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.
2022 marks the 40th anniversary of Capriccio, the distinguished classical music record label based in Vienna. Founded in 1982, Capriccio has become well known for the individual character of its diverse catalogue. It boasts 1,000-plus albums with repertoire from the Renaissance to contemporary works, including numerous rediscovered pieces and world premieres performed by its growing roster of internationally renowned artists. These recordings have earned Capriccio many nominations and awards, including the Diapason d’or de l’année, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and Echo (now Opus) Klassik awards. Capriccio is committed to music fans that look beyond the paths of mainstream classical music and who are curious to discover unknown repertoires, young artists, as well as inventive programmes.
Discover Capriccio’s 40-year journey in the music industry straight from the label director Johannes Kernmayer.
Martinů was a musical chameleon. On the one hand, there’s a unique character to his output; on the other, he would adopt and adapt to just about any style that happened to be in fashion or to his liking. These two one-act operas, recorded for the first time in their respective versions, are a case in point. There’s the sensational Knife Tears (in its original French version), in which Martinů sets an absurdist libretto to the sounds of Le Jazz Hot, Stravinsky, and anything in between. This is juxtaposed with his Comedy on the Bridge in the English version that helped the work enjoy brief fame and which stands in complete contrast (if anything more in the style of Hanns Eisler) despite being separated by only seven years.
Continuing their exhaustive survey of Anton Bruckner’s symphonies in all their versions, Markus Poschner and his team now tackle the original 1876 version of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony, arguably his most popular symphony. ‘1876? Surely you mean 1874!’ the Bruckner specialist might comment. Well, recent research has revealed that Bruckner was still adjusting details of the work by that date, but not so substantially that the changes amounted to a separate version; nor, for that matter, the 1878 second ‘standard’ version. Paul Hawkshaw’s liner notes detail all the differences for those who are interested in the subject – but, of course, one can also simply enjoy the immediate freshness of Bruckner’s expansive first ideas.
In the complete edition compiled by BR-Klassik, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the direction of its long-time principal conductor Mariss Jansons explores Mahler’s symphonic œuvre. This complete recording of Mahler’s impressive symphonies is further enhanced by revealing rehearsal recordings and interesting interviews. In his nine symphonies, Gustav Mahler built up an entire world for himself and his listeners. More than almost any other composer, he tried in his symphonic works to get to the very bottom of the cycle of life, that eternal process of becoming and expiring – so what better complete set of symphonies to express the finest qualities of a modern-day conductor and the unique sound of a leading orchestra?
This album is nothing short of a sensation: it features Else Marie Pade (1924–2016) in a hitherto unknown role as an orchestral composer. Although these are only a few works, their artistic weight and the quality and integrity she brings to her orchestral works, provide ample reason to challenge her established image. With this album, it will be equally legitimate to label her as an ‘acoustic’ composer as it has been to call her an ‘electronic’ composer in the past.
Robert Trevino’s first album with the Basque National Orchestra, featuring orchestral works by the great French-Basque composer Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) received an excellent response. The programme in this second volume is perhaps more ‘French’ in nature, but the Basque orchestra is giving dazzling performances of these works by their own national composer. While the first album was focused on some of Ravel’s most popular orchestral works, this album includes some rarities, including Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose) in its complete ballet version, as well as one world première recording: Pierre Boulez’s orchestration of Ravel’s World War I era piano work, Frontispice.
These two Tenth Symphonies represent powerful statements by composers undergoing the greatest of crises in their eventful lives. Gustav Mahler’s last and incomplete symphony was kept a secret by his widow Alma for many years after his death, the desperate scrawl of ‘Almschi!’ on its final page an outburst at her betrayal of their marriage. Shostakovich’s intense and deeply symbolic Symphony No. 10, considered by many to be his finest, was kept hidden by the composer for fear of Soviet reprisals, and was only performed after Stalin’s death in 1953.
