Press Room

January 2010 releases from naïve classics

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 and 24
David Greilsammer, piano
Suedama Ensemble / David Greilsammer, conductor and artistic director
CD available January 26 from naïve

“In league with his fellow musicians, whom he directs from the keyboard, Greilsammer brings dynamism, grace, rhythmic zest, thoughtful warmth, and a feeling of spontaneity to the music, qualities that are irresistible and stylistically apt in equal measure.”

– Daily Telegraph,CD of the Week” [London] 

Israeli pianist David Greilsammer’s first recording of early concertos by Mozart was a remarkable success.  Originally issued on the Vanguard Classics label in 2006 – on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth – the album was named one of the best CDs of the year by London’s Daily Telegraph, while Le Monde called it “one of the greatest surprises of the Mozart year.”  The recording was re-released on naïve last year, when Greilsammer pulled off the remarkable feat of playing the composer’s complete sonatas in an all-day marathon in Paris and in six concerts at the Verbier Festival.  Now, Greilsammer is reunited with the Suedama Ensemble (a group of New York-based musicians, hand-picked by the pianist, who share his passion for Mozart’s music), in a spirited traversal of Mozart’s Piano Concertos 22 (K.482) and 24 (K.491).  Both concertos, directed by Greilsammer from the keyboard, feature his own cadenzas.

In a five-star review for the Daily Telegraph, which named the album “CD of the week” for January 10, critic Geoffrey Norris finds numerous details to praise, calling the recording “a complete delight”:

“Alongside the imaginative links and contrasts that he forges in some of his exploratory recital programs, the young Israeli pianist David Greilsammer has also proved to be a classical musician of exceptional probity and freshness…  Greilsammer’s blend of taste and invention is brought to bear on the
cadenzas, which are his own and which he fashions in an 18th-century
manner while allowing his own fancy to explore, embellish, and mull over
the musical material.

“Greilsammer is joined here, as on his earlier disc, by the Suedama
Ensemble…[,] a polished group that brings individuality of personality to the
voicing of instrumental lines and yet coalesces with unanimity of expressive purpose.  Vitality and the wise observance of classical perspective interact.
  Colors are distinct but intermingle and throw fascinating glints of light on the texture.  There is no sense of the piano being ‘accompanied’, but instead there is close collaboration in which all forces have their say in underlining the dramatic weight, the lyrical eloquence, and the spiritedness of these two great concertos.”

In the liner notes to his new recording, David Greilsammer describes the Mozart heard in these two concertos as “a compassionate voice.”  “In the piano concertos composed at his maturity,” the pianist writes, “Mozart leads us beyond our own doubts and fears, allowing us to touch this beauty, as if he were saying, ‘Even when the pain is strongest, do not be afraid: a hand will be there for you, and this hand, if you accept, it’s mine, for I am your friend.”  The booklet also contains a conversation with David Greilsammer and two members of the Suedama Ensemble:  Arnaud Sussmann (concertmaster) and Gilad Harel (first clarinet).

Greilsammer also discusses his unadulterated passion for Mozart in a feature that was posted at Playbill Arts just before his Mozart marathon in Paris:

A brief excerpt from naïve’s recording session in New York Is available at:

Next month, Greilsammer returns to the United States for a recital at New York’s Lincoln Center.  This Sunday Morning Coffee Concert (Sunday, Feb 21) at the Walter Reade Theater will offer a rich and adventurous program including music by Rameau, Ligeti, Mozart, Satie, Monteverdi, Janácek, Scarlatti, and John Adams.  Greilsammer’s Lincoln Center debut in 2004 (at Alice Tully Hall) featured him as soloist in Erwin Schulhoff’s Piano Concerto under the direction of James Conlon.  A review of that concert by Anne Midgette in the New York Times described the pianist as “ferociously able.”

This past year has been an eventful one for Greilsammer, who was recently named the Music Director of the Geneva Chamber Orchestra.  This November in Paris, he performed Nadia Boulanger’s “Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra,” a work that had been virtually forgotten since it was composed in 1912.  Greilsammer’s world-premiere recording of the work will be issued by naïve in fall 2010.  The album will also feature Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Polish-born Alexandre Tansman’s Piano Concerto No. 2.  Though born in Lodz, Tansman lived for most of his life in France and was a friend and collaborator of both Boulanger and Gershwin, as many personal letters have shown.  He fled to the U.S. in 1941 to escape the Nazi regime, but later returned to Paris.

Last fall, Greilsammer made a splash in New York City when he performed the program of his debut album for naïve, fantaisie_fantasme, at the popular music club [Le] Poisson Rouge.  Soon after, Anthony Tommasini reviewed the album for the New York Times, noting: “The idea of choosing piano works for a solo recording that explores the concept of fantasy may not seem all that original.  But on this fascinating album the Israeli pianist David Greilsammer explores the concept in a program of striking diversity, exposing musical resonances among disparate works by composers from Bach and Brahms to Cage to Ligeti.  Of course, the concept would mean little were the performances not so brilliant and probing.  Mr. Greilsammer, born in Jerusalem in 1977, is a formidable pianist.”


