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.
In 1924, Gramola was founded in Vienna as the Austrian branch of the record label of the same name and has since been active in all sectors of the classical music world. Naturally, Gramola was initially focused on the great composers of the Viennese classical period, such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Their focus has shifted in recent years to CD production, and with around 50 recordings a year, has the highest production rate of classical music in Austria. A new Bruckner Cycle from St. Florian is on its way since 2013. At the forefront of their current activities is also the support of young Austrian musicians, and not least their cooperation with Exilarte, who are dedicated to the music of exiled and murdered composers.
Gateway into the Beyond refers to the enigmatic six opening notes of the sonata by Eduard Erdmann—one of the most powerful and complex solo sonatas for violin from early classical modernism and is presented here as a premiere recording. This album is the result of an eight-month period of intense musical collaboration between the soloist and the producer. Lucas Brunnert has proven himself to be a violinist who not only captivates with technical sovereignty, an extremely multi-faceted tone and great intensity but also particularly understands and fulfils the spiritual, the superordinate context. The listener can experience how Eduard Erdmann’s use of Schönberg’s free tonality, not atonality, is coherent even in the boldest passages and how Paul Hindemith’s new harmonies, evolved out of the romantic tradition, unfold an inner vitality with much-unexpected humour and ingenuity.
Additional Exciting New Releases and Bestsellers from Gramola Records
Black Umfolosi is Zimbabwe’s greatest musical ambassadors. With unrivalled beauty and enthusiasm, they perform music inspired by the traditional song and dance of their native southern Africa. The band’s performances are energy driven and completely engaging, mixing a great gentleness of spirit and song with an exuberance in dance. The group has become firm favourites around the world with people of all ages and cultures, due to their natural ability to communicate through song. Washabalal’ umhlaba is the fifteenth Black Umfolosi album to be released internationally. The six voices come together in crystalline harmonies laced with their usual brand of optimism for the world. Here, Black Umfolosi sings of the joys of life, with gentle underlying messages for us to count our blessings, to appreciate and protect what we have.
The music of the Croatian composer and conductor Igor Kuljeric (1938-2006) is not yet well-known beyond the borders of his home country—but this recording will probably change all that. The Croatian Glagolitic Requiem—composed between 1995 and 1996, first performed in the Croatian town of Zadar in July 1996 by the chorus and symphony of Croatian Radio, and conducted by the composer himself—is an impressive and moving example of contemporary sacred music. His Glagolitic Requiem can be seen as a symbolically charged musical confession to his nation and its culture, and was written at a time when Croatia had managed to finally end a bloody war of independence. The vivid and suggestive power of this composition enjoyed great popularity.
David Lang composed love fail in 2012 for the vocal quartet Anonymous 4; the work was conceived as a rumination on the timelessness of love, weaving together details from the story of Tristan and Isolde with more modern sources. This newly expanded choral arrangement, performed by the renowned Lorelei Ensemble and conducted by Beth Willer, adds haunting texture and power, as well as a more fully rounded sound, to Lang’s austere original. Praised for their ‘impeccable musicality and pure-voiced precision’ by the Boston Globe after the 2016 premiere of this version for women’s chorus, Lorelei brings that same unmatched skill to the recording. From the hypnotic layers of the opening he was and she was to the almost devoutly meditative mood of Head, Heart there’s an immediate sense of having captured an entirely new way of experiencing one of Lang’s most soulful and mysterious works.
The GRAMMY Award-winning Pacifica Quartet performs works by three Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary composers: Shulamit Ran, Jennifer Higdon, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Written for the Pacifica and receiving its world-premiere recording, Ran’s Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory – String Quartet No. 3 is a moving tribute to painter Felix Nussbaum, who perished in Auschwitz in 1944. Higdon’s Voices, dedicated to the Pacifica, evokes explosive energy, otherworldly calm, and spiritual serenity. In Zwilich’s Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet, a lusciously singing saxophone shares the spotlight with virtuosic string playing. The Pacifica, quartet in-residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, partner with their IU colleague, renowned classical saxophonist Otis Murphy.
Carl Nielsen’s incidental music for The Mother was written for a gala celebrating the reunification, in 1920, of Southern Jutland with Denmark—one of the most important events in Denmark in the 20th century. This year the 100th anniversary is celebrated.
The complete score first appeared in print in 2007 and has never been recorded in its entirety. Thus this recording provides a new picture of the Danish National composer Carl Nielsen as a composer for the theatre.
Carl Nielsen uses familiar songs in the play, including the Danish national anthem as well as a curious use of the national anthems from the allied countries that, with their attacks on Germany, determined the fate of Southern Jutland.
The Mother is recorded by tenor Adam Riis, baritone Palle Knudsen, the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, Philharmonic Choir and Odense Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andreas Delfs.
A wonderful ‘concert version’ of the revered Komitas Divine Liturgy! Here, the great Komitas work is transformed into a ‘concert mass’ in the first-ever recording of this appealing mixed choir version. This version was beautifully arranged and edited by the brilliant Armenian composer Vache Sharafyan. In his arrangement, the added colours of female voices increase the beauty of the work. This version is also ‘concert length’ which means that it is appropriately shorter—and more accessible—than the original. The Latvian Radio Choir, under its remarkable conductor Sigvards Kļava, is a unique, award-winning ensemble called ‘One of the world’s greatest choirs’ by The Advertiser and ‘A great musical power’ by the Washington Post. The accompanying booklet offers much interesting commentary, Komitas’ own autobiography, Armenian texts and transliterations, and translations into English.
