There's a feast of chamber music in our new additions to the Naxos catalogue in April, and what a rich variety of styles and instrumental combinations they present. Practically all the works on these four albums are also heard in world premiere recordings.
First, there's music for bassoon and string trio by the little-known composer Josef Christian Willibald Michl, whose works represent the epitome of late 18th-century sophistication.
Then we have three programmes of 21st-century repertoire: works for clarinet by Barcelona native Leonardo Balada, whose style has been described as ‘Dali's surrealism in music’; virtuoso performances in the first album of Kerry Turner's Complete Music for Horn; and the debut recording of the Melbourne Quartet with two string quartets by British composer Douglas Gordon Weiland.
Leonardo BALADA (b. 1933)
Works for Clarinet
Caprichos Nos. 6 and 7 • Double Concerto
Ivan Ivanov, Clarinet • Various Artists
Barcelona native Leonardo Balada’s creative style has been labelled ‘Dalí’s surrealism in music’ – an aspect of his work explored in this programme through the technique of ‘sound transformation’ in which abstract musical materials become familiar melody. Fusing traditional and contemporary elements, Caprichos Nos. 6 and 7 engage intimately with Spanish culture and history, while the virtuoso Double Concerto, heard here in an arrangement for flute, clarinet and piano, blends well-known Mexican folk tunes with the composer’s distinctive avant-garde style.
Listen to an extract from the
Double Concerto for Oboe, Clarinet and Orchestra
(version for flute, clarinet and piano)
Josef Christian Willibald MICHL (1745–1816)
Quartets for Bassoon and Strings
Ben Hoadley, Bassoon • The Hall String Trio
Upon hearing a chamber piece by Joseph Michl in Munich in 1772 the English composer and music historian Charles Burney wrote, ‘I hardly ever heard a composition that discovered more genius and invention.’ Even though Michl achieved success writing for the operatic stage and his contemporary reputation rested on his sacred works, the Bassoon Quartets present the epitome of urbane sophistication – elegantly constructed and full of imaginative detail – and at times resembling miniature concertos.
Listen to an extract from Quartet No. 5
for bassoon and strings:
Kerry TURNER (b. 1960)
Complete Works for Horn, Vol. 1
Kerry Turner, Kristina Mascher-Turner and Frank Lloyd, Horns
Lauretta Bloomer, Piano
Kerry Turner made his mark on the global music community through his association with the illustrious American Horn Quartet. Turner’s compositional goal is to communicate to the listener a vivid picture through his highly melodic musical language. Many sources provided the inspiration for the works on this album, ranging from the spiritual, to the literary, and even Turner’s powerful response to the music of J.S. Bach.
Listen to an extract from
'Twas a Dark and Stormy Night
Douglas WEILAND (b. 1954)
String Quartets Nos. 4 and 5
The Melbourne Quartet
British composer Douglas Weiland has long been acclaimed as one of contemporary music’s most outstanding composers for the string quartet medium, and his evolving cycle has won much admiration. Composed between 2011 and 2012 the Fourth and Fifth Quartets show him at the height of his artistic powers, where he seeks connections across time, and shows a Classical commitment to form, invention and melodic beauty. His conceptions can be Schubertian in scale and scope, while also displaying the influence of Haydn and Bartók.
Listen to an extract from
String Quartet No. 4:
III. Scherzo Germanesque
About the Composers
(b.1933) studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and Aaron Copland, and conducting with Igor Markevitch. Since 1970 he has taught at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he is University Professor of Composition. His works have been performed by the world’s leading orchestras and much of his large catalogue of works has been commissioned by many outstanding organisations in the US and Europe.
Josef Christian Willibald Michl
(1745–1816) was educated at the electoral Gymnasium and Lyceum in Munich and by the age of 20 he was already working professionally as a double bassist at the Jesuit church of St Michael in Munich. Michl’s abilities were quickly recognised by musicians employed in the Munich court, and by 1771 he himself was named as composer to the electoral chamber.
(b. 1960) is an American composer and horn player. He made his mark on the global music community mainly through his numerous compositions for horn quartet. Indeed, it is mostly due to his activities with the American Horn Quartet, who in its illustrious history performed his music at virtually every concert, that he developed a reputation as a legitimate composer.
The English composer Douglas Weiland
(b. 1954) is the late Sir Neville Marriner’s most commissioned composer with three major orchestral works spanning 1992 to 2006: Divertimento for Strings (1992), Clarinet Concerto (2002) and Triple Concerto (2006). Also in his catalogue of works is a large-scale Flute Concerto (2014) written for Susan Milan, and a newly commissioned choral and orchestral Requiem, Op. 59 (2019).
Other recent chamber music releases on Naxos
‘Pedro Faria Gomes shows us a fine and original new voice on Chamber Works. The album maps out a series of brilliances that anyone serious about Modern Chamber Music will want to experience. Highly recommended.’
– Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
‘Mathias was one of the most significant and prolific Welsh composers of the 20th century. His flexible and highly approachable style can be heard in the holiday mood of the Suite Parisienne, the brilliance and lyricism of the Capriccio for flute and piano and the wonderfully rhapsodic harp sonata.’
– Records International
‘The concert is professional and compelling. True to the composer, the performers rattle the classical structures with infectious vigor, tender phrasing, virtuosic technique, and arresting power.’
– American Record Guide
‘This is a feast of eminently explorable repertoire in performances which were often the first, and are even more frequently the finest, on record.’