In addition to its own wide-reaching monthly new releases (see www.naxos.com/newreleases.asp), 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.
Founded in 2004 by the renowned French producer François Duplat, BelAir Classiques is an internationally acclaimed video label specialising in releasing productions with a fine repertoire of ballet and opera programmes on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as classical music concerts, theatre, movies, and documentaries. In March 2023, BelAir Classiques joined the Naxos Music Group.
BelAir Classiques aims to release superior artistic materials in collaboration with the greatest European Opera Houses, such as the Opéra national de Paris, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Zurich Opera House, the Royal Swedish Opera, the Berliner Staatsoper, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Théâtre royal de la Monnaie, the Teatro Real (Madrid), and renowned festivals like Aix-en-Provence and Arena di Verona.
Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Platée stands as a masterpiece in the French operatic repertoire, earning high praise from critics during the composer’s lifetime. Composed for the marriage of the Dauphin Louis, son of Louis XV, to the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain, it was first performed at Versailles in 1745 and quickly gained popularity. The plot revolves around the ugly and conceited frog Platée, the victim of a machination of the gods who make her believe that she is loved by Jupiter. Is Rameau subtly mocking Princess Maria Teresa of Spain – reputedly a woman of little beauty? Or the French court, which saw itself as a new Olympus? This classic production from the Opéra de Paris by Marc Minkowski and Laurent Pelly returns to the stage with an entirely new cast, featuring Julie Fuchs, Mathias Vidal, Jean Teitgen and Lawrence Brownlee.
With 120 actors, 600 participants, 1300 costumes, 220 sets and after two years of work, Ariane Mnouchkine’s iconic movie tells in four hours the fascinating story of Molière, and of his century.
From his childhood to his death, we follow Molière and his travelling companions, in their joy, misery and glory throughout a savage yet refined XVIIth century France, sharing their first theatrical adventures, their successes and failures.
This familiar and spectacular saga where the devout clashes with the libertine, and peasants with courtesans, is about the life of an honest man who exhausts himself in an unceasing struggle to practice his art in a century filled with repression and violent hypocrisy.
Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra enjoyed a long and intensive artistic collaboration, which came to an abrupt end with Haitink’s death in October 2021. BR-Klassik now presents previously unreleased live recordings of outstanding concerts from past years. This recording of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony documents concerts given in November 1981 at the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz.
This Complete Bruckner Symphonies Edition includes all versions of the symphonies, either published or to be published under the auspices of the Austrian National Library and the International Bruckner Society in the Neue Anton Bruckner Gesamtausgabe (The New Anton Bruckner Complete Edition). Bruckner himself reckoned that his career as a professional composer began when he was thirty-nine. With only an exercise for a symphony under his belt – the unnumbered F Minor – he was now ready to write his first true symphony. The world, however, was not ready to receive it. First performed, badly, in 1868 in Linz, the work flopped and was put aside until nine years and five symphonies later, when it was gently reworked. A subsequent performance in 1884 was Bruckner’s “most successful Viennese performance to date”, which perplexingly led to a thorough revision that would become the 1891 ‘Vienna’ version. This recording uses the original 1868 ‘Linz’ version.
César Franck’s only symphony came at a time when the French music world was seeking to rival the great Austro-German tradition. The ‘darkness-to-light’ narrative of the Symphony in D Minor owes a debt to Beethoven and there is a unique power within its distinctive themes, innovative cyclic form and general gravitas. Franck’s student Ernest Chausson was no doubt inspired by his teacher’s thematic metamorphoses, but the anguished influence of Wagner is also ever present. The published score of the Symphony in B-Flat Major includes many errors which conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud has meticulously corrected after careful study of Chausson’s autograph manuscripts.
In addition to having written the first Viennese operetta, Franz von Suppé was a master of the Italian, French and German styles which he blended like an alchemist to form his own unique, irrepressible compositions. Two imperishable examples are here, the overtures Poet and Peasant and Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna. This album also explores his previously unrecorded Fantasia Symphonica, recently rediscovered in Viennese archives by conductor Ola Rudner, which displays masterful orchestration, distinctive melodies and a mastery of counterpoint. Other rarities complete this fresh look at the breadth of Suppé’s ambition.
