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.
Founded in Munich in 1979, ORFEO has achieved its current international standing thanks to the consistency of its policy towards repertoire and artists. Orfeo has always focused on releasing first-rate recordings of famous as well as lesser-known and neglected works by leading composers in addition to individual masterpieces by composers who are less well known. The label’s aim is to ensure the fascination that classical music can exert transcends generations and remains a living force, while remaining true to traditional, classical values even when offering listeners surprises.
Liszt’s outputs are evidence of his poetic and pictorial imagination. On this recording, Francesco Piemontesi performs two of Liszt’s epic masterpieces—St. Francis of Assisi’s Sermon to the Birds, where he used high-pitched register, trills, fizzing cascades, and recitative-like melody to express miraculous charms into music and Années de Pèlerinage, widely considered as the most famous cycle in Liszt’s oeuvre. The second year of the virtuosic Années de Pèlerinage contains 7 character pieces, forming a kind of musical diary for Liszt’s years of travelling in Italy.
For Gustav Mahler, composing his early symphonies meant “building a world”. His Ninth, however, seems more concerned with the deconstruction of this world – a look back, a long farewell. In the draft of his score, he noted words like “O, youth! Vanished! O, love! Blown away!”. In 1909, his idyllic world was destroyed, having been diagnosed with a heart valve defect two years earlier – a disease that would ultimately lead to his death. While his last completed symphony still contains some folksy elements, Mahler composed a heartbreaking Adagio as its Finale. Herbert Blomstedt, Honorary Conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker, guides the orchestra through this rollercoaster of emotions, ranging between deep sadness, comfort and melancholia.
Schumann’s First Symphony in B-Flat Major, Op. 38 was an impressive success for the 31-year-old composer. Two months after its completion, in January 1841, the work was premiered by Felix Mendelssohn at the Leipzig Gewandhaus to great public acclaim. Both works emanate youthful freshness and a profoundly positive attitude to life. Robert Schumann’s Spring Symphony, which he said was "born in a fiery hour", took him just four days to sketch out. Schubert’s Third Symphony was composed in only nine days, and, with its dance-like effervescence and enthusiasm, could equally have been called a “Spring Symphony” by his contemporaries.
John Luther Adams’ Become Desert is the much-anticipated sequel to the Pulitzer and GRAMMY®-winning Become Ocean (CA-21101), and a major milestone in the creative partnership between the composer and the Seattle Symphony with Ludovic Morlot. With Become Desert, space is once again a fundamental compositional element, but on a larger scale, with five different ensembles moving at five different tempos. The work features a large orchestra and choir that are deployed as five ensembles that surround the audience. In his 2018 essay for The New York Times, Adams prepares listeners with a map, of sorts, to help find the state of ‘swimming in light’ that he seeks to convey with the music. Also included in this release is a DVD featuring a 5.1 surround mix of the recording, as well as a slideshow of desert images, shot by Adams himself.
Acclaimed, multiple GRAMMY® nominated harpsichordist Jory Vinikour partners with renowned conductor Scott Speck and the award-winning Chicago Philharmonic for an exciting program of modern harpsichord concertos. Featuring the premiere recording of American composer Ned Rorem’s neoclassical 1946 Concertino da Camera, the album also includes English composer Walter Leigh’s charming, brief Concertino for Harpsichord and Strings, Czech composer Viktor Kalabis’s substantial, tour de force Harpsichord Concerto, and contemporary composer Michael Nyman’s wild Concerto for Amplified Harpsichord and Strings – a real sonic blockbuster.
During the last two decades of the 19th century, the generation of Danish composers born in the 1860s started to make an impact. Among them, Fini Henriques, who had a special gift for beautiful, well-shaped melodies, and his popularity rested firmly on a generous output of single pieces, usually strung together in collections such as those presented here. Billedbogen (The Picture Book) is a collection for children and proved one of his absolute bull’s eyes, whereas Erotik and Melodiske profiler see the composer exploring the world of adult life. Henriques’s best works maintain a high level with their honesty and that brilliant touch which few of his contemporaries could rival.
Robert DiLutis and the Mellifera Quartet give sparkling performances of beloved classics such as Weber’s Clarinet Quintet along with delightful but lesser-known works such as Erland von Koch’s Monolog No. 3 for Solo Clarinet and Heinrich Joseph Baermann’s Adagio for Clarinet and Strings (known for decades as “Wagner’s Adagio.”) DiLutis describes the Weber Quintet as “a dream come true for clarinetists,” and that description could well apply to the other pieces on this album. Rounded out with consummate presentations of Glazunov’s Reverie orientale, Miklos Rozsa’s Sonatina and Willson Osborne’s Rhapsody for Clarinet, the selections on this album offer a superb survey of works for solo clarinet and clarinet and strings.
