This month’s spotlight recording is a triptych of American orchestral masterworks from the 20th and 21st century. Performed by the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, and conducted by GRAMMY® Award-winning David Alan Miller, the disc features John Harbison’s jazz-imbued Symphony No. 4, Steven Stucky’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Second Concerto for Orchestra, and Carl Ruggles’ tone poem Sun-Treader. The two previous recordings of the NOI Philharmonic both received ICMA nominations.
Other highlights include: a live recording of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cello Concerto by cellist Brinton Averil Smith, with the Houston Symphony conducted by Kazuki Yamada; Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa’s orchestral triptych – Meditation, Nach dem Sturm and Klage – in response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, performed by the Basque National Orchestra under Jun Märkl; the third and final instalment of the Complete Music for Wind Band series of Percy Grainger, recorded by The Royal Norwegian Navy Band under Bjarte Engeset; and the penultimate volume of Agustin Barrios’ Guitar Music series, performed by prize-winning guitarist Celil Refik Kaya; and many more.
This is the third recording in a multi-year partnership between the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic and Naxos to release one album of American music each year. A study in dramatic contrasts, Carl Ruggles’ Sun-Treader is an overwhelming, granite-hued tone poem by one of New England’s most original and uncompromising composers. Steven Stucky’s luminous Pulitzer Prize-winning Second Concerto for Orchestra is a riveting exploration of sonority and soundpainting while John Harbison’s Fourth Symphony is a big, bold, jazzimbued work by one of America’s most important living symphonists.
Inspired by the personality, prodigious technique and musicality of the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s is a work of imposing scale and demanding virtuosity, but also with a rare beauty and warmth of expression. This live recording documents the first professional performances of the concerto in more than 80 years, and is paired with playful and virtuosic freely composed transcriptions for cello and piano of Mozart, Rossini and Ravel that Castelnuovo-Tedesco made for Piatigorsky and Heifetz.
The orchestral triptych of Meditation, Nach dem Sturm and Klage is award-winning composer Toshio Hosokawa’s response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Meditation mourns the victims with a quiet song of sorrow, Nach dem Sturm uses shamanic elements to suggest stormy darkness and the hope of light, while the healing Klage seeks to connect our world with the supernatural. Autumn Wind unifies man and nature through the timeless sound of the shakuhachi.
The final volume of Percy Grainger’s complete music for wind band once again respects his precise instrumental demands in pieces that span the breadth of his career, from his first large work in the genre, The Lads ofWamphray March, to The Power ofRome and the Christian Heart, his largest such work and one of his last. Also to be heard are A LincolnshirePosy, one of the genre’s most famous and beautiful works; The ImmovableDo, which contains ‘the most longheld pedal note in all music’; and the revolutionary Hill-Song No. 1, which Grainger considered the greatest of all his compositions.
The opera La campana sommersa (‘The Sunken Bell’) is Respighi’s operatic masterpiece. A symbolist drama on a supernatural theme, it is steeped in beauty, mystery and foreboding, and orchestrated with the Romantic opulence familiar from his sumptuous trilogy of Roman tone-poems. Its triumph at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1928 was repeated at La Scala, Milan, and this most recent production at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, world-renowned for its staging of rarities, was hailed for its ‘brilliant production’ and magnificent performances.
Agustín Barrios Mangoré was one of the greatest guitar virtuosi of his time and something of a pioneer in making recordings, which he began as early as 1910. His compositions offer a lexicon of technical and expressive devices for the guitar, from both the South American and European traditions. This penultimate volume in the series offers the scintillating Estudio No. 6, which demonstrates some of the composer’s finest artistic characteristics such as poignant treble melodies and a mastery of harmonic progression. Other works include examples of the Paraguayan polka, the Zamba, Creole airs, the Serenata and many other pieces attesting to Barrios’s inexhaustible individuality and variety.
Toshiro Mayuzumi was one of Japan’s foremost 20th-century composers, enjoying a distinguished international reputation on a par with that of Toru Takemitsu, as well as that of an enfant terrible of the post-war Japanese music world. Versatile and prolific, he contributed music for films, the theatre, the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and broadcasts. His enthusiasm for avant-garde Western music led him to study in Paris, and the Phonologie Symphonique is a synthesis of Varèse-like acoustical experiment and serial techniques. The jazz-tinted Bacchanale is Mayuzumi’s attempt to produce ‘a cosmos of sounds reflecting the vital energies of the origin of music’, and the symphonic poem Samsara is a musical expression of Buddhist teaching, an attempt to escape the seemingly endless cycle of birth and rebirth.
Along with Suchoň and Cikker, Alexander Moyzes was one of the leading Slovak composers of his generation. His compositional style was inspired by the folk music and beautiful landscapes of his native land, but also took account of contemporary trends in European music after the First World War. These early symphonies, infused with Moyzes’ masterful orchestration and control of counterpoint, signify a new period in 20th-century Slovak music.
François Devienne’s series of wind compositions was pivotal in making his name synonymous with that of the flute. This final volume in the series includes Concerto No. 13, which ranks alongside his finest concertos with its profuse thematic ideas and sophisticated orchestral writing. As a leading virtuoso in Paris, Devienne was perfectly placed to write Symphonies concertantes, glittering showcases that remain among the best of their kind. Giovanni Battista Viotti’s arrangement of one of his best-known Violin Concertos makes an ideal companion piece to the other works on this recording.
