Independent Labels New Releases September 2023

In addition to its own wide-reaching monthly new releases (see, 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.

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Label of the Month

NXN Recordings, founded in Oslo in 2019, is committed to showcasing Norwegian crossover projects. Its releases feature captivating, innovative, and authentically original music that bends, explores and challenges the established musical genres, spanning from neo-classical to ambient, jazz, folk, contemporary music, and everything in between. These recordings possess the distinctive ‘cool Nordic sound,’ a signature quality that resonates with audiences worldwide.

Explore the timeless magic of NXN’s iconic Nordic sound.

NXN Recordings – Highlight Releases

Espen Berg

This title will be released in October 2023. Pre-order now!

Following the internationally acclaimed improvised solo piano album The Trondheim Concert (NXN2011) and the digital album release The Nidaros Concert (NXN2018), NXN’s latest release is The Hamar Concert, which was recorded before a live audience in The Hamar Concert Hall. Ranging from subdued and lyrical to epic and technically brilliant, Espen Berg continues to prove he is a master of improvised piano performance.

Mr Mibbler

This title will be released in November 2023. Pre-order now!

The 2021 album Leave Your Thoughts Here (NXN4005) was described as ‘clearly a major recording event of the year’ (JazzViews, UK) and ‘ten mouth-watering pieces of music’ (UK Vibe) and was embraced by listeners worldwide. As usual, Mr Mibbler continues to surprise and delight, and their follow-up Falling Ladder contains two longer pieces of music. Though this is not in the traditional song format, you will recognise the sounds and ambience that characterise the releases from this exciting Norwegian three-piece music collective.

NXN Recordings – Recent Releases

Christina Sandsengen

Christina Sandsengen is a classically trained concert guitarist who has performed in concert halls around the world. Solace is her debut album as a composer, highlighting her technical skills and a wide range of contrasts, emotions and feelings. Sometimes dark and dramatic, then suddenly brighter and melodic. Christina shares: ‘The classical guitar is the key to my unconscious world of emotions and thoughts, and so I put the classical guitar in the centre and use different soundscapes and elements to highlight or enhance the colours and the expressions from the guitar, and I use a lot of imitation of church bells played on the guitar to capture the empty and painful feeling of a funeral.’

Gabriela Garrubo

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 English and Portuguese, explore themes of self-discovery and resilience in a tumultuous yet beautiful world. Working alongside producer Vetle Junker, Gabriela has been crafting her debut album Rodando throughout 2021 and 2022, resulting in a unique listening experience that balances contemporary and retro sounds. During her tours across Norway, journalists have 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.’

Additional Exciting New Releases from NXN Recordings

Orchestral & Concerto Recordings

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra • Haitink

The Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks had a long and intensive artistic collaboration, which was brought to an abrupt end by his death in October 2021. BR-Klassik now presents outstanding and as-yet unreleased live recordings of concerts from the past years. This recording of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony took place in January 2012 in Munich’s Philharmonie im Gasteig.

Linz Bruckner Orchestra • M. Poschner

When Otto Desshoff read through the score of Bruckner’s Second Symphony to determine its suitability for performance by the Vienna Philharmonic, he declared ‘What nonsense this is’, dooming the work to a life of revisions. Composed in 1871, the work was then known as The Third, since the original second, Zeroëth, hadn’t yet been removed from the catalogue of Bruckner’s numbered symphonies. Although the premiere of The Second Symphony was quite well received, Bruckner and his team of assistants set about reworking it in 1877, trimming it of any superfluous material, most significantly in the Finale, where a full 193 bars were pruned. This recording of the 1877 version observes all those cuts, without affecting Bruckner’s original, expansive structure.

