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.
Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings, the in-house label of the Bayerische Staatsoper, seeks to chronicle the excellence, diversity and tradition of one of the world’s most renowned opera houses and its orchestra, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Launched in 2021, the young label has already made quite an impact, when it was awarded no less than four prestigious accolades at the 2022 Gramophone Classical Music Awards in London, including the most coveted award, the ‘Recording of the Year’ – an unprecedented achievement in the close to 50-year history of the awards.
The annals of the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Bayerisches Staatsorchester stretch back nearly 500 years, belonging to the illustrious handful of cultural institutions whose tradition spans European musical history almost entirely. In past decades, the opera house and orchestra have established themselves among the best in the world, in particular through their collaboration with conductors such as Wolfgang Sawallisch, Carlos Kleiber, Zubin Mehta and Kirill Petrenko. Against this backdrop, the opportunity has been seized to take current and older highlights from the large repertoire, catalogue them on an exclusive in-house label and make them available to a wider audience.
‘…The role of Gerda is brightly and intensely interpreted by Barbara Hannigan, the singer being doubled by an actress, a child, and even a doll! Kay, male role, is sung by a mezzo, Rachael Wilson, vibrant in her commitment. The orchestra, conducted with great inspiration by Cornelius Meister, allows us to hear the icy sound of music with an elusive character, while the filming of Christoph Engel shows us the very beautiful scenography of Harald B. Thor.’ – ICMA
‘Leading the way is a magnificent production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt from Bavarian State Opera. … Here Jonas Kaufmann triumphs through heroic singing and riveting acting. … The supporting cast rises very nearly to Kaufmann’s level, and Kirill Petrenko’s conducting is a revelation.’ – Fanfare
Gianandrea Noseda chose Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 for his first Philharmonia concert as General Music Director of the Opernhaus Zurich. This performance is now being released as a live recording, together with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, which was recorded at a later date. The Slavic repertoire is very close to Noseda’s heart, and in both concerts, he succeeded in conveying this passion to the musicians of the Philharmonia Zurich. The Neue Zurcher Zeitung praised the performance, calling Noseda a ‘live wire,’ whose musical direction ‘demanded the last reserves from his musicians,’ transforming Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony into ‘a highly dramatic work.’ The ‘sombre’ Seventh and the ‘buoyant’ Eighth form a study in contrasts in Dvořák’s oeuvre. Along with the Ninth (From the New World), they are his most popular symphonies.
Robert Schumann’s Fourth Symphony was initially conceived not long after the success of the First, but the dramatic original single-movement version confused audiences, and substantial revisions resulted in the eloquent masterpiece we hear today. This and the Third Symphony owe a great deal to Beethoven, with the ‘Rhenish’ sharing much of the joy and effervescence of the ‘Pastoral’ Symphony. Gustav Mahler’s subtle reorchestrations were made in the light of instrumental innovations and the increase in size of the symphony orchestra towards the beginning of the 20th century, making them ideal for performance today.
Latvian composer Arturs Maskats (b. 1957) has been at the centre of Latvian cultural life for decades, especially in the field of theatre and opera. Besides operas, incidental music and film music, his catalogue of works includes several orchestral works and concertos, songs and choral works. This new album by the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andris Poga includes one of Maskats’ latest creations in the field of orchestral music: his Accordion Concerto (2021) here performed by his fellow Latvian star-accordionist Ksenija Sidorova, one of the brightest names in classical music today.
Reinhold Friedrich is one of the world’s leading trumpeters – sometimes celebrated in the press as the ‘Trumpet God’ – and impresses with a breath-taking variety of repertoire: whether classical valve trumpet, the high piccolo trumpet, natural trumpet, historical keyed trumpet, whether with the Jewish shofar or the softer flugelhorn – his playing always becomes an event that is able to provoke reactions ranging from goose bumps to a mental flight of fancy. He is joined by equally esteemed masters of their craft: solo trumpeter Hannes Läubin, long associated with Reinhold Friedrich as an equal duo partner and friend, and ‘Grisha’ Gregory Ahss, whose violin playing displays a similar stylistic breadth ranging from classical virtuosity to melodically heart-warming emotionality. This distinctive sound college, which is as colourful as it is sensitive, is rounded off by the Munich Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martín Baeza-Rubio.
