In addition to its own wide-reaching monthly new releases (see www.naxos.com/newreleases), Naxos also distributes several leading labels in many countries around the world. Here is a choice selection of recent releases from some of these distributed labels.
Proprius’ founder Jacob Boëthius once wrote: ‘A small record company can’t afford to put out bad discs. And you, the music lover, must be confident that what you buy is good.’ He was aware that, ultimately, quality is what counts the most with clients, record buyers, artists and sound engineers. Widely known as an ‘audiophile label’, quality in every aspect has been the hallmark of Proprius for over 50 years and will continue to be so for years to come.
‘One of the many joys of working with early music is that the imagination is free to embark on a journey through space and time. The opportunity arises to reawaken long forgotten music that would have been heard on the streets we now walk, bringing history ever closer to the present, not unlike the experience of holding a yellowing, faded manuscript in your hands, on which the words “Vivaldi” or “small flute” are scrawled. Time stands still, and this 300-year-old greeting becomes tangible in the here and now. On interpreting the stories behind the scribblings of ink that someone once thought so important to put to pen and paper, I’m overcome with eagerness and humility – what a privilege to breathe new life into these treasures.’ – Emelie Roos
Sweden is changing rapidly. Immigration and media developments have brought a new level of cultural diversity never before experienced. With Träd inn i dansen – En svensk folkdansmässa, listeners are presented and reintroduced to the culture of Swedish traditional dance music. Mässa i Viston, written in the mid-eighties for church youth groups, is characterised by a completely different musical language inspired by the Swedish ballad tradition and Afro-American rhythms. Mässans Sanctus – Du är helig has been translated into various languages and is well known worldwide.
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The professional career of John Fiore – a descendant of a New York musical family – took shape very early on. He began his professional career at 14 years old as a pianist and répétiteur for the annual Wagner Ring Cycle at the Seattle Opera. Later he studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester (New York) and assisted Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim and Leonard Bernstein. In the present recording, he conducted the Munich Radio Orchestra in an all-Beethoven programme featuring the Overture to Egmont and Overture in C Major, ‘Namensfeier’.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s entrance into the world of the symphony had begun with a coup de théâtre. One could say it was almost audacious. In his Second Symphony, Beethoven, from the very first bar, shakes the listeners from their stupor. Then relentlessly intensifies the moment further by extending movements and shortening motifs, accelerating at breakneck speed before hitting the brakes without warning. Colossal, bizarre, and wild are the terms repeatedly used to describe this work.
Brett Dean developed a piece of work related to Beethoven’s life and music. In his work, Testament, Brett Dean regards Beethoven less as a musical and more as a human phenomenon. It’s about the awful situation of his progressive hearing loss and how Beethoven describes it in a letter to his brothers, which we know as the Heiligenstadt Testament. Dean makes use of tinnitus noises, transforming them into musical sounds.
The closest Leo Blech (1880–1959) gets to fame these days is being mistaken for Ernest Bloch, although some might still remember his seminal work as an opera conductor in Berlin, where he worked for almost half a century (except for the Nazi years). But his compositions – either operas or involving the voice in some other way – have disappeared from the repertoire, which is a pity because his music, while less probing than that of his contemporary Bloch, is very much charming in the style of, say, Humperdinck or Rheinberger.
Brahms was 43 years old when, after a long period of maturation, his First Symphony was published. Felix Weingartner commented on it ‘taking hold like the claw of a lion’ and its urgency marked a new phase in Brahms’ musical development. The Second Symphony is traditionally seen as the pastoral element in the cycle, while the Third, with its melodic beauty, has the courage to end quietly, an act of astonishing serenity. The compelling Passacaglia finale of the Fourth Symphony represents a fitting summation to one of the greatest symphonic cycles in the classical canon.
Having been invited to perform at the 1967 Vienna Festival, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra opened its concert with a high-octane performance of Dvořák’s patriotic overture The Hussites. In Brahms’ Violin Concerto, the elegant soloist Henryk Szeryng entered into a musical dialogue with conductor Rafael Kubelík that was both subtly sensitive and quick-witted.
Bohuslav Martinů’s six symphonies were composed between 1942 and 1953 during the composer’s years in America. He completed the first five symphonies at the astonishing rate of one per year, although not at any artistic expense – years later, he described the Fifth Symphony as a ‘well organised, organic, well-ordered work’ in an interview with The New York Times. A full seven years elapsed, however, before Martinů completed his Sixth. One of his ‘unexpected’ works, it took, quite unusually for him, two years to complete, and its form proved to be a radical change from his previous symphonies. As he wrote to his friend Šafránek – ‘I am about to create fantasias!’
