New on Naxos March 2024

The March NEW ON NAXOS spotlights Richard StraussJosephs Legende, conducted by the brilliant Fabrice Bollon and performed by the esteemed Staatskapelle Halle. This enchanting ballet masterpiece, often overshadowed by Strauss’ more celebrated works, reveals the composer’s orchestral mastery and commitment to ‘absolute beauty’. The dramatic parable, based on the Old Testament story of Joseph, is presented with alluring sensuality and soaring themes.

Other highlights include Michael Dellaira’s opera The Leopard presented by multi award-winning conductor Gerard Schwarz; the Avalon String Quartet’s recording Florence Price and Leo Sowerby’s string quartets, Johann Simon Mayr’s Messa solenne in D minor led by Mayr expert Franz Hauk; the life and works of Robert Schumann; and more.

Watch our monthly New on Naxos video to sample the highlighted releases of the month.

Click on any of the following categories to jump to that section:

Orchestral & Concerto Recordings

Staatskapelle Halle • Fabrice Bollon

Richard Strauss’s single-act ballet Josephs Legende emerged in 1914 just as the world’s attention was turning to war. But with its exotic instrumental colouring and the composer’s intent to rejuvenate dance into a ‘purely inspirational form’ dedicated to ‘absolute beauty’, it reveals a great ballet composer and demonstrates his orchestral mastery to the full. Josephs Legende is a parable about struggles between good and evil based on the familiar Old Testament story of the slave boy Joseph. The work’s dramatic tale is set with alluring sensuality expressed through Strauss’s gift for soaring themes.

Landim • Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra • Thomson

César Guerra-Peixe is one of the leading composers associated with musical nationalism in Brazil. A Retirada da Laguna is a programmatic suite that describes one of the most dramatic moments in the Paraguayan War of 1864–70, while his Concertino is a clever hybrid between folk music timbres and sophisticated high art ambitions. Museu da Inconfidência is one of the composer’s most admired works, taking us through a museum of 18th-century rebellion and heroism. Guerra-Peixe’s Symphonic Suites Nos. 1 and 2 can be heard on Naxos 8.573925, acclaimed by as ‘absolutely world-class’.

Baty • Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen • Haimor


Award-winning composer Reza Vali is a native of Iran but is now based in the United States after studies in Europe. Vali’s distinctive cross-cultural style is founded in a quiet rebellion that saw him return to his Persian musical heritage. Following the dazzling concert opener Ravân, Vali has taken a text by 13th-century poet and mystic, Rūmī, two traditional texts, and words by Vali himself, to create the moving cycle The Being of Love, with each song evoking a different aspect of love. Isfahan uses Persian modes and forms, and is among Vali’s most striking microtonal works, pushing the orchestra beyond its usual twelve-note sound-world in an exciting way.

Cook • Jensen • Reale
Yale Symphony Orchestra • Boughton


Paul Reale’s composing career blossomed in the last years of his life, but he was long held in high esteem as a renowned educator, and as a “mighty maestro with a unique expressive voice.” The New Hampshire state motto “Live Free or Die,” provided the impetus for Reale to finally complete his Cello Concerto in a mere 17 days, spurred on by a diagnosis of terminal illness. This work and the First Piano Concerto gestated over many decades, and both share Reale’s signature toolbox of expressive melody, Baroque counterpoint, references to many types of jazz, and extensions of tonality. The program concludes with the Sixth Piano Sonata, each movement of which ties in with T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land but within a cinematic structure that departs from any traditional form.

Opera & Ballet

Yang • Parsamyan • Redmon • Liu • Ragsdale • Josephson • Short
Frost Opera Theater • Johnson • Frost Symphony Orchestra


Michael Dellaira has earned a considerable reputation for his series of operas, of which the latest to be recorded is The Leopard. The libretto, by the distinguished poet J.D. McClatchy, is drawn from the 1958 novel written by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. It charts social and political upheavals during the Italian Risorgimento and, as the young idealist Tancredi tells his uncle, the Prince of Salina, ‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.’ The opera’s premiere, conducted by Gerard Schwarz, was exceptionally well received and described by Opera Magazine as ‘superbly crafted.’

Also available on Blu-ray Video
Buczkowska • Bullock • Porter • Holender • Reiter
Chor der Oper Frankfurt • Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester
Engel • Kratzer

Nielsen’s Maskarade is regarded as Denmark’s national opera. It combines folk-song character, Mozartean elegance and virtuoso surprises to create what conductor Titus Engel describes as ‘musical comedy that’s both witty and of the highest calibre’. Based on an 18th-century play by Ludvig Holberg, the story revolves around Leander and Leonora who meet at a masquerade ball, swear undying love, and then have to deal with the complicated consequences of their situation, all accompanied by Nielsen’s irresistibly sparkling score. This acclaimed contemporary staging from Oper Frankfurt is sung in a new German translation and directed by Tobias Kratzer.

Also available on Blu-ray Video
Stemme • Teige • Jovanovich • Paterson
Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin
Runnicles • Herheim

Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (‘The Ring of the Nibelung’) comprises four operas of which Die Walküre (‘The Valkyrie’) is the second, famous for its spectacular set-pieces such as the Ride of the Valkyries and Wotan’s Farewell. The plot focuses on the lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde and on the disobedience of the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, who defi es the edict of Fricka, the goddess of marriage, to punish them. With Die Walküre Wagner achieved a perfect synthesis of poetry and music. Sir Donald Runnicles conducts an internationally acclaimed cast in this innovative new production by Norwegian director Stefan Herheim.

