The spotlight release in the September issue of NEW ON NAXOS is Boris Giltburg’s new recording, starting a new series of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) and conductor Vasily Petrenko. The first instalment features the First and Second Piano Concertos, and the Rondo, WoO 6. Giltburg, the RLPO and Petrenko have previously recorded Shostakovich’s two piano concertos on Naxos, which received a perfect 10/10 score from ClassicsToday.com (‘These are big, bold, in-your-face performances’), a BBC Music Magazine ‘Concerto Choice’, and a Diapason d’Or award. Boris Giltburg’s recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 21 and 32 also received similar critical acclaim.
Other highlights include: Leif Segerstam’s third Beethoven recording, performing the incidental music to Egmont; Opéra Comique’s production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice in its 1859 version by Hector Berlioz; Wagner’s Der fliegende Höllander (‘The Flying Dutchman’), recorded live from a 2015 production by Theatre an der Wien; world premiere recordings of Chang Ping’s concertos for traditional Chinese instruments; William Perry’s music for stage and screen including several world premiere recordings; second volume of Sonia Rubinsky’s Magna Sequentia series, performing keyboard works by J.S. Bach; two new releases from Naxos World Music; and many more.
Beethoven’s first two piano concertos share an abundance of lyric and virtuosic qualities. Concerto No. 1 in C major is expansive and richly orchestrated with a sublime slow movement that is tender and ardent, and a finale full of inventive humour. Concerto No. 2 inB flat major marries energy with elegance, reserving poetic breadth for its slow movement and quirky wit for the finale. Also included is the jovial Rondo, WoO 6, which Beethoven originally intended to be the finale of Concerto No. 2.
Beethoven was involved with the theatre in one way or another from boyhood, and the commission to compose incidental music for Goethe’s play Egmont at the Royal Imperial Court Theatre in Vienna was the first of many such collaborations. Beethoven’s score conveys the essence of this tragedy and reveals his clear affinity with its theme of heroic sacrifice by a man condemned to death for taking a valiant stand against oppression.
Gluck’s influential Orphée et Eurydice tells the story of Orphée’s descent into the Underworld to retrieve his wife Eurydice. His singing has the power to overcome the guardian Furies, but the path of true love is shadowed by sorrow and tragedy. As a true ‘drama of the soul’ with intense psychological and emotive power, Orphée et Eurydice shook Enlightenment Europe to its core. Berlioz, in his 1859 version prepared for the Théâtre Lyrique, exploited the score’s full potential through a synthesis of the versions Gluck prepared for Parma, Paris and Vienna. Aurélien Bory’s Paris production was described as ‘just breathtaking’ by OperaJournal.
Der fliegende Holländer is considered to be the first ‘true’ Wagner opera. The story of the phantom ship and its haunted master becomes a sensually charged drama with love and tragic sacrifice at its heart, and this original 1841 version leaves the ultimate redemption of its central characters unresolved. Wagner originally conceived the opera for Paris, so it is fitting that this production from the Theater an der Wien is driven by French director Olivier Py’s unique vision, with a staging that dispels many of the misconceptions surrounding Wagner’s art.
Award-winning composer Chang Ping’s Oriental Wash Painting is a set of four concertos that showcases traditional and ancient Chinese instruments, each performed by renowned and influential soloists. The ‘wash painting’ of the title implies a relationship between music and Chinese ink paintings – masterpieces which are magnificent and unconstrained, revealing a noble personality and character. This recording captures the world premiere concert of these remarkable works at the China National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
Mieczysław Weinberg’s works for flute were mainly conceived for the renowned soloist Alexander Korneyev. The earliest of these is the 12 Pieces from 1947, a playful series of character studies that touch on a variety of moods. Also from 1947, the recently rediscovered 5 Pieces draws on Debussy and the early string quartet Capriccio, Op. 11 for its ironic good humour. The First Flute Concerto has a genial air with klezmer influences, while the Second Flute Concerto, among Weinberg’s last works, is often introspective and valedictory in mood. This is the first complete recording of Weinberg’s entire output for accompanied flute.
