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Featured Releases - October 2018


KORNGOLD, E.W.: Das Wunder der Heliane, Op. 20 [Opera]
Erich Wolfgan KORNGOLD (1897–1957)
Das Wunder der Heliane
Libretto by Hans Müller

Kremer • Hebelková • Storey • Thammathi • Hanczár • Argiris • van Hove • Choirs of the Theater Freiburg • Philharmonisches Orchester Freiburg • Bollon

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was at the height of his fame and technical mastery by the time he began work on his fourth opera in 1923. Prominent opera houses clamoured to stage his works, and the Viennese premiere of Das Wunder der Heliane (‘The Miracle of Heliane’) featured Lotte Lehmann among its star cast. Its story is one of the redemptive power of love over injustice and adversity, expressed in music that is richly impressionistic and intensely dramatic. Korngold was criticised for resisting the tide of modernist atonality in this opulent score, but its symbolism and compelling romantic atmosphere can be appreciated today more than ever.


BACH, J.S.: Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1750)
Christmas Oratorio
Weihnachtsoratorium

Kleiter • Magiera • Poplutz • Bauer • Bachchor Mainz • Bachorchester Mainz • Otto

J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was written for the Christmas season of 1734, and although it incorporates music from earlier works it belongs firmly among his timeless large-scale compositions. The development of the oratorio, which was to become a new musical form in Protestant church services at that time, was stimulated by Bach’s compositions, particularly by the unusual form of his six-part Christmas Oratorio. From its famously joyful opening ‘Jauchzet frohlocket’ to the arrival of the Wise Men from the East, this work’s enduring popularity has long proven its status as a choral ‘evergreen’.


BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice (Teatro Real, 2014) [Opera]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913–1976)
Death in Venice
Libretto by Myfanwy Piper
Based on Der Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann

Daszak • A.R. Constanzo • Melrose • Rock • Borczyk • Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra • Pérez • Decker

Adapted from Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, Death in Venice was Benjamin Britten’s last opera, the composer insisting on its completion while delaying badly needed heart surgery. The starkly simple narrative of a famous but failing novelist travelling to Venice to seek inspiration only to find unhealthy infatuation and deadly cholera, is given a chamber-like precision and clarity through Britten’s score, becoming a haunting drama filled with musical symbols, disquieting mystery and richly evocative atmospheres of Venice and its strange characters. Willy Decker’s Teatro Real production was described as ‘one of his most brilliant stage works… a remarkable technical feat.’ (bachtrack.com)

Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0076V)


VERDI, G.: Macbeth (Teatro Massimo, 2017) [Opera]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Macbeth
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave

Pirozzi • Alfano • V. Constanzo • Pierattelli • Frontali • Ceriani • Mimica • Orchestra, Coro e Corpo di ballo del Teatro Massimo • Ferro • E. Dante

Commissioned in 1846, Macbeth offered Verdi the opportunity to make a qualitative leap in his career and its premiere was triumphantly received by audiences. Yet the libretto had proved problematic and many Italian critics did not share the composer’s reverence for Shakespeare. Verdi surmounted all concerns with an opera that valued brevity but also preserved the play’s most important elements. The formidable final concertato stands as one of his greatest achievements thus far, his pacing and detailing of the opera as a whole far surpassing his previous works. This production preserves the preferred 1865 revision of the work, sung in Italian and retaining the original 1847 finale.

Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0077V)


SCHREKER, F.: The Birthday of the Infanta Suite • Prelude to a Drama • Romantic Suite
Franz SCHREKER (1978–1934)
The Birthday of the Infanta – Suite
Prelude to a Drama • Romantic Suite

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra • Falletta

Franz Schreker was a prominent figure in early 20th-century Austro-German music, his reputation as an opera composer rivalling that of Richard Strauss. The Prelude to a Drama is the concert overture of Schreker’s acclaimed opera Die Gezeichneten, a lurid drama involving murder and madness. Conceived as a theatrical pantomime, The Birthday of the Infanta adapts Oscar Wilde’s tragic tale of an ugly dwarf who dies of a broken heart, while the Romantic Suite fully explores the composer’s colourfully detailed and translucent orchestration and lyrical expressiveness.


HARBISON, J.: Requiem
John HARBISON (b. 1938)
Requiem

J. Rivera • Martens • Phan • Markgraf • Nashville Symphony Chorus and Orchestra • G. Guerrero

WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING

Pulitzer Prize-winner and MacArthur fellow John Harbison has composed a Requiem for our time – a moving choral work that incorporates the composer’s distinctive sensibilities while drawing deeply on the tradition of Latin sacred music. Completed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Harbison’s Requiem is full of dramatic passages from singers and musicians alike, with abundant opportunities for vocal soloists, brass and percussion to shine. “I wanted my piece to have a sense of the inexorability of the passage of time,” the composer says, “for good and ill, of the commonality of love and loss.”


BERNSTEIN, L.: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Suite • Slava! • CBS Music • A Bernstein Birthday Bouquet
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918–1990)
Suite for Orchestra from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Slava! A Political Overture • CBS Music
A Bernstein Birthday Bouquet

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra • Alsop

WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING

This recording brings together music from some of Leonard Bernstein’s best-loved scores with seldom heard occasional works and premiere recordings. From the iconic musical West Side Story, the hot-blooded dance number Mambo embodies the show’s dramatic tensions. Slava! celebrates Bernstein’s friend and colleague, the cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, in music reworked from the daring show 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from which the Suite rescues further highlights. CBS Music has not been heard since the broadcasting giant’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 1978, while the Birthday Bouquet takes the form of affectionate musical tributes from eight composer colleagues to one of the 20th century’s greatest musicians.


BERNSTEIN, L.: Anniversaries for Orchestra • Fancy Free • Candide Overture • Wonderful Town Overture
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918–1990)
Anniversaries for Orchestra • Fancy Free
Overtures to Candide • Overture to Wonderful Town

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra • Alsop

WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING

The sparkling overture to Leonard Bernstein’s 1956 musical Candide immediately found a prominent place in concert programs all over the world and is now one of his most frequently performed pieces. Many of Bernstein’s best loved works drew inspiration from the city of New York, and this is true both of the three sailors pursuing female conquest in the ballet Fancy Free, and of the rip-roaring swing rhythm and big tunes from the musical Wonderful Town. Bernstein celebrated his friends and family with his Anniversaries – piano vignettes heard here for the first time in colourfully expanded orchestrations. Bernstein protégée Marin Alsop’s long association with the composer gives her unique insights into and feeling for his music.


Music for Brass Septet, Vol. 6 – ELGAR • FINZI • PARRY • WALTON
Music for Brass Septet, Vol. 6
ELGAR, E. • FINZI, G. • PARRY, H. • WALTON, W.

Septura

Septura head homeward, with a recording of British music from the first half of the 20th century – a golden age in England’s otherwise chequered compositional history, and a period in which brass instruments, in the form of the brass band, established their place at the very heart of British musical culture. From the many composers of the period whose music endures we have chosen four of the finest: iconic works by Elgar, Parry, Finzi and Walton, re-imagined for the unique sound of the brass septet.



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