Naxos Bestsellers August 2023

Top 20 Audio Releases
SCARLATTI, D.: Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 27
Sergio Gallo

‘Gallo treads the line of using the resources of a modern piano and honouring Scarlatti’s style perfectly… He uses dynamic contrast well… A fascinating release – fine playing by Sergio Gallo.’ – Classical Explorer

SANTORO, C.: Complete Symphonies, Vol. 3 – Symphony No. 8 • Cello Concerto
D. de Freitas • Marina Martins • Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra • N. Thomson

‘This third release in Naxos’s Santoro cycle is most welcome indeed. One must single out the magnificent Cello Concerto, the dramatic if somewhat understated Eighth Symphony (with a wordless voice part beautifully sung by Denise de Freitas), and Interações Assintóticas, especially in such committed readings. These powerful and strongly articulated pieces considerably add to one’s appraisal of Santoro’s musical progress.’ – MusicWeb International

WRANITZKY, P.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 6
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • Štilec

‘The Act I, II and IV overtures plus a march from Act III are featured here in sprightly and intelligently played readings by the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice conducted by Marek Štilec.’ – Classical Music Daily

SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Trios Nos. 1 and 2 • Notturno • Rondo brillant • Arpeggione Sonata
C. and T. Tetzlaff • Vogt

‘In…the Rondo for violin and the Arpeggione played on cello, heaviness is not a factor – these are both virtuosic pieces for the strings. Both are quite good, and I noted some wonderful, tender details in Vogt’s playing in the opening movement of the Arpeggione. …there is much to admire, and fans of the pianist will certainly want to have these performances.’ – American Record Guide

JANÁČEK, L.: The Cunning Little Vixen (chamber version, arr. Bollon)
Borth • Gaul • Cantus Juvenum Karlsruhe • The Lily’s Project • Bollon

‘Bollon’s fine, haunting musical arrangement and the interpretation create a directly magical spell with a great sensuality… Bollon knows perfectly how to blend all the elements of the opera into a marvellous whole, and he knows how to use the instrumental pieces Janáček repeatedly interspersed in the score specifically to add to the atmosphere. Under Bollon’s direction, the twelve musicians assembled for the recording play with tension, colour, and dynamics…’ – Pizzicato ★★★★★

SCHUMANN, R.: Complete Organ Works
Tom Winpenny

Schumann’s studies in counterpoint during 1845 climaxed in what he described as a ‘Fugenpassion’. He rented a pedalboard attachment for his piano to extend his music’s textural possibilities and to help familiarise himself with organ technique. The resulting character pieces are amongst the most attractive examples for this instrument, and they translate so successfully to the organ that they have become a significant cornerstone of the repertoire. They are performed here on the historic and recently restored Furtwängler organ in Gronau, Germany – an instrument with a wide palette of colours that is well suited to Schumann’s expressive works.

LOEWE, C.: Jan Hus [Oratorio]
Arcis-Vocalisten Munich • L’Arpa festante • Gropper

‘The tenor Georg Poplutz deserves a special mention. His Jan Hus is a characteristically strong figure with good text shaping, finely nuanced and melodious voice.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★

RAFF, J.: Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra Košice • U. Schneider

‘There’s a confident brightness and warmth to [Raff’s] music, even within the slow movements. All of the freshness and sense of discovery under the direction of Urs Schneider are still highly tangible, as he never fails to bring out the music’s winsome character and disposition.’ – Classical Music Sentinel

GERSHWIN, G.: Piano Concerto • Second Rhapsody • I Got Rhythm Variations • Rhapsody in Blue
J. Siegel • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra • Slatkin

‘This very welcome second release completes Leonard Slatkin & St Louis Symphony’s mid-1970s survey of George Gershwin’s orchestral music for Vox, this time with solo piano and Jeffrey Siegel. A1 performances in excellent sound, the Concerto in F is relished for its jazz, syncopation, melodic generosity and atmosphere (Susan Slaughter outstanding in the bluesy-expressive trumpet solos in the second movement), the musicians’ teamwork palpable throughout as they give time to the music to fully be itself with twinkle-in-the-eye affection, which holds good for all the accounts here…’ – Colin’s Column

