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This month’s NEW ON NAXOS spotlight recording is the initial volume of a two-disc cycle of Camille Saint-SaënsPiano Concertos, with pianist Romain Descharmes and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marc Soustrot. This follows our acclaimed symphonic cycle with the same orchestra and conductor.

Other highlights include Japanese violinist Ayana Tsuji’s début recording on Naxos, performing Charles Auguste de Bériot’s Violin Concertos Nos. 4, 6 and 7, Scène de ballet, and Air varié No. 4 ‘Montagnard’ with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice and conductor Michael Halász; GRAMMY® nominated conductor Darrell Ang’s fourth disc on Naxos, leading the Orchestre Natione de Lille in performances of Henri Dutilleux’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Le Double’, Timbres, espace, mouvement, and Mystère de l’instant; première recording of the corrected edition of Leopold Koželuch's Symphonies performed by the the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice and conducted by Marek Štilec; renowned soprano Krassimira Stoyanova’s recording of Giacomo Puccini’s Complete Songs for Soprano and Piano with pianist Maria Prinz; a two-disc set of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano, and the Violin Sonatina, performed by violinist Grigory Kalinovsky and pianist Tatiana Goncharova; and Giancarlo Guerrero leads the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in performances of three works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer HigdonAll Things Majestic, Viola Concerto, and Oboe Concerto – with soloists Roberto Díaz (viola), and James Button (oboe).

Watch our monthly New on Naxos video to sample some of the highlight releases of the month.

This Month's Highlights

SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Piano Concertos, Vol. 1 - Nos. 1 and 2
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2
Allegro appassionato

Romain Descharmes, Piano • Malmö Symphony Orchestra • Marc Soustrot

The sheer attractiveness of Saint-Saëns’s music has ensured its immortality in the canon of French romantic composers. Spanning almost four decades, his five piano concertos vary widely in character but offer some of his most exciting if unorthodox creations, and represent an important evolutionary phase in the French piano concerto. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, widely considered the first by a major French composer, is a youthful and exuberant piece, and the virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor is one of Saint-Saëns’s most popular and frequently performed works in any genre.

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BÉRIOT, C.-A. de: Violin Concertos Nos. 4, 6, 7
Charles-Auguste de BÉRIOT (1802–1870)
Violin Concertos Nos. 4, 6 and 7
Scène de ballet • Air varié No. 4 “Montagnard”

Ayana Tsuji, Violin • Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice
Michael Halász

In 1896 The Strad described Charles Auguste de Bériot, whose playing created a sensation in London and Paris, as ‘the founder of the modern Franco-Belgian [violin] school’. His Violin Concertos include plenty of innovative features, such as ricochet bowing, double-stops and harmonics. These techniques and other innovations in formal structure are, however, all in the service of expressive communication and stylish elegance. The romantic Scène de ballet is perhaps Bériot’s best known work, while the Air Varié, Op. 5 follows a long tradition of writing variations on popular themes.

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DUTILLEUX, H.: Symphony No. 2, "Le double" / Timbres, espace, movement / Mystère de l'instant
Henri DUTILLEUX (1916–2013)
Symphony No. 2 “Le Double”
Timbres, espace, movement
Mystère de l’instant*

Françoise Rivalland, Cimbalom* • Orchestre National de Lille • Darrell Ang

Henri Dutilleux’s perfectionism resulted in a distinctive and individual musical language of rare poetry and invention. The interplay of stereophonic and polyrhythmic effects and jazzy brass writing in Symphony No. 2 ‘Le Double’ forms, in the composer’s own words, ‘a musical play of mirrors and of contrasting colors’, while Timbres, espaces, mouvement is Dutilleux’s response to Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, a ‘longing for the infinity of nature’. The series of snapshots in Mystère de l’instant evokes fleeting and almost magical moments in time, its cumulative power indicative of a consummate composer at the height of his powers.

