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.
Located in the nearly 110-year-old former Emmanuel Episcopal Chapel in rural Boyce, VA, the Sono Luminus studios are a world-class recording facility with a special focus on classical and acoustic music, and the home of the Sono Luminus record label.
As the first American record label to release audio projects on Pure Audio Blu-ray technology, Sono Luminus specialises in the highest calibre of audio quality. Not only does this format guarantee the utmost in sonic experience available, it also gives Sono Luminus the ability to routinely release recordings on Blu-ray discs containing 9.1 Auro-3D 96kHz/24 bit surround sound, 5.1 DTS HD MA 192kHz/24bit surround sound, and 2.0 LPCM 192kHz/24bit stereo files.
Among the world’s finest audio facilities, Sono Luminus’ recording method focuses on the concept of true performance fidelity; the seamless marriage of stellar sound quality with exceptionally high performances. Over the past seven years, this approach of getting the sound ‘right’ at the beginning of the process via mic placement and performer set-up has enabled Sono Luminus to garner two GRAMMY awards and eighteen GRAMMY nominations.
‘There is an Icelandic saying, “mergur málsins”, which directly translates to “the marrow of the matter,” and these Suites, to me, speak directly to the essence of being human. As for many cellists, these Suites have been my steady companion throughout my life with the cello, first as a vehicle to learn counterpoint, style, and harmony, then as material with which to explore personal expression and interpretation, and today they are a mirror, reflecting the deeper truth of the human experience, revealing more layers of meaning each time I come back to them.’ – Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir
‘The core inspiration behind ARCHORA centres around the notion of a primordial energy and the idea of an omnipresent parallel realm – a world both familiar and strange, static and transforming, nowhere and everywhere at the same time. The piece revolves around the extremes on the spectrum between the Primordia and its resulting afterglow – and the conflict between these elements that are nevertheless fundamentally one and the same. The halo emerges from the Primordia but they have both lost perspective and the connection to one another, experiencing themselves individually as opposing forces rather than one and the same.
AIŌN is inspired by the abstract metaphor of being able to move freely in time, of being able to explore time as a space that you inhabit rather than experiencing it as a one-directional journey through a single dimension. Disorienting at first, you realize that time extends simultaneously in all directions and whenever you feel like it, you can access any moment. As you learn to control the journey, you find that the experience becomes different by taking different perspectives – you can see every moment at once, focus on just some of them, or go there to experience them.’ – Anna Thorvaldsdottir
The long and intensive artistic collaboration between Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra was brought to an abrupt end by Haitink’s death in October 2021. BR-Klassik now presents a series of outstanding and as yet unreleased live recordings of concerts from the past years. This recording of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony documents concerts from February 2011 in Munich’s Philharmonie im Gasteig.
Haitink first conducted a Munich subscription concert in 1958, and from then on, he repeatedly stood on the podium of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – either in the Herkulessaal of the Residenz or in the Philharmonie im Gasteig. This congenial collaboration lasted more than six decades. The orchestral musicians and singers enjoyed working with him just as much as the BR sound engineers. As an interpreter of the symphonic repertoire, and especially that of the German-Austrian late Romantic period, Haitink was held in high esteem worldwide. With him, the symphonies of Gustav Mahler were always in the best of hands. His driving principle was to take the sound architecture of a musical composition with its many-layered interweavings and render it transparently audible; extreme sensitivity of sound was paired with a clearly structured interpretation of the score.
Gustav Mahler described his Third Symphony as ‘a work in which the whole world is indeed reflected,’ a claim supported by its large, six-movement structure and the use of huge orchestral and choral forces, plus a part for alto solo. The first performance of the symphony took place on 9 June 1902 in Krefeld under Mahler’s direction. This is the third recording of a Mahler symphony by the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Tomáš Netopil. They are joined here by Bettina Ranch (alto), the Aalto Children’s Choir, the ladies of the Essen Philharmonic Choir and the children’s choir of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Soon after writing his great works for piano and orchestra (available on VOX-NX-3018CD), Gershwin turned to his tone poem for orchestra, An American in Paris. With indelible themes, and masterly string writing, it remains one of his best-known works. Gershwin’s Rumba for orchestra, the vivacious Cuban Overture, was inspired by a visit to Havana. A few years later Porgy and Bess opened to mixed reviews in New York and Gershwin hoped to salvage some of the music in a suite that, when it was rediscovered in 1958 by Ira Gershwin, was called Catfish Row. These classic Vox recordings from 1974, performed by multiple GRAMMY-winning conductor Leonard Slatkin with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, are newly remastered in high definition from the original master tapes.