Vincent d’Indy was an important figure in the musical life of Paris in his time; a student of César Franck, he went on to found the Schola Cantorum de Paris. Although generally associated with larger orchestral forms, d’Indy also composed a certain amount of chamber music and a number of works for solo piano, including the large-scale Sonata in E Minor featured on this release. The recording is given a distinct edge by the soloist Jean-Pierre Armengaud, who is today acknowledged as one of the great interpreters of French keyboard music.
This new recording of Léhar’s The Merry Widow fizzes with superlatives. The work itself is the most popular operetta ever written. Premiered in 1905, it was an overnight success, breaking box-office records and proving an overwhelming hit with audiences. It’s since been filmed, recorded, turned into a full-length ballet and even adapted as an ice show. Now it gets even better with this outstanding performance from Frankfurt Opera, repeatedly voted Opera House of the Year by Opernwelt in the last fifteen years. Coloratura soprano Marlis Petersen sings the title role and is perfectly paired by lyric baritone Iurii Samoilov as the Count Danilo Danilowitsch.
Tchaikovsky had always been interested in sacred music, especially in the music of the Orthodox Church. He wished to reform sacred Orthodox music but at the same time to draw inspiration from the traditions of past centuries. A prime example of this is his monumental work, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 41. The Nine Sacred Choruses, which date to 1884–1885, is not a cycle in the basic meaning of the word, but rather a collection, and another affirmation of Tchaikovsky’s skills as one of the greatest composers of Orthodox sacred music. In this album, these works are being performed by the award-winning Latvian Radio Choir under the direction of Sigvards Klava.
(Re)inventions, Vol. 2 is the much-anticipated continuation of ensemble paladino’s successful collaborative adaptation project of musical examples from Bach’s keyboard works, this time for flute, viola and cello. The entry point of this exploration are Bach’s fifteen Sinfonias, BWV 787 to 801, followed by a carefully selected collection of three-part fugues and preludes. The Sinfonias are a natural pedagogical extension of the two-part inventions and were considered by Bach to be musical exercises “… to achieve a cantabile style in playing and at the same time acquire a strong foretaste of composition.”
‘First Sign of Morning is an album made in chiaroscuro, it moves from dark moods (Wolves) that shroud the lighter moments of the record in enough emotive ambiguity that may make you question the outcome (see the finale of Dear, Your Hat). It is an album that stays with you, demanding to be heard again and again. This time around the folk influences of the band have been embedded into a sound that is of their own making and the record feels all the better for it. This is an album made of lived-in emotions and has the songwriting to back these themes up.’ – The Last Mixed Tape
Siggi String Quartet has actively collaborated with and commissioned and premiered numerous works by various composers. The quartet’s repertoire extends from the Renaissance through the Classical. Also, the four-member Siggi String Quartet has a great passion for 20th and 21st century repertoire. “Experimenting with sound and texture, improvisation and live electronics is an important part of our work. It does deepen our understanding of the standard repertoire indirectly, and it goes both ways. The title of the piece refers to the early days of photography where people would have to stay still for a considerable time so the camera would produce a clear picture.” (Siggi String Quartet)
This is the 8th installment of the internationally acclaimed Michael Gielen Edition, dedicated to the Second Viennese School (Schönberg, Berg, Webern). It consists mainly of first releases. Austrian conductor Michael Gielen was a champion of contemporary music both in the opera and concert repertoires. He conducted many premieres during his career. He has held appointments at the Royal Swedish Opera, the Netherlands Opera, the Frankfurt Opera, the Belgian National Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra, which he has remained closely associated with since the end of his appointment in 1999.
When Kenny Werner came on stage for his concert in Stuttgart in 1992, he had just begun experimenting with the possibilities of solo piano programmes. It was the time when he was ruminating on how he could deal with the options of creative freedom that lay before a musician without being enslaved on the one hand by prescriptions or seduced on the other by arbitrariness. His teacher Madame Chaloff at the Berklee School of Music and Brazilian pianist João Assis Brasil unlocked for him the spiritual components of oneness with his instrument. Kenny Werner’s prolific output of compositions, recordings and publications continue to impact audiences around the world.
The series of Marco Enrico Bossi organ music continues with its 14th volume. In this release, Andrea Macinanti plays Bossi’s transcriptions of works by various Italian classical composers such as Azzolino della Ciaja, Baldassarre Galuppi and Padre Martini, and also composers from across the Alps like Gluck, Haydn, Liszt, and even Chopin and Schubert (the famous Funeral March, and two Moments Musicaux, D. 780). The amazing voice of the Carlo Vegezzi Bossi 1889 organ of the Lucera (Foggia) cathedral provides Andrea Macinanti with a valuable medium for performing these amazing works.
