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.
Signum Records is a leading British independent label, specialising in classical music. It was awarded Label of the Year in the Gramophone Awards (2017) and has reached a milestone of 500 million streams for its recordings.
Signum boasts a catalogue of over 700 titles and continues to release 40+ new recordings each year by internationally acclaimed artists such as The King’s Singers, Alessio Bax, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Julian Bliss, Philharmonia Orchestra, James Rhodes, Gabrieli Consort & Players under Paul McCreesh and Tenebrae.
Signum prides itself on providing recordings of much-loved classics alongside innovative and previously un-heard music, spanning the length and breadth of the classical repertoire as well as crossing over into Jazz and World music.
Join the Hanke Brothers in celebrating Signum Classics’ 25 years of excellent musicianship and outstanding innovation in music.
‘The choir’s sound is fresh and supple, the blend sweet and nicely balanced… All phrased with care and musicality – directional without being mannered… There’s a lot of care and affection in this recording, from the program notes to the choice of works and performances. Apart from being an attractive listen hopefully will also prove a valuable resource for other ensembles’ – Gramophone
This album is the second commercial release for this choir and Anna Lapwood as a conductor. It is a recording of a unique collection of contemporary choral pieces, some newly arranged pieces never before recorded, and some premieres of new works.
International award-winning composer Amanda Lee Falkenberg has composed a dynamic new work that merges music and science. The seven-movement symphony dramatises past, present and future moon explorations, and highlights discoveries that have been made in our search for other worlds that could possibly sustain life. Through the persuasive and powerful forces of music, this offers Earthlings a chance to contemplate who and where we are in the universe. In 42 minutes, they will be taken on an emotional journey, marvelling at the beauty of our planet, and possibly even experience their own perspective shift as crewmates aboard this spaceship, Earth.
In the autumn of 2021, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, together with its new chief conductor, Nicholas Collon, arranged a Thomas Adès Festival in Helsinki devoted to the music of the world-famous composer in addition to works by other composers chosen and conducted by Thomas Adès (b. 1971). One of the highlights of the festival’s programme was the world première of Märchentänze in its version for violin and orchestra performed by Adès’ long-time artistic partner, violinist Pekka Kuusisto. This new album includes four recent and exciting orchestral works written by the composer between 2016 and 2021 in world première recordings.
Paris – the city of so many dreams and promises – has a place in the ears of harpists. It is no coincidence that all the great harp pieces on this album were written in Paris – for the pedal harp originated there. The harp was the instrument Mozart came across on his journey to Paris in 1778. Commissioned by the Duc de Guines, it was during this period that Mozart composed his Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299. Eighteen years after Mozart, the very popular and successful opera composer François-Adrien Boieldieu wrote his Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, a virtuosic work with features of Romanticism. Also presented on this album is Debussy’s Danses sacrée et profane for harp and strings. The version recorded here differs from other existing recordings of the piece because it follows the original composition of the harp section. Morceau de concert, Op. 154 by Camille Saint-Saëns, with its glittering glissandi, virtuosic passagework and intimate melodies, concludes this compilation of works originating in Paris.
Maurice Maeterlinck completed his play The Blue Bird (L’Oiseau bleu) in 1908. Several of his previous works had proved popular as operatic subjects (Pelléas et Mélisande and Ariane et Barbe-Bleue) so it’s no wonder that composers jumped at the opportunity to set his latest creation to music. French composer Albert Wolff based an opera on the story, which premiered at the New York Met but subsequently fell into oblivion. Prior to that, in 1912, Max Reinhardt adapted it as a Christmas play and staged a production in Berlin, inviting no less a person than Engelbert Humperdinck to write the incidental music for it. The music was never published, but Steffen Tast eventually located the score and salvaged it for us all to enjoy. A sweet story and newly discovered music by Humperdinck that’s sweeter still? Truly a recipe for a fairy-tale ending!