The Prophets, intended as the final act of The Eternal Road, was the last work that Kurt Weill composed in Europe and his last extensive setting in German before personally and professionally adopting the language of his new home, America. Musically, he drew on all his previous great works, from Mahagonny and The Seven Deadly Sins to his Second Symphony, at the same time foreshadowing some of his later works for Broadway. In 1998, David Drew devised the concert adaptation of this act, of which this is the first recording. The Four Walt Whitman Songs, meanwhile, were a product of the war years and reveal Weill at his most touchingly American, fusing German Lied with American theatre, Berlin with Brooklyn.
Władysław Żeleński was a neo-Romantic from southern Poland whose compositions were infused with evocative national colour and character. His opera Janek draws on local atmosphere and traditional music but also makes use of the emotive Italian verismo style. Set in the Tatra Mountains, the tragic drama of Janek weaves an entangled tale of romantic attachments and deception, set in motion after the eponymous hero and leader of a band of robbers, arrives wounded at the cottage of the charming Bronka.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
Estonian composer Tõnu Kõrvits (b. 1969) belongs among his country’s most prominent composers. His works are rich with delicate atmosphere possessing a particularly Northern feel combined with a romantic and Impressionistic touch. This new album by the award-winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of conductor Risto Joost, is the final volume in a trilogy of majestic compositions crafted for choir and orchestra.
What Carl Orff created with his Prometheus score is neither an opera in the traditional sense, nor an oratorio, nor a play with music, not even an ‘authentic’ classical tragedy. Rather, it’s an extremely individual musical interpretation of Aeschylus’ tragedy that concentrates primarily on the symbolic imagery of the scenes, which – as Orff himself said – ‘is accentuated and visualised by the music’, thereby enlightening the spectator and the listener. ‘No question about it – of all the celebrations accorded to Carl Orff in Munich following his 80th birthday on 10 July , this was the most splendid: the concert performance of his Prometheus under Rafael Kubelík within the framework of Musica Viva.’ (Karl-Heinz Ruppel, Süddeutsche Zeitung)
This album features Qualities of Darkness, a commissioned work by Ensemble Syd composed by Staffan Storm. This piece draws inspiration from Handel’s large oratorios and explores the composer’s relationship with darkness. The combination of a mixed choir and a string orchestra creates a powerful and dramatic musical landscape, where eerie sound effects, contrasting registers, and dynamic energy flow take centre stage. Alongside Storm’s Qualities of Darkness, the album presents Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B-Flat Major, Op. 6, No. 7, a late work showcasing his masterful orchestration and intricate musical craftsmanship. Written during his time in London, this concerto is a sonata da chiesa with a sequence of movements, including a lively bagpipe-inspired finale and a mesmerizing fugue in the Allegro movement. Adding to the album’s depth is Handel’s dramatic cantata, Dixit Dominus, composed in Rome in 1707. This work, written for soloists, choir, and orchestra, showcases Handel’s ability to portray both the power of God and the splendour of the Church.
Missa solemnis is a monumental composition that stands out for its duration, comparable to Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, and its complex composition process. The work was completed in stages, with various sections added over several years. The Credo, in particular, presented theological challenges and took five years to finish. The composition culminated in a triumphant performance in 1988, dedicated to Pope John Paul II. Missa solemnis offers a historical and theological perspective, focusing on the salvation achieved through Jesus Christ. It portrays the descent of God towards humanity and man’s elevation towards Him. The work reflects the anxiety and fear of contemporary humanity, expressing the constant human tension towards salvation and the hope found in the Christian faith. Ultimately, the Mass delivers a message of hope, uniting the peace sought by humanity with the peace granted by Christ.
This year, the Munich Opera Horns have prepared a truly special gift to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester: their album Voyager. The title perfectly captures the essence of the horn as it takes you on a mesmerizing trip through the enchanting melodies of the German Romantic and Post-Romantic eras. Throughout the illustrious history of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, talented hornists have always been part of the ensemble. One name that shines brightly is Franz Strauss, the father of the renowned composer Richard Strauss. As the principal horn during the earliest Bayreuth Festivals, Franz’s extraordinary talent even earned praise from the critical Richard Wagner himself. Today, the Munich Opera Horns proudly continue this remarkable legacy, captivating audiences with their heartfelt performances of cherished horn compositions and innovative interpretations of beloved classics. They also infuse their artistry with freshness by unveiling new pieces crafted specifically for their unique artistry. Voyager is a testament to the Munich Opera Horns’ exceptional talent, promising an unforgettable sonic adventure for everyone who joins its journey.
