Friday, October 2, 2015

Opening Notes: October 2015 - New Release Playlist

We're kicking off a new monthly playlist for your enjoyment. We've sifted through all the new releases for October 2015, and we're highlighting our favorites. Some of these are debut recordings of brand new works, while others are fresh takes on standard repertoire. If you're like us and are constantly craving something to discover, take a spin through these tracks to get a taste of what is now available to you in NML. And if you hear something you love, click on the cover art in the player window to be taken directly to the full album!

To hear the playlist, access NML as usual, go to the Playlists section, and select the Opening Notes folder under the Naxos Music Library Playlists tab. If you are on your institution's premises, you may also be able to access it if you CLICK HERE.

Julia Wolfe
Anthracite Fields: IV. Flowers
Bang On A Can All-Stars; Trinity Wall Street Choir
Cantaloupe - CA-21111 
Jean Sibelius
Swanwhite: Act II: Andantino
Turku Philharmonic; Leif Segerstam
Naxos - 8.573341
Franz Schubert
Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished": I. Allegro moderato
Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Philippe Jordan
Wiener Symphoniker - WS009

Mieczysław Weinberg
Violin Concertino: I. Allegretto cantabile
Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio
CPO - 777887-2
Antonin Dvořák
Cello Concerto: I. Allegro
German Radio Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern Phil.
Oehms Classics - OC1828

Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No. 8 "Pathetique": II. Adagio cantabile
Boris Giltburg
Naxos - 8.573400
J.S. Bach
Magnificat in E-flat Major: Magnificat
Dunedin Consort; John Butt
Linn - CKD469
John Mackey
Kingfishers Catch Fire: II. Kingfishers
University of Texas Wind Ensemble; Jerry Junkin
Naxos - 9.70255

Bruno Maderna
Requiem: Part I: Kyrie eleison
Robert Schumann Phil.; Leipzig MDR Radio Choir
Capriccio - C5231 
Jake Heggie
I Shall Not Live in Vain
Susan Graham; John Alexander Singers
Delos - DE3484

Sergey Rachmaninov
Morceaux de fantaisie: No. 2. Prelude
James Rhodes
Signum - SIGCD425
  J.S. Bach
Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565
Masaaki Suzuki
BIS - BIS-2111

Bohuslav Martinů 
Harpsichord Sonata: III. Allegretto
Christopher D. Lewis
Naxos - 8.573364 
Walker Saul
A Christmas Symphony: IV. Gloria
Ukraine National Symphony; Theodore Kuchar
Naxos - 8.559791

Joachim Nikolas Eggert
Symphony No. 1: IV. Finale: Allegro vivace
Gävle Symphony; Gérard Korsten
Naxos - 8.572457
Édouard Lalo
Chant breton
Tassis Christoyannis; Johannes Grosso
Aparte - AP110

Krzysztof Pendereci
A Sea of Dreams Did Breath On Me: No. 6 The Angelus
Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra; Antoni Wit
Naxos - 8.573062

Christopher Tarnow
Theremin Sonata No. 2: III. Fugato
Carolina Eyck; Christopher Tarnow
Genuin - GEN15363
Eleanor Cory
String Quartet No. 3: III. ---
Momenta Quartet
Naxos - 8.559784

Lars Graugaard
Three Places
NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble
Dacapo - 6.220628
J.S. Bach
Cello Suite No. 1: I. Prelude
Matt Haimovitz
Pentatone - PTC5186555 
Robert Schumann
Das Paradies und die Peri: III. O heil'ge
London Symphony; Simon Rattle
Maurice Ravel
Ma mère l'oye: Le jardin féerique
Lyon National Orchestra; Leonard Slatkin
Naxos - 8.660336
Nicholas Medtner
4 Skazki: No. 1 Allegretto frescamente
Maria Walzer
Orlando Records - OR0017

Each month, Naxos Music Library presents a new release playlist for our subscribers to enjoy. We know that a database of over 1.6 million tracks can be a bit daunting, so we'd like to highlight some of the amazing music that has become available to you just this month. Let it kickstart discovery!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 2015 - Featured Playlist: Macabre Cabaret

Classical music has well earned its reputation as the perfect accompaniment for a peaceful evening or a soothing slumber, but to pigeonhole it as such would discount the tremendous variety it has to offer. It can also be an expression of the mystical, the spectral, even the terrifying.

