Naxos Bestsellers September 2023

Top 20 Audio Releases
HAYDN, J.: Late Symphonies, Vol. 1 – Nos. 93–95
Danish Chamber Orchestra • A. Fischer

‘…Ádám Fischer points out that Haydn’s ‘London’ symphonies were greeted at their first performances by the sort of wild enthusiasm that’s reserved nowadays for rock concerts. He aims to recreate some of that excitement in the performing style he cultivates with the Danish Chamber Orchestra, with its crisply articulated string playing and strongly contrasted dynamics. His approach pays dividends in a piece such as the great finale of the ‘Surprise’ Symphony No. 94, with its scurrying string passages and its distinctive phrasing.’ – BBC Music Magazine ★★★★

MONIUSZKO, S.: Paria [Opera]
Sutowicz • Sobotka • Friebe • Korpik • Kuflyuk • Kiedrowska • Poznań Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Kaspszyk

‘Rafal Korpik sings a good Akebar, and Iwona Sobotka in the role of Neala as well as Stanislav Kuflyuk as Jares, Idamor’s father, are good performers in their respective roles, both vocally and in acting. The ensemble scenes, which Jacek Kaspszyk makes very attractive, must be considered particularly well done.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★

NOSKOWSKI, Z.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2
Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra • Wit

‘…the conductor Antoni Wit demonstrates throughout this interesting set that he has the measure of the composer’s [Noskowski’s] unusual idiom, and a strong case is made for these two little-known symphonies.’ – Classical CD Choice

ENESCU, G.: Early Chamber Music – Piano Quintet • Prélude et Gavotte • Aubade
Fine Arts Quartet • Bickard • G. and F. Witkowski

‘All of the pieces acquire the kind of sepia tinge found in old photographs. This is certainly pleasant to hear and the quartet is well supported by the other participants, i.e. Fabio Witkowski on piano as well as on double bass Alexander Bickard.’ – Pizzicato

MOZART, W.A.: Piano Concertos Nos. 15 and 20
Michelangeli • Sinfonieorchester des Süddeutschen Rundfunks • Bavier

‘Michelangeli plays K466 especially well. …Here we have a full reservoir of Michelangeli’s talents to encounter, his hands finely balanced, runs elegantly insouciant. …In the finale Michelangeli’s bass is strongly defined and he avoids any temptation to fashion porcelain sonorities. On the contrary, this is vivid, commanding pianism.’ – MusicWeb International

ALFANO, F.: Complete String Quartets
Darvarova • M.A. and C. Mumm • S. Magill

‘The performances are wondrously fervent, hot-house products. The sound is at your throat, heated and upon you with tiger-like ferocity.’ – MusicWeb International

HIGDON, J.: Duo Duel • Concerto for Orchestra
M. Strauss • S. Stoyanov • Houston Symphony • Spano

‘Conductor Roberto Spano, whose advocacy first brought Higdon to widespread attention in the early 2000s, previously recorded the Concerto for Orchestra… His conviction that the piece is a landmark of the contemporary American orchestral repertoire remains undimmed, and is even more persuasive in this account with the Houston Symphony.’ – Gramophone

Topos: 20th Century Greek Orchestral Music – CONSTANTINIDIS, Y. • KALOMIRIS, M. • SKALKOTTAS, N.
Noé Inui • Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra • Tsokanou

‘The listener may not be familiar with too many pieces by Greek-Cypriot composers, but this enterprising collection should go some way towards redressing that situation. …Yannis Constantinidis’s two suites are notable for their subtle dance rhythms and expert orchestration, while Nikos Skalkottas’s ingenious Greek Dances, one of his most popular works, is heard here in an edition for string orchestra by his friend, the conductor and composer Walter Goehr.’ – Classical CD Choice

FARRENC, L.: Complete Piano Works, Vol. 2 – Theme and Variations, Part I
Maria Stratigou

‘[Stratigou] is clearly a first-rate interpreter… If you are as enamoured of Farrenc as I am, you’ll probably want to add this CD to your collection since it shows a different side than her symphonies and more complex chamber works…’ – The Art Music Lounge

