This month’s NEW ON NAXOS spotlight recording is the final volume of Marin Alsop’s highly acclaimed Sergey Prokofiev symphonies cycle, with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. This release features Prokofiev’s last symphonic output – the No. 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131. Since the release of the first instalment in 2012, the series has received critical acclaim and many awards including an ‘Outstanding’ Award from the International Record Review, ‘Orchestral Choice’ from BBC Music Magazine, Critics’ Choice from the American Record Guide, and Allmusic.com ‘Editor’s Choice’ among others.
Other highlights include Gabriel Schwabe performing Saint-Saëns’ Works for Cello and Orchestra, with the Malmö Symphony and Marc Soutrot. Two new releases from the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and conductor Pablo González: (1) Bizet’s popular orchestral suites from Carmen and L’Arlésienne; and (2) a 3-CD special boxed set of Granados’ orchestral music; Rossini in Bad Wildbad’s production of Rossini’s first full-scale opera Demetrio e Polibio; Havergal Brian’s Symphonies Nos. 8, 21 and 26, recorded by the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Walker; the world première recording of Claude Baker’s Piano Concerto ‘From Noon to Starry Night’, featuring renowned pianist Marc-André Hamelin with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and conductor Gilbert Varga; Legacy, a special tribute to Astor Piazzolla, recorded by violinist Tomás Cotik and pianist Tao Lin; and many more exciting releases!
Sergey Prokofiev’s final years were clouded by ill-health, and the Seventh Symphony was his last significant work, full of poignant nostalgia and restrained but deeply expressed emotion. The Love for Three Oranges consolidated Prokofiev’s reputation in the West in the 1920s, both this and the satirical tale of Lieutenant Kijé producing two of his most popular suites. This is the final volume of the acclaimed cycle of Prokofiev’s Symphonies with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop.
Also available with slipcase cover on NaxosDirekt Germany (8.551385)
Composed during a period of social readjustment in post-war France, the First Cello Concerto marked Saint-Saëns’ acceptance as a composer among the establishment, and has long been one of his most admired works. Recognition for the fiendishly technical SecondCello Concerto took longer, although its tranquil central movement contains one of the most sublime melodies Saint-Saëns ever wrote.The supremely famous Le Cygne appears alongside the less well-known Bach-inspired Suite in D Minor, and with the inclusion of the Romance this programme contains Saint-Saëns’s complete works for cello and orchestra.
Despite the scandal it created when first staged in 1875, Carmen has subsequently become one of the world’s most popular operas.The love affair at its heart shocked contemporary audiences butthe music is imperishably vibrant and exciting – so much so that,after the composer’s death, his friend Ernest Guiraud arranged twosuites from the opera. Here the Toreador’s Song and the graphicallysensuous Seguidilla and Habanera dances are heard in all theirorchestral glory. The two suites from L’Arlésienne contain music ofgreat charm and refined elegance.
The genesis of Rossini’s first full-scale opera Demetrio e Polibio is shrouded in speculation, but its initial intention as a ‘family opera’ for the tenor Domenico Mombelli, with roles for his daughters and a libretto by his wife seems clear. Its narrative of political turmoil, romance, kidnap, and the ultimate blessings of true love and unity is a prelude to subjects to which Rossini would frequently turn in future triumphs. The composer’s facility for melody and his genius for combining voices into the loveliest of duets is already much in evidence in this confident but rarely heard debut.
Each of the three symphonies on this recording represents a significant milestone in Havergal Brian’s long musical journey, and each demonstrates the breadth of his symphonic approach. No. 8 was the first of Brian’s symphonies to be performed and is one of his most gripping and unpredictable, full of sonic invention. Behind the more apparently genial and expansive No. 21 lies profound emotional complexity, while No. 26 embodies elements of a divertimento though it retains disquieting outbursts.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Enrique Granados’s birth the three internationally admired volumes of his orchestral discs have been brought together. Characterised as “affectionate and characterful” by Gramophone (volume 2 on 8.573263) they include one of the greatest pieces in all Spanish music, the Intermezzo from Goyescas, as well as much that is exceptionally rare, such as the symphonic poem Dante, one of the most ambitious and exciting Spanish orchestral works of its time.
Award-winning and much decorated composer Claude Baker here entwines his evocative soundworld with the powerful imagery of two great poets. Recorded in its première performance with Marc-André Hamelin as soloist, the Piano Concerto,‘From Noon to Starry Night’ draws on and amplifies the structures and meanings of five poems by Walt Whitman, expressing the heroism and darkness of war, exuberant celebrations of nature and a wistful ‘remembrance of things past.’ Aus Schwanengesang is a memorial piece that expands and ‘recomposes’ the poignant Heine Lieder from Schubert’s song cycle with oblique and multi-layered references.
In the year of the 25th anniversary of Piazzolla’s death, Argentinean-born violinist Tomás Cotik and Chinese-American pianist Tao Lin follow their critically acclaimed Tango Nuevo [8.573166] with more of Piazzolla’s richest and most exciting compositions. These fresh adaptations for mostly two or three musicians preserve and celebrate the Nuevo tango master’s legacy. ‘I think that lovers of tango music will definitely want this fascinating disc’, wrote Fanfare of TangoNuevo.
