The August edition of NEW ON NAXOS sees the release of Gioachino Rossini’s opera Moïse recorded live from the 2018 Rossini in Wildbad Festival, conducted by Italian bel canto expert Fabrizio Maria Carminati. The superb group of soloists is led by bass Alexey Birkus in the title role, joined by sopranos Elisa Balbo and Silvia Dalla Benetta, and tenors Randall Bills and Patrick Kabongo, among others, accompanied by the Górecki Chamber Choir, Kraków and Virtuosi Brunensis.
Other highlights include: the DVD release of Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale featuring the 1977 touring production of Wiener Staatsoper, starring the ‘queen of bel canto’ soprano Edita Gruberova; a collection of Choros for solo instruments and orchestra by Camargo Guernieri, recorded by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and conductor Isaac Karabtchevsky; Valentin Silvestrov’s orchestral works presented by the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and Christopher Lyndon-Gee; the world premiere recording of Alexander Kastalsky’s Requiemfor Fallen Brothers, performed by a quartet of first-rate choirs with the Orchestra of St Luke’s conducted by Leonard Slatkin; best-selling vocal ensemble Kantorei performing choral works by Jake Runestad; Fazıl Say’s complete violin works recorded by virtuoso Friedemann Eichhorn; and many more.
Following the French theatre tradition for spectacular biblical dramas during Lent, Rossini’s Moïse was an incredible success at its Parisian premiere in 1827, and the opera is presented here in its complete form. Alongside power struggles and miracles, there develops a love story between Pharaoh’s son Aménophis and the Israelite Anaï, though the main narrative is that of the Exodus from Egypt: Rossini’s riveting score with its spellbinding finales culminates in the parting of the waves of the Red Sea. In this single work, Rossini laid the foundations of grand opera, and it is widely considered to be among his greatest achievements.
Donizetti’s Don Pasquale represents the high point of the Italian buffa tradition, a sparkling comedy using characters from commedia dell’arte in ways that are entertaining, witty and playful. It was the work selected by the Vienna State Opera for its 1977 tour through Austria. Starring famous singers like the bass Oskar Czerwenka, the great lyric tenor Luigi Alva and, on the cusp of international fame, Edita Gruberova (soon to become the ‘queen of bel canto’)—this filmed performance, in colour and sung in German, showcases an outstanding ensemble at the height of its powers.
Camargo Guarnieri’s catalogue of works represents a legacy of incalculable worth for Brazilian culture, as has his influence as a teacher on several generations of younger composers. His association with the poet and musicologist Mário de Andrade led to the birth of the Brazilian Nationalist School and the ideals of using traditional Brazilian music in classical forms. The series of seven Choros and the Seresta for Piano and Orchestra represent Guarnieri’s personal approach to the concerto form, with striking contrasts between potent rhythm and dense, emotionally charged soundscapes and melodies full of Brazilian inspiration. This volume forms part of the first complete recording of the Choros.
† WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING OF THE ORCHESTRAL VERSION
Valentin Silvestrov’s elusive post-modern style is rich in nostalgia for the lost music of a barely remembered past filled with beauty and spiritual aspiration. Ode to a Nightingale is a masterly response to Keats’ unsentimental reflection on human mortality, contrasting with the beauty and affecting intimacy of the Cantata No. 4 and the resonant emotional world of its companion piece, the Concertino. Starkness set against elegiac melancholy are the shared features of Moments of Poetry and Music and the Seventh Symphony—an embodiment of Silvestrov’s dual musical nature of anguish and tenderness.
Alexander Kastalsky was a student of Tchaikovsky and a mentor to Rachmaninov, becoming director of the Moscow Synodal School until the Bolshevik regime banned all sacred music, including the extraordinary Requiem for Fallen Brothers which consequently lay forgotten for over a century. The Requiem is a rich and varied mosaic that honours those who perished in the First World War, poignantly combining Orthodox and Gregorian chant with hymns from the allied nations, even including Rock of Ages. This unprecedented and peerless monument to those who made the ultimate sacrifice was acclaimed on its 1917 premiere as a ‘uniquely Russian requiem that… gave musical voice to the tears of many nations’.
The prolific young composer Jake Runestad has won numerous awards for his music, which ranges from opera to works for chamber ensemble. He is particularly valued for his choral compositions which exemplify a desire to write expertly crafted, socially conscious and emotionally potent music. On this album, Runestad explores a profound sea/life journey in TheSecret of the Sea, and projects a powerful expression of grief in LetMy Love Be Heard. Nature is a recurring theme for the composer and he employs texts that exalt the natural world, as well as finding seldom heard sound combinations in the exhilarating Ner Ner.
Tobias Picker, hailed as “a genuine creator” by The New Yorker, has written extensively for the stage and for symphonic forces, and these two approaches are represented in this album. The Encantadas (an older name for the Galápagos Islands) derives from a novella by Herman Melville. Picker has set it as a melodrama, exploring the enchanted isles in all their quietly menacing and spectacular beauty. In a radical new form, Picker’s Opera WithoutWords is set to a libretto by Irene Dische that has now been removed, allowing the music alone to bear the expressive richness and intensity of this “secret opera.”
