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

September 1, 2015

BERNSTEIN Symphony No 3 ‘Kaddish’, Missa Brevis, The Lark
Washington Chorus, São Paulo Symphony Chorus, Baltimore Symphony, Alsop
Naxos 8.559742

Marin Alsop is a leading Naxos artist with an extensive and widely respected discography. She will again conduct the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms this year, having distinguished herself by becoming the first woman conductor in the festival’s 120-year history to be invited to direct the world-famous event in 2014. Marin was a protégé of Leonard Bernstein and there are few conductors today who understand his music better than she does. This release showcases three fine examples of Bernstein’s writing for voices. The centrepiece is his Symphony No.3 Kaddish, which departs from traditional symphonic ideas in favour of an eclectic theatrical and oratorio-like form. There’s a prominent role for speaker, taken here by the great actress Claire Bloom.

This album will be released in the United States at a later time.

SIBELIUS Jedermann, 2 Serious Melodies, In Memoriam
Pajala, Katajala, Söderlund, Palmu, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam
Naxos 8.573340

This is the fourth disc in a six-volume set that explores Jean Sibelius’ orchestral works beyond the higher profile symphonies, violin concerto and tone poems. Finnish conductor Leif Segerstam is an acclaimed Sibelius interpreter, having been awarded the annual Finnish State Prize for Music in 2004 and, in 2005, the highly esteemed Sibelius Medal. Jederman closely shadows the words and action of the Everyman morality play. Although rarely performed, it’s recognised as a true masterpiece. The Zwei ernste Melodien reflect Sibelius’ seriousness of mood during the difficult years of WWI; In Memoriam was performed at his own funeral in 1957. The platinum-record and award-winning Turku Philharmonic joins a world class team of vocal soloists in Pia Pajala, Nicholas Söderlund and Tuomas Katajala, as well as the Cathedralis Aboensis Choir.

PHILIDOR Les Femmes Vengées
Opera Lafayette Orchestra, Brown
Naxos 8.660353

Ryan Brown and his Opera Lafayette are world-leaders in the performance of 18th-century French opera. Their recording of Philidor’s Sancho Pança (8.660274) was hailed as a ‘witty, authentic interpretation’ by the American Record Guide, while Pizzicato gave five stars to their recording of Monsigny’s Le roi et le fermier (8.660322). Philidor’s Les femmes vengées (The Avenged Women) is a high-class opéra-comique, first performed in 1775, and this recording presents the complete music. The work anticipates the plot of Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Mozart was staying in Paris at the time of Philidor’s première) and has many delightful moments of mock-indignation and repartee in its arias and ensembles.

SAINT-SAËNS Symphonies Vol 3
Malmö Symphony, Soustrot
Naxos 8.573140

This third volume rounds off our new edition of Saint-Saëns’ complete symphonies. The first two received wide critical acclaim, with MusicWeb International having this comment on Vol. 2: “…immensely impressed by Soustrot’s reading… played beautifully by the Malmö Orchestra. Soustrot creates a sense of expectancy that keeps you on the edge of your seat…excellent orchestral playing throughout.” Vol. 3 presents the Symphony in F, ‘Urbs Roma’, unpublished in the composer’s lifetime; the symphonic poem La Jeunesse d’Hercule, a portrayal of the conflict between pleasure and duty; and the ever popular Danse macabre. Boasting some of the best recordings available of Saint-Saëns’ less frequently performed and recorded symphonies and orchestral works, this set is now an assured market leader.

ROUSE Seeing, Kabir Padavali
Trevigne, Weiss, Albany Symphony, Miller
Naxos 8.559799

Christopher Rouse, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy® Award, is one of America’s most highly regarded composers of symphonic music. His Wolf Rounds (8.572439) was described by MusicWeb International as “a virtuosic thrill-ride… gripping, convincing, and a significant addition to the ever-growing literature for wind bands.” With a scintillating recording from a top team of musicians, this release is guaranteed to be one of contemporary music’s leading titles in 2015, combining a piano concerto conceived through the lens of Schumann’s mental illness with portrayals of an Indian poet’s religious concerns. The Albany Symphony has received more ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming than any other orchestra in America. Grammy® Award winning conductor David Alan Miller is a champion of contemporary music, as is acclaimed vocal soloist Talise Trevigne. Pianist Orion Weiss is familiar to collectors of his Naxos recordings, ranging from Scarlatti (8.573222) to Webern (8.557516), and some “truly jazzy” Gershwin ( on 8.559790).

BACEWICZ Complete String Quartets Vol 2
Lutosławski Quartet
Naxos 8.572807

Having died in 1969, Grażyna Bacewicz is only now emerging from the shadow of her Polish contemporaries who outlived her, such as Panufnik and Lutosławski. She wrote in a variety of forms, but it’s the string quartets that offer a perfect summation of her compositional output. She wrote seven, with each reflecting elements of expressionism, neoclassicism and serialism. This release includes No. 2, premièred in 1943; No. 4, one of her most performed works; and No. 5, that reveals a new direction in its power and variety of colour.

