The spotlight release for the July edition of NEW ON NAXOS is an exciting revival of Gioachino Rossini’s ‘forgotten opera’ Eduardo e Cristina, recorded live from the 2017 Rossini in Wildbad Bel Canto Festival. Conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti, the recording features a quintet of outstanding soloists lead by soprano Silvia Dalla Benetta and mezzo Laura Polverelli in the title roles, with the Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań and Virtuosi Brunensis.
Other highlights include: the audiovisual release of Alfredo Casella’s La donna serpente in a production by Teatro Regio Torino; The25th Anniversary Concert of the Verbier Festival on DVD/Blu-ray, featuring performances of some of the world’s top soloists; Charles Gounod’s opera Faust presented by the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka and conductor Ville Matvejeff; the world premiere recording of conductor/composer Alexander Rahbari’s ‘My Mother Persia’ Symphonic Poems Nos. 1–3; Volume 19 of the John Philip Sousa Music for Wind Band series by Keith Brion; and many more.
Rossini’s Eduardo e Cristina was a huge success in its day, but as perhaps the last centone opera (one assembled from previously existing material) by a major composer, it became forgotten under the subsequent tide of Romantic idealism. Today we can put these prejudices aside and enjoy this masterful creation for what it is: a hugely entertaining parade of beautiful and spectacular musical ‘hits’ set to a familiar story of secret love, dramatic crisis and triumphant resolution. This 2017 Bad Wildbad revival was summed up as ‘an evening of pure bel canto pleasure!’ by Operagazet.
Alfredo Casella was one of the ‘Generation of the eighties’ who sought to shake Italian music from its long-standing operatic heritage and the dominance of Puccini. La donna serpente was Casella’s only full-scale opera, its fantastic plot based on Carlo Gozzi’s renowned fairy tale that perpetually alternates between tragedy and comedy, expressed in neo-Classical music that skillfully portrays the sinister and ethereal world of the fairies as well as the intense emotions of the human realm. This production was acclaimed for Arturo Cirillo’s dreamlike setting and Gianandrea Noseda’s pin-point conducting: ‘What energy, what precision! … he delivers the complexity of this score with a disconcerting ease.’ (resmusica.com)
The Verbier Festival is one of classical music’s greatest events. In celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary, this unique concert brings together 36 classical stars in an unprecedented evening of ingenious programming and captivating performances. The line-up includes the world’s greatest violinists, violists, cellists and pianists as well as other leading performers conducted by Valery Gergiev and Gábor Takács-Nagy.
The international success of after its premiere in 1859 completely overshadowed all of Gounod’s subsequent operas. He had known Goethe’s masterpiece for two decades and brought to the text his gifts for memorable melody and rich orchestration. Added to this, the plot of Faust’s ageing and the heroine Marguerite’s redemption, offered the opportunity for the most spectacular stage effects. Heard here in its 1864 London version with an additional air and without spoken dialogue or ballet, Faust represents 19th-century French opera at its peak.
The Iranian conductor and composer Alexander Rahbari grew up with and trained in traditional Persian music with its most influential maestros. His eight symphonic poems, My Mother Persia, of which this is Volume 1 of 2, are full of melodies, rhythms and improvisations in these traditional styles, brought to life with the colours of modern orchestration. The first of these is an emotional violin concerto in which the soloist plays the role of the Nohe Khan, usually a tenor who sings in traditional Persian style at various religious ceremonies. Mother’s Tears refers to a gathering of orphans and to Rahbari’s own experiences of tragedy, contrasting with a subtext of mischief in Children’s Prayer.
In addition to his world-famous marches, John Philip Sousa was a master of the piquant Humoresque, of which there are two examples here. The first, On the 5.15, is a popular song detailing the travails of a commuter, while the second, The Band Came Back, introduces popular tunes in witty fashion. The sonorous Second Fantasia from El Capitan showcases the band’s bravura qualities and TheFighting Race draws on a trombone solo. There are charming detours to explore rural Americana in the form of Sheep and Goat (‘Walkin’to the Pasture’) and the evergreen classic, Turkey inthe Straw.
With 27 symphonies to his name, Nikolay Myaskovsky is known as the ‘father of the Soviet symphony’, his legacy placing him in the same line as other great Russian symphonists such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Myaskovsky’s richly Romantic Symphony No. 1 won him the Glazunov scholarship, and as a graduation work reveals the influence of Tchaikovsky and Scriabin in its expressive, dramatic impact. The more experimental but also deeply inward-looking and disconsolate Symphony No. 13 is regarded as one of Myaskovsky’s most individual statements.
Blessed with a gift for musical invention and structural organisation, Johann Stamitz was one of the pioneering figures in symphonic music before the emergence of Haydn. He drove the development of symphonic form via the assimilation of the new operatic overture style resulting in works of brilliance and skilful orchestration. His Op. 3 symphonies, though not composed as a set, showcase why Stamitz was held in such high regard and was so influential: outer movements fizz with energy, and contain virtuosic string writing with frequent dynamic contrasts, while slow movements are intricate and refined.
