Klaus Heymann Recommends July 2024

This month’s highlights from the Naxos Music Group include Rued Langgaard’s remarkable opera Antikrist directed by Ersan Mondtag for Deutsche Oper Berlin, Vol. 2 in our Vytautas Bacevičius Complete Orchestral Works series; GRAMMY winning conductor John Corigliano’s Mr Tambourine Man, in its version for amplified soprano and sextet, paired with Vincent Ho’s Gryphon Realms; the latest instalment in the ‘Music of Brazil’ series featuring works by Francisco Mignone; the final album in Capriccio’s Anton Bruckner Symphonies Complete Versions edition; and more. Klaus Heymann, founding chairman of Naxos, puts the spotlight on his personal picks.

Dynamic 2.110764 [DVD]

Composed in the early 1920s and revised a few years later, Danish composer Rued Langgaard’s remarkable opera Antikrist is one of those rarities that went from legendary status to complete obscurity until it received its first studio recording in 1980. The opera confronts the decline and fall of Western civilisation, critiquing modern lifestyles and ways of thinking. Planned for performances in March 2020, this production of Antikrist was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we’re fortunate that it was given space in Deutsche Oper Berlin’s schedule in 2022. As only the second available commercial audiovisual recording of the work, Ersan Mondtag’s spectacular production was nominated for Best Rediscovery in the 2022 International Opera Awards. Widely acclaimed by the critics, here’s what bachtrack.com had to say: ‘The audience was left visually and musically overwhelmed at the end. Although composed a century ago, Antikrist’s core message is as applicable to today’s world as it was back then.’

Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0176V)

Naxos 8.574414

Vol. 1 (8.573282) in our edition of Vytautas Bacevičius’ complete orchestral works included two of his four piano concertos in ‘fine, dedicated performances’ (Audiophile Audition) by pianist Gabrielius Alekna. This second album features the other two concertos performed by the same artist, alongside the Lithuanian composer’s Third Symphony, which was never performed during his lifetime; this is the world premiere recording of that work. Bacevičius’ music certainly deserves a place in the wider repertoire, not only as an example of his small nation’s disproportionately influential presence in the world, but also for its melting, lyrical beauty and fascinating harmonic originality. The Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Christopher Lyndon-Gee, who is already well represented in the Naxos catalogue. Christopher has also written the detailed booklet notes for this release which include texts of and a discussion on the poems of the Lithuanian folk songs cited in the piano concertos.

Listen to an excerpt from Piano Concerto No. 1 ‘Sur des thèmes lituaniens’, Op. 12: I. Allegro moderato – più mosso – Allegro molto – Moderato – Vivace –

Naxos 8.579160

John Corigliano is one of America’s most distinguished composers whose scores, now numbering over one hundred, have won the Pulitzer Prize, the Grawemeyer Award, five GRAMMY Awards and an Academy Award for The Red Violin. He originally conceived his setting of Bob Dylan songs Mr Tambourine Man for voice and piano; he then orchestrated it (8.559331, the album won 2 GRAMMY Awards) and some years later transcribed it for amplified soprano and instrumental sextet. This is the first recording of that final version, also of its companion piece on the programme, Vincent Ho’s Gryphon Realms, a virtuosic and mystical work for piano trio that courses with serpent-like motifs and primal energy. Ho’s music has won multiple awards, and been described by The New York Times as ‘brilliant and compelling’.

Listen to an excerpt from CORIGLIANO, J.: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan: Masters of War

Naxos 8.574573

Francisco Mignone was a leading figure in Brazil’s 20th-century music scene. His Italian background brought a sense of universality to his musical nationalism, expressed in works that are both sentimental, dynamic, exuberant and eclectic. None of the works on this programme are widely available, while two of them are heard in their world premiere recordings: the Guitar Concerto, an elegant work filled with drama and vitality; and the Violin Concerto, described by one critic as ‘the greatest work of this challenging genre in the history of Brazilian music’. This is Vol. 22 in our Music of Brazil series, developed in collaboration with the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a project that simply goes from strength to strength. Conductors Neil Thomson and Giancarlo Guerrero already have numerous acclaimed recordings in the Naxos catalogue; they here direct the São Paulo Symphony, Brazil's leading orchestra.

Listen to an excerpt from Clarinet Concertino: I. Lento – Moderato mosso

Capriccio C8096

We now reach the final album of Capriccio’s magnificent Bruckner Symphonies Complete Versions edition, which comprises all versions published or to be published under the auspices of the Austrian National Library and the International Bruckner Society in the Neue Anton Bruckner Gesamtausgabe (New Anton Bruckner Collected Works Edition). The distinguished project was duly recognised by a recent ICMA Special Achievement Award, the jury affirming it as ‘an exceptional project because it questions our listening habits and musical tradition. It combines musicological research with artistic excellence, while bringing together Austria’s leading musical institutions. In short, the sound of Bruckner, yet innovative, too.’ This final volume fittingly includes Bruckner’s final symphony, The Ninth, which he left incomplete on his death, the projected finale failing to make it to the page. The programme also includes Bruckner’s first essay in symphonic writing, his Symphony in F minor, ‘Study Symphony’, duly framing a composer's magnificent achievement that has been brought to life with such authority by conductor Markus Poschner, the Bruckner Orchester Linz, and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Dynamic CDS8017

This engaging programme of sacred choral music opens with Pizzetti’s Missa di Requiem, the first of his great choral works which he wrote in 1922. As well as integrating Gregorian chant, Pizzetti divides his choral forces in up to twelve parts across three choirs, paying homage to the great late-Renaissance Venetian polychoral tradition. Written some eighty years later, two movements from Corrado Margutti’s Missa Lorca combine traditional Latin texts with Spanish texts by the poet and playwright Garcia Lorca, interwoven with elements from Monteverdi’s Missa in illo tempore. Finally, we have Lorenzo Donati’s Sicut cervus. Subtitled ‘Around Palestrina’, it features Donati’s rich and unusual sonorities that incorporate fragments of Palestrina’s original motet of the same title. Dario Ribechi conducts the fine Erato Choir, which he founded in 2018.

Listen to an excerpt from PIZZETTI, I.: Messa di Requiem: Requiem – Largo, non lento

Grand Piano GP946

Aram Khachaturian was devoted to ballet music and produced two masterpieces of the genre – Spartacus and Gayaneh. This album features exemplary piano arrangements of both those scores and of his incidental music for Mikhail Lermontov’s play, Masquerade. The soloist is Mikael Ayrapetyan, who’s a pianist, composer, producer and teacher, as well as a noted researcher and public figure. He’s done much to popularise Armenian classical music all over the world with his Secrets of Armenia project, which continues to promote hidden gems of the country’s classical repertoire. His numerous previous albums on the Grand Piano label have all served to continue this promotion. His second volume of works by Stephan Elmas (GP928), for example, was well received by Lark Reviews: ‘Fine performances from Mikael Ayrapetyan who has made a particular study of Armenian music. Another welcome release from Grand Piano.’

View all Features »