In their long history, the SWR Symphonic Orchestras (one covering the Southern part, the other the South-Western part of the federal state Baden-Württemberg) changed their names quite a few times. In 2016, they merged and are known today as the SWR Symphonieorchester. Over the years, these orchestras have performed with many legendary conductors who either were in charge as chief conductors or occasionally invited as guest conductors. On this 10-disc boxed set, listeners will find 12 great names belonging to some of the greatest conductors of the 20th century. Some, such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Leopold Stokowski, Hans Knappertsbusch, Karl Böhm, Kirill Kondrashin, Carlos Kleiber or Kurt Sanderling, appeared only sporadically on the podium of the two leading Baden-Württemberg orchestras. Others, such as Carl Schuricht or, of course, the chief conductors represented here, Hans Rosbaud and Michael Gielen (Baden-Baden), George Prêtre and Roger Norrington (Stuttgart), have left a mark on the respective orchestra in their collaboration.
Included are symphonic masterpieces like Symphony No. 40 by Mozart, Beethoven’s Pastorale, Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Enigma Variations by Elgar and the music for the ballet Pulcinella by Stravinsky, to name but a few. The recordings cover the years 1955 to 2010.
This is the third volume in the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra’s series of Mahler symphonies, conducted by Tomáš Netopil. Since winning the 1st Sir Georg Solti Conductors Competition in Frankfurt in 2002, Netopil has become one of the most sought-after conductors of the younger generation.
Now celebrating his ninth season as general music director of the Aalto Musiktheater and Philharmonie Essen, he gave an acclaimed performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony at the Aalto Theater in Essen in May 2022.
For the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the performances on November 26 and 27, 2021 in the Isarphilharmonie marked the beginning of a new chapter in its Mahler interpretation: with its designated new principal conductor Simon Rattle, the orchestra is now headed by a Mahler admirer every bit as ardent as his predecessors Jansons, Maazel and Kubelík. The musicians dedicated the benefit concert on November 26 to the memory of conductor Bernard Haitink, who died in October 2021 and was associated with the renowned orchestra for 61 years. The very long silence after the final chord was one of those ‘goosebump moments’ that one goes to concerts for – and for which music is made in the first place.
Robert Schumann’s works lie at the centre of German Romanticism, with an essentially lyrical style that reflects his quintessential place among the great German composers. From 1840 Schumann switched from writing, primarily, piano music and Lieder, to writing orchestral music, with the joyful First Symphony written in just four days, and the uplifting tone of the Second Symphony a remarkable triumph over depression and illness. But the effectiveness of Schumann’s orchestration in his symphonies has been the cause of much debate. Gustav Mahler’s re-orchestrations from the early 1900s provide models of tasteful modification that are suited to the larger orchestras of today.
Bronisław Gimpel was one of the great violinists of the 20th century who made numerous recordings in his lifetime. It was with his performance in Vienna in 1925 that his international career started. He became a distinguished soloist, conductor, teacher, and chamber musician who travelled throughout Europe and the Americas to perform. His interpretations of works by the big 3 of classical music, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, have earned him respect and appreciation. This album, together with the Stuttgart Pro Musica Orchestra and conductor Håkan von Eichwald, presents Bronisław Gimpel’s interpretation of the only concerto by Sibelius, Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47.
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’schoir and mixed choir were among the most beloved choral works of the country and an integral part of the Swedish choral music tradition. The Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble recorded twenty of these works, including A Song of the Youngsters’ Island (En visa om Barnens ö), The Song Thrush (Taltrasten), Christmas Hymn (Julhymn), The Evening (Aftonen), Ambient Mood (Stemning), Butterfly (Papillon), Star of Christmas (Julsång), and others. This recording is issued in collaboration with the Swedish Musical Heritage at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Since 2010, the Associazione La Cantoria has dedicated its energies to the rediscovery of unpublished musical compositions from Rome by transcribing, studying and performing live and recording them under the Tactus record label. This album, featuring works by Francesco Giovannini, the music master at the Church of Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli in the 18th century, allows listeners to experience the magnificent ancient mass of the Roman rite. These late-Baroque compositions shine like precious gems set in an antique piece of jewellery made of Gregorian chant, readings, and orations.
When Handel ended his involvement with Italian opera in London by embarking on a new career as a composer of oratorios, his initial success subsequently experienced setbacks for several reasons. In 1746, however, he clearly proved he had rebounded with the composition of Judas Maccabaeus, an oratorio which remains one of his most successful.
