The July edition of NEW ON NAXOS celebrates the release of Claudio Monteverdi’s Complete Madrigals, in a special 15-disc boxed set, featuring the highly-acclaimed performances of Delitiæ Musicæ and Early Music scholar Marco Longhini. Praised as ‘compelling, simultaneously controlled and imaginative’ (American Record Guide), these recordings ‘belong to the best available’ (MusicWeb International). The set also includes a selection of pieces never recorded before, as well as the Scherzi Musicali (‘Musical Jokes’) linked with the recurring theme of war for the sake of love.
Other highlights include: the audiovisual release of Adolphe Adam’s comic opera Le Postillon de Lonjumeau starring leading tenor Michael Spyres; Gioachino Rossini’s cantata Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo recorded live from the 2018 Rossini in Wildbad Festival; orchestral works by Christopher Rouse presented by the multi-GRAMMY-winning Nashville Symphony and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero; J.S. Bach’s beloved Cello Suites Nos. 1–3 arranged and performed on guitar by Jeffrey McFadden; world premiere recordings of works for soprano, violin, clarinet and orchestra by Argentian composer Esteban Benzecry; and many more.
The madrigal, written for courts and patrons, was the ultimate secular song. The genre reached its zenith with the works of Claudio Monteverdi in successive books that trace his technical and expressive innovations. In them, Monteverdi explored themes such as the vicissitudes and pleasures of love, as well as the art of war, and the pain of loss. The editions used in these recordings are the most authentic and uncut, and, in keeping with 17th-century practice, employ male voices only. Praised as ‘compelling, simultaneously controlled and imaginative’ (American Record Guide) the collection also includes pieces never before recorded.
Adolphe Adam’s Le Postillon de Lonjumeau was a great success at its premiere in 1836, and, along with the ballet Giselle, has remained one of the composer’s most popular works. Following the great French tradition, this opéra-comique has it all: 18th-century Rococo Parisian glamour and a perilous love story involving the dashing and flirtatious Chapelou and his opposite, the powerful and clever Madeleine. This lavish and spectacular production from the Opéra Comique in Paris received widespread critical acclaim and also features costumes by the iconic French fashion designer Christian Lacroix.
Rossini’s Neapolitan theatrical debut in 1815 won him overnight esteem as well as the favour of the Bourbon dynasty, ensuring lucrative contracts and commissions. The following year he composed Le nozze di Teti edi Peleo, an allegorical cantata on the theme of the wedding between the sea goddess Thetis and the hero Peleus. Written to celebrate a royal marriage, it is an intensely theatrical work in which Rossini drew on some of the greatest contemporary singers, specialists in the ornamented bel canto style, and created a staged spectacular with chorus and a wealth of colourful orchestration.
The second volume in this series (Volume 1 is on 8.574005) continues to explore little-known examples of Auber’s elegant and refined operatic music. Julie was his first stage work, its fantasia-like beauty foreshadowing the operas, opéras-comiques and lyric dramas to come. Striking melodies and haunting episodes abound in these overtures and entr’actes, and there is restrained yet fragrant Iberian colour in the overture to Léocadie. The Violin Concerto is lightly scored and gentle, with a tarantella-like finale full of folk vitality.
Few contemporary artists have been as significant as Pulitzer Prize and GRAMMY Award winner Christopher Rouse, whose imaginative approach made him one of the most frequently performed composers during his lifetime. The Concerto forOrchestra is a ‘hyper-concerto’ that gives each player a chance to shine, while the mournful intimacy and passion of Supplica unfolds somewhat like the slow movement of a Bruckner or Mahler symphony. Rouse’s FifthSymphony fondly recalls Beethoven’s mighty Fifth but blurs the lines between tradition and modernity, transporting the listener from turbulence to serenity. It was described as “brilliant, exciting and at times hauntingly beautiful” in The Dallas Morning News.
The Colourful Telemann presents works from different periods of Georg Philipp Telemann’s life, reflecting his lively personality and exploring his seemingly unlimited invention over a wide variety of styles and genres. A contemporary of Bach and Handel, Telemann wrote music that stands out for its delightful and remarkably generous character, each piece like a leisurely walk with a good friend. From the German and French influences of the earlier Sonata to the dignified Sinfonia Melodica, possibly composed in the year of his death, this is Telemann at his best.