This album includes a large portion of the orchestral works written by Ludvig Norman (1831–1885), ‘The Swedish Brahms’, including his masterpiece work, Symphony No. 3, performed by the Oulu Symphony Orchestra under Johannes Gustavsson. Ludvig Norman was a highly fascinating artist who inspired a generation of Swedish composers and was widely respected, although his 3rd Symphony was premiered only after his death. Norman is among Sweden’s premier symphonists after A.F. Lindblad and Franz Berwald (1796–1868). His contribution to the Swedish orchestral repertoire comprises three symphonies, three overtures and a Funeral March. Stenhammar described the composer’s 3rd Symphony as ‘full of beauty’ and even claimed that he valued it more than ‘any of Brahms’s symphonies’.
Bent Sørensen’s quietly spoken universe incorporates loneliness, nostalgia and a feeling of loss and leave-taking. Of the works on this album, his triple concerto, L’Isola della Città (2015), has a purity that makes it one of the composer’s most immediate and gripping orchestral works. His dramatic Second Symphony (2019) dives into the resonance of music’s classical history, where every sound is considered with the greatest care and refinement.
The chamber songs recorded here are all inspired by the texts of four poets – Pascoli, Carducci, Panzini and Moretti – who were either born in Romagna or were attracted by this enchanted land. Romagna is the place where the respective memorial buildings of the poets stand, ranging from those in San Mauro Pascoli and Cesenatico to the Casa Rossa in Bellaria and Villa Silvia in Lizzano, above Renato Serra’s Cesena. These four houses have been united by a meaningful project aiming to give rise to a musical competition under the support of the four illustrious literary men. This was the origin of the Primo Concorso internazionale di composizione lirica da camera su testi di poeti e scrittori di Romagna organised by n.o.t.a. Music, an innovative cultural association supporting educational and productive activities. A selection from this competition constitutes most of the programme of the album.
Richard Wagner’s son Siegfried initially studied to become an architect, but the pull of music was too strong and he composed 15 operas, among other works. An Allem ist Hütchen Schuld! (Everything is Little-Hat’s Fault) has a multi-layered plotline that alludes to at least 40 fairy tales. These are all brought together into a storyline in which Katherlies’chen and Frieder’s intentions to be married take them on fantastical adventures, with the goblin Little-Hat at the heart of all the goings-on. With its expressive orchestration, lyricism and late Romantic colour, this is an opera that transports you into a world in which anything seems possible.
Saxophonist Julian Velasco headlines an inventive, virtuosic, and diverse album of contemporary classical works for soprano, alto, and tenor sax as the winner of Cedille Records’ first Emerging Artist Competition, a juried event celebrating the independent classical label’s 30th anniversary of championing Windy City artists of world-class talent. For his first-ever album as a featured soloist, Velasco has assembled a program he says reflects ‘the different musical aspects of my life at this moment’ while paying tribute to ‘the unique and wonderful people with whom I have been lucky enough to surround myself.’
When we consider the great musical nations of the world, Hungary perhaps does not come to mind first. But the more we think about it, the higher the country rises in such a ranking. For Salaputia Brass, Hungary has played a leading role since the 20th century. It has established itself not only as a goldmine for instrumentalists but also produced many (contemporary) compositions for the developing genre of brass chamber music. This album brings together an overview of contemporary Hungarian music.
A maverick for his entire career, Albert Moeschinger was awarded the Music Prize of the City of Basel in 1953 and was considered ‘the most versatile and most imaginative among the creative personalities of more recent Swiss music’ by musicologist Hans Oesch. At first influenced by the works of Max Reger and Richard Strauss, Moeschinger’s music evolved from an expressive and differentiated harmonic language to atonality: inspired by Thomas Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus, Moeschinger adopted twelve-tone music, beginning in 1956. These three works illustrate Moeschinger’s impressive stylistic breadth. Each of the works is receiving here its world premiere recording.
The guitar duo Siempre Nuevo was founded in 2007 by two outstanding Czech guitarists, Matej Freml and Patrik Vacík, during their studies at the Hochschule für Music Franz Liszt in Weimar. These top chamber players are regularly invited to various concerts and festivals. Siempre Nuevo plays original compositions as well as adaptations for two guitars. Their repertoire ranges from the Renaissance period to the Contemporary period. Freml and Vacík’s increasing use of historical instruments gives the older pieces, especially classical ones, a unique and authentic sound. This diversity and the fresh, expressive interpretations have often been praised by audiences and critics alike. Now they present their fourth album of carefully compiled pieces that have been the most popular in their repertoire, and that the audience always wanted to hear.
