The NEW ON NAXOS October edition presents the world premiere recordings of Peter Breiner’sCaressing Your Soul, a collection of calm, tranquil and serene piano music, that melds melodic substance with musical expression to provide solace, relief and peace of mind. Breiner is one of the most successful composers/performers in the music world, with record sales in the millions and over 200 albums to his credit, including major projects such as Beatles Go Baroque Vols. 1 and 2 (8.555010 and 8.574078), Slovak Dances, Naughty and Sad (8.574184-85) and the Complete National Anthems of the World (8.201002).
Other highlights include: Choreographer Jiří Bubeníček’s Bizet-inspired balletCarmen; André Messager’s Fortunio, staged by Denis Podalydès for Opéra Comique and conducted by Louis Langrée; Jean-Luc Tingaud leading the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in performances of Jules Massenet’s orchestral works; Richard Strauss’sTanzsuite and Divertimento, Op. 86 recorded by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under Jun Märkl; the world premiere recording of Whitman, a radio drama with music by Bernard Herrmann, presented by the PostClassical Ensemble; the Vasari Singers’ 40th anniversary album Heaven full of Stars; and many more.
Peter Breiner is one of the world’s most recorded musicians, with acclaimed releases such as Beatles GoBaroque (8.555010), accounting for millions of albums sold. An exceptional composer/arranger and an accomplished pianist, Breiner is equally at home in almost every genre of music. His origins in Slovakia and his experience in composing for films and for all kinds of audiences has resulted in a personal style that is both accessible and deeply touching. The tranquil and serene pieces for Caressing Your Soul meld melodic substance with musical expression to provide solace, relief and peace of mind in an oasis of calming music.
Choreographer Jiří Bubeníček’s Carmen celebrates the incredible inspiration of Bizet’s timeless music in a completely new two-act ballet that also includes music by Albéniz, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Falla, orchestrated and adapted by Gabriele Bonolis. The production emphasises aspects of the original drama, heightening erotic atmosphere of the cigar factory and Carmen’s wild spirit, and including a spectacular on-stage horse. The sensational choreography closely depicts the storyline of Prosper Mérimée’s original novella in a production that was hailed by critics as a triumph.
André Messager’s Fortunio premiered in 1907 at the Opéra Comique, where it received acclaim that was to last decades. One of the last composers to devote his entire career to opera and operetta, Messager exemplified in his music a feeling for dramatic pacing and the spirit of Belle Époque, qualities that permeate Fortunio, a comédie lyrique in which the dialogue in the libretto is given a continuous musical setting. Taking Alfred de Musset’s play Le Chandelier as his source, Messager explores upper-class society at the turn of the 19th century with subtlety of characterisation and a thoroughly French orchestral transparency.
Jules Massenet is famous for his series of 27 operas that include Manon and Werther, but he also wrote a significant portfolio of orchestral music which include ballets, orchestral suites and incidental music. The works presented here show his versatility and lyricism and include the one-act ballet Espada, saturated in Iberian colour and beguiling rhythms, as well as Les Érinnyes (‘The Furies’) with a vivid sequence of contrasting themes. Modelled after Liszt, Visions is a poème-symphonique of both ethereal and dramatic power.
Richard Strauss was appointed co-director of the Vienna State Opera in 1919 and soon set about composing a new ballet for the refurbished historic Redoutensaal in the city. At carnival in February 1923 the work was unveiled – a delectable series of eight arrangements of music by François Couperin called Tanzsuite. For the Divertimento, an orchestral suite that includes characteristic Straussian orchestration, and which was written many years later, Strauss rearranged six movements from the earlier work and added two further dances.
Bernard Herrmann was famous for his film scores, but he was also a leading figure in music for radio, to which he brought his inimitable palette of mood and sonority. Whitman, whose subject is Walt Whitman’s collection of poems Leaves of Grass, was a 1944 radio drama, a genre now much neglected but revived in this newly restored version. Psycho: A Narrative forString Orchestra is not a suite or excerpts from the film but a concert work, re-ordered and re-composed, while Souvenirs de voyage is one of the most polished and seductive of all American chamber works.
Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem was initially conceived as a ‘cantata of grief’ – it was the death of his mother and the desire to create a memorial to his friend Robert Schumann that makes this music so intensely personal. With its radiant messages of humanity, consolation and comfort, the Requiem caused a sensation and made Brahms famous virtually overnight. The work is heard here with its ‘ad libitum’ organ and contrabassoon reinstated, enormously intensifying the depth of tone colours and lower sonorities.