BEETHOVEN Variation on Folk Songs
Gallois, Prinz
Naxos 8.573337

George Thomson was a keen amateur musician who was committed to collecting and publishing settings of folk-songs. He commissioned Beethoven to write the collections on this release, stipulating that they be easy to play. Beethoven’s ever-obstinate response was to produce virtuoso pieces, making them difficult to sell in their day but leaving us a legacy of his extraordinarily imaginative powers when adapting the simplest of tunes. They are performed by one of Naxos’ star performers, Patrick Gallois, whose releases are guaranteed to receive excellent reviews, whether as a flautist or conductor. Here he teams up again with pianist Maria Prinz. Their recording of arrangements of Mozart’s Violin Sonatas (8.573033) was described as “Balm for whatever in life has brought you down” by the American Record Guide.

GLASS String Quartet No 5, Dracula (excerpts), String Sextet
Carducci String Quartet, O’Duill, Rosefield
Naxos 8.559766

The Carducci Quartet’s 2010 recording of Philip Glass’s String Quartets 1–4 (8.559636) became an instant critical hit. The Strad commented: “Bringing these works to life requires a multitude of nuances and spotless intonation, and the young British-based Carducci Quartet flawlessly meets the challenge.” The ensemble completes the cycle with this recording of the Fifth Quartet, the most substantial of the set which delivers both driving energy and sorrowful tenderness. The film score to Dracula and the String Sextet complete a substantial programme which none of Glass’s legions of fans will be able to resist.

Divine Redeemer
Brewer, Jacobs
Naxos 8.573524

Two of America’s most celebrated musicians form the duo on this release. Both of them are Grammy® Award-winners: organist Paul Jacobs won Best Instrumental Soloist Performance for his 2011 recording of Messiaen’s Livre Du Saint-Sacrement (8.572436-37), and soprano Christine Brewer featured on the multi-Grammy® Award winning disc of Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and Experience (8.559216-18). Their programme features all-time favourites such as Franck’s Panis Angelicus, complemented by rarer, inter-connected items. Three organ pieces by Nadia Boulanger, for example, are heard alongside her tragic sister Lili’s beautiful Pie Jesu, whilst Max Reger’s rousing Toccata and Fugue, Op. 59 can be enjoyed alongside his sensitive organ arrangement of three Hugo Wolf songs.

JS BACH English Suites Nos 1-3 (arr. Montenegrin Guitar Duo for 2 guitars)
Montenegrin Guitar Duo
Naxos 8.573473

Transcriptions of Bach for the guitar have been popular since the nineteenth century, but the emergence of the guitar duo has extended still further the potential for exciting and revelatory performances. In this first of two discs, the distinguished Montenegrin Guitar Duo sheds new light on J.S. Bach’s English Suites, originally written for keyboard. Goran Krivokapic has won first prizes at no fewer than 18 international competitions and his duo partner Danijel Cerović is a similarly experienced performer and teacher. Their reputation for historically informed performances, admired by audiences worldwide, is extended by this exciting new release.

The Best of Tianwa Yang
Tianwa Yang
Naxos 8.578317

Tianwa Yang is a brilliant, young Chinese-born violinist who is fast rising through the ranks of the world’s leading virtuoso performers. In 2014 she won the German ECHO Klassik award for Best Up-And-Coming Artist and the Prize of the German Record Critics for her 8-CD set of the complete works for violin and piano and violin and orchestra of Sarasate, making her the first artist ever to win both awards in the same year. We’ve put together a selection from the recent releases of this “unquestioned master of the violin” (American Record Guide). The featured composers are Sarasate (“Urgently recommended” – Fanfare on 8.572275), Mendelssohn (“In Tianwa Yang we find an artist of exceptional technique and musicianship” – BBC Music Magazine), Ysaÿe (“…thought-through performances of eyebrow-raising substance” – The Strad on 8.572995) and Piazzolla (“Tianwa Yang handles the solo violin part with aplomb” – on 8.572271).

GLASS Glassworlds Vol 2
Nicolas Horvath
Grand Piano GP690

Although he boasts an extensive catalogue of works, it’s solo piano performances that are for Philip Glass “among my favourite experiences, the most essential basic dialogue.” Glass wrote the 20 Etudes as material for his own solo recitals, building on two decades of musical evolution and exploring a variety of textures, tempi and techniques. The soloist on this recording is Nicolas Horvath, who gave the first performance of the entire 20 Etudes in Carnegie Hall earlier this year, cementing his reputation as one of Glass’s leading exponents, both in recital and on disc.

MOSOLOV Zavod (The Foundry), Piano Concerto No 1, Legenda, Piano Sonata No 1
Schleiermacher, Riemke, Pschenitschnikowa, Kalitzke
Capriccio C5241

Although many of his compositions still remain generally unknown, Alexander Mosolov was a significant Russian composer who was active during the early Soviet era. This release will help to restore his profile, with a selection of music that mirrors his varied output: chamber, vocal, concerto and symphonic, with an authoritative contribution from the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. The disc opens with the piece that did more than any other to ensure Mosolov’s name lived on: Iron Foundry from his score for the ballet Steel, a controversial work in its time that ran counter to the Soviet authorities expectations for ‘socialist realism’ in music.

Kunde, Romeu, Mironov, McPherson, Vlaanderen Opera House Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Zedda
Dynamic CDS7711

Otello is one of Rossini’s finest serious stage works, and one which the composer himself held in high esteem. It was an immediate triumph at its first performance in Naples in 1816. This live performance, recorded at Antwerp’s Vlaamse Opera, uses the critical edition of the work made for the Rossini Foundation by conductor Alberto Zedda, the world’s foremost authority on the composer. He directs an outstanding cast headed by Gregory Kunde, the best Otello around today, with the young and highly talented Spanish soprano Carmen Romeu as Desdemona.

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

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