The spotlight release for the February 2019 issue of NEW ON NAXOS is JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s newest recording of Ottorino Respighi’s popular Roman Trilogy – Roman Festivals, Fountains of Romeand Pines of Rome. This new album follows their 2007 release of Respighi’s Church Windows, Brazilian Impressions and Rossiniana, which was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice and nominated for a GRAMMY® Award.
Other highlights include: the first release in our new ‘Music of Brazil’ series, featuring the works of Alberto Nepomuceno, performed by the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra under Fabio Mechetti; the world premiere recording of Simon Mayr’s I Cherusci, recorded by the Simon Mayr Chorus and Concerto de Bassus conducted by Franz Hauk; audiovisual release of Adolphe Adam’s ballet Le Corsaire, choreographed and directed by Manuel Legris; Albert Lortzing’s opera overtures, presented by the Malmö Opera Orchestra conducted by Jun Märkl; the latest instalment in the Robert Schumann Lied Edition, featuring a quartet of incredible vocal soloists, and many more.
Respighi is renowned as the composer of the lavishly orchestrated Roman Trilogy, sumptuous tone-poems full of provocative harmonies and suggestive rhythms, which celebrate the city’s architectural marvels, its festivals, pines and fountains. The composer’s kaleidoscopic writing encapsulates romantic serenade and rustic dance, solemn melody and pastoral landscape, children at play and visions of past martial glories. JoAnn Falletta’s previous Respighi recording of Church Windows, Brazilian Impressions and Rossiniana (8.557711) was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice.
Alberto Nepomuceno was a herald of Brazilian musical nationalism. He was one of the first composers in his country to employ elements of folklore in his compositions, he encouraged younger composers such as Villa-Lobos, and his music was conducted by Richard Strauss. The Prelude to O Garatuja, an incomplete opera, is one of his best-known works and an example of a truly Brazilian lyric comedy. Série Brasileira is a vivacious suite that employs maxixe rhythms and ends with the feverish batuque dance, while the Symphony in G Minor is one of the earliest such examples by a Brazilian, a heroic and lyric structure revealing the influence of Brahms.
Composed when Napoleon’s armies were striding across Europe, Simon Mayr’s highly charged opera I Cherusci is set in ancient Germania in the time of Christ’s birth, its narrative focusing on the perils of the captured slave girl Tusnelda who has been chosen for a sacrificial ritual. The universal themes of freedom and patriotism in this pioneering tale of familial bonds, romance, jealousy and desperate misadventure would later attract the likes of Beethoven and Verdi. This world premiere recording of I Cherusci uses period instruments, presenting it as it would have been heard in 1808.
With its narrative of buccaneering bravado, exotic opulence, romance and traitorous intrigue, Le Corsaire is one of the most impressive narrative ballets of the 19th century, and it remains one of Adolphe Adam’s best-known works. Director of the Wiener Staatsballett, Manuel Legris, has choreographed a new version that draws on the rich performance traditions of Russia and France, and carefully combines spirited action, Adam’s delightful music, choreography, scenery and costumes into an elegant and impressive production which brings to life the colourful events that surround the leading couple of Conrad and Médora.
For 150 years Albert Lortzing was, after Mozart and Verdi, the most performed composer on German stages. He was a multifaceted man of the theatre who wrote his own libretti, and his works follow in the tradition of Mozart and Weber but explore a variety of subjects, from romantic fairy tales to heroic calls for political freedom, which inevitably led to bans on performance. His opera overtures reflect the liveliness of his imagination and orchestration, and the exceptionally tuneful nature of his writing, as the music traverses imposing grandeur and lighter motifs alike.
In 1849, a year during which political upheavals still resonated across Europe, Schumann wrote three song cycles which combined solo songs, duets and quartets. He turned again to the works of a favourite poet, Friedrich Rückert, for Minnespiel, with its underlying religious theme, of which three of the eight settings are heard on this recording—a charming Spring setting, a duet, and the final quartet. Both Spanish cycles imply dramatic narratives between a girl and boy. In SpanischesLiederspiel the music in places evokes Spanish rhythms such as the bolero, while its sequel, Spanische Liebeslieder, advances the cycle concept by employing piano duet accompaniment.