This collection commemorates the long-standing collaboration between conductor Gary Bertini and the SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart. Their musical journey began in 1978 with Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and concluded with their final recording, the 1996 performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor in Tokyo, also featured in this box set. Bertini, who initially conducted several Israeli orchestras, later ventured to Germany and Japan (the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra). During his lifetime, he did not always earn the respect he deserved because he did not play the part of the glamourous conductor that was the accepted stereotype. But as time went by, his aim to be faithful to the composer’s intentions became widely appreciated.
Although Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor was the first of his two concertos to be published, it was actually composed shortly after No. 2. Stirring, beautiful and with a fiery Rondo finale, the concerto is especially notable for its radiant slow movement, which Chopin said was a “meditation in beautiful spring weather, but by moonlight.” The other two works on the programme are the Fantasy on Polish Airs, which Chopin called his ‘Potpourri on Polish Themes’, and the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, a dance-inspired showpiece. They’re performed in this classic 1972 VOX recording by Abbey Simon, the great American pianist and eloquent exponent of Chopin’s works.
Francesco Cavalli, a central figure in the development of 17th-century Italian music, was as popular in his time as Verdi was in his. Though Cavalli was immensely successful as an operatic composer he wrote important sacred works in the grandiose tradition of the chapel of St Mark’s in Venice as well as shorter, more intense or spiritual pieces. These proved to be revolutionary in their individualism and Cavalli’s stylistic and expressive creativity can be heard in this selection which includes the world premiere recording of Confitebor. All come from a single collection published in 1656.
Daron Hagen is a force to be reckoned with in the world of opera and orchestral music, with Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards numbering among his accolades. With Hagen’s catalogue of over 500 songs and large-scale cycles, The Art of Song is founded on 45 years of distinguished experience in vocal music. Divided into four “life seasons,” this richly emotional cycle embraces themes that range from the human cost of America’s politics since the Civil War; the rueful wisdom of aging, love and nostalgia; and on towards tragedy, faith and an acceptance of nature’s cycles.
Philip Stopford is admired in Britain and America for his beautifully crafted music, rooted in the Anglican tradition. His works are memorable and colourful, as these world premiere recordings demonstrate. The biggest piece on this album is the Missa Deus nobiscum, a sacred concert work with a scintillating role for soprano soloist that displays Stopford’s compositional skill, creating a journey rather than a sequence of set piece movements. Elsewhere, in pieces for a variety of locations and occasions, his music is evocative, filmic and vividly celebratory.
Victor Hugo’s 1830 stage drama Hernani won overwhelming admiration, and over a decade later Verdi’s attention was drawn to it as an operatic vehicle that would give him opportunities for full dramatic unity. Its subject is the nobleman-turned-brigand Ernani who loves Elvira, herself the object of two other men’s desires. Ernani’s success was immediate and it became Verdi’s most popular opera until he composed Il trovatore. This production won critical acclaim, as did conductor James Conlon for his ‘superb support of the singers and the flexible elasticity he brought to his tempi’ (OperaTraveller.com).
This collection of arias include pieces from Gluck’s earlier operas, Il Tigrane, Poro, La Sofonisba, and L’Ippolito. It’s a great testament to the composer’s productivity during the period between 1743 and 1745. At 30, Gluck was already an established composer, and his operas were performed at significant events in Crema, Turin, and Milan. During this period, he had not yet composed his monumental compositions such as Orpheus and Euridice, Paride ed Elena, and Alceste, which would secure his legacy in the history of music and be associated with the opera reform that he conceptualised with Ranieri de’ Calzabigi.
Unfortunately, the autographs of these arias no longer exist, along with the scores of the entire operas. Only fragments from the grand performances of the time remain, sometimes with only basso continuo accompaniment. To preserve the authenticity of the original performance, arias with existing orchestral part have been chosen, except for the aria Se viver non poss’io from the opera Poro which has been orchestrated from the basso continuo and some indication of the first violin motif. Unfortunately, complete scores of the opera Poro no longer exist.
The curator of this work, is mezzo-soprano Elena De Simone, , accompanied here by the Il Mosaico ensemble. She has earned acclaim for her noteworthy efforts in uncovering the works of esteemed composers like Hasse and Maria Teresa Agnesi, as highlighted in previous releases (TC690801, TC720101, and TC720102).
