We’ve reached the last release month of 2022 and this issue of NEW ON NAXOS presents Giovanni Sgambati’s invigorating Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, which was lost for decades and was reconstructed by Rosalind Trübger, which is the version heard here in this recording performed by conductor Franceso La Vecchia and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma – Naxos’ specialists in late 19th- and 20th-century Italian orchestral music. The programme also features the world premiere recording of the Sinfonia epitalamio (‘Nuptial Symphony’).
Other highlights include Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s symbolic opera Das Himmelskleid, Two4Piano performing Hommage à Victor Babin – a tribute to the composer’s appealing and colourful repertoire, Fabrice Bollon’s compositions for electric cello performed by celebrated soloist Johannes Moser, and more.
Watch our monthly New on Naxos video to sample the highlighted releases of the month.
† WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
Giovanni Sgambati, a composer admired by Wagner, was the man Busoni predicted would take Italian music ‘towards a bright new future’. Sgambati’s Symphony No. 2 is a compendium of Austro-Germanic devices whose mix of chromaticism and melodic invention is invigorating. Lost for decades, it was reconstructed by Rosalind Trübger whose performing edition is recorded here. Sinfonia epitalamio was commissioned to celebrate a royal wedding. Loosely programmatic, this beautiful work embraces the pastoral and celebratory framed in the form of a symphonic poemof today.
† WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
Heinrich Marschner, the leading German composer of Romantic opera between Weber and Wagner, was a progressive innovator, bringing to his music a new dimension – the supernatural anti-hero enmeshed in horror, such as the protagonist of Der Vampyr (1828). Before his psychological operas, however, Marschner composed a series of overtures and stage works exploring more conventional material. These have long been overlooked. In this first volume Schön Ella represents Marschner’s mastery of form, skilful orchestration and melodic gifts, while the excerpts from Ali Baba reveal his flair for theatrical concision and mood setting.
Archibald Joyce was known as ‘The English Waltz King’. The composer of delectable vignettes directed his own dance band which, depending on the size of the venue, sometimes numbered a hundred. Convinced that the Viennese waltz was not to British tastes he wrote smoother examples that included Dreaming, his most famous work, which sold over a million copies, and is a perfect example of the ‘hesitation’ waltz. His evocative music also included theatrical numbers, dramatic suites and the ‘concert valse’, designed for the silver screen.
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is best known for his comic operas. With this reputation established, the appearance of Das Himmelskleid in 1927, with its ‘symbolical twilight world… that rises musically to religious greatness and a world of dreams’ was a surprise for critics of the day. The narrative is a parable of a young princess who is born with the ‘Garment of Heaven’, but she forgets this true gift in her greedy pursuit of wealth and power. Das Himmelskleid is perhaps the most profoundly mature of Wolf-Ferrari’s operas, with an amazing sensitivity and feeling for sound and colour that were never bettered.
The year 1972 saw the death of Victor Babin, one half of the legendary Vronsky & Babin, arguably the most brilliant piano duo of the 20th century and a worldwide sensation for over three decades. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Babin’s death Katerina Moskaleva and Alexey Pudinov, themselves two musical forces of nature, come together as TWO4PIANO, a duo perfectly suited for breathing new life into Victor Babin’s appealing and colourful repertoire. Including newly rediscovered scores, this special programme takes us from Rachmaninov’s unmistakably Romantic style via Borodin’s rousing folkloric rhythms and Tchaikovsky’s balletic waltzes to Babin’s own remarkable evocations of a bygone era.
INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
In the first volume of this series (Naxos 8.571382), Matthew Schellhorn surveyed six decades of Herbert Howells’ compositions for the piano. This second volume reprises the journey, tracing the composer’s stylistic development from the charming poetic miniatures of his youth through to the resonant modal quirkiness of his later dances. The survey includes a centrally important work, the Sonatina of 1971, performed here in Schellhorn’s own edition compiled from the manuscript sources, which includes variants not heard for half a century.
Russian pianist Valentin Malinin, winner of the 62nd Jaén International Piano Competition, has chosen a programme that offers moments of reflection alongside dazzling virtuosity. The album opens with Shostakovich’s imposing Piano Quintet, one of the composer’s most popular chamber works. Granados evokes a ‘Ghost’s Serenade’ with guitar-like effects in the exuberant finale to his Goyescas, while Prokofiev’s Four Études are among the most complex and technically challenging works of their kind. Malinin’s own inspired fantasy The Pearl Fishers, based on Nadir’s Romance from Les Pêcheurs de perles, serves as a fine encore, reimagining Bizet’s original in daring, compelling style.
Anton Rubinstein occupied an uneasy place in the history of Russian music, largely because of his Jewish origins and the perception of him as a ‘German in Russia’. In recent years his solo piano music has begun to be re-evaluated. This album focuses on the series of works written in the mid-1850s and reveals music of charm and flair. The Three Pieces, Op. 16 are conventional in form but attractive, and the Two Pieces, Op. 28 contain a strongly contrasted Nocturne and Caprice. More ambitious, and intended to be performed in his concert repertoire as one of the greatest virtuosos of the age, are the Six Pieces, Op. 51.
This setting of Austrian Expressionist writer Georg Trakl’s poems by composer and conductor Fabrice Bollon is the first ever composition for classical singers and solo electric cello. As a result the work’s striking sonorities open unexpected and fascinating new directions for contemporary music. Evocative imagery and colourful writing for electric cello can also be heard in The Secret Garden of the Cordania – a work dedicated to Bollon’s cellist wife.
Brahms was opposed to the Lied cultivated by the ‘New German’ circle of composers around Franz Liszt who developed it into a highly artificial art form. In the books of the 49 Deutsche Volkslieder Brahms discovered a repository of dialogue songs, narrative ballads, laments, and songs of disputation and love, some tragic, others comic, that appealed to his need for authenticity. The book from which he sourced the songs had a printed text and melody, so Brahms’ artistic contribution lay in his richly varied piano accompaniments which subtly comment, heighten, inflect or expand on the texts. The first volume in this series is on Naxos 8.574268.
Finnish opera star Camilla Nylund sings masterpieces from the Great American Songbook in this unique collaboration with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under their music director Marin Alsop. The classic songs in this film were specially arranged to suit Nylund’s performance style, vocals and personality, as if they had been written for her. This special edition includes a DVD of the concert film-project by André Heller in black and white, plus an audio CD of the recordings.
The New & Now playlist features all that is new and exciting in the world of classical music, whether it’s new music, new presentations or new performers. With more than 200 new releases each year, and artists from around the world, there is always something new to discover with Naxos.
This month, there are some fantastic new additions to the playlist!