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In addition to its own wide-reaching monthly new releases (see http://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.

LABEL OF THE MONTH: Opus Arte

Opus Arte is the Royal Opera House's multi-platform arts production and distribution company. Established in 1999, Opus Arte grew rapidly to become one of the world's leading providers of high-quality classical music content, releasing around twenty titles on DVD, Blu-ray and CD per year. The company has produced and directed programmes that have been broadcast in over 60 countries, licensed content to some of the world’s leading businesses, and won many international awards.

GLASS, P.: Einstein on the Beach (Pomegranate Arts, 2014)
Davis, Moran, Silverman, Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Philip Glass Ensemble, Riesman
Opus Arte OABD7173D [Blu-ray] | OA1178D [DVD]

Philip Glass wrote about his compositional processes: “I don’t care about music theory, I’m only interested in listening to music. I begin by listening. Like images emerging from the mist and becoming visible.” This seminal work of avant-garde opera from composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson arrives full-circle, coming to France–the site of its 1976 Avignon Festival world première. It took place at the tail end of its 2014 revival tour for a landmark Theatre du Chatelet production, and had its first ever filming by award-winning arts filmmaker Don Kent.

Eschewing conventional narrative, the opera revolves loosely around pacifist Einstein’s relationship to the creation of the atomic bomb. In continuity with the opera’s debut for this new production, the music is again performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble and the choreography devised by original cast member Lucinda Childs for her Lucinda Childs Dance Company. It features scenes under Bob Wilson’s own digitally remastered light design. Hailed by Le Figaro as ‘meticulously crafted total artwork in which the visual and musical craft are inseparable.’

Other Exciting New Releases:
Selected CDs

Austrian Gramophone

Najfar-Nahvi, Setareh / Schumacher, Theresia - SCHUMANN, C. / CHAMINADE, C. / MAYER, E. / SENFTER, J.:  Female Composers (Violin and Piano Recital)
Najfar-Nahvi, Setareh / Schumacher, Theresia - SCHUMANN, C. / CHAMINADE, C. / MAYER, E. / SENFTER, J.: Female Composers
(Violin and Piano Recital)

Najfar-Nahvi, Schumacher
Austrian Gramophone AG0004

The eight female composers of the late 18th to the 20th century, who are described in this release persevered in their path despite the lack of recognition, and followed their professional career with huge physical exertions and financial difficulties. What was the nature of the objections against composing women? What did the split consist of within the composing guild? Well, there was indeed a differentiation between male and female composing. On one hand, women were thought of being only capable of handling the smaller form of a song or a small chamber music composition. The symphonic, the opera and the oratorio were reserved for men. On the other hand, it was assumed that the female intellect could not fulfill the formal compositional criteria. Such as a strict style, a theoretical structure, agility in dealing with the forms, a serious mind and male strength. To sacrifice these criteria to a female composing style would mean a weakening of the metier. Remarkably enough however they were granted the highest honors. Their works were rewarded with prestigious prizes. They were popular artists on the stages of Europe and beyond.

It is alarmingly incomprehensible to come to the conclusion that all of this was not enough to save them from the rapid obliteration from cultural awareness. Only very gradually there has been an attempt recently to rediscover the milestones that these artists have laid down with all their strength, to edit their compositions and to establish the place they deserve in cultural history.

BR-Klassik

HANDEL, G.F.: Messiah (with introduction)
HANDEL, G.F.: Messiah (with introduction)
Baumann, Davies, Davislim, Doyle, Heidenreich, Stockerl, Zazzo,
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, B'Rock, Dijkstra

BR-Klassik 900908

As a steady favorite with audiences, Handel's most famous oratorio Messiah has met regularly with rapturous receptions ever since its premiere back in 1742. This three-part masterpiece portrays the life of the "anointed one" (the literal meaning of the Hebrew word 'Messiah'), from the Annunciation and his birth to his death on the cross and revelation, and contains a considerable number of baroque super-hits including the world-famous Hallelujah Chorus.

What makes the present complete recording into something really special, above all, is the successful interpretation with its excellent line-up of performers: Julia Doyle, Lawrence Zazzo, Steve Davislim and Neal Davies, the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks (recently called "a new center for historically informed performance practice") under the overall direction of Peter Dijkstra, accompanied by B'Rock, the Belgian Baroque Orchestra Ghent.