SAINT-GEORGES, J.B.C. de: Symphonies Concertantes, Opp. 9, 10, Op. 11, No. 1
Revich • Ježek • Honsová • Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • M. Halász

‘The Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice under the direction of Michael Halász offers a lively recording on the Naxos label of four of Boulogne’s symphonies concertante and his Symphony in G Major, op. 11/1. Their elegance and poise convey the unique voice of the Chevalier, while recalling the charm of Haydn’s light works for orchestra.’ – Fanfare

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

‘…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

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 6, ‘Pathétique’ • Hamlet Fantasy Overture
Utah Symphony Orchestra • Abravanel

‘Along with a convincing performance of the symphony, Abravanel delivers a Hamlet that is lively and entertaining, with plenty of drama and flair. This is simply very good, straightforward, well-played, and excellently recorded Tchaikovsky, well worth a recommendation.’ – Classical Candor

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphonies Nos. 1, ‘Winter Daydreams’ and 2, ‘Little Russian’
Utah Symphony Orchestra • Abravanel

These classic VOX recordings by the Utah Symphony Orchestra were originally released in 1974, and remain much admired to this day for conductor Maurice Abravanel’s fresh and direct interpretations.

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 6 (fragment) • Piano Concerto, WoO 4
S.-M. Vetter • Hamburg Symphony Orchestra • Ruzicka

‘The slow movement here is an absolute dream. The freshness of both fortepianist and orchestra is remarkable.’ – International Piano

Chinese Romance – XIA, Weinan • HUANG, Tao • LIN, Huanqi
Xianji Liu

Chinese Romance presents a selection of recent compositions that are all deeply evocative, referring to specific imagery and romantic experiences for their inspiration. These poetic and lyrical pieces explore the guitar’s delicate timbres with nuance and subtle detail, expressing a universal range of emotions. Popular concert and recording artist, Xianji Liu, is the first Chinese-born winner of the Francisco Tárrega International Guitar Competition, Benicàssim.

MOMOTENKO, A.: Choral Music (Creator of Angels)
Latvian Radio Choir • Kļava

‘[Angelov tvorche] music which calls on the choir to show considerable respect to the language of the text, delivered in ancient chant and modern idiom, often to a point where conventional musicality is suspended. It’s a brave device, and is precariously but successfully sustained by Sigvards Kļava and his always impressive choir.’ – Choir & Organ

CRUSELL, B.H.: The Last Warrior (Dem Siste kämpen)
Skog • Sunnarborg • Audi Jugendchorakademie • Helsinki Baroque Orchestra • A. Häkkinen

This new album, featuring the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and Aapo Häkkinen, together with the Audi Jugendchorakademie and bassoonist Jani Sunnarborg, presents late works by composer Bernhard Henrik Crusell (1775–1838), making it an important addition to the recordings of Nordic Classical period works and of early Finnish music. The album’s highlight is the world première recording of Crusell’s Viking-themed, ‘The Last Warrior’ (Den sista kämpen), which happens to be the composer’s last large-scale composition.

Legendary Singers (6-Disc Boxed Set)
Arroyo • P. Anders • Horne • Fischer-Dieskau • Gedda

This 6-disc collection features some of the most renowned singers of the 20th century. The first album showcases Nicolai Gedda’s interpretive genius with historical recordings made between 1954 and 1965 and featuring works by Mozart, Rossini, Glinka, Schubert, Poulenc, Rimsky-Korsakov and others. On the second album, Martina Arroyo’s rich, well-rounded voice is on full display during her performance at the Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele (SWF in those times). The third album includes recordings made at the height of Peter Anders’ career, featuring works by Wagner, Strauss, Beethoven, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. The fourth album (2 Discs) spotlights Marilyn Horne at the peak of her abilities with an all-Rossini programme. Lastly, the fifth album is devoted to the incomparable Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, performing lesser-known Baroque repertoire in Stuttgart. This collection provides a captivating musical journey that presents some of the greatest voices of the 20th century.

