Naxos Bestsellers May 2024

Top 20 Audio Releases
ADAMS, John: City Noir • Fearful Symmetries • Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance
Naxos 8.559935
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra • Alsop

‘Alsop’s new take [on Fearful Symmetries] is downright invigorating. The conductor brings a strong sense of drive to the music, drawing out a beautiful blend of colours – from invitingly swooning saxophone quartet playing to unexpected synthesizer colours – from her forces.’ – The Arts Fuse

AUBER, D.-F.: Overtures, Vol. 6 – L’ambassadrice • La part du diable • Haydée • Le premier jour de bonheur
Naxos 8.574532
Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra • Salvi

Auber’s overtures were once as popular as those by Rossini and Suppé, with no less a figure than Tchaikovsky commenting on the ‘elegant clarity of his harmonisation, his delightful and striking melodies … and beautiful instrumentation.’ Full evidence is provided here in music that ranges across Auber’s creative periods where finesse of orchestral detail and piquant harmonies are met by verve and wit. Some of his least well-known music is encountered, as are scores that explore vivid dance themes, all presented with Auber’s gossamer orchestration and lightness of touch.

ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra • M. Poschner

‘This interpretation of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony is incredibly exciting because it is so different from many others. …At less than sixty minutes, Poschner is also on the fast side when it comes to tempo. But his conducting is not just fast, it is brisk and brusque, giving the symphony a rather unconventionally accented and rhythmically sharpened character.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★

PIAZZOLLA, A.: Buenos Aires – Arrangements for Violin & String Orchestra
Naxos 8.574308
Cotik • Martingale Ensemble • Selden

‘…Cotik has Piazzolla’s music in his blood. …he knew how to capture the spirit of the music, from subtle sensuality and longing to fierce passion and supreme virtuosity.’ – Pizzicato

FUČÍK, J.: Dances and Marches
Marco Polo 8.225381
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • Štilec

‘The orchestra from Pardubice is able to reproduce the light and entertaining character of Fučík’s music and thus presents a pleasant album that will delight all admirers of the genre.’ – Pizzicato

ALFANO, F.: Suite Romantica • Una danza • Nenia • Divertimento • Amour… Amour…
Naxos 8.574533
Vendramin • V. Rabagliati • Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano • G. Grazioli

‘The half-hour work [Suite romantica] is heard on this album in a very colourful and expressive, excellently performed interpretation. …pleasing and excellently played…’ – Pizzicato

GRIEG, E.: Symphonic Dances • Lyric Suite • 3 Orchestral Pieces from Sigurd Jorsalfar • 2 Elegiac Melodies
Vox VOX-NX-3038CD
Utah Symphony Orchestra • Abravanel

‘The end result is sonically excellent, the orchestra sounding as though it is playing in a large hall, but nothing is blurred. As for the performances, they come across as relaxed and friendly… most music listeners should find plenty to enjoy from the more than 70 minutes of Grieg’s music so warmly played and recorded on this restoration from the Vox vault.’ – Classical Candor

WALKER, George: Complete Piano Works, Vol. 1
Naxos 8.559916
Alexandre Dossin

‘…[Walker’s] piano music is communicative, colourful, expressive and, above all, characteristic. …Alexandre Dossin shows himself to be an accomplished interpreter, making Walker’s tonal language his own with his flexible and sensitive playing.’ – Pizzicato

PAGANINI, N.: Sonata a Preghiera – 4 Studies for Violin Solo • Sonata a violino scordato
Dynamic CDS8015
L. Fanfoni • Reale Concerto • I Musici di Parma • Lorenzi

‘…Luca Fanfoni pulls out all the stops to present the music in an appealing way. The other performers also contribute successful performances, so that together they have created a varied program that offers something new.’ – Pizzicato

DONIZETTI, G.: La favorite [Opera]
Naxos 8.660549–51
A. Stroppa • Camarena • Sempey • Stavinsky • Milletti • Di Tonno • Donizetti Opera Choir and Orchestra • Frizza

