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

April 1, 2016

RAVEL Orchestral Works Vol 3
Orchestre National de Lyon, Slatkin
Naxos 8.573124

Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition has long been acknowledged as one of the finest and it continues to enjoy immense popularity. There are very few CD programmes, however, that are built solely on the theme of Ravel’s orchestrations; the inclusion on this disc of his arrangements of movements from Schumann’s Carnaval and Debussy’s Sarabande et Danse will consequently prove substantial attractions. This release builds on the success of previous releases in our acclaimed series of Ravel recordings from Leonard Slatkin and the Lyon National Orchestra.

HERBERT Cello Concertos Nos 1 and 2, Irish Rhapsody
Kosower, Ulster Orchestra, Falletta
Naxos 8.573517

Irish-born Victor Herbert was one of the most celebrated names in American music in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His cello concertos are lyrical, well-crafted and have immediate appeal. It was his E minor Concerto that inspired Antonín Dvořák, Herbert’s superior at the National Conservatory of Music in New York, to write his own great B minor Cello Concerto. JoAnn Falletta, hailed as “one of the finest conductors of her generation” by The New York Times, continues her critically admired set of Naxos discs with the Ulster Orchestra. Soloist Mark Kosower’s Naxos recording of Ginastera’s cello concertos (8.572372) was dubbed “top drawer” by The Classical Review.

Seara, Curtis, Guimarães, Tavares, Medeiros, Concerto Campestre, Castro
Naxos 8.573554-55

João de Sousa Carvalho (1745-1799) is widely regarded as the most accomplished Portuguese composer of his day. Having become the favourite of Queen Maria I, L’Angelica was his first opportunity to write a courtly drama after being appointed music master to the royal princesses. This is the first modern recording of one of his serenatas, which were smaller-scale versions of the more common dramma per musica. The title role is taken by soprano Joana Seara, a rising star who has already performed significant roles in operas by Francisco António de Almeida, most recently Il Trionfo d’Amore (8.573380-81) and La Spinalba (8.660319-21), “with stylistic distinction and pleasing clarity.” (Opera News)

QIGANG CHEN Enchantements oubliés, Er Huang, Un temps disparu
Chun-Chieh Yen, Jiemin Yan, Taiwan Philharmonic, Shao-Chia Lü
Naxos 8.570614

Qigang Chen was Olivier Messiaen’s last and only student from 1984-88 and his music embodies what his French teacher called “real inventiveness, very great talent and total assimilation of Chinese thinking with European musical concepts”. More recently, Chen was Music Director of the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing. Commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Er Huang is based on melodies from Peking operas, whilst Enchantements oubliés explores the essence of beauty. Un temps disparu features the erhu, a two-string Chinese fiddle, in music that expands traditional instrumentation and repertoire through Chen’s highly distinctive and innovative style.

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Symphonies Nos 1 and 3
Berlin Radio Symphony, Schwarz
Naxos 8.573581

Rimsky-Korsakov was only 21 years old when his Symphony No. 1 was premièred in December 1865 (a year before Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony). It was hailed by some as the first truly Russian symphony, signalling an alternative to the German-influenced music of Anton Rubinstein. Completed in 1874, his Third Symphony was again cast in a thoroughly Russian manner. Gerard Schwarz’s previous Naxos discs of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral works (with the Seattle Symphony) received superb reviews. His recording of Scheherezade and The Tale of Tsar Saltan Suite (8.572693) led MusicWeb International to choose it as a Recording of the Year and declare: “This is a real sonic feast for the ears—spectacular, explosive, electrifying!”

BROUWER Concierto de Benicàssim
RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez
MARTIN Guitare

Trápaga, Real Filharmonía de Galicia, Díaz
Naxos 8.573542

This release brings together the world première recordings of Frank Martin’s powerful Guitare and Leo Brouwer’s romantic Concierto de Benicàssim, alongside a performance of the most popular guitar concerto ever written, Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. These three masterpieces are performed by soloist Miguel Trápaga, who has won top prizes in a number of guitar competitions, including the Guitar Foundation of America’s 12th International Solo Guitar Competition. This recording will no doubt add yet another jewel in the crown of Naxos’ vast catalogue of guitar music, which features numerous world première recordings and a distinguished line-up of soloists in its noted Guitar Laureate Series.

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

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