Recent Picks from Naxos Music Library

Check out our recent picks form Naxos Music Library including the third Elgar album from Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. If you haven’t started streaming, please check our guide to streaming.

Cover from Naxos SAINT-SAËNS, C.: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4, 5 (A. Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, J.-J. Kantorow)
Performed by: Kantorow, Alexandre; Kantorow, Jean-Jacques; Tapiola Sinfonietta
“Composer, piano virtuoso, conductor, teacher Camille Saint-Saëns was all of these things, but also a keen archaeologist, astronomer, botanist, historian, illustrator, poet, playwright A seasoned traveller, he was the most famous French musician in his own lifetime. Jean-Jacques Kantorow and the Tapiola Sinfonietta have championed the music of Saint-Saëns on a series of acclaimed albums, and are now joined by the young Alexandre Kantorow son of the conductor for a survey of his works for piano and orchestra.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Cover from Naxos MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 3 (Mingardo, Cologne Cathedral Children’s Choir, Schola Heidelberg, Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra, F.-X. Roth)
Performed by: Cologne Cathedral Children’s Choir; Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra; Mingardo, Sara; Roth, François-Xavier; Schola Heidelberg, female section
“The work calls for enormous forces (large orchestra, women’s choir, boys’ choir and contralto soloist) and, at each hearing, leaves an unforgettable impression on the audience. Such was the case in October 2018, when François-Xavier Roth led the esteemed successors of the work’s first interpreters.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover from Naxos HAYDN, J.: Symphonies, Vol. 7 – Nos. 9, 65, 67 (Haydn 2032 Project, No. 7. Gli impresari) (Basel Chamber Orchestra, Antonini)
Performed by: Antonini, Giovanni; Basel Chamber Orchestra
“Under the title Gli impresari, The Impresarios i.e. the directors of the theatre troupes that Nikolaus I, Prince Esterházy engaged to perform in his opera houses this CD gathers together some of the orchestral works by Joseph Haydn linked by their origin and their reception; they were originally conceived as theatre music, before their metamorphosis into symphonies(…).” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover from Naxos ELGAR, E.: Enigma Variations / In the South Overture, “Alassio” / Serenade (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, V. Petrenko)
Performed by: Petrenko, Vasily; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
“The third Elgar album from Petrenko and the RLPO , a critically acclaimed team of Elgarians, brings together three masterpieces, In the South, a vibrant and colourful depiction of the Southern Italian coast, the Serenade for String Orchestra, and the Variations on an original theme, know as the Enigma Variations.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

New Classical CDs at Arapaki

We have recently added some new classical CDs to our small collection at Arapaki (Manners Street). Come in and flick through them the next time you’re in town! The new additions include some compilations by notable singers.

Lise Davidsen. Songs and arias by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Performed by Lise Davidsen.
“‘The young Norwegian soprano’s voice, silken at the top, rich with deep mezzo colours, pours forth flawlessly as if in one clear, stupendous breath. It’s one of the greatest voices I have heard'” (Observer review, printed on CD cover).

Si j’ai aimé. Performed by Sandrine Piau with Le Concert de la Loge.
“[Sandrine Piau’s] new project is a recital with orchestra celebrating French songs from the period when they moved from the private salon to the concert hall. Planned in partnership with the Palazzetto Bru Zane, this programme evokes all the vagaries of love experienced by a romantic heroine.” (amazon.com)

Lieder, Brahms, Schumann, Mahler. Performed by Renée Fleming.
“Four-time Grammy winner Renée Fleming presents her first full-length Lieder album in almost two decades, featuring a selection of favorite songs from Brahms, Schumann, and Mahler, including Brahm’s “Lullaby” and a breathtaking performance of Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with Christian Thielemann and the Munich Philharmonic.” (amazon.com)

New Streaming Picks from the Naxos Music Library

New music keeps coming to the Naxos Music Library; the most comprehensive collection of classical music available online. If you haven’t started streaming from them, please check our guide to streaming. Check out our recent picks below and enjoy streaming!

Cover from Naxos SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 / Korol’ Lir (King Lear) Suite (Hudgins, Boston Symphony, A. Nelsons)
Performed by: Boston Symphony Orchestra; Hudgins, William R.; Nelsons, Andris
Andris Nelsons is the Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and new Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. With both appointments, and in leading a pioneering alliance between these two esteemed institutions, he is firmly underlined as one of the most renowned, exciting and innovative conductors on the international scene today. Nelsons and the BSO continue the acclaimed cycle with the ‘Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7’.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover from Naxos BUXTEHUDE, D.: Membra Jesu nostri / Gott hilf mir (Ricercar Consort, Pierlot)
Performed by: Bayodi, Hanna; Keohane, Maria; Mena, Carlos; Pierlot, Philippe; Ricercar Consort; Thompson, Jeffrey; Vieweg, Matthias
“In 1680, Dietrich Buxtehude sent his friend Gustav Düben the score of ‘Membra Jesu Nostri’. In this perfectly balanced work, he addresses the senses directly, immersing us in the sufferings of Christ: we feel the hammer blows, the heart that stops beating. Through the genius of his music Buxtehude succeeds in moving us, enlightening us and instructing us in the profound meaning of the text.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover from Naxos RACHMANINOV, S.: Préludes, Op. 3, No. 2, Opp. 23 and 32 (Giltburg)
Performed by: Giltburg, Boris
“Written over a period of 18 years, Rachmaninov’s sets of Préludes are a mirror and a record of his compositional development. With so rich a variety of character, colour, texture and mood, no two préludes are fully alike, and differentiation of tempo and register ensures that each prélude’s character is clearly defined. The first eleven pieces were conceived by Rachmaninov as a single cycle, and their full-hearted Romanticism contrasts with the significantly more angular, modernistic Op. 32. Whether evoking ballad or bell toll, the exotic or folk influences, the Préludes stand in the great tradition of works by Bach and Chopin written in all 24 major and minor keys.” (Naxos Summary)