The fifth Naxos recording of works by Kenneth Fuchs with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta (8.559824), won the GRAMMY Award in 2018 for Best Classical Compendium. This new album reveals his mastery of the band medium and features the exceptional United States Coast Guard Band, in definitive performances of seven works for symphonic winds by one of America’s leading composers.
Kenneth Fuchs’ wind band showcase
Point of Tranquility – An idyll for band after the painting of Morris Louis
Fazıl Say is one of the world’s most prominent pianists but he is also a much-admired composer with a substantial catalogue of works. He combines both these accomplishments in his two Violin Sonatas, the first of which is suffused with Turkish motifs and dances, such as the horon. The second sonata takes as its theme the abuse of nature and the need to resist despoliation. His Violin Concerto is subtitled ‘1001 Nights in the Harem’ and is full of rich melodies and atmosphere, and features an array of Turkish percussion instruments.
Greek by parentage, Vasily Kalafati settled permanently in St Petersburg where he counted Rimsky-Korsakov among his teachers, and later included Igor Stravinsky among a distinguished roll-call of his own students. Kalafati’s style incorporated elements of the Russian National School into traditional forms, as can be heard in the wide-ranging contrasts and Romantic lyricism of his only Symphony. The Polonaise has a celebratory character with exceptionally bright orchestration, while the ingenious Légende commemorates Schubert by transforming his themes into a colourful late-Romantic symphonic poem that earned Kalafati some well-deserved distinction at its premiere.
A genius taste? These words were coined by the musicologist Alfred Einstein about Mozart’s style. The expression sounds a bit strange. You can’t have a genius taste. You are either a genius or have good taste. Nevertheless “a genius taste” seems an appropriate term for both Mozart and the music by composer Niklas Sivelöv. The listener might think: what a lovely effect. Where does it come from? But the effect comes from no other place than the composer himself. He has hit a spot in the pantheon of music that is new, yet redolent of the familiar.
This album of piano trios by four Turkish composers, the first in a series, covers three generations of composers whose music combines traditional rhythms and modalities with established Western classical sonorities. Hasan Ferid Alnar represents the ‘Turkish Five’ collective, his style drawing on the monophonic textures and rhythmic cycles of traditional makam music, while Ferit Tüzün’s lyrical and fervent piano trio hints at folk melodies rather than using them as concrete material. İlhan Baran described his spellbinding Transformations as ‘a kind of atmospheric state of mind’, and from the younger generation, Oğuzhan Balcı’s Piano Trio No. 1 expresses a tranquillity reminiscent of the Anatolian soul.
Michel Pignolet de Montéclair, a noted basse violon player in Paris, composed a small but exquisite body of innovative works in a variety of forms, including an opera-ballet. He was also an important figure in the composition of music for flute at a time when innovations in design brought it to prominence as a solo instrument. This album traces his earliest published pieces through to his mature works of the 1730s. They show how Montéclair’s use of vocalised writing, and his ornate and complex obbligati in the cantatas proved to be pivotal in the development of the transverse flute.
Silvius Leopold Weiss was acknowledged as the greatest lutenist of his age, composing over 600 pieces for the instrument organised into suites or sonatas. In these arrangements for guitar, Danijel Cerović has selected the only two of Weiss’s sonatas to have been given poetic titles, Sonata No. 29 ‘L’Infidèle’ (‘The Infidel’), with its bell-like sonorities and triumphant conclusion, and Sonata No. 28 ‘Le Fameux Corsaire’ (‘The Famous Pirate’), thought to refer to the buccaneering pirate Blackbeard. Cerović also includes two of the great Tombeaux, elegies of profound and poignant depth.
Antonio Ruiz-Pipó became an essentially Parisian artist, but his music always retained the historical roots and warmth of expression of his Spanish origins. Volume 1 of this edition (8.573971) focused on chamber music with guitar, and this programme presents four solo cycles. As with many of Ruiz-Pipó’s works, the Otoñales are dedicated to and inspired by figures amongst his own circle of friends and colleagues. The deeply expressive and vibrant Canciónes y danzas are a homage to Mompou, and representative of a composer steeped in the music of Albéniz and Falla but with a rigorous individuality that makes his voice unique, evocative and varied.
Ferruccio Busoni composed a significant number of works for two pianos throughout his life. While Bach’s pervasive influence is already evident in some of his early compositions including the Preludio e Fuga and Capriccio, it reaches its most complex and glorious expression in the definitive 1921 version of his Fantasia contrappuntistica. In the case of Schumann’s Op. 134 for piano and orchestra, Busoni simply reduced the orchestral part for a second piano. However, his skill as a master transcriber and composer is revealed in his brilliant arrangements of Mozart’s works, which also highlight the subtlety and originality of his style.
Murray McLachlan says of Edward Gregson’s piano music that ‘he knows the importance of restraint and control; nothing is overly stated, repeated or extended. Concentration and craftsmanship permeate every bar that the composer has penned.’ Renowned for his orchestral oeuvre, Gregson shows us a more intimate but no less impressive side in his piano music. From the Lullaby composed while a student, to the Tippett-inspired Piano Sonata, we are charmed, moved and thrilled in equal measure by this programme of his complete music for solo piano.