Concerto Copenhagen • Mortensen

With the establishment of Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens in 1843, the Danish composer and conductor Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–1874) swiftly rose to fame as the city’s internationally acclaimed king of waltzes and gallops, leading his orchestra from the violin. For this recording, Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen – Scandinavia’s leading period instruments ensemble – studied Lumbye’s original scores and used instruments from the era to recreate an authentic sound. This collection showcases Lumbye’s enchanting music, along with popular pieces by his idols, Lanner and Strauss I.

Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Z. Mehta

Beethoven’s symphonic cycle is one of the most quintessential in the Western classical canon. They chart a course from the influence of Haydn and Classical models in the early symphonies, through works of startling innovation and the birth of Romanticism, to his monumental Ninth Symphony for soloists, chorus, and orchestra. Zubin Mehta conducts the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in these live recordings from 2021/22.

Quynh Nguyen • Rieko Aizawa • London Symphony Orchestra • S. Barlow

Recipient of numerous notable awards and commissions, Paul Chihara is renowned for his film and television scores as well as for an extensive catalogue of orchestral, choral and chamber works. Composed for and in close collaboration with award-winning pianist Quynh Nguyen, recognized for her sensitive and poetic playing, the lyrical Concerto-Fantasy is inspired by traditional Vietnamese music, expressing a sense of longing for a peaceful past and projecting jazz-tinged possibilities for the future. From the haiku-like Bagatelles and the haunting intimacy of Ami, to the characters and inspired adaptations that emerge through the Four Reveries on Beethoven, Chihara’s delightfully approachable piano music is full of surprises and discoveries.

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra • van Zweden

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 was premiered in 1937. It was composed in response to the Soviet denouncement in Pravda of the composer’s most recent works. The symphony was an overwhelming success, returning the composer to favour with the authorities, and remains one of the most performed symphonies of the 20th century. The jaunty, neo-Classical character of Symphony No. 9 was in stark contrast to the ‘victory symphony’ expected by Soviet officialdom. Shostakovich’s startlingly different original draft for the opening of the first movement can be heard on 8.572138.

L. Vogt • Orchestre de Chambre de Paris

The untimely passing of award-winning pianist and conductor Lars Vogt on September 5, 2022 profoundly shocked the global music community. Some 16 months earlier, already aware of his diagnosis and in the middle of his treatment sessions, the artist had an urgent desire to record a Mozart piano concerto album together with the Orchestre de chambre de Paris. He believed that performing these fantastic works that he so much admired would also be the best medicine for his condition. For this Mozart album Lars Vogt coupled two concertos: the early, exuberant Piano Concerto No. 9, ‘Jeunehomme’, written by Mozart in his early 20s, together with the melancholic and nostalgic Piano Concerto No. 24, which is considered by many as Mozart’s greatest piano concerto – a perfect closure to Lars Vogt’s final concerto album.

RAI National Symphony Orchestra • R. Treviño

After recordings of Beethoven’s complete symphonies, two Ravel albums, one Rautavaara album, and the award-winning album Americascapes, Robert Treviño now turns his focus on the symphonic poems by Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936). Together with the Orchestra Nazionale Sinfonica della RAI, Robert Treviño presents the composer’s famous Roman Trilogy, an exciting orchestral masterpiece culminating in the triumphant Pines of Rome.

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Utah Symphony Orchestra • Abravanel

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D Major, ‘Polish’ is cast, uniquely for the composer, in five movements. There is nothing particularly Polish about the piece (the subtitle was added by the conductor Sir August Manns six years after Tchaikovsky’s death) but it does display some characteristically German touches with echoes of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Schubert. The tragic and tempestuous symphonic poem Francesca da Rimini is based on scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy. The much-admired Tchaikovsky recordings by the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Maurice Abravanel – who brought his orchestra to prominence as one of America’s most distinctive and respected – were originally released on VOX in 1974.