Other Exciting New Releases:

Cantaloupe Music

VREBALOV, A.: The Sea Ranch Songs
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VREBALOV, A.: The Sea Ranch Songs
Kronos Quartet
Cantaloupe Music CA-21122

Aleksandra Vrebalov’s The Sea Ranch Songs was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the community of The Sea Ranch in celebration of the California retreat’s 50th birthday. The music does a magnificent job of connecting with the nature, spirit, and architecture of this magical landscape. This music is more like a multimedia work. The music features rarely documented sounds from the Northern California coastal community and its nature. The work is paired with a cinematic exploration on a bonus DVD directed by videographer Andrew Lyndon. Kronos Quartet consists of violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt, and cellist Sunny Yang.

“The Sea Ranch idea on a global scale might be utopian, but through music, we praise its beauty and affirm its urgent relevance in our wounded world, so much in need of healing.” (Aleksandra Vrebalov)

Capriccio

LOURIÉ, A.: Piano Music
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LOURIÉ, A.: Piano Music
Arthur Lourie
Capriccio C5281

Composer Arthur Lourié was born as Naum Izrailevich Lur'ya in 1892. Lourié was a charismatic bohemian and Soviet cultural politician who did not return from a so-called official journey to Berlin in 1922. Lourié was a pioneer of Modernism music. He enjoyed mingling among the poets and painters of the Silver Age, and was greatly inspired by them. His musical oeuvre is just as multi-faceted and diverse as the writings of that time.

Cedille

MOZART, W.A.: String Quartets Nos. 22 and 23 / String Quintet No. 2 (Tribute)
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MOZART, W.A.: String Quartets Nos. 22 and 23 / String Quintet No. 2 (Tribute)
Tree, Dover Quartet
Cedille CDR90000-167

This release recalls the Guarneri's own all-Mozart debut album on RCA Red Seal 50 years ago (1966), which featured Mozart's final two string quartets – B-Flat, K. 589 and F, K. 590. Tribute adds Mozart's Quintet in C Minor, K. 406 performed with none other than Michael Tree, the Guarneri's founding violist and one of the Dover's most valued mentors.

The Chicago Tribune proclaimed, "The Dover Quartet players have it in them to become the next Guarneri String Quartet – they're that good." It also cited the group's "expert musicianship, razor-sharp ensemble, deep musical feeling and a palpable commitment to communication."

Delos

MOTHER OF LIGHT - Armenian Hymns and Chants in Praise of Mary
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MOTHER OF LIGHT - Armenian Hymns and Chants in Praise of Mary
Aznavoorian, D. and I. Bayrakdarian, Bayrakdarian-Kojakian,
Bayrakdarian-Zaatar, Coro Vox Aeterna, Hamre

Delos DE3521

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is internationally recognized for her shimmering voice and her accomplishments on the stage and the screen. For her newest project, she has chosen to create a hypnotic album of Armenian sacred music, beautifully displaying a spiritual aspect of her musical persona.

This project was conceived by Bayrakdarian as a gift to God for sparing the life of her mother. The whole album is a family-affair – her husband arranged the works, her brother plays ceremonial percussion, and her two sisters join her to form a vocal trio on several tracks.

Dynamic

PAISIELLO, G.: Fedra [Opera]
PAISIELLO, G.: Fedra [Opera]
Andaloro, Bivona, D'Agata, Dell'Oste, Fortunato, Lo Turco, Milanesi, Poggini, Sargsyan, Catania Teatro Massimo Bellini Chorus and Orchestra, Correas
Dynamic CDS7750

To mark the bicentenary of Paisiello's death, Catania's Bellini Theatre stages the first modern performance of his opera Fedra. Based on the original manuscript of the work and on various transcriptions, this musical and artistic enterprise generated much interest among Italian and international critics: for its revival of a rich, complex score; and for the presence of French conductor Jérôme Correas, a leading authority in this repertoire.

Fedra received only one performance during the 20th century – for a radio recording – and has never been staged since. Although it is a valuable resource, that single radio recording is nonetheless incomplete and, unlike this edition, unfaithful in many ways to the original score.

