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Chairman’s Choice: Klaus Heymann spotlights some of August’s new releases

August 1, 2017

BELLINI, V.: Bianca e Gernando [Opera]
Dalla Benetta, Mironov, Dall’Amico, Prato, Poznań Camerata Bach Choir, Virtuosi Brunensis, Fogliani
Naxos 8.660417-18

If you thought you knew everything there was to know about Vincenzo Bellini, the quintessential composer of early 19th-century bel canto opera, then you may have to reconsider. His Bianca e Fernando has always been a rarity, both on stage and in recordings. Now we have it with its original title, Bianca e Gernando, in a painstakingly revised version, reconstructed from a copyist’s manuscript. This world première recording of Bellini’s original version was made during the Bad Wildbad 2016 summer season; it presents significant differences from the later version, giving its dramatic shape a distinctive new character. The cast is headed by two well-established exponents of opera from the period: soprano Silvia Dalla Benetta and tenor Maxim Mironov, both of whom have enjoyed critical acclaim for their previous performances at the Wildbad festival.

SVIRIDOV, G.V.: Russia Adrift / Snow is Falling / Music for Chamber Orchestra
Shkirtil, St. Petersburg State Symphony, Serov
Naxos 8.573685

Georgy Sviridov was a celebrated figure in his time who served as head of the Soviet Union’s Composers’ Union, a prestigious position previously held by his former teacher, Dmitri Shostakovich. His vocal works are considered to be amongst the most important in 20th-century Russian music. The main work on this new release is his major song cycle Russia Adrift. Originally written for voice and piano, it’s heard here in the world première recording of the version for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. A sense of authority accompanies it, in that Sviridov originally turned to Eduard Serov to create the orchestral version (although, in the end, the task fell to someone else) and it’s Serov’s son Yuri who conducts it here. Completing the programme is the hypnotic cantata Snow is Falling, while Sviridov’s angular and impassioned Music for Chamber Orchestra reveals his mastery of instrumental writing.

TSONTAKIS, G.: Anasa / True Colors / Unforgettable
Krakauer, E. Berlin, Luosha Fang, Eunice Kim, Albany Symphony, D.A. Miller
Naxos 8.559826

The music of American composer George Tsontakis has been performed and broadcast by major orchestras and chamber ensembles and at festivals throughout North and South America, Europe and Japan. A number of his works have been nominated for GRAMMY Awards. This recording presents three of his recent additions to the concerto repertoire, with two of them (for clarinet and trumpet) commissioned by the Albany Symphony. Tsontakis was the orchestra’s composer-in-residence from 2007 to 2012. Together with the concerto for two violins, the works are distinctive, exciting and multi-faceted, presenting styles that range from from the clarinet’s Klezmer tradition (Anasa), to vivid, jazz-tinged trumpet excursions (True Colors) and contrasting swings of mood in the double concerto (Unforgettable).

STRAUSS, E.: Waltzes and Polkas (A Centenary Celebration)
Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice, Georgiadis
Marco Polo 8.225369

Our multi-volume Strauss Edition on the Marco Polo label has for decades been a standard bearer for the music of the Strauss dynasty – Josef, Johann I and Johann II. That of Eduard Strauss, the overshadowed youngest brother, has remained relatively neglected. Until now, that is. With the exception of two pieces, all the works on this release are world première recordings. They are also performed in their original instrumentation, giving as faithful a recreation of a mid-19th-century ballroom atmosphere as one could imagine. Considerable interest was raised in Vienna when the release of this CD was announced at the annual ‘Tanz-Signale’ international Strauss symposium in March this year. Violin virtuoso and conductor John Georgiadis together with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Pardubice have already recorded three successful volumes of ‘Contemporaries of the Strauss Family’: Vol. 1 on 8.225365 (“Enthusiastically recommended.” - Fanfare); Vol. 2 on 8.225366 (CD of the Week – Classic FM); and Vol.3 on 9.70228.

SCHUBERT, F.: Schwanengesang
Skovhus, Vladar
Capriccio C5292

Baritone Bo Skovhus made his first recording of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin some twenty years ago, at the start of his prestigious career. Now noted for his interpretations of opera and Lieder, he returns to Schubert’s three famed song cycles with the benefit of a fresh, mature perspective. This new recording of Schwanengesang follows his successful recent release of Die schöne Müllerin; his recording of Winterreise will follow soon. Renowned pianist Stefan Vladar is the accompanist, who casts the virtuosity of the piano’s role in a refreshing, new light.

CARTER, E.: Late Works
Aimard, Currie, I. Faust, Queyras, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, BBC Symphony, O. Knussen
Ondine ODE1296-2

An impressive line-up of artists is featured on this recording dedicated to a selection of late works by the iconic American composer Elliott Carter (1908–2012). He wrote more than 60 pieces after he turned ninety years old. His last completed orchestral work, Instances (2012), is included in the programme, along with the world première recording of his last completed work, Epigrams (2012) for piano trio, performed by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, violinist Isabelle Faust and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. The album also features Colin Currie, one of the world’s finest percussionists, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oliver Knussen, who is one of today’s most eminent composer-conductors.

We hope you will enjoy these selections and more from Naxos Records.

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