‘You’re about to listen to a powerful collection of string quartets written by JG Thirlwell, dynamically performed by the brilliant Mivos Quartet. Released collectively under the title Dystonia, they represent Thirlwell’s dark and jagged vision of past, present and future. Although Dystonia refers to a medical condition that causes involuntary contractions of the muscles, I can’t help making associations – Dys-Ton(e)-ia, Dissonance, Dysrhythmia, Destiny. All five works here project different shades of a bodily, psychological, and societal Dysfunction through bold, insistent music that grabs you and takes you where it wants to go.’ – Michael Gordon
Between 1851 and 1857, Peter Heise (1830–1879) wrote six string quartets for the intimate musical soirées of Copenhagen’s refined upper class. Heise was a celebrated and cherished composer in his native Denmark, but his quartets sadly fell into obscurity. In the first instalment of their two-part series, the Nordic String Quartet revives these elegantly fluid works with a spacious and lyrical approach, infusing a sensibility attuned to Heise’s distinctive poetic touch.
New Jersey-born George Antheil travelled to Europe in 1922 determined to become “noted and notorious” as a pianist-composer, soon gaining a reputation as the ‘bad boy of music’ with works such as the infamous Ballet mécanique. The first three violin sonatas come from this period, with the eclectic Violin Sonata No. 1 displaying the fiercely barbaric influence of Stravinsky, and the more jazzy No. 2 developing experiments in ‘musical cubism’. His Violin Sonata No. 3 achieves a synthesis of Stravinskian rhythms and Antheil’s more song-like tendencies, while the later No. 4 is built on Classical and Baroque models.
This album takes you on a musical journey spanning 217 years, featuring influential composers from different eras. Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 5, No. 2 marks the beginning of this journey, showcasing Beethoven’s evolution as a composer and reflecting the transition from Classicism to Romanticism. Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style incorporate elements of folk songs and dances, presenting catchy melodies and easy-to-follow rhythms. Cerha’s Five Pieces for Cello and Piano, characterised by brevity, clarity, and formal coherence, highlight his ability to create fresh ideas while maintaining his own compositional identity. Finally, Johannes Brahms, deeply connected to the Schumann family, presents his Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78, arranged by Paul Klengel for the cello and piano. This piece reflects Brahms’s friendship with the Schumanns and evokes emotions through captivating melodies. The programme not only showcases the development of musical styles and techniques over time but also offers glimpses into the composers’ lives, relationships, and influences.
Renowned sitar player Paul Livingstone and cello virtuoso Pete Jacobson present their mesmerizing recording Taos Mountain Meditations. Inspired by the breathtaking Taos Mountain in New Mexico, this album weaves together the essence of Indian classical music, jazz improvisation, and the spiritual resonance of Taos itself. For centuries, Taos Mountain, like other ancient sacred peaks, has held a captivating allure for pilgrims and seekers alike. In their homage to this majestic landmark, Livingstone and Jacobson have crafted evocative melodies that will delight both New Age enthusiasts and connoisseurs of Indian classical music. Drawing inspiration from the Hindustani musical tradition and the legacies of luminaries like Ravi Shankar, Livingstone and Jacobson skilfully blend the sitar and cello in perfect harmony. Their artistry brings together Indian classical melodies and American jazz improvisation, resulting in a vibrant, innovative, and captivating fusion. The duo embodies the essence of blending two distinct musical traditions into something entirely fresh and transformative.
Celebrated Mexican-born pianist Jorge Federico Osorio, ‘one of the most elegant and accomplished pianists on the planet’ (Los Angeles Times), performs Romantic-era concertos and solo pieces by Mexican composers Ricardo Castro and Manuel María Ponce. A recipient of the prestigious Medalla Bellas Artes, the highest honour granted by Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts, Osorio is joined for the concertos by Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, Musical America’s 2019 Conductor of the Year, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería. The works on this recording exemplify the highest point of the romantic musical language in vogue in Mexico at the end of the 19th century, which later initiated the musical Nationalist movement brought on by the Mexican Revolution. Both Castro and Ponce made significant contributions to the development of classical music in Mexico, and their music reflects a synthesis of Mexican and European traditions, with influences from Chopin, Liszt, and Debussy.
A native of Prague, Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz acquired a passion for the harp at a young age and, after the encouragement of Haydn, became one of the most renowned harpists in Paris. His innovations in harp design enhanced its sound, and his compositions were highly appreciated by his contemporaries and for a long time after his tragic death. Recorded here together for the first time, the six Sonates en forme de scenes adopted the German sensitive style and used free form as a medium for maximum expressive depth, being admired by one commentator for their ‘profound sense of harmony and unexpected modulations’.
