This month’s NEW ON NAXOS spotlight recording is Boris Giltburg’s third Naxos recording, featuring Sergey Rachmaninov’s Études-tableux, Op. 39 and Moments musicaux, Op. 16.
Other highlights include the world première recording of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s opera, I gioielli della Madonna (The Jewels of the Madonna), featuring soprano Natalia Ushakova in the lead role, with the Slovak Radio Symphony conducted by Friedrich Haider; choral works by renowned British composer John Rutter, featuring the world première recording of Psalmfest, with performances from top notch soloists, the StAlbans Cathedral Choir and Abbey Girls Choir, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Andrew Lucas; a collection of Viennese Dances by Joseph Lanner, performed by the Orchestre de Cannes conducted by Wolfgang Dörner; the second installment of Kevin Mallon and the Aradia Ensemble’s survey of Henry Purcell’s music for theatre; the world première recording of Silvestre Revueltas’ full score of Redes, performed by the PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez. In addition to the movie, this DVD video release also includes special in-depth interviews with the executive director, JosephHorowitz. Also new this month is the fourth release of Septura’s Music for Brass Septet series, featuring works by renaissance masters Tomás Luis de Victoria, Giovanni Gabrieli, Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina, and Orlando de Lassus; and Randall Thompson’s Requiem, in its world première recording from The Philadelphia Singers and conductor David Hayes.
Pianist Boris Giltburg sees Rachmaninov’s Études-tableaux, Op. 39 as cinematic short stories or colourful tone paintings. Incontrast, the unashamedly beautiful Moments musicaux areconcentrated explorations of a single idea or mood, from struggleand pain towards light and genuine joy. In these collections,which contain some of the composer’s most affecting music,Rachmaninov shows himself to be a master of the meticulouslycrafted short-form genre.
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s The Jewels of the Madonna was a spectacular success in its day, yet after a triumphant world tour it gathered dust until its 1953 Italian première, since when it has received but a handful of performances, culminating in May 2015 with this highly acclaimed revival at the Slovak National Theatre, Bratislava. Combining Italian lyricism with the dramatic realism of verismo and colourful folk-music, The Jewels brings mystical atmosphere and sublimely detailed musical effects to its highly suspenseful plot, delivering powerful choruses, seductive love songs, saucy serenades and orgiastic dances.
The psalms of David have been a source of inspiration to composers for centuries, each text forming a poetic shape the equivalent of a gothic arch, and expressing a broad range of timeless emotions. Recorded here for the first time in its complete form, John Rutter’s Psalmfest is a collection of nine settings for full orchestra as rich and varied as the original texts. The remaining psalm settings were written for special occasions, including the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
Joseph Lanner was the inventor of the formal Viennese waltz, elevating it from a peasant dance to a refined art form enjoyed by high society. While renowned in his day, Lanner seldom left Vienna and failed to acquire the same European fame as his more widely-travelled colleague and rival Johann Strauss I, but his music endures for its rich generic variety and lyrical, poetic style. These dances range from boisterous and ‘immoral’ galopades to the spooky Geistermusik of the Hexentanz, and a late masterpiece Die Schönbrunner, given 21 encores at Lanner’s final concert and including melodies quoted by Stravinsky in his ballet Petrushka.
Despite his immersion in the composition of sacred music, Purcell retained a lifelong interest in the theatre – an aspect of his oeuvre that has been neglected. Among the authors of the five works on this recording were two of the most celebrated of the age – John Dryden and William Congreve – and for their ‘semi-operas’ Purcell produced incidental music and songs of vitality, wit, and imaginative text-setting that offer an intriguing look at the world of Restoration drama. Volume 1 is on 8.570149.
An iconic product of the Mexican Revolution, Redes (1935) combines the talents of a master composer, Silvestre Revueltas, and a master cinematographer, Paul Strand. Its marriage of music and the moving image attains heights of epic grandeur. The codirectors are Fred Zinnemann (en route to Hollywood) and Emilio Gómez Muriel. Because dialogue rarely overlaps music, it is possible to re-record Revueltas’s galvanizing score and discover musical riches inaudible on the original monaural soundtrack. As the Redes concert suites by Revueltas and Erich Kleiber omit much, the present DVD is the world première recording of Revueltas’s full score, one of the highest achievements in the history of film music.
No brass series would be complete without Giovanni Gabrieli, and his music is the starting point as Septura continue on their counterfactual course, imagining that four titans of the counterreformation had written for brass. The sacred choral works of these renaissance masters – Victoria, Gabrieli, Palestrina and Lassus – are a perfect fit for the musical and emotional compass of the brass septet, and the result is a stunning survey of the culminations of the Spanish, Venetian, Roman and Franco-Flemish schools.
Randall Thompson’s choral works retain the affection of American choral singers and conductors alike. The Requiem is his masterpiece, written in response to the loss of close friends and colleagues. Using a wide-ranging selection of Biblical verses, it takes the form of a dramatic dialogue between two choirs, a ‘chorus of mourners’ and a ‘chorus of the faithful’, concerning eternal life. Recorded here for the first time in its complete form, this Requiem is an emotional and dramatically intense journey of conflict and resolution, and entirely unique within American music history and the requiem tradition as a whole.
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