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

December 1, 2015

MAYR Gran messa di requiem in G minor
Thornhill, Ruckgaber, Holzhauser, Schäfer, Sellier, Berner, Mittelhammer, Thoma, Mischok, Simon Mayr Chorus and Ensemble, Hauk
Naxos 8.573419-20

Those who have been enjoying our series devoted to the music of Simon Mayr will be quick to snap up this latest release. His Requiem in G minor is performed here in a unique edition. It was assembled from autograph manuscripts and differs from any other previous recording or performance, surpassing them in both scale and instrumentation. Mayr brilliantly blends stylistic elements of church music with ornate Italian operatic flourishes. Some sections were the result of a collaborative effort between Mayr and his pupil Donizetti. Conductor Franz Hauk and his Simon Mayr Chorus and Ensemble have received worldwide critical acclaim for their previous discs and are indisputably the leading contemporary champions of Mayr’s work.

CIMAROSA Overtures Vol 4
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Pardubice, Halász
Naxos 8.573459

Domenico Cimarosa was the most famous Italian opera composer of the late 18th century, whose remarkable success ensured that his fame spread all over Europe. His operas endured in popularity long after his death on account of their melodic invention, colourful orchestration and sheer vitality. The three previous volumes in our series have been well received: Volume 1 (8.570508) for being “a golden opportunity to make the acquaintance of some of the most spirited music of the late 18th century” (MusicWeb International); Volume 2 (8.570279) for its success in “capturing and holding the attention of the listener” (Fanfare); while Volume 3 (8.572734) was a WXQR ‘Album of the Week’. The overtures in this latest volume include I tre amanti (The Three Lovers), the hit opera that made Cimarosa’s name outside Naples, and works such as Il pittor parigino and the tragedy Giunio Bruto that were admired by Haydn and conducted by him at the Esterházy court.

Naxos 8.573475

Septura has quickly built a reputation for its imaginatively conceived and brilliantly played transcriptions for brass septet. The ensemble’s performances display an astonishing tonal range and musical control. Each of Septura’s members is a leading player from the new generation of British brass musicians. They hold principal positions in the London Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, Scottish Opera and Aurora orchestras. This latest volume contains what is perhaps Septura’s most ambitious transcription to date—that of Shostakovich’s profound Eighth String Quartet—transforming it into a uniquely expressive listening experience. The rest of the programme presents the contrasting moods of piano music by three other Russian composers, from the high romanticism of Rachmaninov’s ever popular Vocalise to Scriabin’s Chopin-influenced Preludes and the spiky wit and energy of Prokofiev.

TANEYEV Complete String Quartets Vol 4
Carpe Diem String Quartet
Naxos 8.573470

Tchaikovsky called his student Taneyev ‘the Russian Bach’ largely because of his devotion to counterpoint, but the diversity of Taneyev’s technique can be best appreciated in the sequence of string quartets that form a significant portion of his compositions. Our series devoted to these works represents their only modern recordings. They are performed by the critically acclaimed Carpe Diem quartet, cited by the Washington Post as “one of the best quartets out there.” In its review of Volume 3 (8.573010) The Strad noted that “The Carpe Diem players perform this music with the same devoted intensity as if they were discovering a lost work by Tchaikovsky.” This latest volume contrasts the String Quartet No. 9 in A major, Op. 13, lyrical, passionate and full of Slavonic brio, with the more austere String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major, Op. 19, Taneyev’s last completed quartet.

BROUWER Bandurria and Guitar Music
Chamorro, González
Naxos 8.573363

A native of Cuba, Leo Brouwer is universally acknowledged as one of the most challenging and innovative of contemporary composers. This disc adds to the substantial number of Naxos recordings of his music and presents the guitar alongside the bandurria in a programme of solos and duets. The bandurria is a small lute dating from the 16th century and is perennially popular in South America. Having Brouwer’s first sonatafor this instrument played by its dedicatee Pedro Chamorro will be of significant interest to contemporary music collectors and players alike. The award-winning guitarist Pedro Mateo Gonzáles explores the wide range of techniques and emotions demanded by other parts of the programme with consummate authority, the subjects ranging from political martyrdom in Chile to the immense vistas of Brazil.

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

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