Press Room

naïve’s March 2010 releases

George Onslow: String Quartets No. 28, Op. 54 (world-premiere recording), No. 29, Op. 55 (world-premiere recording), and No. 30, Op. 56
Quatuor Diotima
V 5200
CD available March 30 from naïve

The Quatuor Diotima makes its debut on the naïve label with a recording of three quartets by the so-called “French Beethoven”, George Onslow (1784-1853).  The Anglo-French composer wrote more than 36 string quartets and 34 string quintets, and was widely acclaimed in his time (Schumann and Mendelssohn considered his chamber music on a par with that of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven), but he has since fallen into almost complete oblivion.  Stemming from an old aristocratic British family, several members of whom played an important part in British political life (his grandfather, first Earl of Onslow, was the Speaker of the House of Commons), George Onslow was born in Clermont-Ferrand (central France) in 1784.  His father, Edward, had settled there after a family scandal that forced him to leave his mother country.

The Diotima’s new release, which has already been named “Diapason d’Or” and “CD of the Month” in the January issue of Diapason, the esteemed French classical music magazine, provides an important opportunity to sample three of the composer’s richly dramatic and superbly crafted scores, presenting world-premiere recordings of the String Quartets No. 28, Op. 54 and No. 29, Op. 55, as well as the String Quartet No. 30, Op. 56.  These and other works by Onslow are being rediscovered and published thanks to the support of the Bru Zane Foundation in Venice.

Comprised of violinists Zhao Yun Peng and Naaman Sluchin, violist Franck Chevalier, and cellist Pierre Morlet, the Quatuor Diotima has recently been named “One of the five quartets you should know about” by Gramophone magazine.  Founded by graduates of the Paris and Lyon conservatories, the quartet takes its name from Luigi Nono’s Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima, thus affirming its commitment to the music of our time.

The Diotima Quartet is a favored partner of many composers (including Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough, and Toshio Hosokawa), and regularly commissions new pieces from such composers as Alberto Posadas, Gérard Pesson, Emmanuel Nunes, and James Dillon.  But it by no means neglects the classic string quartet repertoire, paying particular attention to the late quartets of Beethoven, French music, and the music of the early 20th century.

The quartet has made appearances around the world in important concert halls, notably the Philharmonie and Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Cité de la Musique in Paris, and the Wigmore Hall in London, and at prestigious music festivals.  It has made many tours of the United States, Asia, and South America.  This spring, the quartet will give performances in Minnesota (St. Cloud on April 10 and Minnesota University in St. Paul on April 14), Sherbrooke, Canada (April 17) and at La Maison Française in Washington, DC (April 19).

The quartet’s first recording (Lachenmann/Nono) was awarded the Coup de Coeur of the Académie Charles Cros and a Diapason d’Or of the Year 2004 in the “Discovery” category.  Its discography includes the two Janácek quartets (Diapason d’Or 2008), the quartets of Lucien Durosoir (Choc du Monde de la Musique), Schoenberg’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra (on MDR Leipzig), and Alberto Posadas’s cycle Liturgia Fractal (on Kairos).  The Diotima Quartet will now record Classical, Romantic, and modern repertoire exclusively for naïve.


Johann Jakob Froberger
Christophe Rousset, harpsichord
AM 148
CD available March 30 from naïve

Christophe Rousset performs the 1649 and 1656 suites for harpsichord by Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-67) on a new release that has recently been awarded “ffff” (four out of a possible four “f”s) by the French culture magazine Télérama, which has a huge readership.  The recording is the third – following discs of music by Royer and Rameau – in a collaborative series between naïve and the Cité de la Musique, which is home to the instruments on which Rousset recorded these releases.  For the new album, he plays an extraordinary harpsichord by Ioannes Couchet, a contemporary of Froberger.  The instrument was built in Antwerp in 1652 and received a “ravalement” (described in the album notes by Christine Laloue and Jean-Claude Battault of the Musée de la Musique as “a process that consisted in enlarging a harpsichord’s compass in order to adapt it to the evolution of the repertoire”) in France in 1701.  According to Laloue and Battault, “this process introduced only minimal change and preserved the structure of the instrument.”  The featured harpsichord is one of only six extant instruments by Couchet.

