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Recent Naxos releases
For adventurous musical explorers Naxos releases any month brings a wealth of interest and quality performance at £5 a disc.

Many of them have received full reviews on Musical Pointers over the years, and some of this batch may do so later. Meanwhile, a brief run-down of some that have given us great pleasure may be helpful.

Details of these recent ones, all recommendable, can be accessed at the Naxos website, with listening examples - well worth becoming a (free) subscriber.

The Schoenberg has authoritative performances under Robert Craft; I enjoyed especially the quirky transcription for cello of a harpsichord concerto by Matthias Monn (1717-50) which Pablo Casals considered too demanding and never played it.

The Stravinsky disc brings together good accounts from 1992-2002 of the major choral works, most of them dating from the time when he, as too Schoenberg, were expats in USA. It includes relative rarities, the Cantata and Babel. A tremendous bargain.

For explorers of neglected British music, two collections of Arnold Bax's chamber music demand attention. His violin sonatas continue pianist Ashley Wass's survey of this composer, having become a specialist in his music. Here he partners Laurence Jackson, more often heard as the superb leader of the Maggini Quartet, who is also to be heard in the 1906 trio on the equally recommendable collection of Bax's viola music. The Tertis inspired Viola Sonata (1922) - Julian Rolton with Martin Outram, the Magginis violist, is a major belated discovery for me; the final 'diabolic coda' mentioned in Lewis Foreman's extensive notes seems to be missing on the pressing I received?

Both discs are, anyway, highly desirable and contain characteristic music which is likely to be undeservedly unknown to most readers.

Rawsthorne's compact quartets are a feast of pointed musical thinking, with a harmonic idiom and sharp wit that makes his music instantly recognisable from a few bars. Besides the masterly Variations for two violins, there are variation movemenbts in two of the quartets. He is one composer (Roussel another) with whom I feel such an affinity that if I'd become a composer, theirs is music I should best like to have composed.

Ives' string quartets (1896-1914) are extraordinary, forward looking to an unbelievable degree, their difficulties made light of by the Blair Quartet in fine new recording from 2004.

Amongst classic re-releases there is some delectable Beecham Delius, orchestral music Vol. 5, including the concertos for violin and for piano, both recorded in 1946, and coming up fresh on CD [8.111006].

See also

The first of Flagstad's recordings of Grieg's Haugtussa (a favourite record in my youth) brings her back to us in best voice from 1940, together with Wagner from Philadelphia in 1937, which got onto shellac following her triumphant debut at the Met in 1935 [8.110725].

And for the new/old recordings I had long awaited to set against the famous Hyperion Schubert Edition. Graham Johnson has always stuck to Steinway, but Ulrich Eisenlohr in the Naxos Deutsche Schubert-Lied-Edition (Poets of Sensibility Vol. 5) brings a more appropriate lightness to his accompaniments of Schubert's earlier songs on forte-piano, with his singers young German speakers. Well worth considering

I hope following these links will encourage some readers to become more comfortable with them; they save a lot of typing...

Peter Grahame Woolf