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

November 1, 2017



WAGNER, R.: Siegfried [Opera]
O’Neill, Goerne, Cangelosi, Mechelen, Melton, Hong Kong Philharmonic, van Zweden
Naxos 8.660413-16 [CD] / NBD0069A [Blu-ray Audio]

This is the penultimate release in our acclaimed cycle of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen featuring the Hong Kong Philharmonic under their music director Jaap van Zweden. Each part of the music drama is being released on both CD and Blu-ray Audio. Members of the cast are well-known for their command of highly demanding Wagnerian roles: Simon O’Neill (Siegfried) is one of today’s finest heldentenors and has been dubbed the Wagnerian tenor of his generation; soprano Heidi Melton (Brünnhilde) has been described by La Presse as “the Wagnerian voice we have been waiting for since Flagstad and Nilsson.” Jaap van Zweden is one of today’s most distinguished conductors who will take up the post of music director of the New York Philharmonic next year. I’m very pleased that the press has recognised our significant achievements in this major project to date. Das Rheingold (8.660374-75/NBD0049) was The Sunday Times’ Album of the Week, while Die Walküre (8.660394-97/NBD0051) was deemed “singularly outstanding … This Hong Kong production is turning out to be a Ring of exceptional quality.” (MusicWeb International)



SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Violin and Orchestral Works
Tianwa Yang, Schwabe, Malmö Symphony, Soustrot
Naxos 8.573411

This recording of Saint-Saëns’ pieces for violin and orchestra is the latest instalment in our extended plan to record all Saint-Saëns’ symphonies and concertos. Three sections of the project have already been released (the symphonies, piano concertos and cello concertos); two more are to follow (the violin concertos, and concertos for various other solo instruments). The soloist here is Tianwa Yang, who needs no introduction as one of our star artists. An internationally renowned performer, she has recorded prolifically for Naxos and is the recipient of two prestigious ECHO Klassik awards. The recording also features an appearance from cellist Gabriel Schwabe, one of our more recent Naxos Artists. I’m also very happy that we were able to engage the excellent Malmö Symphony Orchestra to accompany the soloists across the complete set of recordings. Their role in Vol. 1 of the piano concertos was duly acknowledged by American Record Guide: “The warmth and depth of the orchestral contribution and [conductor] Marc Soustrot’s eye for detail are significant bonuses.”



VILLA-LOBOS, H.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2
São Paulo Symphony, Karabtchevsky
Naxos 8.573829

This is the sixth and final volume of our much admired complete edition of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ symphonies performed by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. I hope you will be able to give the release a big push to reflect this milestone conclusion. The conductor is Isaac Karabtchevsky, whose expertise in revising, reconstructing and conducting the scores for the whole series has proved invaluable to the success of the project; the recordings have been awarded the Brazilian Music Prize for three consecutive years. Recordings of Villa-Lobos’ symphonies are rare, so I confidently expect this release will once again lead the field and receive positive reviews. Commenting on Symphonies 6 and 7 (8.573043), Gramophone wrote: “Karabtchevsky makes Villa-Lobos’s zig-zagging, lopsided melodic line sound as boldly and brashly sculpted as Mount Rushmore.” The same reviewer was right when he went on to say that “ … this does bode well for Naxos’s projected complete Villa-Lobos symphony cycle.”



SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Ovod (The Gadfly) (reconstructed by M. Fitz-Gerald)
Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic, Fitz-Gerald
Naxos 8.573747

The film The Gadfly is a romantic tale set against the 19th-century Italian struggle for unification. In writing the music for the film, Shostakovich produced one of his most accessible and popular scores that features a sequence of memorable and atmospheric character pieces. Recordings of The Gadfly usually refer to performances of the Suite, Op.97a, which is drawn from the score. This unique recording, however, is based on the DSCH New Collected Works edition and represents the first recording of the complete score. Completing the programme is Shostakovich’s music for The Counterplan. The score provides an intriguing, complex soundscape for what was the only official film to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution.



DYSON, G.: Choral Symphony / St Paul’s Voyage to Melita
E. Watts, Hulcup, Ellicott, R. Williams, The Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony, D. Hill
Naxos 8.573770

It’s very gratifying to be able to contribute to the re-evaluation of the music of George Dyson, whose works have been experiencing something of a renaissance over the last two decades. And it’s especially rewarding to be doing so with an entirely new score: Dyson’s Choral Symphony was discovered in Oxford’s Bodleian Library only in 2014. It’s complemented here by his St. Paul’s Voyage to Melita, another major work rarely heard in performance. The Bach Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Hill have already produced some very fine recordings for Naxos, not least their widely acclaimed recording of Delius’ Mass of Life (8.572861-62), which proved a “real revelation” for Gramophone. This release joins our recording of another large-scale Dyson work, the Symphony in G major(8.557720), “ … a subtle and thoughtful work that repays repeated hearings.” (BBC Music Magazine)



Brass Septet Music, Vol. 5 - FAURÉ, G. / RAVEL, M. / DEBUSSY, C.
Septura
Naxos 8.573619

This is our fifth recording of Septura, the magnificent brass septet comprising leading London orchestral players, and it’s guaranteed to be another winner. The musicians all possess an amazing technique and display impeccable musical taste. This has enabled Septura to seemingly achieve the impossible in performing first-class arrangements of works by composers who could never have imagined such spectacular results would be possible from such an unusual resource. Their latest volume presents music by Fauré, Debussy and Ravel in arrangements that skilfully rescore the originals with vivid, kaleidoscopic colours attainable only with Septura’s consummate technical prowess. “This is brass playing at its most exalted.” (Fanfare on Vol. 1, 8.573314); “Musical sensibilities, tonal beauty, balance, intonation, technique… all struck me as faultless.” (Expedition Audio on Vol. 2, 8.573386); “Another first rate release from this enterprising ensemble … highly recommended. “ (Brass Band World on Vol. 3, 8.573475); “There is an overwhelming sense of sincerity present in both the skilfully crafted new arrangements … and the execution of performance.” (Brass Band World on Vol. 4, 8.573526).