Cover from Naxos HANDEL, G.F.: Acis and Galatea (1718 original version) [Opera] (Crowe, A. Clayton, Hulett, N. Davies, Budd, Curnyn)
Performed by: Budd, Jeremy; Clayton, Allan; Crowe, Lucy; Curnyn, Christian; Davies, Neal; Early Opera Company Orchestra; Hulett, Benjamin; Pierce, Rowan
“The award-winning Early Opera Company under the direction of founder Christian Curnyn celebrates the 300th anniversary of the premiere of one of Handels most sublime creations: Acis and Galatea. This unique interpretation is performed as Handel himself specified in the manuscript: supported by fourteen period instruments, the outstanding cast of singers takes on the solo parts as well as the magnificent choruses. This is Handel writing at his highest levels of intimacy and intensity; the music superbly supports the libretto’s evocative portrayal of the story, simultaneously restrained, economical, and deeply moving.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover from Naxos DUBHLINN GARDENS (THE) (Besson, Van Mechelen, A Nocte Temporis)
Performed by: A Nocte Temporis; Besson, Anna; Van Mechelen, Werner
“The Dubhlinn Gardens: an evening in the high society of 18th century Dublin, where traditional music was civilizing itself for the salon This programme was inspired by the passion for traditional Irish music that flautist Anna Besson has felt since she was a child. Surprising as it may seem, it was playing the Irish flute that led her to study the baroque instrument For the past few years Reinoud Van Mechelen too has begun to train himself in the traditional Irish song. This twofold practice of early as well as traditional music has led the ensemble A Nocte Temporis to offer a programme that is both vivacious and extremely touching.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Cover from Naxos TRISTANO, F.: Tokyo Stories (Tristano)
Performed by: Guti; Portal, Michel; Shibuya, Keiichiro; Tristano, Francesco; U-zhaan, ; Watanabe, Hiroshi
“Born and raised in Luxembourg, Francisco Tristano is one of the most innovative pianists of today, performing from baroque to avant-garde. He has issued unique recordings from Deutsche Grammophon including the acclaimed ‘Bach Cage’, which can be listened from Naxos Music Library. He is a musician more like Ryuichi Sakamoto or Nils Frahm than a traditional classical pianist, and his new album is inspired by the city of Tokyo that he loves and has visited so many times. It’s another intriguing music; somewhere between classical, techcho and ambient, by the unconventional artist.” (Shinji)

More Classical Music Streaming from Naxos Music Library

Although no physical CDs are available from our libraries at the moment, we still offer a lot of fine music through the Naxos Music Library. If you haven’t started streaming from the Naxos Music Library yet, please check the quick guide to start enjoying. Check also our new picks from the 2018/2109 releases below. Happy streaming!

We interviewed Yuka Eguchi, an assistant concertmaster of New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Please check it (A Classical Note) as well.

Cover from Naxos BACH, J.S.: Keyboard Music (Ólafsson)
Performed by: Ólafsson, Víkingur
“As if making an ultimate Bach playlist, a young Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson excellently juxtaposes Bach’s compositions, and tackles them from a variety of angles with fresh ideas. His pianism is sophisticated and refreshing, and brings out astonishingly colourful faces of Bach. This incredible Bach should reach beyond the classical music lovers like Glenn Gould did.” (Shinji)

Cover from Naxos MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 6 (Musica Aeterna, Currentzis)
Performed by: Currentzis, Teodor; Musica Aeterna
“Without dispute Teodor Currentzis is todays hottest & most sought after conductor- alongside his orchestra & choir MusicAeterna. The Greek-Russian conductor who has taken the classical music world by storm. (The Times) This is Currentziss first ever recording of Mahler. Mahlers symphonies feature heavily in their tour programme, but this is the first time Currentzis has gone into the studio with this composer.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Cover from Naxos STENHAMMAR, W.: Symphony No. 2 / Serenade (Gothenburg Symphony, Blomstedt)
Performed by: Blomstedt, Herbert; Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
“Blomstedt has told of how an international career gave him little opportunity to study and conduct Stenhammars music. At the age of 85, however, when he no longer had any obligations as a chief conductor, he thought now or never and began to study the composers major scores in earnest. The works on this disc are possibly the finest orchestral music that Stenhammar composed and he gave the premières of both with the orchestra, Symphony No. 2 in 1915 and the revised version of the Serenade in 1920.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover from Naxos BERLIOZ, H.: Harold en Italie / Les nuits d’été (T. Zimmermann, Degout, Les Siècles, F.-X. Roth)
Performed by: Degout, Stéphane; Roth, François-Xavier; Siècles, Les; Zimmermann, Tabea
“A new aesthetic calls for new forms: such is the challenge the composer set for himself in the two works presented here. In Les Nuits dété, Berlioz pioneered, well before Mahler and Ravel, a song cycle for voice and orchestra. In Harold in Italy, scored for large orchestra and solo viola, he experimented with the symphonic genre.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover from Naxos DEBUSSY, C.: Préludes, Book 1 / Estampes (Perianes)
Performed by: Perianes, Javier
“After an earlier album devoted to the intangible links between Chopin and Debussy, Javier Perianes returns to Debussy’s Préludes, which are among his favorite works. His recording of Book I, presented here in its entirety alongside the sublime Estampes, emphasizes the colorful, programmatic nature of these works.” (adapted from amazon.com)

A Guide to Classical Music Streaming from the Naxos Music Library

Naxos Music Library is the most comprehensive collection of classical music available online offering over 2,218,800 tracks of Classical music, Jazz, World, Folk and Chinese music.

CLICK the green panel under NAXOS MUSIC LIBRARY.
They will ask you for your Library Card number and Surname to access the site.

On the main webpage you will find at the top 2 searches: one for new releases, the other for recent additions. These change constantly. If you are a fan of particular labels – then click on the left hand side list of LABELS.