This collection of Beethoven’s choral music features some of the composer’s greatest moments alongside lesser-known works that deserve a wider currency. Drawing on several recordings made by the critically admired Leif Segerstam and his Turku Philharmonic forces—all facets of Beethoven’s masterful choral writing can be experienced and heard. There are examples from his incidental music, a chorus from his only oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, his greatest choral-symphonic work the Missa solemnis, and the epochal ‘Ode to Joy’ finale to the Ninth Symphony.
Boris Giltburg has set out to study and film all 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven by the end of 2020. The project started as a personal exploration, driven by curiosity and his strong love of the Beethoven sonatas. These performances display Giltburg’s customary spirit and technical finesse, and also convey the electric atmosphere of the live recording. Volume 1 can be found on Naxos 9.70307.
The award-winning Naxos Audiobooks label offers a wide range of abridged and unabridged digital recordings of the world’s greatest literature. There are Junior Classics, and numerous non-fiction titles with focus to history, religion and philosophy. The label also offers a plethora of classic and contemporary plays on record—from Shakespeare to Beckett.
The New & Now playlist features all that is new and exciting in the world of classical music, whether it’s new music, new presentations or new performers. With more than 200 new releases each year, and artists from around the world, there is always something new to discover with Naxos.
This month, there are some fantastic new additions to the playlist!
Beethoven 32, Vol. 2: Piano Sonata No. 6 in F Major, Op. 10 No. 2: III. Presto (Boris Giltburg)
Celebrate Beethoven – Choral Music: Fantasia in C Minor, Op. 80, ‘Choral Fantasy’ (Various)
Fuchs: Point of Tranquility: From the Field to the Sky, Celebration Fanfare for Brass and Percussion (Case, United States Coast Guard Band, A. Williamson )
Rossini: Moïse:Moïse et Pharaon (1827 Paris version): Act III: Finale: Grand roi, délivre-nous (Birkus, Balbo, Bills, Dalla Benetta, Dall’Amico, Anderzhanov, Kabongo, Xiang Xu, Carrère, Gorécki Chamber Choir, Kraków, Virtuosi Brunensis, Carminati)
Runestad: Sing, Wearing the Sky: Sing, Wearing the Sky (Kantorei, Joel Rinsema)
Turkish Piano Trios (Bosphorus Trio)
Silvestrov: Symphony No. 7; Ode to a Nightingale; Piano Concertino: Moments of Poetry and Music: II (Galatenko, Bezborodko, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Lyndon-Gee)
Say: Complete Violin Works; Violin Sonata No. 2, ‘Kaz Dağları’ (Eichhorn, Say, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Eschenbach)
Weiss: Works for Lute Arranged for Guitar: Lute Sonata No. 28 in F Major, ‘Le fameux Corsaire’ (Danijel Cerović)
Picker: Opera without Words; TOpera Without Words: Scene 5: The Farewell (Picker, Nashville Symphony, Guerrero)
Kastalsky: Requiem; Requiem for Fallen Brothers: I. Requiem Aeternum (A. Dennis, Beutel, Cathedral Choral Society, The Clarion Choir, The Saint Tikhon Choir, Kansas City Chorale, Orchestra of St Luke’s, Slatkin)
Gregson: Complete Music for Solo Piano: An Album for my Friends: Clare’s Courante (Murray McLachlanEdward GregsonRose McLachlan)
Guarnieri: Choros, Vol. 1 – Seresta: Seresta: I. Decidido (Nascimento, Silvério, Graton, Kopylova, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Karabtchevsky)
Ruiz-Pipó: Works with Guitar, Vol. 2: Canción y Danza No. 2: Canción (Wolfgang Weigel)
Kalafati: Symphony in A Minor; Légende; Polonaise in F major: Symphony in A Minor, Op. 12: II. Scherzo: Allegro (Choir of the Music Department of the University of Athens, Athens Philharmonia Orchestra, Fidetzis)
Busoni: Works for 2 Pianos: Preludio e Fuga in C Minor, Op. 32: Fuga (Aldo Orvieto, Aldo Ciccolini, Marco Rapetti)
Montéclair: Beloved & Betrayed – Miniature Dramas for Flute & Voice: Recueil d’Airs sérieux et à boire: Déserts, où des humains j’évite la presence (Henneman Shaw, Breithaupt, Les Ordinaires)
We are celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a dynamic CELEBRATE BEETHOVEN playlist with various themes based on his life, compositional periods, types of works, and more. This month, we focus on Beethoven’s his epic choral works and other pieces for vocal ensemble:
Fantasia in C Minor, Op. 80 ‘Choral Fantasy’ (excerpt) (Leon McCawley, City of London Choir, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hilary Davan Wetton)
Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 ‘Choral’: IV. Finale: Presto – Allegro assai (excerpt) (Hasmik Papian, Ruxandra Donose, Manfred Fink, Claudio Otelli, Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia and Chorus, Béla Drahos)
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