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

May 1, 2016

RACHMANINOV Etudes-tableaux Op 39, Moments Musicaux
Boris Giltburg
Naxos 8.573469

Pianist Boris Giltburg’s recordings for Naxos continue with some of Rachmaninov’s best loved solo repertoire. His Études-tableaux Op. 39 have taken their place among the 20th century’s finest examples of Russian piano music. They show the composer as a master of the short-form genre, and Giltburg treats us to fresh, imaginative interpretations of these meticulously crafted musical tapestries. His debut Schumann disc (8.573399) was praised by BBC Music Magazine for “his pure velvet [tone], cushioned and almost vocal in quality with never a hint of harshness,” while Gramophone admiredhis Beethoven sonata programme (8.573400) for the “highly articulated fingerwork…[that] gives appropriate variety and character to the gnarly writing… Naxos provides superb, full-bodied and detailed sound.”

WOLF-FERRARI I Gioielli della Madonna
Ushakova, Kyungho Kim, Slovak National Theatre Opera Chorus, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Haider
Naxos 8.660386-87

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s The Jewels of the Madonna is one of opera’s hidden masterpieces. A spectacular success in its day, it was given a triumphant world tour and then vanished almost entirely until this highly acclaimed revival was staged at the Slovak National Theatre. A mix of Italian lyricism, verismo and colourful folk music, The Jewels delivers powerful choruses, seductive love songs, saucy serenades and orgiastic dances. It’s a package that still manages to provide a revelatory operatic experience more than a century after its première.

RUTTER Psalmfest
The Choirs of St Albans Cathedral, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Lucas
Naxos 8.573394

We have enjoyed a number of triumphs with our recordings of works by John Rutter, who is widely acknowledged as the most popular British composer of choral music in recent years. This world première complete recording of his Psalmfest is performed by virtually the same musical team as was used for his Gloria (8.572653), which had Gramophone noting that “Andrew Lucas’s St Albans choristers...are on sparkling form, with first-class support from organist Tom Winpenny and the Ensemble DeChorum. More recordings from St Albans, please.” We’re delighted to oblige. With its first-class line-up of award-winning soloists, reinforced by the excellent Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this release will be one of the star attractions of our choral and general catalogues for 2016.

LANNER Viennese Dances
Orchestre de Cannes, Dörner
Naxos 8.573552

It was Joseph Lanner who established the formal Viennese waltz, elevating it from a peasant dance to a more refined art form. Renowned in his day, Lanner seldom left Vienna and failed to acquire the same European fame as his more widely-travelled colleague and rival, Johann Strauss I. I hope this release will help redress that undeserved imbalance. Lanner’s music is richly varied and lyrically engaging. These dances range from boisterous galopades to the spooky Hexentanz. His late masterpiece, Die Schönbrunner, includes melodies quoted by Stravinsky in his ballet Petrushka and was given 21 encores at Lanner’s final concert.

PURCELL Theatre Music Vol 2
Aradia Ensemble, Mallon
Naxos 8.573280

Noted for his sacred music, Purcell also sustained a keen interest in the theatre—an aspect of his output that has been somewhat neglected. Among the literary authors of the five works on this disc, two were among the most celebrated of the age—John Dryden and William Congreve. Purcell produced incidental music and songs for their ‘semi-operas’ which brim with vitality, wit and imaginative text-setting, offering an intriguing perspective on the world of Restoration drama. Kevin Mallon and the Aradia Ensemble have established an international reputation for their interpretation of music from this period. Their performance on Volume 1 (8.570149) received a 5-star rating from Classic FM: “Mallon’s latest Naxos series sets high artistic values from the off, powered by the music-making’s unbridled joyfulness and a delicious feel for Baroque excess.”

KHACHATURIAN Symphony No 2 ‘Symphony with a Bell’, Lermontov Suite
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Yablonsky
Naxos 8.570436

Aram Khachaturian was the most important 20th-century musical figure from the former Soviet Republic of Armenia. Written in 1943 against the backcloth of World War II, the Second Symphony is his largest abstract orchestral composition. It’s a powerful work, which the composer himself described as “a requiem of wrath, a requiem of protest against war and violence.” Its subtitle, The Bell, was prompted by the sound of three tubular bells at crucial junctures in the piece. Dmitry Yablonsky’s affinity for Khachaturian’s music is already documented in several Naxos discs on which he performs either as conductor or soloist.

PostClassical Ensemble, Gil-Ordóñez
Naxos 2.110372 [DVD]

The classic Mexican film Redes continues our series of editions of early films, for which the music scores have been restored and recorded in performances by the PostClassical Ensemble. The cinematographer for Redes, Paul Strand, is considered amongst the most commanding talents in the history of American photography. Revueltas’ vibrant music is equally imposing. It’s emotionally charged and speaks eloquently for the actors where there’s an absence of dialogue. This DVD of a restored print of Redes comes with a generous set of extras, including interviews on Revueltas and his music, not least with the pre-eminent Revueltas scholar Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus. The original 1930s soundtrack was hastily rehearsed and badly recorded. This world première recording of the complete score reveals its transcendent and epic qualities to the full.

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

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