Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2015 Q1 MARC .XML Records Are Now Available

MARC .XML records covering titles added to NML and NML-Jazz over the first quarter of 2015 are now available!

You can download only the latest set of records, or you can obtain the complete set combined by the month or year. As always, they are in .XML format, allowing you the freedom to process them to fit your system best.

Here are the links:

If you have any questions about these records, don't hesitate to contact us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 2015 - Featured Playlist: Old Made New

So many developments in music are forward-looking, with composers searching for new outlets for expression, or unique techniques that will help them stand out. Yet other times composers will turn to the distant past for inspiration, taking instruments or forms from bygone eras and giving them new voice in the present. Whether creating modern music for the harpsichord or lute, or providing fresh facelifts for centuries-old church traditions, composers continue to mine the past for revelation relevant today, a sort of resurrection that reveals the Old Made New.

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. Caroline Shaw - Partita for 8 Singers: II. Sarabande - Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Singers claimed the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music, instantly elevating this lesser-known composer to exclusive company. The work takes a Baroque form and adapts it for a small a capella ensemble, then incorporates a little bit of everything from “improper” vowel diction to Tuvan throat singing, creating something stunningly original.

2. Ned Rorem - Spiders - Jory Vinikour picked up a Grammy nomination in 2014 for his album Toccatas, an enjoyable collection of contemporary American harpsichord works. One piece sure to elicit a reaction is Ned Rorem’s Spiders; arachnophobes beware—it will make you shiver, its skittery depiction is so palpable.

3. Philip Glass - Harpsichord Concerto: III. – - Welsh harpsichordist Christopher D. Lewis released his first album for Naxos Records in 2013, featuring works by Philip Glass, John Rutter, and Jean Françaix. Glass’s minimalist leanings find a natural residence in the harpsichord, though as he says himself, “Concertos always are a tricky affair… The best result is always when the soloist and the orchestra both have had the chance to shine.” In this recording, both surely do.

4. Jocelyn Pook – Desh: VI. Ave Maria – You’ve heard many works based on or inspired by the traditional Catholic Ave Maria text, but probably not one quite this out-of-the-box. Composed for dancer/choreographer Akram Khan, Jocelyn Pook’s version combines these words with a small string ensemble and a sample from a classical Persian song to create a striking blend of two very different cultures.

5. Osvaldo Golijov – St Mark Passion: XI. Judas, XII. El Cordero Pascual – Here’s another tremendous example of classical tradition expanding to include folk elements not often integrated into the Western art music paradigm. Purists might recoil, but Golijov’s version of the St Mark Passion welcomes South American vocal styles and percussion into the concert hall, creating an astonishing work of cultural breadth and emotional depth.

6. John Tavener – The Protecting Veil: V. Christ Is Risen! – Tavener’s Russian Orthodox faith informed much of his work, and the church’s ancient music was a prominent influence on his style. The Protecting Veil was composed as a musical ikon to commemorate a vision of Mary, the Mother of God, in the early 10th century, an event celebrated by the Orthodox Church as the Feast of the Protecting Veil.

7. Richard Einhorn – Voices of Light: Pater Noster – Voices of Light is based on Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc and features a libretto based on ancient writings mostly from medieval female mystics. Throughout this gorgeous work, vocal group Anonymous 4 and a viola da gamba represent Joan of Arc herself with music based on medieval plainchant and polyphony, while the larger ensemble and choir utilize more modern elements to portray her inquisitors.

8. Ronn McFarlane – Cathedral Cave – While the lute is primarily seen as a medieval or Renaissance instrument, it enjoyed a revival of interest in the 20th century. Lutenist Ronn McFarlane’s solo album Indigo Road picked up a Grammy nomination in 2009, and featured here is the opening track “Cathedral Cave”, composed for lute, flute, bass, and percussion.

9. Howard Skempton – Lamentations: IV. For oughtest thou, O Lord – The theorbo is a larger, lower-pitched variation of the lute, and one nicely suited to accompany a vocalist. Here Howard Skempton sets lyrics taken from John Donne’s translation of the Lamentations of Jeremiah to a moving melody for baritone soloist.

10. Peter Croton – Searching for Dalza – Here’s modern music for the lute from a different perspective, an example of how well the lute can paint a different color to pair with a guitar. This piece is an attractive canon composed and performed by lutenist Peter Croton.

11. Wojciech Kilar – König der letzten Tage (King of the Last Days): Gloria – While he did compose much “traditional” classical music, Wojciech Kilar is best known for his film scores, including that for Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. Fresh off that success, he scored the German miniseries König der letzten Tage. The series told of 16th-century Anabaptist leader John of Leiden, so Kilar incorporated elements of chant, medieval music, and the mass into his dramatic score.

