Naxos Bestsellers July 2023

Top 20 Audio Releases
SAINT-GEORGES, J.B.C. de: Violin Concertos, Opp. 2 and 7
Fumika Mohri • Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • M. Halász

‘…Mohri shapes the solos unaffectedly with a sure hand, which underlines the pleasing character of the pieces. …the interpreter takes care to play as sensitively as possible. In the slow movements she executes finely spun lines.

Shaping, rhythm and musical lines are also contributed by the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, conducted by the experienced Michael Halász for the musical dialogue.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★

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

‘To this day, Ives’ works sound like those of no other composer: the Sets, like so many of his compositions, richly repay multiple hearings, their brevity both concealing and elucidating thoughts and feelings that, starting small, seem endlessly to expand.’ – ★★★★

Violin Conversations – BLACKFORD, R. • BLAKE, H. • BUTLER, M. • HISCOCKS, W. • HOROVITZ, J.
Madeleine Mitchell

‘Madeleine Mitchell has been described on BBC Radio 3 as ‘the consummate violinist’. Proof of that comes royally throughout this CD where she performs the music of ten 20th century and contemporary composers. The word ‘conversations’ is crucial to this recording.’ – The British Music Society

 ANTHEIL, G.: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1–4
Tianwa Yang • Nicholas Rimmer

‘It is obvious that violinist Tianwa Yang and pianist Nicholas Rimmer have prepared these unwieldy scores with the utmost care and attention to detail, not to mention their effortless instrumental mastery.’ –

WEILL, K.: Propheten (performing version by D. Drew and N. Sheriff) • 4 Walt Whitman Songs (arr. K. Weill and I. Schlein)
Dohmen • Azesberger • Hampson • Vienna Youth Choir • ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra • D.R. Davies

‘The performance under Dennis Russell-Davies is of good quality and musically offers all that is needed to experience this important work, even if it is only one piece of the whole. Thomas Hampson succeeds well in rendering these Civil War poems set to music and in rendering their emotional content.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★

SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Trios Nos. 1 and 2 • Notturno • Rondo brillant • Arpeggione Sonata
C. and T. Tetzlaff • Vogt
Quarterly Critic’s Choice | Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award)

‘For Eternity. Tanja and Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt put their symbiotic friendship on the line for Schubert’s piano trios, it seems; together they are able to create something that would be separately unattainable. With fullest risk and hearts exposed, they share pulse, fear and final breath. No phrasing is less than perfectly placed, but the wonder is this flowing-through, to which one feels invited as a listener. United in friendship, through the now and then and never again, they prepare together for the final farewell.’ – Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award)

ŻELEŃSKI, W.: Janek [Opera]
Gaj • Górski • Grzegorzewicz-Rodek • Henryk Wieniawski Philharmonic Women’s Choir and Orchestra Lublin • Rodek

Władysław Żeleński was a neo-Romantic from southern Poland whose compositions were infused with evocative national colour and character. His opera Janek draws on local atmosphere and traditional music but also makes use of the emotive Italian verismo style.

DELIUS, F. • SMYTH, E.: String Quartets
Villiers Quartet

‘Full marks to the Villiers Quartet for bringing this new and challenging repertoire to life.’ – Gramophone

MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 3
B. Ranch • Kunkli • Deutsche Oper Berlin Children’s Choir • Aalto Children’s Choir • Essen Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra • T. Netopil

Gustav Mahler described his Third Symphony as ‘a work in which the whole world is indeed reflected’, a claim supported by its large, six-movement structure and the use of huge orchestral and choral forces, plus a part for alto solo. The first performance of the symphony took place on 9 June 1902 in Krefeld under Mahler’s direction.

ORFF, C.: Prometheus [Opera]
R. Hermann • Lorand • F. Uhl • J. Greindl • Engen • Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra • R. Kubelík

What Carl Orff created with his Prometheus score is neither an opera in the traditional sense, nor an oratorio, nor a play with music, not even an ‘authentic’ classical tragedy. Rather, it’s an extremely individual musical interpretation of Aeschylus’ tragedy that concentrates primarily on the symbolic imagery of the scenes, which – as Orff himself said – ‘is accentuated and visualised by the music’, thereby enlightening the spectator and the listener.

