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John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, December 2017

Ten classical recordings that made 2017 a very good listening year

The suite Richard Strauss extracted from his incidental music to a German-language production of Moliere’s comedy serves as an attractive disc mate for the first recording of the 35-minute Symphonic Suite that D. Wilson Ochoa created from “Ariadne auf Naxos.” The result is so smoothly stitched together and so warmly played that you hardly miss the voices. © 2017 Chicago Tribune

Gil French
American Record Guide, July 2017

What makes the Ariadne Suite so rewarding is the stunning performance Falletta gets from the Buffalo Philharmonic. The quality of playing confirms that, in her 18 years as music director, she now has the orchestra performing at its peak. And on the day this was recorded, March 20, 2016, Falletta herself was in top form.

The Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite (recorded November 3, 2014) is just as splendidly played and conducted. The crisp articulation of the Overture makes me sit up straight with delight, and the exquisite balances in the Minuet let me hear all of the details. The piano work is outstanding, and its balance in the ensemble is ideal. But most memorable are the many solos by William Preucil, who was acting concertmaster for this recording. He makes the tailors dance with exquisite light, upturned buoyancy. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Arthur Lintgen
Fanfare, July 2017

Falletta’s relaxed and restrained approach to Le bourgeois gentilhomme is fine, …The orchestra gets the sound of Ariadne auf Naxos just about perfectly. There is plenty of rhythmic snap and lyrical fervor, especially at the end.

The sound is big and up front, but there is no excessive harshness or brightness. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Huntley Dent
Fanfare, July 2017

Richard Strauss as a confectioner is unsurpassed—he writes music you can taste, particularly if you have a sweet tooth. …He’s the binge composer par excellence. JoAnn Falletta must agree, because here she’s given us a double-scoop sundae of luscious music from Ariadne auf Naxos, …This is the most infectious reading I’ve ever heard. …Falletta makes every bar sound as beautiful as anything from Der Rosenkavalier.

…Falletta’s reading is admirable, if not in the same league as the wonderful Le bourgeois gentilhomme music. The melancholy air of Strauss’s score is overshadowed by rollicking high spirits. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

John Whitmore
MusicWeb International, April 2017

The performance by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, again beautifully recorded, really hits the spot and does full justice to the special melodic sound-world of Strauss. The words opulent and passionate readily spring to mind. The highlight is undoubtedly the aria Es gibt ein Reich, providing the listener with 6 minutes of sheer joy. Maybe there’s a slight lack of string tone compared to the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic in full flight but the Buffalo strings still sound very beautiful in their own way, as does the recording as a whole. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Janos Gardonyi
The WholeNote, March 2017

…here is a real gem I wouldn’t mind listening to over and over again. This brand new release from Naxos comes from Buffalo, NY, by an orchestra, one of the best in North America, whose skills were honed by such names as Josef Krips, Lukas Foss, Semyon Bychkov and now led most ably by JoAnn Falletta.

Strauss’ Suite (1912/1920) is written for a small but virtuoso orchestra, difficult and intricate but played here with flair, charm, delicacy and humour one rarely encounters even from the very best conductors. The violin solo by concertmaster William Preucil is an unforgettable delight.

The Suite from Ariadne auf Naxos is quite new (and a world premiere) by a young American, D. Wilson Ochoa, who put it together from the highlights of the opera of the same name. …Strauss said once that “melody strikes him like a bolt of lightning from the clear blue sky” and that’s well proven by the exquisite finale when the god Bacchus appears in his radiance curing Ariadne’s sorrows by falling in love with her and we hear wave upon wave of radiant music pouring forth from Falletta’s magic baton. © 2017 The WholeNote Read complete review

James Manheim, March 2017

The performances by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra are all that could be desired, and Falletta is especially attuned to the drolleries of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. An attractive Strauss disc, well recorded in the Buffalo Philharmonic’s Kleinhans Hall home base. © 2017 Read complete review

David Hurwitz, March 2017

I sure hope the folks in Buffalo know what a prize they have in JoAnn Falletta. Her Naxos discography has few peers in terms of imaginative programming and quality of results.

