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.
Established in 1978, Dynamic is a record label headquartered in Villa Quartara, located on the quiet Righi hill overlooking Genoa. While the label’s catalogue covers the entire gamut of classical music, its primary focus is on the immense heritage of Italian and European music from the 18th and 19th centuries, especially opera and violin works. Additionally, Dynamic is known for producing world-première recordings and works that fall outside the standard repertoire.
Renowned worldwide as the first record label to reappraise the works of Nicolò Paganini, Dynamic has recently extended its interests into the field of opera by establishing successful partnerships with various European festivals and opera houses. In doing so, the label has produced recordings of both popular and rare titles by notable composers such as Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Donizetti, Handel, Galuppi, Pacini, Massenet, Meyerbeer, and Tchaikovsky. Outstanding productions in this field include recordings of operas staged at prominent venues such as La Fenice Theatre in Venice, the Valle d’Itria Festival in Martina Franca, the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Teatro Lirico in Cagliari, Teatro Regio in Parma, Teatro Regio in Turin, and the Donizetti Opera. Featuring a diverse range of accomplished international artists, including instrumentalists, singers, and emerging talents, Dynamic has built an impressive catalogue and has become a leading Italian record label for classical music.
Having been granted unprecedented authority by Louis XIV, the Sun King, no one could stage operas in France without Jean-Baptiste Lully’s permission. By 1686, however, Lully’s authority was waning and his long-standing librettist deserted him to write sacred works. Despite these setbacks, Lully wrote Acis et Galatée, a pastorale héroïque, and one of his final masterpieces. Its plot – the cyclops Poliphème’s love for the nymph Galatée – drew from Lully an astonishing alternation of effects, a profound monologue for the nymph in Act III and a magnificent concluding Passacaille, all framed by a succession of dances and vividly conceived choruses.
In the last decade, research in the Genoa archives has revealed a series of important manuscripts, one of which is Saverio Mercadante’s Messa solenne. This magnificent score requires four vocal soloists, a male choir – women were then forbidden to sing in church – and a large orchestra with extensive concertante roles for cor anglais and violin. It was premiered in January 1868, two years before Mercadante’s death, and shows the composer’s artistic maturity at its peak: opulent orchestration, extensive counterpoint, intricate instrumental textures, rich lyricism and fugal mastery. This world première recording amplifies the significance of the Genoese musical tradition.
The enigmatic Alexander Scriabin, mystic and herald of new music, was taught composition by Arensky and Taneyev and piano by Safonov. His earliest works, presented on this album, belong to a stage of development much influenced by Chopin and Liszt. The Preludes, Op. 13, whether solemn or playful, contain explicit references to Chopin but also moments of visionary originality that presage his future modernity. Complex harmony can be heard in the famous Étude in C-Sharp Minor, while the epic ardour of the Fantasie in B Minor is another indication of the staggering advances to come.
The folk music of the Croatian peninsula of Istria is as characteristic as it is extraordinary. Its melodies, harmonies and rhythms are unique and sonorously expressed by the sopila – a traditional shawm instrument – as well as through choral singing and folk dances. The music, with its asymmetrical rhythms, is based on the so-called ‘pentatonic Istrian scale’, which consists of major and minor seconds and is thus clearly different from the other musical styles of Croatia. Numerous non-Istrian musicians and composers have been fascinated by it – among them the Croatian composer Natko Devčić, with his Istrian Suite for orchestra (1946), or the young Croatian pianist and composer Dejan Lazić with his Concerto in Istrian Style for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 18 (2014/2021) or his Alterations on the Istrian Folk Hymn, Op. 29 (2022).