Contemporary sacred choral music has been central to the repertoire of Vasari Singers throughout its existence, and to mark its 40th anniversary it has selected a sequence of anthems, mostly with star-based themes, the vast majority of which are by living composers. The rich variety to be heard reflects the choir’s commitment to the genre, whether in the ecstasy of Ēriks Ešenvalds, the serenity of Jonathan Dove, the shimmering harmonies of Eric Whitacre, or the ethereal beauties of Paul Mealor.
Korngold’s breathtaking precocity is everywhere in evidence in these two chamber masterpieces. The Piano Trio was composed when he was just twelve years old but its symphonic breadth and brilliantly demanding piano writing reveal myriad tonal colours and a mischievous reinvention of conventional Viennese form. Audacious yet rooted in lyricism, the StringSextet was written almost five years later and possesses memorable themes as well as a refined, theatrical intimacy. Spectrum Concerts Berlin has also recorded acclaimed discs of Hindemith (8.572213) and Toch (8.559324 and 8.559282) for Naxos.
The songs of Dmitry Shostakovich reflect the process of allusion and concealment that permeated his larger-scale music, and this selection traces his musical career from lighthearted early experiments to his late work. Settings of the composer’s most loved poets are included, from Marina Tsvetayeva and Mikhail Lermontov to Shakespeare, as well as settings of Jewish folk poetry. The songs are richly varied and include cabaret-like moments, romantic balladry, the avant-garde and satirical subversion. Through the intimate medium of song Shostakovich managed to express the full range of his genius.
Born in Lisbon of Italian parentage, Pedro António Avondano was employed at the court of Joseph I, becoming Portugal’s leading composer of instrumental music and dances for the royal ballet. Il mondodella luna (‘The World on the Moon’) was a hugely successful libretto by Carlo Goldoni and was set by the likes of Haydn – its comic tale seeing the social climber and strict moralist Buona Fede duped into thinking that he is on the moon. This narrative of illusion in collision with love, jealousy and power struggles is set with sublime lyrical and dramatic transparency by Avondano in this, his only opera.
One of the pivotal and bloodiest battles of 16th-century Europe, the four-month siege of Malta by an Ottoman armada of some 200 ships, from which the local population led by the Knights of Malta emerged victorious, was an extraordinary episode of heroism overcoming overwhelming odds. Alexey Shor’s orchestral cycle Images from the Great Siege allows his signature lyrical expressiveness free rein in a suite of romanticised impressions – from an atmospheric Premonition of the Ottoman invasion, to the daring and climactic The Big Bluff and final jubilant Victory Celebration. Verdiana is a virtuosic showpiece that celebrates and transforms Verdi’s music into samba, bossa nova and tango styles.
Nai-Chung Kuan’s Memory of Mountain, originally a banhu concerto and here recast for the violin, is inspired by the magnificent scenery and culture of Taiwan’s Alishan mountains, and explores three scenic topics employing native instruments to great effect. Joel Hoffman’s music draws from such diverse sources as Eastern European folk music and American bebop, remaining full of lyricism and rhythmic vitality. Nautilus Symmetry, his first work for full Chinese orchestra, and Violin ConcertoNo. 2 ‘Snow in Spring’, display a love of plucked string instruments and traditional Chinese melodies expressed in a style that is recognisably his own.
Alexander Rahbari’s My Mother Persia is a cycle of symphonic poems suffused with the rich melodies, rhythms and improvisations of Persian traditional music in which he is profoundly versed both as composer and conductor. Originally written as a violin concerto, SymphonicPoem No. 9 ‘Nohe Khan’ – the name relates to a singer at religious ceremonies – was recast for baritone saxophone in 2018. Symphonic Poem No. 10 ‘Morshed’ vividly explores ritualised song in the context of ‘ancient sport’. Volume 1 is on 8.574064 and Volume 2 on 8.574065.
18th-century Italian violinists trained in the tradition of Arcangelo Corelli, spreading his elegant, expressive and virtuosic style on their travels throughout Europe. Giovanni Mossi’s sonatas retain Corelli’s dramatic contrasts and structure, while Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli also incorporates features found in music by Vivaldi. Both composers’ works combine formal elegance with wild abandon, lyrical charm and virtuosity alongside plenty of room for improvisation from acclaimed soloist Augusta McKay Lodge.