Conductor Rafael Kubelík commits himself in this recording to the Handel Edition of the work by the north German musical scholar Friedrich Chrysander. Dating from the second half of the 19th century, it’s a historic work of scholarship, more representative of Germany than England, Handel’s artistic home. In addition to the dated German translation of the English text, there are the notable extensive cuts that Chrysander made to the work.
This historical live recording from 1963 features Fritz Wunderlich as Judas, together with Agnes Giebel, Julia Falk, Naan Pöld and Ludwig Welter.
‘Crime novels, films and TV series are all the rage these days. In the UK, sales of crime novels exceed those of romantic, fantasy or science fiction titles. These days, CIA detectives are engaged in ever more complex investigations across multiple series, detective podcasts pop up regularly, and in Germany, the viewer ratings for ARD’s Tatort series continue to rise year after year. In the search for suitable pieces for my idea of a sophisticated, classical, and at the same time varied lieder recital, which aims at a second level to tell a new tale of (crime) fiction in a tight dramatic form, I went rummaging through the full and rich gamut of German-language lieder repertoire. In my detective work, I came across popular classics and some rarely heard gems.’ – Katharina Ruckgaber
The celebrated Dover Quartet, the young, GRAMMY-nominated ensemble brimming with prestigious awards and residencies, concludes its critically acclaimed, three-volume Beethoven cycle with the composer’s five monumental, revolutionary Late Quartets and imposing Grosse Fuge.
The triple-disc release comprises Beethoven’s very last compositions – remarkable and often-daunting works that upended the concept of the string quartet. Many critics and scholars consider them the ultimate expression of Beethoven’s artistry. At the same time, lyrical, songlike ‘vocal’ writing pervades the Late Quartets, delighting the same audiences who flocked to Rossini’s operas.
The Dover’s first two Beethoven instalments were greeted with ecstatic reviews: ‘Beethoven would find it hard to believe that his quartets could be played with such perfection of execution, such beauty of tone, such nuance of expression, and such keen understanding of his music’s meaning and intent.’ (Fanfare) ‘Their Beethoven is, simply, perfection.’ (Classical CD Reviews)
A not insignificant part of the concert programmes of the Arioso Quartet Vienna, which has existed for more than 25 years, has undoubtedly been the encores presented. Musicians Martin Klimek and Libor Meisl (violins), Wolfgang Prochaska (viola), and Benedikt Endelweber (violoncello) present their most popular and successful encores on this album under the title Encores.
With a movement from the Art of Fugue and concluding with the chorale prelude Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, J.S. Bach represents the proverbial alpha and omega of the programme. There are audience hits such as Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Puccini’s Crisantemi, quartet movements from the time of Viennese Classicism by Mozart and Haydn, and also late Romantic repertoire such as movements from works by Schumann, Dvořák or Mendelssohn Bartholdy, to the Polka from the ballet The Golden Age by Shostakovich and Langsamer Satz (Slow Movement) for string quartet by Anton Webern.
The accordion was one of the first instruments to become common in Iceland in the nineteenth century. In recent years, Iceland has produced several outstanding accordionists, including Jónas Ásgeir Ásgeirsson. This album contains music by three generations of Icelandic composers, written between 1972 and 2020, including two works created especially for Ásgeirsson himself.
Duo Dialog consists of guitarist Magnus Grönlund and clarinettist Dan Larsson. They have long developed a repertoire and interplay for the clarinet and guitar. The Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla, one of the greatest composers in modern history and well represented on many recordings, is a favourite. But his music is not so commonly used when it comes to performances for clarinet and guitar. To Duo Dialog, one of Sweden’s most diligent chamber ensembles, the combination of clarinet and guitar is a fantastic and obvious way to present Piazzolla’s chamber music. With the wealth of colours and tones of the guitar and the dynamic possibilities of the clarinet, Duo Dialog has created a perfect opportunity to present Piazzolla’s music to great effect.
The powerful and amazingly varied music of Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff, whose art was suppressed by the Nazi regime and who died in captivity in 1942, is given stirring performances by brilliant young players from the Colburn School, Los Angeles’ elite conservatory.
