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Naxos Bestsellers February 2023

LEVAY, S.: Elisabeth [Musical] (Vereinigte Bühnen Wien, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0164V)
Orchester der Vereinigten Bühnen Wien • Römer • Mehmert

Treading a tightrope between death, life and intense romance in the opulent world of 19th-century Habsburg royalty, Elisabeth tells the story of the beautiful Empress of Austria, from her wedding, to her tragic assassination by the hand of the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni. Ongoing dark obsessions and inner turmoil are undercurrents as family schisms flare up amidst a crumbling empire. These powerful themes and a potent score brimming with fabulous music have combined to establish Elisabeth as the most successful German-language musical of all time. This spectacular open-air event presents Elisabeth at the fabled empress’s real-life home – Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

BAX, A.: Complete Symphonies • Orchestral Works (7-Disc Boxed Set)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra • D. Lloyd-Jones

Sir Arnold Bax wrote his seven symphonies between 1921 and 1939, embracing a prolific period that drew inspiration from a variety of sources. From the dramatic impact of the Second Symphony through to the seascapes of the Fourth and hints of Sibelius in the later works, Bax’s powerful symphonic world is one of surprising and at times stormy vigour contrasting with the most intense lyrical expressiveness and serenity. The selection of additional orchestral works evoking nature and atmospheric landscapes fascinates and rewards in equal measure, providing an essential overview of Bax’s music in critically acclaimed recordings.

Home Music Berlin (Documentary and Concerts)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD012425V)
Schmidt-Garre • Bar-Shaï • Chochieva • Dreisig • Eberle • Eckardstein • Faust • Gryshyn

When lockdown was imposed in 2020 many artists began streaming performances from their own homes. In response, pianist Francesco Piemontesi and director Jan Schmidt-Garre launched a concert series to showcase artists living in Berlin, given in the renowned Schinkel Pavillon with an expert technical team assembled at short notice. Fourteen concerts were held, without audiences, under the name Home Music Berlin featuring some of the world’s leading instrumentalists and singers. In addition, a documentary film captured rehearsals and private backstage scenes. This collection of performances is a testament to the resilience and solidarity of these artists during the pandemic.

SCHUMANN, R.: Symphonies Nos. 3, ‘Rhenish’ and 4 (re-orchestrated by G. Mahler)
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra • Alsop

‘…intelligent and moving performances by Alsop and the ORF… Alsop is able to shape [the “Rhenish” Symphony]’s rhythmic and melodic flow to perfection.’ – Audio Video Club of Atlanta

AUBER, D.-F.: Le Philtre [Opera]
Kabongo • Franco • Di Lieto • Fatyol • Vilichi • Cracow Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra • Acocella

‘Sopranos Luiza Fatyol and Adina Vilichi each have the requisite sweetness and sparkle, with Fatyol bringing a wholly appropriate hint of tartness to her characterization of Térézine…Eugenio Di Lieto is amusingly droll as the quack Fontanarose, while Emmanuel Franco swaggers nicely as the soldier Joli-Coeur.’ – Gramophone

SANTORO, C.: Fantasias Sul América • Sonata for Solo Violin
Soloists of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

‘Two works really stand out: the Fantasia for horn, which is wonderfully and resonantly idiomatic, and that for piano, which is a meditative work framed by furious toccata-like outbursts. Also impressive is the Solo Violin Sonata…Performances throughout are faultless; it would be truly wonderful if these works could become more widely known as a consequence of such fine recordings.’ – Gramophone

KETÈLBEY, A.W.: Bells Across the Meadows • In a Monastery Garden • In a Persian Market
Čápová • Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Leaper

‘The British Light Music series continues with this re-release of Marco Polo recordings of orchestral versions of this popular composer’s music. Alongside familiar pieces including In a Monastery Garden, In a Persian Market and the title track are some interesting lesser known works including The Adventurers, Chal Romano and Suite Romantique.’ – Lark Reviews

GUARNIERI, C.: Piano Music, Vol. 2 – Improvisos • Valsas • Momentos
Max Barros

‘…Guarnieri is “considered to be the most important Brazilian composer next to Villa-Lobos”. I find this music really draws me in, with often haunting melodies and interesting use of harmony and rhythm. This CD has lovely performances of 3 sets, each of 10 pieces – Improvisos, Valsas and Momentos.’ – Lark Reviews

Camilla Nylund sings masterpieces from The Great American Songbook (Concert Film, 2021) (DVD + CD set)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0162V)
A concert film-project by André Heller, directed by Robert Neumüller

‘Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund puts her own stamp on classic American songs from Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Kurt Weill and others in this beautifully intimate performance…her renditions of Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” and Weill’s “September Song” are perfection, along with the musicians’ backing.’ – The Flip Side

SALGADO, L.H.: Chamber Music, Vol. 1 – Viola Sonata • Selene • Cello Sonata • Woodwind Quintet
Kansas Virtuosi