‘The choral singing is first-rate, the playing exemplary, and Frizza, impressive yet again, is wonderfully alert to the work’s slowly accumulating tensions…’ – Gramophone

JIA, Daqun: The Wave of Surging Thoughts • Bashu Capriccio
Naxos 8.579157
Haufa • Sinfonia Varsovia • Klauza

The prolific and internationally admired Jia Daqun is one of China’s leading composers. He has written in a wide variety of forms – his chamber works can be found on Naxos 9.70241 and 8.59011 – but is especially distinctive when writing for orchestra. The Wave of the Surging Thoughts is a largescale symphonic concerto-suite in which he achieves a high degree of unity through the use of formal variations. Bashu Capriccio is an ardent symphonic prelude that expresses the cultural traditions and simple folk customs of Bashu, the ancient name of Sichuan province.

SMETANA, B.: Má vlast (My Fatherland)
Vox VOX-NX-3041CD
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra • Susskind

Amongst a pantheon of great Czech composers, Bedřich Smetana is revered as the musical personification of his country’s national spirit and the founder of its modern musical character. Composed after the onset of Smetana’s incurable deafness, Má vlast (My Fatherland) is an unprecedented cycle of six related symphonic poems that evoke ancient Czech legends and celebrate the majestic beauty of the country’s landscapes. Acclaimed with ‘unending storms of applause’ at its 1882 premiere, Má vlast reflects the unique characteristics that form the living heart and soul of the Czech nation.

TURINA, J.: Works for String Orchestra – La oración del torero • Tango • Orgía
Naxos 8.573391
Concerto Málaga • Gil de Gálvez

‘The Concerto Málaga string orchestra with twelve members is based in Andalusia. Conductor and violinist Gil de Gálvez leads it. In interpretations that are more subtle than extremely evocative of Spanish colour, they offer the predominantly short movements with charm and elegance.’ – Pizzicato

BACH, J.S.: Transcriptions for Guitar
Naxos 8.574541
Georgi Dimitrov-Jojo

Georgi Dimitrov-Jojo, winner of the 2022 European Bach Guitar Award, presents a selection of works transcribed for guitar from the rich repertoire of Johann Sebastian Bach. Arrangements made for different instruments were customary during the Baroque period – and with a wide range of tonal possibilities, the guitar is an ideal instrument for this music. Dimitrov-Jojo’s beautiful sound and poetic interpretations bring an intimate connection to Bach’s boundless imagination, crowned in this substantial programme by the famous Ciaccona, BWV 1004.

WOLFF, E.J.: Complete Songs, Vol. 1
Naxos 8.574451
S. Gaul • D. Johannsen • K. Simon

‘[Tenor Daniel Johannsen] can adapt his flexible voice well to these changing moods and their narrative. Samantha Gaul brings her charming soprano to two of the Wunderhorn songs. Klaus Simon’s strong, incisive rhetoric at the piano contributes just as much to the listening experience as Johannsen.’ – Pizzicato

BACH, J.S.: Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue)
Ondine ODE1437-2
Aapo Häkkinen

‘[Bach] speaks to us in his work in such clear terms that we may quite well call these fugues poems. (…) These compositions exude warmth, quiet joy, and love. Running through each piece, disguised in various forms, is the main theme, creating order and binding the work together as a whole: it serves as a secure bond amidst its diversity. Over all lies the proximity of death.’ (Enzio Forsblom) In this new recording, Bach’s final magnum opus is played by Aapo Häkkinen on a harpsichord built in 1614 by Andreas Ruckers the Elder (1579–1652), which once belonged to the composer John Blow (1649–1708), organist of Westminster Abbey and former teacher of Henry Purcell. A tradition exists suggesting that G.F. Handel had also played this harpsichord.

Gottlieb Wallisch

This sixth volume of Gottlieb Wallisch’s acclaimed 20th Century Foxtrots series takes us to Southern Europe, with composers in Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries becoming caught up in the jazz craze that swept through dance and concert halls by the 1920s. International influences blend with regional character and famous names jostle with new discoveries, all of whose contributions create a joyous mix of exuberant theatricality, evocative elegance and colourful blues.