The new medium of film with sound was developing at around the time Prokofiev returned to the Soviet Union, where in 1933 he composed the music for his first film, Lieutenant Kijé. Prokofiev’s remarkable perception of the medium’s requirements was enhanced by his collaboration with Sergey Eisenstein on Alexander Nevsky. The music was of epic proportions and the resultant cantata remains one of Prokofiev’s most brilliantly conceived and popular works. Leonard Slatkin’s classic VOX recordings of these works have been praised for their ‘powerful and compelling performances’. (ClassicsToday.com)
Bernd Frohlich and organist Ludwig Lusser have embarked on a new chapter of sound exploration. Their project skilfully combines avant-garde techniques with the beauty and complexity of Baroque music, drawing inspiration from Johann Sebastian Bach’s toccatas, suite movements, and chorale preludes. The duo weaves unexpected and remarkable improvisations, deliberately avoiding fixed chordal structures or predictable patterns. They have no pre-established agreements regarding tempo or the length of each piece. This approach is a testament to the musical trust cultivated through years of shared exploration. Over the course of a decade, Frohlich and Lusser’s dynamic collaboration has given rise to five unique concert programmes and a captivating album production featuring diverse source material. The artistic synergy of the duo, fuelled by a commitment to pushing musical boundaries, has resulted in a profound and innovative body of work.
José Antônio de Almeida Prado was one of the most prolific and creative Brazilian composers of the second half of the 20th century, finding inspiration in everything from the birdsong and forests of his native country to a contemplation of the galaxies. The evocative Le Livre magique de Xangô is considered a foundational work in Almeida Prado’s final, eclectic postmodern phase, during which folk music also re-emerged in works such as Das Cirandas. The lively Solo Violin Sonata and lyrical Capriccio both explore the violin’s full expressive potential, while The Four Seasons tests the skill of younger players.
Born in London in 1886, violinist/violist Rebecca Clarke was also a composer who produced a significant number of works; her songs and chamber music were particularly notable. Although her output became neglected after the Second World War, it experienced a renaissance in the 1970s. The performances on this album take the listener on a journey through the eloquence and profundity of Rebecca Clarke’s creative world. This is OehmsClassics’ second album featuring Judith Ingolfsson (violin, viola) and Vladimir Stoupel (piano), furthering the label’s commitment to presenting musical discoveries.
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the son of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), described his father’s Sonatas, BWV 1014–1019 as among the best works his father ever wrote. He continued to perform them extensively after his father’s death. This is music of implication and inference, the emotions no less real for their apparent lack of specificity. There is pleasure in the paradox: even without a text, the music sings. “They still sound very good and give me much joy, although they date back more than fifty years. They contain some Adagios that could not be written in a more singable manner today”, writes C.P.E. Bach. In these new recordings, some of the greatest exponents of Baroque music in the Nordic countries – violinist Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen-Pilch and keyboardist Tuija Hakkila – join forces. Tuija Hakkila performs on a replica Gottfried Silbermann fortepiano 1747, made by Andrea Restelli. J.S. Bach played one of Silbermann’s fortepianos in 1747 in Potsdam for Frederick the Great and his court musicians.
Upheaval is an exceptional project featuring four compositions for cello and piano written by female composers from the first part of the 20th century, challenging the cultural norms of the time. The works, composed from 1911–1919, include Henriëtta Bosmans’ Sonata for Cello and Piano (1919), Dora Pejačević’s Sonata for Cello and Piano (1913), Nadia Boulanger’s Trois pièces (1914), and Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne (1911). The husband-and-wife duo of Janne Fredens (cello) and Søren Rastogi (piano) approach the programme with profound commitment and mission, recognising that their performances of such unfamiliar repertoire may set a benchmark for future artists. They chose the Bechstein Grand Piano to complement the beautiful tone of Janne’s cello and evoke the piano sound of the period. This recording is highly recommended for fans of unfamiliar chamber music, advocates for women composers, and those who love to hear glorious music played by great musicians with passion and commitment.
