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“2014 has been another incredibly fertile year for the Naxos label, with 241 new classical albums and videos released on CD, Blu-ray Audio, DVD and in digital format. Each year I’m asked to cherry-pick a list of favourites to share with you, a task that never seems to get easier with such a vast array of new recordings vying for selection, from early music to contemporary works, solo instrumental recitals to the grandest of grand opera.

I’m delighted, however, to nail my colours to the mast by nominating the following titles, encouraged by the critical acclaim that external sources have also awarded them throughout the year.

They aren’t listed in order of preference, simply in the order of the months in which they were released and highlighted in my Chairman’s Priorities Newsletters.

I hope you will take the opportunity to listen to them, perhaps through the free listening service available on Naxos.com, or your NaxosMusicLibrary.com subscription.

I wish you many hours of happy listening.”

- Klaus Heymann, chairman of the Naxos Group of Companies


January


Naxos 8.572709
SARASATE, P. de: Violin and Piano Music, Vol. 4 - Transcriptions
Tianwa Yang, Hadulla

“Yet again in her Sarasate series for Naxos, Tianwa Yang continues to delight us with her magnificent musicianship.

Turning to this latest volume, the superlative standards are maintained.
Ms Yang deserves a 10 out 10 for her performances which are captured in warm, resonant sound. …Markus Hadulla shows again what a fine accompanist he is.

Many of us still have pedestals reserved for the great players of the golden age—Milstein, Heifetz, Kogan and Gitlis to name just four of my own favourite violinists. This young lady is up there with the best of them. This is a must-buy for fans of violin artistry and the music of Sarasate. This is fabulous stuff and to top it all we have a very generous playing time at bargain price. Just buy it.”
MusicWeb International



Naxos 8.501205
BRUCKNER, A.: Symphonies (Complete) (12-CD Boxed Set)
Tintner

“…Tintner’s…performances are well articulated. They clearly bring out the structure of the music without any tendency to grandiloquence. For that reason in many ways Tintner offers an excellent entrée to Bruckner for non-Brucknerians. For dedicated Brucknerians, on the other hand, this set not only has some very fine performances, but also offers a rare opportunity to traverse the symphonies more or less as Bruckner originally conceived of them.”
Classical Net




February


Naxos 8.573161
GLIÈRE, R.: Symphony No. 3, "Il'ya Muromets"
Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta

“Listening to Glière’s Third Symphony, especially in this excellent new recording from JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic, it is difficult to understand why the piece doesn’t have a place at the very centre of the orchestral repertoire. The music is in a Russian Romantic vein, by turns lyrical and dramatic, and filled with memorable tunes, intense dramatic episodes and dazzling orchestral effects.

This recording is the result of a major project focussing on the symphony…The intensive rehearsal has clearly paid off, because the orchestra is on top form. Ensemble throughout is very precise, particularly so within sections. Yet there is never any feeling that they are playing it safe. The orchestra really brings out the myriad colours and exotic textures, which the sound engineering captures spectacularly well.

A top recommendation, then, for this new Il’ya Muromets.”
Classical CD Reviews



Naxos 8.570552
YAMADA, Kazuo: Grand Treasure / A Song of Young People / Kiso / Spellbinding
Russian Philharmonic, Yablonsky

“Here we have an enriching portrait with music by the Japanese composer Kazuo Yamada, in flawless recordings from Russia.”
Pizzicato



March


Naxos 8.573239
HOSOKAWA, Toshio: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Horn Concerto / Lotus under the Moonlight / Chant
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Märkl

“Momo Kodoma for whom Hosokawa wrote his piano concerto…holds us in thrall throughout; and while the music is again inspired by the lotus flower, distant allusions to the slow movement of Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto give it a more clearly defined outline, to which Märkl responds unreservedly, drawing magically delicate colours and rich textural intricacies from what is a profoundly attractive score.”
Gramophone


Naxos 8.573076
MEYERBEER, G.: Ballet Music from the Operas
Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra, Nesterowicz

“It’s good…to have these opera-ballet scores collected together in a modern recording that, at Naxos’s competitive price point, may attract buyers hitherto unfamiliar with them. The Barcelona players are clearly a very accomplished group, with the woodwinds making a particularly positive impression. Conductor Michał Nesterowicz directs the orchestra with conviction and skill and benefits from a recording venue that, with the help of skilled engineering, captures all the musical detail clearly. Providing the icing on this tempting cake, Robert Ignatius Letellier, the author of several studies of Meyerbeer, has penned some very useful booklet notes…Overall, then, it is difficult to see how a stronger case might be made for this music.”
MusicWeb International




April


Naxos 8.573279
DVOŘÁK, A.: Piano Trios, Vol. 1 - Nos. 3 and 4, "Dumky"
Goldstein, Peled, Kaler

“…one can’t argue the results achieved by the Tempest’s players. What immediately grabbed my attention were not just their hair-trigger rhythmic reactions, their technical prowess, their sublimated responsiveness to each other’s phrasing and dynamics, their refulgent tone, and their radiant vibrancy, but also their refreshing take on certain details of interpretation.

