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

March 1, 2015

ROSSINI Guillaume Tell
Foster-Williams, Spyres, Howarth, Poznan Camerata Bach Choir, Virtuosi Brunensis, Fogliani

This production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell was the jewel in the crown of the 2013 Rossini in Wildbad opera festival. The occasion marked the world première recording of the work in a version that included all the music Rossini composed for the opera for its very first performance. Running for some four hours, the original 1829 score was soon subjected to continued, drastic cuts, all of which are restored here in a unique performance captured in a marvellous recording. For this reason alone it will have a great impact in the opera world. The performance is headed by Andrew Foster-Williams in the demanding title role, renowned for his “resounding strength, unadorned clarity, shapely phrasing and excellent diction.” (The Australian) Successful releases from the same festival have included Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri (8.660284-85) considered “among the best available” by Opera News.

PAINE Orchestral Works Vol 2
Ulster Orchestra, Falletta

This is the second and final volume of our new and exceptionally fine recordings of all the published orchestral works of John Knowles Paine. The Second Symphony was the composer’s own favourite composition; his Prelude to the tragic play Oedipus Tyrannus was an immediate hit; while An Island Fantasy was his last orchestral piece. The New York Timesconsidered the content of Volume 1 (8.559747) “persuasively crafted, making these regal, beautifully played and recorded accounts impossible to dismiss”, and Fanfare considered it “an urgently recommended, indispensable release.” With recordings of most of these works either thin on the ground or entirely unavailable, the set is an instant and highly desirable reference for this notable repertoire.

BIZET Roma, Marche Funèbre, Patrie Overture, Petite Suite
Ireland RTÉ National Symphony, Tingaud

This disc continues our championing of the neglected areas of Bizet’s output. All the items reveal aspects of the composer’s talents that have remained largely obscured by the popularity of his opera Carmen. The Ouverture in A was Bizet’s first orchestral work and unperformed in his lifetime, while the Marche funèbre is the surviving remnant of an opera now lost. The dramatic overture Patrie captures the national mood following the Franco-Prussian war, while the Petite Suite includes playful games for children. Conceived in Italy after winning the Prix de Rome, the symphony Roma occupied the composer for 11 years before reaching the final version heard here. Jean-Luc Tingaud and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra’s recent disc of works by Paul Dukas (8.573296) was hailed by The Guardian for its “energy and vivid characterisation”.

And the Bridge is Love
English Chamber Orchestra, J. Lloyd Webber

There are numerous recordings of British string music, but none that quite matches this one. The programme offers an irresistible mix of established classics such as Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro alongside his two Chansons (the latter in arrangements never recorded before) plus the world première recording of Howard Blake’s And the Bridge is Love. This features master musician Julian Lloyd Webber both as solo cellist and director of the English Chamber Orchestra, one of the finest ensembles around. William Lloyd Webber, Julian’s father, is represented by his poetic Moon, which was performed for the first time only last year. I expect the market reaction to this release to continue the enthusiastic response for Julian’s previous two Naxos discs: the Vivaldi Concertos for Two Cellos (8.573374) was voted a Classic FM Album of the Year, 2014, while The Strad applauded the “innate musical chemistry” between Julian and his wife Jiaxin on A Tale of Two Cellos (8.573251).

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

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