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Featured Releases - May 2020

THE STATE OPERA – A film by Toni Schmid (Documentary, 2017)
The State Opera
A film by Toni Schmid

Harteros • J. Kaufmann • K. Petrenko • Mehta • Bolton • Bachler • P. Jonas

The State Opera is the first film ever made about the Bavarian State Opera, one of the world’s oldest, most prestigious and internationally esteemed companies. It charts the course of three operas—Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Les Indes galantes and Un ballo in maschera—as they come to life on the stage. We meet some of the great singers, such as Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros, in performance and behind the scenes, as well as artistic directors past and present, and two of the music directors in Kirill Petrenko and his predecessor Zubin Mehta. As both a celebration and an exploration, this entertaining film is a declaration of love for the operatic form.

Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0110V)

ZEMLINSKY, A. von: Der Zwerg [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2019)
Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871–1942)
Der Zwerg (‘The Dwarf’)
Libretto by Georg C. Klaren
After the fairy tale The Birthday of the Infanta by Oscar Wilde

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874–1951)
Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene, Op. 34
(‘Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene’)

Tsallagova • Magee • Butt Philip • Mehnert • Orchestra & Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin • Runnicles • Kratzer

Based on Oscar Wilde’s story The Birthday of the Infanta, Zemlinsky’s single-act opera Der Zwerg is the tragic tale of a dwarf who is presented at court, falls in love with the beautiful Donna Clara, but is ultimately forced to see himself as others see him and to die of a broken heart. Preceded by Schoenberg’s Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene, Op. 34, Zemlinsky’s Romantic score is full of psychological intrigue. Is Der Zwerg a critique of society’s superficiality? Is it the composer’s self-portrait in his doomed affair with Alma Schindler? Director Tobias Kratzer’s stunning, transparent production creates a space in which each character is thrown into sharp relief in this ‘fine, noble and melancholy work’ (

Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0108V)

ALMEIDA PRADO, J.A. de: Piano Concerto No. 1 • Aurora • Concerto Fribourgeois
José Antônio de ALMEIDA PRADO (1943–2010)
Piano Concerto No. 1
Aurora • Concerto Fribourgeois

Rubinsky • Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra • Mechetti


At the time of his death in 2010, Almeida Prado was one of Brazil’s most internationally admired composers, one who created music of unique sonority and colour, rooted in his native country. In Aurora (‘Dawn’) he employs his newly developed ‘transtonality’ to radiant effect, while the Concerto Fribourgeois features a collage technique. In his Piano Concerto No. 1 Almeida Prado explores a cogent structure in which the soloist opens up, rips apart or transforms the theme and variations, in a work that is both grandiose and luminous.

FRANCK, C.: Psyché • Les Éolides • Le Chasseur maudit
César FRANCK (1822–1890)
Psyché *
Les Éolides • Le Chasseur maudit

RCS Voices * • Royal Scottish National Orchestra • Tingaud

César Franck was a childhood prodigy who gained later renown as an organist and teacher. His compositions received scant attention until the success of Le Chasseur maudit, a symphonic morality tale that vividly portrays the ‘accursed huntsman’ from his defiance of the Sabbath to a dramatic chase and a horrific fate. Les Éolides is infused with Wagnerian colours and depicts the mythological Aeolids as they reawaken nature with their song. Franck’s lushly orchestrated final symphonic poem Psyché expresses the power of love in dreams and a passionate union.

MAYR, J.S.: Le due duchesse (Opera)
Johann Simon MAYR (1763–1845)
Le due duchesse
Libretto by Felice Romani
Edited by Franz Hauk, Manfred Hößl and Diemut Hauk

Various Soloists • Members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus • Simon Mayr Chorus • Concerto de Bassus • Hauk


As one of the leading operatic composers of his generation, Johann Simon Mayr nurtured a fascination with the chivalric stories of medieval England. Le due duchesse, an opera semiseria with buffa elements, is set during the reign of the 10th-century King Edgar. Huntsmen’s and Knights’ choruses and troubadour-like songs give great vivacity to a score that is both lyrical and dramatic. Mayr’s compound of Viennese Classicism and Italianate melodic beauty, allied to his ambitious writing and a skilful libretto, produced an important and influential opera couched in his own unmistakable idiom.

DAUGHERTY, M.: This Land Sings – Inspired by the Life & Times of Woody Guthrie
Michael DAUGHERTY (b. 1954)
This Land Sings
Inspired by the Life and Times of Woody Guthrie

Socolofsky • J. Daugherty • Dogs of Desire • D. Alan Miller


In This Land Sings, GRAMMY Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty has created an original musical tribute to the singer-songwriter and political activist Woody Guthrie (1912–1967). Traveling the backroads of America from coast to coast with a guitar and harmonica, Woody Guthrie performed folk songs of love, wandering and social justice during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Daugherty has composed his own original songs and instrumental interludes that give haunting expression, ironic wit and contemporary relevance to political, social and environmental themes from Guthrie’s era. Under the baton of GRAMMY Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller, the Albany Symphony’s new music ensemble Dogs of Desire, joined by soprano Annika Socolofsky and baritone John Daugherty, give a poignant and rousing performance.

American Violin Sonatas – HARBISON • SCHOENFELD • STUCKY
Three American Violin Sonatas
BERNSTEIN, L.: Canon for Aaron

Cho-Liang Lin • Jon Kimura Parker


The three sonatas on this recording were written at the behest of violinist Cho-Liang Lin, who worked closely with each composer at their premiere performance. Paul Schoenfeld’s Violin Sonata references literary influences and the composer’s past as well as his Jewish heritage in the work’s final Freilach or “joyous dance”. Steven Stucky acknowledged Debussy as the source of inspiration in his work, while the alchemy of John Harbison’s style creates music that is simultaneously abstract and narrative. Wryly introduced as “crazy modern music”, Bernstein’s brief Canon for Aaron was composed for Copland’s 70th birthday celebrations.

French Piano Rarities – BOULEZ • DEBUSSY • MESSIAEN • RAVEL
French Piano Rarities

Ralph van Raat


This album of French piano rarities features seldom-heard and recently discovered works by composers who had an influence on Pierre Boulez, as well as the premiere recording of Boulez’s Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo. This large-scale early work looks back on virtuosic Romantic music, while at the same time exploring the new compositional styles that Boulez would subsequently embrace. Among the rarities is a posthumously discovered piano study by Debussy, a reconstructed birdsong work by Messiaen, and a tiny masterpiece by Ravel found in a notebook.


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