Shostakovich never wrote an original composition entitled Chamber Symphony. Works known under this title are arrangements of the composer’s string quartets by the conductor Rudolf Barshai and authorised by the composer. The String Quartet No. 1, Op. 49 was written in 1938, after the Great Terror from 1937 and can be considered as an act of inner emigration. The String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 110 was written 22 years later, within three days, from 12 to 14 July 1960, in the Saxon health resort of Gohrisch. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35, written in 1933, is one of the last works written in Shostakovich’s first creative period which was not yet overshadowed by Stalinist repressions and is peppered with a great deal of parodistic allusions. With the present recordings, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie under its young, energetic chief conductor Pietari Inkinen draws a dramaturgically convincing bow across Shostakovich’s work.
This album presents Vičar’s three new cantatas composed in 2020 and 2021. Vysoko hvězda consists of six Christmas carols from different countries. Vičar intertwines the motif of the song Silent Night by Franz Xaver Gruber in the cantata as delicately as a snowflake. Radujme se for choir and orchestra consists of five Czech Christmas carols. Accompanied by a fast signal motif of brass instruments, the opening Nesem vám noviny sounds like an evocation of trumpeters announcing the latest news. The final cantata, Terezčina hvězta, brings together original music by Jan Vičar and lyrics by the poet Jiří Žáček. Vičar’s neoclassical music is clear, playful and clean. It also leaves room for dramatic narration and storyline.
The mass that Mozart composed in 1779 for the Easter service in Salzburg Cathedral is shrouded in legend. From the very first bar, it exudes the stately tone that would, much later on, earn it the sobriquet Coronation Mass. Soon after Mozart's death, it became the Viennese court orchestra’s favourite mass for coronation ceremonies. This new release is a live recording of a recent concert, performed on May 21, 2022 in the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz.
The concert programme of sacred music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart includes three other lesser-known compositions that were also written during his time in Salzburg. Here they are woven in between the short movements of the Coronation Mass (their brevity dictated by the reformist spirit of the time) – and thus connected to the Mass in a way that might have been required by the practical performance conditions of a Salzburg church service.
Lortzing’s Der Waffenschmied is a light-hearted and superbly crafted opera that bridges Mozart’s Singspiele and early Wagner. Despite its relative popularity, there are surprisingly few complete recordings of the work available. How lovely to change that with this new recording from the very place for which the opera was written and where it was premiered in 1846 – Vienna’s Theater an der Wien – and with a wonderful cast that includes the stalwart Günther Groissböck and the supremely promising Miriam Kutrowatz!
During the Reformation, hymns were used to alter the worldview of the population. In Denmark, many of the hymns were adapted from medieval traditions or borrowed from other languages. As a result, hymns, too, were reformed to fit Protestant purposes. On this 30-track release, the Copenhagen-based vocal ensemble Musica Ficta joins forces with the music scholar Bjarke Moe to explore the Danish Reformation hymnody from an international perspective, with links to European musical works from the 16th century.
Gevorg Hakobyan is a rising star on the international operatic stage. His deep, resonant voice brings drama and colour to every aria on this album. Three unusual selections in Armenian – including Mosi’s Aria from Anoush, the most important opera in the Armenian language – enhance this debut recording. Drawing from favourite operas such as Verdi’s Otello and Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, Arias of Love & Sorrow joins recent Delos releases, including Oksana Dyka’s In Questa Reggia, Oksana Volkova’s Poison D’Amour and Kristian Benedikt’s Tenore di forza in bringing new and captivating voices to fans of opera.
The loss of one sense, it is said, makes the others keener. What the concert pianist, organist and composer Josef Labor lost in terms of vision when smallpox left him blind at the age of three must have been compensated for by gains in aural acuity. Although generally speaking a Brahmsian (and a friend of the composer), Labor wrote in an original style that was informed by his knowledge of and love for early music. As a piano teacher, he taught Arnold Schoenberg, Alma Schindler and Paul Wittgenstein. The connection to the Wittgenstein family explains his many works for piano left hand, including the two clarinet trios on this programme (the clarinet was Ludwig Wittgenstein’s instrument) which are coupled with his quintet for clarinet, strings and piano, and the quintet for wind instruments and piano.
