most of it was new to me and I enjoyed it all immensely.’
London Light Music Group

Goranci • World Chamber Orchestra

‘What makes this album so exceptional is the extraordinary quality of most of the music. Even more important, the quality of the performances is non pareil!’
American Record Guide

River • Meglioranza • New York Virtuoso Singers • McMillen • Rosenbaum

‘Even within this program, the tonal language of individual pieces ranges substantially, but the program never feels like a stylistic pastiche; rather, one has the impression that McClelland has responded in deep, individual ways to the texts he sets…’ ★★★★

Residentie Orkest, The Hague • Märkl

‘This disc is a fine introduction to three not-that-well-known Saint-Saëns stage works. The performances are terrific—special praise for the first violins.’
American Record Guide

Kansas Virtuosi

‘Salgado is a very fine composer who deserves much wider exposure, and the Kansas Virtuosi have done the music world a great service by recording these works.’
American Record Guide

Ensemble Leones • Lewon

‘Marc Lewon has once again been guided by his sense of discovery and unearthed a true musical treasure…’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Alexander Markov • Thüringen Philharmonie Gotha-Eisenach • M. Huber

‘[Markov’s] performance is remarkable, very visceral and expressive.’

Independent Label Releases (in alphabetical order)
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra • Blomstedt
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘It is an important and impressive contribution to the Bruckner discography.’
MusicWeb International

‘…Blomstedt’s interpretation is breathtaking, and the orchestra’s playing captures precisely the colours and moods that distinguish Bruckner’s Third…this Bruckner exudes a certain sovereignty, even a classical grandeur.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

Stagg • Teuscher • Glaser • Slovenian Philharmonic Choir • Munich Radio Orchestra • Repušic

‘…Ivan Repušic and his entire ensemble succeed in a very vivid portrayal of the events – from Jesus’ betrayal to his crucifixion – without sagging.’
Pizzicato ★★★★★

‘Performance and recording are exemplary throughout, and sopranos Siobhan Stagg and Lydia Teuscher are particularly impressive in their stamina as well the beauty of their sound.’

Markus Poschner
Absolu | Crescendo
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘One of the great assets of this new recording is to find the right balance in terms of tempo: not too fast…or not too slow… Therefore, this new album can be considered as a reference for this 1887 version.’

‘…Poschner injects little details and refinements into his interpretation, some of which are quite arresting, such as his deliberately stabbing…’
MusicWeb International

Cabell • Agpalo • Govertsen • Schuller • Haymarket Opera Orchestra • Trompeter

‘…This presents a strong cast and an incisive period-instrument ensemble with finely-judged pacing’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Bayrakdarian • Plitmann • Scharich • Cheli • LaDeur • Trio Barclay
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘[1966] is vividly dramatic and poignant, and it’s beautifully performed by Scharich and her longtime collaborator, pianist Jeffrey LaDeur.’
Opera News

Koukl • V. Rossetti
Recommended | MusicWeb International

‘We have pianist and composer Giorgio Koukl to thank for removing the veil that has hidden these works for too long. The pianists give flawless performances, deft and with a light touch, to showcase these superb compositions.’
MusicWeb International

Ingi Bjarni Quintet

‘This gentle album sounds like the end of winter in search of spring and offers a sojourn well worth taking.’
Jazz Views

Hansjörg Albrecht

‘Hansjörg Albrecht is a marvellous guide… this entire CD is thoughtful as well as emotionally expansive, allowing Bruckner’s music all the time and space it needs to come across to audiences as effectively as possible.’ ★★★★

Magen • Finnish Radio Symphony • N. Collon

‘By turns buzzing, skittering, delicately pointillist and richly luminous, [Sigla] plays on the title’s various meanings as jingle, enthusiasm – and sailing.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

Katharina Ruckgaber

‘What a marvellous disc! …Katharina Ruckgaber brilliantly cultivates and performs a themed Lieder recital that succeeds on every count.’

Santiago Cañón-Valencia

Ascenso is a fantastical album… mainly in response to Cañón-Valencia’s chameleon-like ability to inhabit the culture and place of each piece and execute them with stunning skill.’
The WholeNote

Sanna Vaarni

‘…imaginative collection of Italian piano music from the first quarter of the 20th century, played with clarity, liveliness, and scintillating tone…’
American Record Guide

Christian Ferras

‘Whether with orchestra or in chamber music [Ferras’] playing reflects his wonderful musical sensibilities.’
The WholeNote

Caracristi • Guarino

‘The playing is the height of musical integrity. …this is highly attractive, honest music-making from sensitive and discriminating artists.’
American Record Guide

Vox VOX-NX-3012CD
Klien • Minnesota Orchestra • Skrowaczewski

‘…[Klien] delivers wonderfully sensitive performances of both works supported by some particularly sprightly solo woodwind playing.’
BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

‘These are bright and crisp performances from 1978 or so that we have recommended ever since. These were always utterly beautiful recordings…’
American Record Guide

Audiovisual Releases
Naxos Releases
Naxos 2.110673
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Ciofi • Frenkel • Henschel • Wey • Ensemble Nikel • SWR Experimentalstudio • Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra • Kalitzke • Guth

‘Czernowin produces a finished artwork that unfolds in subtle gestures and poetic insights using the materials of New Music in fascinating ways… What keeps the spectacle so fresh is its compelling artistry.’

Naxos 2.110733
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Mancini • Mauillon • Mingardo • Kielland • Zanasi • Vitale • La Capella Reial de Catalunya • Le Concert des Nations • Savall • Bayle
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘…L’Orfeo thrives when given sufficient room to breathe, and its intellectual agenda benefits from a degree of sympathetic stylization. French director Pauline Bayle gives it just that in this spare yet visually striking 2021 coproduction’
Opera News

Naxos 2.110753–54
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Devos • Briand • Mauillon • Leguérinel • Buendia • Namur Chamber Choir • Les Musiciens du Louvre • Dumas • Lacroix
Découverte | Crescendo

‘…three hours of good fun and relaxation. We are delighted by the dazzling staging, the costume…, the fresh and inventive music, and above all by this dedicated and committed cast…to make this original version a production overflowing with fantasy. Irresistible, really! ’

Naxos 2.110731
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Ulyanov • Minasyan • Popov • Lyon National Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Rustioni • Kosky
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘This is definitely a production worth watching.’
Opera News

Naxos 2.110751
Also available on Blu-ray Video
von Otter • Bezuidenhout • Loy

‘A stunning performance.’
The WholeNote

Independent Releases (in alphabetical order)
C Major 760408
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Nylund • Herlitzius • Skelton • Elgr • Schwarz • Berlin State Opera Chorus • Berlin Staatskapelle • Rattle • Michieletto

‘An extraordinary performance of a towering masterpiece.’
Opera News

Opus Arte OA1319D
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Watson • Avis • Lamb • Royal Opera House Orchestra • Kessels • McGregor
Critics’ Choice | Record Geijutsu

‘The music by Thomas Adès fits the scenario, with some truly beautiful passages along with pounding, barbaric themes. The dancing is outstanding. The Royal Ballet has never been better.’
American Record Guide

UNITEL Edition 807708
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Mehta • Alder • Bardon • Arditti • Concentus Musicus Wien • Bolton • Warner
Critic’s Choice | Opera News

‘Mehta’s exceptionally commanding Cesare and Alder’s terrifically feisty Cleopatra equal each other in charisma and vocal prowess.’
Opera News

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