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Naxos Bestsellers April 2024

Top 20 Audio Releases
Linz Bruckner Orchestra • M. Poschner

‘Poschner’s performance has the distinction of being the fastest on any official label and is enlivened by some notably vigorous playing, especially from the timpani…’ – Gramophone

GUERRA-PEIXE, C.: A retirada da Laguna • Violin Concertino • Museu da Inconfidência
Naxos 8.573924
Landim • Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra • N. Thomson

‘Guerra-Peixe was clearly a political composer, but also a damn fine one. This recording is part of a series of music from Brazil.’ – Cultural Attaché

PRICE, F.: String Quartet No. 2 • 5 Folksongs in Counterpoint (1951) • SOWERBY, L.: String Quartet in G Minor
Naxos 8.559941
Avalon String Quartet

‘[The Avalon String Quartet] unfold the sound of the ensemble in a differentiated manner that does not conceal the structures. In doing so, they breathe new life into the three works with a contemporary approach.’ – Pizzicato

MAYR, J.S.: Messa solenne in D Minor
Naxos 8.574524–25
Feith • Bernagiewicz • Apffelstaedt • M. Schäfer • Fang Zhi • Mallmann • Simon Mayr Choir • Concerto de Bassus • Hauk

Johann Simon Mayr’s music stands on the cusp between the Classical and Romantic eras. The expressive lyrical qualities in his religious music reflects a career in which he composed nearly 70 operas. The Messa solenne follows the Italian tradition of messa concertata and contains the full ordinary – a rarity for Mayr’s output in this genre. The work’s polyphonic sections made an especially lasting impression on churchgoers of the time, as witnessed by Mayr’s first biographer, Girolamo Calvi, who wrote enthusiastically about this work’s ‘exquisite vocal writing’ and ‘profoundly thrilling’ virtuosity – qualities that have remained hidden for nearly 200 years.

STRAUSS, R.: Josephslegende (The Legend of Joseph)
Naxos 8.574551
Staatskapelle Halle • Bollon

‘Fabrice Bollon and his Staatskapelle Halle orchestra do full justice to the colourful, eccentric score, and remind the listener that Strauss was one of the greatest orchestrators in the history of music. A very welcome disc.’ – Classical CD Choice

LISZT, F.: Liszt Complete Piano Music, Vol. 61 – Opera Transcriptions
Naxos 8.574545
Martin Cousin

Nearly half of Franz Liszt’s early output consisted of transcriptions and arrangements, filling out his virtuoso concert programmes with some of the grandest and most popular operas of the day. He cleverly weaves themes through a dramatic Grande Fantaisie on Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, while the Fantasia on Mercadante’s Il giuramento is a superb example of Liszt’s flamboyant and virtuosic earlier style. All of these works require delicate brilliance and precision alongside a superb technique to meet their fearsome challenges – the Rondeau fantastique on Manuel García’s ‘El contrabandista’ is one of the most technically demanding pieces Liszt ever composed.

RAVEL, M.: Daphnis et Chloé Suites Nos. 1 and 2 • Ma mère l’oye • Valses nobles et sentimentales
Vox VOX-NX-3037CD
St. Olaf Choir • Minnesota Orchestra • Skrowaczewski
Supersonic | Pizzicato

‘Skrowaczewski begins with an elegant and finely differentiated, incredibly colourful version of the Valses Nobles et sentimentales. He gives the ballet Ma mère l’oye a wonderfully magical, sensual and suggestive character.’ – Pizzicato

SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Trios Nos. 1 and 2 • Notturno • Rondo brillant • Arpeggione Sonata
Ondine ODE1394-2D
C. and T. Tetzlaff, Vogt

‘These are Lars Vogt’s last trio recordings, and listening to the way he explores Schubert’s music with an almost shy subtlety and makes it resound, often even blossom joyfully, one can only marvel.’ – ICMA

CHOPIN, F.: Scherzos Nos. 1–4 • Impromptus Nos. 1–3 • Fantasy-Impromptu • Allegro de concert
Naxos 8.574052
Mao Fujita