More Orchestral & Concerto Recordings

Opera & Vocal Music

Fischer-Dieskau • M. Price • Seibel • Städtischer Musikverein zu Düsseldorf • Bavarian State Orchestra • Sawallisch

The live recording of Elias (Elijah) marks Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings’ first historic release from the label’s archive. This recording captures a performance on 4 July 1984, which brought together a phenomenal ensemble that shaped an entire era at the National Theatre in Munich across the realms of opera, lieder, and symphonic music, thus representing something of a dream team of classical music at that time.

With the launch of the in house label, Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings in 2021 it has become possible to publish archival documents to showcase pivotal events from the Staatsoper’s history. In that vein, this recording is now being made available for the first time ever as a testament to the exceptional musicians; the oratoric and dramatic finesse of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester and Sawallisch’s flair for Mendelssohn.

Conspirare • Miró Quartet • C.H. Johnson

Conspirare, the nonpareil and GRAMMY-winning choral ensemble from Austin, Texas, presents an emotionally rich and wide-ranging program with House of Belonging. Known worldwide for ‘expanding the boundaries of choral performance’ (Wall Street Journal), Conspirare has for this album teamed up with the superb Miró Quartet to present a tapestry of intriguing new works by both well-known and emerging American composers. Conspirare’s founder and leader, Craig Hella Johnson, commissioned many of the pieces on House of Belonging and composed the opening track himself. The album’s texts convey and explore themes about spirituality, philosophy, the natural world, and the human need for deep connection with others. Throughout the album, one is struck again and again by the marvels of the Conspirare style – an uncommon transparency of choral sound with ethereal characteristics, surges of power at the right times and exceptional vocal solos.

Michael Gumpinger • Anna Veit

Georg Kreisler possessed an irresistible charm. Perhaps it was the appeal of his humour-infused, clever songs, which came from the soul of Vienna that makes his music resonate deeply. His music dives into the depths of human emotions and inner struggles, reminding the listener that no one is alone. Georg Kreisler was truly one-of-a-kind. While no recordings can capture his brilliance, this album honours his virtuosity, life, journey, and art. His music communicates, expressing what words alone cannot convey.

More Opera & Vocal Music

Chamber Music

Third Coast Percussion

GRAMMY Award-winning Chicago-based percussion quartet Third Coast Percussion (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, David Skidmore) presents Between Breaths, an album of world premieres of works by four contemporary composers, plus a work by the quartet itself. Known for their captivating performances and innovative approach to modern classical music, TCP has been praised for ‘commandingly elegant’ (New York Times) performances and the ‘rare power’ (Washington Post) of their recordings. Between Breaths, a follow up to TCP’s widely praised 2022 album, Perspectives, ‘continues to push percussion in new directions, blurring musical boundaries and beguiling new listeners’ (NPR). The works on Between Breaths explore aspects of meditation in sound, incorporate unconventional timbres and tones, and invite listeners to lose themselves within a captivating sonic landscape.

Sepashvili • Tchumburidze • Rossbacher • Sidamonidze

The concept album Arvo Pärt by Gramola Records revolves around the motif of the mirror. Centred around a quote by Daniel Barenboim (‘Music comes from silence and ends with it’), the album features a prologue and epilogue for piano solo (For Alina and Variations for the Healing of Arinuschka), which in minimalist form and Pärt’s distinctive tintinnabuli style, provides the framework for this almost spiritual journey. In between the prologue and epilogue, the works Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in the mirror) and Fratres (Latin for Brothers) act as a mirror of each other. Each work is repeated three times, each time with a different instrument. Spiegel im Spiegel opens with the violin, then with the viola in the next repetition, and finally the cello, each taking a turn to play together with the piano. Then, in Fratres, the instruments appear again in reverse order, mirroring the order in which they appeared earlier in Spiegel im Spiegel. Pianist Ketevan Sepashvili, violinist Veriko Tchumburidze, violist Gertrude Rossbacher, and cellist Sandro Sidamonidze present the meditative essence of these compositions and the unique timbres of their instruments with unparalleled artistry.

