This month’s NEW ON NAXOSspotlight shines on the latest recording of star-violinist Tianwa Yang, performing Édouard Lalo’s and Joan Manén’s Spanish violin concertos, supported by the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Darrell Ang. Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole was dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate, whose complete works for violin have also been recorded by Tianwa Yang and received international acclaim.
Other highlights include JoAnn Falletta conducting the Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players and the Attacca Quartet with Schoenberg’s chamber arrangements of works by Gustav Mahler. This recording features the talents of renowned vocalists Susan Platts, Charles Reid, and Roderick Williams; world première recordings of Richard Danielpour’s song cycles Songs of Solitude and War Songs, performed by acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson, accompanied by the Nashville Symphony and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero; the début recording of the Goldmund Quartet, starting a new cycle of Haydn’s string quartets; Spectrum Concerts Berlin’s latest release, featuring works by Erwin Schulhoff, and performances from highly-acclaimed members violinist Boris Brovtsyn, violist Maxim Rysanov and pianist Eldar Nebolsin; Mohammed Fairouz’s new oratorio Zabur, in its world première recording by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Orchestra conducted by Eric Stark; the latest installment of Vladimir Lande’s Weinberg symphony cycle, including the world première recording of the Suite for Orchestra, performed by the Siberian State Symphony Orchestra; a long-awaited nine-disc set of Naxos’ popular ‘My First’ Classical Albums series; and award-winning Ensemble Leones’ latest recording, featuring works from the ChansonnierCordiforme songbook.
These two concertos – one a staple of the repertoire, the other almost unknown – share melodic richness and a Spanish influence. Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole reflects the quicksilver technique of its dedicatee, Pablo de Sarasate, in its ingenious and virtuosic passagework, with its moods and rhythms indelibly Iberian in feel. Joan Manén, in his day almost as famous as his fellow Catalan Pau Casals, was an admired virtuoso violinist and a prominent composer. His Concierto español, the first of three violin concertos, is suffused with technical demands, lyric warmth, and rhapsodic nostalgia. Soloist Tianwa Yang’s Sarasate recordings have received international acclaim.
Arnold Schoenberg founded the Society for Private Musical Performances in 1918 to perform contemporary music from ‘Mahler to the present’. Mahler had been an early supporter of Schoenberg’s music, and Schoenberg repaid the favour by arranging Mahler’s orchestral works for chamber ensemble and including them at the society’s concerts. The colourful Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen are given a feel of great intimacy in this form, while the lighter scoring of Das Lied von der Erde has the advantage of clarifying instrumental textures, its magical effects capturing ‘the finite nature of earthly things’.
Acclaimed as one of America’s leading contemporary composers, Richard Danielpour wrote Songs of Solitude as a response to the events of 9/11. Drawing on the poems of W.B. Yeats, the work enshrines a sense of economy and sparseness, formed of a set of six powerful orchestral songs. The motivating force for War Songs was a series of photographs of the young men and women killed in the Iraq War. The song cycle, with its texts by Walt Whitman, was written for the Nashville Symphony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Toward the Splendid City is a portrait of New York City driven by Danielpour’s love-hate relationship with his hometown.
Joseph Haydn claimed to have discovered the string quartet form by accident. His Op. 1, No. 1 has the cheerful five-movement form of a Divertimento, while the glorious and harmonically daring Op. 77, No. 1 was among the last he completed in the genre. Falling between the two, Op. 33, No. 5 is full of rhythmic surprises and a theme that gives it the nickname ‘How do you do?’ The award-winning Goldmund Quartet is considered one of today’s most exciting young European string quartets.
The music of the Prague-born prodigy Erwin Schulhoff has become increasingly popular in recent decades. He moved through successive creative phases and, on this recording, Spectrum Concerts Berlin focuses on music written between 1924 and 1927. The Cinq Études de jazz explore the “rhythmic intoxication” he described in a letter to Alban Berg, while the Duo for violin and cello and the Violin Sonata No. 2 offer striking parallels to similar works by Bartók, Kodály, and Debussy. The String Sextet contains violent contrasts and almost Cubist montage and was a key work in Schulhoff’s artistic development.
Mohammed FAIROUZ (b. 1985)
Dann Coakwell, Tenor • Michael Kelly, Baritone • Indianapolis Children’s Choir
Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Symphony Orchestra • Eric Stark
Hailed by The New York Times as ‘an important new artistic voice’ and by Gramophone as ‘a post-millennial Schubert,’ Mohammed Fairouz is one of the most significant composers of vocal music of our time. His oratorio Zabur (Arabic for ‘psalms’) is a kind of war requiem documenting a conflict’s effects on human beings, most notably children. Though cast in a contemporary setting, in a city under siege, Fairouz evokes a timeless world, acknowledging tragedy while asserting an eternal, luminous hope that transcends the disastrous present.
One of the most significant projects of Mieczysław Weinberg’s later years was his symphonic trilogy On theThreshold of War. Symphony No. 17, which bears the dedication ‘In memory of the fallen in the Great Patriotic War’, is the largest-scale of the three and a probing work of considerable depth and unforgettable power. Symphonies Nos. 18 and 19 can be heard on Naxos 8.573190 and 8.572752. With its eloquent themes and ready climaxes, the Suite is one of Weinberg’s most intriguing scores to have survived the difficult early 1950s. This performance is thought to be both the first of the work and the first recording.
The ‘My First’ album series from Naxos is the ideal springboard for a lifelong journey through classical music. Each selection is carefully tailored for younger listeners and includes famous tracks as well as unexpected gems. The booklet is full of information on every piece of music. Unique and imaginative, these CDs will open a door to a wonderful world that children and parents can discover together.