Other Exciting New Releases:

Grand Piano

BALAKIREV, M.A.: Complete Piano Works, Vol. 3
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BALAKIREV, M.A.: Complete Piano Works, Vol. 3
Nicholas Walker
Grand Piano GP714

This third volume of Balakirev's complete piano music centers on the sequence of seven Mazurkas, infectiously lively pieces full of Slavic atmosphere and color. The Humoresque in D major reveals his virtuosic flair whilst the Dumka in E flat minor uses improvisational elements to evoke the Russian landscape and the timelessness of village life. The Sonatina in G major was Balakirev's last completed work and a joyous finale to a richly creative life. Reviewing Volume 2 [GP713], American Record Guide predicted that Walker's series would become "the reference set for Balakirev".

Other Exciting New Releases:

OehmsClassics

REGER, M.: Complete Cello and Piano Music
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REGER, M.: Complete Cello and Piano Music
Leuschner, Schiefen
OehmsClassics OC456

Max Reger has remained a controversial composer, perhaps comparable to Wagner, Hindemith and Shostakovich. Even today, the presence of his oeuvre is by no means a matter of course in concert life or on recordings. There are still numerous musicians who reject his work at times with good reason. In fact even a trained, experienced listener may find it difficult to comprehend Reger’s compositions at first listening. Everyone is unaware that Reger composed four sonatas for violoncello and piano, but this recording does a great deal to compensate for that gap in knowledge.

Other Exciting New Releases:

Ondine

ENGLUND, E. / KLAMI, U.: Violin Concertos
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ENGLUND, E. / KLAMI, U.: Violin Concertos
Schmid, Oulu Symphony Orchestra, Gustavsson
Ondine ODE1278-2

Uuno Klami wrote his Violin Concerto during World War II, and it was premiered in Stockholm in 1944. The piece was lost during the war and Klami completed a new version in 1954. Klami is known for the strong influences he takes from French music and from Stravinsky. Known for his exceptionally wide repertoire and a great sense of musicality, Benjamin Schmid is one of the most versatile violinists of today. Described as "one of the most valuable of today's golden-age-violinists" by The New York Sun.

Other Exciting New Releases:

Sono Luminus

Downes, Lara - GOULD, M. / HARRISON, L. / BEACH, A. / BLOCH, E. / GERSHWIN, G. / BERNSTEIN, L. / BERLIN, I: America Again (Piano Recital)
Downes, Lara - GOULD, M. / HARRISON, L. / BEACH, A. / BLOCH, E. / GERSHWIN, G. / BERNSTEIN, L. / BERLIN, I: America Again
(Piano Recital)

Lara Downes
Sono Luminus DSL-92207

Langston Hughes wrote his poem Let America Be America Again in 1938. The country was crushed by the decade of depression that had squashed so many American dreams, and was threatened by the gathering clouds of the impending war in Europe. Birth right and skin color posed restrictions to the justice and liberty which rest at the heart of American promise, and America was a country divided.

The music featured on this release is a tribute to the generations of American men and women, both black and white, both immigrants and pioneers, who dreamed and accomplished the impossible. Best-selling pianist Lara Downes, makes her Sono Luminus debut with this release. This important collection of American repertoire includes three world premières, and is a unique program which will resound with listeners in today’s world.

SWRmusic

BRAHMS, J.: Symphonies Nos. 1-4 / Piano Concerto No. 1 / Double Concerto (Michael Gielen Edition, Vol. 3 (1989-2005))
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BRAHMS, J.: Symphonies Nos. 1-4 / Piano Concerto No. 1 /
Double Concerto (Michael Gielen Edition, Vol. 3 (1989-2005))

Geringas, Kaplan, Oppitz, West German Radio Chorus,
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Gielen

SWRmusic SWR19022CD

This is the third instalment of the critically acclaimed Michael Gielen Edition, which gives a comprehensive account of the conductor's extensive accomplishments for the first time on CD. Volume 3 contains two Brahms recordings that are being released for the first time: the First Piano Concerto and Schiksalslied. The two concertos feature three soloists of international standing – Gerhard Oppitz, Mark Kaplan and David Geringas.

Other Exciting New Releases:

Yarlung Records

Sasaki, Mika - SCHUMANN, C. / BRAHMS, J. / GRAFE, M.: Obsidian (Piano Recital)
Sasaki, Mika - SCHUMANN, C. / BRAHMS, J. /
GRAFE, M.: Obsidian (Piano Recital)

Iivonen, Sasaki
Yarlung Records YAR52635

This album celebrates Clara Schumann, her music, and the intricate artistic circle of musicians who surrounded her. Clara Schumann’s superb musicianship and pianistic genius are demonstrated in the exquisite works recorded in this album. Her legacy lives on through these works, and through the strong influence she had on her musical family.