Joseph Marx was described by Wilhelm Furtwängler as one of the leading figures in Austria’s music scene, and while his music disappeared completely from concert programmes after his death he ‘shaped an era’ and left a profound impression on several generations of composers. Marx made no secret of his admiration for the Classical giants of music, and the late-period works in this programme pay homage to Haydn and others while retaining Romantic sensibilities: a blend of old and new that creates something remarkably timeless.
Alexander Moyzes is considered one of the leading composers of his generation, his style skilfully fusing inspiration from both his Slovakian heritage and contemporary European trends. The premiere of his Ninth Symphony took place in 1971, only three years after the Soviet-led invasion of his homeland, and the work’s dark and dramatic atmosphere depicts the tragedy and hopelessness of this period. By contrast, the serene colours of the Tenth Symphony avoid political connotations, and the piece is stylistically typical of the composer’s last decade in its technical virtuosity, formal elegance and brilliant artistic design.
Seen as the successor to Beethoven by many of his contemporaries, Johannes Brahms combined traditional form with an originality of musical language that has inspired generations of composers. His two string quintets are, like Mozart’s, scored with two violas for richness of texture and harmonic depth. The positive mood of the First String Quintet reflects the sunny resort of Bad Ischl where Brahms composed during the spring of 1882, while his Second StringQuintet combines symphonic breadth with nostalgic melancholy in what was originally intended to be his final chamber work.
Benet Casablancas’ distinguished career spans over four decades, his music prized for its intensely individual harmonic palette, highly developed sense of dramatic and narrative form and, as with the chamber works on this recording, his tightly woven and intimately evocative statements both miniature and monumental. The playful, virtuosic energy of the Siete Haikus complements the shimmering Seis Glosas which are part meditation and part evocation, while the improvisatory Aria contrasts with the chamber concerto interactions of Pastoral, all performed by musicians from the versatile and sophisticated Ensemble New Babylon.
German violinist/composer Friedrich Seitz performed widely as a soloist and chamber musician, as well as working as a conductor and founding the first music school in Magdeburg. The Concertos for Violin and Piano or Schüler-Konzerte (‘Student Concertos’) are designed as introductions to violin technique, Seitz’s genius being to create student works that are always tuneful and interesting, with flowing and expressively inventive melodies, wonderful slow movements and plenty of carefully curated technical fireworks. This second volume takes us up to Seitz’s ambitious and beautiful final Schüler-Konzert No. 10. Volume 1 can be heard on 8.573801.
Shortly after taking up the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig in 1723, Bach wrote a Magnificat in E-Flat Major for performance at Christmas. Around a decade later he revised the work, transposing it down to D major and making it more concise. Utilising a Biblical text, the piece is suffused with a series of memorable arias and choruses and orchestrated with spectacular grandeur. Lumen is a contemporary musical dialogue that urges empathy between the three Abrahamic religions. Translating the oratorio form into a ‘unity of diversity’, Robert M. Helmschrott has converted the poetry of the Old and New Testaments, the Torah and Qur’an into an interfaith ‘language of sounds and singing’.
This collection, the first of three volumes by Duo Sonidos, unleashes a wellspring of exciting new transcriptions culled from the rich repertoire of vocal and violin chamber music, previously deemed unthinkable on the guitar. This colourful mosaic of 20th-century music, from Rodrigo’s affectionately lyrical Cuatro canciones sefardíes to John Williams’ haunting theme from the film Schindler’s List, unveils the hidden world of charm and intimate expressivity provided by Gregg Nestor’s skilful and sensitive arrangements.
The brothers Eduardo and Regino Sáinz de la Maza made significant contributions to the great lineage of Spanish guitar music in the 20th century (Regino’s compositions are on 8.572977). This selection of Eduardo’s music reflects his technical and expressive breadth, whether in the magical tremolo study Campanas del alba (‘The Bells of Dawn’) or in the series of romantic and virtuosic homages paid to Haydn, Toulouse-Lautrec and his own instrument, the guitar. Platero y yo (‘Platero and I’), a sequence of eight pieces narrating the activities of the donkey Platero, celebrates the beauty of nature, irradiated by glorious colour, and is one of his greatest masterpieces.