12. John Rutter – Magnificat: I. Magnificat anima mea – The Magnificat is one of the most ancient Christian hymns, and its text is taken from the words of the Virgin Mary in the Gospel of Luke. John Rutter used this traditional canticle as the inspiration for his 1990 work of the same name, opting to incorporate elements of Latin music in recognition of the Spanish-speaking world’s special regard for Mary.

13. Henryk Górecki – Harpsichord Concerto: II. Vivace marcatissimo – Górecki’s Harpsichord Concerto, composed in 1980, is a representation of his efforts to embrace a more minimalist style in his work, what he called a “new simplicity”. As is typical of the minimalist style, the piece is quite repetitive, and its clangor unfolds gradually through to the end.

14. Avner Dorman – Concerto Grosso: I. Adagio – Allegro dramatico – Adagio – Israeli composer Avner Dorman burst quickly out the gate in his career, winning a number of prestigious awards before reaching the age of 30. His Concerto Grosso employs a string quartet and harpsichordist as the counterpart to the orchestra, and it blends Baroque influence with minimalist techniques.

15. Sofia Gubaidulina – St John Easter: Christ’s Third Appearance to His Disciples – Gubaidulina composed St John Easter in 2002 as a sequel to her St John Passion, written two years previously. The two works together she considered her “opus summum”, with the Easter portion naturally carrying a more jubilant tone than the bleak Passion setting.

16. Arvo Pärt – Collage uber B-A-C-H: I. Toccata: Preciso – Collage uber B-A-C-H was composed at a time when Pärt was moving away from more avant-garde techniques like serialism and pointillism to incorporate elements of Renaissance and Baroque music. This piece, as the name suggests, is built around the B-A-C-H motif, and is an important moment in his development as a composer.

17. David Loeb – Utagumi: IV. Matsuri – Composer David Loeb is noted for his works for both older instruments and traditional Asian instruments. His work Utagumi, composed for solo viola da gamba, combines Baroque, Japanese, and contemporary elements to expert effect.

18. Sten Sandell – Gods and Men III – Swedish composer Sten Sandell has drawn much of his influence from free improvisation, contemporary composers like Cage and Xenakis, world music, and Scandinavian folk music. This selection, taken from music composed for a stage play, is performed by a lute over an organ drone.

Each month, Naxos Music Library presents a themed playlist for our subscribers to enjoy. We know that a database of over 1.5 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!

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2015 - Featured Playlist: Keeping Time

Percussion instruments may be the oldest music makers outside the human voice, but it took some time for Western classical music to embrace them. Even in the 18th and much of the 19th centuries, they were seen as tools for adding a little extra oomph to big moments, or as a way of conjuring up an exotic atmosphere—a novelty, and not much more. But as composers sought new ways to express themselves, percussion came more to the fore, becoming firmly entrenched as not only an essential—and exceedingly exciting—part of the orchestra, but also as a viable participant in chamber and solo repertoire. Enjoy this very cursory glimpse of percussion in classical music, with each thump of a drum or mallet a moment in the history of Keeping Time.

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. W.A. Mozart – Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Overture – The sound of the Janissary band (military music from Turkey) reached Europe in the mid-18th century, and it didn’t take long for composers to employ its characteristic bass drum, cymbal, and triangle whenever a rousing Ottoman flavor was desired. Ever the maverick, Mozart was more than happy to spearhead this new trend in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which was set in Turkey.

2. Ludwig van Beethoven – Wellington’s Victory: The Battle – Generally dismissed today as one of Beethoven’s lesser compositions, Wellington’s Victory did make spectacular use of percussion as a means of illustrating a battle scene, causing it to be a popular novelty in its day. And to be fair, the composer’s response to critics of the piece is spot on: "What I s%!# is better than anything you could ever think up!"

3. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich – Peanuts Gallery: III. Snoopy Does the Samba – In 1990, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich was referenced by Charles Schulz in a Peanuts strip, and a few years later she returned the favor with her Peanuts Gallery, for piano and orchestra. A driving samba rhythm on a drum set is used to portray Snoopy, because, like the samba, he is both hot and cool, sophisticated and fun.

4. Mark Duggan – Gamelan Solo: II. Delicate – The gamelan is a traditional Indonesian percussion ensemble, but Duggan drew much of his inspiration for this piece from the landscape of rural Canada, where it was written. In his words, “The intended mood is one of open spaces, simplicity, and elegance… The overall aesthetic is not at all Indonesian but rather, draws from a dramatic, minimalist language.”

5. Joseph Schwantner – Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra: I. Con forza – It’s always fun to hear a concerto performed by the soloist for whom it was written, and that makes this recording of Schwantner’s Percussion Concerto quite special. Percussionist Christopher Lamb displays his mastery of a variety of instruments throughout this colorful work; featured here is the exciting opening movement.

