This month’s NEW ON NAXOS spotlight is on Gioachino Rossini, with the world première recordings of the original version from 1831/32 of his Stabat Mater (with sections composed by Giovanni Tadolini), and the solo cantata Giovanna d’Arco. Both works featured in this album were orchestrated by contemporary Italian musicians – Antonino Fogliani and Marco Taralli. Fogliani also conducts both performances.
Other highlights include the American symphonic works by John Corigliano, Michael Torke, and Aaron Copland, with GRAMMY® Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller leading the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic; Polish violinist Piotr Pławner performs works for violin and orchestra by four of the leading composers from his homeland – Grażyna Bacewicz, Alexandre Tansman, Michał Spisak, and Andrzej Panufnik – accompanied by the Kammersymphonie Berlin and conductor Jürgen Bruns; award-winning countertenor Yaniv d’Or leads the ensemble NAYA and Barrocade in his latest album Latino Ladino, featuring early-17th century Mediterranean and Latin American works; choral works by English composers John Ireland and Ernest John Moeran, performed by The Carice Singers lead by George Parris, supported on the piano by David Owen Norris; Johann Simon Mayr’s opera overtures, performed by the Bavarian Classical Players, Concerto de Bassus, and I Virtuosi Italiani, conducted by Mayr specialist Franz Hauk; and the world première recordings of New Zealand composer Ross Harris’ Symphony No. 5 and Violin Concerto, featuring mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell (soloist for the symphony), violinist Ilya Gringolts, the Auckland Philharmonia and conductors Garry Walker (concerto) and Eckehard Stier (symphony).
Rossini’s Stabat Mater is one of the staples of the sacred music repertoire but had a complicated history. He wrote it for performance in Madrid but, running short of time, enlisted the help of his friend Giovanni Tadolini. Rossini completed six pieces, Tadolini seven. Tadolini’s pieces now only exist as piano reductions but conductor Antonino Fogliani has orchestrated them to allow listeners to hear the original work for the first time since 1833. Marco Taralli’s 2009 orchestration of Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc), a cantata for solo voice, is also heard on this first recording.
This is the first recording for Naxos by the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, which is composed of elite conservatory students from across the United States and abroad. The chosen works reflect the richness and variety of the American repertoire. A work of immense poignancy and power, John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1 is a commemoration of friends of the composer who died during the 1980s and ’90s. Michael Torke’s Bright Blue Music evokes rich lyricism couched in the composer’s favorite key of D major. The suite from Copland’s Appalachian Spring is one of the great, quintessential American works.
The works on this recording were written by four roughly contemporary Polish composers who settled and pursued their careers in different parts of the world. Grażyna Bacewicz’s First Violin Concerto displays her own glittering virtuosity as a performer, while Alexandre Tansman wrote his Baroque-infused Five Pieces for the great Josef Szigeti. Michał Spisak considered his neo-classical Andante and Allegro to be ‘a little story for violin and orchestra’, while Andrzej Panufnik’s wideranging Violin Concerto became a ‘pilgrimage into my past’ and is richly suffused with Polish atmosphere.
The music and poetry of numerous persecuted and exiled minority cultures flourished throughout the Mediterranean and South America during the 17th century, the sensitivities of these displaced communities retaining powerful resonance today. These ancient narratives on beauty, love, joy and sorrow are expressed through Yaniv d’Or’s haunting voice against a ‘folk-Baroque’ instrumental backdrop that reinvents enchanting and distinctive musical worlds.
Renowned for his outstanding piano miniatures and solo songs, John Ireland is little known these days as a composer of partsongs. His deep understanding of choral forces brings a unique polish and artistry to the genre, his early style reflecting a deference to his masters Parry and Stanford, and deeply moving post-war masterpieces such as Twilight Night exploiting a more acerbic harmonic vocabulary. E.J. Moeran’s inclination towards introspective melancholy blends with his knowledge of Elizabethan madrigal and renaissance dance, resulting in true gems on themes of love such as While she lies sleeping.
Simon Mayr was born in Bavaria but made his name in Italy. Although familiar with the Venetian two-part and Neapolitan three-part operatic overture traditions, he forged a style which at first mirrored the models of his Viennese contemporaries, then broadened out into large-scale and often virtuosic sinfonias filled with unexpected modulations and intervals and beautiful instrumental solos. Spanning a period of 25 years, the works on this recording include Raùl de Créqui with its striking fugal opening, the dramatic Ercole in Lidia with its solo part for harp and Gli Americani which recalls Mozart and Beethoven.
Ross Harris’s Fifth Symphony was inspired by the poems of Panni Palasti, many of which reflect her experiences during the siege of Budapest in World War II. Forming the emotional core of the work and set to gentle melodies against hushed, sophisticated orchestration, the three songs form a stark contrast with the violent and disturbing imagery of the two Scherzos and the austere beauty of the opening and closing Adagios. The beautifully textured Violin Concerto hovers tantalisingly between tonality and atonality, with the soloist rarely out of the limelight, decorating and rhapsodising on the material.