Whether you celebrate Halloween as a princess, a zombie, or—better yet—a zombie princess, or if you’re stocking up on candy corn and chocolate pumpkins to hand out to the neighborhood kids, we’ve got the soundtrack for you. Let these twisted tunes and haunted harmonies be the house band for your own Macabre Cabaret.

To hear the playlist, access NML as usual, go to the Playlists section, and select the Playlist of the Month folder under the Naxos Music Library Playlists tab. If you are on your institution's premises, you may also be able to access it if you CLICK HERE.

1. Thomas Newman – A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning – Author Daniel Handler, under the pen name Lemony Snicket, penned 13 books for his popular A Series of Unfortunate Events. These stories were turned into a film starring Jim Carrey, and Thomas Newman’s score set the perfect tone for the movie’s dark sense of humor.

2. Wojciech Kilar – Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Brides – Wojciech Kilar was a successful film composer from Poland, with one of his best-known scores accompanying Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 hit Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The slow-burning music composed for Dracula’s brides is spooky enough to fill the listener with dread without even knowing the context of the film.

3. Franz Liszt – Totentanz – Franz Liszt was known to have a considerable fascination with death, even visiting jails to observe those who’d been condemned to death. He was also in attendance at the premier of Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique, a work that had a profound influence on him. These two interests converge in his Totentanz (Dance of the Dead), which follows Berlioz’ example and incorporates the medieval Dies Irae melody.  
4. Giuseppe Verdi – Messa da Requiem: Dies irae, dies illa – Upon the death of Rossini, Verdi instigated a requiem in his memory, with different composers contributing each section. The finished work was never performed in Verdi’s lifetime, but upon the death of writer Alessandro Manzoni he expanded his portion of the Rossini requiem into a full piece in Manzoni’s honor. It went on to become one of the greatest choral works of the Romantic Era.

5. Carl Orff – Carmina Burana: Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: Fortune plango vulnera Orff, shortly after the premiere of this work, wrote to his publisher: "Everything I have written to date, and which you have, unfortunately, printed, can be destroyed. With Carmina Burana, my collected works begin." The opening section is familiar to everyone through its frequent use in film and television, but the rest of it, including this section, is well worth knowing.

6. Niccolò Paganini – 24 Caprices: No. 5 in A Minor – Paganini was a rock star of his day, becoming wildly famous and wealthy as a violinist of unparalleled skill and showmanship. He was so talented that a rumor surfaced that he had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his ability! He took the violin to a level it had never seen before, and his 24 Caprices would influence many composers to come.

7. Léon Boëllmann – Suite Gothique: IV. Toccata – A composer of considerable potential who died when he was only 35, Boëllmann is primarily known today for his Suite Gothique, which is a staple of the organ repertoire. He was also a respected teacher and critic. He left behind three young children when he died, and his daughter Marie-Louise went on to be a noted organ teacher herself.

8. Francis Poulenc – Organ Concerto: I. Andante, II. Allegro giocoso – Poulenc had never composed for the organ before this work was commissioned, and he studied the music of Bach and Buxtehude to familiarize himself with the instrument. This Baroque influence can be heard in the piece, which opens with a chilling Andante that has been the soundtrack to many a spooky scenario.

9. Gloria Coates – Symphony No. 1, “Music on Open Strings”: I. Theme and Transformation – Gloria Coates has made a name for herself through her glissando-heavy composition style. It is music that sounds unsteady, even frightening in small segments, yet combines into an orderly, stable whole. To date she has composed fourteen symphonies, making her the most prolific female symphonist in history.