Viennese Reflections offers a captivating musical journey that unites four iconic composers from the First and Second Viennese School in a remarkable album. While these musical giants have left an indelible mark across various genres, the organ remains an unexplored realm in their repertoire. In this exceptional musical exploration, Pier Damiano Peretti performs, arranges, and masterfully guides us through a thoughtfully curated organ programme featuring works by Mozart, Schubert, Schoenberg, and Webern, revealing surprising connections and unveiling hidden treasures.
Among the album’s highlights are two exquisite pieces by Mozart, composed originally for a mechanical clockwork organ: Fantasy in F Minor, K. 608 and Adagio and Allegro in F Minor, K. 594. These compositions, reluctantly created by Mozart, provide a glimpse into the composer’s brilliance and artistic prowess in an unexpected context. Schubert’s monumental Fantasy in F Minor, D. 940 takes centre stage as a profound work dedicated to his unrequited love, immersing listeners in a world of emotional depth and introspection. The revolutionary Six Little Piano Pieces by Arnold Schoenberg offer a window into the political and cultural transformations of the time. These compositions, laden with innovation and daring experimentation, showcase Schoenberg’s radical approach to music. Lastly, Anton Webern’s Variations for Piano, Op. 27, a pivotal piece within the twelve-tone school, provides a tantalising glimpse into the future of musical expression, defying traditional conventions and paving the way for new possibilities.
This acclaimed edition covering the early 20th century’s fashionable wave of hot dance music from America into Europe now takes us to Switzerland. One luxury hotel owner was able to boast that ‘only here, and at the Savoy Hotel in London, can you hear real jazz’. The trend for hotel bands spread its influence to all corners of ‘light’ and ‘classical’ musical culture, and Switzerland, as a popular destination for international travel, became an epicentre for this worldwide dance fever. 20th Century Foxtrots 5 presents more evocative piano rarities from this Golden Age, performed with panache and grace by Gottlieb Wallisch.
Olivier Messiaen’s two-and-a-half-hour piano cycle Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jésus is an extraordinary and groundbreaking work in the twentieth-century piano repertoire. It stands alongside renowned masterpieces like Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Beethoven’s late Sonatas. Despite being created in 1944 during the German occupation of France, the piece emanates joy, conviction, love, and hope, making it even more remarkable. Due to its length of over two hours, it is rarely performed in its entirety. Performing this monumental work requires a special kind of pianist who possesses exceptional physical and emotional stamina and unwavering focus. Kristoffer Hyldig, one of Denmark‘s leading pianists, is such a musician. He is recognised for his musicality and highly personal, sensitive approach. Known for his versatility, he is in demand as a soloist, as well as a chamber musician and lied accompanist. His concerts are often broadcasted on Danish Radio. Additionally, Hyldig is a founding member of Messiaen Quartet Copenhagen, where he contributes to artistic programming and collaborates closely with composers by commissioning, and premiering new works.
Experience Bartók’s transformative year in classical music with the remarkable collection, Bartók 1926, performed by Marco Pomelli. This homage showcases the Hungarian composer’s revolutionary Piano Sonata, BB 88, and the enchanting Szabadban (Out of Doors), BB 89. These pieces, born from Bartók’s genius and artistic vision, reveal breathtaking complexity and innovation. The Sonata explores profound harmonies and intricate rhythms, while Out of Doors transports listeners to nature’s realm with its original timbral richness. Marco Pomelli adds his personal touch with three miniatures that frame the compositions, incorporating thematic material from Bartók’s works and introducing innovative piano techniques, further enhancing the album’s artistic vision.
For Riccardo Chailly, celebrating Rachmaninov in Lucerne is something dear to his heart. In 2022, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, under Chailly’s direction, devoted themselves to Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony and Piano Concerto No. 2, the most famous among his four concertos. Chailly once expressed that Rachmaninov’s distinct harmonies serve as his signature, as his creative brilliance becomes instantly recognisable with just three chords. Japanese pianist Mao Fujita took on this grandiose work’s emotional power and virtuosity. Since winning the Silver Medal in the Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019, this exceptional artist has been captivating audiences in the world’s most prestigious concert halls.
Verdi’s Rigoletto, one of his most successful operas, is based on Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse, which for Verdi was the greatest drama of his day. This ‘spectacular production’ (La Vanguardia) at the Gran Teatre del Liceu ‘under excellent musical direction by Riccardo Frizza,’ ‘the dramatic depth of Carlos Álvarez and the triumphant debut of Javier Camarena as Duke of Mantua’ (El Periodico) made it a ‘top-class Rigoletto.’ (bachtrack.com) ‘A production with this simplicity requires outstanding direction, which is achieved here’ (Seen and Heard International) and is crowned by the colourful costumes of the Oscar-winning Sandy Powell.