Trio con Brio Copenhagen

Certain musical forms within the classical canon have been so well established that introducing a new work becomes a daunting task. Take for example string quartets and the piano trio, a form with roots dating back to the Baroque era, which later became a hallmark of the Romantic period. Many of the greatest compositions for these genres are rather rare, often limited to just a few works in a composer’s entire body of work. This was the case with Poul Ruder’s venture in the realm of piano trios. Composed in 2020 for Trio con Brio Copenhagen, Ruder, with his characteristic wit, described his Piano Trio as ‘just itself, with no hidden agenda’ bursting with ideas and vivacity.

Ruder’s new Piano Trio explores a sound world reminiscent of Ives’ unconventional piano and strings works, without the American patriotic elements. This is contemporary music at its most vibrant and engaging, highlighting Ruder’s consistent growth with each new composition.

Virginia Sutera • Alberto Braida

Anser features a mix of completely improvised pieces and compositions created by the duo of Virginia Sutera and Alberto Braida. In their debut album, the violin and piano engage in a limitless dialogue, finding the very essence of the duo in improvisation. Sutera and Braida assume dual roles as both performers and composers in this project, fostering a dynamic journey defined by relationships and creative expression. Their aspiration to explore uncharted territory is driven by intensity and finesse, aiming to evoke narratives, images, and emotions, all propelled by a sense of curiosity and freedom.

Thiele • Tamayama • Archos Quartet

Composer and conductor Clarence Lucas noted in 1935 that d’Ambrosio consistently maintained his standard of elegance and his music never felt commonplace. It’s worth noting that d’Ambrosio’s instrumental music received high praise from his contemporaries and was performed by some of the most renowned musicians of his era. However, it seems that his work has unfortunately been unjustly overlooked in recent times.

The Archos Quartet’s new album chronologically unveils d’Ambrosio’s compositions for quartet and quintet. The Quartet is joined by two exceptional soloists, Friedrich Thiele on the cello and Mio Tamayama on the double bass.

More Chamber Music

Instrumental Music

Francesco Cera

Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier was written at a time when composers had begun to expand the limited tonal compass of keyboard instruments through far wider use of keys and, ultimately, equal temperament. The 48 preludes and fugues that constitute The Well-Tempered Clavier are composed in a wide range of styles, and the work remains one of the most important and influential in Western classical music. Francesco Cera is a prominent Italian early music specialist and he plays on a copy of a Hemsch harpsichord of 1736, using his own personal tuning. For Book II, he employs the Altnickol edition of the score which includes numerous variants.

Tra Nguyen

Nimrod Borenstein’s music has become ever more prominent and popular in recent years and his piano works exemplify his communicative and vitalising spirit. The two sets of Études, inspired by Chopin, some of which are based on a culture, country or myth, employ Borenstein’s personal use of polyrhythms which allow melodies to float and glide in new, virtuosic and colourful ways. Reminiscences of Childhood is a suite exploring the innocence, playfulness and drama of early childhood. Acclaimed British-Vietnamese pianist Tra Nguyen describes Borenstein’s music as ‘inspirational and rewarding’.

Sang Woo Kang

A complete performance of Domenico Scarlatti’s 555 keyboard sonatas would take over two days of continuous playing, and the majority are still little-known today. This 28th volume features a wide selection of these original, imaginative and colourful works. It includes spritely dances (K.7), an energetic triple-time romp (K.55) and a Spanish influenced evocation of flamenco (K.142) – among many other examples of Scarlatti’s seemingly limitless musical invention.

Hansjörg Albrecht

This series marks Anton Bruckner’s 200th anniversary, which falls in 2024. It’s dedicated to Bruckner’s symphonies, most of them recorded in new transcriptions for organ by Hansjörg Albrecht. The recording was made on the organ at Gewandhaus in Leipzig with the transcription of Bruckner’s 7th Symphony by Erwin Horn.