‘Mao Fujta is a 22-year-old Japanese pianist, a prize winner with a dazzling technique. Yet it isn’t the speed and accuracy of his playing of the Impromptu in A♭ that most impresses me, but the reflective and subsequently dramatic rendition of pieces like the less often recorded Allegro de concert.’ – Fanfare

BUSONI, F.: Piano Concerto
SWR Classic SWR19141CD
Lively • Freiburg Vocal Ensemble • South West German Radio Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden • Gielen

‘David Lively’s playing is extremely virtuosic, and the orchestral part is finely differentiated and richly detailed in structure and sound. …this brilliant and exciting recording easily takes its place at the top of the catalogue.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★★

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphony No. 7
Orfeo C700051B
Bavarian State Orchestra • C. Kleiber

‘…thrilling accounts of the scherzo and finale.’ –

J. Weber • Mayer • K. Wagner • Dohr • Schoch • Janoušková • Vogler • Kolinsky
Supersonic | Pizzicato

‘The performers, most of whom are members of the Berlin Philharmonic and, with Jan Vogler and other illustrious names, play this music with a keen sense of its character. Each of them is committed to his work with vigour and refinement, making this collection a great experience for this Czech composer.’ – Pizzicato

CASSADÓ, G. • MOMPOU, F.: Complete Guitar Works
Naxos 8.579103
Eugenio Della Chiara

This album presents the complete solo works for guitar by two Catalan contemporaries, the cellist Gaspar Cassadó and the pianist Federico Mompou. Cassadó wrote six guitar works connected to his friendship with Andrés Segovia, mostly based on folk elements such as the sardana, a traditional Catalan circle dance. In Mompou’s works for guitar, the influence of his mysticism and attachment to Catalan folklore are undeniable. He composed primarily for piano but he also wrote three pieces for guitar, notably Suite compostelana for Segovia. The hypnotic, austere and lyrical elements in this work distil Mompou’s compositional genius.

DELLAIRA, M.: The Leopard [Opera]
Naxos 8.669052–53
K. Josephson • Redmon • F. Ragsdale • Frost Opera Theater Chorus • Frost Symphony Orchestra • Gerard Schwarz

‘Kim Josephson sings the role of the Prince of Salina with great commitment and a secure voice. Tenor Minghao Liu is no less convincing as Tancredi Falconeri, the Prince’s nephew, with some very passionate singing.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★

VALI, R.: The Being of Love • Ravân • Isfahan
Naxos 8.579150
J. Baty • Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen • Haimor

‘The Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen has embraced this idiosyncratic language with dedication. …The musicians prove themselves equal to the unfamiliar pitches and also succeed in confidently presenting the expressive values of the music. Baty’s voice enlivens these love songs with its dark, almost earthy timbre.’ – Pizzicato ★★★★★

Ondine ODE1441-2
Waltteri Torikka • Marko Hilpo

During his lifetime, Oskar Merikanto (1868–1924) enjoyed unparalleled popularity as the most celebrated composer in Finnish households. Even today, his compositions remain ubiquitous, gracing events such as weddings and funerals. Merikanto, an accomplished pianist and organist, possessed a particular gift for writing memorable melodies. His enduring appeal is evident in his extensive body of work, comprising over 200 songs, numerous duets, several choral compositions, and nearly 200 piano pieces. As the year 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Oskar Merikanto, baritone Waltteri Torikka pays tribute to the composer by presenting 29 of his melodies in this album.