Beethoven’s mastery in all genres extends to the sequence of music he wrote involving the flute. The Serenade in D Major may have a somewhat convoluted history, but it illustrates the creative purposes to which Beethoven put traditional material and the inventive contrasts he embedded into this six-movement work. Both the Sonata in B-Flat Major and the Trio in G Major probably date from his years in Bonn. The former includes a lively Polacca and the latter ingeniously suggests the famous ‘Mannheim Rocket’.
Gloria Coates’s personal sound-world is unlike any other in contemporary music. Her Piano Quintet is rooted in the poetry of fellow American pioneer Emily Dickinson, with half of the quartet tuned a quarter-tone higher than the other, the strange beauty of the music emerging in glacial landscapes and shimmering microtones. Coates’s Symphony No. 10 evokes the archaeological ruins of a Celtic tribe, inspiring a torrent of dramatic percussion and long held tones that curve and shake in a moving body of sound.
The sonatas recorded here encompass almost the entirety of Hans Werner Henze’s creative life. Composed in difficult conditions just after WWII, the Violin Sonata covers the broadest range of human emotions, and is in some ways a study for the extraordinary First Violin Concerto (recorded by Peter Sheppard Skærved on 8.557738). Steeped in Italian mythology, the SoloViolin Sonata is ‘a real piece of theatre’, as is the emotionally shattering Viola Sonata, written straight after the completion of the ballet Orpheus. The Violin Sonatina is drawn from Henze’s children’s opera Pollicino, and the two remaining miniatures are memorials for lost colleagues.
Johann Simon Mayr became one of the most popular opera composers in Europe in the period preceding Rossini, but his younger career in the last decades of the 18th century was largely as a church musician, dividing his time between his native Bergamo and Venice. Often taking the form of small-scale religious operas, his Venetian solo motets were tailor-made for the singers of the day, with notable results, as can be heard in the soaring expressiveness of Exsurge, anima, the cavatina-style melodies of O Deus, quot me circumdant, and the contrasting atmospheres of fear, dread and serenity in Qual colpa eterno Dio.
Fernando Lopes-Graça was arguably the greatest Portuguese composer of the second half of the 20th century. He absorbed successive stylistic influences, but the core of his musical impulses lay in the folk music of his native country, a feature especially evident in his songs. The originality and complexity of his harmonisations, the vivid and communicative beauty of his sets of Christmas Songs and the subtlety of his settings of Russian and Hungarian songs illustrate a complete mastery of this aspect of his multifaceted art.
Ferdinand Ries’s life and work are inextricably intertwined with those of his friend and teacher Beethoven, and both Cello Sonatas, Op. 20 and Op. 21 were dedicated to cellist Bernhard Romberg, who performed regularly with Beethoven. Ries exploits Romberg’s extraordinary sound quality in the lower register of the celloin music that resonates with references to colleagues such as Haydn and Hummel. Ries’s final Cello Sonata, Op. 125, completes a triptych that richly deserves its place in the cello repertoire.
Tengyue Zhang won the 2017 Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) International Concert Artist Competition, one of the world’s most prestigious events. His debut recital illustrates the moods, colours and techniques of the concert classical guitar from baroque transcriptions to masters of the twentieth-century genresuch as Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Tansman and Brouwer. Despite being from very different backgrounds and time periods, several of the pieces share intriguing relationships in their use of variation form or thematic motifs and harmonic progressions.
Award-winning pianist Lance Coburn has been schooled in and inspired by the Russian pianistic tradition, and sees this ‘potpourri’ of rarities as something akin to a snapshot of Tchaikovsky’s more famous works. Ranging from wistful sentiment to fiery complexity, the Theme with Variationscomes from Tchaikovsky’s period of studies at the St Petersburg Conservatory, while the transcriptions include a medley of themes rescued from the early opera Voyevoda, the emotionally charged Aveu passionné, and a Coronation March that the composer described as ‘noisy but bad’.
The eighteen Ungarischer Romanzero are transcriptions of popular Hungarian melodies made partially in collaboration with violinist Ede Reményi. The manuscripts are not always complete, with space for performers to add their own elaborations, or to follow Liszt’s own hints on his own performancesof pieces that give valuable insights into his Hungarian influences in their rawest form. The Hungarian National Melodies provide opportunities for amateur players, while the hugely popular Rákóczi March became the unofficial national anthem of Hungary, also being used by Berlioz and other composers.
NA0299 • 28-CD Set
NA0309 • 22-CD Set
NA0310 • 10-CD Set
NA0336 • 11-CD Set
NA0315 • 34-CD Set *digital pre-release
NA0292 • 2-CD Set *digital pre-release
NA0316 • 15-CD Set *digital pre-release
NA0313 • 15-CD Set *digital pre-release
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!
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Cello Concerto, Op. 72: II. Allegretto gentile (B.A. Smith, Houston Symphony, Kazuki Yamada)
John Harbison: Symphony No. 4: I. Fanfare (National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, D.A. Miller)
Gloria Coates: Piano Quintet: III. The Torrents of Eternity (Kreutzer Quartet, Chadwick)
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: 24 Caprichos de Goya, Op. 195: No. 18. El sueño de la razón produce monstruos (Tengyue Zhang)
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