He was born ‘with a little silver spoon in his mouth’, Ralph Vaughan Williams jokingly said of himself, which made him independent of time-consuming teaching and instrumentalist activities that otherwise rob a composer of a lot of energy. He was able to resign from the post of organist at the London parish of St. Barnabas after his studies to dedicate himself fully to his chosen creative vocation. When Vaughan Williams died in 1958 at the age of 85, he was acknowledged as the most important figure between Edward Elgar and Benjamin Britten and was buried next to Henry Purcell in Westminster Abbey, the pantheon of the greats from England’s past.
Vaughan Williams, who also conducted the highly successful premiere at the Leeds Festival in 1910 arranged by Stanford, worked on the Sea Symphony for almost seven years. Originally conceived as a symphonic poem – temporarily titled The Ocean – it marks the turning point in his output from smaller-scale works to large-scale choral and orchestral compositions. The Serenade to Music was written in 1938 for the Golden Jubilee Concert of Sir Henry Wood (1869–1944), a conductor of great merit to English musical life.
Hugo Alfvén, whose 150th birth anniversary takes place this year, was one of Sweden’s most highly esteemed composers. Many of his compositions for men’s choir and mixed choir were among the most beloved choral works of the country and an integral part of the Swedish choral music tradition. This album features three Christmas songs performed by the Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble. More of the ensemble’s Christmas songs are available on their album Papillon (SCD1187).
This 1962 production of Xerxes was based on Rudolf Steglich’s 1958 edition, which closely follows the autograph score housed in the British Museum and uses a new German translation. The roles of Xerxes and Arsamenes, originally written for castrato sopranos, are here taken by tenor voices.
As regards the orchestral direction, Rafael Kubelík favours a reserved, rather than overblown, string sound and adopts discreet vibrato, Baroque terraced dynamics and tempo relationships that avoid extremes. For today’s listeners, therefore, his interpretation falls midway between the productions based on Oskar Hagen’s arrangement, which largely reflected a romantic interpretation of the Baroque, and the current period-sonority versions.
The poems of ancient China have fascinated and inspired western composers as far back as the 1830s. This love affair would culminate most famously in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. While nowhere near as ambitious as Mahler, Hannibal’s settings of Tang Dynasty poetry in Mirror of the Past inhabit a similar emotional world as Mahler’s autumnal masterpiece. The contrapuntal interplay of percussion, voice, guitar, recorder, and erhu sounds as if an ancient painting has been brought to life. From the wistful melancholy of My Delayed Departure to the tolling of evening bells in The Dale of Singing Birds, Hannibal and friends take you on a fabulous journey through time. The sound is vividly captured in immersive DXD by the internationally celebrated master of sound, Preben Iwan.
Along with Handel’s Messiah, which was greatly admired by Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), the oratorio The Creation is one of the few works of this genre written before 1800 that from the outset has enjoyed uninterrupted popularity with audiences and choirs alike. In this timeless classic dating from 1798, Haydn creates a musical world with such a variety of different expressive means that its radiant charisma is irresistible. Hans-Christoph Rademann describes it with the words: ‘If it is possible to convey our gratitude for God’s glorious creation through music, then I believe that Josef Haydn has succeeded brilliantly with this oratorio.’
The Austrian bass Günther Groissböck enchants audiences on opera and concert stages worldwide with the unique noble sound of his voice and breathtaking performances. Together with Malcolm Martineau, one of the leading piano accompanists of his generation, Groissböck presents on the album Nicht Wiedersehen incomparable interpretations of late Romantic songs and ballads by Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Hans Rott.
The duo pays homage to passion in Strauss’ songs such as Zueignung, Allerseelen, Breit’ über mein Haupt, or leaves the audience rather thoughtful with Der Einsame, Das Thal, and Befreit. Hans Rott, who died at a young age, can be heard in Wandrers Nachtlied, Geistesgruß and Der Sänger. Groissböck also brings to life the tragic characters in Mahler’s Revelge, Zu Straßburg auf der Schanz, Tamboursg’sell or Nicht wiedersehen, then brings this great recording to a transcendental end with Urlicht.