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KOŽELUCH, L.: Symphonies, Vol. 1 - P. I:3, 5, 6, 7
Leopold KOŽELUCH (1747–1818)
Symphonies, Vol. 1

Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • Marek Štilec

A prolific composer of instrumental music including symphonies, Leopold Koželuch was one of the most prominent Bohemian composers working in Vienna during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His best works reveal an impressive command of the musical language of Viennese classicism and at times a lyricism that seems to foreshadow the youthful works of Schubert. This recording draws on original sources and corrects a number of mistakes encountered in previously published versions.

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PUCCINI, G.: Songs (Complete)
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Complete Songs for Soprano and Piano

Krassimira Stoyanova, Soprano • Maria Prinz, Piano

Though Puccini represents the late-Romantic apex of the Italian operatic tradition, his songs are much less well known and, in their pared simplicity and emotional restraint, could hardly be more different from his stage works. The nineteen complete songs for soprano (two in duet with a mezzo) and piano cover themes typical of lyric poetry including life, death, personal resolution, love, nature, home and religious faith. There are also rare salon pieces and examples of Puccini’s secular and sacred juvenilia, written between 1875 and 1880.

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WEINBERG, M.: Violin Sonatas (Complete) / Violin Sonatina
[2 CDs]
Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919–1996)
Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano
Violin Sonatina

Grigory Kalinovsky, Violin • Tatiana Goncharova, Piano

Mieczysław Weinberg is now recognized as one of the outstanding Russian composers of the second half of the twentieth century. Fêted for his symphonies and string quartets, he also wrote a sequence of Violin Sonatas crucial to the development of his distinctive and elusive musical idiom. Shostakovich’s influence is evident in the Third Violin Sonata, as are Jewish melodic elements, while the Fourth Violin Sonata is alternately somber and hectic. His masterpiece is the Fifth Violin Sonata, symphonic in scale but subtle in form, and containing some of his most affecting writing.

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HIGDON, J.: All Things Majestic / Viola Concerto / Oboe Concerto
Jennifer HIGDON (b. 1962)
All Things Majestic
Viola Concerto1 • Oboe Concerto2

Roberto Díaz, Viola1 • James Button, Oboe2 • Nashville Symphony
Giancarlo Guerrero


Jennifer Higdon is one of the most distinguished composers working in America today, and her music is a perfect fit for the Nashville Symphony, which has long maintained a commitment to championing the country’s most important voices. All Things Majestic is a four-movement suite which vividly captures the breath-taking beauty of the American landscape, and her wonderfully expressive concertos for viola and oboe bring out the unique textures and sonorities of these frequently overlooked solo instruments.

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Additional Exciting New Releases

RANDS, B.: Vincent [Opera]
[2 CDs]
Bernard RANDS (b. 1934)
Libretto by J.D. McClatchy

Kelly Kruse • Jami Leonard, Sopranos • Laura Conyers, Mezzo-soprano
Will Perkins • Steven Linville • Andrew Morstein, Tenors • Christopher Burchett
Christopher Grundy, Baritones • Jason Eck • Adam Walton, Bass-baritones
Indiana University Opera Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra • Arthur Fagen

Winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Music, Bernard Rands is well established as a major figure in contemporary music. His music has been described as ‘plangent lyricism with dramatic intensity’, qualities developed since his studies with Dallapiccola and Berio. Inspired in the 1970s by the then new Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, Rands researched and sketched Vincent for the next 40 years. Described by the Huffington Post as Rands’ ‘crowning achievement’, Vincent represents much of the great painter’s life and in particular the dramatic setbacks of his later years, contrasting the affection of his brother Theo with intense inner struggles, his vicious conflict with Gauguin, and his tragic and untimely death.