Children’s Corner – DEBUSSY, C. • GRANADOS, E. • MOZART, W.A. • SCHUBERT, F. • SCHUMANN, R.
Johan Smith

Multi-award-winning guitarist Johan Smith has considerably extended his instrument’s repertoire with this selection of transcriptions celebrating childhood in a variety of ways. These popular piano works – Schubert’s Erlkönig, Granados’s atmospheric Tales of Youth, Mozart’s elegant Sonata facile, Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood and the exquisitely sensitive and insightful miniatures of Debussy’s Children’s Corner – are presented in a totally natural and idiomatic manner within the guitar’s distinctly expressive soundworld.

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 4 • Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Utah Symphony Orchestra • Abravanel

‘In this Fourth Symphony, taken down in analogue stereo by Elite Recordings’ legendary producers Marc Aubort and Joanna Nickrenz, Abravanel is on top of and masters each phrase. …Nothing is workaday or feels routine.’ – MusicWeb International

EGK, W.: Columbus [Opera]
Gutstein • Wunderlich • Montoya • Boysen • Pekny • Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus and Orchestra • Egk

The first attempts at ‘radio opera’, the adaptation of stage works for radio, were carried out in Berlin, followed soon after by commissions for original works in the medium. General comprehensibility was the most important principle and the listener was intended to have an exciting listening experience with the help of modern technical means. Although still lacking in dramatic musical experience, Werner Egk sensed the fascination emanating from this avant-garde genre, taking as his chief model for Columbus Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. The experienced conductor Hermann Scherchen stood by him as advisor.

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 5 • 1812 Festival Overture
Utah Symphony Orchestra • Abravanel

‘Abravanel’s interpretations are said to be “fresh and direct”. This is so, with no sense of routine in these particular performances, with plenty of personality in the well-prepared playing, and sounding good from the remastered Audiophile perspective (Mike Clements & Andrew Walton). Abravanel’s thought-through/wholesome conducting pays many dividends, with no lack of passion and a keen ear for detail, and as before, there is a moreish quality…’ – Colin’s Column

BACEWICZ, G.: Piano Concerto • Concerto for 2 Pianos • Overture
P. Jablonski • Brauss • Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra • N. Collon
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone

‘Jablonski is a seasoned Bacewicz crusader… Elisabeth Brauss, Nicholas Collon and the Finnish RSO match him for energy and aplomb. Altogether this is a disc as thought-provoking as it is engaging.’ – Gramophone

SAINT-GEORGES, J.B.C. de: Violin Concertos, Opp. 2 and 7
Fumika Mohri • Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • M. Halász

‘Japanese violinist Fumika Mohri is certainly up to the challenges of Saint-Georges’s solo parts, effortlessly leaping to and from her crystalline upper register, while she is affecting in the slow movements, notably the beautifully wistful Adagio of the A major Concerto. She is given solid support by the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice under Michael Halász.’ – BBC Music Magazine

GERSHWIN, G.: Orchestral Works – An American in Paris • Lullaby • Promenade • Cuban Overture • Catfish Row
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra • L. Slatkin

‘A fine collection of Gershwiniana… Slatkin and his St Louis players are on fire…’ – Classical Explorer

HINDEMITH, P.: String Quartets, Vol. 1 – Nos. 2 and 3
Amar Quartet

Paul Hindemith wrote seven String Quartets, all of which reflect the experience and practical assurance of a distinguished violinist and, later, violist. No 2 was written in 1918 whilst he was a soldier on active duty. It’s a bracing, dynamic and pithy work with a clever series of variations which parody romantic excess, and a virtuosic finale. No 3 followed early in 1920 and was an instant success, a thrilling example of Hindemith’s concise imagination at work. This passionate quartet, with its richly varied material, is one of his supreme chamber masterpieces.