DVOŘÁK, A.: Violin Concerto • Piano Concerto
Vox VOX-NX-3035CD
R. Ricci • Firkušný • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra • Susskind

‘The best reason to check out these reissues is the Dvořák Piano Concerto with Rudolf Firkušný, one of the work’s great champions. Susskind and the St Louis players provide a Brahmsian breadth and wonderful support. The immediacy of their interplay is captivating’ – BBC Music Magazine ★★★★

LOPES-GRAÇA, F.: Songs and Folk Songs, Vol. 3
Naxos 8.579152
Susana Gaspar • Nuno Vieira de Almeida

Fernando Lopes-Graça, one of Portugal’s most prolific and innovative 20th-century composers, was steeped in the folk songs of various provenances. In this third instalment (the earlier volumes are on 8.579039 and 8.579082) Lopes-Graça sets some of the greatest of all Portuguese poets. His exploration of harmonic complexity and progressive writing is distantly rooted in Debussy and laced with other subtle French elements. Premiere recordings of the kaleidoscopic Old English and French songs, which run the gamut of emotions, are among his earliest settings of foreign folk songs.

Triendl • Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic • Tzigane

‘…Triendl plays with a wonderful evenness of touch and carefully controlled dynamic range as well as an innate sense of musical line and phrase. …in Tzigane and Triendl [Labor] has found the best possible advocates.’ – MusicWeb International

ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra • M. Poschner

‘…Poschner conducts a fast-paced performance in all four movements. …with excellent sound, this new version is a recommendable option if you want to hear the symphony in its 1872 form.’ – Gramophone

CHOPIN, F.: Piano Concerto No. 2 • Rondo à la krakowiak • Variations on Là ci darem
Vox VOX-NX-3036CD
A. Simon • Hamburg Symphony Orchestra • Beissel

‘The poised, elegant performances by Abbey Simon with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra under Heribert Beissel, released in the 1970s, were always among the most attractive versions of these works… Even more than half a century after these readings were created, they retain their power in exploring the intricacies of Chopin’s limited contribution to piano-and-orchestra creations.’ – ★★★★

DVOŘÁK, A.: Cello Concerto • Silent Woods • Rondo • Romance • Mazurek
Vox VOX-NX-3034CD
Nelsova • R. Ricci • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra • Susskind

‘These are performances of lyrical expression and effortless mastery, ably augmented by the sound of the orchestra.’ – Classical Candor

TELEMANN, G.P.: Pastorelle en Musique [Opera]
Capriccio C71054–55
Sandmann • Fink • Hausmann • Vierlinger • Berchtold • Capella Leopoldina • Karabits
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphony No. 4
Orfeo C100841B
Bavarian State Orchestra • C. Kleiber

Top 10 Audiovisual Releases
NIELSEN, C.: Maskarade [Opera] (Sung in German) (Frankfurt Opera, 2021)
Naxos 2.110762
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0174V)
Porter • Buczkowska • Bullock • Reiter • Holender • Frankfurt Opera Chorus • Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra • Engel • Kratzer

‘Alfred Reiter is just over the top enough as the irascible Jeronimus, Liviu Holender is suitably funny and a really strong singer as Henrik. Monika Buczkowska and Michael Porter as the young lovers sing a couple of really lovely soprano/tenor duets and definitely up the eye candy factor.’ – operaramblings

BUSONI, F.: Doktor Faust [Opera] (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2023)
Dynamic DYN-37998
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57998)
Henschel • Brenna • Schwinghammer • Dahdah • Fiorentino Maggio Musicale Chorus and Orchestra • Meister • Livermore

‘Dietrich Henschel is brilliant as Faust. He sings well and really conveys the sense of Faust as a deeply puzzling character who knows much but often refuses to credit it. Daniel Brenna is also vocally quite spectacular on occasions but again it’s really his encapsulation of a Mephistopheles who is sardonic and evil but who, ultimately, is just doing a job he’s done millions of times before.’ – operaramblings

WAGNER, R.: Die Walküre [Opera] (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 2021)
Naxos 2.110741–42
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0158V)
Stemme • Paterson • Jovanovich • Teige • Berlin Deutsche Opera Orchestra • Runnicles • Herheim

‘Conductor Donald Runnicles nicely harnesses the massive orchestral forces, and the singers (especially Iain Paterson’s Wotan, Elisabeth Teige’s Sieglinde and Nina Stemme’s Brunnhilde) handle the treacherous vocal writing spectacularly.’ – The Flip Side

