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

June 4, 2014

DONIZETTI Aristea (Cantata)
Brown • Hershkowitz • Adler • Frey • Sellier • Burkhart • Members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus • Simon Mayr Chorus and Ensemble • Hauk

As the sole recording of Aristea, one of Donizetti’s early works, this release is a must-have for fans of 19th-century opera. Although Aristea might be categorised as a compact ‘cantata-opera’, it was nonetheless conceived for extensive resources. Donizetti used a large cast and full orchestra for the work, which was written to honour Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies. Conductor Frank Hauz and his Simon Mayr Choir have already won accolades for their recordings of music from Donizetti’s time, including Mayr’s Samuele (8.572721–22) in which Andrea Brown, who takes the title role in Aristea, was noted for her “splendid dramatic singing.” (MusicWeb International)

DOHNÁNYI Symphony No 2, 2 Songs
Jones • Florida State University Symphony Orchestera • Jiménez

Dohnányi was one of the last composers in the great Romantic tradition. His powerful Second Symphony is a vast, exciting work that represents his own crowning statement as a Romantic symphonist. It’s a passionate monument to the tradition he espoused and is performed here in its final revised version. The two songs for baritone are rarely heard and are recorded here for the first time, following their revival last year by Alex Jiménez and the Florida University Symphony Orchestra.

SOUSA Music for Wind Band Vol 14
The Central Band of the Royal Air Force • Brion

This is Volume 14 in the Naxos series devoted to the complete output of John Philip Sousa, the ‘March King’ and one of the greatest figures in American musical history. This latest release showcases brilliant overtures, such as Glassblowers Overture, theatrical marches like The Lambs, and El Capitan and His Friends, a suite containing music from three of his remarkably successful operettas. Keith Brion, who founded the New Sousa Band in 1979, is recognised as the world’s leading Sousa conductor.

ALBÉNIZ Piano Music Vol 4
Rubén Ramiro

This latest volume in the comprehensive survey of Albéniz’ works for piano includes some of his earliest compositions that provided the entertaining salon music demanded by Spain’s aristocracy at the time. The transcriptions of the Tres improvisaciones come from the only recording ever made by the composer. The soloist is the multi-prizewinning pianist Rubén Ramiro, whose awards include those from the XII and XIII International Competition Ciudad de San Sebastián and the XIII International Competition José Roca in Valencia.

ZEMLINSKY String Quartets Vol 2
Escher String Quartet

Seventeen years separate Zemlinsky’s first two string quartets. They make a fascinating pairing, showing respectively the dual influences of Brahms (an early supporter) and Schoenberg (Zemlinsky’s brother-in-law). After the sweeping lyricism and relatively conventional palette of the first quartet, the kaleidoscopic effects and technical demands of the second placed Zemlinsky securely in the European avant-garde of the early 20th-century, and confirmed his position as an important figure in the Viennese musical tradition.

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