STRAUSS, R.: Complete Tone Poems
South West German Radio Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg • F.-X. Roth

‘This now surely has to be the top-rating digital set of Strauss’s tone poems. Tod und Verklärung, Don Juan, Macbeth and Don Quixote, all superbly played, complete the deal.’ – Gramophone

IVES, C.: Complete Sets for Chamber Orchestra
Orchestra New England • James Sinclair

‘Despite the composer being dead for nearly 70 years this music still sounds fresh and innovative. …this music brilliantly combines and reworks a wide range of material with juxtapositions of rhythm and style which is exciting and engrossing.’ – Lark Reviews

RAVEL, M.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 – Boléro • La valse • Rapsodie espagnole • Pavane pour une infante défunte
Basque National Orchestra • R. Treviño

‘…There is great depth and excellent stereo imaging on show here, as well as a lot to be enjoyed in terms of just the beauty of the sound itself… It is easy, therefore, to give this new recording a hearty recommendation. …There is fine playing and fine music-making to be experienced here.’ – Fanfare

DVOŘÁK, A.: Great Composers in Words and Music
Various Artists

The music of Bohemian composer Antonín Dvořák is suffused with natural nobility, fluency and freshness, and embodies the spirit of his native land. This revealing biography portrays Dvořák as a complex and wide-ranging composer, and explores the creation and performance of his music as well as its reception on both sides of the Atlantic, tracing his art in all its richness and variety. Musical excerpts include the Cello Concerto, the ‘New World’ Symphony and the Slavonic Dances, as well as selected chamber pieces, songs, opera excerpts, and more.

HINDEMITH, P.: String Quartets, Vol. 3 – Nos. 1 and 4
Amar Quartet

‘The performances are excellent. …Quartet 4 is played with appropriate amounts of both grit and elegance. Anyone interested in these pieces should certainly get this.’ – American Record Guide

Top 10 Audiovisual Releases
THE ZURICH AFFAIR – Wagner’s One and Only Love (Film, 2021)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0170V)
Auster • Saartamo • Pfeil • Hauffe • Volle • London Symphony Orchestra • Stier • Neubert

An exile from his native land following the failed revolution of 1848, the impoverished Richard Wagner is in Zurich working on his opera Tristan und Isolde. There he meets Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck, ardent admirers of his music. Wagner’s passionate and scandalous affair with Mathilde, whose poems he set to music, is explored in this feature film by director Jens Neubert. After their relationship ended, Wagner left Zurich for Italy, forever remembering Mathilde as ‘my first and only love’.

MUSSORGSKY, M.P.: Boris Godunov [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2016)
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7314D)
Terfel • Smoriginas • White • Philip • Tomlinson • Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Pappano • Jones

‘Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel is a mesmerizing Boris, especially in the tragic climactic scene; Antonio Pappano superbly conducts the Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, the latter triumphing in the composer’s haunting vocal lines.’ – The Flip Side

TALBOT, J.: Like Water for Chocolate [Ballet] (Royal Ballet, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7312D)
Hayward • Morera • Magri • Hinkis • Sambé • Ball • Arestis • Corrales • Avis • Gasparini • Royal Ballet and Opera House Orchestra • de la Parra • Wheeldon

‘The Royal Ballet’s principal dancers – especially the incandescent Francesca Hayward as the heroine Tita – are unimpeachable, as is Wheeldon’s expressive choreography. Talbot’s conventional music is led by the terrific conductor Alondra de la Perra, who teams with the orchestra to give it more warmth.’ – The Flip Side

STRAVINSKY, I.: Oedipus rex [Opera] (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2022) • PIZZETTI, I.: 3 Orchestral Preludes for Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57981) and CD (CDS7981)
Glueckert • Semenchuck • Esposito • Corrado • Bernard • Geyer • Popolizio • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Gatti

