This month’s NEW ON NAXOS spotlight recording is the world première recording of Simon Mayr’s Requiem, performed by the Simon Mayr Chorus and Ensemble, under the direction of Franz Hauk. More lavishly scored than the printed version, the autograph manuscript edition also includes small sections that were composed by Donizetti and then edited by his teacher, Mayr.
Other highlights include Septura’s third volume of arrangements for brass septet, which will likely garner similar praise as the first two critically acclaimed albums, featuring works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Scriabin and Rachmaninov; the fourth volume of Cimarosa’s overtures,performed by the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, under the direction of Michael Halász; the Carpe Diem String Quartet’s next volume in their celebrated series of complete string quartets by Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev; Leo Brouwer’s music for bandurria and guitar, with award-winning artists Pedro Chamorro and Pedro Mateo González; the second and final volume of the complete symphonies of Joachim Nikolas Eggert, performed by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gérard Korsten; and a special anniversary release of the Orchestre National de Lille and Jean-Claude Casadesus featuring Richard Strauss’ tone poem Ein Heldenleben, paired with Albéric Magnard’s moving tribute to his father, Chant funèbre.
Simon MAYR (1763–1845)
Requiem in G minor
Siri Karoline Thornhill • Katharina Ruckgaber, Sopranos
Theresa Holzhauser • Brigitte Thoma, Altos • Markus Schäfer
Robert Sellier, Tenors • Martin Berner • Ludwig Mittelhammer
Virgil Mischok, Basses • Simon Mayr Chorus and Ensemble
Theona Gubba-Chkheidze, Concertmaster • Franz Hauk
Admired for his fusion of German and Italianate musical elements, Johann Simon Mayr is increasingly recognised as one of the most intriguing and influential composers of his time. His Requiem in G minor is shrouded in compositional obscurity but it is clear that the published version is surpassed both in scale and instrumentation by the elaborate edition performed here, which has been assembled from the autograph manuscripts. Small sections were composed by Donizetti and then corrected by his teacher, Mayr. Church style and more Romanticised elements are finely balanced in this important example of Mayr’s compositional language.
Stretching back from the stark Soviet soundscape of Shostakovich, through the early modernism of Prokofiev to the pre-revolutionary opulence of Scriabin and Rachmaninov, Septura redresses a lack of original music for brass by these great composers by charting a turbulent seventy years of Russian history. Brass instruments feature prominently in these composers’ symphonic output, and Septura is a natural fit for their chamber music. The focus is piano music with one prominent exception: perhaps Septura’s most ambitious transcription to date, Shostakovich’s profound and deeply personal Eighth String Quartet. Volumes 1 and 2 are available on Naxos 8.573314 and 8.573386.
The most famous Italian opera composer of his day, Domenico Cimarosa saw his fame spread all over Europe. Written towards the end of the ‘Neapolitan School’ era, his operas endured in popularity long after his death thanks to their melodic invention, colourful orchestration and sheer vitality. The overtures in this programme include I tre amanti (The Three Lovers), the hit opera that made Cimarosa’s name outside Naples, Il pittor parigino (The Parisian Painter), and the tragedy Giunio Bruto that were admired by Haydn and conducted by him at the Esterházy court. The first three volumes are available on Naxos 8.570508, 8.570279 and 8.572734.
A pupil of Tchaikovsky, who called him the ‘Russian Bach’, Sergey Taneyev is best known today for his four symphonies, although he also composed a sizeable body of chamber music, including nine complete String Quartets. Quartet No. 9 is a memorably melodic work, while the beautifully crafted Quartet No. 6, his last completed quartet, is rather more austere, though marked by a playful Jig, and even more masterful in construction.
A native of Cuba, Leo Brouwer is universally acknowledged as one of the most challenging and innovative of contemporary composers. This programme brings the guitar into consort with the bandurria, a small lute dating from the 16th century and perennially popular in South America, the combination perfect for expressing the rustic rhythms of Cuban folk style in Música Incidental Campesina. This recording covers a kaleidoscopic range of techniques and emotions, from political martyrdom in Chile to the immense vistas of Brazil. The Sonata para Bandurria was composed for one of the virtuoso performers on this recording, Pedro Chamorro.
One of the more forward-looking Swedish composers and conductors of his age, Eggert died before achieving wider European recognition and has remained neglected ever since. The Second Symphony evokes moods both stormy and lyrical, revealing a technical brilliance that foreshadows Schubert. The Fourth Symphony reflects the military backdrop to the political unrest of the times, its alternative slow movement being one of Eggert’s most powerful and progressive works. Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 can be heard on Naxos 8.572457.
The tone poems of Richard Strauss’ early career represent a remarkable extension of the ideas of Liszt and Wagner, and the autobiographical Ein Heldenleben exceeds its predecessors in terms of its demands on the orchestra. Its intricately interwoven sections create a single symphonic movement depicting heroism, love, and ultimately peace. Albéric Magnard became a French national hero when he died defending his home at the outbreak of World War I. The Chant funèbre was written in memory of his father. This recording celebrates both the 40th anniversary of the Orchestre National de Lille and the 50th year of its founder Jean-Claude Casadesus’ career.