RILEY, T.: Palmian Chord Ryddle (The) / At the Royal Majestic
Silverman, Wilson, Nashville Symphony, Guerrero
Naxos 8.559739

Anyone who associates Terry Riley’s name only with his breakthrough minimalist work In C should step outside that box and experience the spirit of exploration on display in The Palmian Chord Ryddle. It’s a kind of musical autobiography in which electric violin pioneer Tracey Silverman transcends musical boundaries and weaves his instrument’s magic through the translucent orchestration. The other title on the programme, At the Royal Majestic, features organ soloist Todd Wilson. It evokes “the mighty Wurlitzer housed in grand movie palaces”. Terry Riley has been a central figure in contemporary music for over half a century, and his significance for several generations of musicians and enthusiasts mean that there is always a wide audience for new recordings of his music. This release represents two major works for virtuoso soloist and orchestra and is therefore unusual, even for Riley’s large discography. The Nashville Symphony is conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, their five-time GRAMMY®-winning music director.



OFFENBACH, J.: Overtures
Lille National Orchestra, Darrell Ang
Naxos 8.573694

Offenbach’s operetta overtures have been a popular choice on record for many years, but we couldn’t resist this programme of the best of Offenbach’s orchestral music served up by one of the best French orchestras. Our selection also includes relative rarities such as the unpublished Ouverture à grand orchestre, and the overture to Vert-Vert; a commercial flop in its day but, as with all Offenbach, always brimming with easy-sounding melodic invention and always hugely entertaining. Conductor Darrell Ang has worked with us on several successful recordings, including the Overtures and Entr’actes from Meyerbeer’s French operas (8.573195),
“ … probably the most enjoyable recording I’ve heard this year.” (MusicWeb International)
The Lille National Orchestra has also produced many fine recordings for Naxos. Again conducted by Darrell Ang, their CD of Henri Dutilleux’s Symphony No. 2, “Le double” and other orchestral works (8.573596) drew praise from ClassicsToday.com:
“Darrell Ang leads a bold, gutsy performance, swiftly paced and played with great confidence… a fine interpretation.”



SCHIFRIN, L.: Piano Works
Mirian Conti
Grand Piano GP776

Lalo Schifrin, the internationally renowned composer of classic film and TV scores such as Bullitt, Dirty Harry and Rush Hour, needs no introduction for many movie fans. Few people know, however, that he received a classical training as a composer, including a formal education at the Paris Conservatoire, with Olivier Messiaen among his teachers. Schifrin’s piano trio Hommage à Ravel (8.559062) was released by Naxos in 2002. This Grand Piano release of his complete works for solo piano is a result of the composer’s close collaboration with fellow Argentine pianist Mirian Conti. A unique arrangement of his famous theme tune for Mission: Impossible is included, as well as his most recent compositions: the two richly sensuous Tangos and the powerful Jazz Sonata, composed especially for Conti.



VASKS, P.: Laudate Dominum / Da pacem, Domine / Mein Herr und mein Gott / The Fruit of Silence
Latvian Radio Choir, Sinfonietta Rīga, S. Kļava
Ondine ODE1302-2

This new release from Ondine is an all-Latvian affair, featuring sacred choral music by the country’s best-known composer, Pēteris Vasks. Three of the works on the programme were written only last year, on the occasion of the composer’s 70th birthday. It’s the third Ondine disc dedicated to works by Pēteris Vasks; the choir and orchestra have collaborated extensively with the composer over the years, giving the first performances of a number of his works. The Latvian Radio Choir’s previous releases for Ondine have all been well-received, including a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award for their recordings of music by Rachmaninov (ODE 1206-5), Valentin Silvestrov (ODE 1266-5) and Eriks Esenvalds (ODE 1247-2). I have no doubt that this latest release will attract a similar response.



BRAUNFELS, W.: Carnival Overture / Schottische Fantasie / 2 Gesänge / Prelude and Fugue
E.A. Edelmann, Buntrock, Bühl
Capriccio C5308

They say that Walter Braunfels (1882–1954) is a composer whose music died twice: once when the Nazis declared his music “degenerate art”; then again when post-war Germany had little use for the various schools of tonal music and considered any form of romantic music—almost the whole pre-war aesthetic—to be tainted. This is Vol. 5 of Capriccio’s Braunfels Edition, devoted to reviving the rich legacy and showcasing the colourful range of Braunfels’ music. The programme includes his Carnival Overture (an early success dating from 1908), the Scottish Fantasy (a viola concerto which still remains little known) and the highly structured Prelude and Fugue for large orchestra.



WAGNER, R.: Opera Highlights for Soprano
Stemme, Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Welser-Möst, Seiji Ozawa
Orfeo C937171B

Describing Swedish soprano Nina Stemme as a leading opera exponent of her generation would for many be an understatement, not least with regard to her electrifying appearances at the Vienna State Opera. This release captures Stemme’s superlative live performances in extracts from four Wagner operas during the ten years 2003–2013, with astute musical direction from Seiji Ozawa and Franz Welser-Möst. Stemme is noted for melding a flawless vocal technique with nuanced psychological interpretations of the characters she is playing. The unity of vocal and dramatic expression she displayed as Sieglinde in Die Walküre led the Financial Times to report: “Nina Stemme as Sieglinde delivers a performance of gripping dramatic power, singing with consummate musical intelligence, never putting a foot wrong.”



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

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