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

September 1, 2016

NYMAN The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Treviño, Sjöwall, MacPherson, Nashville Opera, Williamson
Naxos 8.660398

Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat is one of the most admired and frequently performed modern chamber operas in the repertoire. With its minimalist score, the work is an adaptation of the neurological study in the book of the same name by Oliver Sacks. It’s through his musical gifts that the character of Dr. P reclaims meaning from chaos, with Nyman’s tautly conceived masterpiece providing a perfect medium through which the moving drama can be explored. The performers collaborated on a production of the opera in 2013 and come together again for this recording, strengthened by that experience. The conductor is Dean Williamson, who was musical director of Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of Rossini’s Le comte Ory, which was nominated for a 2015 Emmy Award.

TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No 2, Concert Fantasia
Nebolsin, New Zealand Symphony, Stern
Naxos 8.573462

Tchaikovsky’s music needs no introduction, but both his Second Piano Concertoand the Concert Fantasy remain under-performed and relatively under-recorded, certainly in comparison with his hugely popular First Piano Concerto. I predict few will be able to resist the sizzling combination of Eldar Nebolsin and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on this new release. Eldar is a highly respected Naxos Artist. His recording of Liszt’s piano concertos (8.570517), for example, was ranked “among the finest” by Gramophone. Conductor and orchestra have received similar accolades for their Naxos releases: commenting on Michael Stern’s disc of Jonathan Leshnoff’s First Symphony (8.559670), Fanfare noted that “All the performances on this CD are excellent. I recommend it highly.”; while the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s recording of music by Zhou Long (8.570611) received a GRAMMY® nomination.

GRANADOS Orchestral Works Vol 3
Barcelona Symphony, González
Naxos 8.573265

This is the third and final volume in our series of Granados’ orchestral works. All three pieces on this release are very rarely found on disc. The early Suite oriental demonstrates Granados’ vivid sense of orchestral colour and melodic imagination, couched in the exotic language of the time. The other two works have a more modernistic feel. The masterful one-act “lyric poem” Liliana conjures up a colourful, mythical world. The complete manuscript score of the work is lost, so it’s heard here in a four-movement suite arranged by Pablo Casals; Elisenda is performed in an arrangement for piano and chamber orchestra.

Stanford Choral Music
The Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony, Hill
Naxos 8.573512

Our promotion of Charles Villiers Stanford’s music has gradually helped raise the composer’s profile in recent years. The process gained momentum with outstanding recordings of his symphonies and chamber works, as well as choral releases such as the Requiem (8.555201-2), “a powerfully conceived and moving work” (Penguin Guide) and Anthems and Services (8.555794), “a key issue from the Naxos choral series” (Gramophone). I’m delighted to sustain that momentum with this release of three more important choral items: The Resurrection, Stanford’s first major choral work; his Stabat Mater, an operatic ‘symphonic cantata’ with significant orchestral movements; and the exhilarating Song to the Soul. David Hill, widely respected as both a choral and orchestral conductor, has won numerous plaudits for his previous Naxos recordings. He’s supported here by four outstanding soloists who are much in demand internationally.

COPLAND Appalachian Spring, Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
Detroit Symphony, Slatkin
Naxos 8.559806

GRAMMY® Award-winning conductor Leonard Slatkin directs two more tremendous performances of Copland ballet scores on this second volume in our Copland Complete Ballets series. Commenting on Volume 1 (8.559758) MusicWeb International wrote: “My top-choice Rodeo [recording], including the composer’s own.” This release follows up with the jazz-influenced Hear Ye! Hear Ye!, a rarity on disc. Written for Ruth Page, the dancer and choreographer who was to become the Grande Dame of American ballet, the work’s scenario is a nightclub murder and the ensuing trial in a Chicago courtroom. In complete contrast, Appalachian Spring is Copland’s most famous work, a true American masterpiece founded on transfigured dance tunes and song melodies, and heard here in Copland’s full orchestral version. I have no doubt that the combination of this milestone work and Leonard Slatkin’s strong affinity with the music will prove to be a powerful selling point.

DAUGHERTY Tales of Hemingway, American Gothic, Once Upon A Castle
Detroit Symphony, Slatkin
Naxos 8.559798

Four GRAMMY® Award-winning recipients—composer Michael Daugherty, conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, organist Paul Jacobs and the Nashville Symphony—are joined by Zuill Bailey, one of the leading cellists of his generation, in an exploration of three larger-than-life personalities drawn from 20th-century American culture. Tales of Hemingway for cello and orchestra evokes the turbulent life, adventures and literature of the author Ernest Hemingway; American Gothic is a colourful concerto for orchestra reflecting the creative world of Iowa artist Grant Wood; and Once Upon a Castle is a virtuoso organ concerto inspired by the rich history of Hearst Castle, built high above the California Pacific coast by billionaire Randolph Hearst, the subject of Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane. Each new release of Daugherty’s music is eagerly anticipated, and this stunning recording is certain to prove an equal to his previous acclaimed titles.

D’INDY Symphony No 2, Souvenirs, Istar
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Tingaud
Naxos 8.573522

Fellow French composer Gabriel Fauré called him the ‘Samson of Music’, yet Vincent d’Indy languished as one of the great unheralded figures in the history of French music around the turn of the twentieth century. D’Indy’s Symphony No. 2 is the centrepiece of this new release. It provides an excellent example of his skill as an inventive and eclectic composer of orchestral music, though there are very few recordings of the work available. Conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud is a specialist in French music who has already notched up impressive successes with two Naxos discs: an all-Dukas recording (8.573296), described by BBC Music Magazine as “a performance of sumptuous beauty allied to fine control”; and an all-Bizet release (8.573344) that attracted this comment from Gramophone – “Vividly realistic sound is the icing on the cake of another irresistible bargain … More please, Naxos!” We’re delighted to oblige!

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

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