In addition to its own wide-reaching monthly new releases (see www.naxos.com/newreleases.asp), Naxos also distributes several leading labels in many countries around the world. Here is a choice selection of recent releases from some of these distributed labels.
Opus Arte is an award-winning provider of classical music and theatrical content, releasing around twenty-five titles per year on DVD, Blu-ray, CD, TV and online. Opus Arte is proud to be associated with many of the world’s finest arts organisations, including the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne, Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Teatro Real, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Founded as an independent label in 1999, Opus Arte is now part of the Naxos Music Group, the world’s largest independent producer and distributor of Classical Music.
George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s second full-length opera – following the acclaimed Written on Skin – draws on the real-life relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston to explore how personal relationships can have fatal political consequences. Benjamin’s richly-orchestrated score perfectly captures the drama’s intense emotions, while director Katie Mitchell provides a visually stunning contemporary staging, highlighting the timelessness of the opera’s main themes.
‘The writing is so lush, haunting and detailed – radiant one moment, piercingly dissonant the next – that you are continuously enveloped by the raucous beauty of the sounds.’ – New York Times
The recording Shakespeare’s Sonnets is dedicated to the contemporary works of Prague composers – Lukáš Hurník, Matej Benko, Juraj Filas, Zdenek Merta, Ondřej Kukal, Martin Brunner, Štepánka Balcarová, and Jiří Chvojka. All of the works are with lyrics by William Shakespeare and are sung by Czech soprano Lucie Silkenová, accompanied by Duo Teres. Born in Prague, Lucie Silkenová was a member of the Kühn Children’s Choir, studied at Jan Neruda High School, and went on to graduate from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She honed her vocal technique at master classes in England, Spain, Germany, and Austria.
The tonal language of Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, the first of his two Mass settings, is that of a personal confession, making the work very modern and forward-looking and opening up entirely new worlds of expression for the liturgical text. It is in no way to be seen as a precursor of the Missa Solemnis but instead as a highly independent work that set new standards for the advancement of mass compositions in the 19th century. This important work from the history of sacred music offers a devotional sound that is simultaneously heartfelt and beautiful.
Russian composers Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich were contemporaries and both were deeply rooted in the music of their homeland – Stravinsky in the wealth of myths and folk customs of past centuries, and Shostakovich directly in the historical events that shook Russia to its very core and frequently gave rise to existential fears. Cornelius Meister, recently awarded as “Conductor of the year” by the leading German classical music award Opus Klassik, handles these different colours of sounds and shows them in a most transparent way, most thrillingly partnered by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Supernova – the second album of the Atom String Quartet recorded with the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra is a kind of summary of the interesting and inspiring two-year collaboration of both ensembles. The album features compositions by members of the Atom String Quartet: Dawid Lubowicz, Mateusz Smoczynski and Michal Zaborski for jazz string quartet and string orchestra, as well as Concerto Rosso – a new piece by Polish composer Hanna Kulenty-Majoor dedicated to ASQ and NFM LO.
Drawn to the ‘twinkle in the eye’ in Carl Czerny’s Etudes, Knudåge Riisager (1897-1974) wanted them to ‘sparkle like the fizz in mineral water’ when he made his orchestral renderings in the late 1940s. When those scores were refashioned for a ballet, Riisager invested them with even more of his trademark buoyancy and colour. But change was to come with the composer’s Violin Concerto of a few years later. The shift in style reveals the composer’s deep and developing thoughts on musical contrast, instrumental naturalness and concerto form and is realised vividly on this new recording from Ian van Rensburg, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, and Andreas Delfs.
Noch sind wir ein Wort … is the title of the portrait album of the winner of the Erste Bank Kompositionspreis of 2016, Eva Reiter. The music of Eva Reiter is a speculative approach to the basic elements of music. She not only examines the musical elements and orders them in an analytically “correct” fashion but also renders an audible world that, previously, had yet to exist. Eva Reiter’s compositions have been performed at international festivals such as Transit/Leuven, Ars Musica/Brussels, ISCM World New Music Festival, Generator, Wien Modern at the Wiener Konzerthaus, MaerzMusik in Berlin, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, and others. She regularly performs at renowned festivals for early and contemporary music.