Capriccio continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary with this retrospective of some of the greatest instrumental recordings in its catalogue. Keyboard mavens include Ton Koopman, performing J.S. Bach; the great Christine Schornsheim, performing concertos by Bach’s sons; and Tzimon Barto, combining his muscular frame with a gentle touch in Brahms. Leading wind and brass players are represented by Burkhard Glaetzner (oboe), Eckart Haupt (flute) and Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet) in music by masters of the Baroque and Classical periods. And there are contributions from the ever-reliable Petersen Quartet, the inquisitive Linos Ensemble (whose exploration of new repertoire represents a Capriccio hallmark), and incomparable solo performers Tabea Zimmermann and Vladimir Spivakov with highlights for the upper strings. Altogether, a generous and enticing programme that is truly representative of the Capriccio label.
Johann Pachelbel is remembered today for his Canon in D Major, but he was an outstandingly successful organist and composer whose musical legacy is in fact quite broad and varied. Of his keyboard pieces, the Hexachordum Apollinis is regarded as the pinnacle of his oeuvre and was a work to which Pachelbel himself attached great importance. Consisting of six arias with variations, the collection brings together the influence of several schools of music, all filtered through the composer’s refined tastes and superlative technical skill. The splendid Chaconne anticipates Bach and is one of Pachelbel’s best-known keyboard pieces.
‘Award-winning director Claus Guth’s acclaimed production of Jenůfa is a striking representation of an oppressed society ‘infused with heart-warming humanity’ – Evening Standard ★★★★★
Two courageous women struggle for fulfilment against the backdrop of a claustrophobic rural community. With music inspired by the traditional folk melodies of his native Moravia, Janáček’s score movingly captures Jenůfa’s progression from hope to despair to eventual radiant happiness, while her stepmother, the Kostelnička, is one of opera’s most complex maternal figures.
Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási conducts Asmik Grigorian in her much-anticipated Royal Opera House debut in the title role, alongside Karita Mattila as the Kostelnička and a star cast.
Alessandro Scarlatti is one of the key figures of Italian Baroque opera and the influential Neapolitan school in particular. Griselda is the last of Scarlatti’s operas to have survived intact to the present day. Its narrative is set in motion by the marriage of the King of Sicily to a poor shepherdess; the ensuing complications of love and the tensions between country and court delivering an entertainment full of lyrical charm and lively action. Performed by a superb team of Baroque specialists and acclaimed singers, this production is set in Puglia’s magnificent Palazzo Ducale and celebrates the 300th anniversary of Griselda’s prémiere.
‘A great return for the RSC in its new open-air venue’ – The Times ★★★★
A father ends up in the wrong country on the wrong day as a government makes hasty proclamations about travel. A lonely son, while searching for his brother, loses himself. Across town, a wife starts to realise her husband is not the man she thought he was (but rather likes it). Will anything ever be the same again? Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, a fairy tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision, is directed by comedy master Phillip Breen.
‘This album represents an innovative and renewed production path that started in 2020 with my first album, My Art of Gypsy Jazz. I aimed to immediately highlight in the title a personal vision of the Gypsy style, starting from its stylistic peculiarities, and adding colour in a harmonic and stylistic combination with my experience. In this new album, Gypsy Jazz Style, it was necessary to complete my compositions depending on the conditions. Aside from maintaining the guitars and bass, many friends and musicians enthusiastically joined in a valuable collaboration. The outcome is sophisticated. Each note is meaningful!’ – Pietro Lazazzara
‘Minyeshu manages to sound both accessible to a wider audience yet still authentically and proudly Ethiopian at the same time.’ – Songlines
‘NETSA’, meaning ‘free’, explores nature, love and unity and the empowerment of artistic endeavour. It is a reflection on what has been and how she would like to shine her light going forward – an album of creative freedom, expression and defiance. By fusing Ethiopian and western instrumentation, she delicately balances exhilarating Ethiopian grooves with beautifully soft jazzy melodies.
‘The blend of traditional and western instruments give Minyeshu a range of musical options to support her rich vocals and personal lyrics.’ – RootsWorld
‘Working with this recording was such a pleasurable experience, and showed once again that REBaroque is a gathering of fantastic musicians, all contributing in their unique way to the group’s wonderful energy and colourful music making.’ – Maria Lindal
Download and enjoy excerpts from Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon in F Major, TWV 52:F1!