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

April 1, 2015

SAINT-SAËNS Symphonies Vol 2
Malmö Symphony, Soustrot

Recordings of the complete set of Saint-Saëns’ symphonies are rare, which makes our survey by the acknowledged French music expert Marc Soustrot and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra particularly special. This is Vol. 2 of the 3-volume set and combines the grandiose Third Symphony, one of Saint-Saëns’ most recorded and best loved works, with his youthful and little-known Symphony in A. Le rouet d’Omphale, another early work, is an impressively atmospheric tone poem that depicts the enslavement of Hercules to the Queen Omphale. Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 can be heard on Vol. 1 (8.573138).

VILLA-LOBOS Symphony No 12, Uirapuru, Mandu-çarará
Ulster Orchestra, Falletta

We continue our cycle of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ symphonies, being performed in a new critical edition, with the Symphony No. 12. It’s his last, and a fitting summation of his symphonic craftsmanship: explosive energy, harmonic richness and rhythmic vitality. Uirapurù is one of Villa-Lobos’ most original works, teeming with colours that create an unmistakeably Brazilian sound world, whilst Mandu-Çarará, his little-known secular cantata, is inventive, lush and exciting. Conductor Isaac Karabtchevsky’s disc of Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 was hailed as “A simply outstanding recording … A truly significant issue.” (Musical Opinion)

COUPERIN Les Nations
Juilliard Baroque

François Couperin’s vastly ambitious Les Nations holds a unique place in both his own oeuvre and that of the entire Baroque period. The four Ordres, or suites,for chamber ensemble each combine the free-form purity and thrilling virtuosity of the Italian sonata with the elaborate and poetic French dance tradition. The specialist performers of the Juilliard Baroque are led by violinist Monica Huggett, the legendary early music pioneer and artistic director of the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance programme, whose name is guaranteed to arouse enormous interest in this release.

Great Comedy Overtures
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Friedel

The irrepressible zip of comic opera had its roots in 18th-century Italian opera buffa, which then spread to the French opéra comique, the Spieloper of German-speaking countries and to Viennese operetta. Some of the world’s most popular comic opera overtures are presented on this new release, including glorious staples of the concert repertoire such as Hérold’s dramatic Zampa, Wolf-Ferrari’s delicate Il segreto di Susanna and the vivid colour of Lortzing’s Zar und Zimmermann. If there was ever a disc to put a smile on your face, this is it.

Spanish Night
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Friedel

Concertos for both one, two and four soloists by Joaquin Rodrigo make this a highly attractive disc for guitar lovers. Foremost amongst the pieces is the Concierto de Aranjuez, one of the most immediately recognisable of all guitar concertos, with its fusion of Andalusian colour and unforgettable melody. It’s wonderfully interpreted here by soloist Dale Kavanagh. The Concierto Madrigal showcases the brilliant virtuosity of the Amadeus Guitar Duo, who are joined by the Eden-Stell Guitar Duo for the Concierto Andaluz for guitar quartet and orchestra, in which Rodrigo expertly draws on Andalusian folk-music for the rhythms, turns and fundamental spirit of the work.

KERNIS 3 Flavors, 2 Movements (with Bells), Superstar Etude No 3
Russo, Ehnes, Albany Symphony, Miller

Winner of the coveted 2002 Grawemeyer Award and one of the youngest composers ever to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Aaron Jay Kernis is one of the most widely performed and popular living composers. Although works by him feature on other Naxos discs, this is the first time we have dedicated an entire release to Kernis’ music – and what a release it is, with three world première recordings and star soloists such as violinist James Ehnes and Grammy-nominated pianist Andrew C. Russo. Both of these musicians are enthusiastic supporters of the composer and authoritative in their interpretations of his remarkably colourful work.

HENZE Il Vitalino Raddoppiato, Violin Concerto No 2
Sheppard Skærved, Longbow, Parnassus Ensemble, Henze

This release concludes violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved’s survey of Hans Werner Henze’s works for violin and orchestra. Skærved was Henze’s violinist of choice and closely associated with his string works. The Violin Concerto No. 2 comes from the period of the composer’s interest in ‘action music’. It has a role for speaker and is scored for an experimental, large chamber orchestra. On this release, Henze himself is the conductor in an archive recording dating from 1991. The First and Third Violin Concertos featuring Skærved can be heard on 8.557738. The new recording is of Il Vitalino Raddoppiato, a vividly coloured and overtly romantic piece that looks back to the example of Tomaso Vitali, the Italian Baroque composer and violinist.

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

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