The six Cello Suites represent J.S. Bach’s genius at its most distilled, with the composer confronting the enigma of writing counterpoint for a monophonic instrument at its core. Jeffrey McFadden’s arrangement for guitar enhances the music, adding a harmonic dimension and making the implied interaction of voices explicit. The Suites contain some of the most fascinating and beautiful movements in all of Bach’s oeuvre, and remain one of the most important works in the history of Western music. ‘Jeffrey McFadden not only is an extraordinary guitarist—he’s also an inspired musician’ (ClassicsToday.com on Naxos 8.554354, works by Napoléon Coste).
Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is the most celebrated classical guitar work of the 20th century, music that conjures up the colour, sophistication and glories of eternal Spain. The founding father of Mexican music, Manuel Ponce, wrote his Concierto del sur for Segovia, and it is a work of vivid grandeur, Sevillian dances and melodic richness. To complete the programme, prize-winning international virtuoso Junhong Kuang plays a piece dedicated to him—Gerald Garcia’s China Sings!—a rhapsody inspired by two popular Chinese tunes.
French-Argentinian composer Esteban Benzecry has built up a distinctive body of work, from symphonies to works for solo piano. He stands as a worthy successor to such masters as Ginastera, Villa-Lobos and Chávez, with music that is suffused with ‘imaginary folklore’, flashes of colour, fieriness and reverie. The autobiographical Violin Concerto draws on South American folk motifs and rhythms, whereas in Ciclo de canciones he explores the meeting of two cultures, Argentinian and Japanese. The breathtaking dialogues between soloist and orchestra in the Clarinet Concerto recall Andean and pre-Hispanic times.
Leó Weiner, a contemporary of Bartók and Kodály, was a profoundly important teacher in Budapest whose own music developed from a more traditional Romantic model—exemplified by the songful Románc, Op. 29—to an absorption of his native Hungarian folk music during the 1930s. The two Divertimentos for strings, vibrantly orchestrated sequences of dances, are among the best-known works of this period. The later Hungarian Nursery Rhymes and Folk Songs draw on some archaic and very popular native melodies. Volumes 1 and 2 can be heard on 8.573491 and 8.573847.
The aim of this innovative album is to introduce listeners to the rich variety of sounds in the trumpet family and through the use of modern instruments—one especially developed for the project—to imbue the music with unique colours and textures. All the pieces were either arranged or written specifically for this album and the programme includes the first ever orchestration of Théo Charlier’s operatic Solo de concours as well as Efraín Oscher’s evocative Rapsodia latina, which introduces a new instrument, the piccolo cornet in A.
Andy Scott is a British Composer Award winner and a founder member of the Apollo Saxophone Quartet. As a saxophonist for over 40 years, Scott’s virtuosic yet harmonically subtle music is open to a wide variety of influences. His works are performed on this album by the world-famous virtuoso Timothy McAllister, and the admired English author Lemn Sissay narrates his own poem on My Mountain Top.
Ian Krouse has been acclaimed by Gramophone as “one of the most communicative and intriguing” of today’s composers, his style drawing on historical and traditional influences as well as being innovative and modern. With references to Beethoven and Schubert, metaphors of darkness and light are conveyed with powerful emotion in Nocturnes, which sets four texts by well-known Armenian poets to form an odyssey through the mind of a man at mid-life. With profound sadness at its heart, Invocation explores the intangibility of love, contrasting atonality and tonality to express emotional outpourings that ultimately remain ephemeral and elusive.
This collection of songs with voice and clarinet has at its heart Lori Laitman’s profoundly moving cycle I Never Saw Another Butterfly, which sets the words of hope and desolation written by children imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp. Inspired by this poignant music, Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk and Denise Gainey commissioned a follow-up, The SecretExit, on poems by Nobel Laureate Nelly Sachs that reflect on life and death. Newly arranged for voice and clarinet, Living In The Body is a cycle about love, memory and resilience. The program is completed with Diana Rosenblum’s delightful setting of Winter Rain and Kalmen Opperman’s haunting Un seul.
