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Our final issue of NEW ON NAXOS for 2020 presents the world premiere recording of the original 1821 Rome version of Gioachino Rossini’s opera Matilde di Shabran, presented by the Rossini in Wildbad Festival. Conducted by José Miguel Pérez-Sierra, this outstanding revival stars soprano Sara Blanch and tenor Michele Angelini in the title roles, joined by contralto Victoria Yarovaya, baritone Emmanuel Franco and bass Shi Zong, among others. Since its foundation in 1989, the Festival has performed Rossini’s lesser-known operas alongside those of his contemporaries, which has led to numerous highly acclaimed releases on Naxos.

Other highlights include:
• Volume 1 of Vítezslav Novák’s orchestral works recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra under Marek Štilec. Featuring the South Bohemian Suite and symphonic poem Toman and the Wood Nymph

• World premiere recordings of New Zealand composer Ross Harris’ Symphony No. 6 ‘Last Letter’ and FACE, performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Giordano Bellincampi and Antony Hermus, respectively. Soloists featured include mezzo-soprano Fiona Campbell, soprano Allison Bell, tenor Henry Choo and baritone Joel Amosa, with the New Zealand Chamber Choir.

• A chronological survey of Steve Reich’s creative output, including the world premiere recording of Music for Two or More Pianos with the Holst-Sinfonietta and conductor Klaus Simon. Other works in the album include the rhythmic and flamboyant Eight Lines, Vermont and New York Counterpoint, and City Life.

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Image Matilde di Shabran (3CD)
The comic-heroic romp Matilde di Shabran was Rossini’s last commission for the theatres of Rome, the city where he’d had great successes such as Il barbiere di Siviglia. Rossini took advantage of the agile, sparkling style of librettist Jacopo Ferretti to create a narrative in which the ferocious Corradino, a declared misogynist, is introduced to the resourceful Matilde, who succeeds in melting his iron heart and winning his love. This premiere recording revives the original 1821 Rome version, which was conducted at the last minute by Paganini, and caused brawling in the streets between Rossini’s admirers and detractors.

kr 229
Image Orchestral Works, Vol. 1
Vítezslav Novák, a composition student of Dvorák, rose to prominence with a series of increasingly ambitious orchestral works that reflect his very personal amalgam of folk music elements, impressionism and late Romanticism. The far-ranging harmonies heard in Toman and the Wood Nymph earned Novák some notoriety – his evocation of supernatural magic and human passion results in music of heady intensity. The evocative aura of the later South Bohemian Suite is notable for the subtlety with which folk songs are embedded into its textures.

kr 89
Image Face; Symphony No. 6 'Last Letter'
In SymphonyNo.6 ‘LastLetter’, Ross Harris explores settings of four poems by Vincent O’-Sullivan, interlinking them with three musical interludes. The darkness of the subject matter draws from the composer music of powerful and at times despairing intensity. Face was written as the First World War centenary approached its conclusion and confronts the trauma of facial injuries suffered by soldiers in the conflict. Choruses and solos are punctuated by orchestral commentary, the music freely mixing tonal and atonal elements to heighten the expressive gravity of the personal tragedies depicted.

kr 89
Image Eight Lines; City Life; Music for Two or More Pian
Steve Reich is universally acknowledged as one of the foremost exponents of minimalism, arguably the most significant stylistic trend in late 20th-century music. This chronological survey shows how Reich’s innate curiosity has taken his work far beyond such musical boundaries. One of the first fruits of Reich’s creative quest is ‘Music for Two of More Pianos,’ in which the influence of Morton Feldman and jazz pianist Bill Evans can be heard. The rhythmic and flamboyant ‘Eight Lines’ comes from the true heyday of minimalism, while ‘Vermont’ and ‘New York Counterpoint’ both explore webs of phased patterns created by multi-tracked instruments. ‘City Life’ is a dramatic set of impressions of New York, vividly weaving sampled speech and street sounds into a work with symphonic depth of range and expression.

kr 89
Image Complete Keyboard Sonatas, Vol. 26
Domenico Scarlatti’s magnificent sonatas were composed for the Infanta, who became Queen of Spain in 1746. Previous releases in this series have focused primarily on the sonatas contained in Venetian volumes but this one ranges further afield. It includes 13 sonatas from various Italian, Spanish and Portuguese archives notable for their refined ornamentation, brilliant figuration, rapid repeated notes and scales, and wide leaps, as well as music of meditative breadth and athletic vitality.

kr 89
Image 30 Minuets with Trios; 8 Ländler; 5 Écossaises
Dances were an important element in Schubert’s compositions. He favored the Ländler, triple time country dances – perfect material for Viennese middle-class tastes –and the Écossaise, supposedly Scottish, cast in duple time and performed with women and men facing each other. The 30 Minuets with Trios, of which ten are lost, sport especially captivating and varied Trios, while the two Écossaises from the German Dances, D.783 are vivacious examples of Schubert’s genial mastery of the genre.