Rousset provides extensive notes in the album about the composer and repertoire, beginning with this observation:

“Few 17th-century musicians had a destiny comparable to that of Johann Jakob Froberger.  Born a German in Stuttgart in 1616, he left his homeland for Austria, where at the age of 21 he became the protégé of Emperor Ferdinand III.  Recognizing the young man’s exceptional gifts, the emperor sent him to study in Rome with the most admired European organist and harpsichordist of the day, Girolamo Frescobaldi.  From the latter he derived his verve, his brilliance, his invention in the stylus phantasticus, his learned and sophisticated skills in counterpoint, and the energy of the dances then fashionable on the harpsichord.”

According to Rousset, Froberger “left only keyboard pieces, with the exception of a few fairly conventional motets that are not very representative of his eminently personal style.”


Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
La Chambre Philharmonique / Emmanuel Krivine
Sinead Mulhern, soprano; Carolin Masur, mezzo-soprano; Dominik Wortig, tenor; Konstantin Wolff, bass baritone
Choeur de Chambre les Eléments / Joel Suhubiette
V 5202
CD available March 30 from naïve

naïve begins at the end with its new Beethoven Symphonies cycle featuring Emmanuel Krivine conducting the period instrument ensemble La Chambre Philharmonique.  Volume 1 in the series features Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the composer’s final work in the genre.

La Chambre Philharmonique, created under the aegis of Emmanuel Krivine, is the product of a utopian ideal.  A new type of orchestra, composed of instrumentalists from the finest European ensembles with a common musical purpose, La Chambre Philharmonique places pleasure and discovery at the heart of its musical adventure.  Its structure is original, in that conductor and players enjoy equal status and current members choose new players, which helps promote a sense of cohesion.  A project-based ensemble, La Chambre Philharmonique, which debuted in 2004, is also a space for research and exchange.  The size of the ensemble is flexible, bringing together the appropriate players, instruments, and historical techniques for each program.  The new album is the fourth from Krivine and the orchestra for naïve, following previous releases dedicated to music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Dvorák.

Harry Halbreich sets the stage for the new release, which was also awarded “ffff” by Télérama, with an album-note essay entitled “A kiss for all the world.”  A brief excerpt:

“In 1812, Beethoven told his publisher that he was working on three symphonies, one of which (now known as the Seventh) was actually finished.  The third was to be in D minor. But after finishing the second of the trio (our Eighth Symphony) in October of the same year, he went through a grave personal crisis that ushered in years of creative quasi-sterility.  And we will never know if the work in D minor completed only twelve years later – our Ninth – had something in common with the one mentioned in the letter.  Emerging from a long subterranean genesis, we suddenly see appearing, amid the sketches for the two cello sonatas, Op. 102 (1815), the theme of the future Scherzo.  And two years later the project of a symphony in four movements took shape; two of these (the adagio and the finale) were intended to feature a chorus, but there is no reference as yet to the ‘Ode to Joy’.”


Impressions on Chopin
Leszek Mozdzer, piano and arrangements
V 5229
CD available March 30 from naïve

No matter how many Chopin recordings you hear during Chopin’s centenary season – the beloved Polish composer was born on March 1, 1810 – you won’t have really celebrated his legacy until you’ve heard fellow Pole (and pianist) Leszek Mozdzer’s jazz-inflected arrangements of Chopin’s Préludes, Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Etudes, and other works.  Impressions on Chopin, originally issued by Opus 111, is now available on this newly-designed release from naïve.  Highlights include Mozdzer’s take on the Prélude No. 26, Op. posth, which conjures up Bobby Sherwood’s My Secret Love, and on the Etude No. 4, Op. 25, a tribute to Charlie Parker’s Segment.


Recent critical acclaim for naïve artists and recordings

David Greilsammer:

Review of recital at Lincoln Center and of new recording of Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 22 and 24 with the Suedama Ensemble (V 5184, released in January)

“Critic’s Notebook” review by Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times (Feb 26, 2010):

“Greilsammer, 32, presented a recital at the Walter Reade Theater, part of Lincoln Center’s Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts series, in which programs of roughly 60 minutes are followed by a coffee-and-muffin reception with the artists in the lobby.  Mr. Greilsammer, also the music director of the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, is fascinated by musical connections.  His program, ‘Gates’, offered works by composers from Rameau and Monteverdi to Ligeti and John Adams, with stops through Scarlatti, Janácek, and more… . For Mr. Greilsammer, the potential risk from programs that leap around is that the experiment can seem gimmicky.  In his recital here, the choices of pieces and the musical connections among them were striking and provocative.  Most important, the playing was exquisite.