Guitar Recital – GIMENEZ, J. • DEBUSSY, C. • ASSAD, S. • ALBENIZ, I. • RODRIGO, J. • TARREGA, F.
Rafael Aguirre

‘…all are exciting and exhilarating. The best are the works written for guitar: Paco de Lucia’s Guajiras, and Sergio Assad’s Spanish Impressions…The Rodrigo Toccata is a real discovery…it’s a remarkable work…I have no reservations with Aguirre’s playing. I don’t think anyone else could make these work better.’ – American Record Guide

Festklänge (Festive Sounds)
German Radio Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern Philharmonic Orchestra • Inkinen

For many people Christmas time has come when the broadcasting stations start playing the specific music everybody knows and hears each year. However, not always music performed around Christmas has originally been composed for Christmas too. Especially our earliest and therefore most emotional memories are closely related to this festivity. The music we associate with these emotions does not necessarily have to be Christmassy, but should intensify and reflect those feelings.

ALBÉNIZ, I.: Piano Music, Vol. 9 – Rapsodia española • Chants d’Espagne • Aragón
Rodríguez Laiz • López Sacristán

Twenty-five years ago, Guillermo González, a great exponent of Spanish music, inaugurated an ambitious project to record all of Isaac Albéniz’s piano music. This ninth volume is the culmination of that project and the recordings have all been made by González or his students, adding interpretative unity to the cycle. The final instalment focuses on Albéniz’s compositional evolution and his use of inspired folk-based melodies, Hispanic nostalgia and vivid dance rhythms, encapsulated by the intoxicating Chants d’Espagne. Additionally, five works are heard in exciting new arrangements for two pianos made expressly for this recording, presented as if in a suite of dances.

WILLIAMS, Alberto: Violin Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3
Duo AM

Alberto Williams has been described as ‘the grand old man of Argentine music’ and is recognised as one of the founders of an independent musical language for his native country. Williams studied in Paris during the 1880s, and his violin sonatas draw comparisons with his teacher César Franck – their heroic mood reflects the post-Wagnerian grandeur that was popular at the time. The concentrated and passionate interplay between violin and piano in Violin Sonata No. 2 bears comparison with Brahms, while the adventurous and at times experimental Violin Sonata No. 3 is notable for its striking shifts in harmony and dazzling virtuosity.

PALMERI, M.: Misa a Buenos Aires • PIAZZOLLA, A.: Oblivion
D. Linde • R. Heins • P. Scholl • El Arroyo Tango Orchestra • U. Stötzel

‘Many works by the Argentinian composer Martín Palmeri owe their inspiration to the tango Nuevo style, both in terms of form and harmony. This includes his tango mass, Misa a Buenos Aires, composed in 1996 and scored for mezzo soprano, choir, bandoneon, piano and strings. The combination of distinct traditions—ancient Latin liturgical texts and the everyday music of Palmeri’s homeland—results in a highly colourful case of old wine in new bottles.’ – Interlude

Top 10 Audiovisual Releases
HUMPERDINCK, E.: Königskinder [Opera] (DNO, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0171V )
Behle • Kulchynska • Wagner • Soffel • Dutch National Opera Chorus • Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor • Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra • Albrecht • Loy

‘This opera by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck is filled with complicated relationships and lovely vocal sections that come across beautifully in director Christof Loy’s clarifying 2022 production at Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam. Of course, excellent lead performances by Olga Kulchynska, Daniel Behle, Josef Wagner and Doris Soffel greatly help, as does the music making by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Chorus of Dutch National Opera and a children’s chorus, all under the direction of conductor Marc Albrecht.’ – The Flip Side

MOZART, W.A.: Le Nozze di Figaro [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7304D)
Fassi • Semenzato • Alcántara • Lombardi • Hipp • Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Pappano • McVicar

‘The real joy…of this performance is the singing and acting. …we open with Figaro and Susanna and in Riccardo Fassi we have a genuine bass Figaro who is athletic and youthful sounding. We also get our first look at Giulia Semenzato’s Susanna. She’s quite charming and sings beautifully and she just gets better as the opera progresses. It’s a really fine performance. It’s a fresh take on what was always a good production with a youthful cast who look and sound like the composer intended…’ – operaramblings