QUICK GUIDE TO FINDING BEST NEW RECORDINGS RELEASED MONTHLY:
For those eagre to sample the best of new classical recordings we recommend
BBC Radio 3’s weekly podcasts (from every Saturday evening after 10pm NZ time) Record Review with Andrew MacGregor. Over 3 hours of excellent analysis, friendly banter with knowledgeable Guests, and great bleeding chunks of music.

PRESTO CLASSICAL is also the best site to see what has been released each week, with interviews, forthcoming releases. Worth subscribing to their weekly newsletter:

We have chosen 5 exemplary recent discs from the current Naxos catalogue that are performances from musicians that engage, and enthrall for their musicality, and individual performance. Start streaming now!

Cover from Naxos Piano Recital: Levit, Igor – BACH, J.S. / BUSONI, F. / LISZT, F. / SCHUMANN, R. (Life)
Performed by: Levit, Igor

 

Cover from Naxos VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, R.: Symphony No. 1, “A Sea Symphony” / The Lark Ascending (S. Fox, M.Stone, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Manze)
Performed by: Ehnes, James; Fox, Sarah; Manze, Andrew; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Stone, Mark

 

Cover from Naxos SIBELIUS, J.: Symphony No. 1 / En saga (Claesson, Gothenburg Symphony, Rouvali)
Performed by: Claesson, Urban; Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Rouvali, Santtu-Matias

 

Cover from Naxos FINZI, G.: Cello Concerto / Eclogue / New Year Music / Grand Fantasia and Toccata (P. Watkins, Lortie, BBC Symphony, A. Davis)
Performed by: BBC Symphony Orchestra; Davis, Andrew; Lortie, Louis; Watkins, Paul

 

Cover from Naxos Vocal Music (Counter-Tenor) – FAGO, F.N. / HEINICHEN, J.D. / TERRADELLAS, D. / ZELENKA, J.D. (Anima Sacra) (Orliński, Il Pomo d’Oro, Emelyanychev)
Performed by: Emelyanychev, Maxim; Orliński, Jakub Józef; Pomo d’Oro, Il

 

Spotlight on new Classical music CDs

Maria Callas CD cover

We have recently received new compilations of works from two French greats: Hector Berlioz and Claude Debussy. To accompany these, we found a selection of digitally remastered recordings of the great Maria Callas. We hope you enjoy them!

Les Trois Sonates: The Late Works, Debussy. Various performers.
“A century after his death on 25 March 1918, many Harmonia Mundi artists are eager to pay tribute to Claude Debussy, the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music. In the three chamber sonatas, here combined with the composer’s final pieces for solo piano, we attain the purity, the absolute concision, the distant and mysterious world that give these works a testamentary dimension.” (Cover)

Harold en Italie, Les Nuits d’été, Hector Berlioz. Performed by Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth.
“A new aesthetic calls for new forms: such is the challenge the composer set for himself in the two works presented here. In Les Nuits d’été Berlioz pioneered, well before Mahler and Ravel, a song cycle for voice and orchestra. In Harold in Italy, scored for large orchestra and solo viola, he experimented with the symphonic genre. These period-instrument performances by Les Siècles, led by François-Xavier Roth, with violist Tabea Zimmermann, also feature Stéphane Degout in the vocal cycle, heard here in the composer’s own version for baritone. File under: out of the ordinary.” (Cover)

The New Sound of Maria Callas.
“Unforgettable arias sung by the most iconic diva of all time – for the first time remastered in high-definition sound from the original tapes, for an unprecedented sound quality that shines new light on the voice of Maria Callas.” (Cover)

New Classical CDs just in the door!

Vaughan Williams

This week’s new classical CDs include these three albums featuring vocals: A Sea Symphony, which features text from Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’, sung by Sarah Fox and Mark Stone; Howard Goodall’s treatment of the Passion; and a second compilation of Vivaldi arias by Cecilia Bartoli.

A Sea Symphony & The Lark Ascending, Vaughan Williams. Performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir.
“Vaughan Williams’s first symphony A Sea Symphony displays an epic self-confidence in handling large orchestral forces and setting words to music. Walt Whitman’s words had been set by Holst and Harty and inspired orchestral works by Delius. The American poet provided a rich vein of inspiration to Vaughan Williams. The romance The Lark Ascending, originally for violin and piano, was orchestrated in 1920 and has become one of the composer’s best-loved works” (cover).

Invictus: A Passion, Howard Goodall. Performed by Christ Church Cathedral Choir and others.
“Christ Church Cathedral Choir and Stephen Darlington join forces with Soloists from The Sixteen and a stellar group of instrumentalists on this premiere recording. Persecution of the innocent, malevolent authority exerting itself against ideas that threaten and challenge, the power of a peaceful, loving humility in the face of tyranny, the facing-down of fear; all hold profound universal resonance for people of many faiths and those of none. Such is the power of the Passion story and in his new work, Invictus: A Passion, multi-award-winning composer Howard Goodall has found a route directly to people’s hearts, telling the story afresh through his choice of thought-provoking texts combined with heart-rending yet inspiring music” (amazon.com).

Antonio Vivaldi. Performed by Cecilia Bartoli.
“In 1999, Cecilia Bartoli released her landmark Vivaldi Album and introduced Antonio Vivaldi’s forgotten opera works to the world. Now, almost two decades later, she returns to Vivaldi with a brand new album of arias from the baroque master’s finest operas” (cover).

New classical CD’s for all to enjoy

Debussy album cover

Period instruments are the flavour of the month for January’s new classical CD additions; enjoy colours that Bach, Mozart and Debussy would have heard.

Sonatas & Partitas BWV 1001-1006, J. S. Bach. Performed by Giuliano Carmignola.
“With his interpretation of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, Giuliano Carmignola, dubbed ‘a prince among Baroque violinists’ (Gramophone), adds the first period-instrument recording of these works to DG’s rich catalogue” (cover).