William Perry is best known as a composer of film scores, and especially for silent films from which Swordplay! raises the curtain on the swashbuckling films of Douglas Fairbanks. This sparkling selection of world premiere recordings comes from Perry’s substantial catalogue of music for the theatre and the concert hall. Toujours Provence takes us on a cinematic journey through France’s most picturesque region, while the ballet suite derived from his Tony-nominated Broadway score for Wind in the Willows vividly brings to life favourite characters from the story such as Mole, Rat, Toad and the Chief Weasel.
Sonia Rubinsky’s Magna Sequentia I (8.574026) was constructed around a Partita from Bach’s Clavier-Übung I but this second volume focuses on the French Overture from Clavier-Übung II. Each of the 17 movements has been selected to illustrate the different styles and expressive moods of Bach’s dance writing. This unique sequence showcases three specific national styles: the ornate and sophisticated French school, virtuosic Italian writing, and the stricter fugal writing of the German style. Contemporary insights abound in Rubinsky’s historically informed playing.
Following on from the two large sets of dance suites, Magna Sequentia I (8.574026) and Magna Sequentia II (8.574027), Magna Sequentia III is a contemplative collection featuring a varied group of pieces that spans Bach’s compositional career, from very early works such as the Prelude from the Suite in F minor to works from the end of his life, such as the Ricercar a Tre from The Musical Offering.
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Covering a vast array of repertoire, this essential collection presents the greatest choral masterpieces in critically acclaimed performances. From the sacred music of the Medieval era, to the refinement of the Renaissance and the Baroque; from Mozart’s Classical perfection, to the Romantic worlds of Schumann, Brahms and Dvořák; and to the exciting new sounds of Penderecki and the inspired beauty of works by Eric Whitacre and Arvo Pärt, and much more besides – The Choral Collection is a fantastic celebration of the art of choral singing.
My Mother Persia is a cycle of eight symphonic poems by the distinguished Iranian-born composer and conductor Alexander Rahbari (the first three poems are on 8.574064). Three of the works on this album set some of the finest Iranian poetry and are cast for the tenor voice employing traditional sung forms. Rahbari’s music utilises the lavish sound world of the symphony orchestra but contains many of the essential elements – scales, rhythms and colours – of Iranian music.
In 1904 Max Reger wrote what was to be the first in a major sequence of variations on themes by his great predecessors. The Variations and Fugue on a Theme by J.S. Bach was written for piano but its richness and virtuosity exceed the scope of the instrument. Ira levin’s orchestration clarifies the structure, intensifies climaxes and reduces its length. The Four Tone Poems explore the paintings of the symbolist Arnold Böcklin and form symphonic mood pictures that veer from delicacy to Bacchanalian frenzy.
Carl Czerny penned an astonishing amount of music, including the numerous potpourris, fantasies, teaching pieces and studies for which he became known. This recording features the delightfully entertaining Concertino in C major, Op. 210/213 (MS Op. 197), as well as the highly enjoyable Rondino, a work based on an enchanting theme taken from Daniel Auber’s opéra comique Le Maçon. A pupil and lifelong friend of Beethoven, Czerny was just 21 when he wrote the pastoral Second Grand Concerto in E flat major. Begun only twelve days after he had given the Viennese premiere of his mentor’s Emperor Concerto, the same choice of key seems a fitting homage to the grand master he so revered.
Alexander Moyzes remains one of the most significant figures in the establishment of Slovak musical nationalism in the 20th century. A profound and admired symphonist, he also wrote a sequence of orchestral music that explored the landscapes and national folk identity of his ative country. Down the River Váh, Op. 26 is one of his most colourful and vivid scores, charting a journey from the Tatra mountains passing flowery meadows, imposing castles and surging waters. The Dances from Gemer, Op. 51 and Pohronie Dances, Op. 43 are characteristic national works epitomising Slovakia’s fertile folkloric traditions.