“As the year 2016 marks the 120th and 160th anniversaries of the deaths of Clara and Robert Schumann, I was also delighted to include Obsidian Liturgy, composed for me and Clara Schumann by my dear friend and colleague, Max Grafe. The piece unfolds through a sequence of emotionally dramatic musical events: an 'Invocation' is followed by a ritualistic 'Canticle' that builds into a fervent and obsessive 'Incantation,' culminating in a cataclysmic explosion. After some seconds of silence, a vertiginous 'Trance' of left-hand ostinatos sound from the distance, followed by a climactic 'Peal' of strong, harsh bells. The 'Benedictus' finally creates a sense of resolution, despite its haunting overtones, and finally, a desolate 'Ite, missa est,' concludes the liturgy.”
(Mika Sasaki)

Selected DVDs

Accentus Music

ZHU, S.: You and Me [Peking Opera] (China National Centre for the Performing Arts, 2014)
ZHU, S.: You and Me [Peking Opera]
(China National Centre for the Performing Arts, 2014)

Chen, Kang, Li, Meng, Shi, Zhu, China National Chorus,
China National Centre for the Performing Arts, Zhu

Accentus Music ACC-20310 [DVD]

Golden Globe-winning Chinese film director Zhang Yimou has staged his first Peking opera at the NCPA, spectacularly fusing the traditional and modern together for his production of You and Me. This production is an overwhelming feast for the senses. Lavish and colorful costumes, unique music composed and conducted by Zhu Shaoyu, and a world class ensemble that features the greatest stars of the Peking opera, including Meng Guanglu, Shi Yihong, and Li Mingyan, turn You and Me into an unforgettable experience.

You and Me is based on the age-old tale from the Zuo legend, “Lord Zheng defeats Duan in Yan,” which is a story about deceit and the power of filial love. Zhang Yimou recounts the story using the stylistic elements of the Peking opera, which in turn he makes accessible for an entirely new audience. This release also includes Tradition versus Modernity, a documentary about Peking opera and the making of You and Me.

Other Exciting New Releases:

Arthaus Musik

SOUND TRACKER - Explore the World in Music: USA Road Trip (2-Part Documentary, 2014)
SOUND TRACKER - Explore the World in Music: USA Road Trip
(2-Part Documentary, 2014)

Sami Yaffa
Arthaus Musik 109301 [DVD]

Sami Yaffa is an accomplished musician who has seen all facets of life as a performing artist. He has toured the world in successful rock bands and earned a living as a street busker. Sound Tracker is his expedition to the world of music. This series travels with Sami from his hometown of New York City to Serbia, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Senegal, India, Turkey, Indonesia, and across the United States.

These releases have already been successful in their TV broadcasts in the United States, Jamaica, and Northern Europe. Directed by Otso Tiainen, this series was awarded with the Finnish “Kultaisella Venialla” for Best Music Programme 2015, a Finnish Emmy Award in 2014, and was nominated for the Rookie Award in the category “Arts & Performances” just this year.

Other Exciting New Releases:

Bel Air Classiques

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Swan Lake / The Sleeping Beauty / The Nutcracker (Bolshoi Ballet, 2010-2015)
Various Artists
Bel Air Classiques BAC612 [3-Blu-ray Disc Box Set] |
BAC611 [3-DVD Box Set]

This exciting release features three famous classic ballets from Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, danced by the Bolshoi Ballet. Swan Lake and The Nutcracker feature choreography by Yuri Grigorovich showcasing dancers Svetlana Zakharova, Denis Rodkin and Artemy Belyakov. The Sleeping Beauty is choreographed by Marius Petipa. This special set of ballets brings the classics to life, while also breathing these often-performed and well-known works into a new life.

Other Exciting New Releases:

BR-Klassik

BACH, J.S.: St. John Passion / St. Matthew Passion / Mass in B Minor / Christmas Oratorio
BACH, J.S.: St. John Passion / St. Matthew Passion / Mass in B Minor / Christmas Oratorio
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin,
Concerto Köln, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Dijkstra

BR-Klassik 900514 [DVD]

The Bach project that began in 2010 with the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Peter Dijkstra will conclude with the complete recording of the Mass in B minor that was made in the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz in April 2016. It now comprises the four crowning works of Bach in outstanding artistic quality, with renowned vocal soloists accompanied by highly distinguished historical performance practice ensembles: three of the works were performed in collaboration with Concerto Köln, and one with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

The main emphasis in these works is on Baroque musical splendor, yet reflective moments and intense, heartfelt chorales are equally important elements of the solemn oratorios. For many people, Christmas without Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, or Holy Week without one of his great Passions would be quite unthinkable. What makes these live recordings so special is the fresh voices of the young soloists, the regularly praised clarity and dimensionality of the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the direction of Peter Dijkstra, and the two renowned period instrument ensembles.