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MAYR, J.S.: Telemaco [Opera]
[2 CDs]
Johann Simon MAYR (1763–1845)
Libretto by Antonio Simeone Sografi

Siri Karoline Thornhill • Andrea Lauren Brown • Jaewon Yun
Katharina Ruckgaber, Sopranos • Markus Schäfer, Tenor
Niklas Mallmann, Bass • Members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Simon Mayr Choir • Concerto de Bassus
Theona Gubba-Chkeidze, Concertmaster
Franz Hauk, Harpsichord and Conductor

Mayr’s Telemaco was a product of turbulent political times in the Republic of Venice, which had been occupied by Napoleon’s troops in late 1796. Military elements, with incorporated marches, feature strongly in a score that brought to contemporary Venetian theater many of the innovative elements that were in vogue on the operatic stages of Paris. Taking classical Greek mythological material, Mayr fashioned an opera full of color, interweaving instrumental interludes and dances into his arias, cavatinas and choruses, and crafting his own very personal vision of the new Italian opera seria.

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WAGNER, R.: Symphony in C Major / Symphony in E Major (fragments)
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
Symphony in C major
Symphony in E major (fragment)

MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra • Jun Märkl

Although he is best known for his innovative operas and iconic music dramas, Richard Wagner maintained a keen interest in symphonic composition throughout his career. Written in his late teens and early twenties, these two symphonies stand as a tribute to Wagner’s passion for his great idol Beethoven. The Symphony in C major absorbs the energetic fire and rhythmic dynamism of Beethoven’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, while the Symphony in E major was alas left unfinished at its beautifully warm and lyrical Adagio cantabile.

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LAJTHA, L.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 3
László LAJTHA (1892–1963)
Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 ‘Spring’
Suite No. 2

Pécs Symphony Orchestra • Nicolás Pasquet

László Lajtha’s passionate Third Symphony emerged from a fruitful period when the composer was based in London. Its origin was a film score for T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, the author grateful for a soundtrack to “elevate [his] words and thoughts”. Lajtha’s Fourth Symphony uses Hungarian musical idioms with wit and charm to bewitch the listener from the outset, its escapist joie de vivre belying the dark circumstances that surrounded its creation, while the Second Suite is based on a satirical ballet that uses Classical mythology to poke fun at fascist dictators.

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TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Piano Music - 12 Morceaux / Souvenir de Hapsal / Valse-Scherzos / Capriccio / Valse-caprice
Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
Piano Music

Mami Shikimori, Piano

Tchaikovsky wrote music for the piano throughout his life, many of these pieces being dedicated to family members or close friends and musical associates. Rich in variety, the Douze morceaux range from playful dances to a substantial Marche funèbre, as well as lyrical jewels such as the Chanson triste and a Danse russe that found its way into the ballet Swan Lake. A background of romantic entanglements permeates the Souvenir de Hapsal which concludes with the well-known Chant sans paroles, while charm and virtuosity reside side-by-side in the Valse-scherzo and Capriccio.

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LISZT, F.: 12 Grandes études (Liszt Complete Piano Music, Vol. 45)
Franz LISZT (1811–1886)
Complete Piano Music, Vol. 45
12 Grandes études, S137/R2a

Wenbin Jin, Piano

Liszt’s musical precocity can be measured by the fact that at the age of thirteen he had begun work on what was to become his Op.6, the Etude en douze exercices. After later revisions, this became the Grandes Études of 1837 and, with simplifications, the Études d’exécution transcendante of 1851. The monumental 1837 studies were composed after years of travel and at a time when Liszt’s virtuoso status was near its zenith. He transformed the earlier prototype studies, through the prism of his own transcendental technique, into etudes of coruscating technical difficulty and extraordinarily vivid characterization.

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Naxos AudioBooks

VERNE, J.: Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Unabridged)
NA0240 • 7-CD Set
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DEFOE, D.: Moll Flanders (Unabridged)
NA0262 • 11-CD Set
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DOSTOYEVSKY, F.M.: The Idiot (Unabridged)
NA0263 • 21-CD Set
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Naxos Playlists

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!
  • Richard Wagner: Symphony in C major: III. Allegro assai
  • Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 17: II. Andante sostenuto, quasi adagio
  • Bernard Rands: Vincent, Act II: Auvers-sur-Oise, 2 days later: Don't leave me, Theo!
  • Jennifer Higdon: All Things Majestic: II. String Lake
  • Charles Auguste de Bériot: Violin Concerto No. 6 in A Major, Op. 70: II. Allegretto
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