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Featured Releases - May 2015

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891–1953)
Symphony No. 3
Scythian Suite • Autumn – Symphonic Sketch

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra • Marin Alsop
Naxos 8.573452

This fourth volume in Marin Alsop’s acclaimed Prokofiev symphonic cycle features two of his most viscerally exciting works. Using material salvaged from his opera The Fiery Angel, the Third Symphony was hailed by Serge Koussevitzky at its 1929 première as ‘the best symphony since Tchaikovsky’s Sixth’. Originally commissioned as a ballet by Sergey Dyagilev but rejected as un danceable, the Scythian Suite has become a popular orchestral showpiece, while Prokofiev retained a lifelong fondness for his dark-hued early symphonic sketch Autumn.


Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
La gazza ladra

Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade, Mezzo-soprano
María José Moreno, Soprano • Marianna Rewerski, Alto
Kenneth Tarver • Stefan Cifolelli • Pablo Cameselle, Tenors
Giulio Mastrototaro • Bruno Praticò Lorenzo Regazzo
Maurizio Lo Piccolo • Damian Whiteley, Basses
Classica Chamber Choir, Brno
Pavel Koňárek, Chorus-master • Virtuosi Brunensis
Alberto Zedda

Naxos 8.660369-71 [3 CDs]

La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) marked a culmination of the convergence of serious and comic elements in Rossini’s work. The result is an ideal hybrid: a tragic opera with a happy ending that rises to the status of true opera seria. With its outstanding dramatic and musical qualities it remains one of Rossini’s greatest and most successful operas, a constant presence in the repertoire since its triumphant 1817 première in Milan. This performance is conducted by Alberto Zedda, who made his conducting début in 1956, produced the first critical edition of La gazza ladra, and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the operas of Rossini.

Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b. 1933)
Magnificat • Kadisz

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir • Antoni Wit
Naxos 8.572697

The two works on this recording are separated by 35 years, during which time Penderecki made a decisive break with the post-war European avant-garde. In the Magnificat, chilling instrumental clusters, spectral sounds and impassioned rhetoric unite with tonality and counterpoint to deliver a work of monumental emotional power. Written to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Jewish ghetto in Łódź, Kadisz is among the most distinctive of Penderecki’s later choral works in the stark contrasts between drama and somber reflection of its individual sections.


Zhou LONG (b. 1953)
The Rhyme of Taigu • The Enlightened
Zhou LONG (b. 1953) and Chen YI (b. 1953)
Symphony ‘Humen 1839’

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra • Darrell Ang
Naxos 8.570611

Widely regarded as one of China’s leading composers, Pulitzer Prizewinning Zhou Long writes music which is consistently compelling. The Rhyme of Taigu revives the spirit of Chinese court music from the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), drawing on traditional percussion instruments. Symphony ‘Humen 1839’, co-composed with Chen Yi, vividly commemorates the public burning of over 1000 tonnes of opium, an event that was to lead to the First Opium War between Great Britain and China.

Joan TOWER (b. 1938)
Stroke • Violin Concerto*
Chamber Dance

Cho-Liang Lin, Violin* • Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Giancarlo Guerrero

Naxos 8.559775


Joan Tower creates music which is bold, colorful and communicative, her list of commissions and awards providing ample evidence of her ability to engage performers and audiences alike. Emotional intensity characterizes Stroke, which vividly conveys a stroke victim’s dramatic turmoil while also offering a vision of hope. The Violin Concerto, selected for the final round of the Pulitzer Prize in Music, is both a virtuoso showcase and a lyrical vehicle for the soloist, its conversational cadenzas representing a poignant exchange between the living and the departed. The deceptively titled Chamber Dance alternates huge blocks of sound with intimate solos and duets in an ever-evolving riot of colors. Joan Tower’s Made in America (8.559328) won three GRAMMY® awards.

Gian Francesco MALIPIERO (1882–1973)
Sinfonia degli eroi
Dai sepolcri • Ditirambo tragico
Armenia • Grottesco

Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra • Amaury du Closel
Naxos 8.572766


Five vividly contrasting works, four of them in world première recordings, make up this latest issue in the Naxos series of orchestral music by the Italian composer Gian Francesco Malipiero. Visions of heroism and death form the cornerstone of the release, in the Ditirambo tragico (Tragic Dithyramb) composed during the First World War, and in Malipiero’s two earliest surviving pieces, Dai sepolcri (From ‘Tombs’) and the Sinfonia degli eroi (Symphony of Heroes). They are heard alongside the deceptively relaxed charm of Armenia, based on traditional Armenian melodies, and the varied, pungently Stravinskian moods of the aptly titled Grottesco (Grotesque).

Contemporaries of the Strauss Family, Vol. 1

Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice
John Georgiadis

Naxos 8.225365

The music of the Strauss family is justifiably famous, but many other talented composers were producing popular music of comparable quality in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawn from a unique collection of original archive material compiled by The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain, much of which has been reconstructed or orchestrated by John Georgiadis, this first volume of two presents world première recordings of works by many undeservedly forgotten central European light music composers.


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