In addition to its own wide-reaching monthly new releases (see https://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. Its aim is to ensure the fascination that classical music transcends generations and remains a living force, while remaining true to traditional, classical values.
The multifaceted magic of Wagner’s great baritone roles has an even more profound resonance in a post-heroic era – impressively embodied by Michael Volle.
“Volle has been intelligent in handling his burgeoning development into larger Wagner roles. Having witnessed it firsthand in live opera performance, it is clear that Volle’s voice is in prime condition. What stands out is his effortless sound-production, together with a natural warm tone, which can be sweet when needed at the top.” – MusicWeb International
Scottish music composer Geraldine Mucha is the daughter-in-law of a prominent Czech artist Alfons Mucha, one of the greatest figures in the European Art Nouveau movement. Her life was spent as the wife of writer Jiri Mucha in Prague, where she met several prominent Czech and world artists. Unfortunately, her work is not very well known. This production brings completely new and unique recordings of her finest works, such as the Macbeth Suite, Songs of John Webster, and her Piano Concerto, performed by the eminent Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra.
The concept of “Amor fatale” focuses on powerful female roles from the operas Otello, Armida, La donna del lago, Maometto II, Semiramide, Moïse et Pharaon and Guillaume Tell. Marina Rebeka has quite some experience with roles in Rossini. She has worked through Rossini’s original handwritten manuscripts and included this in her performance; she also developed her own coloratura, which not only suits her voice both musically and technically, but also best corresponds to the specific stage events and emotions encountered in her respective operatic roles.
For decades, Martinů had shied away from composing a symphony. The first one was finally to be written in the USA in 1942, followed by another one every year until 1946 (the sixth was only added to the work catalogue in 1953). For this reason, there is sometimes talk of the ‘American’ symphonies. The works do mirror the events of the time, but long passages must be also regarded as absolute music. Cornelius Meister is one of the finest young conductors of our day, and here he fantastically interprets these symphonies with transparency, emotion, and aplomb.
Voices of Defiance presents quartets of passion, hope, and resilience whose beauty defies the horrors that surrounded their creation. Czech composer Viktor Ullmann’s powerful String Quartet No. 3, written in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, draws inspiration from Debussy’s impressionism and Schoenberg’s serialism. The ensemble’s muscular approach to Dmitri Shostakovich’s epic String Quartet No. 2 from 1944 emphasizes its tragic qualities, befitting the album’s theme. A captivating discovery for most listeners, Szymon Laks’s lyrical String Quartet No. 3, written in 1945 following his liberation from Auschwitz, revels in folk melodies from his native Poland in contrasting scenes of heartbreak and ecstasy.
In the gloomy sky of a winter’s night a bright star emerges and ignites Advent’s anticipation of the Nativity – the year moves towards the rebirth of light just at the time of greatest darkness. With evocative works by the Baroque master Dietrich Buxtehude and the circle of 17th-century northern German composers around him, Paul Hillier conducts his GRAMMY® award-winning ensemble Theatre of Voices in a stimulating addition to the traditional Christmas repertoire.
“Papa” Haydn’s music works its magic in this collection, with its direct melodic appeal and reassuring sentiments. This album is the latest gem in the popular Baby Needs Series, which has been welcomed with open arms by parents around the world who care about the mental development and well-being of their children. Carefully chosen for delicate young ears are favorite selections Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 5, Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, “Farewell” Symphony, Trumpet Concerto and “Emperor” String Quartet.
The French melody Ah vous dirai-je, Maman, first published in the year 1761, is until today well-known in many different languages. The further appropriation as ABC-Song to teach the alphabet to young learners induced the Japanese pianist Yoshiko Okada to name her latest CD “Mozart ABC”, since this little song offered Mozart the inspiration for his 12 Piano Variations, K. 265. The album contains the popular Fantasia in C Minor, K. 475 and the Sonata No. 14 in C Minor K. 457, as well as the cheerful and spirited Sonatas No. 8 in D Major K. 311 and No. 12 in F Major, K. 332.
