The February 2015 issue of NEW ON NAXOS presents two of our key releases in this month’s spotlight: the Two violin concertos from Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, performed by ECHO Klassik 2014 winner Tianwa Yang, with the SWR Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg, directed by Pieter-Jelle de Boer and the Naxos debut of Russian-born Israeli-based pianist Boris Giltburg, performing selected piano works from Robert Schumann – Carnaval, Papillons and Davidsbündlertänze.
Other highlights include: the first album in the Malmö Symphony Orchestra’s Camille Saint-Saëns symphony cycle, presenting Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, under the direction of Marc Soustrot; Gerard Schwarz and the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra performing Alan Hovhaness’ orchestral works, including his Symphony No. 48and the Soprano Saxophone Concerto, with Greg Banaszak on the soprano saxophone; the seventh album in Isaac Albéniz’s cycle of complete piano music; the second and final release of Frederic Mompou’s complete song cycle; and a new Naxos compilation, Battles in Music, presenting works that stir the blood and evoke the tumult of battle, such as Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, Janáček’s Taras Bulba, and Balada’s Guernica.
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco considered the 1924 Concerto Italiano to be his first truly symphonic venture. This tuneful, fresh and transparently scored concerto here receives its world premièrerecording. It was admired by the great violinist Jascha Heifetz,for whom the composer wrote his Concerto No. 2 ‘I Profeti’ (The Prophets), an impassioned work ‘of biblical character and inspiration’ with an almost cinematic sweep. The recipient of the coveted Echo Klassik award for her album of Mendelssohn’s two Violin Concertos [8.572662], Tianwa Yang is widely recognised as one of the outstanding rising stars on the world classical music scene.
Davidsbündlertänze (Dances of the League of David) was written after Schumann’s engagement to Clara Wieck, to whom he wrote, ‘If I have ever been happy at the piano, it was when I was composing these.’ Papillons (Butterflies) is the work of a youthful, unfettered imagination, and Carnaval is one of his most popular pieces, a display of both technique and emotion. Boris Giltburg, who took first prize at the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition, is one of today’s most exciting young pianists, lauded for his ‘massive and engulfing technique, supporting interpretations poetic commitment’ (Gramophone).
Precocious as a child, Camille Saint-Saëns was once known as the French Mendelssohn. The remarkably assured First Symphony, completed at the age of 17, was praised by Berlioz and Gounod at its first performance. The elegantly crafted Second Symphony defies convention not least by basing the first movement on a fugue, while the symphonic poem Phaéton skilfully brings this Greek mythological drama to life with stampeding horses, thunderbolts and a moving apotheosis. This is Volume 1 of 3 devoted to the five Saint-Saëns Symphonies.
Alan Hovhaness’s remarkable legacy of 67 symphonies and hundreds of other works stands as a testimony to one of the most individual musical voices of the 20th century. Written when Hovhaness was 25, the Prelude and Quadruple Fugue represents not only his mastery of counterpoint but in its sweeping climactic form is also one of his most exciting works. The Soprano Saxophone Concerto is like a melodic tone poem or aria, and considered the most Romantic concerto Hovhaness ever wrote. “Inspired by the wonders and mysteries of astronomy” and appearing here in its première recording, the Symphony No. 48 ‘Vision of Andromeda’ expresses the vastness of this galaxy through giant melodies, shimmering orchestral colors and a transcendent apotheosis.
The seventh volume in this acclaimed series is devoted to two works of Albéniz’s early maturity. The 12 Piezas características is a cycle of exquisite miniatures encompassing a wide variety of styles, including the assimilation of Andalusian folk music into his own personal idiom, reminiscences of earlier greats such as Scarlatti and Chopin, and elements of nineteenth-century salon music. The work led Felipe Pedrell, the father of Spanish musical nationalism, to call Albéniz not only a superbly equipped pianist but a great composer as well. The romantic and virtuosic Piano Sonata No. 3 opens with a richly contrapuntal Allegretto, followed by a slow movement of the utmost delicacy in the manner of a romanza and concludes with a technically complex Allegro assai.
This second and final volume of Frederic Mompou’s complete songs features the cycle Becquerianas, one of his most ambitious and also one of his most diverse, with its unprecedented fusion of Andalusian folk-music, virtuosic piano writing and vocal opulence. Comptines, by comparison, are joyful and simple traditional children’s counting rhymes. Also included are five recently discovered songs: Et sentoque véns, Ets l’infinit, El testament d’Amèlia, Ave María and El viajedefinitivo. ‘… an enticing first offering in a welcome series, and the performers are warmly to be applauded’ (Fanfare on Volume 1 / 8.573099).
How to depict scenes of battle in music is a task that has long fascinated composers. From the dawning of the Renaissance the first successful programmatic works appeared from Susato, Dowland and Biber. But it was the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that witnessed a true flourishing, when composers utilised the full resources of contemporary symphonism to evoke the tumult of battle. Later the medium of film, notably those produced in Hollywood, brought with it colourful and gripping scores.
Additional Exciting New Releases
NA0155 • 16-CD set
NA0197 • 20-CD set
NAPP0706B (iPad) *Available February 15, 2015
LoveChoir - The Choral Singer’s App
Welcome to the first extensive iPad app for choral singers!
Singing in choirs has never been more popular. From all-inclusive non-audition groups to top-notch ensembles, the world of choral singing is thriving. Naxos, with its wealth of acclaimed classical recordings and its proven expertise in creating first-class music apps, has produced ‘LoveChoir’. With a wide range of contents from a team of contributors, it is an engaging, lively and comprehensive app to support all choral singers outside rehearsals.