Sacred Music – BEETHOVEN, L. van • BERLIOZ, H. • BRAHMS, J. (4-Disc Boxed Set)
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra • Norrington

Whether in Mozart, Haydn, Bruckner or Brahms, Norrington has sought to capture the performance experience of the time, adjusting the orchestra’s size and seating plan to create an authentic sound without vibrato. His artistic credo was to keep as close as possible to the composer’s expectations.

ADAM, A.: Orfa – Romantic Ballet in Two Acts
Hristova • Trichkova • Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra • Salvi

‘The balletic delicacy of the Sofia Philharmonic’s playing will impress the listener. The first strings are fine; their contribution to the recording is elegant and not to be underestimated. Dario Salvi shows sensitivity in the soft romanticism he brings to the tranquil sections of the ballet, yet elsewhere directs spritely rhythms with panache and his control of dynamics brings out the colour and spirit of the numbers.’ – MusicWeb International

DURANTE, F.: Psalms and Magnificat
Nova Ars Cantandi • Valotti • Acciai

In 18th-century Naples, one of the most fertile artistic centres in Europe, Francesco Durante was considered ‘supreme’, composing music that gave him an international status. His psalm settings stand out for their astoundingly modern contrapuntal tensions and expressive nuance. Coupled with Giovanni Salvatore’s uniquely inventive pieces for organ, these world premiere recordings revive sacred works by a composer lauded in his day as the ‘greatest master of harmony in Italy’.

REFICE, L.: Cecilia [Opera]
Mari • Spadaccini • Kim • Collia • Piunti • Placa • Schirru • Spina • Cagliari Teatro Lirico Chorus and Orchestra • Grazioli

Italian composer Licinio Refice was ordained as a priest in 1905, and his achievements as a composer sometimes led to conflict with the Catholic authorities. Cecilia was his first opera inspired by sacred themes, but even as gloriously melodious azione sacra, it took many years before a theatre production was possible. This ‘song of Cecilia’ narrates her martyrdom after refusing to renounce her Christian faith – it was an immediate and sensational success with audiences at its premiere in 1934. With its flowing and indisputably beautiful blend of Gregorian antiquity with verismo drama, Cecilia has retained an enduring and widespread popularity.

VLADIGEROV, P.: Stage Music – Scandinavian Suite • Caesar and Cleopatra • The Chalk Circle
Bulgarian National Radio Chorus & Symphony Orchestra • A. Vladigerov

‘…the music is instantly captivating. This is, to date, the most desirable of the seven Vladigerov Capriccio volumes.’ – MusicWeb International

CLARKE, N.: The Prophecies of Merlin – Symphony for Violin and Orchestra
P. Sheppard Skærved • ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra • N. Thomson

‘The imaginatively composed music never gets boring. One admires both the highly virtuosic playing of Peter Sheppard Skærved and that of the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, powerfully but also very inspiredly conducted by Neil Thomson.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★★

Polish String Quartets – KURPIŃSKI, K.K. • MONIUSZKO, S. • NOSKOWSKI, Z.
Lutosławski Quartet

‘The Lutoslawski Quartet devotes itself seriously to the works, displaying the different moods with a fine sense of character. …the quartet’s committed interpretations demonstrate the independence of these composers. They bring to life the charm of this music worth hearing.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★★

The Synthetists Revisited – BRENTA, G. • BOURGUIGNON, F. de • DE JONCKER, T.
Royal Band of the Belgian Air Force • Cilissen

‘The disc is for anyone who wants to hear worthwhile though generally much neglected music by some distinguished Belgian composers. It clearly deserves to be heard, especially when played with commitment and enjoyment.’ – MusicWeb International

More Like You – Dawn • Melt into the Bright Lights • King Winter • Lost into Gold • Lost Souls • Locked Down Loneliness
Maria Brym • Anders Egil Meyn Jensen

Maria Brym, a talented artist and singer/songwriter from Norway, delves into contemporary songwriting and pop music, presenting a retrospective sound. Within her repertoire, some songs appear epic and bold, while others unfold as tender narratives woven into gentle musical landscapes. While her admiration for 80s pop and inspiration from Kate Bush might seem evident at times, Maria possesses a distinctive and delightful approach to crafting her melodies. Collaborating with her production team, Bård Berg and Anders Egil Meyn Jensen, she has crafted a modern album brimming with charm and adorned with nostalgic references.

