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

October 1, 2014

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No 13 ‘Babi Yar’
Vinogradov • Huddersfield Choral Society • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra • Petrenko

Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 13, Op. 113 in 1962. The climax of his ‘Russian period’ and, in its scoring for bass soloist, male chorus and orchestra, among the most Mussorgskian of his works, it attracted controversy through its settings of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (the ‘Russian Bob Dylan’ of his day)—not least the first movement, where the poet underlines the plight of Jews in Soviet society. The other movements are no less pertinent in their observations on the relationship between society and the individual. This is the final release in Vasily Petrenko’s internationally acclaimed symphonic cycle.

PROKOFIEV Symphonies Nos 1 and 2, Dreams
São Paulo Symphony • Alsop

Prokofiev had written two symphonies as a student but his first numbered work in the genre was the Classical Symphony, completed in 1917. This evokes, melodically though not necessarily harmonically, the world of Haydn and Mozart, and it has remained one of his most popular works. The Second Symphony, by contrast, is a work of ‘iron and steel’ (in the composer’s words), a symphony of conscious modernity and visceral power. Dreams, a ‘symphonic tableau’, reveals the potent, early influence on Prokofiev of Scriabin. Of Marin Alsop and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra’s recording of the Fourth Symphony and The Prodigal Son [8.573186], International Record Review wrote: ‘Conductor and orchestra both shine with the excitement of a special relationship in the ascendant’.

VIVALDI Concertos for 2 Cellos (arr. J. Lloyd Webber)
Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber • European Union Chamber Orchestra • Hofmann

The first arranger of Vivaldi’s concertos was Vivaldi himself, and Julian Lloyd Webber’s new versions on this recording reflect the composer’s pragmatic attitude and zest for experiment. Vivaldi’s Concerto in G minor RV 531 is his only original concerto for two cellos. Alongside this appear works both popular and recently discovered, the mercurial moods of the cellos representing instruments from mandolins to hunting horns. Piazzolla’s Milonga displays all of his most distinctive hallmarks. Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber’s acclaimed album A Tale of Two Cellos can be heard on Naxos 8.573251.

MALIPIERO Fantasie di ogni giorno, Passacaglie, Concerti
Rome Symphony • La Vecchia

Three very varied works make up this latest disc in the Naxos series of Gian Francesco Malipiero’s orchestral works, including two world première recordings. Malipiero claimed, extremely improbably, to have created his Fantasie di ogni giorno—‘Everyday Fantasies’—simply by stringing together musical ideas he had scribbled down from day to day, ‘and it was not even necessary to change their order’. In the Passacaglie, by contrast, Malipiero deliberately set out to use far stricter structural devices, while Concerti, composed two decades earlier, is a highly imaginative and diverse suite of miniature concertos for different instrumental sections of the orchestra.

BECK Symphonies Op 4, Nos 1-3 and Op 3, No 6
Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Pardubice • Štilec

Beck’s symphonies have long been regarded as among the most striking works of their kind from the mid-18th century. Remarkable for their dramatic flair, rich harmonic language and fluid, inventive part writing, the symphonies Opp. 3 and 4 (published in 1762 and 1766 respectively) display a rare level of compositional finish that elevates them above all but the very greatest symphonies of their time. Further Beck symphonies may be heard on Naxos 8.553790 and 8.570799.

HUMMEL Piano Trios Nos 2, 3, 6 and 7
Gould Piano Trio

Johann Nepomuk Hummel studied with Mozart, later taking lessons from Salieri, and worked closely with Haydn at the court in Esterházy. This exalted pedigree equipped him well for the life of a virtuoso keyboard player and composer, and he became admired as a distinguished writer of church and theatre music in particular. But he did not neglect chamber music, composing a series of Piano Trios that reveal his sure command of the idiom. These entertaining works reflect the musical current of the time—with variations, a fashionable and delectable Rondo alla turca, snappy rhythms, and warmly lyrical melodies.

The A–Z of Opera (2nd Expanded Edition)

The A–Z of Opera 2nd edition has been expanded to include even more composers, operas, and 130 bonus tracks. The 1,096-page book details the lives of hundreds of opera composers, and like the range of Naxos recordings itself, this set highlights the extraordinary breadth of opera and its composers across the centuries; it is a rich and inspiring resource for everyone!

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

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