10. George Crumb – Black Angels: 13 Images from the Dark Land, “Images I”, Part III: No. 10 God-music – The Kronos Quartet was formed after violinist David Harrington heard Black Angels for the first time and fell in love with its extended techniques and mysterious sound world. This work is written for an amplified string quartet, and the members are also expected to play pitched crystal glasses and tam tams.

11. J.S. Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565: Toccata – This piece is one of Bach’s most popular, yet there’s a fair chance that he is not the true composer of it. The original score has been lost, and we can only go with the word of the organist who owned the oldest copy. Whatever the case, its dramatic opening is a suitable soundtrack for any haunted house.

12. Manuel de Falla – El amor brujo: Danza ritual del fuego – De Falla’s ballet El amor brujo tells the story of an Andalusian gypsy woman who is forced to marry a man she does not love. Her husband dies, freeing her to be with her lover, but her husband’s ghost haunts her still. She ultimately undertakes a ritual fire dance, which lures the specter into the flames and releases her from its haunting.

13. Alberto Ginastera – Piano Concerto No. 1: IV. Toccata concertata – This final movement of Ginastera’s First Piano Concerto comes in the form of a malambo, a popular Argentinian dance that is roughly a more virile, macho form of tap dance. It is performed by men only, giving them a chance to express themselves through dance without having to support a partner. Ginastera’s violent piece is a spectacular showcase for the soloist.

14. Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre – Danse Macabre depicts a legend in which Death appears at midnight on Halloween and wakes up the dead to dance as he plays his violin. You can hear the tolling of the clock striking twelve, followed by the entrance of the solo violin playing a tritone, also known as the devil’s interval. The dead emerge to dance the night away before returning to the grave at dawn.

15. Rued Langgaard – Symphony No. 9, “From Queen Dagmar’s City”: Ribe Cathedral – The honey badger of Scandinavian composers, Langgaard was harshly dismissed by the Danish musical establishment of his day, but in recent years he has gained considerable notoriety. He was certainly influenced by Wagner and Strauss, yet his work contains a remarkable originality characterized by dramatic mood swings and vivid imagery.

16. Sergey Prokofiev – Cinderella Suite No. 1: VII. Cinderella’s Waltz – Many a child likes to dress up as Cinderella for Halloween, and this waltz by Prokofiev makes the perfect accompaniment. Not only does it have a memorable melody that glides across the dance floor, but it also has an eerie minor-key twist to it that makes it suitable for a Cinderella that turns into something else entirely at the stroke of midnight.

17. Dmitry Shostakovich – Symphony No. 10: II. Allegro – Mostly composed in the months following the death of Stalin, Symphony No. 10 earned Shostakovich—not for the first time—the scrutiny of the Soviet establishment. In historical context it’s hard not to imagine the tumultuous second movement as an indictment of Stalin’s leadership; whether or not this was intended, it certainly paints a striking image of terror and violence.

18. Gustav Holst – The Planets: VI. Uranus, the Magician – Gustav Holst was fascinated by astrology, and the seven movements of The Planets are intended to be musical portraits of the astrological traits he associated with each planet. He ascribed the qualities of a mischievous magician to Uranus, and the music is accordingly vulgar and grotesque.

19. Roxanna Panufnik – Beastly Tales: The Crocodile and the Monkey: Death by drowning, death by slaughter – Panufnik’s work for singers and orchestra is based on a story by Indian author Vikram Seth in which a crocodile’s wife convinces him to invite his friend, a monkey, over for dinner—or more accurately, to become dinner. Does our monkey friend survive? You’ll have to hear this morbid tale to find out!

20. Alexandre Desplat – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II: Snape’s Demise – He was the villain everyone loved to hate, but in the end Severus Snape’s undying, unrequited love for Harry’s mother led him to do the right thing as he lay dying. Halloween is the perfect time for kids—and, let’s face it, adults—to go out in their wizarding best. Which house will you be supporting?