6. Philip Glass – Concerto Fantasy for 2 Timpanists and Orchestra: III. — – Timpanists Ji Hye Jung and Gwendolyn Burgett take center stage in this recording, which features a wind band transcription of the original orchestral version. Glass’s trademark repetition is restrained here, but the music itself certainly isn’t, with this final movement employing a thrilling bombast that gets the adrenaline surging.
7. Béla Bartók – Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion: III. Allegro non troppo – Composed in 1937, this work is another fine display of Bartók’s innovative instrumentation. Two percussionists accompany the pianists with side and bass drum, timpani, cymbals, xylophone, tam-tam, and triangle, providing a relatively early example of how percussion can carry its own weight in a chamber music context.
8. Hans Söderberg – Arietta for Vibraphone and Strings – Swedish teacher and composer Hans Söderberg only has a couple recordings in NML, both on this same compilation album, but his Arietta is certainly worth hearing. The sweet, lullaby-worthy melody from the vibraphone rests on a simple bed of strings, demonstrating that percussion doesn’t always have to be about flash and bombast to make its point.
9. Evelyn Glennie – Little Prayer – Probably more than any other classical percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie has made a hugely respected name for herself as a soloist, and she has also crossed over into the pop world at times to collaborate with Björk, Béla Fleck, and others. She has been responsible for the commissioning of a wide array of works for percussion, but here we feature a lovely composition of her own for marimba.

10. Georg Druschetzky – Timpani Concerto: II. Andante con variazione – Druschetzky’s several works to feature timpani feel like an anachronism, their light sound and style very firmly set in the Classical Era, but their need for 6-8 timpani predating Berlioz’ grand demands by two generations. The movement included here also has prominent mallet percussion parts, another unusual idea for the day.
11. Hector Berlioz – Grande Messe des Morts: Tuba Mirum – Speaking of Berlioz, it was his Symphonie fantastique and Grande Messe des Morts that changed the game for timpani usage by demanding larger forces than ever seen before. The latter work calls for a whopping sixteen timpani played by ten musicians, a thundering roar that can be heard in the passage here.

12. Kalevi Aho – Symphonic Dances, Hommage a Uuno Klami: IV. Dance of the Winds and Fires – Finnish composer Kalevi Aho is noted for his broad and colorful use of orchestration. His Symphonic Dances is based on an incomplete ballet by Uuno Klami that told of the forging of the Sampo, an artifact from Finnish mythology. The percussion is integral in establishing a fierce, primeval atmosphere.
13. Tan Dun – Water Passion (after St Matthew): Water Cadenza – Tan Dun is certainly not afraid to use non-traditional instrumentation for both symbolic and aesthetic reasons, so it would make sense that he’d choose to use the cyclical nature of water to represent a story of death and resurrection. Whether his Water Passion in actually listenable is a matter of taste, but this cadenza is a chance to dip a toe into this sound world.

14. Steve Reich – Nagoya Marimbas – Steve Reich is another composer whose work is polarizing; the concepts are often quite revolutionary, but it sometimes seems more about the process than the product. This selection is quite enjoyable, however. Reich describes Nagoya Marimbas as having “repeating patterns…one or more beats out of phase, creating a series of two-part unison canons.”

15. Jason Treuting – July – Sō Percussion is one of the better-known percussion ensembles in the classical or art music spectrum, and they utilize everything from standard mallet percussion (struck and bowed) to duct tape and amplified cactus (which is exactly what you think it is). While they frequently collaborate with others, this particular piece is an original composition by an ensemble member.
16. Ney Rosauro – Marimba Concerto: III. Dança (Dance) – Ney Rosauro is a percussionist and composer who blends Western classical traditions with the music of Brazil. He is currently Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Miami, and his Marimba Concerto is his best-known work, included here in an arrangement for soloist and percussion ensemble.

17. Toshiro Mayuzumi – Xylophone Concertino: III. Presto – Mayuzumi frequently explored themes of Japanese tradition and Buddhism in his work, something clearly heard in his Xylophone Concertino from 1965. This particular recording is of an arrangement replacing the Western orchestra with a Chinese orchestra, and Evelyn Glennie is the featured soloist.

18. Arvo Pärt – Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten – After a playlist full of percussive bombast, one might wonder why this work is included. In typical Pärt style, the arrangement is sparse and unflashy, and the percussion is limited to a tolling bell throughout. But what it demonstrates is the power percussion can have, even when it is used sparingly. The simple gesture of this bell lends the piece a special gravitas perfect for the subject matter.

Each month, Naxos Music Library presents a themed playlist for our subscribers to enjoy. We know that a database of over 1.5 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!