Chamber & Instrumental

Avalon String Quartet


Florence Price and Leo Sowerby were both prominent members of the Chicago music community in the 1930s and 1940s, and they are known to have respected each other’s work. Most of Florence Price’s compositions remained unpublished at her death, and her String Quartet in A minor was not performed in her lifetime. Its African American vernacular idioms and colorful harmonic language are characteristics shared in the famous melodies woven into the later Five Folksongs in Counterpoint. From its brooding opening through propulsive rhythms, expressive lyrical melodies and fugal finale, this premiere recording of Sowerby’s String Quartet in G minor reveals a work undeserving of its decades of obscurity.

Martin Cousin

Nearly half of Franz Liszt’s early output consisted of transcriptions and arrangements, filling out his virtuoso concert programmes with some of the grandest and most popular operas of the day. He cleverly weaves themes through a dramatic Grande Fantaisie on Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, while the Fantasia on Mercadante’s Il giuramento is a superb example of Liszt’s flamboyant and virtuosic earlier style. All of these works require delicate brilliance and precision alongside a superb technique to meet their fearsome challenges – the Rondeau fantastique on Manuel García’s ‘El contrabandista’ is one of the most technically demanding pieces Liszt ever composed.

Eugenio Della Chiara

This album presents the complete solo works for guitar by two Catalan contemporaries, the cellist Gaspar Cassadó and the pianist Federico Mompou. Cassadó wrote six guitar works connected to his friendship with Andrés Segovia, mostly based on folk elements such as the sardana, a traditional Catalan circle dance. In Mompou’s works for guitar, the influence of his mysticism and attachment to Catalan folklore are undeniable. He composed primarily for piano but he also wrote three pieces for guitar, notably Suite compostelana for Segovia. The hypnotic, austere and lyrical elements in this work distil Mompou’s compositional genius.

Choral & Vocal

Feith • Bernagiewicz • Apffelstaedt • Schäfer • Zhi • Mallmann
Simon Mayr Chorus • Concerto de Bassus • Hauk


Johann Simon Mayr’s music stands on the cusp between the Classical and Romantic eras. The expressive lyrical qualities in his religious music reflects a career in which he composed nearly 70 operas. The Messa solenne follows the Italian tradition of messa concertata and contains the full ordinary – a rarity for Mayr’s output in this genre. The work’s polyphonic sections made an especially lasting impression on churchgoers of the time, as witnessed by Mayr’s first biographer, Girolamo Calvi, who wrote enthusiastically about this work’s ‘exquisite vocal writing’ and ‘profoundly thrilling’ virtuosity – qualities that have remained hidden for nearly 200 years.

Susana Gaspar • Nuno Vieira de Almeida


Fernando Lopes-Graça, one of Portugal’s most prolific and innovative 20th-century composers, was steeped in the folk songs of various provenances. In this third instalment (the earlier volumes are on 8.579039 and 8.579082) Lopes-Graça sets some of the greatest of all Portuguese poets. His exploration of harmonic complexity and progressive writing is distantly rooted in Debussy and laced with other subtle French elements. Premiere recordings of the kaleidoscopic Old English and French songs, which run the gamut of emotions, are among his earliest settings of foreign folk songs.

Great Composers in Words and Music

Leighton Pugh

The unresolved and ambiguous details of Robert Schumann’s psychological decline and death have tended to dominate his biography. Yet in his time Schumann was lauded as a protean Romantic literary genius whose writings, as a music critic, poet, novelist and dramatist, eclipsed his musical creativity. How did Schumann reconcile these elements? Does his music suggest he suffered from bipolar disorder? How did his pianist wife, Clara, influence his compositions? The narration is illustrated with some of Schumann’s finest works including excerpts from the symphonies, his song cycle Dichterliebe, the piano works Papillon and Carnaval, and the Piano Concerto, among others.

Naxos Playlist

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!

  • George Antheil: Violin Sonata No. 1: II. Andante moderato (Tianwa Yang, Nicholas Rimmer)
  • Charles Ives: Set No. 9 of 3 Pieces for Chamber Orchestra: III. Largo to Presto: The Unanswered Question (ed. J. Sinclair) (Orchestra New England, Sinclair)
  • Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 2, No. 1: III. Rondeau (Fumika Mohri, Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, Halász)
  • Domenico Scarlatti: Keyboard Sonata in D Major, K.178/L.162/P.392 (arr. L. Peretić for guitar) (Lovro Peretić)
  • Francesco Durante: Laudate pueri Dominum a 4 (Carmignani, Arrivabene, Ferrarini, Vargetto, Valotti, Acciai)
  • Władysław Żeleński: Janek, Act I: Gdy ślub weźmiesz z twoim Stachem (reconstructed by P. Pietruszewski) (Gaj, Lublin Philharmonic Orchestra, Rodek)
  • György Ligeti: Études, Book 1: No. 6. Automne à Varsovie (Han Chen)
  • José Antônio Rezende de Almeida Prado: Sinfonia dos orixás (Symphony of the orishas): Saudação a Exu (Salutation to Eshu) (São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, N. Thomson)
  • Adolphe Adam: Orfa, Act I: Act I: Mazurka, ‘Les traîneaux’ (Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Salvi)
  • Imre Széchényi: Serenade in A Minor (Lázár, Kassai)
  • Namlim Lee: Arirang (Kyoung Cho, Won Cho, Eun-Hee Park)

View all Features »