Bruckner’s frantic revisions of his Symphonies Nos. 3, 4 and 8 followed his disappointment with Hermann Levi’s rejection of the original version of the Eighth Symphony. Helping in this large-scale effort to revise the works were some of Bruckner’s former students – Franz and Joseph Schalk, Ferdinand Löwe, Max von Oberleithner and Cyrill Hynai. The result was that the reputation of these versions – especially the final version of the Fourth – became tarnished as something not quite Echt-Bruckner. It wasn’t until the discovery of photographs of the 1888 version’s manuscript score, and the subsequent publication of Benjamin Korstvedt’s edition of the work, that it became clear that this late edition really did reflect Bruckner’s intentions. To ears familiar with the even better-known 1881 version, the result might sound mystifying, even troubling, but it also surprises with many particularly exquisite passages!
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and clarinettist Anthony McGill are featured soloists on a new recording of two concertos by Syrian American composer Malek Jandali, composed in response to societal injustice, performed with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra led by renowned conductor Marin Alsop, a champion of the composer’s work.
Malek Jandali, called ‘deeply enigmatic’ by Gramophone, has been praised for writing ‘heart-rending melodies, lush orchestration, clever transitions and creative textures’ (American Record Guide). His repertoire, which ranges from chamber music to large-scale orchestral works, integrates Middle-Eastern modes into Western classical forms and harmony.
Rachel Barton Pine, ‘an exciting, boundary-defying performer’ (Washington Post), performs Jandali’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2014), a work that honours ‘all women who thrive with courage,’ according to the composer. Jandali wrote this concerto in recognition of the women of Syria, continuing his aim to preserve the cultural heritage of his homeland.
This album presents a glimpse of Paul von Klenau’s vast collection of music created during the Second World War when he produced works almost obsessively until his passing in 1946. The album includes world premiere recordings of Klenau’s Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto, and Symphony No. 8, showcasing his mastery in both tonal and atonal sonorities, his distinctive introspective style, and his exceptional talent to explore uncharted musical realms.
Carl Czerny found fame and fortune in 19th-century Vienna by writing fashionable and popular works as well as developing techniques for the newly emerging piano with his numerous études. Much of Czerny’s concert music for piano was considered ‘wild and almost unplayable’ in his day, but these world premiere recordings reveal inspired melodic writing, great skill in orchestration and colourful virtuoso challenges in a programme that includes his final Concertino, Op. 650.
This new recording from the Staatskapelle Weimar under Hansjörg Albrecht presents a rarely heard compilation of Richard Wagner’s themes from Tristan und Isolde, arranged for orchestra by Henk de Vlieger (b. 1953). This is Hansjörg Albrecht’s follow-up Wagner recording to his album Der Ring Ohne Worte (OC1872). The Staatkapelle Weimar dates back to 1491, making it one of the oldest orchestras in the world, and one that is more than familiar with the works of Richard Wagner.
The music of Grażyna Bacewicz (1909–1969) has been enjoying a revival during the past two decades. Bacewicz was an outstanding figure in 20th-century music, a major Polish composer and a versatile musician. This album, featuring pianists Peter Jablonski and Elisabeth Brauß, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Nicholas Collon, offers a selection of Bacewicz’s rarely recorded works, including her Piano Concerto and Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, in its first modern digital recording. Also included are her Music for Strings, Trumpets and Percussion, a homage to Bartók, and her early and exuberant Overture, written during the German occupation of Poland.
The Venetian-born Giuseppe Torelli is a notable composer who helped establish the fame and success of the Bolognese School, which was undoubtedly one of the keystones of Italian Baroque music, together with the Venetian, Roman, and Neapolitan Schools. Torelli left us with a vast repertoire of almost 200 works, consisting mainly of chamber music, instrumental compositions, and orchestral pieces with solo performers. Eight of these works are in print, with most of them published in Bologna from 1686 onwards. Torelli’s most inspired work is the 12 Concerti Grossi con una Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale, posthumously published in 1709 as Op. 8 by Felice Torelli, brother of the composer and a celebrated painter. This collection is divided into two parts, with six pieces being actual Concerti Grossi and the other six being Concerti for Violin and Orchestra, performed by the Ensemble Locatelli from Bergamo, conducted by Chiara Cattani, led by solo violinists Jérémie Chigioni and Roberto Noferini, who previously recorded the world’s first rendition of Paganini’s Capricci on a historical violin (Tactus TC781690).