Bruce Levingston

Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words simply defy ordinary description. Refined and nuanced, they constitute some of the composer’s finest and best-known works. For nearly two hundred years, they were regarded as charming relics, select romantic gems performed in small concert halls and salons. While their subtle, ornamental qualities certainly shine brightest in more intimate settings, closer inspection reveals an unexpected depth and complexity to these miniature masterpieces. Their interpretive and technical demands are considerable, requiring sensitivity to voicing, pedalling and dynamic control. Meant to enchant rather than dazzle, they evoke myriad dreams revealing some of the composer’s innermost reflections. Like private entries in a musical diary, they offer a rare glimpse into this reserved but passionate artist’s thoughts.

Ingrid Haebler

Ingrid Haebler (1929–2023) belonged to the same generation of Viennese pianists as Badura-Skoda, Brendel, Gulda and Demüs. In 1954, around the time when the recordings on this album took place, she won the ARD competition, which, then as now, guaranteed the successful career which she went on to enjoy. Considerable disagreement, however, has long surrounded her interpretations. For some, she was a model artist on account of her flawless technique and the absolute poise of her music-making; for others, more of a symbol of academic discipline. Yet her recordings were considered good enough to be used in the faked recordings of the pianist Joyce Hatto which, when uncovered, led to one of the greatest and unparalleled scandals in the history of music performance.

More Instrumental Music

Audiovisual Titles

C Major 764108
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Garifullina • Pirgu • Liceu Grand Theatre Chorus and Orchestra • Pons • Lawless

The story of Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story of all time. In Charles Gounod’s operatic adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, ‘Saimir Pirgu and Aida Garifullina mesmerise as the tragic lovers’ (Euronews). Charles Gounod is one of the great representatives of French lyric drama and due to his famous aria Je veux vivre, ravishing melodies, magical duets, and the unique ballet scene in Act IV, Roméo et Juliette continues to gain much popularity. This production by Stephen Lawless once again demonstrates the abundance of ideas that Shakespeare’s legendary tale is able to inspire, even in the 21st century. In addition to the lavish stage sets and the carefully chosen costumes and props, the production captivates the audience thanks to its refined dramaturgical logic: ‘Lawless successfully creates a dignified and logical background to the ongoing story…’ (Metropolitan Barcelona).

Dynamic DYN-37950
Also available on Blu-ray Video
and CD
Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Z. Mehta

Beethoven’s symphonic cycle is one of the most quintessential in the Western classical canon. They chart a course from the influence of Haydn and Classical models in the early symphonies, through works of startling innovation and the birth of Romanticism, to his monumental Ninth Symphony for soloists, chorus and orchestra. Zubin Mehta conducts the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in these live recordings from 2021/22.

Naxos 2.110761
Also available on Blu-ray Video
Johansson • Strid • Laurenz • Pursio • Pauwels • Mayer • Berlin Deutsche Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Albrecht • Loy

Franz Schreker’s career was cut short by the events of 1933 in Germany but he achieved real fame with his operas, and the huge success of Der Schatzgräber (The Treasure Hunter) in the 1920’s was the high point of his career. In a complex and ultimately tragic tale of destructive greed, desire and toxic social hierarchy, the innkeeper’s daughter Els is forced to confront the consequences of her murderous intent in what conductor Marc Albrecht considers ‘a work of exceptional quality, concentration and significance’. Following the huge success of Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane (Naxos DVD 2.110584–85 / Blu-ray NBD0083V), director Christof Loy continues his exploration of strong female characters and neglected 20th-century masterpieces with this highly acclaimed Deutsche Oper Berlin production.

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Also available on Blu-ray Video
Terfel • Hotea • Werba • Peretyatko • Secombe • Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Pidò • Michieletto

Royal Opera favourite Bryn Terfel heads the cast for this exhilarating production of Donizetti’s comedy of domestic drama across two generations. Don Pasquale is the witty story of a middle-aged man whose supposed young wife runs rings around him – with her own ulterior romantic purpose in mind – and has long delighted and surprised audiences, not least as presented with the sparkle of its music and the virtuoso skill of its performers. Damiano Michieletto’s production shows how contemporary the characters still are and how immediate and touching the story remains.