Francesco Cavalli succeeded Monteverdi as the most influential composer of the new genre of opera that emerged in mid-17th-century Venice. Il Xerse is a fictitious dramma per musica that tells of Persian King Xerxes’ love for Romilda, who, in turn, is in love with his brother Arsamene. The plot is an entertaining and extremely intricate human comedy of crossed loves, court intrigues and disguises – the work’s popularity saw it staged in Paris at the wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain. Since overshadowed by Handel’s later Xerxes, this Martina Franca production is the first in modern times.
A modern Mexican classic provides the basis for a theatrical tale of love, jealousy, repression, and revolution. The Royal Ballet’s 2022 production reunited Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon with the stellar creative team who transformed Alice’s Adventures inWonderland and The Winter’s Tale into dance, composer Joby Talbot and designer Bob Crowley. Inspired by Laura Esquivel’s novel, the central character’s emotions spill out through cooking to influence everyone around her in startling and dramatic ways. The full Company, led by Francesca Hayward as Tita and Marcelino Sambé as Pedro, reshape this captivating family saga into a richly layered and engrossing new ballet where passion, mystery and magic combine.
Graham Vick’s acclaimed production of Eugene Onegin sets Pushkin’s tale of doomed love, tragedy and rejection against an acutely observed backdrop of Russian society, with spectacular choruses and dances. Tchaikovsky’s powerful music vividly conveys the passion and despair of the young Tatyana as she declares her love for Onegin, recorded in the first season of Glyndebourne’s new opera house in 1994.
Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of the greatest musicians of our age and for the last five decades has appeared at the world’s leading concert venues. In addition to premiering 31 new works from leading composers, she is an inspiring mentor, has promoted top young musicians and fostered numerous charitable projects. In this documentary, she meets figures she admires, such as tennis star Roger Federer, as well as Daniel Barenboim, legendary film composer John Williams and others. Anne-Sophie Mutter talks candidly about her personal life and the demands of her international career. This unprecedented portrait of a socially active artist is supplemented by archive material from her stellar career.
Inspired by a selection of 14th to 16th-century troubadour poems about historical injustice, Zeyn’el carries forward the messages of his much-honoured ancestors, alongside some of his own original compositions reflecting similar issues still seen today. Interlacing his exquisitely rich, multi-layered tones with sympathetic notes from Central Asia to the Middle East and the Americas, Zeyn’el utilises his music as a bridge to bring ancient, profound words from the past to the present.
Maria Brym, a talented artist and singer/songwriter from Norway, delves into contemporary songwriting and pop music, presenting a retrospective sound. Within her repertoire, some songs appear epic and bold, while others unfold as tender narratives woven into gentle musical landscapes. While her admiration for ’80s pop and inspiration from Kate Bush might seem evident at times, Maria possesses a distinctive and delightful approach to crafting her melodies. Collaborating with her production team, Bård Berg and Anders Egil Meyn Jensen, she has created a modern album brimming with charm and adorned with nostalgic references.
Since 1966, the SWR NEWJazz Meeting, the legendary sound laboratory for improvised music, brings together musicians so that they can develop their creative ideas free from the constraints of daily business. For four days, this arrangement creates a free space for experimentation, to develop a concert programme that is then presented on a tour throughout the broadcasting area.
The 2021 edition gave the then 23-year-old American vibraphonist Sasha Berliner the opportunity to put together her own dream band. Five musicians from New York and Los Angeles who had never played together in this line-up before, but had always wanted to: Kalia Vandever on trombone and electronics, Matt Sewell on guitar, Max Gerl on double bass and Michael Shekwoaga Ode on drums.
Prepare to be transported to a realm where jazz reigns supreme as the South West German Radio Big Band, led by the visionary conductor Torsten Maaß, presents their latest digital single, Basie Day. This remarkable composition, penned by the talented Torsten Maaß himself, showcases the band's immense artistry and commitment to pushing the boundaries of contemporary jazz.
Uncover the timeless charm of classical music with Sono Luminus’ meticulously handpicked assortment of breathtaking performances. Immerse yourself in the mesmerizing melodies and brilliant compositions of celebrated maestros while enjoying the privilege of downloading these enthralling pieces at no cost. Whether you’re an aficionado or a newcomer to the world of classical music, these exceptional performances will surely captivate your senses and transport you to a realm of pure musical bliss. Download and enjoy!