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

‘Bryn Terfel may be a more baritonal Boris than we have come to expect but it’s a compelling performance. This is no psychopath in pursuit of power but a man tender with his children yet terrified at the thought of how he reached the throne. And what luxury to have John Tomlinson as Varlaam the merry monk. But it’s the chorus who are the stars in this opera, and what sublime singing Renato Balsadonna coaxes from his Covent Garden cohort.’ – BBC Music Magazine

VERDI, G.: Ernani [Opera] (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2022)
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57972)
Meli • Frontali • Kowaljow • Siri • Tziouvaras • Dahdah • Piva • Orchestra and Chorus del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino • Conlon • Muscato

‘The acting is generally good and so is the singing from the principal men. Francesco Meli does a proper bit of Verdi tenoring in the title role and really has the heroic tenor sound down pat. Vitalij Kowaljow is splendidly solid as Silva. He has a true basso cantante voice with sonorous low notes but also great musicality.’ – operaramblings

BRITTEN, B.: A Midsummer Night’s Dream [Opera] (Glyndebourne, 1981)
Bowman • Cotrubas • Appelgren • Lott • Glyndebourne Chorus • London Philharmonic Orchestra • Haitink • Hall

Glyndebourne’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is pure magic. Brilliantly adapted from Shakespeare’s play, the opera follows the adventures of four lovers and a group of naïve rustics who, in a wood on a moonstruck midsummer night, fall foul of Oberon and Tytania, the quarrelling king and queen of the fairies.

In Peter Hall’s remarkable staging, the very wood comes alive as logs and trees move and rustle, creating ambiguous silhouettes in the dark mysterious woodland, lit only by designer John Bury’s wonderful rising sun and moon.

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

‘…Alan Opie and Jean Rigby are properly warm-hearted as the young lovers. Even the children, so easily sentimentalised, are given properly cheeky characters, and Patricia Kern is a suitably overbearing Mum whose face creases in a touching manner at the moment when she realises that she has finally lost control of her son. And as that son John Graham-Hall is absolutely perfect, a young man coming to terms with life… Bernard Haitink obtains spirited playing from the orchestra…

…simply one of the greatest operatic videos of all time.’ – MusicWeb International

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

ROSSINI, G.: La gazzetta (Liceu, 2005)
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7034D)
Forte • Praticò • Workman • Spagnoli • Bienkowska • Martins • Orfila • Canturri • Intermezzo Choir • Orchestra Academy of the Gran Teatre del Liceu • Barbacini • Dario Fo

‘Lively and hilarious… Pulsating pace, Charleston looks and silent movie aesthetics in a series of gags… Fo takes the opportunity to satirise the world of advertising and the hypocrisy of the powerful.’ – El Pais

DELIBES, L. • MINKUS, L.: La Source, ou Naïla [Ballet] (Paris Opera Ballet, 2011)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0145V)
Pagliero • Ciaravola • Paquette • Heymann • Ballet of the Paris Opéra • Orchestra of the Paris Opéra • Kessels

‘The ballet La source, jointly composed by Minkus and Delibes, is hardly ever staged, so this well filmed Paris Opera Ballet performance is a very welcome release on both Blu-ray and DVD. …the choreography is winning and its execution by the Paris dancers is first-rate. It’s unlikely that we will see the piece staged elsewhere any time soon, so this will be a necessary purchase for fans of classical ballet.’ – MusicWeb International

SHAKESPEARE, W.: Richard III (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2022)
Armfield • Balfour • Batterham • Benedict • Bushell • Hughes • Doran

‘A production of magisterial stagecraft that builds to a powerful climax’ – The Guardian

The Art of Svetlana Zakharova at the Bolshoi (4-DVD Boxed Set)
Also available on Blu-ray (BAC616)
Bolshoi Ballet and Theatre Orchestra • Sorokin • Sinaisky • Sotnikov • Grigorovich • Lacotte

‘Many regard Svetlana Zakharova as today’s finest female dancer in classical ballet and this bargain-priced set admirably showcases both her unquestioned technical skills and her occasionally rather cool and detached stage presence. The box contains four complete ballets, all presented in typically lavish and well-executed Bolshoi fashion—though you should note that this performance of The Sleeping Beauty is the same one that’s been included in the David Hallberg box.’ – MusicWeb International

Not available in Russia and Japan

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