THE CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON COLLECTION – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland • The Winter’s Tale • Like Water for Chocolate (3-Disc Boxed Set)
Opus Arte OA1381BD
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7319BD)
Cuthbertson • Bonelli • Watson • Lamb • Yanowsky • Bonelli • McRae • Hayward • Sambé • Royal Ballet • Royal Opera House Orchestra • Kessels • Briskin • de la Parra • Wheeldon

The Christopher Wheeldon Collection is a dazzling showcase of the theatrical imagination of The Royal Ballet’s Artistic Associate, Christopher Wheeldon. With a stellar creative team, including designer Bob Crowley and composer Joby Talbot, he brings to life three celebrated works of fiction that pop as vividly on the screen in this collection as they did on stage for audiences watching live in the theatre.

SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Samson et Dalila [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2022)
Opus Arte OA1371D
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7315D)
Baek • Garanča • Goliński • Malaba • Pingarrón • Sijeqa • Mjandana • Janelidze • Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra • Pappano • Jones

‘[Seokjong Baek’s] soft singing captures a vulnerability that eludes some Samsons and there are some breathtaking high pianissimos in his long duet with Elīna Garanča’s Dalila. She is simply magnificent throughout, her tone dark and velvety, those low notes all sumptuously in place, her upper registers gleaming.’ – Gramophone

PROKOFIEV, S.: Cinderella [Ballet] (Royal Ballet, 2023)
Opus Arte OA1378D
Also available on Blu-ray (OABD7316D)
Nuñez • Muntagirov • Royal Opera House Orchestra • Kessels • Ashton

‘…the current Royal Ballet company has immense strength in depth and there are no weak links in this performance… Prokofiev’s score is very well served by experienced ballet conductor Kessels and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.’ – MusicWeb International

DELIBES, L.: Lakmé [Opera] (Opéra Comique, 2022)
Naxos 2.110765
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0177V)
Devieilhe • Antoun • Degout • Bré • Pygmalion Chorus and Orchestra • Pichon • Pelly

‘Devieilhe actually makes Lakme believable, a real human being whom we care about. Her singing is effortless and beautiful with none of the shrillness often heard in this music. The Pygmalion ensemble plays extremely well for Pichon who shows he knows exactly how this type of music should be performed.’ – American Record Guide

Camilla Nylund Sings Masterpieces from The Great American Songbook (Concert Film, 2021) (DVD + CD set)
Naxos 2.110747
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0162V)
A concert film-project by André Heller, directed by Robert Neumüller

‘Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund puts her own stamp on classic American songs from Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Kurt Weill and others in this beautifully intimate performance…her renditions of Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” and Weill’s “September Song” are perfection, along with the musicians’ backing.’ – The Flip Side

LEVAY, S.: Elisabeth [Musical] (Vereinigte Bühnen Wien, 2022)
Naxos 2.110749
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0164V)
Orchester der Vereinigten Bühnen Wien • Römer • Mehmert

Treading a tightrope between death, life and intense romance in the opulent world of 19th-century Habsburg royalty, Elisabeth tells the story of the beautiful Empress of Austria, from her wedding, to her tragic assassination by the hand of the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni. Ongoing dark obsessions and inner turmoil are undercurrents as family schisms flare up amidst a crumbling empire. These powerful themes and a potent score brimming with fabulous music have combined to establish Elisabeth as the most successful German-language musical of all time. This spectacular open-air event presents Elisabeth at the fabled empress’s real-life home – Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

DONIZETTI, G.: Chiara e Serafina, o Il pirata [Opera] (Fondazione Teatro Donizetti, 2022)
Dynamic DYN-37987
Also available on Blu-ray (DYN-57987)
Spagnoli • Fan Zhou • Doveri • Coro dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala • Orchestra Gli Originali • Quatrini • Falaschi
Editor’s Choice | Gramophone

‘Once again, we have a DVD to thank for a splendid revival of a forgotten work, in this case some wonderful early Donizetti.’ – Gramophone

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