Francis Pott’s acclaimed musical voice is one of uncommon eloquence and seriousness of purpose, and his works have been performed and broadcast in over 40 countries. This recording presents world premiere recordings of two major pieces. At FirstLight is a memorial work which takes the form of a series of slow meditations surrounding an exuberant motet, with wordless commentary from a lamenting cello. Word, with its significant role for the organ and the inclusion of texts by the Welsh priest and poet R.S. Thomas, reveals Gospel contemplation in a postmodern world.
One of the least explored areas of Beethoven’s compositions is the miscellaneous sequence of canons, early exercises in counterpoint, mature jokes and jeux d’esprit that he wrote over many years. He composed a two-part canon for the composer Hummel in 1816 and in 1823 one for four voices (written in a tavern) for Count Lichnowsky. He also wrote birthday and Christmas greetings for colleagues and friends, and songs that punned on recipients’ names or poked fun at them.
Ferdinand Rebay was born in Vienna where he studied piano and composition, winning the Brahms Prize. He wrote operas, a symphony, concertos and many songs, but was increasingly drawn to writing for the guitar for which he wrote 600 pieces of various kinds. The three sonatas recorded here are little known and reflect Rebay’s immersion in Romantic neo-Classicism. Themes are lyrical, utilising folk song, energetic March themes and variations, with a tapestry of emotions both sombre and exuberant.
Camillo Togni loved the piano and fully understood the instrument’s great potential for colour and virtuosity. This final volume in the series explores Togni’s very first piano works, redolent of Chopin and Liszt, as well as pieces from his formative years of development. They include the Pezzo perpianoforte and the Fantasia a quattro voci e pedale where his use of chromaticism and contrapuntalism is vividly audible. His two cadenzas for the Mozart piano concertos reflect Togni’s endless admiration for his erstwhile teacher, the great pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.
With this album, Matthew Schellhorn sheds new light on Herbert Howells as a truly significant 20th-century composer for the piano. From the charming Summer Idyls, written before the composer began studies at the Royal College of Music, to the mature and subtle movements of the Petrus Suite, we encounter an extraordinary range of pianistic expression. Spanning over 60 years of Howells’ compositional style, every track on this release is a world premiere recording.
Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the most influential composers in the history of Western music, but his songs have inevitably been overshadowed by his great orchestral, chamber and solo works. The art song was yet to be redefined by Schubert when Beethoven was setting the words of Goethe and other great poets, expressing the pain of unrequited or unfulfilled love in songs and arias sung in Italian as well as German. Beethoven’s sensitive touch was also perfect for new accompaniments to Scottish, Welsh and Irish folksongs, and this collection is a rare opportunity to hear the more intimate side of this iconic composer’s output.
Boris Giltburg has set out to learn and film all 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven by the end of 2020. The project started as a personal exploration, driven by curiosity and his strong love of the Beethoven sonatas, and the recordings presented in this initial volume display Giltburg’s customary spirit, technical finesse and convey the electric atmosphere of the live recording.
‘Love of Beethoven’s works threads through Idil Biret’s life like a red ribbon. Her studio recordings and live concerts show this in an unequivocal language… Next to all the Piano Concertos and the Choral Fantasy she has also performed on stage and recorded (on 19 discs) all the Piano Sonatas and Symphony Transcriptions becoming perhaps the only artist to reach this level of completeness… This knowledge of Beethoven one hears in every nuance in Idil Biret’s playing.’ – PIANO NEWS (Germany) 2012
The award-winning Naxos Audiobooks label offers a wide range of abridged and unabridged digital recordings of the world’s greatest literature. There are Junior Classics, and numerous non-fiction titles with focus to history, religion and philosophy. The label also offers a plethora of classic and contemporary plays on record—from Shakespeare to Beckett.
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.
Ferdinand Rebay: Sonata for Violin and Guitar in C Minor: IV. Ein fröhliches perpetuum mobile in Webers Manier (Kayaleh, Kolk)
Camillo Togni: Preludio for Piano (Aldo Orvieto)
We are celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a dynamic CELEBRATE BEETHOVEN playlist with various themes based on his life, compositional periods, types of works, and more. This month, we focus on Beethoven’s most beautiful songs and other vocal works:
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