‘…it’s clear [Salgado] was as interested in the modernist techniques of his European (and North American) counterparts as he was in [Ecuador]’s indigenous and folk music. What I find most impressive about Salgado’s work is how deftly he’s able to meld these seemingly incompatible elements. The performances by faculty members of the University of Kansas are uniformly excellent and the recorded sound is clear and well balanced.’ – Gramophone

BERKELEY, L.: Horn Trio, Op. 44 • BRAHMS, J.: Horn Trio, Op. 40 • LESHNOFF, J.: Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano
David Cooper • A. Kerr • O. Weiss

‘Cast in three movements, it’s a superbly cogent, immaculately crafted and engrossingly resourceful affair…it’s a huge pleasure to come across such outstandingly sensitive, stylish and keenly communicative playing as we get here from David Cooper (principal horn with the Chicago SO), Alexander Kerr (concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony) and the admirable Orion Weiss. …if the programme tempts, don’t hesitate for a moment.’ – Gramophone

PÜTZ, M.: Luxembourg Contemporary Music, Vol. 2 – Moods • Chapters of Life • Elegia
Berkel • P. Schwartz • Cottbus State Theatre Philharmonic Orchestra • Merzyn

‘Some lesser heard timbres are to the fore here in this lovely CD of music, the 2nd volume of Naxos’ Luxembourg Contemporary Music strand. With the oldest piece here dating from 2009 (and revised since then) this is certainly contemporary music. Inventive and colourful and with all but the title track being world premiere recordings, there is much to explore and enjoy here.’ – Lark Reviews

DOWLAND, J.: Complete Lute Music
Nigel North

‘Supple, sensitive and warmly recorded, North’s artful set is a steal at budget price.’ – BBC Music Magazine

SIBELIUS, J.: The Tempest [Incidental Music]
H. Fischer • K.D. Nielsen • Bjellsäter • Knudsen • Elsberg • Royal Danish Opera Chorus and Orchestra • Kamu

‘The Overture receives a powerful performance with a most vivid storm—more so than other versions I have heard. The soloists are all excellent and project the text well. Kamu upholds his reputation as a fine Sibelian…

…this disc should readily enhance any Sibelius collection.’ – MusicWeb International

ALFVÉN, H.: Complete Symphonies • Suites • Rhapsodies (7-Disc Boxed Set)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra • Willén

‘This is a set to be savoured. All the forces here are very fine, the recording quality overall is great, and I think listeners will get as much enjoyment from this set as I have.’ – Classical Music Daily

SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Complete Symphonies (3-Disc Boxed Set)
Malmö Symphony Orchestra • Soustrot

‘If Marc Soustrot’s Malmö Symphony Orchestra set of Saint-Saëns’s symphonies (including the early unnumbered A major and various other orchestral works) isn’t quite on the same exalted level as Chailly’s Stravinsky, it remains musically satisfying and usefully representative of some highly enjoyable repertoire. OK, in the Third Symphony’s Scherzo the timps might be a little backwardly recorded (they make a more impressive showing in the finale), but the organ marks the finale’s arrival with considerable presence and throughout the set Soustrot proves a persuasive and insightful advocate of the composer’s musical style. The sound, too, has both warmth and clarity.’ – Gramophone

PRICE, F.: Songs of the Oak • Concert Overtures Nos. 1–2 • The Oak • Suite of Dances
Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen • Jeter

‘All the performances are consistently fine, and the recorded sound is first-rate. This is a major addition to Price’s burgeoning discography, and the pair of oak-themed tone poems in particular reveals a fascinating new facet of this composer’s work.’ – Gramophone

SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Dances and Ballet Music – Étienne Marcel • Henry VIII • Parysatis • Samson et Dalila
Residentie Orkest The Hague • Märkl

‘…Jun Märkl delivers very good accounts of this mainly less-than-familiar music and, in so doing, is well supported by his Dutch orchestra and the Naxos engineering team. Collectors of 19th century ballet music and admirers of Saint-Saëns’s music will no doubt want to add this disc to their collections.’ – MusicWeb International

BRAHMS, J.: Complete Symphonies
Danish Chamber Orchestra • Ádám Fischer

‘…a new set, in excellent sound, of mature and deeply understanding character, especially at bargain price, is almost too good a set of records to miss… The sound quality is equally fine and this set is self-evidently recommended.’ – Musical Opinion

RACHMANINOV, S.: Préludes, Op. 3, No. 2, Opp. 23 and 32
Boris Giltburg

‘I can tell from his playing that Giltburg has large hands. He doesn’t break many of the chords that most do (last bars of the D-flat Prelude); and where Rachmaninoff calls for a staccato line in the left hand, legato lines in the middle and more staccato on top, most pianists have to touch the pedal a few times to keep the legato, and that slurs the staccatos (last page E-major Prelude). This requires the stretch of an 11th a couple of times (D-sharp to G-sharp and B to E). Giltburg plays these examples faultlessly. He can play as softly as anyone and captures the melodies with shape and inflections that few can offer.’ – American Record Guide

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