C Major

VERDI, G.: Aida (Teatro Regio Torino, 2015)
Berti, Doss, Fruchterman, Lewis, Prestia, Prola, Rachvelishvili, Sim,
Torino Teatro Regio Chorus and Orchestra, Noseda

C Major 737004 [Blu-ray, HD] | 736908 [DVD]

Originally commissioned to celebrate the completion of the Suez Canal and the opening of Cairo’s new opera house, Verdi’s Egyptian epic Aida is here seen in a spectacular new staging in the Teatro Regio Torino by the Oscar-winning American film director William Friedkin. He is the creator of such famous movies as The Exorcist and The French Connection. The cast features American soprano Kristin Lewis who has been heralded for her “remarkable voice, which she uses with powerful dramatic instinct” (La Stampa), and Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili whose Amneris “dominates the stage with her dark, rounded, irresistible voice and extraordinary stage presence” (La Gazzetta Musicale).

Gianandrea Noseda leading the Teatro Regio Torino Chorus and Orchestra received accolades from all: “he controls everything – orchestra, singers, chorus, dancers, acrobats – with an all-encompassing overview.” (La Stampa)

Other Exciting New Releases:

ICA Classics

ELGAR, E.: The Dream of Gerontius
ELGAR, E.: The Dream of Gerontius
Baker, Pears, Shirley-Quirk, London Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Boult
ICA Classics ICAD5140 [DVD]

Sir Adrian Boult was a supreme interpreter of Elgar’s music, winning accolades and awards for performances and recordings. Boult championed his music throughout his conducting life following the composer’s prophetic words in a letter to Boult in 1920: “I feel that my reputation in the future is safe in your hands.”

This release represents the only existing film of Boult conducting The Dream of Gerontius filmed in Canterbury Cathedral in 1968. This performance features a stellar cast of soloists: Dame Janet Baker, a leading interpreter of The Angel in The Dream of Gerontius, who recorded the role twice, John Shirley Quirk who, with Boult, recorded a definitive interpretation of Peter in The Kingdom, and Peter Pears, who recorded the work in 1972 under the direction of his close friend Benjamin Britten.

This film uses the original BBC master which is far superior to other copies in circulation over the years. This was the first classical music production filmed in color, for which Brian Large had secured eight out of the nine color TV cameras existing in the UK at that time. Originally produced in 1989 to celebrate Sir Adrian Boult’s 100th anniversary, the film also includes a bonus one-hour documentary on Sir Adrian Boult.

Seventh Art

MOZART, W.A. / BEETHOVEN, L. van / HAYDN, J. / CHOPIN, F.: In Search of the Great Composers
MOZART, W.A. / BEETHOVEN, L. van / HAYDN, J. /
CHOPIN, F.: In Search of the Great Composers

Adams-Brown, Barrett, Dawson, Goodman, Stevenson, West
Seventh Art SEV194 [5-DVD Box Set]

These globally celebrated films each explore a great composer’s life through his work. The music, performed by prominent artists, is intertwined with the composer’s life and letters. Internationally celebrated documentary filmmaker Phil Grabsky travelled the world over several years to film first class performances, and interview musicians and historians of the highest regard.

In Search of Mozart charts the composer’s life through his music with over 80 works featured. His letters reveal an extraordinary person, full of joy, passion, and sensitivity. Delving beneath the mythological image, In Search of Beethoven reveals new and endearing insights into this legendary composer. Fifty-five extraordinary performances capture the excellence of an array of world-class artists. In Search of Haydn is a visual and aural extravaganza offering a fresh interpretation of the pioneering music and the man. In Search of Chopin is the result of a four-year quest to make new discoveries about this musical genius.

The film brings us the music and life of one of the greatest composers. This set of films has been heralded as “Superlative” (The Observer) “High-Class” (New York Times) “Enchanting” (The Australian) and “A Masterpiece” (Sydney Morning Herald).




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