Richard Strauss – A Cappella
Deutsche Motette, Op. 62; Traumlicht, Op. 123, No. 2
Zwei Gesänge (“Der Abend” & “Hymne”), Op. 34, Nos. 1&2
Latvian Radio Choir and Accentus / Laurence Equilbey, director
V 5194
CD available January 26 from naïve

“Strauss was the most tremendous all-rounder.  Even his a cappella oddments are technically brilliant and utterly ravishing, as shown by these four items, performed with high accomplishment by combined professional chamber choirs.”

– Sunday Times [London]

Following their release of Fauré’s Requiem, the chamber choir Accentus – a 2009 Gramophone Award finalist – and its director Laurence Equilbey are joined by the Latvian Radio Choir and four soloists (Jane Archibald, soprano; Dagmar Pecková, mezzo-soprano; Eric Stoklossa, tenor; and Robert Gleadow, bass-baritone) on a fascinating new album of a cappella choral music by Richard Strauss.  The release showcases the sumptuousness and brilliance of Strauss’s choral writing in four works inspired by the great Bavarian poet Friedrich Rückert.  Included on the album is the Deutsche Motette, a tour-de-force – and masterpiece – that is rarely performed or recorded because of its enormous technical challenges.

The February issue of Classica, a major French-published European magazine, gives the new album a “Choc de Classica” award.  Likewise, Télérama, France’s leading weekly, awarded the disc its highest rating (“ffff”), designating the recording “a polyphonic ‘tour de force’ that offers a warm sensuality.”  Reviewing the recording for London’s Sunday Times, Paul Driver reports: “Deutsche Motette, Op. 62, is simply prodigious.  Setting a Rückert poem, cast in 20 real (i.e., not doubled) parts, it is nearly 20 minutes of sumptuous, iridescent polyphony, inviting comparison with Tallis’s 40-part Spem in alium, but more luscious and radiant.  Yet more swooningly beautiful is the Schiller setting, “Der Abend”, first of Zwei Gesänge, Op. 34.  Beginning with a soft, high tone that goes on for ever and ever, it takes lyricism from the melting to the delirious.” 

Laurence Equilbey discusses the album in a video featuring short but luxurious excerpts:

From the liner notes by Christian Goubault:

“A favorite source of inspiration of both Strauss and Gustav Mahler (the Rückert-Lieder and three of the Kindertoten-lieder), the Bavarian poet Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) was also an Orientalist, translator of the Persian Hafiz, and prolific author of ‘Oriental’ poems, intimate elegies, and introverted lyrics.  Strauss admitted to his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1911: ‘You probably know my predilection for hymns in Schiller’s manner and flourishes à la Rückert.  Things like that inspire me to formal orgies.’  These ‘flourishes’ made the writer smile, but they may indeed be found in the ‘Hymne’ from Op. 34 and the following choruses, among them the ambitious masterpiece that is the Deutsche Motette, the peak of Straussian choral art.  The Deutsche Motette is rarely performed or recorded because of the technical feats it requires of its interpreters.  It calls for seasoned professional singers with keen ears, an extended vocal range, and absolute security of pitch.  The overall compass spans four complete octaves, from the bottom C of the basses to the sopranos’ top D-flat.  In spite of clear tonal reference points, the web of harmonic turbulences, modulations, enharmonics, and chromaticism remains entirely unsupported throughout this long composition (around 20 minutes).  One must marvel at its instrumental character, with its progressive superimpositions of voices, its dovetailings, its contrasts, and above all its sonorous dynamics.  The breadth of the work amply justifies Strauss’s remark on the ‘flourishes’ of Rückert’s poem, which is inspired by the ghazals of Hafiz, imitated in the west by Goethe, Rückert himself, Karl August von Platen, and Gottfried Keller.”


Grigory Sokolov, piano
Janusz Olejniczak, piano
OP 30494
Four CD-set for the price of one available January 26 from naïve

Just in time for the celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-49), naïve presents a remarkable four-CD boxed set, available for the price of a single CD, featuring a bountiful collection of the composer’s music performed by two great Chopin interpreters.  The first two discs feature Grigory Sokolov performing Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 35; Etudes, Op. 25; Marche Funèbre in B-flat minor; and the 24 Préludes, Op. 28.  The third and fourth discs feature Janus Olejniczak performing the 23 Mazurkas and nine Polonaises.

Gramophone magazine praised Sokolov’s Chopin prodigiously, following previous releases of these performances: “Grigory Sokolov pounces upon the Op. 25 Etudes, Funeral March Sonata, and Op. 28 Preludes, illuminating their harmonic nooks and contrapuntal crannies like a scientist who can’t wait to unveil his latest discovery.  He milks the still-jarring left-hand dissonances in the A-minor Prelude, while hotfooting his way through the tumultuous B-flat minor and D minor, and serving up each étude with effortless control and striking individuality.  Small wonder Bryce Morrison lavishly praised Sokolov in these pages when these performances first were released.”


