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.
Launched in 2012, the Grand Piano label has quickly gained a reputation for producing high- quality recordings of rare keyboard gems. Dedicated to the exploration of undiscovered piano repertoire, the label specialises in multi-volume recordings and complete cycles of piano works by many lesser-known composers, whose output might otherwise have remained unknown and unrecorded. Spanning almost four centuries of music from around the world, the Grand Piano catalogue includes music by past composers such as Leopold Koželuch, Alexander Tcherepnin and Mieczysław Weinberg, as well as works by living composers such as Valentyn Silvestrov, Martial Solal and Philip Hammond. Grand Piano artists are very often authorities on these less well-known composers and experts on the chosen repertoire, giving their performances a unique stamp of authenticity. Drawing on such a rich resource, the label is able to boast that most of its 200-plus recordings to date include world premières.
Nicolas Horvath is one of Philip Glass’ greatest champions who has performed cycles of the composer’s music in concert (including alongside Glass himself) as well as recording the complete works. The programme on the latest volume in his edition is certainly striking. It contains his single most demanding piano piece, the ferocious but lyrically meditative Concerto for Piano No. 2, ‘After Lewis and Clark’, as well as one of his most neglected—the mysterious A Secret Solo 2.Wichita Vortex Sutra, a joyful and transcendent study, is heard in both its original version and that for narrator, with words by the poet Allen Ginsberg; and from his experimental years comes Music in Contrary Motion with its mesmerising variety of pulse patterns. International Piano’s verdict on Vol. 4 (GP692) says it all: ‘Glass enthusiasts need not hesitate.’
Additional Exciting New Releases and Bestsellers from Grand Piano
On March 14, 1849, 24-year-old Anton Bruckner finished his first major vocal composition. The only requiem of the composer was written during his time in St. Florian. Those who listen closely will certainly discover the passages in which the mystical aura and sublimity of the large orchestral scores shine through already, be it in the gently glowing tone of the Benedictus, the intimate creed of the Agnus Dei or the powerful and masterfully conceived double fugue of Quam olim Abrahae. It is essentially ‘Bruckner on the way to Bruckner’. This recording marks the second step in the journey of discovery into the cosmos of Anton Bruckner’s seldom heard early works.
A beautifully universal album featuring music from Ethiopia to Russia, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam and further afield… Each musician shares their personal stories of love and inspiration that ‘echo’ around the world to be heard by anyone who chances upon it, ‘If music be the food of love, play on!’
In his Moravian Duets completed in 1876, Dvořák propelled the widespread interest in the genre of duets for two women’s voices with piano accompaniment. Among his contemporaries who developed the same style of music include Karel Bendl, who composed Dvanact dvojzpevu (Twelve Duets) in the second half of the 1870s, and Sylvie Bodorová, who wrote The Slovak Duets,the last cycle in this recording. This release presents the performance of Hana Dobešová (mezzo-soprano) and Michaela Rózsa Růžičková (soprano), accompanied by Ladislava Vondráčková (piano) and recorded live at the Martinů Hall, Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
A recording of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth is always a great event, especially because the symphony’s final chorus, Ode to Joy is understood around the world as a plea for peace and international understanding. This recording of Beethoven’s great choral symphony under the direction of Bernard Haitink and with excellent instrumental and vocal soloists is not only an outstanding interpretation of the work but also very much an event in itself because this recording documents Haitink’s last ever concerts with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Only a few months after his two Munich concerts on February 21 and 22, 2019, the great Dutch conductor—who celebrated his 90th birthday on March 4—announced his resignation.
Based on actual 18th-century texts, David Lang’s anatomy theatre follows the astonishing progression of an English murderess from confession to execution and, ultimately, public dissection before a paying audience of fascinated onlookers. Through the miracle of opera, she sings through it all. Composed by David Lang, with libretto co-written by Lang and scenic designer Mark Dion, anatomy theatre a tuneful and grisly theatrical event that conjures a time when ‘specialists’ travelled from town to town in pre-modern Europe, conducting public dissections of the corpses of executed criminals, seeking evidence of moral corruption in the interior of the human body. And as Lang himself warns in the liner notes, it’s not for the squeamish—and that includes the performers.
Stylistically, Karl Weigl adhered to late Romanticism, shunning the more progressive trends of his day. His Symphony No. 1, written in 1908, suggests a composer thinking of new territory and future directions; by contrast, Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 reveal the composer’s adjustment to historically distinctive periods and allow for speculation as to whether his early promise reached maturity, or developed in an entirely different manner. The background to Symphony No. 4 (1936) was the emergence of dictatorial Austro-Fascism; Symphony No. 6 (1947) might be seen as its continuation and conclusion, following the end of Nazi terror and a war that had profound global consequences.
Marin Marais studied viola da gamba with Sainte-Colombe and learned the secrets of composition under Lully. Marais’ works included in this recording are from the different volumes of Pieces de viole. The oldest work Suite in D Major is from the third volume, first published in 1711. Suite in A Minor from the fourth volume was first published five years after the third. Musicians present their unique interpretation and highlight every part with light and rustic character. Another Suite in A Minor is from the fifth volume of Pieces de viole, first published in 1725, it contains movements which are moving and melancholic at the same time.