The madrigal, written for courts and patrons, was the ultimate secular song. The genre reached its zenith with the works of Claudio Monteverdi in successive books that trace his technical and expressive innovations. In them, Monteverdi explored themes such as the vicissitudes and pleasures of love, as well as the art of war, and the pain of loss. The editions used in these recordings are the most authentic and uncut, and, in keeping with 17th-century practice, employ male voices only. Praised as ‘compelling, simultaneously controlled and imaginative’ (American Record Guide) the collection also includes pieces never before recorded.
Inspired by the American poet Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), the symphonic poem The Bells was written in 1913. Its four parts describe different features of bell ringing: children’s sleigh bells in the first section, the wedding bells of a young couple in the second, alarm bells for a misfortune in the third, and mourning bells in the fourth. Rachmaninov uses the text version by Konstantin Balmont (1867–1943), who freely rewrote Edgar Allan Poe’s original. Rachmaninov adeptly avoided the direct emulation of bell sounds through carillons and similar percussion instruments.
Stara is Halldór Smárason’s debut album. Stara shows Halldór’s development of a characteristic style and unique sense of narrative. Halldór’s music has been described as atmospheric yet aggressive, characterised by a simmering energy just beneath the surface that erupts from time to time. His compositional voice is highly original and personal. In each composition, Halldór strives for a distinct approach, which is guided by the specifics of the composition (the occasions, the space, the instruments, the performer, etc.). As a result, his sonic repertoire is extremely rich. He often includes extra-musical and music-theatrical aspects, which create highly distinct artistic experiences. Additionally, Halldór has been acknowledged for high attention to detail in regard to sound and notation. Stara is intended to be an insightful portrait of the composer, introducing Halldór’s poetic sonic world.
This record production was created thanks to the collaboration with the Viktor Ulmann Festival in Trieste which features live performances of unpublished orchestral and chamber works dedicated to the rediscovery of those composers labelled as ‘degenerate’ by the German National Socialist propaganda. Just think that, in the pictorial art, entire movements such as Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism were branded as ‘degenerate’ and artists such as Van Gogh, Klee, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Chagall, and many others banned. Music could not escape this fate with the emblematic death by heart attack of Leone Sinigaglia in front of the Nazi-fascist who came to arrest him. Roberto Fabbriciani, Giacobbe Stevanato, and Davide Casali, accompanied by the Orchestra Abimà and the Civica Orchestra dei fiati ‘G. Verdi’ are the protagonists of this particular music collection which, despite the adversities of the Nazi abomination, has managed to survive to the present days.
What a grand and exquisite gala to celebrate opera legend Plácido Domingo in the breath-taking Arena di Verona! 50 years ago the young Madrilenian singer Plácido Domingo gave his debut at the ancient open-air theatre: the beginning of a lasting and exceptional relationship. To mark the anniversary, Domingo presents a programme entirely dedicated to Verdi, performing three of his most complex and majestic baritone roles. No effort was spared to create an unforgettable evening in a unique atmosphere in the completely sold-out amphitheatre, which has been at the heart of Italian entertainment for almost 2,000 years. Whether as Babylonian king Nabucco, Scottish general Macbeth or as Doge Simon Boccanegra, Domingo’s versatility and aura is more than impressive, with ‘top phrasing and articulation, his baritone with full and sonorous intonation and a unique timbre—all this substantiates his exceptional position’ (Das Opernglas).
This is a new production from Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Il Tabarro is one of the three one-act operas that make up Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico.
The element of Didier Gold’s Houppelande that most attracted Puccini was the opportunity to represent a river in music; it acts as a backdrop to the plot and determines its pace. The importance of this atmosphere is enormous, because it is linked to the mise en scène more tightly than is usual. The action takes place entirely on a barge on the Seine in Paris, which takes centre stage. The music describing the river uses a cyclic repetition of ostinato patterns, representing the monotonous flowing of the water, as inexorable as destiny and as regular as the flow of time.
‘Excellent…a rolling mass of desire, repression and duplicity’ – Financial Times
‘This fresh, insightful version of a morally murky play finds the RSC on flying form’ – Mail on Sunday
When a young novice nun is compromised by a corrupt official, who offers to save her brother from execution in return for sex, she has no idea where to turn for help. When she threatens to expose him, he tells her that no one would believe her. Shakespeare wrote this play in the early 1600s, yet it remains astonishingly resonant today. Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs this new production of Shakespeare’s astonishingly resonant work.
Exhibition on Screen presents Lucian Freud: A Self Portrait. One of the most celebrated British painters of our time, Lucian Freud is also one of very few 20th-century artists who portrayed themselves in self-portraiture with such consistency.
Spanning nearly seven decades his self-portraits give a fascinating insight into both his psyche and his development as a painter, from his earliest portrait painted in 1939 to the final one executed 64 years later. This intense and unflinching gaze has produced a body of powerful, figurative works that places him in the forefront of great British painting.
Featuring fascinating interviews with past sitters, friends and leading art experts such as Tim Marlow, Martin Gayford and Anita Taylor this intensely compelling documentary reveals the life’s work of a master which, when seen together, represents an engrossing study into the dynamic of ageing and the process of self-representation.
Widely known for its high-quality and remarkable recordings, Gramola achieved an edge when it comes to audio engineering. The label’s first-class recordings continuously receive positive reviews, awards, and international acclaim in various publications. Its rich catalogue contains music from the great composers of Viennese Classicism up to today’s celebrated music virtuoso. This month, Gramola is delighted to offer only the best of the best. Download and enjoy!
Elgar: Violin Concerto Violin Sonata
Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 20 • Schumann: Kreisleriana (Dystonia)
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