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Founder and Chairman Klaus Heymann shares his thoughts on select new releases
from the Naxos Music Group.

8.660428-31
Götterdämmerung brings to a conclusion our Wagner Ring Cycle conducted by Jaap van Zweden with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Like the first three releases in the cycle, it will appear in both CD and Blu-ray (NBD0075A) formats. Both versions of the previous instalments have been critically acclaimed. ClassicalCDReview.com remarked of Das Rheingold (8.660374-75) that “The quality of the orchestral playing is remarkable… The cast is uniformly strong, and the audio quality is superb.” Die Walküre (NBD0051) was described by The Guardian as "thrillingly vivid", while the American Record Guide enthusiastically received Siegfried (NBD0069A and 8.660413-16), citing conductor Jaap van Zweden as “a master of refinement and tonal balance. The Hong Kong Philharmonic plays with lush brilliance." Once again, we have the advantage of a star cast of international singers led by Gun-Brit Barkmin (Brünnhilde), Daniel Brenna (Siegfried), Shenyang (Gunther), Eric Halfvarson (Hagen) and Peter Kálmán (Alberich).

8.501403
Wagner’s music drama Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is one of the most remarkable achievements in all music. Our 14-CD boxed set of the complete cycle (released simultaneously with Götterdämmerung, the final part of the tetralogy) marks not only a significant milestone for Naxos, but also an exciting opportunity for collectors to add an outstanding edition to their library. The critical reception for the first three parts of the edition has been exceptional. Das Rheingold (8.660374-75) was named Album of the Week by The Sunday Times of London for its “thrilling sense of drama”; Die Walküre (8.660394-97) received the same award, the journal noting that “van Zweden works wonders in transforming the HK Phil into a world-class Wagner band.”; Siegfried (8.660413-16) received a BBC Music Magazine Opera Choice award. It’s impossible to give acknowledgment to all the singers involved, so I’ll let the spotlight fall on just three of the cast of leading international stars who have been central to this remarkable 4-year project: Stuart Skelton (Siegmund), named one of the 20 Greatest Wagner Singers of all Time by Australia’s Limelight Magazine; Matthias Goerne (Wotan/Wanderer), a supreme interpreter of song making his Ring debut here; and Michelle DeYoung (Fricka), a multi-GRAMMY® Award winner and regular performer at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

8.660444-46
There are very few recordings available of Maometto II, Rossini’s most radical and innovative opera, and one of them is already in the Naxos catalogue. So, why are we revisiting the work? The reason is that our 2004 release presented the 1822 Venice version, for which Rossini provided a happy ending, while this new production from the Rossini in Wildbad Bel Canto Festival is of the original Naples version, which preserves Rossini’s movingly tragic finale. The recording has the additional advantage of having used a recently restored edition of the score. The title role is performed here by bass Mirco Palazzi, already a seasoned international performer, while soprano Elisa Balbo (Anna) is regarded as one of the most promising young singers on the opera scene who is much in demand for Rossini productions: “great charisma and astounding coloratura.” (omm.de). The conductor is Antonino Fogliani who once again “brings this music vibrantly to life.” (stuttgarter-zeitung.de)

8.573964
This is the eleventh and final volume in our series representing the flip-side of Rossini the opera composer, namely the complete edition of his intimate Péchés de vieillesse that comprise Rossini’s complete piano works and other chamber music pieces. This release is the fourth in the sub-category of ‘Chamber Music and Rarities’ and includes contributions from seven leading vocal soloists. While there are other recordings of parts of the Péchés de Vieillesse, our comprehensive approach includes numerous premiere recordings and puts the Naxos edition way ahead of the field. I am certain it will be the ultimate reference for many years to come. Acclaim for Alessandro Marangoni’s playing has been universal. The Toronto Star wrote of Vol. 2 (8.570766): “This music, all surfaces reflecting gilded salons, requires a high level of artistry to pull off. Marangoni sparkles and seduces over and over again.”

8.573812
This is the first of two volumes featuring Wolfgang Rihm’s violin concertos, presented for the first time as a pair of releases devoted exclusively to his works in the genre. They encompass almost all of Rihm’s compositional career and reflect the variety of his stylistic thinking: Lichtzwang uses chorale-like sequences and piercing outbursts; Dritte Musik is informed by an atmospheric intensity and deft instrumental exchanges; whilst Gedicht des Malers sets transparent textures against romantic elements. The soloist is Naxos artist Tianwa Yang, who has made a real name for herself with us as “an artist of exceptional technique and musicianship.” (BBC Music Magazine) She has already recorded an album of Rihm’s works for violin and piano (8.572730), which was again praised by BBC Music Magazine: “You could scarcely do better than this CD… Tianwa Yang and Nicholas Rimmer sound quite at home, even in the most difficult passages, and imbue these works with emotion, as well as meeting their technical challenges with aplomb.”

