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.
Sono Luminus was created in 1995 when Sandy Lerner and Len Bosack, founders of Cisco Systems, a top supplier of networking tools for the Internet, decided that their expertise in digital signal processing, computational mathematics and physics would enable them to bring a new level of recording fidelity to music. Drawing upon their expertise in digital technologies as well as their love of music, they applied their experiences to realise a lifelong dream: to develop and create a new paradigm for recorded sound, dedicated to the realisation of true Performance Fidelity. To achieve this, Sono Luminus adopted a simple philosophy of “less is more.” Allowing for natural ambient acoustics, recorded dry, to determine optimal microphone placement, this approach has enabled Sono Luminus to garner GRAMMY awards and nominations.
Páll Ragnar Pálsson writes about his new release: ‘Composing is a meditative process I embark on in every piece I compose. It doesn’t feel like beginning a new journey with each composition, though, rather continuing from where I left off in the last one. This continuity reflects in my music—one sound grows out of the last one, like branches of a tree. Associations and encounters find their way directly to the music, in terms of narrative, atmosphere, or structure. It is a conscious process of translation of some kind, and I gratefully allow it to happen, never applying force or excess intellectual argumentation. All the technique I have learned is in service of that unstoppable movement, never dictating the flow.’
Additional Exciting New Releases and Bestsellers from Sono Luminus
Recordings of percussion from around the world—an exploration of countries by their instrumental heartbeat: the drum. With Iranian rhythms on the tombak, a rich variety of tones and textures from Egypt on durbuka, advanced rhythms of Nigerian Yoruba folk music, Japanese taiko, Indian tabla, improvisations from Morocco and more. A fascinating journey into international beats and the culture and stories that lie behind them. The booklet contains in-depth liner notes provided by the artists that showcase the instruments used, the meanings behind the songs, and the cultural significance around the chosen rhythms.
‘But tell me, who could have written a better libretto for me than my friend Heinrich von Kleist? When I was searching for a language in combination with which my music could produce something new, a diction targeted by my music, I hit on the ‘Prince’. […] The tension between the life of the individual and raison d’état, issues as to the disregard of law and order, man’s quivering before the might of ruling authorities and the courage to resist it, all of that might happen today or might have occurred one or two thousand years ago. […] Many of my endeavours in works of recent years appear through this drama to have reached a new point, i.e. a new polyphony and its concomitant, freely chosen rigour.’ – Hans-Werner Henze
Groundbreaking new-music sextet Eighth Blackbird, winners of four GRAMMY Awards for their previous Cedille Records albums, are heard in the world-premiere recording of a collaborative, all-instrumental program of intensely rhythmic works written expressly for the Chicago-based ensemble by the founders of the celebrated Bang on a Can composers collective.
Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Wolfe’s title track conjures a dark, silent solitude from which creative inspiration emerges. Michael Gordon’s music melds ’the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism’ (The New Yorker). In The Light of the Dark, he evokes the wild spontaneity of an uninhibited, late-night jam session. Pulitzer Prize winner David Lang’s three-movement These Broken Wings, a ‘glamorously beautiful suite’ (The Guardian), takes flight via Eighth Blackbird’s boundless stamina and high-voltage virtuosity.
Patrick Kearney offers a spectacular musical tour de force of his instrument, playing a repertoire that affirms him as a spokesman for the contemporary voice of the guitar, and a journeyman of its future. It will take your breath away and compel your senses. The five works represent two moments in the continuum of modernity. Usher Waltz and Koyunbaba date respectively from 1984 and 1985 and are works that have had wide acceptance. Hyperion, Lamento-Scherzo, and Sagittarius A* were all composed in 2009-2010, twenty-five years later. Three different guitars were used for this recording, each for its own special qualities and contribution to the artistic effects being sought.
This year, the Danish Queen Margrethe II turns 80, and to celebrate this we are soon to release a new box set with historical recordings of the queen’s father, King Frederik IX, conducting the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Danish Orchestra. Although the King was self-taught and mainly kept his interest in conducting within the confines of private life, he favoured technically difficult challenges in the great symphonic repertoire. This release thus contains works by, among others, Beethoven, Wagner, and Schubert as well as the Danish composers Gade, Kuhlau and Lumbye.