The tradition of bringing out New Year publications on January 2, ‘Berchtold’s Day’, dates back to the 17th century. Societies and guilds used to provide young people in the city with printed books, illustrations, or music in exchange for a financial contribution, which helped fund the heating of the society rooms. In 2005, an album featuring piano music by Winterthur composer Johann Carl Eschmann, whose documents are archived in the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, marked the revival of this age-old tradition in a new form.
The New Year release for 2024 brings together works by six composers, all of whom except one were born and trained in French-speaking countries. Even Paul Juon had Romanic roots since his grandfather had emigrated from the Swiss canton of Grisons to Russia around 1830. The album features short pieces grouped around César Franck’s Sonata in A Major. Composed between 1880 and 1924, all the pieces, except Ernest Bloch’s three lieder movements From Jewish Life (1924), whose Judaistic timbre became Bloch’s trademark, conform to our present-day perception of a rhapsodic fin-de-siècle sound.
Niccolò Castiglioni’s music has at its heart a quest for different timbres and new musical perspectives. After the neo-Classical exercises of his student years, he moved towards serial techniques with explorations of contrast and transformation. Castiglioni made his name with Inizio di movimento, consolidating this with Cangianti in which the piano becomes a ‘lyrical instrument of the most tender poetry’. The award-winning Italian pianist Aldo Orvieto continues his survey of piano works by one of Italy’s most unique 20th-century composers.
This album features three Suites – BWV 1007, BWV 1008, and BWV 1010 – transcribed for guitar by the performers themselves. The practice of transcription is rooted in a tradition established by Bach, which was common during his time. Notably, the Fifth Suite for cello has come down to us in two versions, one for cello and one for lute, leaving the order of their creation uncertain.
For his second album on the SWR label, Robert Neumann chose two works that are easily paired and are close to the pianist’s heart. Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana depicts a character featured in several tales by E.T.A. Hoffmann, while Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition describes the contemplation of artworks by the painter Viktor Hartmann. Both are examples of programme music with somewhat comparable ideas but, as Neumann puts it, ‘One idea deals with a real character, the other one doesn’t… And I think both show in an exemplary manner how flawlessly and in different ways a great Romantic cycle can be structured.’
Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (SWR19148EP) is also available for streaming and download.
Rossini’s masterpiece Il barbiere di Siviglia is a fast-paced, thrilling opera featuring a lot of popular arias. Staged by Herbert Fritsch as a colourful, turbulent, diversely choreographed piece, this production is extraordinary musical theatre: ‘A feast for the ears against a colourful backdrop.’ (DLF Kultur) ‘With largely sensational musical performances’ (Kurier). Juan Diego Floréz ‘fulfils all expectations of a Rossini singer in a class of his own’ (BR Klassik), ‘witty and vocally profound is Ildar Abdrazakov as Basilio’ (Der Standard) while Vasilisa Berzhanskaya ‘is convincing in her house debut as Rosina.’ (DLF Kultur)
For the first time, David Garrett performed with his band in the ancient baths of Caracalla, presenting his outstanding program Alive. David Garrett plays the greatest soundtracks from the world of movies and games, with numerous world hits such as Happy, Stayin’ Alive, Let it Go, Shallow, Bella Ciao, and Thriller, among others.
As a bonus, the package includes David Garrett – The Private Life of a Star, a documentary providing insights into the life of the star violinist David Garrett. Starting as a so-called Wunderkind of classical music, he is now one of the most successful violinists of his generation. His recipe for success is his crossover of rock, pop and classical music: 4.5 million albums sold, 25 gold and platinum awards and enthusiastic fans on tours worldwide.
Der fliegende Holländer was one of the operas that allowed Wagner to assert his place as the foremost German operatic composer of the time and to develop the foundations of his visionary mature works. Premiered in Dresden in 1843, its story is of the Flying Dutchman – the ghostly sea captain doomed to wander the seas eternally unless redeemed by love. This new staging was praised by seenandheard-international.com and for being ‘a triumph in faithfully presenting Wagner’s opera with an innovative production which was both exciting and created special effects’.