8.573868
The Italian-born violinist and dancer Jean Baptiste Lully revolutionised music at the French court in the seventeenth-century (see September’s release The Lully Effect, 8.573867). Not only did he transform ballet entertainments into a spectacular new genre – the tragédie lyrique – he also set new standards in orchestral playing; with him the ‘modern’ orchestra was born. Works by Georg Muffat and Marin Marais complement Lully's music on this recording. They were profoundly influenced by him, as their inventive suites show. Conductor Barthold Kuijken is an internationally admired flautist, Baroque specialist and artistic director of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, who give scintillating performances on this recording. The ensemble was named one of the country’s top 25 ensembles in celebration of Early Music America’s 25th anniversary in 2011.

8.573796
Satie’s personal eccentricities have never masked the fact that his music was both revolutionary and anticipatory of later artistic movements, principally minimalism, surrealism and the Theatre of the Absurd. His piano music perfectly distills all of these elements. The Allegro is his earliest known work and the first to make use of quotations, one of Satie’s favoured devices. The extended pieces La belle excentrique and Uspud derive from incidental music featuring parodic and grotesque scenes, whilst his ‘humoristic’ phase of the 1910s is explored in Cinq grimaces. Only Satie could attempt to fuse a fugue with a waltz, as he does in the Fugue-Waltz ‘Danse de tendresse’. This is the final instalment in our survey of all Satie’s output for piano, yet another Naxos complete edition. Our fine soloist is Duanduan Hao, who won First Prize at the 2009 Shanghai International Piano Competition and who already has two well received Naxos recordings of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas to his credit (8.572586 and 8.573288).

C5348
Trained as a violinist and as a composer at the Vienna Conservatory, Franz Schreker belongs to that group of composers whose careers were eclipsed by the events of 1933 in Germany, but whose music is now enjoying a welcome revival. Schreker was a prominent figure in early 20th-century Austro-German music, his reputation as an opera composer rivaling that of Richard Strauss. He wrote a relatively small amount of purely orchestral music, which is well represented on this programme. The recording will serve as an excellent introduction to a composer whose idiom often comes as a pleasant surprise to those unfamiliar with his work.

DYN-37826
There are few opportunities to hear live performances of Verdi’s early work I Lombardi alla prima crociata, so opera fans really should not miss the chance to enjoy the recording of this year’s scintillating production by Turin’s Teatro Regio, the first staging of the work by the company in almost a century. The “first-class musical performance, full of color and vitality” (operawire.com) is available in DVD, Blu-ray (DYN-57826) and CD (CDS7826) formats and was recorded in full HD. It boasts outstanding lead performances by Angela Meade as Giselda and Francesco Meli as Oronte: “Their duet Oh belle, a questa misera was a delight to experience.” (operawire.com)

ODE1321-2
Although Heino Eller’s (1887–1970) international reputation may rest principally on his role as the teacher of Arvo Pärt, he was much more than just a pedagogue: he was a great symphonic composer who laid the foundations of Estonian classical music. This exciting new recording brings to life some of his finest orchestral works, most of which survived only as manuscripts, lost in the archives for decades. Symphonic Legend receives its first recording here. Baiba Skride, soloist in the Violin Concerto, is a first prize winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition and performs on the Yfrah Neaman Stradivarius. Conductor Olari Elts was the winner of the 2000 International Sibelius Conductors’ Competition. Skride can also be heard on her Orfeo recording of concertos by Bernstein, Korngold and Rósza (C932182A) released in September.

C957188L
Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923–2013) was universally acknowledged as a fine interpreter of opera, witness the fact that he was invited to conduct at Bayreuth while still in his early 30s and went on to enjoy a 20-year association with the Bavarian State Opera. This compilation release presents works for both stage and concert hall as a tribute to mark what would have been Sawallisch’s 95th birthday this year. Recently released excerpts from Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte exemplify his legacy of fiery Mozart performances, while the Puccini and Rossini recordings are testimony to his mastery of the Italian repertoire. Digital studio recordings of symphonic repertoire by Bruckner, Pfitzner and Weber, together with the Brahms Requiem, complete the line-up for this tremendous 8-CD boxed set.


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