Composer and Latin GRAMMY®-winning flutist Néstor Torres has inspired a generation of composers to write music that has made vivid contributions to the instrument’s repertoire. This disc represents his first foray into classical recording and his own unique fusion of Caribbean virtuosity and classical training can be savoured in his own composition, Martay María. Tania León’s del Caribe, soy! encapsulates the pulsing rhythms, vibrant colour and improvisatory elements that represent the key features of the album and contrasts beautifully with the seductive allure and expressive depth of Miguel del Águila’s MiamiFlute Suite.
Based in Leipzig with a lengthy career as principal cellist of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Julius Klengel was a renowned soloist and revered the world over as a great interpreter and pedagogue, whose works are still in use by students today. Composed in true Romantic style, the three Concertinos were written for teaching purposes, the first coming closest to the idea of a mini-concerto but all having virtuoso elements and expressive and lyrical central movements. The Konzertstück, Op. 10 gives the piano equal status with the cello to create a thrilling conclusion to any programme.
Sergey Prokofiev was so musically precocious that no less a figure than Reinhold Glière was employed as his live-in tutor. Glière’s lessons proved to be both rigorous and inspiring and the young Prokofiev wrote a delightful sequence of works for the piano. Revealing an increasing command of harmony, these miniatures show why he was, at the age of thirteen, the youngest ever student to be enrolled at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire. Old Grandmother’s Tales, Op. 31, written in New York in 1918, is suffused with nostalgia, while the Six Pieces, Op. 52 are vivid arrangements of some of his earlier works.
Liszt’s opera Christus was premièred in 1873 and enjoyed considerable success. It reflects the life of Christ from the nativity to the Passion and Resurrection and Liszt transcribed movements from it for solo piano. Though dynamic and virtuosic it is also richly pastoral and meditative and includes marches and passages of transfiguring beauty. Liszt transcribed music from another of his oratorios for publication in 1872, The Legend of St. Elisabeth, and it contains music of stirring power: plainsong, a hymn, a march, a Hungarian folk-song and a vivid recapitulation of the themes.
Muzio Clementi’s legacy to pianists is recognised as highly significant for his introduction of a new virtuosity and exploration of the possibilities of the then recently invented fortepiano. His three Sonatas, Op. 23 were published in London in 1790, their style reflecting Haydn’s tremendous popularity in the city at that time. The later Sonata, Op. 34 offers more dramatic contrast, sparkling with chains of thirds, hand-crossing and much use of octaves, comparable resources also being explored in the Fantasia con variazioni on the familiar song ‘Au clair de la lune’.
Marco Antonio Cavazzoni – private harpsichordist to the Duchess of Urbino and Pope Leo X, friend of Titian and Bembo – composed some of the most important milestones in the history of instrumental music. They were published in Venice by Vercellese (1523), the second edition of Italian keyboard music after that of Andrea Antico [Naxos 8.572983]. Usually assigned to the organ, they are restored here to the harpsichord where they originally belonged, as explained in an online essay by Glen Wilson. Contemporary examples further illustrate the fascinating development of Cavazzoni’s major form, the ricercar. The project celebrates the 500th anniversary of the harpsichord on the cover (the world’s oldest), which was owned by Leo X and undoubtedly played on by Cavazzoni.
The harp is often said to be the Romantic instrument par excellence, and for this recording the award-winning young harpist Pauline Haas takes the listener on a journey through the repertoire, from the melancholic balladry of John Thomas’ The Minstrel’s Adieu tohis Native Land to the stunning virtuosity of Albert Zabel’s Fantasy. Alongside Smetana’s perennial favourite Die Moldau she presents her own arrangements, which include the apotheosis of romantic longing, the ‘Liebestod’ from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.
Marco Polo New Releases
Idil Biret Archive
NA0276 • 16-CD Set
NA0277 • 18-CD Set
NA0281 • 2-CD Set
NA0289 • 3-CD Set
NA0268 • 3-CD Set *digital pre-release
NA0279 • 6-CD Set *digital pre-release
NA0290 • 4-CD Set *digital pre-release
NA0291 • 6-CD Set *digital pre-release
NA0311 • 2-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!
Sergey Prokofiev: Symphony No. 7, Op. 131: II. Allegretto - Allegro (São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Alsop)
Camille Saint-Saëns: Suite in D Minor, Op. 16bis: II. Sérénade (Schwabe, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Soustrot)
Claude Baker: Piano Concerto, “From Noon to Starry Night”: III. Lilacs (for L.S.) (Hamelin, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Varga)
Georges Bizet: Carmen Suite No. 1: II. Aragonaise (arr. E. Guiraud for orchestra) (Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, González)
Alexander Borodin: Symphony No. 3 in A Minor (unfinished): II. Scherzo: Vivo - Trio: Moderato (orch. A.K. Glazunov) (Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Schwarz)
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