This month’s NEW ON NAXOS features critically acclaimed violinist Tianwa Yang together with pianist Nicholas Rimmer presenting George Antheil’s four Violin Sonatas. These recordings trace Antheil’s creative development as a composer over a 25-year period, starting from his ‘bad boy of music’ period when he first arrived in Europe with his eclectic No. 1 and its notable Stravinskian influence through to No. 4 built on Classical and Baroque models. The duo have previously recorded Wolfgang Rihm’s Complete Works for Violin and Piano (8.572730) which received a Diapason d’Or, a Pizzicato Supersonic Award and an International Record Review Outstanding Award.
Other highlights include Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ Violin Concertos, Opp. 2 and 7 featuring the award-winning violinist Fumika Mohri with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice conducted by Michael Halász; the world premiere recording of Władysław Żeleński’s opera Janek, with Wojciech Rodek leading the Women’s Choir of The Henryk Wieniawski Philharmonic in Lublin, I Signori Men’s Vocal Ensemble and The Henryk Wieniawski Philharmonic Orchestra in Lublin featuring tenor Łukasz Gaj in the title role; Charles Ives’ complete sets for chamber orchestra presented by the Orchestra New England under James Sinclair; the sixth volume in the ongoing series of Napoleon Costé’s guitar works performed by guitarist An Tran; and more.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, possessed a panoply of talents – leading swordsman, athlete, virtuoso violinist, composer and musical director – so it is not surprising that by the standards of his age he was not especially prolific. Nevertheless, Saint-Georges’ violin concertos demonstrate a gift for writing attractive and engaging music as well as a virtuoso technique with which to dazzle audiences, not least in his own performances. Published in pairs, the concertos recorded here show his originality of expression, his command of structure and a bravura exploitation of the violin’s higher register.
INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING OF COMPLETE EDITION
Though Charles Ives wrote large-scale works, he also thrived on miniatures. Ives’ Sets for Chamber Orchestra are largely based on his songs and display a panoply of style and technique that proves to be among the most colorful and creative of his entire compositional life. The Sets are rife with allusions and borrowings, notably hymn tunes, and reuse several pieces in slightly altered treatments. Set 9 includes The Unanswered Question in its original form. Ives was willing to embrace substitution of instruments, and this recording contains premiere recordings of new realizations and editions.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
The Brussels-based British composer Nigel Clarke is renowned for his virtuosic style, and an uncompromising contemporary musical language that speaks with an authentic voice to today’s audiences. This world premiere recording of his symphony for violin and orchestra The Prophecies of Merlin is inspired by the 12th-century text De gestis Britonum by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and it casts the soloist as the maddened Merlin, either raging alone or caught up in the wild tumult of the orchestra. This score brims with rhythmic drive and bravura orchestration, juxtaposing savage musical outbursts with moments of sheer transcendental beauty.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING OF ARRANGEMENT
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. Set in the Tatra Mountains, the tragic drama of Janek weaves an entangled tale of romantic attachments and deception, set in motion after the eponymous hero and leader of a band of robbers, arrives wounded at the cottage of the charming Bronka.
New Jersey-born George Antheil traveled to Europe in 1922 determined to become “noted and notorious” as a pianist-composer, soon gaining a reputation as the “bad boy of music” with works such as the infamous Ballet mécanique. The first three violin sonatas come from this period, with the eclectic Violin Sonata No. 1 displaying the fiercely barbaric influence of Stravinsky, and the more jazzy No. 2 developing experiments in “musical cubism”. His Violin Sonata No. 3 achieves a synthesis of Stravinskian rhythms and Antheil’s more song-like tendencies, while the later No. 4 is built on Classical and Baroque models.
Violinist Madeleine Mitchell has inspired new works from a variety of composers, many of whom share connections of various kinds. ‘Conversations’ sit at the heart of an album in which four pianist composers join Mitchell to perform their works. The music ranges from Alan Rawsthorne’s quicksilver 1958 Violin Sonata, heard here in a BBC broadcast to honour Mitchell’s two-decade partnership with the late Andrew Ball, to Thea Musgrave’s vivid Colloquy. The sequence of atmospheric, communicative pieces from contemporary composers explores natural phenomena, songs of freedom, telephonic frustration and a pas de deux love duet.
Providing an overview of almost a century, this album reflects the aspirations of Polish nationalism through the works of three pivotal figures. Karol Kurpiński laid the foundations of a national style and his Fantasy for String Quartet is both serious and ingenious in design. Zygmunt Noskowski, considered the country’s leading composer during the last decade of his life, was a mentor to future generations and crafted a witty piece on a theme of Viotti, including the use of a polacca. Stanisław Moniuszko’s quartets balance the hymnal with the rustic, being lively, unexpected and bracing.
INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS OF ARRANGEMENT
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.
The publication of a facsimile edition of Napoléon Coste’s complete works in the 1980s brought the composer-guitarist’s name before the public after decades of neglect. A student of Sor, he was the most eminent French guitarist of the 19th century and a creative innovator. Fantaisie symphonique shows the range of his ambition with its quasi-orchestral textures, swift mood changes and virtuoso flourishes. Le Départ is one his most popular extended pieces, full of liquid transitions. The other works demonstrate the variety of his art – the multitude of techniques employed, his mastery of texture and attractive intricacy.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
In September 1925, seven students gathered in Brussels to form the first composers’ collective in Belgian music history – Les Synthétistes – who sought to distinguish themselves from late Romantic style by connecting with contemporary music. A lack of symphony orchestras in Belgium at the time saw them composing and transcribing original works for wind band, and through their collaboration with Arthur Prevost and the Band of the Belgian Guides, a unique canon of original, modern music could be heard on the Brussels concert stages during the interwar period. This recording provides a resounding response to the injustice of this repertoire’s complete neglect today. Works by the collective’s ‘master’ Paul Gilson and the seventh member, René Bernier, can be heard on the digital single 9.70351.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
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’.
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!