‘…this 2022 concert version from Florence, Italy, conducted by Daniele Gatti, finds its power in the all-male chorus, AJ Glueckert’s Oedipus, Alex Esposito’s Creon and Ekaterina Semenchuck’s Jocasta. As a wonderful bonus, Gatti and the orchestra also perform Italian composer Ildebrando Pizzetti’s moody Three Orchestral Preludes, also composed for Sophocles’ play.’ – The Flip Side

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, N.A.: Christmas Eve [Opera] (Frankfurt Opera, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0154V)
Vasiliev • Shkosa • Muzychenko • Tikhomirov • Popov • Frankfurt Opera Chorus • Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra • Weigle • Loy

‘Christof Loy’s 2021–22 production for Oper Frankfurt maintains the fantastical, tongue-in-cheek satire of both Gogol’s short story and Rimsky-Korsakov’s score and enlivens it with sparkling modernity and a light hand. …Sebastian Weigle, leading the Oper Frankfurt Orchestra and Chorus, deftly brings the colour, majesty, humour and heart of this work into high definition, in perfect concert with Loy’s stage work.’ – Opera News

SHAKESPEARE, W.: Richard III (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2022)
Arthur Hughes • Gregory Doran

Directed by Gregory Doranand featuring Arthur Hughesas Richard, this is the thrilling climax to Shakespeare’s first great history cycle.

OFFENBACH, J.: La Périchole (1874 version) [Operetta] (Opéra Comique, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0168V)
d’Oustrac • Talbot • Christoyannis • Huchet • Peintre • Les Éléments • Orchestre de Chambre de Paris • Leroy • Lesort

‘A strong cast is led by Stéphanie d’Oustrac. …her feisty Périchole is convincingly quick-witted. She’s ably partnered by Philippe Talbot as a warm and sympathetic Piquillo. His light tenor is ideal, and he manages to convey the dawning realisation of Périchole’s viceregal ‘obligations’ without coming across as utterly dim. Julien Leroy leads the excellent Orchestre de Chambre de Paris in a stylish interpretation of the score with sufficient emotional weight…’ – Limelight

SHAKESPEARE, W.: Henry VI, Parts I–III (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2021–2022) (3-DVD Boxed Set)
Quartley • Middleton • Gale • Alvin-Wilson • Gayle • Hadfield • Moreton • Karimi • Wilkes • Cooney • Benjamin • Hughes • Horsley • Doran

Experience the thrill of rebellion, the brutality of battle, and ambition without boundaries in Shakespeare’s epic trilogy about one of the most turbulent periods in English history. This box set trilogy, available together for the first time on DVD, includes: Henry VI: Part One, Henry VI: Rebellion, and Henry VI: Wars of the Roses.

BRITTEN, B.: Albert Herring [Opera] (Glyndebourne, 1985)
Graham-Hall • P. Johnson • Opie • Palmer • Rigby • Glyndebourne Chorus • London Philharmonic Orchestra • Haitink • Hall

Benjamin Britten’s comic opera, which is gently laced with moments of farce, is a jocular parody on life in East Suffolk at the turn of the 20th century. Albert Herring is a quaint, nostalgic journey to a bygone England and the journey has come full circle back to Glyndebourne where this piece was premiered in 1947. The ensuing antics are brilliantly characterised by a strong British cast in this production, which is infused with freshness and limitless charm. Expertly conducted by Bernard Haitink, this archive recording showcases some of Britain’s finest singers in this landmark production by Peter Hall.

MONDONVILLE, J.-J.C. de: Titon et l’Aurore [Opera] (Opéra Comique, 2021)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0131V)
Mechelen • Blondeel • Negri • Mauillon • Roset • Dolcini • Les Arts Florissants • Christie • Twist

‘…this is a fine and very well-done opera. […] If you are interested at all in 18th-century French grand opera, this is one DVD that you should have in your collection.’ – Fanfare

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