Internationally renowned soprano Ekaterina Siurina, in her first album for Delos, presents a choice array of beautifully sung French and Italian opera arias by Gustave Charpentier, Charles Gounod, Georges Bizet, Giacomo Puccini, and Giuseppe Verdi. Siurina’s husband, acclaimed tenor Charles Castronovo, joins her in some famous duets from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and Puccini’s La bohème. Sensitive and sonorous orchestral support comes courtesy of the Kaunas City Symphony orchestra under the baton of GRAMMY-nominated conductor Constantine Orbelian. One of the leading sopranos of her generation, Ekaterina Siurina performs at many of the top opera houses across the world. She was also a prize winner of the Rimsky-Korsakov Competition in St. Petersburg, and the Elena Obraztsova Competition.
As a distinguished expert in all modern compositional techniques, Kurt Schwertsik (b. 1935) decided early in his career to pursue a new, tonally influenced path. In this aesthetic, accessible to a broad audience, he created a diverse oeuvre that extends from opera to Viennese lieder and has made him one of the most popular composers of Austrian contemporary music. With subtle differentiation, the Japanese pianist Aya Klebahn takes up his piano works, composed in a long, interrelated arc stretching over many decades. Aya Klebahn has a special affinity for contemporary piano music. She participated in the world premiere of works by composer Luna Alcalay during the Wien Modern festival. However, central to her work is her collaboration with Kurt Schwertsik.
Semyon Alexeyevich Barmotin (1877–1939) was a student of Balakirev and Rimsky-Korsakov, and his fate under the Soviet regime in the 1930s remains a mystery, but what survives of his music is impressive in both scale and content. These world première recordings are filled with colour and contrast: the Tema con variazioni transforms its material into a multitude of moods to conclude in a symphonic march, while the 20 Preludes are striking in their sophisticated harmonies and heightened emotional impact.
Don César de Bazan is an opéra-comique with a narrative of dashing Spanish chivalry and romance. Its plot revolves around deception and comedies of reversed identity, with a struggle between true nobility and wicked selfishness maintaining an animated momentum throughout. This was the young Jules Massenet’s first full-length opera and yet it is filled with the composer’s mature symphonic style, his gift for melody, feeling for the picturesque, and vivacity of rhythm. These distinctive qualities reveal an operatic feast whose time has at last arrived.
Milégé is a group of young talented musicians who derive inspiration from the diverse cultural musical traditions of the different tribes of Uganda, which they fuse with contemporary elements. The band’s songs tell stories from Uganda and also reflect typical aspects of everyday life in Africa. Milégé derives its name from an ankle rattle, a bell worn round the ankle to create rhythmic sounds that compliment dance performances.
This new Beethoven symphony cycle with Malmö Symphony Orchestra is conductor Robert Trevino’s debut release on Ondine. Trevino is one of the fastest rising young conductors and known for his fresh and vivid interpretations of both standard repertoire as well as contemporary works. Currently, Trevino is holding the tenure as chief conductor of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and as music director of the Basque National Orchestra. After studies with conductors David Zinman, Seiji Ozawa, and Michael Tilson Thomas, Trevino worked closely as Leif Segerstam’s assistant before making his debuts with several leading symphony orchestras worldwide. These Beethoven symphonies were recorded in connection with a Beethoven festival, which was arranged in Malmö, Sweden in October 2019.
When the ORFEO label was established in Munich 40 years ago, surely no one on the music scene back then would have predicted that the record company would develop into a firmly established player in the classical music market. One of the label’s main priorities in the early years was vocal music, with opera rarities top of the list and, since the mid-1980s, the reuse of historic tape recordings. Big names featured on the label’s own productions, while ORFEO also developed into a talent factory by discovering and nurturing young artists. This Legendary Conductors 10-CD box set marking ORFEO’s 40th anniversary presents a selection of outstanding recordings with legendary conductors in the true sense of the word.
Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony in D Major, composed in the late summer and autumn of 1880, is often referred to as Dvořák’s ‘First’ because it was the first one to be published by Simrock and is considered the first of his brilliant masterpieces in the genre. His contemporaries were in agreement that Dvořák had not only mastered the large-scale form of four-movement symphonies, but had also developed his individual, distinctive style. ‘This symphony reflects the cheerfulness, humour and passion of the Czech people’, said the early Dvořák biographer Otakar Šourek. This release also includes the Hussite Overture and the overtures to Selma sedlák and Vanda.