BRUSA, E.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 5 – Requiem • Stabat Mater
Naxos 8.574589
Kristóf • D. Láng • I. Horváth • Bakonyi • Hungarian Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra • Frizza

‘Elisabetta Brusa’s Requiem is an impressive work in its own right. The Stabat Mater for soprano and orchestra, though only 12 minutes long, is also a haunting composition, expressively sung by Réka Kristóf.’ – Pizzicato

SCHMIDT, F.: Fredigundis [Opera]
Orfeo C380012
Vejzovic • M. Egel • Hollweg • Bunger • Sandu • ORF Vienna Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra • Märzendorfer

‘The dramatic mezzo-soprano Dunja Vejzovic…sings the title role beautifully, with a powerful and expressive voice. Austrian conductor Ernst Märzendorfer has a good grasp of the music and conducts with tension and fluidity…’ – Pizzicato

Sofja Gülbadamova

Ernst von Dohnányi displayed an interest in a range of inventions throughout his life, so it’s unsurprising that around 1909–10 he became one of the main promoters of pianos that used a semicircular keyboard. There had long been experimentation in creating the most comfortable keyboard possible, with all the keys at the same distance from the pianist, facilitating the same body and hand positions throughout the keyboard’s full range. The Viennese manufacturer Ludwig Bösendorfer began making pianos with a concave keyboard (Bogenklaviatur) in 1910, and Dohnányi used them exclusively during the period of the Austro Hungarian Empire. When he moved to Budapest at the end of 1915, one of his own pianos was the short Clutsam-Bösendorfer, which is currently owned by the Budapest Museum of Music History. This album offers the first recording of this special instrument following a lengthy restoration.

OREFICE, G.: Piano Works
Dynamic CDS8014.02
Andrea Boscutti

Giacomo Orefice is best known as an opera composer. His piano output mainly consists of evocative short pieces that draw inspiration from poetry and paintings, as well as landscapes, nature and scenes from daily life. The childlike atmosphere of Ninnoli is followed by the delightful Valse des amoureuses, Orefice’s only piano piece published outside Italy. The Preludi del mare describe a day at the seaside from the first lights of dawn to the rising of the moon. These impressionist worlds are enhanced in the Quadri di Böcklin by a sound palette that expresses the symbolist painter’s moods of sorrow and solitude. The melancholy Cipressi, a piece of unknown origin, is now seen as Orefice’s musical epitaph.

Top 10 Audiovisual Releases
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: The Enchantress [Opera] (Frankfurt Opera, 2022)
Naxos 2.110768–69
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0180V)
Grigorian • MacNeil • Mahnke • Mikhailov • Jost • Švēde • Frankfurt Opera Chorus • Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra • Uryupin • Barkhatov

‘Asmik Grigorian as Kuma tends to hold centre stage whenever she’s on. She’s super sympathetic and, of course, she’s a fabulous singer. Alexander Mikhailov is Prince Yuri and he’s a proper Russian tenor. He produces impressive, ringing high notes and does a very decent job of working with the slightly pathetic character he’s given.’ – operaramblings

WAGNER, R.: Siegfried [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2021)
Naxos 2.110743–44
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0159V)
Hilley • Ya-Chung Huang • Paterson • Stemme • Berlin Deutsche Opera Orchestra • Runnicles • Herheim

Siegfried is the third of the four operas that comprise Wagner’s epic tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (‘The Ring of the Nibelung’). Siegfried, raised by the evil dwarf Mime, discovers that he is the son of Siegmund and Sieglinde. He must negotiate betrayals and dangers in a landscape of dragons and magic in order to kill Fafner, who has the Ring, as well as Mime, who has designs on it. Finally, in music of resplendent drama, Siegfried, the hero who knows no fear, can penetrate the ring of fire to awaken the sleeping Valkyrie, Brünnhilde

DONIZETTI, G.: L’Aio nell’imbarazzo [Opera] (Fondazione Teatro Donizetti, 2022)
Dynamic DYN-37993
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57993)
Corbelli • Esposito • Lucii • Ruta • Martelli • Dellaere • Liberali • Donizetti Opera Choir and Orchestra • Milletarì • Micheli