The compositions featured in this recording portray a pivotal step in the technical and formative development of the flute, including a shift from wood to metal, changes in structure, dimensions and shape of the barrel, number of keys, extension and sound power. The person principally responsible for this evolution was Theobald Boehm, a Bavarian concert player, composer, teacher, inventor, entrepreneur and builder who for decades, devoted himself to the development of the flute: from around 1800, when he was still a teenager, until he died in 1881.
Anton Bruckner took up the post as cathedral organist in Linz Christmas 1855, while he was still a student of the Viennese music theorist Simon Sechter. Despite his intense and extensive studies under Sechter, he still took private lessons with the Linz theatre conductor Otto Kitzler who encouraged him to write complete pieces. The result was the Kitzler-Studienbuch in 1862, which, in addition to piano pieces, also contains quartet sketches and songs for voice and piano. On this recording, on a restored Bösendorfer fortepiano owned by Bruckner, Christoph Eggner presents Waltzes, Minuets, Polkas, Marches, Etudes, individual movements such as Andante and Rondo, as well as four Fantasies. In these beautiful pieces are the seeds for all the admirable creations of the symphonic composer Anton Bruckner.
Born in Naples, Carlo Albanesi settled in London in 1882 where he successfully balanced a career as a piano soloist with that of professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music. His playing was distinguished by delicacy and this is a notable feature of his compositions, of which the sonatas are eloquent examples of his art, large in scale and Classical in form. The Sonata in D Minor marries serenity with grandiosity, while the Sonata in B-Flat Minor is wide-ranging and romantic. Renowned for her ‘beautiful tone and deep emotion’ (American Record Guide), acclaimed pianist Julia Severus performs works by an unjustly forgotten composer-pianist who was held in the highest esteem by colleagues, students and audiences alike.
This series marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Anton Bruckner, which falls in 2024. It’s dedicated to Bruckner’s symphonies, most of them recorded in new transcriptions for organ by Hansjörg Albrecht. This sixth recording was made on the church organ of St Margaret in Munich, using the transcription of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony by Erwin Horn. The bonus track is Poème pour orgue by French composer Françoise Choveaux, who took fragments from Bruckner’s Fifth to reflect the work’s subtitle, Bruckner-Fenster (Bruckner Window). This bonus track is a digital-only release – OC2100-D.
Following the success of the Missa novem vocum (TC951202) by Carlo Alessandro Landini, this new release, performed by Massimiliano Damerini, features Landini’s Piano Sonata No. 7, a single-movement work of over 56 minutes, composed in 2017-2018. In his Piano Sonatas, Landini reveals his frustrations with the present-day issues of a fragmented world, schizophrenic speed, and the daily scrolling on social networks. Sonata No. 7 follows the footsteps of Landini’s earlier sonatas, providing us with the breathing space that everyday life denies us.
Based, in part, on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff is Verdi’s last work for the stage – and only his second comic opera. The humour in this multi-layered masterpiece is distinctly wry, for all the main characters exhibit an array of human weaknesses that are implacably exposed by Verdi and his librettist Arrigo Boito. In this legendary performance from the Salzburg Festival 1982, Herbert von Karajan is not only leading a stunning cast of singers featuring the Wiener Philharmoniker, he too directed the opera, in the amazing set design of Günther Schneider-Siemssen.
Nicola Porpora was a composer who helped to turn Italian opera into the most successful and spectacular genre in Europe. One of the few luminaries of the ‘Neapolitan School’ to actually be born in Naples, Porpora wrote L’Angelica, a serenade for six voices and instruments, to a libretto by the young Pietro Metastasio in 1720. The work was composed for the birthday of Empress Elizabeth Christine, wife of Charles VI, and its plot is comedic, focusing on the travails of a couple in love. The opera’s success was immediate, resulting in the commissioning of further works that would lead to ever more glamorous successes for Porpora in Venice, London, Dresden and Vienna.
