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Next month’s release highlights from the Naxos Music Group include a special performance of J.S. Bach’s very popular Preludes and Fugues, operas by Weber and Morlacchi, orchestral works by Skoryk, Dohnányi and Lutosławski, piano pieces by Godowsky, a documentary about dance superstar Natalia Osipova, and the first recording of Beethoven’s The Ruins of Athens with complete dialogue. Klaus Heymann, founding chairman of Naxos, puts the spotlight on his personal picks.
Coming hot on the heels of Book I (2.110653 / NBD0104V), we now have Sir Andras Schiff’s audiovisual recording of Book II of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, again recorded without a break at a BBC Proms concert in London’s Royal Albert Hall and to the broadcaster’s usual superlative standards. The Independent judged the performance ‘exhilarating, confronting and, ultimately, consoling – a musical meditation for our troubled times.’ Collectors who have reserved space on their shelves for this complementary volume certainly won’t be disappointed. The highly charged atmosphere of both occasions, with Schiff’s every nuance captured in high definition images and sound, truly makes this pair of audiovisual releases something to treasure.
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0105V) and as Visual Album on Apple Music
Although Weber’s Der Freischütz (2.110597 / NBD0092V) may have the edge in popularity among today’s opera lovers, it’s his grand heroic-romantic opera Euryanthe that contains some of his greatest music for the stage, with its highly attractive arias, ariosos, duets, cavatinas and choruses. Euryanthe was Weber’s most ambitious project, a groundbreaking work that truly deserves more attention, which I’m confident this release will achieve. It’s performed here in the composer’s original version under the musical direction of Constantin Trinks, and in a production from the Theater an der Wien that succeeds ‘in making this early German Romantic opera come alive for a contemporary audience.’ (bachtrack.com)
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0107V)
8.573852), which was well received by the critics: ‘The performance here by both chorus and orchestra is exemplary’ (MusicWeb International). Similar appreciation is anticipated for this unique recording.
Listen to an extract from Recitative: Mit reger Freude (‘With vibrant joy that never dims’) (Chief Priest)
Visit and bookmark our Beethoven 250th anniversary mini-site, which will be regularly updated with new content.
Francesco Morlacchi (1784–1841) is yet another composer who has become virtually forgotten today, but who thoroughly deserves to have his works restored to their due prominence. I’m certain that this release of his most successful opera, Tebaldo e Isolina, will help serve that purpose. Italian by birth, Morlacchi’s early success led him to become music director of the Dresden Opera, where he remained for the rest of his life despite having an opportunity to succeed Rossini in Naples in 1822. There are no alternative recordings of Tebaldo e Isolina, which was given this rare revival at the 2014 Rossini in Wildbad Festival. The outstanding cast of soloists shine in the work’s showpiece arias and duets under the highly experienced musical direction of Antonino Fogliani, who has many successful recordings to his credit in the Naxos catalogue.
Listen to an extract from Act II – Vittoria! Vittoria! (Chorus, Tebaldo, Ermanno, Boemondo, Isolina, Knights)
This release is an impressive, all-Ukrainian affair. At the centre is the composer Myroslav Skoryk, who turned 80 last year. As a former postgraduate student of Dmitry Kabalevsky, he’s one of the country’s leading composers and is distinguished by the title People’s Artist of Ukraine. His extensive and varied output includes nine violin concertos, written over a 45-year period. This recording is the first of a two-volume edition of those concertos, in which Storyk’s sensual writing often stands in contrast with syncopated motifs, cadenzas, fugal episodes and march rhythms. The outstanding soloist is the Ukrainian violinist Andrej Bielow, who clearly left his mark on the late, great conductor Kurt Masur, who was ‘impressed by his musicality, technique, and very convincing personality.’
Listen to an extract from Violin Concerto No. 4
This stunning programme represents the penultimate release in our 15-volume edition of Leopold Godowsky’s complete piano works. Godowsky wrote the first of his 53 Studies on Chopin’s Études when he was barely 23 years old, and the complete cycle took some 20 years to finish. It remains one of the most extraordinary and technically demanding of all such works. It offered Godowsky, who was one of the greatest virtuosi of his age, an opportunity to put into practice his innovative theories of keyboard technique. His exploration of developing the left hand in these studies remains revolutionary and Konstantin Scherbakov’s dazzling performance will leave everyone in no doubt that Godowsky’s ambition of ‘furthering the art of pianoforte playing’ has been completely and triumphantly realised.
Listen to an extract from 53 Studies on the Chopin Études: No. 43 in C sharp minor
The Veil of Pierrette premiered in 1910 as a ballet-pantomime based on a story by Arthur Schnitzler. Ernst von Dohnányi provided the accompanying score that proved an immediate international success; movements such as the Wedding Waltz, for example, were frequently heard on the radio at the time. The pantomime genre was entirely in keeping with the spirit of the age. Following the large-scale, plot-laden ballets of late Romanticism, pantomime explored a more intimate and naturalistic form of expression. We can all take a step back to that era now with this first complete recording of Dohnányi’s exquisite score, superbly performed by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony orchestra under conductor Ariane Matiakh.
Listen to an extract from Act I – Prelude and Scene 1: Moderato
This release concludes Ondine’s two-volume edition of Lutosławski’s four remarkable symphonies in what I have no doubt will come to be considered definitive interpretations. The Second Symphony (1967) is Lutosławski’s most radical, marked by its use of aleatoric writing and an innovative approach to symphonic form. Soon after its completion, the composer started work on the Third Symphony but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that he finally felt able to commit it to paper. It’s a dramatic 30-minute work, clearly influenced by the social unrest in Poland at the time. It represents both the pinnacle of the composer’s symphonic output and one of the greatest symphonic achievements of our time. Recordings by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu on Ondine have gathered numerous excellent reviews in the international press, not least for the first volume of this Lutosławski symphony cycle (ODE 1320-5), which is nominated in this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards: ‘Recorded in brilliant sound, this disc makes an unbeatable introduction to Lutosławski’s world.’
Listen to an extract from Symphony No. 2: I. Hésitant
This audiovisual production is certain to have an immediate appeal for all lovers of dance. Force of Nature Natalia, directed by BAFTA winning filmmaker Gerry Fox, follows a season in the life of dance superstar Natalia Osipova. With unique access to Natalia’s personal archive, the documentary follows her preparations for a fifth season as a principal of the Royal Ballet as she continues to champion contemporary dance with some of the world’s greatest choreographers. The dancer opens up about her life and history, her childhood in Russia, her time with American Ballet Theatre and her journey to the Opera House. It’s a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the leading ballerina of our generation and to understand why critics and audiences all over the world call her a force of nature of the dance world.
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7269D)
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