Besides the dominating stage works, Richard Wagner’s oeuvre catalogue shows several works for other genres, a confirmation of Wagner’s significance in German Romanticism. His works including Wesendonck-Lieder, Album Page, and Prelude to Tristan und Isolde are exceptionally arranged and splendidly performed on this release. Just like Richard Wagner, Strauss also represents the flourishing of German Romanticism. Strauss’ three-movement Cello Sonata, Op. 6 ranks among his late chamber works. He revised it thoroughly prior to releasing it for publication in 1883 and dedicated it to his friend Hanuš Wihan who also took part in the premiere of the piece.
In 1919, film director Mauritz Stiller commissioned Armas Järnefelt to write an orchestral score for his silent film Song of the Scarlet Flower. Järnefelt made great efforts for the project and as a result, wrote a large 100-minute orchestral score. The work can be considered as his final orchestral masterpiece and pioneering work in film music. The film was a huge hit and went on to be screened in more than 40 countries in addition to Sweden. Järnefelt’s score was lost for a long time and only rediscovered in the 1980s. The score was augmented and restored by Jani Kyllönen and Jaakko Kuusisto for the present recording.
Glazunov’s symphonies deserve a place alongside the better-known symphonic output of his successors Prokofiev, Myaskovsky, and Shostakovich. Like Camille Saint-Saëns in France and Max Bruch in Germany, Alexander Glazunov was a truly progressive yet formally conservative composer, who was unwilling to sacrifice traditional symphonic form to superficial modernism. It’s now time to rehabilitate Glazunov’s symphonies with the help of this boxed set, which has a bonus of other orchestral works by the composer. Study them closely, and you’ll discover some of the finest music of their time, particularly when directed as here by the great Glazunov champion, Neeme Järvi.
Axel Borup-Jørgensen was by any definition, a singular figure in Danish music. Despite several major successes, he remained somewhat of a beloved outsider, embracing the modernist ideal throughout his career. Yet, there is an organic lyricism in his music which has been identified as uniquely “Scandinavian” in nature. The guitar provided Borup-Jørgensen with an ideal medium for musical expression offering both an intimacy and ephemerality that complimented his increasingly inward-looking aesthetic. Guitarist Frederik Munk Larsen, whose extraordinary virtuosity and attention to the most fragile nuance, draw out the deep melancholy and organic beauty of Borup-Jørgensen’s fearsomely difficult music.
For their debut recording, the Kreisler Trio Wien have chosen Mozart’s monumental and much-loved Divertimento in E-Flat Major, and – together with the Vienna Philharmonic’s principal hornist Wolfgang Vladar – the horn quintet. Since its inception in 2007, the Kreisler Trio Wien has developed into one of Austria’s top chamber music ensembles – a result of their strong sense of musical culture, exhilarating performances, and excellent musicianship. The name of the ensemble is an homage to the ingenious Austrian violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler. One marvels at his art, while his musical heritage and personality symbolically stand for triumph over destruction and renewal through the power of music.
In the technical language of music, increasing the tempo is referred to as accelerando. If this kind of regular rhythmic acceleration is provided with the appropriate sounds along with the actual musical tones, then a perceptible mental image of a steam engine starting up arises, or a train going faster and faster. Beginning around the mid-19th century, everything suddenly seemed to be running on steam, machines as well as human beings. Both work and play sped up. This re-release SWR bestseller album is focused around the theme of “Railway.” It represents a variety of composers, styles, and countries of origin, meeting under a singular compositional idea – the train.
When Michel Petrucciani stopped off in Karlsruhe on 7 July 1988, he had 13th, Mr. K.J., La Champagne, One for Us, and She Did it Again in his musical baggage. The remainder of the program consisted of evergreens from the Great American Songbook and freestyle pieces of modern jazz such as John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. The audience in Karlsruhe, therefore, experienced a jazz evening that had everything: intimacy and exaltation, subtleties and fireworks, modernism and Old School. For it was listening to a trio that played as if it were a matter of life and death.