Treading a tightrope between death, life and intense romance in the opulent world of 19th-century Habsburg royalty, Elisabeth tells the story of the beautiful Empress of Austria, from her wedding, to her tragic assassination by the hand of the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni. Ongoing dark obsessions and inner turmoil are undercurrents as family schisms flare up amidst a crumbling empire. These powerful themes and a potent score brimming with fabulous music have combined to establish Elisabeth as the most successful German-language musical of all time. This spectacular open-air event presents Elisabeth at the fabled empress’s real-life home – Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Winner of the Best Entertainment Programme at the NZTV Awards 2023
Witness The Wedding of the Year, filmed at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, New Zealand. Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Semele is an exciting mix of opera and oratorio. Unlike his much more famous Messiah, this work scandalised audiences when first performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, London in 1774.
Drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the sensual story explores a love triangle between Jupiter, King of the Gods, his wife, the goddess Juno, and his lover, the mortal princess Semele…
Director Claudia Bauer and her enthusiastic cast translate PeterLicht’s radical rewriting of Molière’s Tartuffe into fast-paced comedy. In its colourful pop outfit, betrayal shines all the brighter and our present times are firmly in their sights. The seemingly pious and virtuous Tartuffe deeply impresses the wealthy Orgon and unsettles his entire family, until he is gradually caught in dishonest intentions. So far the story as told by Molière. In his radical retelling, PeterLicht takes up central motifs of the work, taking aim at our present times in the process. ‘An outrageous exuberant, thoroughly Pop-trendy Molière-transcription of the Cologne music writer PeterLicht. Completely unhinged and inspired.’ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) ‘This Tartuffe is so super! Pure nonsense. A philosophy parody – surely destined to become a cult work.’ (Deutschlandfunk)
John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew is one of the greatest ballet comedies of the 20th century. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s world-famous play, Cranko brings to vivid life the story of the shrewish Katherina whom no one wants to marry and the dashing and clever Petruchio who makes her his wife and ‘tames’ her. Set to cheerful and boisterous music by Kurt-Heinz Stolze after Domenico Scarlatti, and with colourful costumes and a charming set by Elisabeth Dalton, The Taming of the Shrew evokes the sunlit streets and gardens of Italy. The perfect ballet for the whole family, danced by the Stuttgart Ballet – ‘this company is world class’ (Tanznetz).
Damien is a mysterious violinist who plays in the ‘non-classical’ style and prefers rock. Didier, a pillar of the Belgian folk and world music scene. It is these differences that truly characterise the band; a duplex, a duality – equilibrated by Oliver Cox’s forceful drumbeats and Quentin Nguyen’s distinctive keyboard tones. The result of their creative communion is Maelstrom – a dreamy and surreal musical travel diary that draws from journeys both real and imagined, inspired by European literature, popular culture and Belgium’s rich seafaring tradition.
Before Marius Gjersø started producing Yûgen, he travelled around Japan, where his encounter with Japanese culture, manners and aesthetics made a big impression. On his return to Norway, these impressions from the east remained very much alive for him, and became a major influence on the album. Nine soulful pieces of electroacoustic improvisation lay a perfect foundation for his exquisite trumpet lines. Combining improvisation with melodic, ambient and minimalistic electronics, he creates a musical space to really embrace. Yûgen is his debut album as a solo artist.
The singer, composer and arranger Alexander Lövmark puts it simply, ‘I want to create a straightforward tribute to honour the great classic jazz standards.’ It is his second album since his 2018 debut Perfect Storm in which he presented his own compositions. Little Bird highlights his genuine interest in standards by, among others, Horace Silver, Billy Strayhorn, Joshua Redman, Jobim, and Rodgers & Hart. This new album was recorded live at the jazz venue Unity in Göteborg. Although Lövmark has worked out the orchestration, he considers it back to basics and has named his jazz band Perfect Storm after his first album.
With the launch of Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings (BSOrec), selected opera productions and concerts as well as notable archive recordings are being released in audio and/or audiovisual format. Productions from the children’s and youth programme, as well as chamber music, which will give a platform to outstanding ensembles from the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, will also soon be included within the label’s manifold offering. The detailed background information and essays in the lavishly designed, high-quality hardcover booklets complete the technically sophisticated audiovisual experience. We are delighted that releases from Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings have been honoured at the 2022 Gramophone Awards and we are happy to offer you free tracks from the two award-winning releases.