January at Naxos.com

Naxos.com kicks off 2008 with a special feature on JoAnn Falletta, hailed by The New York Times as “…one of the finest conductors of her generation”.  Falletta has performed over 300 works by American composers, including more than 70 world premières, and has received eight consecutive awards from ASCAP for creative programming. Listen to our selection of her recordings on Naxos, including this month’s release, Kenneth Fuchs’ United Artists and Canticle to the Sun (8.559335).

In Modern American Masters we showcase such seminal living composers as John Adams, Gloria Coates, James Hartway and Joan Tower. Check out related new releases – Elliott Carter’s String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5 (8.559362), and Charles Wuorinen’s Dante Trilogy (8.559345).

Let the sounds of the great composers calm and soothe you with our Chill With Series. Whether it’s the delicate tones of flute and harp from a Mozart concerto or the hypnotic piano music of Satie, this series will give you the aural tonic you need for relaxation.

Finally, our English Song Series is an ongoing survey of the contributions made by 20th century English composers to song literature. The feature includes our January release, Alwyn’s Seascapes and Invocations (8.570201).

For more of Naxos’ new releases available for streaming on the site, click here

Most Streamed Tracks on Naxos.com - December 2007

Click on each track description to view the full album.

  1. Fantasia on Christmas Carols
    From the album VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fantasia on Christmas Carols / Hodie 8.570439
  2. Viola da Gamba Sonata in G major, BWV 1027 – I. Adagio
    From the album BACH, J.S.: Viola da Gamba Sonatas 8.570210
  3. String Quartet No. 1, Op. 6 I. Allegro - Moderato
    From the album BERKELEY: String Quartets Nos. 1-3 8.570415
  4. Te Deum - Te deum laudamus
    From the album SCARLATTI, D.: Stabat Mater / Missa breve, "La stella" / Te Deum / Magnificat 8.570382
  5. Violin Concerto in C major, VB 151 - I. Allegro moderato
    From the album KRAUS: Violin Concerto / Olympie / Azire 8.570334
  6. Symphony No. 15, “Homage to Mozart” - I. Iridescences
    From the album COATES: Symphony No. 15 / Cantata da Requiem / Transitions 8.559371
  7. Pasaje aragueno
    From the album LAURO: Guitar Music, Vol. 2 - Sonata / 4 Estudios / Suite 8.570250
  8. Solus cum sola, P. 10
    From the album DOWLAND: Lute Music, Vol. 3 - Pavans, Galliards and Almains 8.570449
  9. Hodie (This Day) – Prologue: Nowell! Nowell!
    From the album VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fantasia on Christmas Carols / Hodie 8.570439
  10. Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), K. 620, Act II: Der Holle Rache … (Queen of the Night)
    From the album A TO Z OF OPERA 8.555037-38

Album of the Month

PENDERECKI: Symphony No. 8

Penderecki’s Eighth Symphony, which here receives its world première recording, is a setting of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German poems entitled Lieder der Vergänglichkeit (Songs of Transience). Mankind’s journey through life, as reflected in the decay and rebirth of the natural world, underlies its twelve movements. Scored for not dissimilar forces, the oratorio Dies irae is a very different proposition, commissioned to mark the unveiling of the International Monument to the Victims of Fascism at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Composed in 1958 and given its première at Kraków in September the following year, Aus den Psalmen Davids was one of the works that marked Penderecki’s arrival on the new music scene.

Michaela Kauneoprano, soprano; Agnieszka Rehlis, mezzo-soprano; Wojtek Drabowicz, baritone; Anna Luban´ska, mezzo-soprano; Ryszard Minkiewicz, tenor;, Jarosłàw Bręk, bass-baritone; Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir (Henryk Wojnarowski, choirmaster); Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra; Antoni Wit

New Releases

Some releases may not be available on CD in all countries – please contact the Naxos distributor
in your territory. For a complete list of new releases available, click here


8.660235-36 ROSSINI: La donna del lago

First staged in Naples in 1819, Rossini’s opera La donna del lago is based on Walter Scott’s romantic poem The Lady of the Lake, setting a precedent for later composers, who also drew on Scott for their plots. Set in exotic 16th-century Scotland, the opera deals with the conflict between the Highland clansmen under Douglas and King James V, who generously forgives his enemy and allows the betrothal of his beloved Ellen, Douglas’s daughter, to his former enemy, Malcolm.

Prague Chamber Choir (Adolf Melichar, chorus master), Tübingen Festival Band (Martin Amberger, director), SWR Radio Orchestra Kaiserslautern, Alberto Zedda

8.660211-13 VIVALDI: Griselda

Vivaldi’s Griselda is based on a story retold in Boccaccio’s Il decamerone about the testing of Griselda’s patience and virtue by her royal husband through a series of cruel trials. The sense of drama that permeates many of Vivaldi’s more programmatic works, such as the Four Seasons, is very naturally carried over into his operas, especially with the use of so-called ‘simile’ arias, in which an emotional state is compared with various natural phenomena. Several very fine examples can be heard in Griselda, including Costanza’s extraordinary ‘Agitata da due venti’ in Act Two; the text compares love and duty with two contrary winds, and the setting is correspondingly wild, with fierce fioriture and wide leaps.