Anthony McGill, New York Philharmonic principal clarinet and 2020 Avery Fisher Prize winner, and the multiple GRAMMY Award-winning Pacifica Quartet join forces on an album illuminating the diversity of the American experience through works by Richard Danielpour, James Lee III, Ben Shirley (all three world-premiere recordings), and Valerie Coleman. McGill describes it as a project driven by the desire to ‘expand the capacity for art and music to change the world.’
Danielpour’s Four Angels pays tribute to the four young Black girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing and to civil rights advocates who refused to be intimidated by racial violence. Lee’s Quintet for Clarinet & String Quartet reflects on the Native American experience and echoes elements of Native music. Ben Shirley’s High Sierra Sonata, which inspired the album’s scenic cover art, evokes California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and the camaraderie and perseverance of runners in the region’s annual high-altitude marathon. Coleman’s Shotgun Houses celebrates the life of Muhammad Ali and the West Louisville, Kentucky, neighbourhood where she and the legendary prizefighter were raised.
‘The title piece, Equilibrium IV: Windbells, was the seed from which this whole album began. It was premièred under rather unusual circumstances at the 2005 World Expo in Japan – in a venue that more closely resembled a stadium than a concert stage for classical music. I was an integral part of the performance due to the interactive electronics in the piece. The mixer I was operating at the concert was housed in something that resembled an air traffic control tower some 100 meters away from the stage. Or at least it felt that way. From my location, the musicians were like tiny ants in one corner of the enormous stage, and they could not see me at all. Despite these outlandish circumstances, we somehow managed to perform the piece. It has since become one of my most performed chamber pieces and has received several awards and recognitions. It has never been recorded in a studio up until now. So, after a recent performance with Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra, where it received very warm reviews, we decided it was time to do something about it. That snowballed into what is now this album.’ – Hugi Gudmundsson
The German musician Christian Zimmermann, on two historical copies of Renaissance instruments, presents this interesting anthology dedicated to the lute works by two members of the Galilei family: Vincenzo and Michelangelo, respectively father and brother of the famous Galileo. Vincenzo, also harpsichordist, gamba violist and theorist, introduced both his sons to the art of music and, although we have knowledge that Galileo himself was an excellent lutist, no traces of his compositions remain, while his father and brother were authors of various collections printed from 1563 to 1620. Michelangelo even became a lutist at the court of Maximilian I, elector and duke of Munich. The music proposed by Zimmermann consists of a varied overview of the musical forms dedicated to the lute in the Renaissance era: fantasias, ricercars, galiardes, counterpoints, currents, saltarelli, toccatas, in addition to the inevitable ‘aria di ruggiero’, the famous instrumental bass based on the lyrics of the poem Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto.
When composer Philip Glass started working on his solo Piano Etudes back in 1991, his goal was to explore a variety of tempi, textures, and piano techniques and, as he mentioned in a 2012 interview, to become a better player. Since then, the Etudes have occupied a place of unrivalled prominence in modern music as a proving ground for up-and-coming and established classical pianists to test their mettle. It seems only fitting, then, that Vicky Chow should take up the challenge. For more than a decade, she has exerted her star presence with her standout work as part of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, while also teaming up with such composers as Michael Gordon, Tristan Perich, Jane Antonia Cornish and more to release a series of compelling, and at times even physically demanding solo performances. She has also shared stages with Glass himself – experiences that have given her a more immediate and personal grasp of the composer’s original intention.