Viennese pianist Friedrich Wührer studied piano with Franz Schmidt and composition with Joseph Marx. Admired by Pfitzner and Reger, who dedicated works to him, Wührer had a strong interest in contemporary composers but on disc, his major recordings include the first nominally complete cycle of Schubert’s piano sonatas and the Beethoven piano concertos. These recordings of Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 were taped in Stuttgart with conductor Walther Davisson, a distinguished erstwhile violinist, and originally released in 1956. A few years later, during London concerts, a critic wrote of Wührer’s ‘magnificent playing in Beethoven using a tremendous range of dynamics and completely without resort to special effects’, qualities that apply equally to these classic Vox recordings.
This CD boxed set features interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas by three outstanding choirs and orchestras. In collaboration with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, one of the world’s leading orchestras specialising in historical performance practice, Michael Volle presents a recording of Bach’s cantatas for solo bass. Hans-Christoph Rademann and the Gaechinger Cantorey contrast the dramatic works BWV 19 and 149 with the peaceful and intimate cantatas BWV 169 and 158 in their Naumburg recording. In a third recording, the Saxon Baroque Orchestra and the St. Thomas Choir Leipzig, conducted by 17th Thomaskantor Gotthold Schwarz, interpret the well-known choral cantatas BWV 33, 17 and 99 from Bach’s time in Leipzig.
This album showcases the lesser-known work of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933–2010), who achieved international success in the mid-1990s with his Symphony No. 3, ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’. Since then, Górecki’s name has been associated almost exclusively with this piece. However, his music is much more than this one brilliant work. Górecki never looked at musical fashions, but consistently created his own sound universe. In the 1980s, feeling misunderstood, Górecki stepped back from the official concert life in Poland and turned to simple folk and church melodies, creating choral arrangements that he treated with great devotion and humility. He drew inspiration from traditional church songs collected in the 19th-century Śpiewnik kościelny (Church Songbook) by Jan Siedlecki. He composed a cycle of five Marian Songs, Op. 54, for mixed choir a cappella in 1985 and, a year later, compiled a collection of twenty Church Songs for a cappella choir, known as his Op. 84. The Polish Chamber Choir, under the direction of Jan Łukaszewski, performs these choral gems in Latin for the first time on this album.
This recording of Eugen Engel’s opera Grete Minde documents an extraordinary event: as the only opera by the formerly unknown composer, it had to wait until 13 February 2022 for its premiere at Theatre Magdeburg, almost 90 years after its completion and 80 years after the death of its creator. This deferred debut was preceded by years of behind-the-scenes work, including the compilation of musical material from the handwritten manuscript, as well as biographical research on Engel himself. The fact that only a few historical references to him exist is partly due to the fact that music was not his main profession; the primary cause, however, stems from the persecution and murder of almost his entire family during the Shoah (Holocaust).
The accompanying booklet to this 2-disc live recording of the opera’s premiere contains liner notes by head dramaturge Ulrike Schröder, artist biographies, and the full libretto in both German and English.
Ensemble MERVE’s first release, Ich war einmal (Once upon a time I was), explores stories and poems that mainly revolve around female characters, musically translated and reinterpreted. The four musicians, draw on their individual backgrounds in jazz, contemporary music, classical music, and performance art to create a unique sound that features clarinet, saxophone, viola, and double bass, and expanded through the use of spoken language. The music was written by Judith Ferstl, who also plays the double bass for the group. Polyrhythmic levels, progressive harmonies, and improvisational liberties create an intimate interaction, a personal dynamic between the musicians. The music exudes a sense of deceleration and fluidity and a palette of colourful sound images. Childhood memories are mixed with newly written compositions to evoke reflections and pensiveness. Approaching the concept of art holistically, the ensemble collaborated with painters and animators to create two music videos that are being released at the same time as the album.