J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites are believed to have been written in the Saxon town of Cöthen between 1717 and 1723. They stand near the apex of Bach’s compositions for a single instrument and contain some of his most beautiful and vivid writing. Jeffrey McFadden’s guitar arrangements augment these elements with their own harmonic complexity, creating a new string medium for these epochal works. Volume 1, containing the first three suites, is on 8.573625. ‘McFadden's ability to make the guitar sing is second to none’ (Daily Telegraph, UK).
Thirty-two years separate the oldest and most recent compositions on this album of selected works for cello and piano, covering a broad spectrum of Doppelbauer’s artistic achievement. Extending from fateful weightiness to elegiac narrative and tender restraint, there is an impressive range of emotion in the Fantasie that forms the first movement of the Sonata for Violoncello and Piano WV 570, followed by a lively Rondo full of contrasts and a lyrical, melancholy Fuga with a reflective ending. The approach is quite different in the Prelude and Fugue WV 511, its harmonic patterns reminiscent of the organ, with a vigorous, almost Classical opening and a fugue ending fortissimo in a major key. The Three Sonatas for solo violoncello WV 559 explore the entire register of the cello and impose great technical demands on the performer.
Scarlatti’s single-movement sonatas or exercises are his greatest musical legacy. Largely designed for the Infanta, who became Queen of Spain in 1746, the music exists in a number of 18th-century manuscripts, some possibly bequeathed to the great Italian castrato Farinelli. Each of the sonatas in this volume exemplifies the limitless variety of Scarlatti’s imagination, from ‘crush’ notes and surprising pauses, through virtuosic moto perpetuos, bell evocations and busy counterpoint, to delicately restrained phrases and delightful syncopation.
Beethoven wrote sparingly for the stage but it inspired in him some engaging and dramatic music. The opera Fidelio was completed in 1814, nine years after the first version of the opera was premiered as Leonore, and remains one of the most quintessential works in the genre. Egmont is incidental music composed for Goethe’s play, and commemorative music is represented by King Stephen and The Ruins of Athens both of which were written to celebrate the opening of a new German theatre in Pest in 1812.
Boris Giltburg has set out to study and film all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas by the end of 2020. The project started as a personal exploration, driven by curiosity and his strong love of the Beethoven sonatas. These performances display Giltburg’s customary spirit and technical finesse, and also convey the electric atmosphere of the live recording.
For those who are new to an instrument, the first question is often: where to start? The ‘Best Loved’ series offers an easy answer to that question and a perfect introduction to the wonderful, varied world of classical music. Spotlighting individual instruments in some of the best-loved pieces ever written, and with a mix of solo, chamber and orchestral works, the series provides a convenient introduction to classical music’s infinite variety of instrumental sounds and styles. The latest instalments in the series include beloved works for brass instruments – the horn and trumpet.
This month’s Naxos World release features the classical music traditions of 15th-century India, performed by 10th generational Dhulap singer Sumeet Anand Pandey.
Morning Meditation focuses on Dhrupad, the oldest genre of Hindustani classical music from the 15th century that is still in practise today. Sumeet is a promising name in the nearly 300 years old Darbhanga Dhrupad tradition. The purity in rendition of alap and composition highlight his authentic training in Guru-Shishya style. The debut album ensures a meditative and spiritual experience for all.
The award-winning Naxos Audiobooks label offers a wide range of abridged and unabridged digital recordings of the world’s greatest literature. There are Junior Classics, and numerous non-fiction titles with focus to history, religion and philosophy. The label also offers a plethora of classic and contemporary plays on record—from Shakespeare to Beckett.
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.
We are celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a dynamic CELEBRATE BEETHOVEN playlist with various themes based on his life, compositional periods, types of works, and more. This month, we focus on Beethoven’s music for the stage:
Die Ehrenpforten: Chorus – Es ist Vollbracht, WoO 97 (Juha Kotilainen, Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam)
Die gute Nachricht: Chorus – Germania, WoO 94 (Niklas Spångberg, The Key Ensemble, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam)
Die Ruinen von Athen (The Ruins of Athens), Op. 113: Overture (Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam)
Die Ruinen von Athen (The Ruins of Athens), Op. 113: Aria and Chorus – Will unser Genius noch einen Wunsch gewähren (Angela Eberlein, Juha Kotilainen, Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam)
Fidelio, Op. 72: Act II – Finale: Heil! Heil sei dem Tag! (Hungarian Radio Chorus, Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia, Michael Halász)
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