Sonatas for Fortepiano & Violin, Mozart. Performed by Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov.
“In this first volume of Mozart’s duos, Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov revive on period instruments the tradition of the ‘sonata for keyboard with violin accompaniment’. Born in the middle of the Age of Enlightenment, this rather unusual concept continued to thrive in the era of Viennese Classicism, even if, long before Beethoven, Mozart swiftly sealed its fate by instigating (or, in a sense, restoring) an increasingly lively conversation between the two instruments” (cover).

Jeux/Nocturnes, Debussy. Performed by Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth.
“With the musicians of Les Siècles, we have the opportunity to discover on period instruments the original colours of [some of Debussy’s key works] as Jeux and the Nocturnes. After his sumptuous recording of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe, François-Xavier Roth adds a new and splendid achievement to his discography” (cover).

New Classical CDs

Anima Sacra album cover

We have recently added some interesting compilations by solo performers, including Delphine Galou, an alto from France, and the ever-reliable Andrea Bocelli. Other offerings include:

Anima Sacra. Performed by Jakub Józef Orliński.
“Offering no fewer than eight world-premiere recordings on his debut solo album, Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński plumbs the depths of sacred Baroque music for a spiritual journey through largely unknown arias from oratorios and motets of the 18th century, breathing new life into music by lesser-known masters.” (Cover)

Piano Magic. Peformed by Lang Lang.
A compilation of some of Lang Lang’s previously-recorded successes. “All works are very well known and loved – including Mozart’s ‘Rondo alla Turca’, Liszt’s ‘Rakoczy March’ Chopin’s ‘Minute Walt’z and Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’. The album also includes some of Lang Lang’s most streamed tracks to date; Bach’s ‘Air on the G-string’ (currently 11 million streams) and Liszt’s ‘La Campanella’ (4.5 million streams).” (amazon.com)

Sonatas Opus 109, 110, 111, Beethoven. Performed by Alexandre Tharaud.
This recording of Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas (30, 31 and 32) comes with a bonus 64-minute DVD. “This last group of sonatas had a three-fold purpose: didactic, spiritual and promotional. Beethoven had to keep on offering new works to different publishers in order to earn a living, but he was also motivated by the desire to exhort future pianists to aspire to ever greater heights, by writing for them music that exuded a lofty spirituality.” (Cover)

New Classical CDs

Destination Rachmaninov CD cover

This week in new classical music we feature recordings from each end of the romantic period, and one more in the middle-ish. Happy listening!

Destination Rachmaninov – Departure, Rachmaninov. Performed by Daniil Trifonov and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
“Daniil Trifonov’s captivating, Romantic soul and limitless virtuosity are thrillingly displayed [in this] musical exploration of two of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos – the heart-rending Second and the cosmopolitan Fourth – supported by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the glorious Philadelphia Orchestra… ‘Rachmaninov mastered the musical languages of the composers he admired,’ explains Trifonov, ‘and with humour, reverence, brilliance and affecting sentiment, created his own very Russian syntheses. In that sense, his music is both a journey and a destination’.” (cover)

The Complete String Quartets 5, Beethoven. Performed by the Elias String Quartet.
“The penultimate performance in the Elias String Quartets complete presentation of Beethoven’s String Quartets at Wigmore Hall brings to life the joyous and optimistic String Quartet in A Op.18 No. 5, the varied yet subtle String Quartet in C Op. 59 No. 3 ‘Razumovsky’ and finally the visionary String Quartet in C sharp minor Op. 131. The five-starred reviewed series of live recordings continues to excite, with committed performance from the ensemble earning them high praise from audience and critics alike. The Elias String Quartet’s brilliant performance continues to bring a fresh energy and emotion to this exploration of the masterworks of Beethoven.” (amazon.com)

Symphony No. 6, Mahler. Performed by MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis, conductor.
“‘Without dispute Teodor Currentzis is today’s hottest & most sought after conductor – alongside his orchestra & choir MusicAeterna. The Greek-Russian conductor who has taken the classical music world by storm.’ (The Times) This is Currentzis’s first ever recording of Mahler. Mahler’s symphonies feature heavily in their tour programme, but this is the first time Currentzis has gone into the studio with this composer.” (amazon.com)

New Classical Music CDs

Secular Cantatas cover

Our recent classical music CD additions include an interesting selection of vocal albums, including the conclusion of a long, epic survey of Bach cantatas (secular and sacred).

Aimer et Mourir: Danses et Mélodies, Ravel/Duparc. Performed by the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin with Magadlena Kožená.
“This second all-French programme [by Robin Ticciati and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin] sees Magdalena Kožená return to perform a selection of songs by Henri Duparc alongside orchestral music by his fellow countryman Maurice Ravel. The popular Suite No. 2 from Ravel’s epoch-making ballet Daphnis et Chloe showcases Ticciati’s flair for highlighting intricacies of detail and colour. In Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, Ticciati creates a well-paced, yet graceful, Impressionist swirl with clearly defined textures and shimmering orchestral colors. Duparc’s melodies sound particularly opulent in their orchestral scoring; the warm tones of Kožená’s ravishing voice provide a perfect match” (amazon.com).

Bach. Performed by Benjamin Appl and Concerto Köln.
Gramophone magazine’s “Young Artist of the Year” for 2016 returns with a new compilation of excerpts of cantatas and Passion settings. “[This] new album presents wonderful music by Johann Sebastian Bach from famous as well as less known cantatas but also from the St. Matthew Passion. It was recorded with the renowned Ensemble Concerto Köln, one of the leading ensembles for historically-informed performance practice” (amazon.com).

