This month’s NEW ON NAXOS features John Corigliano’s Complete Solo Piano Music performed by British pianist Philip Edward Fisher. He is joined by the Albany Symphony and David Allan Miller, who also recorded Corigliano’s The Conjurer (8.559757) which received a GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo: ‘David Alan Miller’s Albany players gleam under the solo spotlight that Corigliano often shines on them and also respond with plenty of whump…’. (International Record Review) Alongside his five GRAMMY Awards, Corigliano is also a recipient of several prestigious awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and an Oscar.
Other highlights include Jacques Offenbach’s opera La Périchole staged by Valérie Lesort; Springtime in Amsterdam – a joyful musical film created by director Christof Loy; the eighth installment of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Piano Trios presented by the Aquinas Piano Trio; Pavel Chesnokov’s Sacred Choral Music presented by St John’s Voices and Cambridge University Chamber Choir under Graham Walker; the latest in the Great Composers in Words and Music series featuring the life and works of Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky; and more.
John Corigliano’s music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by some of the most prominent orchestras, soloists, and chamber musicians in the world. He is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, five GRAMMY Awards, the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and an Oscar. The Piano Concerto ranges in expression between lyricism and atonality and is extremely virtuosic and theatrical, while the competition piece Fantasia on an Ostinato investigates the performer’s imagination and musicality through minimalist techniques. The devilish discipline of Étude Fantasy contrasts with the improvisatory origins of Winging It, while Prelude for Paul echoes the soul of Rachmaninov.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
Orfa was Adolphe Adam’s penultimate ballet, with an intriguing scenario based on Nordic mythology. It shares analogies with Hesiod’s Theogony and Wagner’s Ring cycle in depicting the struggle between the older gods (Loki) and younger gods (Odin). Full of archetypal Romantic elements, Orfa was mounted with the lavish stage spectacle for which the Paris Opéra was famous, and featured Fanny Cerrito in the title role. Adam’s writing shows increasingly vivid orchestral imagination, drama and tonal colour, with roles for several instrumental soloists. This world premiere recording uses a new edition copied from Adam’s original manuscript score held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
José Antônio de Almeida Prado was one of the most admired Brazilian composers of his time. The two stylistically diverse works featured on this album exemplify different creative periods in the composer’s life. The prize-winning Pequenos funerais cantantes, which was Almeida Prado’s breakthrough as a composer, is a lament full of unique soundworlds forged from different combinations of choral and orchestral writing. The superbly orchestrated Sinfonia dos Orixás takes as its subject the Orishas (deities in the Yoruba religion) – and is a personal tribute to the rich Afro-Brazilian religious traditions, a sumptuous melodic and rhythmic feast celebrating the forces of nature.
Mr. E and Me alias Martin Hagfors and Erik Johannessen are a duo consisting of two experienced musicians with long careers as performers, songwriters and producers in jazz and popular music bands such as Homegroan and Jaga Jazzist. For the past ten years, they have also played all over Norway in schools, in kindergartens and cultural centres with their distinctive pop music with silly and warm lyrics about everything and nothing and delighted children of all ages. Naxos Norway has previously released New Orchestral Hits 4 Kids globally, a collaboration between the duo and KORK, The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, where the songs are reworked into orchestral versions and the lyrics written in English, Martin’s native language. The first record was nominated for Spellemann (The Norwegian GRAMMY) in children’s music. This sequel, New Orchestral Hits 4 Kids, Vol. 2, is also a co-production with KORK.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
Carl Czerny found fame and fortune in 19th-century Vienna by writing fashionable and popular works as well as developing techniques for the newly emerging piano with his numerous études. Much of Czerny’s concert music for piano was considered ‘wild and almost unplayable’ in his day, but these world premiere recordings reveal inspired melodic writing, great skill in orchestration and colourful virtuoso challenges in a programme that includes his final Concertino, Op. 650.
La Perricholi – in reality, Micaela Villegas – was Lima’s leading theatrical lady in the 1770s when Peru was a Spanish colony. Her life was fictionalised in a one-act play by Prosper Mérimée and a libretto was fashioned on which Offenbach created his opéra bouffe La Périchole, reflecting the creative mania in Paris at the time for Spanish life and art. La Périchole and Piquillo, her lover and companion in misfortune, are impoverished street singers. Meanwhile the Viceroy Don Andrès de Ribeira wishes to make her his lover. In music of vivacious rhythms including boleros, seguidillas and rich arias, Offenbach plays out their love against a broader social canvas.