Recognized as the father of modern Greek music, Manolis Kalomiris was also devoted to education, as can be heard in the superbly crafted volumes For Greek Children written throughout his life. Kalomiris’ early piano works build on the Romantic legacy of Chopin and Liszt, the Ballades filled with poetic references. The later Rhapsodies and Preludes demonstrate how far the composer, now free from the Romantic influence of his years in Vienna, had moved towards creating a Greek national school based both on authentic Greek folk songs and on the most advanced musical techniques.
Susanne Hou’s father Bo Zhi Hou was the top violinist at the Shanghai Conservatory at the time The Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto was written, going on to lead major orchestras in China before and during the Cultural Revolution. Mr. Hou was asked to make the world première recording of the concerto but, due to sensitive political and societal circumstances, he ultimately left the country without having had the opportunity to make the recording. He therefore now passes the torch of his legacy in China, and his unfulfilled destiny of recording The Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto, to his daughter.
A work caught the attention of musicians during the late 1990s – a Christmas Oratorio by C.H. Graun. The only known copy of it was being housed in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., but it has so far been impossible to determine either the name of the manuscript copyist or an exact dating of the work and copy. There are many indications that this is a work from the composer’s phase prior to his years in Berlin. After The Death of Jesus (OC1809), Thomas Gropper and his Arcis Vocalists now proudly present the second oratorio of Graun for OehmsClassics.
In Tapiola, Sibelius appears to equate the primacy of nature with the value of art for its own sake, the unattainable truths of which remain uneroded by time or by the shifting ideals of mankind. The mysterious En Saga, on the other hand, is among Sibelius’ earliest orchestral works. Its original première in 1892 was not a success opting Sibelius to revise the score in 1902. Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen orchestrated a cycle of songs, and it contains several less known works in a cavalcade juxtaposing human emotions and innermost thoughts with the natural environment and experiences in nature.
Established in 2001, the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme discovers exceptionally gifted young artists, and nurtures them to become world-class professionals. This recording provides a unique opportunity to hear current members and alumni of the Programme in recital, in wide-ranging repertory that encompasses composers from Beethoven to the present day, and includes many rarely-performed masterpieces. The Programme and this recording are generously supported by Oak Foundation.
As one of the greatest violin virtuosos, Eugène Ysaÿe inspired the world. He was also a compassionate chamber musician, great teacher and fascinating conductor. It was after his return to Belgium in July 1923, at the age of 65, when he wrote his best-known work Six Sonatas for Violin Solo, Op. 27. Like the Bach’s Solo Sonatas and Partitas, and Paganini’s Capriccios, Ysaÿe’s sonatas demonstrate not only astonishing technical innovations, but also powerful poetic expression of his time. On his new release Sergey Malov combines Ysaÿe’s violin sonatas with works by Bach and those European violinists, to whom these sonatas are dedicated.
Conceived and recorded over the past 2.5 years by Sono Luminus, Imagine Christmas is the perfect album for your holiday celebrations, evoking a very deep sense of nostalgia while remaining wonderfully modern. Note the three striking elements on this album, from the minute you press play. First, is the quality of the performances. Second, is the sterling quality of the recording. Third, and in every way as essential as the previous two, this is a kaleidoscopic collection of styles and interpretations of beloved songs and carols that keeps one eager for the next number. With such a fetching variety of artists and approaches, you will find yourself going top-to-tail on this one.
This is the first release ever of all the Bruckner symphony recordings that Hans Rosbaud made for SDR (now SWR). Rosbaud is remembered chiefly as a committed performer of contemporary music. This resulted from his regular appearances in Donaueschingen, where he conducted either the world or regional premières of works by Messiaen, Boulez, Stockhausen, and many others. He devoted equal attention to the works of Wagner, Bruckner and Mahler which is all the more reason to take a closer look also at his other recordings, in this case, at his Bruckner interpretations.
Maddalena Lombardini, a forgotten composer despite her remarkable skills and obvious appreciation of her contemporaries including Mozart and J.C. Bach. At fourteen she is sent to study with the greatest master of her time, Giuseppe Tartini, who will remain a point of reference in her entire life. She leave her work at the Mendicanti Hospital and started a lavish concert career in London, Dresden, St Petersburg, and Paris, where she will perform and publish the six quartets included in this edition. The execution is entrusted to the splendor of the Accademia Della Magnifica Comunità, under the guidance of Enrico Casazza.