However, the real item of interest is the “Symphony-Suite” arranged by D. Wilson Ochoa from Ariadne auf Naxos, the original companion work to Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Arranging suites from Strauss’ operas is a trend that can only be encouraged. Strauss did it himself, of course, but mostly without much enthusiasm or imagination. So here’s a case where the intervention of more caring hands is clearly called for.

…those who know the opera well may be surprised at how much lovely material slips by without notice in stage performances, such as the “Intermezzo” music on the second to last track here. …thanks to Falletta and the folks in Buffalo, in this luminously played and recorded performance, we can savor them afresh. © 2017 Read complete review

Jeff Simon
The Buffalo News, March 2017

Falletta calls this recording of Strauss music from 1912 a “dream project” and says Ochoa’s arrangement of “Ariadne” is music of “extreme beauty and sensuous luxury, studded with gorgeous instrumental solos and the composer’s incomparable blend of poignancy, humor, whimsy and melodic richness.” Nothing is ever likely to exceed the impact of Falletta and the BPO’s almost shocking recording of Gliere’s “Ilya Muromets” Symphony No. 3 in orchestral splendor on disc but this recording is formidable. © 2017 The Buffalo News Read complete review, February 2017

…Falletta gets excellent playing from [Buffalo Philharmonic], spinning out the themes skillfully and showing the orchestra’s rhythmic skill again and again. …Falletta’s usual sure-handed conducting, and the orchestra’s clear grasp of Straussian intricacies and beauties, provide a very intriguing and wholly successful view of two very different works that have retained their rather uneasy partnership for more than a century. © 2017 Read complete review

Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, February 2017

If, like me, you are a collector of orchestral suites drawn from operas, you need not hesitate with this charming confection drawn from Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. The cohesion between the various pieces is persuasive, and the performance finds the gentle charm of the composer in his more companionable vein. Richard Strauss’ Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme suite was one of his own favourite scores, incidental music that combines the composer’s romanticism with his admiration for the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully. © 2017 Classical CD Choice

Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), February 2017

Richard Strauss’ Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme was one of his own favorite scores, a jewel of incidental music that combines the composer’s romanticism with his love of Baroque music. D. Wilson Ochoa has created a new symphonic suite from Strauss’ opera Ariadne auf Naxos, enabling the orchestra to revel in the composer’s incomparable blend of poignancy, humor and melodic richness. © 2017 WFMT (Chicago)

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2017

Two works written by Richard Strauss in 1912 have striking similarities that make an attractive coupling, this suite from Ariadne auf Naxos receiving its first recording. Hugo von Hofmannsthal was the link, him persuading Strauss to write incidental music for a new production of Moliere’s play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, contemporary reports relating that the back-stage ‘comedy’ between the various people involved was far more farcical than the story on stage. The dire outcome found Strauss rescuing his music to form a concert work for small orchestra, the resulting score one for which he had a great affection. While these troubles were sorted out, Hofmannsthal was the librettist for a new opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, a story that mixed comedy with Greco-Roman mythology. It contained many of the characteristics that had made Der Rosenkavalier such a success, with a bumptious Baron—who we never see—arranging everything, while the major character is a young man sung by a female. The further link between these two scores was the use of a chamber orchestra, the attraction of both residing in the skilful use of instrumental colours. Creating this ‘Symphonic Suite’, the American arranger, Wilson Ochoa, has crafted a score of seven linked sections that use almost a third of the complete opera. It is highly effective and never tries to be other than the original chamber orchestra score. JoAnn Falletta has shaped the Buffalo Philharmonic into a first rate and very pliable ensemble, the intricate interplay between instruments so perfectly achieved in a finely detailed recording. Apart from the conductor’s biography being out of date, the programme notes and presentation is excellent. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

Robert Benson, February 2017

Here is an intriguing disk from the remarkable JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic. …There are seven different sections following played without pause, producing a lovely tapestry of Straussian textures. Excellent performance and fine audio. © 2017 Read complete review

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