Benedict • Westerby • Sheehy • Wilkes • Edgerton • Cartman • Sangha • Orton • Alexander • Coates • Olufunwa • Onyehara • Layde • McIntyre

‘Love all. Trust a few. Do wrong to none’

Helena is convinced that she and wealthy Bertram are #CoupleGoals. He’s not so sure.

After engineering their betrothal, Helena will go to any length to bring her idealised version of romance to life. But what happens when the reality of their relationship doesn’t match up to the fantasy? And do the ends always justify the means?

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra • Thielemann

On the occasion of the Bruckner bicentenary, the Vienna Philharmonic recorded its first ever complete Bruckner cycle with a single conductor, Christian Thielemann. In addition to the well-known canon of nine symphonies, the two earliest Bruckner symphonies in F Minor and D Minor were also recorded for the first time in the orchestra’s history. This uniquely complete edition from the Musikverein and Salzburg Festival, featuring 11 symphonies also includes extensive conversations with Christian Thielemann about each symphony and insights into his rehearsal work.

More Audiovisual Titles

Non-Classical Music

Brennan • Turner • O’Donnell • Bailey • Moya

Composed in his County Kilkenny studio, Pól Brennan is joined by Steve Turner, Aiden O’Donnell and Nick Bailey, as well as his sister and fellow CLANNAD member Moya, to create this stirring soundtrack of The Irish Revolution. Together they capture the raw emotion sparked by historic events such as the Great Hunger of 1847 through to the Irish Civil War in 1922–1923, creating a score of orchestral sweep and colour to match the momentous events of the period, whilst depicting the sacrifices made by the Irish people in their quest for independence.

Carlsson • Dromberg • Löfdahl • Sigfridsson

We all have beacons of light in our lives, things we cannot be without. For Swedish guitarist Alf Carlsson, he has made the choice to dedicate his debut record under his own name to the most luminous of his personal lights, music. A modern amalgamation of jazz, rock, and Swedish folk music, Lights was released on the 1st of September on Naxos Prophone Records. Carlsson picked up the guitar at the age of 10, and spent his youth soaking up as much rock, pop, and jazz as he could. In his teenage years, with hair down to his waist and Metallica posters coating his bedroom walls, his parents took him to a Swedish folk music festival. The experience moved him deeply, and he has continued to attend the festival every year since.

Anna Lundqvist Lisboa Cinco

Swedish jazz vocalist Anna Lundqvist is the bandleader and composer of the Lisbon-based quintet Anna Lundqvist Lisboa Cinco. Together with Anna, the band contains some of the most interesting and innovative musicians from the Portuguese jazz scene. This is the band’s debut album, Sou Anna, which means I’m Anna in Portuguese. The music could be classified as modern jazz, drawing influences from band members’ backgrounds, Swedish hymns, and rock music. In other words, it is music created for interaction with many musical facets and colours, from traditional jazz to modern music of all genres.

South West German Radio Big Band • Maaß

Torsten Maaß, the seasoned trumpeter, has been making music for many years. He’s not just a player; he’s also a composer, arranger, and guest conductor for numerous big bands. Under his artistic direction, the SWR Big Band performs a selection of his life-inspired works, among which stands out the infectious Funky T – now available for streaming and download on your preferred platforms.

This Month’s Free Downloads

Espen Berg

Recorded at the prestigious Dokkhuset venue, The Trondheim Concert is a testament to Espen Berg’s exceptional mastery and innate capacity to establish profound musical connections. What makes this experience truly remarkable is that each rendition is a unique manifestation of Espen’s artistic spirit; every time he sits at the piano, the music takes on a life of its own. We invite you to enjoy your complimentary track and savour this unique experience.

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