The Fantasias for solo violin composed by Georg Philipp Telemann (Magdeburg, 14 March 1681 – Hamburg, 25 June 1767) were published in 1735, approximately fifteen years after the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is unknown if Telemann knew Bach’s masterpieces, but surely, he did not have the speculative concerns of Bach, who aimed to reconstruct the polyphonic texture on a monodic instrument. On the contrary, the pleasure of exploring the possibilities of the instrument dominated Telemann, as well as identifying original technical and expressive solutions to enhance the performer’s capabilities, with the aim of fascinating, surprising, and engaging the audience.
After last year’s critically acclaimed album with music by Agustín Barrios, Georg Gulyas continues to champion South American guitar music. His seventh album for Proprius features Heitor Villa-Lobos’ solo works for guitar, reflecting the composer’s complex musical styles. The album opens with Cinq Préludes (1940), a tribute to both J.S. Bach and Brazilian folk music. Suite Populaire Brésilienne and Chôros No. 1 (1908–1912) follow, both characterised by the urban music style of the time, the popular chôron. Douze Études (1929), with their mix of traditional Brazilian music and Chopin’s romantic lyricism, seen through an impressionistic shimmer, conclude the programme. Although often performed separately, the twelve etudes, according to tonal logic, were intended to be performed as a unified work.
The international success of Weinberger’s opera Schwanda the Bagpiper in 1927 has obscured a sequence of piano works written when the composer was still in his teens. The Second and Third Piano Sonatas form a commanding pair, both written in 1915 – the former autobiographical, playful and dark – the latter neo-Classical with Francophile elements. Elsewhere one can admire his use of 16th-century dance forms, his melodic gifts in the Valses Nobles, and his technical command of preludes and fugues in Gravures. The three arrangements from Schwanda show his imperishable use of Bohemian dance forms.
This fourth album by the piano duo Walachowski combines original works by Richard Strauss and Franz Schubert with the world premiere recording of Richard Strauss’ arrangement of Franz Lachner’s Nonet, Op. 121 for piano four hands. The recordings were made as part of a co-production with Deutschlandfunk Kultur.
Few musicians in the world are as intimately familiar with Beethoven’s piano sonatas as Daniel Barenboim, who has been exploring these works since the earliest days of his career – a musical novel in 32 chapters and an artistic cosmos in itself. Barenboim recorded the full cycle of Beethoven’s sonatas in the Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020 and presents these works in chronological order of their creation – providing an exciting look at the composer’s artistic development. With this sonata cycle, Daniel Barenboim has set himself a legacy! The box includes 234 mins of content plus bonus material: a 42-minute interview and three masterclasses with Daniel Barenboim on Beethoven, working with students of the Barenboim-Said Academy featuring Alexandre Kantorow (winner of the 1st prize and gold medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition, working on Sonata No. 2), Nathalia Milstein on Sonata No. 15, ‘Pastoral’ and Fabian Müller on Sonata No. 23, ‘Appassionata’).
‘No matter how many times you play them there are always fresh personal perspectives waiting to be discovered.’ – Daniel Barenboim
These special concerts with the award-winning SWR Vokalensemble represent two Christmas gifts from the Gaisburg Church, considered one of the most beautiful churches in Stuttgart. Michael Praetorius’ In dulci Jubilo exemplifies an ancient European tradition for Advent music that has inspired composers to express seasonal beauty and joy from medieval times to the present. English conductor Marcus Creed brings an authentic depth of experience with these works and in the fine selection of popular Christmas Carols from the British Isles.
Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore is a melodrama giocoso in two acts and has remained one of the world’s most popular and often performed operas. Nemorino is in love with Adina, who is indifferent, but eventually falls for him, helped by the huckster Dr Dulcamara’s elixir (in reality, cheap red wine). This performance restores cuts and is heard in full, as Donizetti intended, played on original instruments of the time at the original pitch. This allows one to hear more fully, how he turned a traditional opera buffa into a masterpiece of characterisation and theatrical power.
