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This Month’s Highlights

Naxos 8.573057
Dmitry SHOSTAKOVICH (1906–1975)
Symphonies, Volume 8
Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’, Op. 60

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra • Vasily Petrenko

Three weeks after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Shostakovich volunteered with the Home Guard in Leningrad. As the siege of the city intensified, he worked on his Seventh Symphony, completing three movements before being forced to leave Leningrad and travel east by train. The work was completed in December that year. Initially he gave each movement a programmatic title, but later withdrew them, leaving this epic work as an emblem of heroic defiance in the face of conflict and crisis: ‘I dedicate my Seventh Symphony to our struggle against fascism, to our coming victory over the enemy, to my native city, Leningrad.’

Naxos 8.570934
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Complete Overtures, Volume 2

Prague Sinfonia Orchestra • Christian Benda
Guillaume Tell • Eduardo e Cristina • L’inganno felice
La scala di seta • Demetrio e Polibio • Il Signor Bruschino
Sinfonia di Bologna • Sigismondo

Rossini’s ceaseless wit and invention are best exemplified in his series of operas. His colourful orchestration and command of both comic and tragic elements can be savoured in this second of four volumes of the complete symphonic overtures. Guillaume Tell, with its overture in four movements, includes a scene for five solo cellos. La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder), one of his most popular pieces, opens with an overture of charm and élan. Volume 1 (8.570933) was described by MusicWeb International as “an admirable start to what looks like being a very desirable series”.

Naxos 8.573137
Edvard GRIEG (1843–1907)
Three Concerti for Violin and
Chamber Orchestra
(based on the sonatas for violin and piano)
Orchestrated by Henning Kraggerud
and Bernt Simen Lund

Henning Kraggerud, Violin • Tromsø Chamber Orchestra
Violin Concerto No. 1 in F major, Op. 8
Violin Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 13
Violin Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45

Grieg is one of the world’s best known composers, but the three Violin Sonatas are a relatively unfamiliar part of his output, despite being among his own favourite pieces. Grieg never wrote a violin concerto, and the foremost Norwegian violinist of his generation, Henning Kraggerud, assisted by Bernt Simen Lund, a member of the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, has taken up the challenge of creating three new concertos from the sonatas. In these arrangements the solo violin is set against a string orchestra augmented by wind instruments in order to retain the feel of chamber music.

Naxos 8.573015
Pyotr Il’Yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
The Queen of Spades • Voyevoda
Orchestral Suites arranged by Peter Breiner

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra • Peter Breiner

Slovak-born composer and conductor Peter Breiner has received considerable international acclaim for his adaptations, and hisTchaikovsky arrangements are particularly impressive examples of his art. He has already arranged The Seasons (8.553510) and Songs (8.555332) but here he turns to opera. With deftness and subtlety he has taken motifs from Tchaikovsky’s first opera Voyevoda to craft six richly scored movements, two of which have rôles for solo strings. The Queen of Spades was composed in 1890 and Breiner’s selections fully explore the music’s romance and drama in their new form.

Naxos 8.572817
Fernando LOPES-GRAÇA (1906–1994)
Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2

Eldar Nebolsin, piano
Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto – Casa da Música
Matthias Bamert

The music of Fernando Lopes-Graça, one of the most significant Portuguese composers of the twentieth-century, went through several phases of development. Though rooted in folk music, it absorbed influences not only from much earlier composers such as Scarlatti and Seixas, but from contemporaries such as Bartók. These influences are potent in the Piano Concerto No. 1 of 1940, a highly personal, atmospheric and superbly orchestrated work imbued with bittersweet romanticism. Though the Iberian Baroque permeates its finale, the Piano Concerto No. 2 is a much darker and more ambivalent work, marking a new milestone in his development.

Naxos 8.572981
Luís TINOCO (b. 1969)
Round Time • From the Depth of Distance 1
Search Songs 2 • Songs from The Solitary Dreamer 3

Ana Quintans1, Yeree Suh2 & Raquel Camarinha3, sopranos
Orquestra Gulbenkian • David Alan Miller

Portuguese composer Luís Tinoco’s works are “as engrossing as they are entertaining” (Musical Opinion), and these première recordings represent some of the most exciting new orchestral work to appear in recent years. Conductor David Alan Miller writes, “Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as French Impressionism and Brazilian Jazz, Tinoco creates a sound world that is uniquely, distinctly Portuguese, equal parts sunshine, saudade and sensuality. I know it’s good when it makes my knees weak.”

Naxos 8.573147-49
Carlo GESUALDO da Venosa (1566–1613)
Madrigals Books 5 and 6

Delitiæ Musicæ • Marco Longhini

Published together in 1611, Gesualdo’s Fifth and Sixth Books of Madrigals can be seen as musical ‘twins’, concluding a collection of madrigals by a composer whose boundless invention and creativity was unrestrained by an employer’s demands or the constraints of courtly convention. Gesualdo returns to themes of love and rejection, death and suffering, joy and sorrow; creating music which has the power to surprise and enthrall anyone who hears it. This is Delitiæ Musicæ’s final volume of their highly acclaimed cycle of the complete Madrigals.

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