This is a serious candidate for my annual Want List, and I would urge you with special pleading to acquire this release for what may well be the best Dvořák “Dumky” on disc ever. I would also urge Naxos with special pleading to engage the Tempest Trio in recording the whole of the mainstream piano trio literature as soon as possible.”
Fanfare


Naxos 8.573224
BARTÓK, B.: Piano Music, Vol. 7 - 14 Bagatelles /
9 Little Piano Pieces

Jandó

“Jandó, always reliable and often quite distinguished in performing Bartók’s music, handles the contrasting styles of the Fourteen Bagatelles and Nine Little Piano Pieces very well indeed, not overdoing or short-changing either work and giving listeners plenty of chances to contrast them. A number of shorter works and a shortened version of Bartók’s Op. 1 Rhapsody round out a well-played…CD filled with interesting contrasts—a worthy entry in this series, and one that collectors looking for a full complement of Bartók’s piano music are sure to relish.”
Infodad.com



May


Naxos 8.572995
YSAŸE, E.: 6 Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27
Tianwa Yang

“Fresh from her recorded triumphs in Sarasate and Mendelssohn, Tianwa Yang negotiates the musical and technical chicanery of Ysaÿe’s six solo Sonatas with great aplomb. Even bearing in mind outstanding accounts by Philippe Graffin (Hyperion), Kristóf Baráti (Brilliant), Samika Honda (Polymnie) and Henning Kraggerud (Simax), Yang’s rare ability to sustain a convincing emotional narrative in these elusive scores proves highly compelling. Completely unfazed by Ysaÿe’s near-constant Bachian cross-referencing and mild harmonic astringencies, she moulds even the most challenging of phrases with a dedicated sensitivity and affectionate warmth.”
BBC Music Magazine

 


Naxos 8.508015
GRIEG, E.: Orchestral Works (Complete) (8-CD Boxed Set)
Engeset

“The collected Grieg orchestral works under one roof: romantic, melodious, often gripping and infinitely attractive.”
Audiophile Audition




June


Naxos 8.559730
SOUSA, J.P.: Music for Wind Band, Vol. 14
Central Band of the Royal Air Force, Brion

“The excellent ongoing Naxos series devoted to the music of John Philip Sousa provides the continual delight of a return to an earlier time in the United States…The 14th volume of the series…affirms that Sousa’s works sound wonderful when played by any band of the first water: they are full of American spirit but reach out musically to just about any place.”
Infodad.com


Naxos 8.573088
ZEMLINSKY, A.: String Quartets, Vol. 2 - Nos. 1 and 2
Escher String Quartet

“For anyone with an interest in string quartets as a form, these works should be compulsory listening. For anyone interested in the art of string quartet playing this disc is little short of sensational—remarkable expressive and musical range achieved with a technical security and near perfect ensemble that transcends any criticism. A disc of the year.”
MusicWeb International




July


Naxos 8.573297
BERLIOZ, H.: Harold en Italie / Le carnaval romain /
Benvenuto Cellini: Overture

Berthaud, Lyon National Orchestra, Slatkin

“At times playing as a prominent soloist, at others merely providing filigree for color, Berthaud handles both sides of her part with grace and makes her presence felt, even when the viola’s dynamics are extremely soft. Slatkin leads the orchestra with energy and humor, making sure that the picturesque aspects of the piece [Harold en Italie] are vividly conveyed. This program is sure to please Berlioz aficionados, and fans of Berthaud should definitely take note of her appearance here.”
Allmusic.com

 


Naxos 8.225352
SPOHR, L.: String Quartets (Complete), Vol. 17 - Nos. 10 and 18
Moscow Philharmonic Concertino String Quartet

“The Moscow Concertino Quartet doles out plenty of warmth and expressive nuance in the way of vibrato and portamento…the performances’ virtues largely outweigh the drawbacks: sample the well-controlled transitions and sustained soft playing in the lengthy yet consistently interesting Op 30 finale to hear the Moscow musicians at their best. Self-recommending to Spohr fans.”
ClassicsToday.com



August


Naxos 8.573333
SKORYK, M.: Carpathian Concerto / Diptych /
Violin Concerto No. 7 / Cello Concerto

Pilatyuk, Kazakov, Odessa Philharmonic, Earle

“…I once again give all due credit to Naxos for making these interesting lesser knowns practically their corporate mission.

The Violin Concerto No. 7…is not just the most recent work here but, I felt, the best…it does have a lot of drama and urgency to it with a lovely central section featuring some nice interplay between the soloist and the winds. Soloist Nazary Pilatyuk plays very well, indeed.

The Cello Concerto…earned the composer the Shevchenko Prize and is another single movement work, also fairly economical at just under twenty minutes. Throughout the solo cello has many fine, expressive moments, played with passion here by Valery Kazakov.

The Carpathian Concerto for orchestra is billed as somewhat the signature work in this collection. This is a very interesting work that does hold your interest.