Springtime in Amsterdam is a joyful feature film created by director Christof Loy, world renowned for his work in international opera houses. Meeting accidentally in Amsterdam, a group of four people experience a series of confusions that must be resolved in 48 hours. A richly varied musical score that includes Viennese operetta, Dutch and French chansons, and songs from the American song book, is performed by a renowned cast of singers and conducted by Marko Letonja, well versed in popular music. In a magical dream world, dilemmas are resolved in this enchanting fable.
As one of the most celebrated composers of the late 18th century, Joseph Haydn can lay claim to being ‘father of the piano trio’ alongside that of other genres established in his lifetime such as the symphony and the string quartet. The delightful Divertimento in C major is a youthful work, but the later piano trios recorded here take on a heightened sophistication. Strings and keyboard are given a new independence of character in exquisitely crafted works such as the C minor Trio, with its ‘numerous and sometimes spectacular modulations’, and oscillating enharmonic key changes that foreshadow Schubert can be heard in the Trio in D major.
Although Smith Brindle composed a variety of works including an opera, he is best known for his guitar music. The poetic and lyrical Etruscan Preludes express the mystery of an ancient and lost civilisation, while the enigmatic El Polifemo de oro expresses poet and playwright Federico García Lorca’s attribution of occult powers to the guitar. From the beautifully expressive Nocturne to the extreme effects of Percussion Piece (from Guitarcosmos, Vol. 3), the sheer virtuosity of invention in Smith Brindle’s guitar music led Julian Bream to commend his diversity of style and clarity of intention.
György Ligeti’s Études redefined the piano’s tonal possibilities and are considered one of his major creative achievements, as well as being one of the most significant sets of piano studies of the 20th century. They inevitably draw on influences from the past such as Chopin and Debussy, but avoid any sense of eclecticism. Ligeti’s often spectacularly virtuoso use of complex rhythms and geometric patterns proceeds from simple core ideas to create music that is ‘neither “avant-garde” nor “traditional”, neither tonal nor atonal’, and always backed by that glint of humour in the composer’s eye.
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
Imre Széchényi was a distinguished diplomat who rose to become the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Berlin, retaining the friendship and admiration of a gallery of leading figures of the age: Liszt, Johann Strauss II, Suppé, Waldteufel, Bismarck, and many others. He was also a pianist and composer, and his diplomatic career ran parallel to his musical life. Széchényi’s métier was the dance, and his series of polkas, mazurkas and serenades – infectiously engaging and ardently lyrical – were popular pieces in their day but are now little known. Orchestrations of many of these dances were made by the composer (Naxos 8.573807) but five that were never scored for orchestra are included here.
Pavel Chesnokov studied with Taneyev, Ippolitov-Ivanov and Conus in Moscow and was an admired choral director in the city. He wrote more than 500 choral works, the majority of them sacred. His contribution to music for the Divine Liturgy was immense and he wrote two settings of the All-Night Vigil, the second of which is heard here, rich in chant melodies, and full of grandeur and Romantic lyricism. His smaller-scale works show a refined and perceptive use of texture and sonority, often capturing the essence of chant without direct quotation.
INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
A love for vocal music has maintained its presence throughout Korea’s turbulent history, and Ga-Gok or ‘Art Song’ has long offered opportunities to convey personal sentiments and messages through lyrical settings of the nation’s poetry. Today’s often deeply expressive Korean art songs uniquely combine traditional Korean/Asian musical elements within the structure of Western music. They feature the finest examples of solo and duet songs by leading Korean female composers, thus providing new insights into Korean society and its modern musical culture.
Is there any music more instantly recognisable and beautifully scored than Tchaikovsky’s wildly popular ballet Swan Lake? These and other works have become enduring classics, yet they were not uncontroversial in Tchaikovsky’s day, and there are those that still wonder if his style is fundamentally European or ardently Russian. Find out more about Tchaikovsky’s childhood obsession with music, his turbulent relationships with friends and colleagues, and how he overcame the deepest of personal crises to transcend all with a creative ambition that has left us with some of the greatest music ever written. The narrative is illustrated with musical excerpts from Piano Concerto No. 1, Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6, the 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, among others.
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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!