Secular Cantatas Vol. 10 ‘Cantatas of Contentment’, J. S. Bach. Performed by Bach Collegium Japan, conducted by Masaaki Suzuki.
The final volume in the secular cantata series. “When we finished the Bach Sacred Cantatas there was an emptiness with us all participants, which was – partly – alleviated by the fact that there were several records of secular Cantatas still to be recorded. And now we are at the bitter end of those as well, and there are no more Bach Cantatas to be recorded. After 23 years of a steady diet of Bach Cantatas, to be without them is brutal and cruel. All the better, then, that we have finished on a high point. Carolyn Sampson’s singing in the solo cantata BWV 204 beggars belief – it is as close to Heaven one can hope to come on this Earth. Big words, and yet too small for what she does. This is the crowning glory of a series that has transformed my life and given me so much more fulfillment that I could possibly have hoped for. Thank you, Masaaki and your faithful BCJ, for creating a musical treasure possible to be treasured by a grateful mankind” (Robert von Bahr, at amazon.com).

New Classical CD Picks

In this week’s new classical music CD arrivals there are three interesting new recordings from Deutsche Grammophon:

Johann Sebastian Bach. Performed by Víkingur Ólafsson.
“Thirty-five tracks and just one name – Johann Sebastian Bach. This exceptional album may be devoted to a single composer, but it contains an astonishing range and variety of music. ‘There isn’t just one Bach,’ explains Víkingur Ólafsson… All of these many facets [of Bach] can be heard in Ólafsson’s performances here…” (CD insert).

Nightfall. Performed by Alice Sara Ott.
A compilation of piano pieces by Debussy, Satie and Ravel, the trio of early 20th century French composers. “Nightfall is that magical hour when day and night face each other and the sky descends into twilight. For a brief moment, light and darkness are in harmony and merge together…” (Alice Sara Ott, cover).

Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’, Leonard Bernstein. Performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker.
“…when Leonard Bernstein celebrated his 70th birthday, he invited Krystian Zimerman to perform his Symphony No. 2 with him for the first time. After a fabulous concert Bernstein asked the pianist, ‘Will you play this piece with me when I’m 100?’ So here we are, more than 30 years later – Bernstein live from Berlin!” (cover).

Recently Arrived Classical Music CDs

Claudio Monteverdi CD cover

This week we’ve received a shipment of great new CDs, including some interesting composer-pairings curated by a couple of acclaimed instrumental soloists.

Messa a Quattro Voci et Salmi of 1650, Volume I and Volume II, Monteverdi (et. al.). Performed by The Sixteen.
“Monteverdi’s sacred vocal compositions introduced the expression of powerful and personal emotions to the world of church music. Whilst it took him a number of years to find fulfilment in his work, Monteverdi was a revered composer within his lifetime and his music is regarded as revolutionary, marking the change from the Renaissance style to that of the Baroque. [These discs comprise of] some of the finest works from Monteverdi’s years as director of music at St Mark’s in Venice, published posthumously…” (cover).

Transfigured Night, Haydn & Schoenberg. Performed by Alisa Weilerstein.
Transfigured Night brings together two outstanding composers associated with Vienna: Joseph Haydn and Arnold Schoenberg. The former is often seen as the oldest representative of the First Viennese School, whereas the latter founded the Second Viennese School, using the classicism of his predecessors to explore new, atonal musical paths into the twentieth century. By combining Haydn’s two cello concertos (in C-major and D-major) and Schoenberg’s symphonic poem Verklärte Nacht in the 1943 edition for string orchestra this album sheds a new, fascinating light on both Viennese masters. The connection between the stylistically contrasting pieces on this album is further enhanced by the inspired playing of American cellist Alisa Weilerstein and the Trondheim Soloists. For Weilerstein, this album is not only a fascinating exploration of the rich Viennese musical heritage, but just as much a confrontation with the dark history of a city her grandparents had to flee in 1938.” (amazon.com).

Schubert, Szymanowski. Performed by Lucas Debargue.
“Lucas Debargue’s third recording presents sonatas by Franz Schubert and polish composer Karol Szymanowski (1882 1937)… ‘Debargue is fantastically gifted: original, not tamed by any academicism, eccentric to the point of being mannered, but also thrilling as a result of his very personal tone.’ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.” (amazon.com)

Spotlight on new classical CDs

This week we bring together some 21st century works and a couple of Baroque masters.

Circles: Piano Concertos, Bach, Glass. Performed by Simone Dinnerstein and A Far Cry.
A Far Cry is a Boston-based string orchestra that performs without a conductor; no mean feat! Together with pianist Simone Dinnerstein they perform two pieces composed 280 years apart, the Glass concerto, composed in 2017 for Dinnerstein, featuring here in its world premiere recording. The Bach concerto (BWV 1058) is a transcription (by the composer) of the violin concerto in A minor (BWV 1041).

The Händel Album. Performed by Artaserse and Philippe Jaroussky.
“This album, which focuses on arias from Handel’s more rarely-performed operas, is the first that Philippe Jaroussky has devoted entirely to the composer … Jaroussky brings his impeccable Handelian credentials to an entire album devoted to arias by the composer, who produced thirty-five operas for the London stage between 1711 and 1741… Jaroussky’s new album puts the emphasis on operas we are less likely to hear in the theatre or concert hall: Amadigi di Gaula; Arianna in Creta; Flavio, re di Longobardi; Giustino; Imeneo; Radamisto (represented by no fewer than four arias); Riccardo primo, re d’Inghilterra; Siroe, re di Persia and Tolomeo, re di Egitto” (Catalogue).

Doctor Atomic, John Adams. Performed by Gerald Finley and other soloists with the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Adams.
“In this first recording of John Adams’s 2005 opera, Doctor Atomic, the composer leads the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with a cast led by Gerald Finley, who originated the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars created the libretto, drawing from original sources to explore the final hours leading up to the first atomic bomb explosion at the Alamagordo test site in New Mexico in July 1945. ‘A magnificent accomplishment that easily takes its place alongside the other Adams-Sellars triumphs,’ exclaims the Los Angeles Times. ‘It contains music of unearthly splendor.'” (amazon.com).

New Classical CDs

Aimi Kobayashi album cover

Today’s selection of new classical music CDs features a couple of compilations of religious choral music book-ending three centuries, from Vivaldi and Vaughan Williams. We have also added our first recording from Aimi Kobayashi, a successful young pianist and Chopin-expert.

