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.
SWR Classic is the label of the Southwest German Broadcasting Company (SWR), on which recordings of the internationally renowned SWR orchestras and ensembles, including outstanding archive recordings, are released in cooperation with Naxos Germany. The label celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in October 2015 and is now a well-established competitor in the market; the numerous awards and prizes it has received attest to its success. The SWR is the only German public radio network that presents the activities of its orchestras and ensembles in permanent documentation on CD. The label, so far known as SWRmusic, was renamed as SWR Classic in 2017, according to the new classical music brand of the SWR.
This 8-CD boxed set presents music by late romantic and early modern composers and contains the most first releases in the edition to date, including the oldest recording of Goffredo Petrassi’s Concerto per orchestra No. 1. Although Gielen’s extensive opera activities are quite poorly documented, this seventh volume highlights some of the conductor’s activities in that area: Le Martyre de Saint-Sébastien by Debussy, ballet music by Ravel, opera-derived works by Schreker, Busoni and Hindemith, scenes from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
Michael Gielen Edition, Vols. 1-6 are available here.
The Czechoslovak trio Trio Clavio was established in 2013, putting together three distinct musical personalities – pianist Lucie Soutorova Valcova, violinist Lucia Fulka Kopsova, and clarinettist Jana Cernohouzova. Trio Clavio was awarded first prize in a competition in Vidnava in 2014, and in 2016 they were awarded first and fourth prize at the International Competition of Chamber Ensembles in Padova Italy. This release features trio works by canon composers Igor Stravinsky and Béla Bartók, as well as works by modern composers like Juraj Filas and Sylvie Bodorová, who wrote these works specifically for Trio Clavio.
Orchestral colour abounds in these two orchestral works, the first by a young Richard Strauss who was inspired in 1886 by the ruins of Rome to write his first major symphonic poem Aus Italien (“The ideas just flew to me”); the second was written half a century later by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, then approaching 60 years old and able to draw on his considerable experience as an opera composer for his Suite Veneziana. For her fifth recording on Capriccio, conductor Ariane Matiakh draws excellent performances from the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Opera Omnia is a unique series that has been recorded for several years by the National Forum of Music and CD Accord. This volume contains songs for children performed by the NFM Boys’ Choir, Lutoslawski Quartet, LutosAir Quintet and NFM instrumentalists directed by Andrzej Kosendiak. Lutoslawski’s creative output for children was associated with Polish Radio, which was in the post-war years the principal incubator of musical creativity in every genre. Because a child is a demanding recipient and cannot abide falsehood, Lutoslawski’s miniatures should be performed with impeccable diction, constant intonation, and an ideal sense of rhythm. A challenging task, but well worth the effort.
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour approach the works presented in this recording as Bach intended: as trio sonatas with equally important roles for the violin and the harpsichord’s treble and bass lines. In addition to the six sonatas, the album offers the remarkable and ravishingly poetic Cantabile, BWV 1019a, a freestanding work that Bach originally conceived as a movement of the Sonata, BWV 1019. In all, the album sets a new standard for a body of work that Bach’s son, C.P.E., considered among his father’s finest compositions.
For several years, the Danish National Girls’ Choirhas been very successful with the concert series Din Danske Sang, where they interpreted Danish songs conducted by Phillip Faber. This recording is the first release of the girls for seven years. Three Danish soloists – Pernille Rosendahl, Mattias Kolstrup, and Lau Højen – have been invited and were asked to choose Danish songs especially important to them.
This exceptional recording was made using three original instruments that belonged to Paganini himself: the powerful 1743 Guarneri del Gesù violin; a six-string guitar by Ory, Paris, dated 1797; and a magnificent 1736 Stradivari cello, property of the Nippon Music Foundation and entrusted to Clemens Hagen, cellist of the Hagen Quartet. The three instruments are played together for the first time on this release. It was Giulio Plotino who conceived this project and took upon himself the difficult task of reuniting the three instruments. Indeed, this unique recording would not have been possible without him. A short history of each instrument is provided in the accompanying notes.
For more than 50 years, the International Beethoven Piano Competition held by piano manufacturer Bösendorfer and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna has been taking place every 4 years; in 2017 for the 15th rendition, the Italian Rodolfo Leone was crowned as 1st prize winner by the highly regarded international jury from far more than 250 competing young talents. His playing induces critics to utterances like “…he seemed to be communicating with distant worlds, as a true sound philosopher” (Oberösterreichische Nachrichten), which Rodolfo Leone documents with this Beethoven album. For his record debut Leone performs with great interpretive maturity and indescribable power.
This is the third volume in Grand Piano’s edition of Erik Satie’s complete solo piano music. The programme comprises music composed between 1892 and 1897, and Satie’s legendary eccentricity is duly represented. The composer liked his Prélude deLa Porte héroïque du ciel so much that he dedicated it to himself; Vexations presents a musical statement that is meant to be repeated 840 times for complete authenticity. This complete edition includes world premieres of unknown pieces, and significant corrections to famous and popular works, while the scholarly booklet notes include the kind of autobiographical anecdotes that bring these pieces even more vividly to life.