Zarzuelas (highlights)
Selections from Marina, La verbena de la paloma, Bohemios, and Dona Francisquita
María Bayo, Plácido Domingo, Alfredo Kraus, etc.
V 5213
Two CD-set for the price of one CD available January 26 from naïve

The Zarzuela is the national music theater of Spain, passionate music infused with vitality, rhythmic élan, and soulful expressivity.  On this new specially-priced release (two CDs for the price of one), naïve draws from last year’s six-CD set of Zarzuelas and presents highlights of four of the greatest works in the genre: Arrieta’s Marina, Breton’s La verbena de la paloma, and two Zarzuelas by Vives: Bohemios and Dona Francisquita.

The all-star lineup of singers featured on this collection includes soprano María Bayo, tenors Plácido Domingo, Alfredo Kraus, and Luis Lima, and baritone Juan Pons.


Time Out New York names Sonia Wieder-Atherton’s Chants d’Est the “Best of 2009”

In November, French-American cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton came to New York City to perform at the launch event for Chants d’Est, her debut album for naïve.  Following Wieder-Atherton’s performance at the popular downtown music club [Le] Poisson Rouge, Olivia Giovetti, contributing editor for Time Out New York, reported:

“Watching Sonia Wieder-Atherton play is like watching Rudolf Nureyev dance.  Her instrument is as much a part of her body as her arms or legs, and she makes it sing in a way that would seem impossible from anyone else.  In her second U.S. recital, the French cellist transported [Le] Poisson Rouge to Russia and Mitteleuropa in an enjoyable, if all-too-brief concert.

“Featuring selections from her new release on naïve, Chants d’Est, the evening was a journey of a program, including music by Bartók, Janácek, Dohnányi, and Prokofiev interspersed with traditional Jewish music and Tatar dances.  Wieder-Atherton lends a new voice to those left in a diaspora after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, reviving their musical mother tongues.  Her allegros are vivacious, at times even ballsy; her softer moments are hushed and reverent, and in those moments you could see the audience lean in to hear every breath.”

Soon after, and for the same publication, Giovetti selected the album as the top classical release of 2009.


naïve is to be named “Label of the Year” by the MIDEM Classical Awards 2010

naïve will be honored with the title “Label of the Year” at the fifth MIDEM Classical Awards at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes on January 26, 2010.  Comprising professionals from the classical music industry across Europe, the jury of the MIDEM Classical Awards 2010 acknowledged “the energy deployed by the label in the music industry [and] its capacity to make known a broad and sometimes rare repertoire, as well as the very high level artists with whom it works.”

In addition to the “Label of the Year” award, naïve’s recordings have been nominated in two other categories: “Vocal Recital” for Sandrine Piau’s Handel disc, “Between Heaven and Earth”, recorded with the Accademia Bizantina, from which Piau will sing an excerpt from the oratorio Alexander Balus during the Awards ceremony; and “Solo Instrumental” for pianist Anna Vinnitskaya’s disc of Rachmaninoff, Medtner, Prokofiev, and Gubaidulina.  The winners of these awards will be announced on Sunday, January 24, during the MIDEM Classical Awards press conference.

The ceremony will be presented by James Jolly, editor-in-chief of Gramophone magazine, and special guest Marie-Nicole Lemieux, who will also sing an excerpt from a forthcoming record (a recital of French opera arias, to be released on naïve later this year).


Anne Sofie von Otter Signs to naive

The remarkable Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Ottter, one of the most accomplished singers of our time, has signed a deal to record with naïve.  Equally active in opera, concert and recital performances, she is also a prolific recording artist, possessing a rich discography of music from the Baroque to the contemporary.  Her bold repertoire choices showcase an artist of exceptional versatility and adventurousness.  

Von Otter’s first album for naïve will be a jazz collaboration with Brad Mehldau, including jazz standards, jazz versions of Beatles songs, and some pieces specially composed for her by Mehldau. The program is based on repertoire Von Otter be singing at London’s Wigmore Hall on June 2. This CD will be followed in 2011 by a French opera aria album with Marc Minkowski, another artist who records for naïve.  


watch for these naïve artists on tour in the U.S.

Sunday, February 21, 11am
New York City
David Greilsammer: “Sunday Morning Coffee Concert” recital
Lincoln Center (Walter Reade Theater)
Rameau, Ligeti, Mozart, Satie, Monteverdi, Janácek, Scarlatti, and John Adams
Wednesday, April 21
New York City
Sergey Khachatryan: recital with Lusine Khachatryan
Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall)
Bach: Violin Sonata No. 4 in C minor; 
Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major; Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major (“Kreutzer”)


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© 21C Media Group, January 2010

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