James Conlon, world-renowned conductor and LA Opera music director, leads the RVC Ensemble in Schulhoff’s Piano Concerto, Op. 43, with Dominic Cheli as soloist. Four other pieces – all strong and unique – complete the album’s offerings, which span the years between 1923 and 1937; Cheli and violinist Adam Millstein are particularly outstanding contributors. While Schulhoff’s music has been gradually emerging from near-total obscurity in recent years, Shapeshifter is especially notable as the first album-length example of his works being taken up by American musicians of classical’s ascendant ‘next generation.’
Based on the writings of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius Augustus, Meditations for String Quartet offers people a sense of perspective. It motivates them to take a few steps back and a few deep breaths and observe the universe around them. They might rediscover its beauty and magnificence. In the end, whether economically, physically, politically, ethnically or culturally, the walls between us are merely imaginary. Many people seem to have forgotten that we are all part of one large living, breathing organism and all connected somehow. It means that if one suffers, the others suffer as well.
Tvær hliðar (Two Sides) presents two contrasting sides of music making. The first disc contains the core repertoire of Italian and Swedish Baroque music. But Barokkbandið Brák seeks to expand the repertoire for historical instruments by commissioning new works by up and coming Icelandic composers. Therefore, the second disc showcases new Icelandic music written specially for the ensemble. All of these works share the same sound world as all the music performed on historical instruments from the baroque era.
Louise Farrenc was one of the most respected pianists and composers in the 19th-century Parisian music scene, and her four sets of Études are her most important compositions for piano. Beautiful melodies and distinctiveness of character have made the Études, Op. 26 the most popular set, but all of these pieces are full of grace and charm alongside their didactic usefulness in their references to the styles both of Farrenc’s musical ancestors and her contemporaries. The Greek pianist Maria Stratigou is one of Louise Farrenc’s greatest exponents and makes her Grand Piano debut with these exquisite rarities.
In this album, clarinettist Aldo Botta offers his support to the promotion of solo clarinet pieces and, at the same time, celebrates artists who have contributed to the growing resources of masterpieces for solo clarinet. The love for the clarinet is a common characteristic among the diverse treasures found in this album. Donizetti’s brilliant Studio Primo, reflecting Paganini’s influence, opens the programme. The Five Pieces for solo clarinet (Preamble, Waltz, Homage to J.S.B., Soliloquy, Scherzo and Trio) by the traditionalist Gordon Jacob serve wide-ranging details, from baroque and classical tones to modern jazz. Then, Nino Rota, a composer from Milan with, to his credit, a vast production of music for movies, is presented here with his admirable Lo Spiritismo nella vecchia casa. The other works in this programme feature the brilliant artistry of Agostino Gabucci, Harald Genzmer, Giacomo Miluccio, Ante Grgin, Michele Mangani, and Nunzio Ortolano.
See classics by Shakespeare, Schiller, Euripides, Büchner, Chekhov, Gorky, Ibsen, Molière and Heiner Müller. More highlights of the world’s uniquely diverse German theatre landscape, united in a 10-DVD boxed set.
Die Theateredition reflects the great variety of current German theatre on DVD. Now on sale (21 Oct 22) the second 10-disc box with classical theatre productions full of theatrical highlights. The cast lists read like a who’s who of the German-language theatre landscape. An excellent visual impression of theatre on stage, which should not be missing in any discerning collection.
Inspired by Gene Kelly’s iconic work in Hollywood, Starstruck, winner of the 2022 Best Dance Film Award at the National Dance Awards, brings an immersive, theatrical experience, in which audiences around the world can escape with us to the glamour and grace of Paris, 1960.
One of the first choreographers to bring the ‘American style’ to Europe, the legendary Gene Kelly was invited to create an original work for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1960. His jazzy, joyful Pas de Dieux was highly acclaimed at the time as ‘a breath of fresh air’ but has been rarely performed since. It has now been given a new set of wings for its life on stage and screen.
Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, one of the most played operas today, is performed on the Seebühne for the first time. ‘Enrique Mazzola leads the Wiener Symphoniker to a beguiling string sound and a flexibility that is so important for Puccini’ (Der Tagesspiegel). ‘Barno Ismatullaeva manages the great aria of Cio-Cio-San touchingly beautifully’ (SZ). Stage Director is Andreas Homoki, who together with Michael Levine’s magical stage set with its subtle landscape paintings brings Japanese flair to Lake Constance, supported not at least by Antony McDonald’s colourful costumes. ‘These are beautiful filigree images that director Andreas Homoki and his team […] have created’ (Der Standard).