It may seem curious, or at least eccentric, to present a CD containing a composer’s transcriptions for piano four-hand of some pieces of his own that are regarded as exemplary and extraordinary particularly for their orchestration—this opinion is undoubtedly deserved by two of Respighi’s three famous tone poems in several movements, but probably also by his suites of Antiche danze e arie, which moreover had been expressly conceived as ‘specimens’ of reinvention and orchestration. Gabriele Baldocci and Francesco Caramiello guide us to the listening of these masterpieces, in which it is possible to see—free of the orchestral mixture and colours—the ‘heart’ of Ottorino Respighi’s compositional art.
Music director Robert Istad writes: ‘Tarik O’Regan’s music captured my attention when I heard a live performance of The Ecstasies Above in 2007. His music grabbed me with its rhythmic audacity, harmonic daring and unique wit. Tarik became our composer in residence at Pacific Chorale shortly after I was appointed Artistic Director, and this recording shares some fruits of our collaboration, including that auspicious Ecstasies Above, one brand new commission Facing West, and three world premiere recordings including All Things Common.
Mieczysław Weinberg’s Trumpet Concerto, Op. 94 was composed in his most productive, creative phase and premiered in Moscow on 6 January 1968. Shostakovich once described it as a ‘symphony for trumpet and orchestra’—no wonder, since it showcases the whole variety of Weinberg’s compositions: from the bitingly humorous first and sumptuously and colourfully orchestrated second movement to the wonderfully collage-like finale, fabulously interpreted by Håkan Hardenberger to celebrate the composer’s 100th anniversary. After the Sixth and Fifth Symphonies, Andris Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig add Tchaikovsky’s Fourth to their cycle featuring the symphonic works of this outstanding composer.
To this day, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is one of the most popular pieces of classical music in the world. But what is it about this global hit? The film charts the success of the symphony around the globe and encounters passionate amateur musicians and musical personalities. Watch as Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis works on Beethoven’s Ninth with his ensemble, MusicAeterna. Follow Chinese composer and Oscar winner Tan Dun as he creates a new composition inspired by the great Beethoven symphony. Experience the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as they play the Ninth. Visit a favela in Brazil, where Beethoven’s music helps people get off the streets. Be amazed as a choir of 10,000 in Japan sings the final chorus of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with great enthusiasm. Learn how Paul Whittaker helps make Beethoven accessible for deaf people. And find out how British DJ Gabriel Prokofiev performs a symphonic remix of Beethoven’s Ninth.
Teatro Regio di Torino has contributed to the rediscovery of this precious one-act opera by staging its Italian premiere. Violanta is Korngold’s second opera, which the composer wrote in 1914 at the age of 17. It was premiered with great success at Munich’s Hoftheater on 28 March 1916, and a few days later in Vienna. Korngold sets this opera in an imaginary, decadent fifteenth-century Venice, reflecting a fascination for the Renaissance and for the themes of passion and death that were in vogue at the time. Pier Luigi Pizzi, stage director, costume and lighting designer for this production, chose to set the action at the beginning of the 1920s in a decadent Venice, where distant echoes of a melancholic Carnival add a sense of gloom to the whole performance.
With its combination of enchanting love story and broad, burlesque comedy, Cendrillon is one of the great operatic fairy tales—a Cinderella that looks back to Charles Perrault’s original story in all its richness and ambiguity. Massenet’s sensuous Belle Epoque fairy tale is gilded with lavish orchestral textures and glittering vocal writing, drawing on everything from baroque dances to Wagner-inspired chromaticism to bring its story to colourful life, conjuring a world of infinite musical and emotional variety. Fiona Shaw’s original Tour production makes its Festival debut here, redirected by Fiona Dunn and conducted by John Wilson, with a cast led by Glyndebourne favourites Danielle de Niese as Cendrillon and Kate Lindsey as her Prince. The Times called this production ‘a savvy modern-day makeover,” while Classical Source called it “enchanting and thought-provoking.’
The American label Sono Luminus boasts a wide variety of classical recordings spanning several centuries and many musical genres and styles. Titles include music by Bach, symphonies by Shostakovich, English Mad Songs and Ayres, Argentinian concert music, works for lute, masterpieces from the romantic repertoire, vocal recitals, and hundreds of other outstanding recordings.
Sono Luminus is delighted to offer free downloads from the label’s highly recommended releases. Download and enjoy!
J.S. Bach: Harpsichord Works
The Food of Love: Songs, Dances, and Fancies for Shakespeare
The Celtic Lute
Surrounded by Angels – A Christmas Celebration with Ensemble Galilei
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