Music for wind ensemble was a regular part of entertainment in Beethoven’s day, and his Octet was composed for the skilled players in the service of his patron, the Archbishop-Elector in Bonn. The charming and skilfully written Sextet is also ‘from my early things and, what’s more, was written in one night’; impressing a critic of the time ‘by its splendid melodies, leisurely harmonic flow, and wealth of new and surprising ideas’. Wind partitas often opened with a March, and the Rondino was originally intended as the Finale to the Octet, two suitable pieces to complete this fashionable Beethoven soirée.
Jacques Castérède’s distinguished career was centred in Paris, but with musical roots in the early 20th-century traditions of neo-Classicism and Les Six – the wide variety of scope and intent in his work was never meant to compete with the radical avant-garde. The balletic Flûtes en vacances has become one of his most popular pieces, while Ciels (‘Skies’) was a competition piece for the Conservatoire. The colours in Trois moments musicaux d’après Corot depict paintings in sound while the Sonatine de Mai is more neo-Classical in mood.
Telemann wrote a portfolio of fantasies for unaccompanied instruments, and in addition to those for violin, keyboard and viola da gamba was the set of Twelve Fantasies for Solo Flute, dating from 1732/33. Although written with an eye to the amateur or student market, these are highly inventive and original works. With their eloquent melodies, fugal writing, and contrasts of register and phrasing they make an enchanting set, played here by Giovanni Roselli on a conical ring-key flute.
Classical guitar music has flourished in New Zealand in recent years, and Bruce Paine, among the country’s leading composers for the instrument, is one of the most imaginative and original. This album charts the course of his writing from one of his earliest pieces, the poetic, witty tone poem Sea Suite, to the recent and substantial Waitematā Reverie. Drawing on an impressionistic palette Paine conjures up chime arpeggios as well as the natural world in Oakura Chimes. The four settings of Māori folk songs were arranged expressly for this album.
Mizu means roots in Chichewa, the national vernacular language in Malawi. For Code Sangala it marks a musical journey back into the authentic sound of Malawi. The music is inspired by traditional Malawian dances, giving them a contemporary flair.
This series explores China’s rich and diverse musical heritage. The songs featured in this recording are folk songs of five minority ethnic groups of Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang – Mongol, Daur, Oroqen, Evenki and Hezhen. As with Chinese traditional visual arts, the song titles explain their mood and origin.
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!
Bruce Paine: 4 Māori Folk Songs: No. 1. Hine e Hine (Gunter Heibrig)
William Perry: Toujours Provence, Part III: Café Terrace at Night (Chertock, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, P. Phillips)
Jacques Casterede: Sonatine d’Avril: II. Ben moderato (C. du Toit, Sutton)
Max Reger: 4 Tondichtungen nach Arnold Böcklin, Op. 128: No. 4. Bacchanal (Frankfurt Brandenburg State Orchestra, Levin)
Code Sangala: Mukunama
Shumei Nei: In Retrospect
Carl Czerny: Rondo, Op. 213 (Tuck, English Chamber Orchestra, Bonynge)
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 19: III. Rondo: Molto allegro (Giltburg, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Petrenko)
Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C Major, BWV 846 (Sonia Rubinsky)
Alexander Rahbari: Symphonic Poem No. 6, ‘The Hymn of My Mother Persia’ (Motamedi, Antalya State Symphony Orchestra, A. Rahbari)
Ludwig van Beethoven: Egmont, Op. 84: Zwischenakt III: Allegro – Marcia vivace (Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Segerstam)
Ludwig van Beethoven: Octet in E-Flat Major, Op. 103: III. Menuetto (Various Artists)
Mieczysław Weinberg: Flute Concerto No. 1, Op. 75: II. Largo (C. Stein, Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra, Coleman)
Chang Ping: Oriental Wash Painting: I. The Wind Washed Clouds (Wei Ji, China National Symphony Orchestra, Tao Lin)
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