Lovro Peretić

For his guitar laureate recording, Croatian-born Lovro Peretić has selected a panoramic programme that reaches back to the 18th century and forward to modern times. Of the two Scarlatti sonata arrangements one is by Peretić who has also transcribed a Brahms Intermezzo into a poignant lullaby. His performance of Karel Craeyvanger’s Weber homage, reveals the work’s variety and expressiveness. He also plays a sensually evocative piece by Barrios Mangoré, and two barely known works by Debussy. Peretić ends the recital with Henze’s characterful Second Sonata on Shakespearean Characters.

WAGNER, R.: Tristan und Isolde (arr. H. de Vlieger as An Orchestral Passion)
Weimar Staatskapelle • H. Albrecht
Orchestral Choice | BBC Music Magazine

‘…this fine performance – in which solo instruments brilliantly stand in for human voices – should come with a health warning.’ – BBC Music Magazine

Top 10 Audiovisual Releases
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’ real-life home – Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

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

CAVALLI, F.: Il Xerse [Opera] (Festival della Valle d’Itria, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57983)
Vistoli • Protsenko • Petrone • Lippo • Hoxha • Orchestra Barocca Modo Antiquo • Sardelli • Muscato

Francesco Cavalli succeeded Monteverdi as the most influential composer of the new genre of opera that emerged in mid-17th-century Venice. Il Xerse is a fictitious dramma per musica that tells of Persian King Xerxes’ love for Romilda, who, in turn, is in love with his brother Arsamene. The plot is an entertaining and extremely intricate human comedy of crossed loves, court intrigues and disguises – the work’s popularity saw it staged in Paris at the wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain. Since overshadowed by Handel’s later Xerxes, this Martina Franca production is the first in modern times.

HANDEL, G.F.: Theodora [Oratorio]
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7313D)
Bullock • DiDonato • Orliński • Lyon • Orendt • Mjandana • Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Bicket

‘Julia Bullock, Joyce DiDonato and Jakob Jozéf Orlinski as the central trio of Theodora, Irene and Didymus are fantastic. There’s a combination of theatrical intensity and pure Handelian musicality that is utterly compelling. All the big numbers get full weight and proper style.’ – operaramblings

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Eugene Onegin [Opera] (Glyndebourne, 1994)
Prokina • Drabowicz • Thompson • Winter • Minton • Filatova • Olsen • London Philharmonic Orchestra • Davis • Vick

Graham Vick’s acclaimed production of Eugene Onegin sets Pushkin’s tale of doomed love, tragedy and rejection against an acutely observed backdrop of Russian society, with spectacular choruses and dances. Tchaikovsky’s powerful music vividly conveys the passion and despair of the young Tatyana as she declares her love for Onegin, recorded in the first season of Glyndebourne’s new opera house in 1994.

LULLY, J.-B.: Acis et Galatée [Opera] (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57971)
Lombard • Harsányi • Donato • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Sardelli • Lazar

‘…the stars are, appropriately enough, soprano Elena Harsányi as Galatée and Jean-François Lombard in the haut-contre role of Acis. Both are very stylish and personable. Bass Luigi de Donato makes an impressively scary Polyphème. The rest of the cast is fine and the dancers are really good. Performance-wise this is all very satisfactory.’ – operaramblings

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

‘Stéphanie d’Oustrac takes the title role with aplomb and a warm mezzo… Philippe Talbot’s tenor is sweet and he makes much of his Act 3 aria; in fact the whole cast has a ball. Julien Leroy conducts with vigour and has a good sing-along with his cast at the curtain calls.’ – Opera Now ★★★★

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.

Springtime in Amsterdam (Musical Film, 2023)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0169V)
Dasch • Oliemans • Kronthaler • Reinhardt • Poort • Melles • Atsma • Dutch National Opera Chorus • Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra • Metropole Orchestra • Dutch String Collective • Letonja • Loy

‘…whether singing or acting, the leads perform with consummate skill. Annette Dasch, in particular, throws herself enthusiastically and convincingly into her role, whether shimmying energetically along the Amsterdam Centraal railway platform or tipsily vamping a visibly reluctant Norman Reinhardt in a hotel bar. Meanwhile, in the scenes that he shares with her, Thomas Oliemans demonstrates a winning flair for comic timing.’ – MusicWeb International ★★★★

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.

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