Gloria, Vivaldi. Performed by Julia Lezhneva, Franco Fagioli with Coro Della Radiotelevisione Svizzera.
“The brightest stars of Italian baroque combine in a dream team for Vivaldi’s ever-popular Gloria in D major. Julia Lezhneva’s ‘serene, sleek voice’ (The Financial Times) is also heard in the sacred motet Nulla in mundo pax sincera, while Franco Fagioli’s ‘distinctive and almost feminine sound’ (The Guardian) is perfectly matched to Vivaldi’s psalm setting Nisi Dominus with its haunting ‘Cum dederit’.” (cover)

Solo Piano, Chopin, Liszt. Performed by Aimi Kobayashi.
“A teenage gold medallist in both the Asia-Pacific and ASIA International Chopin competitions, and a finalist in the ultimate Chopin Competition in Warsaw 2015, just past her 20th birthday, young virtuoso Aimi Kobayashi has enjoyed a close relationship with the music of the Polish composer throughout her skyrocketing career. Here she pairs the great Second Sonata with dazzling works by Chopin’s contemporary and friend Franz Liszt on a programme showcasing the musicianship she would share with the world…” (cover)

Mass in G Minor, Vaughan Williams. Performed by The Choir of St John’s, Cambridge.
Marking the centenary of the 1918 Armistice is this recording of Vaughan Williams choral works performed by The Choir of St John’s with Andrew Nethsingha at the helm. Many of these works were composed shortly after the end of the First World War, perhaps in response to the composer’s experience.

New Classical Music CDs

Mozart in London cover image

This week in new classical CDs we highlight the child genius of Mozart and his inspirations, Debussy on period instruments, and an American treasure (Aaron Copland).

Mozart in London. Performed by The Mozartists.
“The ensemble The Mozartists presents an unprecedented survey of Mozart’s childhood stay in London from 1764-65. The wide-ranging programme includes Mozart’s remarkable first symphony (composed when he was eight years old), along with his two other London symphonies and his first concert aria. The repertoire also explores music that was being performed in London during Mozart’s stay, including works by J.C. Bach, Thomas Arne, Abel, Pescetti, Perez, George Rush and William Bates.” (Catalogue)

Préludes du 2e Livre, La Mer, Debussy. La Mer transcribed by Debussy. Performed by Alexander Melnikov and Olga Pashchenko.
Harmonia Mundi describes Debussy as “the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music.” Alexander Melnikov performs on a “‘period’ piano (an Erard piano) that he breathes new life into Book II of the Préludes, but also – with the help of Olga Pashchenko – the extraordinary transcription of La Mer by the composer himself.” (Back cover)

Orchestral Works 3 – Symphonies, Copland. Performed by BBC Philharmonic.
The Chandos retrospective of Copland orchestral works continues with volume three, including Symphony No. 1, Dance Symphony, interspersed with two interludes, An Outdoor Overture, and Statements.

New Classical CDs

This week in the classical collection we highlight new additions by the pianists Stephen Hough, Boris Giltburg and Paul Lewis.

Piano Sonatas Nos. 32, 40, 49, 50, Haydn. Performed by Paul Lewis.
A collection of some of the last piano sonatas written by Haydn: “… highly attractive music… that combines mischievousness, ingenuousness, eloquence and lyricism. A whole art of contrast, interpreted with unique grace by Paul Lewis.” (back cover)

Stephen Hough’s Dream Album.
“It is seldom these graceful, delightful pieces have such consummate musicianship lavished upon them. Few pianists today besides Stephen Hough could devise such a recital featuring his own compositions beside works by Liszt, Sibelius, Elgar, Mompou and many more. Such stuff is what dreams are made of.” (amazon.com editorial review)

Piano Concerto No. 3; Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Rachmaninov. Performed by Boris Giltburg and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
“Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 is a complex, epic narrative that moves from a simple opening melody to the triumphant apotheosis at its conclusion. The composer ingeniously links motifs, melodies and at times whole sections between the movements, unifying the concerto into a single overarching storyline. In the Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Rachmaninov reworks the original theme using his unique harmonic language until there is no trace left of its Baroque or Renaissance origins.” (back cover)

Brand new Classical CD additions

Debusyy & Ravel album cover

This week we highlight some fresh new chamber music, and a world premiere recording of the Italian 1774 version of Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck. If you are interested in the journeys works of music can go on, we also have a 2015 recording of this work, being the 1762 version (in Italian), with highlights from the 1774 Paris version (in French).

Orfeo ed Euridice, Gluck. Performed by Philippe Jaroussky, Amanda Forsythe with Diego Fasolis, conductor.
“A sumptuous world-premiere recording of Gluck’s masterpiece of operatic reform, as it was presented in its Naples premiere at the Court Theatre of the Royal Palace in February of 1774, several months before the pastiche version with expanded cast debuted at the Teatro San Carlo. Here the work retains the intimate three-role cast of the well-known 1762 version, yet with fascinating customisations: the title role’s melodic line reshaped for a male soprano, a substitute aria offering a penetrating psychological portrait of Eurydice. In all, the genius of the work shines with new, astonishing colour, taking on a peculiar pace and unexpected brightness.” (cover).

Quatuor a Corde, Op. 10, Debussy, and Quatuor a Corde, Ravel. Performed by the Jerusalem Quartet.
“A century after his death on 25 March 1918, many harmonia mundi artists are eager to pay tribute to Claude Debussy, the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music. The musicians of the Jerusalem Quartet offer a new reading of his only String Quartet, in the logical coupling with its Ravelian counterpart: in some respects, the two works might seem like twins – and yet what differences there are between them!” (cover).

Oktett, Franz Schubert. Performed by Isabelle Faust and other string and wind performers.
“In response to a commission from Count Troyer, who wanted a work closely modelled on Beethoven’s famous Septet, op. 20, Schubert – despite his fervent admiration for the older composer – resolutely struck out on his own way by delivering an… octet. While the enlarged forces opened his path towards symphonic writing, examination of the form and expression reveals a much more accomplished and personal composition than has generally been recognised by commentators. Isabelle Faust and her partners, enthralled by what is an exceptional work in every respect, offer us a new interpretation of it on period instruments.” (cover).

