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

November 1, 2015



WAGNER Das Rheingold
Goerne, DeYoung, Hong Kong Philharmonic, van Zweden
Naxos 8.660374-75

First performed as a cycle of four operas in 1876, Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is one of the greatest visionary works of art ever accomplished. This release of the cycle’s first opera, Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), marks the opening instalment of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s project to record all of The Ring over four successive seasons. This exciting undertaking is headed by Jaap van Zweden, music director of both the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and one of today’s most in-demand conductors. Recorded earlier this year, van Zweden directs a truly stunning international cast of singers, which includes Matthias Goerne in his debut performance as Wotan and mezzo soprano Michelle deYoung in the role of Fricka.



SIBELIUS Scaramouche
Turku Philharmonic, Segerstam
Naxos 8.573511

This is the final release in our six-volume set of orchestral works by Sibelius, which comprises all his compositions for the theatre and many rarely performed shorter pieces. It marks the end of a superbly realised project by conductor Leif Segerstam and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra in which each release has been met with enthusiasm by the media and music lovers in general. I have no doubt this last disc in the series will generate an equally generous reaction. It features a single, significant work for the theatre – the music for the tragic pantomime Scaramouche. With the exception of his one opera, it is Sibelius’ only continuous dramatic score which, in its complete form, is virtually unknown on recordings. Tracing the story of a sinister dwarf’s bewitching musicianship and evil intent, it takes the listener on a journey from innocent charm to a nightmarish conclusion.



SCHMITT Antoine et Cléopâtre, Le Palais Hanté
Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta
Naxos 8.573521

A student of Massenet and Fauré, winner of the Prix de Rome in 1900 and friend to Ravel and Satie, Florent Schmitt developed a style that blended influences and inspiration from wherever the spirit took him. The two suites of colourful incidental music he wrote for Anthony and Cleopatra originally formed ballet scenes between the acts of Shakespeare’s play. There are very few other recordings of this music which is coupled uniquely on this release with Schmitt’s lushly orchestrated The Haunted Palace. JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra have made numerous critically acclaimed recordings for Naxos, including a GRAMMY® award winning disc of works by John Corigliano (8.559331).



VIVALDI Sacred Music Vol 4
Sévigné, Soulis, Aradia Ensemble, Mallon
Naxos 8.573324

Known chiefly for his prodigious output of instrumental music, Vivaldi’s operatic and choral music is now enjoying a much higher profile and is increasingly collectible. This is Volume 4 in our series from Kevin Mallon and his Aradia Ensemble, who are baroque specialists and prominent Naxos artists. Despite being religious works intended for performance during Mass, the motets and psalm settings on this recording are often strikingly operatic, with florid vocal lines set over a wide vocal range and demanding bravura performances.



SOUSA Wind Band Music Vol 15
Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Brion
Naxos 8.559745

No one embodied the qualities of the American band master more supremely than John Philip Sousa and, when completed, our 16-disc series will offer his complete original compositions for the first time. In this penultimate volume of our internationally-admired set, a wide variety of his compositions can be heard, including four world première recordings. The release again features Keith Brion, one of the world’s most-recorded and knowledgeable Sousa conductors. The programme ranges from Sousa’s early Across the Danube March to music from his operettas, also taking in a Chopin arrangement and the stirring Yorktown Centennial March.



Violin meets Pipa – Popular Chinese Folk Melodies
Takako Nishizaki, Dehai Liu
Marco Polo 8.225817

The combination of Western violin and Chinese pipa may be an unusual one, but the timbre of the bowed violin and the plucked strings of the Chinese lute prove an immensely satisfying partnership. The programme includes pieces originally written for pipa solo or for violin solo which have been arranged by the Chinese composer Huang Xiaofei for this novel east-meets-west combination. The pipa is played by Liu Dehai, who made a major contribution to the instrument’s development by applying western-style fingering techniques, thereby greatly expanding the instrument’s range of expression. Takako, one of the most frequently recorded and among the best-selling violinists of all time, has recorded a wide range of Chinese violin music, including several works dedicated to her by leading Chinese composers.



CHEN GANG / HE ZHANHAO The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto
Takako Nishizaki, Gumma Symphony, Henry Shek
Marco Polo 8.225819

The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto was written in 1958 by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao while they were students at the Shanghai Conservatory. Musically, it’s a synthesis of Eastern and Western traditions, although the melodies and overall style are adapted from traditional Chinese Opera. The solo violin employs a technique that recalls the playing of the erhu, a Chinese two-string fiddle; and the work is cast in the form of a one-movement programmatic concerto. This is the second of Takako’s seven recordings of this work. She has recorded a wide range of Chinese violin music, including concertos dedicated to her by leading Chinese composers. She was the only non-Chinese violinist to perform the concerto at the official anniversary concert at the Great Hall of the People in 2008.



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

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