This album of world-premiere recordings features solo and duo piano music spanning nearly the entire career of Prix de Rome and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Leo Sowerby (1895–1968). Recorded in 1997 in Chicago, where Sowerby spent the bulk of his student and professional life, the album is being released at mid-price with support from the Leo Sowerby Foundation. Pianists Gail Quillman and Julia Tsien share a direct musical lineage to Sowerby. Quillman, who established the Leo Sowerby Foundation, studied with Sowerby and has performed more of his solo piano and chamber music than anyone else. Tsien, an active performer and teacher, was a Quillman student.
The Nightingale String Quartet’s survey of the complete quartet works of Rued Langgaard (1893-1952) heralded the arrival of a major new ensemble and won the maverick Danish composer thousands of new fans. Poised and restrained one minute, wild and emotional the next, Langgaard’s string quartets reveal the composer’s breath-taking originality and individuality, oscillating between luscious Romanticism and outlandish experimentation. They are played with love and understanding on these multiple prize-winning recordings, here gathered together in a single release for the first time. ‘The Nightingale Quartet understand all these aspects: the provocative vitality, the fragile romantic sensitivity, and the striking intellectual independence behind it all.’ (BBC Music Magazine)
The contributions of female composers have long been neglected. Violinist Dawn Wohn and pianist Esther Park have begun to change that with Perspectives, a beautiful album featuring works from a vast variety of female composers including Nocturne by Lili Boulanger and Legenda by Vitezslava Kapralova. Commissioned especially for this album, Star-Crossed by Jung Sun Kang tells the story of two unlucky lovers. Deserted Garden and Elfentanz by Florence Price highlight the talents of this African American composer whose works are just beginning to receive the attention they deserve. This diverse release also includes works by Amy Beach, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Chihchun Chi-sun Lee, Reena Esmail, and Vivian Fine.
Beethoven’s monumental contribution to Western classical music is celebrated here in this definitive collection marking the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Surveying the totality of his career and achievement, the Complete Edition spans orchestral, concerto, keyboard, chamber, music for the stage, choral and vocal works, encompassing his most familiar and iconic masterpieces, alongside rarities and recently reconstructed fragments and sketches in world premiere recordings. The roster of artists and ensembles includes some of Beethoven’s greatest contemporary exponents, in performances that have won critical acclaim worldwide.
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Peter Eötvös (b. 1944) is one of the most renowned Hungarian composers and conductors of our times. The libretto for his Tri sestry (Three Sisters), co-written by Eötvös and Claus H. Henneberg is based on Chekhov’s 1901 play of the same title. Conductors Dennis Russell Davies and Nikolai Petersen directed the production. Oper Frankfurt followed the composer’s original intentions for the three sisters, casting internationally successful countertenors in the roles: American Ray Chenez as Irina, Canadian David D.Q. Lee as Mascha, and the Russian Dmitry Egorov as Olga. ‘All three countertenors worked conclusively and vocally differentiated the characteristic peculiarities of their character. And yet, as a trio, they were just as wonderful together.’ (Bachtrack.com)
Lars Vogt continues his excellent series of concerto recordings with the Royal Northern Sinfonia with this performance of Brahms’ First Piano Concerto, again conducting from the keyboard. Since being appointed the first Pianist in Residence by the Berlin Philharmonic for their 2003–04 season, Vogt has gone on to establish a reputation as one of the world’s leading soloists and chamber musicians. Tracks from his recording of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (ODE1273-2) have been streamed over 6 million times. A string of Gramophone Choice recommendations for his Ondine releases followed his nomination for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year award in 2017. Quality and success are assured here, both in the dramatic concerto and the profound Four Ballades Op. 10 for solo piano.
This latest release from cellist Daniel Müller-Schott is proof again that you just can’t get enough of a good thing. It’s his 17th album for ORFEO, this time with a recital programme that includes for the first time one of his compositions, Cadenza; previous albums have regularly evidenced his excellent skills as an arranger. Daniel is one of the most sought-after cellists in the world, who can be heard on all the great international concert stages. He has built a significant following over the past twenty years through his live and recorded performances. This programme of 20th-century works cannot fail to build on that and to enhance further the reputation of ‘a fearless player with technique to burn.’ (The New York Times)
Unlike the other landmark collections that came from Bach’s pen, the six flute sonatas all appear to have been ‘one-offs’ with no particular plan for publication as a set. Further, in contrast to the collections for solo strings, Bach’s chamber music for flute was written comparatively late in his career, the earliest, the Sonata in E Minor, BWV1034, probably a product of Bach’s early Leipzig years (mid-1720s) and the latest, the Sonata in E Major, BWV1035, is believed to have been written during the last decade of the composer’s life for Frederick the Great. Joining Michala on this journey is an early music dream team: Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) and Hille Perl (viola da gamba).