L’Italiana in Londra was Domenico Cimarosa’s first international triumph, thrilling audiences all over Europe after its premiere in 1778. It later became eclipsed by the even bigger success of Il matrimonio segreto however, and has become a rarity on stage today. Set in a London hotel, this cheerful ‘Intermezzo in musica’ has cleverly crafted arias, duets and ensembles that drive the plot along, the story being one of thwarted love, quarrels and misunderstandings. L’Italiana in Londra has been summed up by director R.B. Schlather as ‘incredibly charming and sophisticated … demanding, dark, dirty and very funny … an impeccable rom-com.’
Pious restraint comes face to face with sensuous hedonism in Camille Saint-Saëns’ grand opera retelling of the Bible story of Samson and Delilah.
Multi-Olivier Award-winning director Richard Jones returns to The Royal Opera to stage this spectacular fin-de-siècle masterpiece, not performed at Covent Garden since 2004. Elīna Garanča stars as the Philistine Dalila, SeokJong Baek as the inspiring Jewish hero Samson and Antonio Pappano conducts the full forces of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. With superb singing in solos and duets of great intimacy and fervour, gorgeous music with thrilling orchestral interludes, and splendid choral numbers for the Royal Opera Chorus – this is a performance to remember.
In the feature-length documentary Essential Royal Ballet, Katie Derham introduces carefully curated excerpts from productions spanning the history of ballet, going behind the scenes as the dancers prepare to take to the stage. With stunning solos, passionate pas de deux and jaw-dropping numbers for the corps de ballet, it is a chance to see the Company’s much-loved dancers, past and present up close, including Carlos Acosta, Marianela Nuñez, Natalia Osipova, Steven McRae, Francesca Hayward and Matthew Ball, who share stories of their life on the stage and thoughts on what these ballets mean to them.
In Pas de Deux: the ‘steps for two’ so central to the form of ballet are celebrated further in 16 exceptional examples from The Royal Ballet’s repertory. A collection from across the Company’s heritage and contemporary classics, Pas de Deux demonstrates the choreographic diversity, technical brilliance, show-stopping spectacle and artistry for which The Royal Ballet is acclaimed around the world.
Fremtidsfabler is the second album by Sebastian Haugen, a composer and bassist. The album features a mix of Nordic improvisational tradition and American groove and riff-based music. The record’s instrumentation is both electric and acoustic, and the soundscape has a raw and unpolished sound ideal from the 1970s. Sebastian Haugen gives the musicians a lot of freedom to influence the musical expression, which contributes to a unique sound where the compositions are largely coloured by the performers. The compositions on the album explore interpersonal relationships, important events, and feelings that have characterised various eras in the composer’s life so far. The idea behind the title Fremtidsfabler (Future Fables) is based on the recognition that one does not know what will happen in the future and, seen in retrospect, what one would have done differently if one had known.
Seeking the Divine reflects on moments in Jason Carter’s life when a strong sense of purpose was revealed to him. It echoes the inner tranquillity that can come over us, sometimes unexpectedly, when we realise with complete acceptance what our role is within this world. These enlightening moments can drive us to consider something greater than ourselves, and that our lives, whatever path they follow, may have some higher meaning. Something our minds may not always be cable of comprehending but our hearts can feel…
Jason has always found the greatest sense of serenity whilst traveling to distant places to perform his harp-guitar to audiences far and wide. His passion for intercultural dialogue has also brought him many life-changing experiences in places such as North Korea, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Estonia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Mozambique…
Following this internal ‘calling’ that has guided him throughout his life, Jason continues to perform at concerts, whilst making documentaries and music videos that encourage multicultural conversation and unity. He is currently waiting for the completion of a new 23-string harp guitar that is being built specifically for him.
Franz Schubert was regarded chiefly as a composer of domestic music, and during his all-too-brief life managed to publish only a quarter of his works. Without patronage and without ever becoming well known or a virtuoso, how did Schubert manage to achieve unprecedented expressivity in song composition, or to create his chamber, symphonic and piano masterpieces? And how did he reconcile the warring elements of his tempestuous personality? This vivid biographical narrative includes selections from his most popular works including the String Quintet in C Major and the ‘Trout’ Quintet, as well as the symphonies, and examples from his Lieder and stage works.
Wagner’s last opera, Parsifal is a medieval epic story marked by Christian, Buddhist and esoteric references. It is about redemption and renewal, but this production by the renowned opera director Dmitri Tcherniakov adds a jarring note: revenge.