Each month, Naxos Music Library presents a themed playlist for our subscribers to enjoy. We know that a database of over 1.6 million tracks can be a bit daunting, so we'd like to highlight some of the amazing music that is available to you. Let it kickstart discovery!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September 2015 - Featured Playlist: When We Wage War

One of the most important and beautiful functions of music is that it allows us another outlet to express what feels inexpressible, to say what we cannot put into words. It helps us to cope with the tragedies that are part of life, and to come to grips with our grief. For many composers, music was how they attempted to process the cruelties of war.

Twice in the twentieth century our entire world was engulfed in strife, and among the voices silenced too soon were many composers with great potential. Those that survived or could not fight also grappled with the previously unimaginable anguish left in the wake of battle. In these uncertain times today, when conflict continues to cloud our world, it is important to learn from the past, and to be aware of what we lose When We Wage War.

To hear the playlist, access NML as usual, go to the Playlists section, and select the Playlist of the Month folder under the Naxos Music Library Playlists tab. If you are on your institution's premises, you may also be able to access it if you CLICK HERE.

1. Hugo Distler – Die Weihnachtsgeschichte: Meine Seele erhebt Gott, den Herrn – Wir bitten dich von Herzen – Hugo Distler was an organist, conductor, and teacher who was also considered one of the most important German composers of his generation, primarily because of his choral music. The constant air raids over Berlin, the loss of friends, and the threat of conscription into the Nazi military (a cause he could not support) led him to commit suicide in 1942.

2. Gustav Holst – The Planets: I. Mars, the Bringer of War – When World War I began, Holst attempted to enlist in the British army, but he was turned away for health reasons. Near the end of the war he received an opportunity to musically serve the British troops in Greece, and shortly before departing for his commission he gave the premiere of his most enduring work, The Planets.

3. George Butterworth – The Banks of Green Willow – Butterworth was a close friend of Ralph Vaughan Williams, and together they traveled across the English countryside to collect folk tunes, which would later influence their compositions. He volunteered to serve in World War I, and for an act of valor he was awarded the Military Cross. However, he was killed by a sniper in the Battle of the Somme before he could receive the award.
4. Benjamin Britten – War Requiem: Dies irae, dies illa – Britten was a pacifist granted status as a conscientious objector during World War II. The War Requiem was composed to mark the consecration of an English cathedral rebuilt after its destruction in the war, and it makes use of the traditional Latin text interspersed with poetry by Wilfred Owen, killed in World War I. It is dedicated to friends of his and his partner Peter Pears who died in the war.

5. Gideon Klein – String Trio: III. Molto vivace – Gideon Klein was born into a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia, and at 22 he was deported by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, one of the few where cultural activity was permitted. His String Trio was composed in 1944, shortly before he was transferred to Auschwitz and then Fürstengrube, where he died during the liquidation.

6. Ralph Vaughan Williams – Symphony No. 3, “Pastoral”: IV. Lento. Moderato maestos. Animato. Poco piu lento. Tempo I – When World War I broke out, Vaughan Williams was too old for conscription, but he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the British medical corps, later being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery. This experience inspired his Third Symphony, an elegy for the dead in the war.
7. Ethel Smyth – The Wreckers: Overture – Smyth’s opera The Wreckers saw its run canceled by the onset of World War I, and she joined the war effort, first with an ambulance outfit on the Italian front. Later she became a radiographer in Vichy, France, using these skills to assist doctors in finding shrapnel in wounded soldiers. She also worked for a time as an interpreter for the Red Cross in Italy.

8. William Grant Still – In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy – The League of Composers commissioned a work on patriotic themes from American composer William Grant Still during World War II, and he responded with In Memoriam. There is a certain irony in the title, as many African-American soldiers gave their lives defending a country that had not truly defended them.