It was apparently Rimsky-Korsakov, himself a member of the “Mighty Handful” of Russian nationalist composers, who encouraged his students at the St. Petersburg Conservatory to go out and collect Jewish folk music and music sung in the synagogues, thus getting the ball rolling for a specific Jewish classical music. The movement led in 1908 to the founding of the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music and, in 1923, of the Society for Jewish Music in Moscow. The success of the latter and its members was, however, short-lived. The antisemitic, anti-cosmopolitan forces that started to brew under the new Soviet regime led many potential members of the society to emigrate. The ones that remained were forced to focus on proletarian themes and, even when complying with the requirements, still found themselves often repressed or incarcerated outright.
Diogenio Bigaglia, a composer who is relatively unknown today, was active in Venice during the first half of the eighteenth century alongside well-known composers such as Tomaso Albinoni, Alessandro and Benedetto Marcello, and Antonio Vivaldi. In fact, Vivaldi’s works contain several references to Bigaglia’s compositions, making him an interesting figure for musicologists interested in exploring his influence on more famous composers. This recording presents a complete performance of Bigaglia’s 12 Sonate a Violino Solo o Sia Flauto e Violoncello o Basso Continuo Opera prima del Signor Bigaglia Padre Benedettino, which was published in Amsterdam by Michel Charles Le Cène around 1722. Solo violinist Davide Belosio performs in this world premiere recording, accompanied by I Solisti Ambrosiani, also featured in a previous release dedicated to rediscovering Bigaglia’s works, Cantate per soprano e continuo (TC670203).
‘Being études, all the pieces are obviously challenging to play, however they have different sources of inspiration. Some études concentrate on a specific virtuosic aspect such as staccato and legato, hand crossing and arpeggios, while others originated from the desire to explore a musical aspect – ostinato, toccata form and melodic counterpoint, to name a few. In some études, my starting point was a culture, country or myth. In this category, you can find the Kangding Qingge Étude which was inspired by a very well-known Chinese folk tune and so is a study of how to incorporate it into my own music.
What all these études have in common is my personal use of polyrhythm (different rhythms simultaneously). Polyrhythms can be found in my music in general – as I like how they help me make melodies float and glide above each other or direct them toward a point as if attracted by it – but they are particularly difficult to achieve on the piano (as it is only one person and one brain having to process all these elements at the same time!) and make these études an interesting challenge for the performer.’ – Nimrod Borenstein
John Corigliano’s music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by some of the most prominent orchestras, soloists, and chamber musicians in the world. He is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, five GRAMMY Awards, the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and an Oscar. The Piano Concerto ranges in expression between lyricism and atonality and is extremely virtuosic and theatrical, while the competition piece Fantasia on an Ostinato investigates the performer’s imagination and musicality through minimalist techniques. The devilish discipline of Étude Fantasy contrasts with the improvisatory origins of Winging It, while Prelude for Paul echoes the soul of Rachmaninov.
György Ligeti’s Études redefined the piano’s tonal possibilities and are considered one of his major creative achievements, as well as being one of the most significant sets of piano studies of the 20th century. They inevitably draw on influences from the past such as Chopin and Debussy, but avoid any sense of eclecticism. Ligeti’s often spectacularly virtuoso use of complex rhythms and geometric patterns proceeds from simple core ideas to create music that is ‘neither “avant-garde” nor “traditional”, neither tonal nor atonal’, and always backed by that glint of humour in the composer’s eye.
‘About 300 years ago, between 1717 and 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach was Prince Leopold’s court composer and conductor in Köthen, Germany, where he wrote some of his most representative instrumental works. Because of their technical advancement and stylistic innovations, pieces like his Six Cello Suites are considered part of the standard repertoire and continue to challenge all cellists who perform them today.
Since listening to these Suites for the first time, I have always wondered what kind of music Johann Sebastian Bach would have written for a versatile instrument, such as the baritone saxophone, invented almost a century after his death. If he were still alive, would Bach experience the rich sound palette of this instrument? How would he do it?