Michelle Mayne-Graves and her Lifeline Quartet perform spirituals from the Civil War and earlier celebrating code songs for the Underground Railroad. These spirituals include hidden messages about maps, navigational strategies and timing for slaves to escape toward freedom in the Northern States and Canada. Wade in the Water serves as a reminder of where to walk in the rivers to make it harder for dogs to scent people escaping at night. I’m on My Way to Canaan’s Land talks about the route to Canada. Harriet Tubman is one of the better known heroes who escaped slavery herself and then worked as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping subsequent groups of people flee to the North.
Are we ever honest enough to be unaffected by lies? This is the question asked by Henrik Ibsen’s drama Ghosts (Gengangere). “Ghosts is a psychological thriller in which the characters learn more and more about their own stories,” says director Marit Moum Aune. Together with the young, critically acclaimed choreographer Cina Espejord, she retells Ibsen’s play as a ballet. The pair feel the story is suited to dance because both its inner and outer brutality can be pitted against the power of dance. Ibsen’s Ghosts is an evocative production in a modern dance style. Nils Petter Molvær has composed new music, which he performs on-stage together with Jan Bang.
W.A. Mozart’s timeless masterpiece at the Salzburg Festival is always an event! Especially when Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) receives such a “spectacular and virtuosic staging” (Le Figaro) by director Lydia Steier. This ‘trick’ in combination with the gigantic moveable sets by stage designer Katharina Schlipf, allows new views on Mozart’s magical opera, with its different worlds. Thanks to conductor Constantinos Carydis, who “seems to breath with the music” (Tagesspiegel), there is a new Mozart to be heard too: Carydis draws “precise phrasing and plenty of crisp articulation” (Financial Times) from “the musicians of the great Vienna Philharmonic” (New York Times).
This production from the 2018 Donizetti Opera Festival was filmed in high definition and it comes in both DVD and Blu-ray (DYN-57833) formats. Conductor Alessandro De Marchi leads the period instruments of the Academia Montis Regalis and an outstanding cast led by two world-renowned mezzo-sopranos: Sonia Ganassi (‘a strong, dynamically versatile and flexible voice’ – Operawire) and Anna Bonitatibus (‘the most interesting mezzo of her generation’ – Bachtrack). Director Silvia Paoli’s staging was hailed by Operawire as ‘a genuinely funny presentation, which had the audience laughing out loud. Everything was treated as a source of fun … staged in a blaze of colour, fast-moving action, fabulous costumes and cleverly managed extraneous silliness.’
Prins’s music is made of codes. Not the digital codes of computers and signal processors – although it is also made of these – but the pacts and contracts of reciprocity and understanding that hold individuals, societies, and ecosystems in dynamic equilibrium. Such codes are cracked, questioned, even made absurd. Instruments and voices act one sound but produce another; notation systems change at will; players appear in places they cannot be, doing things our ears tell us they can’t be doing; stage becomes auditorium; private becomes public.
This tremendous Glyndebourne production affords a rare opportunity to see Samuel Barber’s Vanessa, one of the 20th century’s great operas that sadly remains a little-known masterpiece. Written in the age of Hitchcock, with an atmospheric score and tense, psychological twists, this is the world premiere video recording of the work in a new production by award-winning director Keith Warner: ‘it’s magnificent… a beautiful, thought-provoking production.’ (The Spectator) With soprano Emma Bell in the title role, it’s musically impressive, too: ‘Bell gives one of her finest performances to date… Jakub Hrůša, conducting with tremendous passion, really opens the emotional floodgates, sweeping us away in the big set pieces.’ (The Guardian)
Orfeo is delighted to offer free downloads from the bestselling recordings of artists such as Francesco Piemontesi, Johan Botha, Skride Piano Quartet, Daniel Müller-Schott, Jonathan Gilad, Karl Böhm, and Carlos Kleiber. Download and enjoy!
Liszt: Années de pèlerinage, 1st year, Switzerland • 2 Légende No. 2 Francesco Piemontesi
Italian Opera Arias Johan Botha
Piano Quartets – Mozart • Mahler • Brahms Skride Piano Quartet
Felix Mendelssohn: Cello and Piano Music Müller-Schott, Gilad
Wagner: Lohengrin [Opera] J. Thomas, K. Böhm
Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier [Opera] Ridderbusch, Fassbaender, C. Kleiber
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