Giuseppe Verdi was well on the way towards renown and prosperity when he took up the story of Violetta, a famed courtesan, whose intensely romantic and colourful but tragically brief life marked the emergence of realism into Italian opera. Verdi and Alexandre Dumas fils intended this melodrama to have a contemporary setting, and David Livermore’s stunning production maintains this wish by placing his elegant and powerful cast firmly into the 20th century. This alchemy of masterful acting, vivid bel canto voices and the vitality of Zubin Mehta’s conducting results in a triumphant and unforgettably poignant operatic experience.
This special disc brings together two compelling works showing the dramatic range of Lauren Cuthbertson and The Royal Ballet.
Internationally acclaimed choreographer Cathy Marston, previously Associate Artist of The Royal Opera House and Director of Bern Ballett, created The Cellist for The Royal Ballet in 2020. The inspiration for her first work for the Royal Opera House Main Stage is the momentous life and career of cellist Jacqueline du Pré – from her discovery of the cello and her celebrity as one of its most extraordinary players to her pain, frustration and struggle with multiple sclerosis. Composer Philip Feeney incorporates some of the most moving and powerful music for the cello by Elgar, Beethoven, Fauré, Mendelssohn, Piatti, Rachmaninoff and Schubert into an exquisite score that is itself an homage to the cello.
In The Two Pigeons, Lauren Cuthbertson and Vadim Muntagirov lead a charismatic cast in Ashton’s poignant and heart-warming reflection on love, based on an old French folk tale and first performed on Valentine’s Day 1961. Created by the Company’s Founder Choreographer, this recording captures The Royal Ballet’s famous skill and distinctive style as Barry Wordsworth conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Messager’s rapturous score.
Opera confronts us with extremes of emotion, sometimes delivering unforgettable, life-changing experiences. Fuoco Sacro (‘Sacred Fire’) seeks out singers who have the power to pierce our hearts, presenting three of them at work in the most intimate details of their rehearsals and preparations. Ermonela Jaho, Barbara Hannigan and Asmik Grigorian are watched closely as some of their secrets are revealed: how they inhabit their roles and transform words and notation on a page into that intangible but powerful magic being communicated to audiences from the opera stage. Over 90 minutes of extras are included featuring vocal warm-ups and live performances accompanied by pianists Evgenia Rubinova, Reinbert de Leeuw and Francesco Piemontesi.
VRï are three young men from deepest, darkest chapel-going Wales who have mined the cultural upheaval of past centuries and drawn inspiration from the incredible story of a time when Wales’ traditional music and dance was suppressed by Methodist chapels, and, earlier, its language by the Act of Union. As audio archaeologists, VRï have unearthed long-lost nuggets that shed a new light on a vibrant folk tradition that harnesses the raw energy of the fiddle with the finesse of the violin, the beauty of chamber music with the joy and hedonism of a pub session. Their songs, sung with powerful vocal harmonies, tell stories of the people who struggled 200 years ago, just as many struggle today. It’s a wonderful and unique soundscape that connects across the centuries to give us a sense of belonging, of community, and a magical feeling of weightlessness and uplifting freedom.
Original compositions, weaving folk and traditional opera, from earthy to transcendent, joy to suffering, all enhanced with stunning vocals and the rich textures of traditional Taiwanese instruments. The music of A Moving Sound is the result of a deep commitment to making art entwined with spiritual practice. Starshine celebrates life and our journey through it.
Five years after releasing his second solo album, Acres of Blue, Espen Berg decided to present a fully improvised piano concert in a live recording. This one-taker is a culmination of years of development, reflection and research. The music, created in the moment, reflects his emotions in a profound way, and every time he plays, it’s different. Every second of music is unique, and it feels like an endless resource, both musically and spiritually. The Trondheim Concert was recorded at Dokkhuset.
Signum has captivated audiences worldwide with its award-winning recordings of world-renowned artists. As part of its 25th-anniversary celebration, Signum Classics has selected from its impressive catalogue ten tracks for this month’s free download. These include exceptional performances by The King’s Singers, Aksel Rykkvin, Randall Scotting, Adrian Chandler, and more. Enjoy!