            “In titling the program ‘Gates’, Mr. Greilsammer evoked the notion of walking from one gallery to another at an art exhibition and coming upon stunningly different artistic images.  This recital was his attempt at a musical equivalent of that visual experience.  Though not explicitly stated, his larger goal, it seemed, was to let his audience hear the resonances he detects in works written over a span of 400 years.  He began with Rameau’s Gavotte et six doubles or Six Variations, a piece for harpsichord from 1729.  It was riveting, and also touching, to see the wiry, bookish Mr. Greilsammer playing Rameau’s delicate gavotte and three of the variations with such tenderness and intimacy.  With this first piece, he was asking his Sunday morning listeners to settle in and follow him on his journey.

            “It was a surprisingly easy leap when he shifted to Ligeti’s wondrously strange Musica ricercata No. 7, which nods to the Baroque but is actually a modernist experiment: a softly grumbling left-hand ostinato is repeated over and over as a lacy, elusive melodic line spins out.  The next musical leaps were wilder and even more intriguing.  Ligeti gave way to an unfinished neo-Baroque Suite in C by Mozart, then to Satie’s dreamy Gnossienne No. 3, and then, of all things, to an aria from Monteverdi’s opera Orfeo, deftly arranged for piano by Mr. Greilsammer.

            “A compelling performance of a movement from Janácek’s fitful Sonata (Oct. 1, 1905) ‘From the Street’ led immediately, and somehow fittingly, to a pensive Scarlatti sonata, and then to the central work of the program: John Adams’s China Gates, music rich with tinkling piano sounds, Minimalist riffs and modal harmonies.

            “From the Adams, Mr. Greilsammer went in reverse order through the same composers he had played, performing, for example, another Scarlatti sonata, another movement of the Janácek.  He ended, as he had begun, with the Rameau gavotte and the three remaining variations.

            “Afterward, the audience gathered in the lobby to have coffee and meet the artist, who signed copies of his naïve label recordings.  His latest offers him as pianist and conductor in sensitive, articulate accounts of Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 22 and 24, with the Suedama Ensemble.  […]

            “Mr. Greilsammer is a standout musician who has it in him to challenge, inform, and delight audiences.  During the reception I overheard one person saying that he thought Mr. Greilsammer’s experiment did not go far enough, that there was too much ‘sameness’ in the pieces, especially the first few.  When a listener asserts that Rameau, Ligeti, Mozart, and Satie sound similar, I think Mr. Greilsammer can claim success at showing the connections among seemingly disparate music.”


Sonia Wieder-Atherton:

Reviews for Chants d’Est (V 5178, released October 2009)

Olivia Giovetti’s selection for Best Classical Album of 2009 in Time Out New York:

 “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.”

“Editor’s Choice” review by Greg Cahill in March 2010 issue of Strings:

“The impish grin on Sonia Wieder-Atherton’s face, peering above a bright red-patterned scarf, on the cover of this emotionally-charged CD, hints that the Rostropovich Competition laureate is a force with which to be reckoned.  Indeed, the opening track, Rachmaninov’s ‘Nunc Dimittis’ from Vespers, Op. 37, is one of the most beautiful cello performances you’ll hear this year.  It affirms that this French cellist is a major talent who deserves to be as well-known in the States as she is in Europe…  This exhilarating and thoughtfully-programmed recording… [is] highly recommended.”


coming in April

Sergey Khachatryan’s recital in New York City (venue and program details below) will be accompanied by naïve’s release of the dynamic young Armenian violinist performing Bach’s complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin.

Wednesday, April 21, NYC
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”)


Quatuor Diotima on tour in North America

April 10    St. Cloud, MN (program includes Onslow quartet)
April 14    Minnesota University, St. Paul, MN
April 17    Centennial Theatre, Sherbrooke, Canada
April 19    La Maison Française, Washington, DC



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© 21C Media Group, March 2010

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