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Featured Releases - Août 2017

BELLINI, V.: Bianca e Gernando [Opera]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801–1835)
Bianca e Gernando
Libretto by Domenico Gilardoni

Benetta • Mironov • Dall Amico • Prato • Zong Shi • Viotti • Camerata Bach Choir Poznań • Virtuosi Brunensis • Fogliani
Naxos 8.660417-18 [2 CDs]


Vincenzo Bellini was among the most important Italian opera composers of the early 19th century, and the quintessential representative of its bel canto tradition. Despite his enduring renown, his official operatic debut Bianca e Gernando was known only in its revised version of Bianca e Fernando until this rediscovery and revival at Bad Wildbad in July 2016. Set in the ducal palace of Agrigento and with its tale of secretive plots and triumph over tyranny, this original version of the opera presents both unknown music and significant differences from the revised version, giving its dramatic shape a distinctive new character.


SVIRIDOV, G.V.: Russia Adrift / Snow is Falling / Music for Chamber Orchestra
Georgy SVIRIDOV (1915–1998)
Russia Adrift – Song Cycle1
Snow is Falling – Cantata2
Music for Chamber Orchestra3

Shkirtil1 • Mazhara3 • Voloshchuk3 • Rimsky-Korsakov Music College Female Choir2 • St. Petersburg Radio & Television Boys’ Choir2 • St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra • Yuri Serov
Naxos 8.573685


Georgy Sviridov was a celebrated figure whose vocal works, along with those of his teacher Shostakovich, are considered to be among the most important in twentieth-century Russian music. His ‘small cantata’ Snow is Falling includes passages of hypnotic stillness as well as folk-like warmth, while the major song cycle Russia Adrift evokes landscape, mysticism and religious faith, ending in a solemn hymn to the Motherland. Sviridov’s prolific output included symphonic suites as well as theater and film scores. The angular and impassioned Music for Chamber Orchestra reveals his mastery of non-vocal music.


TSONTAKIS, G.: Anasa / True Colors / Unforgettable
George TSONTAKIS (b. 1951)
True Colors2 • Unforgettable3

Krakauer1 • Berlin2 • Eunice Kim3 • Luosha Fang • Albany Symphony • D. A. Miller
Naxos 8.559826


Over the last few years American composer George Tsontakis, winner of the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, has crafted three distinctive and exciting additions to the contemporary concerto repertoire. Anasa, for clarinet and orchestra, combines elements of the Klezmer tradition with dance themes inspired by the lyra and lauto, traditional Cretan instruments. In True Colors the trumpet journeys in harmonically vivid, jazz-tinged directions, while Unforgettable balances the meditative with the playful, moving from ballad to phantasmagoria in a double concerto of drama and drive.


STRAUSS, E.: Waltzes and Polkas (A Centenary Celebration)
Eduard STRAUSS I (1835–1916)
A Centenary Celebration
Grüsse an die Aula • Mit Extrapost
Bruder Studio! • Doctrinen

Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • Georgiadis
Naxos 8.225369


Throughout his life, Eduard Strauss’ compositions were unfavorably compared with those by his elder brothers, Johann II (1825–1899) and Josef (1827–1870), yet many of his works, especially those dating from the 1870s and 1880s, easily stand comparison with those crafted by his two famous siblings. Moreover, in two particular dance genres – the quick polka and the galop – Eduard was in a class of his own. As the Strauss authority Professor Franz Mailer stated: “Posterity must make restitution to Eduard Strauss.” It is to be hoped that, at the very least, this present recording will encourage a reassessment of “handsome Edi’s” unique musical genius.


LAITMAN, L.: Scarlet Letter (The) [Opera]
Lori LAITMAN (b. 1955)
The Scarlet Letter
Libretto by David Mason

Claycomb • Armstrong • MacKenzie • Belcher • Knapp • Gawrysiak • Opera Colorado Orchestra and Chorus • Pelto
Naxos 8.669034-35 [2 CDs]


“David Mason’s beautiful verse adaptation of Hawthorne’s classic novel, The Scarlet Letter, astutely portrays its characters amid the Puritan society of 17th-century New England. My music – lyrically expressive and intricately orchestrated – dramatizes the psychological underpinnings of this story. Though Hester is shamed for adultery, her steadfast strength of character reveals a true moral sense, while the weaknesses of both her lover and estranged husband ultimately yield their self-destruction.” – Lori Laitman

Lori Laitman has composed multiple operas and choral works, and over 250 songs, setting texts by classical and contemporary poets (including those who perished in the Holocaust). Her music is widely performed, internationally and throughout the US, and has generated substantial critical acclaim.


EŠENVALDS, Ē.: Choral Music (The Doors of Heaven)
Ēriks EŠENVALDS (b. 1977)
The Doors of Heaven
The First Tears • Rivers of Light
A Drop in the Ocean • Passion and Resurrection

Portland State Chamber Choir • Ethan Sperry
Naxos 8.579008

The Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds has rapidly become one of the world’s most performed choral composers. His ability to bring a dramatic text to life through textures that are lush yet permeated with a more stringent and angular aesthetic has ensured a steady stream of commissions from leading orchestras and choral forces. The four works here reflect an interest in the beauty of nature, religious faith and legend. The First Tears explores an Inuit story and employs subtle instrumental coloration from jaw harps and Native American flutes, whilst Passion and Resurrection is a profound and powerful exploration of Christ’s death and Resurrection.


SCHUMANN, R.: Arrangements for Piano Duet, Vol. 4 (Eckerle Piano Duo) - Symphony No. 2 / Overtures / Concertstück
Robert SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
Arrangements for Piano Duet, Vol. 4
Symphony No. 2 • Genoveva, Op. 81: Overture
Overture to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Op. 128
Konzertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra

Eckerle Piano Duo
Naxos 8.572880


Demand for piano duet material in the nineteenth century was such that the market expanded to an unparalleled extent. The preparation of an easily playable four-hand piano reduction was of critical importance to a work’s dissemination and Robert Schumann, himself a keen duet performer, wrote for the medium with enthusiasm. He arranged his Symphony No. 2 himself, aided by his wife Clara, expending considerable time and effort on the work. The overtures show the variety of arrangers involved, such as his brother-in-law Woldemar Bargiel and the organist Robert Pfretzschner, both of whom Schumann held in the highest regard.



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