New Classical CD arrivals

Mahler cover

In this week’s classical CD additions we highlight some new orchestral recordings from much-loved composers.

Symphony No. 7, Bruckner. Performed by the Gewandhausorchester, with Andris Nelsons.
“The continuation of Andris Nelsons’s much-admired Bruckner cycle with the Gewandhausorchester. Here they play the Seventh Symphony – premiered in 1884 by this orchestra and now recorded live to mark its 275th anniversary and Nelsons’s inauguration as Kapellmeister. ‘Under Nelsons the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester is clearly at the very top of its form, savouring its great Bruckner tradition to sonorous effect’ (BR Klassik…)” (cover).

Le Quattro Stagioni, Vivaldi. Performed by Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque.
“Together with the star players of Brecon Baroque, Podger guides listeners through the cycle of nature and life. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons have become one of classical music’s best loved works. However, most recordings adopt a strikingly similar approach to these scores, and familiarity has blunted the music’s edge. Podger’s new recording aims to reset the clock – refocusing on the ingredients that make The Four Seasons so special and reminding listeners of the remarkable freshness of Vivaldi’s invention.” (amazon.com).

Symphony No. 6, Mahler. Performed by Minnesota Orchestra, with Osmo Vänskä.
“…Osmo Vänskä has a reputation for engaging with even the most iconic scores at face value, avoiding preconceived ideas and ‘time-honored’ traditions. His and the Minnesota Orchestra’s recording of Mahler’s Sixth follows upon the 2017 release of the composer’s Fifth Symphony. Nominated to a 2018 Grammy Award, that interpretation has been described as at once committed and detached, intense and transcendentally timeless (Norman Lebrecht) and an exceptional performance that promises great things to come (allmusic.com).” (amazon.com).

Recent Classical CD additions

Symphony No. 5, Symphony No. 6

This week we highlight three additions to the classical CD collection that bounce from a cornerstone of the Baroque vocal music tradition, the cantata, to 20th century treatments of grand orchestral works, the symphony and the concerto for violin.

Cantata: Yet can I hear…. Performed by Bejun Mehta.
“A selection of solo cantatas, both secular and sacred, from the Italian, German, and English traditions. Including works by Handel, Vivaldi, and Bach in settings large and small, with obligato instruments ranging from oboe to chimes, the magnificent cantatas on this album create a portrait of this intimately transcendent repertoire” (cover).

Symphony No. 5, Symphony No. 6, Vaughan Williams. Performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Andrew Manze’s interpretations of Vaughan Williams’ symphonies have met with acclaim from audiences and critics alike. This third album in the series contains two masterpieces. The 5th Symphony of 1943, displaying a ‘greatness of soul’, as one commentator at the time wrote, draws on material for The Pilgrim’s Progress from 1906. The 6th Symphony of 1948 stunned the audience at its premiere… The composer, shocked by the nuclear wasteland talk, commented, ‘we can get in words nearest to the substance of my last movement in “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” from The Tempest’.” (cover).

Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Bartók. Performed by Renaud Capuçon and the London Symphony Orchestra.
“Renaud Capuçon expands his wide-ranging concerto discography with Bartók’s two violin concertos. Composed almost three Decades apart, they are highly contrasted, inhabiting very different emotional and musical worlds. Partnering Capuçon is the London Symphony Orchestra under its Principal Guest Conductor, François-Xavier Roth.” (amazon.co.uk).

Some recent classical CD additions

Image from amazon.co.uk

We’ve added to our chamber music (marked with a yellow dot) CD collection recently with some interesting small ensemble combinations; here we spotlight a couple of Dvořák works. Also noteworthy are a new Jóhann Jóhannsson album, and the debut album of rising star Pretty Yende.

String Quintet, op. 97, String Sextet, op. 48, Antonin Dvořák. Performed by the Jerusalem Quartet.
“The Jerusalem Quartet explores two aspects of Dvořák’s chamber music: one of the first big successes in the genre of a Bohemian composer who now enjoyed a well-established reputation in Europe (op. 48), and one of the masterpieces from the years of American exile which brought him worldwide fame (op. 97). A chance to discover two places, two periods, but always the same depth of expression in this indefatigable composer endowed with remarkable creative faculties.” (back cover)

Englabörn & Variations, Jóhann Jóhannsson. Various performers.
First released in 2002, Englabörn – a remastered version here – appears with variations and reworkings of many of its pieces, one on each of two discs. His untimely death in February this year makes this a somewhat melancholic addition to the collection. If you enjoy the music of Max Richter or Olafur Arnalds, or if you enjoyed the film Arrival for its soundtrack, then perhaps listen to this.

A Journey. Performed by Pretty Yende.
“Born in the small town of Piet Retief, South African soprano Pretty Yende has risen to the top of the opera world with unparalleled speed. Yende’s début album celebrates the milestones of her sublime musical journey; starting at the age of 16, when she first discovered opera by hearing Delibes’s ‘Flower Duet’ on a television advertisement, to her début at La Scala and her international breakthrough at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.” (back cover)

Recent classical music additions

This week in classical music we have three new CDs featuring a wealth of well-loved composers, from Tchaikovsky through Rameau to Schumann, and Piazzolla and Scott Joplin for good measure.

Intuition. Performed by Gautier Capuçon.
Intuition, a captivating album of short pieces for solo cello with piano or orchestra, has been conceived by Gautier Capuçon to ‘reflect the story of my life and follow the various stages in my emotional development’. It brings together much-loved numbers by composers such as Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Massenet, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Elgar with newer music by Astor Piazzolla, the Italian cellist Giovanni Sollima and the pianist Jérôme Ducros, who also appears on the album. As Gautier Capuçon says: ‘In music,in life, communication is the essence of everything and of anything … You share something.'” (amazon.co.uk).