Mark Schultz • Anna Greta Sigurdardóttir
‘An album of moods, in which light, lilting, melodic passages are contrasted with dissonance, Max Schultz’s authoritative guitar generally lightens things up while Joakim Milder’s saxophone signals a plunge into neurotic introspection. For this album, they added Christian Spering on bass, Magnus Gran on drums, Milder on diverse reeds, and a string quartet featuring Samuel Runsteen and Annie Svedlund on violins, Marta Eriksson on viola, and Lisa Reuter on cello. AG a Schultz composition dedicated to Siguroardottir is pleasantly melodic, and she plays well on it, coping admirably with diverse changes in tempo.’ – All About Jazz
In her public presentations of The Étude Project, pianist Jenny Lin traces the concept back to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Clavier-Übung, four volumes of keyboard exercises published between 1726 and 1741—the final volume is known more widely as the Goldberg Variations. This album, the first documentation of a sweeping project conceived by Lin, includes some of the most famous études by Debussy, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Messiaen, Ligeti, and Glass alongside equally noteworthy contributions to the format by such mavericks as Ruth Crawford Seeger, Toshio Hosokawa, and Unsuk Chin. Lin further pairs each of her canonical selections with an entirely new work by a member of ICEBERG New Music who is united by their enduring faith in substance and craft.
Spider’s Egg is a sextet put together by Brazilian guitar player Pedro Martins specifically for the 50th edition of the SWR NewJazz Meeting. For five days, the six young internationally renowned musicians, who come from distinct geographical places and stylistic directions, exchanged ideas. They experimented in the SWR studios and developed a concert program that they then presented in three concerts in Germany and recorded for the present release. Pedro Martins, a Brazilian musical prodigy and winner of The 2015 Montreux Guitar Competition, is well known for his collaborations with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Yaron Herman, David Binney, Jacob Collier, and Genevieve Artadi (Knower), as well as Brazilian jazz greats Hamilton de Holanda, Gabriel Grossi, and Léo Gandelman.
The German patrician von Uffenbach, during a visit to Venice for the carnival of 1715, met with Vivaldi and ordered from him 10 Concerti grossi. Three days later, the composer presented all the requested music, assuring his patron that it had been expressly composed for him. Vivaldi was unquestionably a clever composer, the collection of 12 Concertos for Strings, now preserved in Paris, has also all the earmarks of cleverly assembled series of previously composed works, with hardly new music added. Federico Maria Sardelli conducts the famous baroque ensemble Modo Antiquo in this amazing historical recording.
Kurt Weill wrote Street Scene shortly after fleeing Nazi Germany to the United States. When he discovered the vitality of the American musical scene, his focus became to reconcile the Broadway ‘musical’ with European traditional opera, jazzy and North American tunes with an almost Puccinian-like lyricism. In his mind, opera had to embrace and reclaim its own theatricality: thus he wrote his Street Scene, meant to be a truly American opera. Under Tim Murray’s vivid and precise baton, this superb production by John Fulljames perfectly renders the vitality and energy released by the streets of New York, that proved to be a great inspiration to the theatrical mind of the composer.
The unforgettable ‘masterful use of light and silhouettes’ (Milano Post) with which Giorgio Strehler interpreted the charm of Mozart’s Singspiel was conceived for the Salzburg Festival, where it was staged in 1965 under the baton of then 29-year-old Zubin Mehta, and then regularly revived at La Scala from 1972 onwards. At twenty years since the death of the great director who from 1951 staged some by-now legendary operas at La Scala, Teatro alla Scala proposed anew this celebrated staging and called to the podium the man who conducted it the first time—Zubin Mehta. The current performance builds a bridge to Strehler’s Salzburg production and at the same time provides a touching detail of this timelessly monumental performance.
Un mari à la porte (A Husband at the Door) is a one-act operetta which was recorded at the Teatro del Maggio in the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Offenbach’s birth. Premiered in 1859, this rarely performed work is the most amusing comedy of errors, which is the typical frameset that the composer used to represent and mock the quirks and vices of the French society of his times. The strong points of this production are indeed the colourful, flamboyant setting and costumes and the amazing acting ability of all four singers, who have the audience laugh with sheer delight.
This production of Verdi’s La traviata boasts some big-ticket names. It was recorded earlier this year in a revival of Richard Eyre’s 1994 classic Royal Opera House production. Soprano Ermonela Jaho, one of today’s most impressive operatic singer/actors, stars as Violetta; tenor Charles Castronovo takes the role of Alfredo; and baritone Plácido Domingo plays Giorgio, his unyielding father. The stunning naturalistic set designs are by Bob Crowley. La traviata is one of the most popular of all operas; Verdi’s sublime score contains some of his most inspired arias and duets that here receive outstanding performances.
This special-edition, 3-disc sampler of the Grand Piano catalogue is a comprehensive map that will guide anyone curious for new keyboard experiences. Comprising single tracks from complete works, presented in the chronological order of their composition, it constructs a fascinating journey through the history of keyboard music, combining new names, unfamiliar sounds, and fresh perspectives.
From the full sampler, Grand Piano is pleased to present selected piano music from 1900 to the 1950s.
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