Eduard Hanslick, the redoubtable critic of his time, found few propitious words to say at the occasion of the world premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. According to him, the violin was no longer being played but “tousled, fleeced and dyed blue”. Fortunately, he was nonetheless unable to hinder the triumphal march of Tchaikovsky’s only violin concerto. Antonín Dvořák composed his Romance in F Minor, Op. 11 sometime between September 1873 and early December 1877, dedicated to his dear friend the Czech virtuoso violinist František Ondricek, himself also a composer and the soloist at the premiere of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto several years later.
Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir led by Aapo Häkkinen join their forces together in this unique release of rarely heard choral works by Robert Schumann. It includes the world premiere recording of Schumann’s 17-minute Adventlied, Op. 71 and his version of Bach’s Cantata, BWV 105. Schumann’s choral pieces constitute the least explored area of his output. The elevated style he was aspiring to was unheard-of outside the realm of church music. In fact, whether for the church, opera, or the concert hall, Schumann was looking for a sanctified realm, a Goethe-inspired meeting ground for art and religion.
Nobody mastered and shaped the great roles of high drama in the post-war period as effortlessly as Birgit Nilsson – this is her stupendous breakthrough as Isolde at Bayreuth with the musical colleagues she so highly respected. It was in this 1958 production that Birgit Nilsson cemented her place in Bayreuth history. Wolfgang Wagner observed in his memoirs: “The way that Birgit Nilsson and Wolfgang Windgassen, in collaboration with Karl Bohm and Wieland Wagner, became the perfect duo in the title of Tristan… had been part of my design several years previously, and so I was delighted to have conferred the ‘minor orders’ on these two great artists.”
The guitarist Aljaž Cvirn and the cellist Isabel Gehweiler have been performing as a duo since 2016, making the cello-guitar repertoire known to a wider audience. Although original compositions are rare, several arrangements, including that of Franz Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata for cello and guitar, have become staple pieces for the duo. The duo’s current concert repertoire includes sonatas by Franz Schubert, Antonio Vivaldi and Radamés Gnattali. On this release, the two musicians approach the complex sonata genre from a vast variety of stylistic angles, with their two instruments imparting a sea of tone colors on a comprehensive journey through different styles and performance practices.
The two collections of sonatas presented in this programme, both probably published within 1795. The balance between the instruments is outlined clearly: in Op. 25 the piano is assisted by a “violino obbligato” that carries out an important structural function and by a cello, while in Op. 11 there is a greater equality, and both the string instruments are assigned thematic parts called “solo” in the score. Beyond the gap this recording means to fill in our knowledge, we are sure that Ferrari’s music deserves to be presented again to the listeners, not only to enable them to perform a cultural duty, but also to give them the “delight” that was the composer’s original purpose and that makes these works still relevant today.
The world-famous singer, conductor and the holder of 14 Grammy Awards Plácido Domingo came up, as conductor and artistic director, with a unique Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre Prague, where the opera had its premiere 230 years ago. The production boasts an original classic scene, traditional costumes designed by Theodor Pištek, the Oscar winner for “Best Costume Design” for the Amadeus movie and authentic stage direction matching the performance features from 1787. The opera shines under the direction of Jirí Nekvasil, which is further enhanced by stars of the Czech opera scene, handpicked by Maestro Domingo himself.
Widely lauded by critics, choreographer Jonathan Watkins’ 1984 is an awe-inspiring retelling of George Orwell’s masterpiece. Winston Smith lives in a world of absolute conformity, his every action scrutinized by Big Brother. However, when Winston meets Julia, he dares to rebel by falling in love. Danced by Northern Ballet – the UK’s foremost narrative ballet company – to a score by Tony-nominated composer Alex Baranowski, this thoroughly modern take on 1984 will change the way you think about ballet. “This is gripping storytelling” (The Stage).
Exhibition on Screen is thrilled to present one of the most talked about exhibitions of the year. Dedicated to the portrait work of Paul Cézanne, the exhibition opens in Paris before traveling to London and Washington. Featuring interviews with curators and experts from the National Portrait Gallery London, MoMA New York, National Gallery of Art Washington, and Musée d’Orsay Paris, and correspondence from the artist himself, the film takes audiences beyond the exhibition to the places Cézanne lived and worked and sheds light on an artist who is perhaps the least known of all the impressionists – until now.
‘The combined NDR Chorus and SWR Vocal Ensemble make a virtuoso chorus: alert, beautifully balanced, vibrant and thrillingly precise – even in the most taxing high writing. Much the same could be said about the orchestra, and like the chorus, the musicians seem to have digested Norrington’s ideas thoroughly: the phrasing is immaculate and often very affecting; even the sound of the vibrato-less lower strings in the mysterious, veiled prelude to the Benedictus has depth of tone and focused intensity – it’s in these more inward-looking passages that Norrington scores over Gardiner, perhaps his closest rival.’ – BBC Music Magazine