Quartets Nos. 2 & 3, Schumann. Performed by the Elias Quartet.
“‘We have always had a special affection for Robert Schumann’s Third Quartet. It’s one of the first works we played together. Since then we have often come back to it, as if to a splendid and familiar region that we think we know thoroughly, but which yields up new secrets with each visit. The Second Quartet, on the other hand, was a much later and more complicated discovery for us. The writing is so personal, so unidiomatic for the instruments, so full of nuances, that to begin with we found it hard to come up with a unanimous voice for this work. The enthusiasm of the first movement can easily turn into anxiety if you push it a bit too far. In the slow movement, the texture is sometimes so bare that to convey its tenderness you have to sustain it with great fervour. The capricious Scherzo is bristling with rhythmic pitfalls and requires a diabolical mastery of the instruments,while the Finale is an endless explosion of joy!'” (Elias Quartet via amazon.co.uk)

Enfers: Famous Opera Scenes & Pygmalion, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Christoph Willibald von Gluck, Raphaël Pichon. Performed by Stéphane Degout.
“Raphaël Pichon has invited Stéphane Degout to make his recording debut for Harmonia Mundi in a multifaceted exploration of the underworld. The French baritone reincarnates the figure of Henri Larrivée, the famous tragedian of Rameau and Gluck. Around a reconstruction of an imaginary Mass of the Dead, sacred and secular merge, revealing some of the most extraordinary pieces from the operatic repertory of the enlightenment. Music of death and mourning on an epic scale that inspires Pygmalion to overwhelming heights of pathos.” (cover).

Some new Classical music picks for March

There is a pleasing cultural diversity to our new classical music additions for March: here’s a selection!

Inspiration. Performed by Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
“When Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the BBC Young Musician competition in 2016, aged seventeen, his playing entranced innumerable music-lovers around the UK. So did his story: not only is he the first black winner in the competition’s history, but he is also one of seven exceptionally gifted musical siblings” (programme notes). In Inspiration, Sheku Kanneh-Mason performs an eclectic repertoire, ranging from Saint-Saëns to Leonard Cohen.

Dreams. Performed by Pretty Yende.
“Through the eyes of young opera heroines, Pretty Yende slips into the world of dreams with arias from the bel canto and Romantic repertoires. With this album, she also refers to her very own fairytale, which continues to this day. From a girl in a remote town in South Africa she turned into one of today’s most sought-after sopranos, living her dream on the world’s opera stages” (cover).

The Verdi Album. Performed by Sonya Yoncheva.
“One might say that Verdi’s works contributed to the success of the very paradigms of operatic art that he had set out to revolutionize. Born of Sonya Yoncheva’s musical curiosity, this project combines earlier gems such as Stiffelio, Luisa Miller, and Attila with eternally beloved masterpieces such as Il trocatore or Otello to show us a composer in perpetual quest of the innovation and transformation of his art” (programme notes).

Classical CD additions

This week, on receiving the album The Cello in Wartime, we were very interested to read about trench cellos (and pianos, and other such) – instruments stored and played by soldiers in the trenches – and sometimes fashioned by them from found materials. You can hear and see an example here. In other new selections, we have Classical and post-Romantic heavyweights to enjoy.

The Cello in Wartime. Performed by Steven Isserlis and Connie Shih.
Performed on the ‘Marquis de Corberon’ Stradivarius, and a trench cello, W.E. Hill and Sons, c. 1900. “War has an infinite, and frequently polarised, variety of effects on composers. Some feel impelled to depict its horrors in their music; some, on the contrary, escape into an idyllic world in order to block out the events surrounding them… No surprise, then, that the pieces on this disc explore and inhabit such a breadth of emotions, languages and atmospheres” (insert).

Piano Concertos 25 & 27, Mozart. Performed by Piotr Anderszewski with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
“…Mozart is the composer of ambiguity par excellence – the most luminous moments can be interwoven with such darkness. Where is the light, where is the shadow? Sometimes, I don’t really know. And yet this is music of such evident limpidity. It is a miracle” (Piotr Anderszewski, cover).

Chant Funèbre, Le Sacre du Printemps, Stravinsky. Performed by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
A compilation of early Stravinsky works (opus numbers in single digits), plus the Rite of Spring. This is the world premiere recording of the previously lost Chant Funèbre. “A dazzling programme of Stravinsky. A new era has well and truly begun for the Lucerne Festival Orchestra” (The Times, reproduced on the back cover).

New Classical CDs

This week’s theme: black album covers! (Which is no indication of the mood of the music, we promise.)

Piano Concertos 2 & 3, Rachmaninov. Performed by Yevgeny Sudbin.
Two of Rachmaninov’s most famous and oft-recorded works, Piano Concertos 2 and 3. “Rach 3” is also known as “The Shine one”, after the film Shine, starring Geoffrey Rush as pianist David Helfgott, which catapulted the piece’s popularity to a whole new level. Here pianist Yevgeny Sudbin returns to his examination of Rachmaninov’s piano works, together with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord, J. S. Bach. Performed by Isabelle Faust and Kristian Bezuidenhout.
“Trio writing enabled Baroque composers to test their ability to synthesise counterpoint, melody and harmony – a compositional ideal never so perfectly achieved as by Bach in these rare sonatas for violin and obbligato harpsichord, which he constantly revised throughout his life” (cover).

24 Caprices, Paganini. Performed by Augustin Hadelich.
“‘Nicolo Paganini was the world’s first rock star. Wherever he went, outlandish rumours were already spreading about him, the wilder the better. Men and women wept and fainted at his concerts, not only because of his virtuosic feats, but also because of his beautiful Italian bel canto melodies. Each caprice is beautiful, witty and original, with its own quirky personality… Over the many years of working on them, I fell in love with this music. I hope you enjoy them'” (Augustin Hadelich, on cover).