These three recordings cement the bond between the award-winning composer Richard Danielpour and the conductor Misha Rachlevsky, one of the composer’s most dedicated and perceptive interpreters. It was Rachlevsky who gave the American premiere of Symphony for Strings, a transcription of the Sixth StringQuartet—a work saturated in farewells, complete with a hymn and variations. Talking to Aphrodite is the result of a collaboration between Danielpour and the writer Erica Jong, while Kaddish addresses the eternal issues of life, death and eventual peace.
The exciting, genre-defying American composer Gregory Hutter wrote this sequence of choral music between 2009 and 2014 – his intention being economic, direct and tuneful music. The settings range from the English Renaissance to American poems of the early 20th century; from Shakespeare to Carl Sandburg and Sara Teasdale. Hutter approaches the texts with lyricism and fluidity, attentive to the poetry’s moments of melancholy, beauty or bucolic energy. In harmonically rich settings he draws on polyphony, chromaticism and lullaby alike to communicate and bring the listener closer to the core of the texts.
Rob Keeley considers chamber music to be the most direct and expressive medium for him as a composer. The spirits of Haydn and Chopin can be heard in the Second Piano Trio, and there is a wink towards Mozart in the wonderful blend and agility to be found in the Clarinet Quartet. All of these works are the result of musical friendships, the faith and commitment of the players an integral part of each performance, with the remarkable sonorities of Distil as its still centre.
Piano music has always been important to Bechara El-Khoury: it brings his compositional voice closer to the listener, allowing him to share his feelings more directly than in some of his orchestral works. These works represent different periods of El-Khoury’s life, but share a conception aimed at creating atmosphere with expressive states that continually switch between violence, anger, suffering and rebellion, and inquiring explorations of peaceful or dreamlike meditation.
The first volume in this groundbreaking series explores the 20th and 21st centuries’ most celebrated works for trumpet and piano; pieces which have allowed the modern performer to discover a kaleidoscopic palette of emotions and characters. From George Enescu’s Légende to Christopher Williams’ XX Mountains of Abstract Thought, the result is an exhilarating journey that surprises and enthralls the listener with tender lyricism, powerful sonorities and stunning virtuosity.
With a portfolio of over 250 works, including major concertos and technical studies, Émile Sauret—hugely admired by Brahms, Liszt and Tchaikovsky—was one of the most distinguished figures of his time, a violinist with a stupendous technique and a profoundly analytical mind. With its spellbinding effects and exceptional variation of form and dynamics, Volume 3 of his Études-Caprices, Op. 64 continues the exploration of this monumental work’s fusion of virtuosity and expression (Volume 1 is on 8.573704 and Volume 2 on 8.573843). Nazrin Rashidova plays on Sauret’s own 1685 Stradivari violin.
Though Mozart was typically grudging, Beethoven had a high regard for Muzio Clementi’s compositions. A leading soloist, Clementi was pivotal to the piano’s development as a virtuoso instrument, but he was also a publisher and innovator. His sonatas combine clarity of form with moments of bravura brilliance, laced with scintillating hand-crossings and his trademark chains of thirds, on which Mozart commented. Infectiously exciting in prestissimo sections, his sonatas offer a compendium of how to exploit new advances in the development of the piano.
Transcriptions occupied Ferruccio Busoni from early in his career, but his famously Romantic version of the Chaconne in D minor (8.555699) contrasts with the later and more austere Sonatina brevis based on Bach’s Fantasy and Fugue in D minor, BWV 905. Music from Bach’s The Art of Fugue is invoked in the rarely heard Edizione minore version of the Fantasia contrappuntistica, and the TenChorale Preludes include the glorious Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme. Sir Edward Elgar considered Busoni ‘the greatest musical mind of his time’, and Wolf Harden’s playing of Busoni has been described as ‘the clear current benchmark’ (BBC Music Magazine on Volume 2, 8.555699).
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!
Muzio Clementi: Keyboard Sonata in C Major, Op. 7, No. 2: II. Andantino quasi allegretto - Presto (Sun-A Park)
Johann Stamitz: Symphony in G Major, Op. 3, No. 3, Wolf G3: IV. Presto (Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra, Rudin)
John Philip Sousa: El Capitan (arr. V. Ragone as Second Fantasia for wind band) (Royal College of Music Wind Orchestra, Brion)
Nikolay Myaskovsky: Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 3: III. Allegro assai e molto risoluto (Ural Youth Symphony Orchestra, Rudin)
Alexander Rahbari: My Mother Persia: Symphonic Poem No. 2, ‘Mother’s Tears’ (Antalya State Symphony Orchestra, A. Rahbari)
Bechara El-Khoury: Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 61: II. Presto con fuoco (Giacomo Scinardo)
Ferruccio Busoni: Bach - 10 Chorale Preludes: No. 2. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 (Wolf Harden)
Charles Gounod: Faust (1864 version), Act III: Cavatina: Salut! demeure chaste et pure (Farasin, Rijeka Opera Symphony Orchestra, Matvejeff)
Gregory Hutter: A Farewell (Philovox Ensemble, Schuneman)
Richard Danielpour: Talking to Aphrodite: IV. Solemn, with simple flowing motion (Shafer, Semyonov, Russian String Orchestra, Rachlevsky)
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