As a tribute to my favourite composer, I decided to include the Six Suites for Solo Cello in some of my concert programmes and record them between 2017 and 2023.’ – Joan-Martí Frasquier
‘During the period of lockdown, I completed an album titled Walking on the Air , comprising twelve piano pieces that are highly representative of my musical journey and life experiences. These pieces capture the essence of my youth, passions, and afternoons spent improvising and listening to classical music and legendary jazz musicians. I intended to recreate their incredible harmonisations, borrow their brilliance, and understand the mystery of their artistic expression. Inevitably, my music carries the profound influence of the orchestral sounds resonating from La Scala, where I play the double bass. These pieces evoke the memories of sleepless nights following symphony concerts on countless tours, spent with friends and colleagues on the pianos of hotel lobbies around the world.’ – Emanuele Pedrani
Nathan pursues a full-time solo concert career as a classical pianist but also performs with Astral Mixtape, an innovative crossover quartet that writes new works and reinterprets classics from Monteverdi to Rimsky-Korsakov, incorporating themes and ideas from contemporary bands like Sigur Ros, Radiohead, and Four Tet. The album concludes with two tracks by Astral Mixtape: Goddess Gardens on track 6 offers snippets from Scheherazade and Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending, as well as other contemporary pieces, and Seven Hellos, an original composition by the quartet on track 7.
Nathan’s solo piano repertoire makes a powerful statement. In addition, Nathan expertly handles the complex Knussen Variations and plays Haydn beautifully. He kindly agreed to play Gaspard and Peter Sculthorpe’s Nocturnal for this project and delivers what are, to date, favourite performances of both Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit and Villa-Lobos’ Rudepoêma.
This boxed set documents Andris Nelson’s work with two world-class orchestras. After Claudio Abbado’s death, he led the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2014–15, which he called the ‘greatest challenge’ of his career at that time. In the recording of his first concert with the orchestra, Nelsons explores the musical landscape of the German Romantic composer Johannes Brahms through his Second Symphony and Second Serenade. A year later, he impresses with a fiery and powerful interpretation of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and excerpts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Matthias Goerne. For his inaugural concert as the new Gewandhauskapellmeister, Andris Nelsons chose three pieces with great symbolic power: the Scottish Symphony by his probably most important predecessor in office, Felix Mendelssohn, Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, played by Baiba Skride, and a commissioned work by the Leipzig-based composer Steffen Schleiermacher. A recording of Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony, ‘From the New World’ and arias with Kristine Opolais demonstrates the close relationship between the Gewandhaus Orchestra and their chief conductor.
Thomas Mann once named Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina ‘the greatest social novel of world literature.’ When reading the novel, John Neumeier was deeply fascinated by Tolstoy’s work, not only by the main characters and plot, but also by the extraordinary variety of thematic connections. The story revolves around three families, and John Neumeier states: ‘Tolstoy himself wrote and published Anna Karenina as a serial story over several years. The feeling in the novel of a developing contemporary narrative – similar to a television series of today – is underlined by the fact that the novel does not end with the death of the main character. My challenge was therefore to give true life and relevance to the story by selecting key emotional situations and essential characters to fit within the framework of an evening-long ballet.’
Franc Aleu, a video artist from La Fura dels Baus, transforms Puccini’s opera Turandot into a futuristic setting at the Gran Teatre del Liceu using projection mapping and 3D technology. The opera about the cruel princess is shown in a spectacular, visually striking new way. Conductor Josep Pons, who is ‘in great form’ (forumopera.com), leads an excellent vocal cast that includes Irene Theorin, ‘a powerful-voiced Turandot, Jorge de Leon, a sovereign Calaf, and soprano Ermonela Jaho, who sings a touching Liu’ (Das Opernmagazin).