This legendary concert of Luciano Pavarotti in Hyde Park in 1991 marked the 30th anniversary of the start of Pavarotti’s operatic career. The Guardian wrote that there had not been ‘such a brouhaha for a free concert’ since the concert given by The Rolling Stones in 1969. Attended by 120,000 fans, including Lady Diana, Prince Charles, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Michael Caine and premier John Major, Luciano Pavarotti thrilled the electrified audience with a popular programme from Verdi to Puccini (Nessun Dorma), from Mascagni and Leoncavallo to Bixio (Mamma) and Di Capua (O sole mio), which is now available for the first time on Blu-ray, digitally remastered!
Rigoletto is the sharp-tongued jester to the serial womaniser, the Duke of Mantua. But when the Duke turns his seductive ways towards Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda, the jester learns that he is powerless to protect her. What follows is an epic tale of deceit, revenge and, above all, love.
Director Oliver Mears makes his Royal Opera debut with his ‘thrilling new production’ (The Times ★★★★), which frames Verdi’s masterpiece as a modern morality play, pitting power against innocence in a decadent world of corruption and social decay. Antonio Pappano conducts an outstanding cast that includes an ‘utterly compelling’ Carlos Álvarez in the title role, Lisette Oropesa as ‘a matchless Gilda’ (The Guardian ★★★★) and tenor Liparit Avetisyan as the Duke of Mantua.
The tetralogy of four operas that form Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) explores the conjunction of love and power in a mythic landscape in which true power resides in possession of the ring. Composed over more than a quarter of a century, monumental in scale, and structured after the precedent of Greek drama, the cycle was first performed in 1876. Staged by the award-winning director Stefan Herheim, this innovative new production from Deutsche Oper Berlin features a leading international cast conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles.
Nowhere Everything is the new album by internationally renowned artist Andreas Ihlebæk following Northern Lullabies (NXN8001) and I Will Build You a House (NXN1004) on NXN Recordings. Andreas has been praised for his musical storytelling and the new album is a modern fairy tale told by piano, strings and voices. After releasing two solo piano albums, he now re-ignites the sound from his debut album The Guest and invites Swedish violinist and singer annasara and singers Sisi and Noziswe to enrich his piano sounds. You’ll hear elements of neo-classical, folk and soul beautifully mixed.
ÖH Orion is back with their new album Shifting Ground. Just like the star sign Orion, the quartet is full of stars. On the acclaimed album Minusgrader (2019), all the members of the band contributed to writing the music. This is also the case on Shifting Ground. The music is alluring and imaginative. Sometimes almost comical. Just like life itself. Here are four musicians who know each other well and have a deep connection. You can tell by the light touch and how the songs weave their story.
Chen Leiji, described by guqin master Gong Yi as a great guqin performer, presents The Sound of Guqin for everybody to enjoy. First appeared in a score in 1560, The Dialogue of Fisherman and Woodsman has long been favoured by musicians for its ancient and unrestrained style. Delicate in tone and mellow in flavour, Memories of an Old Friend expresses a deep yearning for friends. Wild Geese on the Sandbank, one of the most widely transmitted music pieces, describes the scenery of the sparse autumn. Soaring Dragons is a representative work of the Guangling School, a major school in Chinese guqin art, originated in Jiangsu Province. Recorded in the music score in 1876, Flowing Water is the famous music of the Spring and Autumn period in Chinese history, well known due to its close connection with the legend of Yu Boya and Zhong Ziqi. Plum Blossom Melody is ancient guqin music with a beautiful and smooth melody, composed by Huan Yi, the great General at the battle of Fei River in 383. The famous poet Liu Zongyuan in the Tang Dynasty wrote a poem about the scenery on the river. The artistic conception in the poetry is similar to Boatmen’s Chant.
‘It’s time to take a moment and be grateful: It’s been 40 years that the Capriccio label has produced records – through and despite all the upheavals and vast market shifts in the recording industry over the last decades.’ – Johannes Kernmayer, label director, Capriccio