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

October 1, 2015

SHOSTAKOVICH Complete Symphonies
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Petrenko
Naxos 8.501111

Each release in Vasily Petrenko’s Shostakovich symphony cycle with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has created a sensation, from the appearance of Volume 1 in 2009 until the final instalment in 2014. The sustained acclaim from critics and collectors alike has firmly established the set as a distinguished market leader, with The Sunday Times concluding that “The final instalment of Petrenko’s remarkable Liverpool Shostakovich cycle is a world-class achievement”, and citing Volume 11 (8.573218) as a “record of the year”. Now brought together as a boxed collection, I am certain that this set will be at the top of many a Christmas wish list for years to come.

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas Nos 8, 21, 32
Boris Giltburg
Naxos 8.573400

I am very pleased to introduce Boris Giltburg’s second Naxos album, which forms part of our plans for a long-term recording association with this outstanding artist. His 2014 debut album of works by Schumann (8.573399) was noted by The Sunday Times for its “vivid, subtle performances”, while Audiophile Audition observed that “For brilliance and the requisite Schumann poetry Giltburg lacks nothing.” This new release of Beethoven piano sonatas is representative of the composer’s early, middle and late periods, ending with music of stunning virtuosity and emotional profundity in Beethoven’s final piano sonata, Op. 111.

SIBELIUS Swanwhite
Eklundh, Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam
Naxos 8.573341

This is the penultimate volume in our 6-disc series of Sibelius’ orchestral works. As with the previous issues, it’s in the hands of Leif Segerstam, one of the greatest living interpreters of Sibelius, directing the award-winning Turku Philharmonic. The series is devoted to gems that are less well known than the symphonies and the violin concerto. On this release, the programme includes two brief melodramas (A Solitary Ski Track and The Countess’ Portrait) that are rarely found on disc, while the incidental music to Strindberg’s play Svanevit (Swanwhite) has the attraction of being performed complete, not in the shorter, orchestral suite version. Riko Eklundh, the narrator on two of the tracks, is well-known in Finland as a stage and TV actor.

BRAHMS Cello Sonatas and Songs
Schwabe, Rimmer
Naxos 8.573489

Separated by a period of 21 years, Brahms’ two cello sonatas are staples of the cello repertoire. They receive superb performances here by the prize-winning German cellist, Gabriel Schwabe (who will launch this new disc at a lunchtime recital at the the Berlin Philharmonic Hall later this year) and pianist Nicholas Rimmer, who has established himself as a distinguished accompanist and chamber musician. The unique transcriptions of six Brahms songs for cello and piano that complement the sonatas were made specially for this disc by the performers.

RAVEL L’Enfant et les sortilèges, Ma mère l’Oye
Orchestre National de Lyon, Slatkin
Naxos 8.660336

This release brings together two of Ravel’s most popular, colourful and enchanting scores and will undoubtedly add to the success of our ongoing edition of Ravel’s music, performed by internationally acclaimed conductor Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre National de Lyon. Gramophone described Slatkin’s conducting in Volume 1 (8.572887) as “shaping the music with a potent mix of the sensuous, sinuous, sinister and spirited”, while Volume 2 (8.572888) was admired for its “splendidly characterised La Valse” by BBC Music Magazine. The cast on this new release includes renowned singers Hélène Hébrard (mezzo soprano) and Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor), plus the “simply stupendous” (Opera Now)actor and baritone Marc Barrard.

RODE Violin Concertos Nos 2 and 8
Eichhorn, Jena Philharmonic, Pasquet
Naxos 8.573054

This is the penultimate volume in our 5-disc series featuring the violin concertos of Pierre Rode, who rose to become the leading exponent of the French Violin School at the turn of the nineteenth century. Rode’s virtuoso technique and skill as a composer dominated the scene in the years just before Paganini’s rise to prominence. He wrote exclusively for the violin and composed 13 concertos. This release includes the lyrical and virtuosic Concerto No. 2, plus No. 8, one of his most beautiful works that brims with arching melodies and dramatic flourishes. Our splendid soloist is Friedemann Eichhorn, whose “headlong performances, sympathetically supported by Pasquet and the orchestra” (8.570767) were duly noted by Fanfare.

VIANA DA MOTA Symphony ‘À Pátria’
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Cassuto
Naxos 8.573495

Conductor and composer Álvaro Cassuto is one of today’s most distinguished Portuguese musicians and the leading exponent of 20th-century Portuguese music on disc. His latest release focuses on José Viana da Mota, a towering figure in the history of Portuguese music. Viana da Mota is considered the first Portuguese nationalist composer who composed the country’s only symphony during the period 1822-1924. Written in 1895, his Symphony ‘To the Fatherland’ is full of vitality and spontaneity and draws on a wealth of folk dances and songs. Cassuto has received much critical acclaim for his previous Naxos recordings of Portuguese music and I’m certain this new release with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will attract similar accolades.

A sea of dreams did breathe on me…
Pasichnyk, Marciniec, Bręk, Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit
Naxos 8.573062

Our widely acclaimed series of discs devoted to the music of Kryzsztof Penderecki, one of the greatest composers of our time, continues with Powiało na mnie morze snów… (A sea of dreams did breathe on me). Composed in 2010, and commissioned to mark the bicentenary of Chopin’s birth, the song cycle joins Penderecki’s other large-scale symphonic works using vocal forces that have made such an impact over the years. Scored for soprano, mezzo soprano and baritone soloists, mixed choir and large orchestra, the performance is under the authoritative direction of Antoni Wit, today’s leading interpreter on disc of Penderecki’s music.

ARENSKY Chamber Music
Brewer, Jacobs
Naxos 8.573317

Arensky’s chamber works may be small in number, but they are outstandingly crafted and deservedly popular. There are many recordings of the works featured on this disc but there will be few to rival the performances on our new release, which brings together a stupendous set of musicians who have the music of Russia in their bones: violinists Boris Brovtsyn and Alexander Sitkovetsky, violist Maxim Rysanov, cellists Boris Andrianov and Jens Peter Maintz, and pianist Eldar Nebolsin. The combined pedigrees of these performers will surely make this recording one of the landmark releases of 2015, adding to the other fine recordings of Arensky’s music in the Naxos catalogue, including the Piano Concerto (8.570526) and works for piano solo (8.572233).

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

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