La Perricholi – in reality, Micaela Villegas – was Lima’s leading theatrical lady in the 1770s when Peru was a Spanish colony. Her life was fictionalised in a one-act play by Prosper Mérimée and a libretto was fashioned on which Offenbach created his opéra bouffe La Périchole, reflecting the creative mania in Paris at the time for Spanish life and art. La Périchole and Piquillo, her lover and companion in misfortune, are impoverished street singers. Meanwhile the Viceroy Don Andrès de Ribeira wishes to make her his lover. In music of vivacious rhythms including boleros, seguidillas and rich arias, Offenbach plays out their love against a broader social canvas.
Springtime in Amsterdam is a joyful feature film created by director Christof Loy, world renowned for his work in international opera houses. Meeting accidentally in Amsterdam, a group of four people experience a series of confusions that must be resolved in 48 hours. A richly varied musical score that includes Viennese operetta, Dutch and French chansons, and songs from the American songbook, is performed by a renowned cast of singers and conducted by Marko Letonja, well versed in popular music. In a magical dream world, dilemmas are resolved in this enchanting fable.
Julia Bullock, Joyce DiDonato and Jakub Józef Orliński star in Katie Mitchell’s thrilling new production of Handel’s Theodora in an alternative modern-day reality, Theodora, a religious fundamentalist, plots for the resistance against the Roman occupation. But when her secret plan to destroy the Roman embassy is discovered, she learns the true brutality of her oppressors.
Not heard in Covent Garden since the 18th Century and sung in the original English libretto by Thomas Morell, Theodora is a tour de force for soloists and chorus alike, with ensembles, duets and arias of profound depth and beauty. This new interpretation, conducted by Baroque specialist Harry Bicket, shines a new, feminist light on the story.
Gao Hong (Chinese pipa master) discovers friendship, creativity and the joy of spontaneity with Kadialy Kouyate and his captivating Senegalese kora. With a skilful balance of composition and improvisation, the two instruments and musicians converse through the expression of the strings – exchanging cultural stories, traditions and musical styles.
This album shines a light on the new possibilities that can arise when people from all cultures open their hearts and minds to one another, when they abandon inhibitions and simply explore. As Gao concludes, ‘Our music will not just be Chinese or Senegalese, it will be a new form of world music that melds styles and sensibilities from two continents.’
Gabriela Garrubo, a Norwegian-Brazilian artist, has been making waves in Norway’s live music scene with her captivating voice and fusion of modern Nordic jazz and 80s Brazilian music and bossa nova. Her lyrics, performed in both English and Portuguese, explore themes of self-discovery and resilience in a tumultuous yet beautiful world. Working alongside producer Vetle Junker, Gabriela crafted her debut album Rodando throughout 2021 and 2022, resulting in a unique listening experience that balances contemporary and retro sounds. During her tour across Norway, journalists praised her stunning performances, with Bergens Tidende giving her show a 6/6 review rating, noting, ‘The way she moves silky smooth through the scales and alternates between soft tones and attacking lines is admirable.’
Filip Jers, world-renowned master of the chromatic harmonica, collaborates with the Carl Bagge Trio to release In the Spirit of Toots, an album that pays tribute to the legendary jazz icon Toots Thielemans, known for his exceptional harmonica skills.
Toots Thielemans, who captured the hearts of jazz audiences with his spirited and playful style, would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2022. This album honours his legacy by featuring original pieces and jazz standards associated with him, along with original compositions by Filip Jers.
Dynamic is excited to offer free downloads of some of the most beautiful and captivating classical music performances available in their catalogue. These tracks contain a wide range of musical genres, from the soulful cello performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto to the stunning piano concertos of Chopin, and the expressive operatic duet from Bellini’s Bianca e Fernando. This diverse selection of tracks is sure to delight music lovers of all ages and tastes.
Each track showcases the artistry of exceptional musicians and ensembles, including the talented pianist Pietro De Maria, cellist Enrico Dindo, soprano Salome Jicia, mezzo-soprano Carlotta Vichi, the Genoa Carlo Felice Theater Orchestra and Orchestra della Toscana, and conductors Donato Renzetti and Daniele Rustioni.