Opera in Concert / Aradia Ensemble, Kevin Mallon

8.570231 MOZART: Davide penitente / Regina coeli, K. 108

In 1785, at the height of his career in Vienna, Mozart was commissioned by the Viennese Society of Musicians to write a work for a Lenten benefit concert. Short of time, he recycled the Kyrie and Gloria from his earlier unfinished Mass in C Minor to form part of the oratorio Davide penitente. Drawing upon the psalms of David, both penitential and joyful, this is a work of great beauty, notable for its memorable choruses, exquisite writing for the woodwind and, in particular, the two new solo arias, A te, fra tanti affanni (In you, amid such tribulation) and Tra l’oscure ombre funeste (Amid the dark grievous shadows), both of which begin with a long expressive opening followed by a virtuoso second section.

Trine Wilsberg Lund, soprano; Kristina Wahlin, soprano; Lothar Odinius, tenor; Immortal Bach Ensemble; Leipziger Kammerorchester; Morten Schuldt-Jensen

8.570068 SIBELIUS: Scènes historiques I and II

Sibelius’s first set of Scènes historiques forms a suite taken from music for a patriotic pageant, staged in 1899 at a time of increasing Finnish nationalism and originally including Finlandia, which was published separately. For his Scènes Historiques II Sibelius composed new music. In the opening The Chase, horns are heard through the mist, followed by the wild chase, with its impelling rhythms. The incidental music for Adolf Paul’s play King Christian II, set in the 16th century, deals with the King’s love of a commoner, her murder by a jealous rival and the King’s bloodthirsty revenge. It includes a strongly-felt love scene, Nocturne, with many elements characteristic of the composer’s future musical language.

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Pietari Inkinen

8.570535 BRUMEL: Missa de Beata Virgine

Antoine Brumel was among the most distinguished composers of his time, the first great French rather than Flemish Renaissance composer. He served as master of choristers at Notre Dame in Paris and then was employed at the d’Este court in Ferrara, where he succeeded Obrecht. After the disbandment of the court chapel Brumel may have spent time in Rome, where it is thought his Missa de Beata Virgine, his most famous composition, may have been written.

Speculum Ensemble; Roberto Di Cecco, countertenor; Cristiano Vavalà, tenor; Nicola Bonazzi, tenor; Stefano Scialè, bass

8.559313 ANDERSON, L.: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1

Leroy Anderson is a composer rigorously trained in the classical tradition whose records could top the pop charts, a reclusive personality whose compositions became household words, and a meticulous craftsman who could pull one marvellous tune after another out of his hat almost at will. Here, in the first complete cycle of Anderson’s orchestral music, the Anderson family has made available several pieces that the composer did not release, with some first recordings scattered among the familiar and not-so familiar titles. Volume One closes with Anderson’s Piano Concerto which, since its revival in 1989, has been receiving an increasing number of performances.

Catherine Moore, David McCallum, John Blackshaw, trumpets; Michael Pearce, Derek Hannigan, Jenny McLaren, Neville Graham, clarinets; Jeffrey Biegel, piano; BBC Concert Orchestra; Leonard Slatkin

8.559349 HUTTER, G.: Orchestral and Solo Piano Works

Gregory Hutter is currently one of America’s most diverse and eclectic young composers. As demonstrated in the present collection of compositions, Hutter works fluently in a wide variety of styles and mediums, from the mechanical urban imagery displayed in the orchestral works Electric Traction and Skyscrapers to the neo-romanticism of Still Life, from the aggressive dissonant styles of the Fantasy Pieces to his own unique incarnation of the ragtime genre in The Melancholy Rags. His music has been performed by many leading orchestras and concert artists throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra; Andreas Hérm Baumgartner; Toshiyuki Shimada; Miroslav Šafárˇ, oboe; Winston Choi, piano

8.559361 COOMAN: Sacred Choral Music

This disc includes a sampling of the music, broadly organized by the structure of the liturgical year. Ranging in character from the Christmas-filled exuberance of New World Carols: An American Christmas Triptych to the mystical Trinitarian contemplation of Be Present, Holy Trinity, Cooman’s music creates a sense of ‘sacred space’ in its settings of both familiar and unfamiliar texts from all eras. Under the direction of renowned organist and conductor Rupert Gough, the Choir of Royal Holloway delivers insightful performances of this repertoire.

The Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London (Rupert Gough, director); Samuel Rathbone, organ

  Naxos Historical

8.111280-81 VERDI: Il Trovatore

Before Maria Callas made this August 1956 recording of Il Trovatore, at La Scala, Milan, she had been singing it often since 1950 and with notable success. Her 1953 Covent Garden performances earned golden opinions. The Times critic considered the opera should have been styled Leonora:‘[she] sang and acted everyone off the stage’… The beauty of her line, its plasticity, and its strength, and the easy richness with which she unfolds long phrases, was memorably shown in Tacea la notte’.Throughout this recording Callas’s singing of Leonora’s music is superlative.

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan; Herbert von Karajan

8.111271 RUBINSTEIN: Brahms / Tchaikovsky

This 1929 recording of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is notable for Rubinstein’s overall fleetness and light-footed approach. The result is a refreshing and exciting reading. Rubinstein’s 1932 recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is similarly characterised by a lack of weightiness and a freshness of approach that makes this reading a delight to hear. At the beginning, when Rubinstein plays the first statement of the theme in octaves, how beautifully and lyrically he shapes the phrases, and he keeps the underlying rhythm going in the following short cadenza so that it sounds an integral part of the movement.

Arthur Rubinstein, piano; London Symphony Orchestra; Albert Coates; John Barbirolli

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