kr 89
Image Symphony No. 2; Simply Largo
Symphonic thought is at the heart of Elisabetta Brusa’s oeuvre, whether in larger forms or solo instrumental works. As with the composer’s Symphony No. 1 (8.573437), the Symphony No. 2 follows a Classical four-movement form with harmonies that are essentially tonal and richly colored. Emotions are vivid and the rhythms are punchy and passionate whether in fanfare figures or in the beautiful solemnity of the slow movement. Simply Largo is a short ‘song without words’ with a seamless melodic clarity that reflects Brusa’s power to summon up great expressive depth.

kr 89
Image Symphony No. 5; Harp Concerto
Alexander Mosolov was one of the foremost composers of the Russian avant-garde during the1920s. His music was considered ‘a testament to the revolutionary spirit of his time’, but the legacy of his fame from that period now rests solely on The Iron Foundry. Soviet-era politics brought persecution and imprisonment, and these two recently rediscovered works were both composed after his ‘rehabilitation’. The Harp Concerto– a piece worthy of a place in the mainstream repertoire – is Mosolov’s ‘response’ to the concerto by his teacher Glière, and is heard here in its first complete performance. Coupled with the first recording of his final colorful Fifth Symphony, these are fascinating additions to the corpus of neglected Soviet-era works.

kr 89
Image Missa Sancti Nicolai Tolentini; Vesperae Pro Festo
Michael Haydn’s colorful and inventive music is uplifting and expressive in equal measure, but his music has been eclipsed by that of his elder brother Joseph, and by Mozart. Sacred music is central to Michael Haydn’s oeuvre and was considered by some contemporary critics as superior to Joseph’s. Encompassing a broad range of textures and styles, parts of the Missa Sancti Nicolai Tolentini demonstrate Haydn’s music at its most exhilarating and energetic, and his supreme gift for empfindsames (‘sensitive’) lyrical writing is also to be heard in the Vespers.

kr 89
Image Compiete, Op. 7
Giovanni Legrenzi’s eventual rise to fame can be measured by the fact that both Bach and Handel chose his melodies as themes for their contrapuntal elaborations. Many years earlier, however, as a young composer in Ferrara, Legrenzi wrote Compiete (‘Compline’ in English) which constitutes the final moment of prayer in the monastic or secular day. It is a work of dazzling beauty that shows a mature, conscious mastery of the most up-to-date compositional techniques of Legrenzi’s time in the ‘nuova musica’, and fully honors Monteverdi’s precedent in ensuring music serves the text in all its richness and variety.

kr 89
Image Kaleidoscope; Sea Vespers; Cansonata; Elegy 1980;
In these works for guitar, George Kontogiorgos explores melodic fragments from the ballades he wrote in his youth and uses them in a classical setting. These pieces are mostly tonal and deeply communicative – Sea Vespers evokes lazy days by the sea, while the dance-like Cansonata is a songful duo for guitar and cello. Kaleidoscope often refers to the musical style of the 1960s and1970s when the guitar was the dominant instrument in pop and rock music, whereas Elegy1980 and Emotions draw out darker and more dramatic musical landscapes. Having worked closely with Kontogiorgos, these performances by Pavlos Kanellakis are both idiomatic and definitive.

kr 89
Image Le Rossiniane
Mauro Giuliani was both a virtuoso performer on the guitar and one of the great figures in early 19th-century composition for the instrument. His variations, studies, sonatas and other works have entered the repertoires of generations of subsequent performers. The six dazzling Rossiniane for solo guitar are fantasias on themes taken from the great Italian composer’s operas. They offer a compendium of the guitar as a miniature orchestra revealing refinements of technique and expressiveness never before achieved on the instrument.

kr 89
Image The Art of Agony - Australian Music for Two Pianos
This diverse programme features eight premiere recordings of Australian music for two pianists, including seven works recently commissioned by the acclaimed Viney-Grinberg duo. Demonstrating the innovative potential of this medium, these pieces range from duets on a single piano to Mill Life in which 22 pianos are overdubbed and piled on top of each other. Other highlights include Visible Weapon, pairing virtuoso velocity with electronics, and The Art of Agony – a musical picture frame for Percy Grainger’s spoken voice.

kr 89
Image Best of Chamber Music (4CD)
Idil Biret’s chamber music performances are relatively rare. Most importantly, she played Beethoven’s violin Sonatas Nos. 5, 7 and 9 with Yehudi Menuhin at the Istanbul Festival in July 1973. In 1975, she played all the five Beethoven cello sonatas with Maurice Gendron. With the London String Quartet, in 1980, Biret played the Schumann and Brahms Piano Quintets at the Queen Elisabeth Hall in London, later at the Istanbul Festival and then recorded the Brahms Quintet as well as the Mahler Piano Quartet with the LSQ. In 2011, she played in concerts and recorded Berlioz’s Harold in Italy in Liszt’s piano transcription and Brahms’ 2nd Viola Sonata with Rusen Gunes. In 2014, she played in concerts and recorded the Schumann Piano Quintet with the Borusan Quartet of Turkey. The same year, she recorded the two cello sonatas of Brahms with Roderic von Bennigsen. Finally, in 2019, Biret played and recorded Mendelssohn’s 1st Piano Trio and the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio with Irina Nikotina and Julya Krepak. These are some of the memorable chamber music performances of her career.

kr 259
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