Liliana Safikhanova performs on this album a beautiful anthology of Italian music for harp that embraces the entire Twentieth Century history up to our days: from Luigi Maurizio Tedeschi to Barbara Giuranna, through Alfredo Casella, Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco, and Nino Rota, in a miscellany that contains interesting world premiere recordings. This release is the result of the collaboration between Tactus and the Italian Harp Association and very well represents the double objective set within the Suoni d’Arpa competition by the two institutions: on one hand support, value and promote young talents, and, on the other, rediscover the Italian musical heritage dedicated to the harp.
Founded in Tel-Aviv in 1964, the Batsheva Dance Company has been headed since 1990 by Ohad Naharin: an incredible dancer with musical training, who has a true passion for movement. Through his “Gaga” technique, a choreographic vocabulary that explores the sensations and the availability of the bodies, he made his mark on the dance world and offered the company its finest hours. While dance is stretched up to its limits, Naharin’s choreographic gesture calls for a new outlook on our contemporary world, its violence, its possibilities, its future.
This recording is of La Scala’s first-ever staging of the French version of Gluck’s pivotal opera Orphée et Euridice in a production by London’s Royal Opera House. The 1774 Paris version differs in a number of respects from that of the 1762 premiere in Vienna, including the addition of several dances and the arietta which concludes Act I. The performance is outstanding in all respects, with Juan Diego Flórez as Orphée making a particular impact: ‘Tireless from the first to the last moment, almost always on stage, the Peruvian tenor controlled his high register with confidence and elegance, a luminous timbre and impeccable diction, phrasing and legato.’ (bachtrack.com)
The Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra can rightly claim to be one of the most authentic ensembles for interpreting the music of the Strauss dynasty. Founded in 1966, the aim of the new orchestra was to cultivate both the music of the Strauss dynasty, as well as the so-called ‘light’ Viennese music. With this festive concert from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein Vienna, the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra celebrates its 50th anniversary!
The 2017 edition of the Reate Festival of Italy staged two operas composed by Nino Rota (1911-1979). Mostly known for his cinema soundtracks, Rota was able to merge the great Italian operatic tradition of Rossini, Puccini, and Verdi into a contemporary musical language. I due timidi is drawn from a text of Italian writer Suso Cecchi d’Amico, and the libretto of La Notte di un nevrastenico was written by Riccardo Bacchelli. An all-star cast is featured here with the Reate Festival Orchestra led by Gabriele Bonolis. This release is the world premiere recording of these works and has been filmed in high-definition.
Opus Arte is delighted to begin 2019 by offering you free downloads of excellent pieces from their catalogue. Selections include Angels Blue’s Joy Alone, Ailyn Perez’s Poeme d’un jour, Pollock Michaels-Moore’s Songs of the Sea, Songs of Travel, Leon Nucci’s Kings and Courtiers, recordings of Magdalen College Choir, and Jette Parker Young Artists’ The Discovery Recitals.
Download and enjoy!
Joy Alone – GERSHWIN, G. • HEGGIE, J. • LISZT, F. • LUNA, P. • ADOLPHE, B. • CYMBALA, C. Angel Blue OACD9020D
Poeme d’un jour – HAHN, R. • OBRADORS, F. • MASSENET, J. • TURINA, J. • FAURE, G. • FALLA, M. de Ailyn Perez OACD9013D
Songs of the Sea, Songs of Travel – STANFORD, C.V. • VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, R. ARTISTS OACD9014D
VERDI, G.: Opera Arias (Kings and Courtiers) Nucci • Italian Opera Chamber Ensemble • Marcarini OACD9026D
BUXTEHUDE, D.: Membra Jesu nostri Ainsley • Blaze • Underwood • Magdalen College Choir, Oxford • Phantasm • Hyde OACD9023D
MARTIN, M.: Sacred Choral Music (Jubilate Deo) Magdalen College Choir, Oxford • Hyde OACD9030D
TOMKINS, T.: Anthems and Canticles Magdalen College Choir, Phantasm • Hyde OACD9040D
The Discovery Recitals – BEETHOVEN, L. van • CRUMB, G. • GURNEY, I. • KORNGOLD, E.W. • LISZT, F. Chiejina • Riches • Shipley OACD9036D
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