Vojin Kocić, winner of the 2017 Heinsberg International Guitar Competition, presents a recital that not only covers a wide historical range but also includes some of the most challenging works in the guitar repertoire, of which Ponce’s La Folía variations is considered a veritable Everest to be conquered. Following a long and distinguished tradition, Kocić’s own arrangement of Bach’s Second Violin Partita is crowned by the greatest of Baroque instrumental masterpieces, the monumental Ciaccona. Regondi’s prodigious talent is reflected in his scintillating Introduction et Caprice, while Pasieczny’s Phosphenes was composed as a test piece for a guitar competition.
André Jolivet wrote for the flute throughout his entire compositional career. His understanding of the instrument’s character was unrivalled and his contribution to its repertoire stands among the greatest in the 20th century. In his absorption of influences, from jazz to Middle Eastern music, he established a new tone for the flute, the oriental infusions of which can be heard in Cinq Incantations. Chant de Linos, his most popular flute piece, offers a mythic panorama full of lamentation and dance, while the rhythmically complex Flute Sonata and the lyric elements in Ascèses affirm his musical convictions.
Gottlieb Muffat, youngest son of composer and Kapellmeister Georg Muffat, was a keyboard virtuoso whose career was based around the Viennese Imperial Court. Muffat, with his own elegantly ornamented style, absorbing influences from Germany, France and Italy, is remembered as a composer from whom Handel borrowed extensively – a common practice of the period. These premiere recordings represent the remarkable rediscovery of manuscripts sequestered and dispersed after the Second World War. Naoko Akutagawa’s previous recordings from Muffat’s Componimenti musicali (8.572610) were described by MusicWeb International as ‘galvanically virtuosic’.
We are indeed fortunate that Fritz Kreisler was still at the peak of his powers when electrical recording arrived in 1925. He was as busy as ever in the year covered by these recordings, using Vuillaume and Guarneri del Gesù violins that he said ‘breathe and pulsate with a million vibrations’. On one of his many successful charity concerts in 1927 The Times commented that Kreisler’s ‘fine-drawn phrases have the delicacy of a spider’s thread, the suppleness of elastic, and the strength of steel’. With wonderful examples of parlando bowing, many demonstrations of beautiful double-stopping, lovely staccato and myriad other subtleties such as delicate rhythmic changes, harmonics and variations in dynamics, these New York and Berlin sessions include classic versions of Kreisler’s best works and a rare unaccompanied movement by Bach.
* Not available in the United States due to possible copyright restrictions.
John Williams’ Tuba Concerto is a work commissioned for the centennial celebration of the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1985, and dedicated to tuba player Chester Schmitz. Cast in three movements, the concerto trains the spotlight on an instrument that is more accustomed to playing a supporting role. The instrument’s virtuosic possibilities is prominently featured in the first-movement cadenza, while the second movement casts the tuba in a gentler light. The finale is a rondo that shows a lot of jazzy charateristics. This new recording is the fifth release in the Naxos Portara Digital collection, featuring principal members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as soloists.
†Naxos Portara titles are available only for download and streaming
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!
Alberto Nepomuceno: Série brasileira: IV. Batuque (Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra, Mechetti)
Ottorino Respighi: Feste romane: III. L’Ottobrata (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Falletta)
Johann Simon Mayr: I Cherusci, Act II: Aria: Ombra dolente e pallida (A.L. Brown, Concerto de Bassus, Hauk)
Robert Schumann: Spanisches Liederspiel, Op. 74: No. 9. Ich bin geliebt (Palimina, Eckstein, Bode, Hoffmann, Eisenlohr)
John Williams: Tuba Concerto: III. Allegro molto (Nulty, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Slatkin)
Johannes Brahms: String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111: IV. Vivace ma non troppo presto (New Zealand String Quartet, Lambros)
Paul Kochanski • Karol Szymanowski: Dziki taniec (arr. G. Nestor) (Duo Sonidos)
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