The Chansonnier Cordiforme is a songbook, probably copied in 1475 for a roguish but musically cultivated priest named Jean de Montchenu – a contemporary chronicler called him ‘dissolute and full of all the vices’. The beautiful manuscript containing 43 songs is, uniquely, heart-shaped and covered in velvet. This recording presents both a representative cross-section of the manuscript’s repertoire, the majority of which is set to French texts and is among the best known and beautiful of the age, and a portfolio of differing performance options including instruments. In addition to works by such luminaries as Gilles Binchois and Johannes Ockeghem – music of elegant melody, textural refinement, and sometimes startling harmonic turns – there are ingenious and anonymous parodies of popular songs.
Ravel’s much loved Mother Goose Suite vividly portrays familiar fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Hop-o’-my-Thumb, and is heard here in its expanded ballet version with a scene-setting Prélude. 1920s Paris was a hotbed of creative collaboration, and the children’s ballet L’Éventail de Jeanne (Jean’s Fan) brought together composers including members of Les Six to create a joyous mélange of influence and individuality, from Ferroud’s Stravinsky-tinted Marche to Poulenc’s catchy Pastourelle, and from Ravel’s glorious opening Fanfare to Schmitt’s truly grand Carnival Waltz finale. This is the first recording of the complete L’Éventail de Jeanne to be made by a French orchestra.
Louis Spohr was seen in his day as a worthy successor to Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and completed his Third Symphony whilst at the apex of his personal and professional life. This is reflected in a forward-looking, confident and compelling work which sublimely balances mood and atmosphere, including a passionate Larghetto and a joyous, life-affirming Finale. In his Sixth Symphony, Spohr drew inspiration for each movement from a different musical era; from the music of Bach and Handel in the first movement through to the finale ‘The Very Latest Period’, a lively and sardonic satire on what Spohr felt to be the superficial and flashy compositional style of the time.
Mayr’s opera buffa Amore non soffre opposizioni was first performed in Venice in 1810 and owes something to the increasingly popular genre of the ‘sentimental drama’. Conforming to Neapolitan practice in having no recitatives, it reflects precisely those qualities that aroused such enthusiasm for his music in Mayr’s contemporaries: beautiful, expressive melodies, a natural vocal style, stimulating harmonies, and sophisticated instrumentation. The restoration of Mayr’s music in modern performance has been largely due to the critically acclaimed conductor on this recording, Franz Hauk.
Enrique GRANADOS (1867–1916)
María del Carmen
Opera in Three Acts
Diana Veronese • Silvia Vázquez, Sopranos • Larisa Kostyuk, Mezzo-Soprano
Dante Alcalá • David Curry • Nicholas Sharratt • Vicenç Esteve, Tenors
Jesús Suaste • Gianfranco Montresor • Alberto Arrabal • Ricardo Mirabelli
Alex Ashworth, Baritones • Stewart Kempster, Bass
Wexford Festival Opera Chorus • National Philharmonic Orchestra of Belarus
María del Carmen was Enrique Granados’ first great operatic success and the stage work he held in highest regard. It was received with great acclaim at its première in 1898, admired for its refined and brilliant orchestral writing and for its profound lyricism. Using the folklore, language and sounds of Murcia in southeastern Spain alongside the influence of Wagnerian thematic techniques, the opera is set in a rural village where a water shortage and a love triangle inflame the mutual hatred between the peasant farmer Pencho and his wealthy rival Javier.
This penultimate volume of Joaquín Turina’s complete piano works features his “programmatic” pieces: music inspired by local scenes or texts by the late-Romantic poet and author Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836–70). The “tragicomedy” Recuerdos de mi rincón is a lighthearted divertissement with twelve mini-scenes that portray local characters from Turina’s Madrid neighbourhood, while La Venta de los Gatos brims with truly inspired and beautiful moments. El Cristo de la Calavera further reveals Turina’s deft touch for dramatic and picturesque style while faithfully adapting Bécquer’s story to include every detail. Originally composed for a stage drama, Navidad is filled with Christmas carols and traditional melodies.
This is the second of a four volume series presenting new Spanish works for solo guitar commissioned as part of the acclaimed guitarist, Adam Levin’s residency in Spain. Amongst a wealth of exciting new names there are also some established composers such as Balada, whose imaginative re-invention of Granados’s Danzas españolas opens the recording, García Abril and Casablancas, already made familiar through an extensive catalogue of recordings on Naxos. Volume 1 [Naxos 8.573024] was hailed by Scene Magazine as “one of the essential collections of solo instrumental performance released in the past 50 years”.
The guitar’s range and sense of national colour are celebrated in this recital by Armen Doneyan, the exciting young French virtuoso, with music from Hungary, Poland, Italy, Spain, Cuba and Brazil. His programme includes Luigi Legnani’s Fantasia, Op. 19 with its scintillating Listzian brilliance, as well as the fiery and evocative Fantaisie on Hungarian Themes by Johann Dubez. The pivotal figure of Francisco Tárrega, who established a unique Spanish voice for the guitar, is included as is the vivacious, flamenco-influenced Sonata by Turina. A contemporary master, Leo Brouwer, is represented by his evocative Rito de los Orishas.
Rovshan Mamedkuliev’s transcription of Bach’s monumental Chaconne is flanked on this recording by contemporary works that show how the guitar has inspired composers with its capacity to evoke emotion through lyricism. Walton’s brilliant Five Bagatelles are acknowledged as masterpieces of the repertoire, contrasting with Rodrigo’s joyous musical descriptions of Spain. Rounds is prolific film composer John Williams’ first solo work for guitar, and Nikita Koshkin is acclaimed as one of the instrument’s major creative artists. Described as “an impressive debut” by Classical Guitar Magazine, Rovshan Mamedkuliev’s previous recital can be heard on Naxos 8.573179.
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