The music is of good quality…I do credit Naxos…as always, for making us aware.”
Audiophile Audition


Naxos 8.573314
Brass Chamber Music, Vol. 1 - MENDELSSOHN, Felix /
SCHUMANN, R. / BRAHMS, J. / BRUCKNER, A.

Septura

“The aim of Septura is to expand – by arrangements, transcriptions and commissions – the repertoire for brass septet. Currently resident at the Royal Academy of Music, this enterprising ensemble consists of principal players from our leading orchestras (LSO, Philharmonia, RPO, BBC SO, CBSO, Scottish Opera and Aurora) – all ace musicians, as this stirring, thoughtful debut CD for Naxos confirms. Look out for the next in the series.”
The Guardian



September


Naxos 8.660349-51
[2 CDs]
MILHAUD, D.: Orestie d'Eschyle (L')
L. Phillips, Dempson, Outlaw, Delphis, University of Michigan Choirs and Symphony Orchestra, K. Kiesler

“…this release by Naxos constitutes one of the most important issues the gramophone has achieved for quite some time.

…this is a great performance of a great work. The recording quality is consistently fine; and over and above that is the power and intensity of all the musicians taking part, clearly under Kiesler’s inspiring direction. Soprano Lori Phillips as Clytemnestra is consistently outstanding…
beautifully in tune with the chorus, and outlining the general thrust of where the work is, musically, to take us.

The Oresteia is something quite remarkable…our thanks to the outstanding soloists, the University of Michigan and the various other bodies which have prepared this work with such devotion and responsibility, engaging with the music at all times, and above all to Naxos, for bringing it to the wider world.”
International Record Review



Naxos 8.573307
BARTÓK, B.: Kossuth / 2 Portraits / Orchestral Suite No. 1
Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta

“JoAnn Falletta’s performances of these early Bartók show-stoppers really do raise the roof. Given the excellent playing and first-rate sound, I really can’t see why anyone wanting to add these fascinating pieces to their library should look elsewhere, especially given the modest price point.”
Gramophone



October


Naxos 8.573218
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphonies, Vol. 11 -
Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar"

Vinogradov, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Petrenko

“The remarkable Shostakovich symphonic cycle led by Vasily Petrenko for Naxos comes to a superb close with the release of the absolutely first-rate performance of Symphony No. 13…The rumbling, growling bass of Alexander Vinogradov and the full-throated men’s voices from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and the Huddersfield Choral Society produce, in their back-and-forth antiphonies and their combined power, a paean and challenge to the Russia of 1962…This is a triumphant conclusion to a Shostakovich cycle that has been absolutely top-notch throughout…
Petrenko here establishes himself as a pre-eminent conductor of this composer’s works—a true master of their many moods.”
Infodad.com

   


Naxos 8.573353
PROKOFIEV, S.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 / Dreams
São Paulo Symphony, Alsop

“Marin Alsop and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra give engaging readings of the “Classical Symphony and the atmospheric Dreams, but their performance of the Symphony No. 2 is most impressive and memorable for its shattering sonorities and spine-tingling energy. It’s apparent that the musicians really enjoyed this aggressive and volatile piece, and it shows in the first-rate performance.”
Allmusic.com

 



November


Naxos 8.572874-75
[2 CDs]
DVOŘÁK, A.: Requiem
Libor, Wolak, Kirch, Monarcha,
Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Wit

“Wit just may be the best conductor around these days for big choral works.”
ClassicsToday.com



Naxos 8.573243
VILLA-LOBOS, H.: Symphony No. 10, "Ameríndia"
Neiva, Javan, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Karabtchevsky

“Isaac Karabtchevbsky does a good job in keeping everything shapely and well balanced...and as part of Naxos’s series devoted to Villa-Lobos’s symphonies, it’s certainly worth exploring.”
The Guardian



December


Naxos 8.573249
BECK, F.I.: Symphonies, Op. 4, Nos. 4-6 and Op. 3, No. 5
Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice, Štilec

Franz Ignaz Beck’s symphonies rank among the most striking works of their kind from the mid-18th century. Having absorbed new approaches to orchestral writing from his celebrated teacher Johann Stamitz, who was director of the renowned Mannheim court orchestra, Beck's works proved remarkable for their dramatic flair, rich harmonic language and inventive part writing. His progressive use of woodwind instruments in the Symphony in G major, Op. 4 No. 5 is among the notable developments to be heard in this second recording of Beck symphonies by Marek Štilec and the Czech Chamber Philharmonic.


Naxos 8.573310
FIBICH, Z.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 - Overtures / Hedy: Ballet Music
Czech National Symphony, Štilec

Zdeněk Fibich was one of the greatest Czech composers of the late 19th century. This fourth volume in our première edition of his complete orchestral works contains rich pickings, both in terms of rarely heard works and first recordings of pieces in special new editions prepared by conductor Marek Štilec. Volume 1 (8.572985) in the series received a ‘Recording of the Year’ award from MusicWeb International, with the same source noting how the use of scholarly versions of the music on Volume 2 (8.573157) “gives this new CD a real edge over its rivals.”




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