For the first time in their history, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra will release a complete Beethoven symphonies cycle on CD. With a new CD of the series to be released every 6 months, the full cycle will be completed just in time for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2020. The symphonies were recorded live during a critically acclaimed concert cycle in Spring/Summer 2017 in the Great Hall of the Musikverein Wien.
Yuko Mabuchi moved to the United States from her native Japan only recently, but when she plays American jazz she speaks the language perfectly. This album’s associate producer and Yarlung special advisor Billy Mitchell describes Yuko’s playing as “funky from the heart,” and he means that as an enormous compliment. This live concert recording session took place in Cammilleri Hall, the same concert venue designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, where Yarlung recorded Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet in 2014 (YAR65004).
VERDI, G.: Ernani [Opera] (Opéra de Monte-Carlo, 2014)
Ohanyan • Pace • Ribis, • Tezier • Vargas • Vassilieva • Vinogradov • Monte Carlo Opera Choir and Orchestra • Callegari
Arthaus Musik 109345 [BD] | 109344 [DVD]
Giuseppe Verdi’s Ernani is a vibrant adaptation for the lyric stage of one of the most flamboyant dramas by the French poet Victor Hugo. Both the composer and his librettist have combined Hugo’s verbal eloquence with the right musical temperament. Perfect example of Grand opera with chorus, the magnificent Act III is above all the first time Verdi draws the very precise contours of what is about to become a type of voice in itself: the Verdi-baritone.
This stunning release is a tribute to the art of David Hallberg. It features The Sleeping Beauty wherein the choreographer Yuri Grigorovich presents a new version of one of his most famous choreography to the sets designed by Ezio Frigerio and more than 400 new costumes designed by Franca Squarciapino. Also included is Marco Spada. Recreated by French choreographer Pierre Lacotte, Marco Spada is a grandiose and unique ballet both on a technical and dramatic level … With its scenes of pantomime, devilish intrigue, rejected suitors, kidnapping heroines, rebellion, and lovers' misunderstandings, Marco Spada is a fresh and joyful ballet to discover.
MOZART, W.A.: Lucio Silla [Opera] (La Scala, 2016)
Spicer • Ruiten • Crebassa • Kalna • Semenzato • Milan La Scala Ballet, Chorus and Orchestra • Minkowski
C Major 743404 [BD] | 743308 [DVD]
Mozart was sixteen when he composed this jewel of bel canto dedicated to the general and dictator of Ancient Rome – Lucio Silla made its debut on 26 December 1772. The staging by Marshall Pynkoski, specialized in eighteenth-century operas with particular insights into Baroque dance, drama and gestures, pays “attention to detail, making use of scenes and eighteenth-century impeccably decorated costumes designed by a specialist of the genre in film, Antoine Fontaine” (delteatro.it).
BELLINI, V.: Norma [Opera] (Sferisterio Opera Festival, 2016)
Siri • Ganassi • Pelizzari • Ulivieri • Lo Greco • Pierattelli • Coro Lirico Marchigiano V. Bellini • Complesso di palcoscenico Banda "Salvadei" • Marchigiana Philharmonic Orchestra • Gamba
Dynamic DYN-57768 [BD] | DYN-37768 [DVD] | CDS7768 [CD]
This production of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma from the Macerata Opera Festival was described by the Italian press as “a perfect synthesis of cast, direction, sets, lighting and costumes”; the aria Casta diva received a standing ovation. Among the superb cast, Uruguayan soprano Maria José Siri stands out in the title role, along with Italian mezzo Sonia Ganassi, who shines as Adalgisa.
Spanning his 89 years, Michelangelo: Love and Death takes a cinematic journey from the print and drawing rooms of Europe, through the great chapels and museums of Florence, Rome and the Vatican to explore the tempestuous life of Michelangelo. Through expert commentary and Michelangelo’s own words, this film takes a fresh look at an enigmatic man whose life is celebrated in every mark and every stroke he made. A giant artistic force and universally loved, discover why Michelangelo is without a doubt one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance – and perhaps of all time.
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