‘Marilena Ruta as Gilda is very good indeed. She’s a fine actress with a very pure and agile soprano heard to best effect in her arias just before the finale. Francesco Lucii, as Enrico, has excellent high notes and sounds like a proper Donizetti tenor…’ – operaramblings

MACMILLAN, K.: L’histoire de Manon (Paris Opera Ballet, 2015)
BelAir Classiques BAC135
Also available on Blu-ray (BAC435)
Dupont • Bolle • Bullion • Renavand • Pech • Paquette • Descoutures • Paris National Opera Ballet and Orchestra • Yates • MacMillan

‘…performed with great style and artistry, led by one of the recently great ballerinas. It is a good place for a ballet beginner like myself to begin.’ – Fanfare

PROKOFIEV, S.: Cinderella [Ballet] (Royal Ballet, 2023)
Opus Arte OA1378D
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7316D)
Nuñez • Muntagirov • Royal Opera House Orchestra • Kessels • Ashton

‘…the current Royal Ballet company has immense strength in depth and there are no weak links in this performance… Prokofiev’s score is very well served by experienced ballet conductor Kessels and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.’ – MusicWeb International

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I: Swan Lake [Ballet]
BelAir Classiques BAC119
Also available on Blu-ray (BAC419)
Zakharova • Rodkin • Belyakov • Barykina • Loparevich • Tsvirko • Grigorovich • Petipa • Ivanov • Gorsky • Orchestra of the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia • Sorokin

With Tchaikovsky’s famous lyrical score, Swan Lake depicts the tragic love between Princess Odette and Prince Siegfried, and will no doubt be performed to perfection by the unparalleled virtuosity of Russia’s great Bolshoi Ballet. This universal and enchanting masterpiece of love, deception and drama is a must. With wonderful ballerina Svetlana Zakharova, one of the most beautiful Odette / Odile of the time, Denis Rodkin, Artemy Belyakov and Bolshoi Ballet.

BERG, A.: Lulu [Opera] (Bavarian State Opera, 2015)
BelAir Classiques BAC129
Also available on Blu-ray (BAC429)
Petersen • Skovhus • Klink • Sindram • Trost • Winkler • Bavarian State Orchestra • Petrenko • Tcherniakov

‘Berg’s ability to lend lyricism to otherwise prickly chromatic passages is what makes the nightmare bearable, elevating the drama beyond the abject misery endured by the characters.’ – Opera News

BUSONI, F.: Doktor Faust [Opera] (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2023)
Dynamic DYN-37998
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57998)
Henschel • Brenna • Schwinghammer • Dahdah • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Meister • Livermore

‘…there’s an earnest intensity and intelligence at play in [Dietrich Henschel’s] performance, and he is moving in the final scenes… Joseph Dahdah leads the rest of the cast, singing with appealingly Italianate tone (and accent) in his two roles, and Olga Bezsmertna is a fine Duchess of Parma, singing with fearless freedom in the upper range.’ – Gramophone

DONIZETTI, G.: Chiara e Serafina, o Il pirata [Opera] (Fondazione Teatro Donizetti, 2022)
Dynamic DYN-37987
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57987)
Spagnoli • Fan Zhou • Doveri • Coro dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala • Orchestra Gli Originali • Quatrini • Falaschi

‘Once again, we have a DVD to thank for a splendid revival of a forgotten work, in this case some wonderful early Donizetti.’ – Gramophone

PUCCINI, G.: Turandot [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2018)
BelAir Classiques BAC170
Also available on Blu-ray (BAC570)
Theorin • Kunde • Auyanet • Mastroni • Madrid Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra • Luisotti

‘Spanish soprano Yolanda Auyanet produces the finest singing of the three principals, floating some lovely pianos and displaying a tonal glow that is elsewhere missing. Raul Giménez sounds old as the Emperor Altoum, but that is appropriate for the character, and Andrea Mastroni’s dark basso makes the most of Timur’s music.’ – Fanfare

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