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

May 1, 2015

PROKOFIEV Symphony No 3, Scythian Suite, Autumnal Sketch
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Alsop
Naxos NBD0047 [Blu-ray Audio]
Also available: 8.573452 [CD]

Prokofiev’s Third Symphony was hailed at its première as “the best symphony since Tchaikovsky’s Sixth” by conductor Serge Koussevitsky. It now forms the centrepiece in our fourth volume in Marin Alsop’s acclaimed Prokofiev symphony cycle. As with previous volumes, it is also being released in Blu-ray audio format. Judging by the response to previous instalments of this fruitful partnership between Marin Alsop and the excellent São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, our new release will have no problems in becoming a market leader. Their recording of the First and Second Symphonies (8.573353) was an Editor’s Choice for its “first-rate performance”. The Fifth Symphony (NBD0031) made Audiophile Audition Best Disc of the Year in 2012, and prompted BBC Music Magazine to write“this exceptional account of Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony is partnered by a revelatory performance of The Year 1941, while the recording bursts out of the speakers.”

ROSSINI La gazza ladra
Moreno, Tarver, Regazzo, Praticò, Brno Classica Chamber Choir, Virtuosi Brunensis, Zedda
Naxos 8.660369-71 [CD]

La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) is one of Rossini’s greatest operas and marks a culmination of the convergence of serious and comic elements in his work. Surprisingly, recordings of the complete opera are sparse, so this new release in itself will no doubt pique the interest of many opera lovers. The recording’s unique selling point, however, rests with the highly experienced conductor Alberto Zedda. During his 60-year career, he has produced the first critical editions of many Rossini operas, including this one, and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the operas of Rossini.

PENDERECKI Magnificat, Kadisz
Warsaw Boys Choir, Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Wit
Naxos 8.572697 [CD]

Our magnificent catalogue of new recordings of music by Krzysztof Penderecki conducted by Antoni Wit guarantees massive interest in every new release. His performances of the symphonies (boxed set 8.505231) were considered “the standard by which all others will be judged” by This latest release also continues our successful practice of programming Penderecki’s earlier avant-garde classics together with his more romantic later works. There’s only one other complete recording of the tremendous Magnificat, which was made forty years ago. This potent new performance provides an irresistible new reference recording.

ZHOU Long/CHEN Yi Humen 1839
ZHOU Long The Rhyme of Taigu, The Enlightened

New Zealand Symphony, Darrell Ang
Naxos 8.570611 [CD]

Widely regarded as one of China’s leading composers, Pulitzer Prize-winning Zhou Long writes music which is consistently compelling. The Rhyme of Taigu revives the spirit of Chinese court music from the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), drawing on traditional percussion instruments, and Symphony ‘Humen 1839’, co-composed with Chen Yi, vividly commemorates the public burning of over 1,000 tonnes of opium, an event that was to lead to the First Opium War between Great Britain and China.

TOWER Violin Concerto, Stroke, Chamber Dance
Cho-Liang Lin, Nashville Symphony, Guerrero
Naxos 8.559775 [CD]

This release joins earlier successes on the Naxos label of Joan Tower’s music, the most significant of which was the triple GRAMMY® award winning disc, Made in America (8.559328). Tower’s music is bold, colourful and communicative, and her list of commissions and awards provides ample evidence of her ability to engage performers and audiences alike. This recording of three contrasting works turns between the personal emotional turmoil of Stroke, the virtuosity of the Violin Concerto and the riot of colours featured in Chamber Dance.

MALIPIERO Sinfonia degli eroi, Dai sepolcri, Ditirambo tragico
Thessaloniki State Symphony, Closel
Naxos 8.572766 [CD]

Five vividly contrasting works, including four world première recordings, make up this latest recording in the Naxos series of orchestral music by the 20th-century Italian composer Gian Francesco Malipiero. The disc’s attractive mix of moods comprises visions of heroism and death (Tragic Dithyramb, From Tombs and Symphony of Heroes), the relaxing charm of folk melody (Armenia) and the pungently Stravinskian character of Grotesque.

Contemporaries of the Strauss Family Vol 1
Czech Chamber Philharmonic, Georgiadis
Marco Polo 8.225365 [CD]

The Marco Polo complete Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss Editions are unique and monumental achievements, keeping alive a musical era of joyous entertainment and 19th-century ballroom glamour. This new recording of works by Strauss contemporaries such as Joseph Lanner, Iosef Ivanovici and Philip Fahrbach Jr. represents another unique collection, which was compiled by The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The sheer wealth of stylishness and novelty will prove irresistible to the many fans of this era. The reconstructions and new orchestrations made by conductor John Georgiadis lend a pioneering feel to this release, which will be followed by an equally collectable second volume in July 2015.

SCHNITTKE Film Music Edition
Berlin Radio Symphony, Strobel
Capriccio C7196 [CD]

This 4-CD boxed set is a tremendous opportunity to get to know Alfred Schnittke’s little-known contribution to the world of film music. Newcomers to this aspect of Schnittke’s output may be surprised to know that he wrote more than 60 film scores between 1961 and 1984, providing not only relief from the artistic regimentation of the Soviet authorities but also the perfect outlet for his poly-stylistic compositional technique.

Finnish National Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Kamu
Ondine ODV4010 [DVD]

This DVD is Ondine’s tribute to Aulis Sallinen, one of Finland’s most internationally well-known composers, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year. Premièred to great acclaim in 2000 at the Finnish National Opera, King Lear is Sallinen’s sixth and most recent opera; this recording of the 2002 production uses the original cast with legendary bass Matti Salminen in the title role and Okko Kamu conducting.

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

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