9. Maurice Ravel – Le tombeau de Couperin: Toccata – Ravel was too old and sickly to fight in World War I, but he was able to serve as an ambulance driver. You can’t tell from the title, but the French Baroque-themed Le tombeau de Couperin was composed in memory of friends who died in the war. The Toccata is dedicated to Joseph de Marliave, whose wife Marguerite premiered the suite.
10. Ivor Gurney – By A Bierside – Gurney composed “By A Bierside” and other songs while serving in the trenches of World War I. He survived the war, but injuries from poison gas and shell shock, combined with a painful breakup and possible bipolar disorder, resulted in his admission to a mental hospital not long after the end of the war, and he spent the final fifteen years of his life institutionalized.

11. Kurt Weill – Das Berliner Requiem: Marterl / Grabschrift – Das Berliner Requiem was composed for the tenth anniversary of World War I, and possibly to honor the noted pacifist Rosa Luxemburg. Weill would go on to further be impacted by World War II, as his music was repressed by the Nazi regime for being “degenerate”, and he later had to flee Germany because of his Jewish heritage.

12. Ivor Novello – Keep the Home Fires Burning – Ivor Novello was one of the most successful entertainers in Great Britain during the first half of the twentieth century, having considerable success on both screen and stage. His song “Keep the Home Fires Burning” was his break-out hit, becoming a patriotic anthem during World War I.

13. Lili Boulanger – Pour les funerailles d’un soldat – Despite her poor health, Lili Boulanger poured herself into the war effort as best she could. Many musicians had been drafted to fight for France in World War I, and she and her sister Nadia worked to serve them however they could, mostly through helping them keep in contact with their families.

14. Jehan Alain – Litanies – Best known for his compositions for organ, Alain served as a dispatch motorcyclist in the French Army during World War II. He was killed on reconnaissance when he encountered a group of German soldiers on the road, but he managed to take down sixteen of them before he died. For his bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre.

15. Ernest Farrar – Heroic Elegy – British composer Ernest Farrar volunteered for the Grenadier Guards in 1915, but was not sent to the front in France until September 1918, where he was killed after only two days. First performed while on leave two months before his death, the Heroic Elegy was Farrar’s final work for orchestra.

16. Charles Ives – Orchestral Set No. 2: III. From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose – The sinking of the Lusitania was a major catalyst for the United States’ involvement in World War I, and From Hanover Square… was Ives’ depiction of an incident the day the news broke. As he awaited a train at Hanover Square, the crowd spontaneously sang the hymn The Sweet By And By, a melody Ives incorporated in the work.

17. William Charles Denis Browne – To Gratiana Dancing and Singing – Denis Browne joined the British military in World War I alongside his close friend, the poet Rupert Brooke. Together they were sent to join the Gallipoli landings, but Brooke became ill and died along the way. Denis Browne went on to fight, but he was fatally wounded during an attack on the Turkish trenches at the Third Battle of Krithia.

18. Frederick Septimus Kelly – Shall I Compare Thee? – Besides being a composer, Frederick Septimus Kelly was a skilled rower who picked up a gold medal at the 1908 Olympics. He was a friend of William Charles Denis Browne and Rupert Brooke both, and he was present with Denis Browne as Brooke lay dying. Kelly managed to survive the carnage of Gallipoli, but he was killed charging a machine gun at the Battle of the Somme in France.

19. Dick Kattenburg – Flute Sonata: III. Fughetta: Allegro vivo – Kattenburg’s Flute Sonata was composed when he was only 18, and until 2004 it was thought to be the only surviving work of his. That year, a relative went through his late sister’s possessions and found many more equally inspired compositions. Kattenburg was only 25 years old when he was killed at Auschwitz.

20. Francis Purcell Warren – Five Short Pieces for Violoncello: Sunday Evening in Autumn –Warren (nicknamed Bunny by his friends) disappeared at the Battle of the Somme. Of him, composer Hubert Parry wrote, “It is a peculiarly tragic case…(He had begun) to show characteristic qualities as a composer which were quite surprising…One of humanity’s tenderest possessions was ruthlessly destroyed.”

Each month, Naxos Music Library presents a themed playlist for our subscribers to enjoy. We know that a database of over 1.6 million tracks can be a bit daunting, so we'd like to highlight some of the amazing music that is available to you. Let it kickstart discovery!