7 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 3 - November 2004

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  • November
  • Toronto
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  • December
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Sony's Don has Von

Sony's Don has Von Karajan does a fine job for Don Giovanni. conducting the Vienna Philhar- An experienced Renato Bruson is monic at the State Opera, with excellent as the Don. The rest of Samuel Ramey in the lead role and the young cast is solid but not up a lovely Kathleen Battle as Zerli- . to his level. That leaves Joseph na. It's letter-perfect but feels mon- Losey's concept film: interesting umental r . ather than oving. m- stuff, but not where one would go age has R1cca do Mull conducting for a primary operatic experience. at . La Sc la, with Thomas Allen as Until something better comes Giovanni. It should be m ? re than along, give me Furtwiingler's JUSt a very good production, but strange baton. sparks don't ny. That's even more Dave Snider Music Centre 3225 Yonge St. PH (416) 483-5825 cMa i I: sn www .sn idcrm u sic .com One of Toronto's Oldest Music Stores ... With The Best Selection of Pop, Jazz & Broadway Sheet Music in the city - For Beginners and Professiouals - Come in and browse over 25,000 sheet music publications. We have a wide array of Woodwind, Brass, Keyboards, Guitars and Accessories. Music Lessons offered on site. BooK Shelf OPERA AT HOME, CONTINUED the case for Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Don at the Zurich Opera, Of the six Don Giovanni DVDs in issued by ArtHaus. my library, I find Furtwiingler the Kultur's new Don is included in by Pamela Margles most enticing. Neither the sound a bargain-priced "T rilogy of Kevin Bazza11a's superb book on Glenn Gould, Wondrous Strange: The nor picture qualities match recent Love," along with Cosi fan Tutti Life and Art of Glenn Gould (reviewed in WholeNote December 2003j versions, but what singing! And and Le Nozze di Figaro. Enrico won - tied, actually -first plac in The Toronto Book Awards. Providing what character! Castiglione directs all three, and 'nostalgic glimpses of Toronto' is hardly its most outstanding attribute, but a win is a win, and, in this case, a well-deserved one. A most welcome trend in the book publishing business is to include a CD of interesting and rare material. Two of our subjects, violinist Louis Kaufman and tenor Mario Lanza. are featured 011 CDs that come with the book, in historical performances otherwise unavailable. Composer Kay Swift was the focus of a ground-breaking project to make the first recording of her Broadway hit, Fine and Dandy (see Discoveries for a review of that disc). Most of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim's shows are readily available, with many, such as Follies and Sweeney Todd, released in more than one performance. When it comes to books about music, these aural accompaniments now seem essential. Mario Lanza: An Am erican Tragedy by Armando Cesari Baskerville Publis hers 383 pages plus CD, .50 Even if everything had gone w e 1 1 , Mario Lanza would have had a lot of problems, according to a friend quoted in this sad and compelling new biography. But things could hardly have gone worse. According to Armando Cesari , Lanza's tragedy was his inability 'to realize his rightful artistic destiny' as an opera singer. But there's no evidence he would have fared better if he had played out his career on the opera stage. As Cesari tells it, Lanza was surrounded by crooks, mediocrities, money-grubbers, ingrates, and incompetents. His health - mental and physical -was wrecked by alcohol, depression bingeing and dieting. and repeated cycles of Lanza, who displayed a stupefying lack of self-awareness, was 'as insecure as it is possible for a human being to be'. Cesari brings out Lanza's vivacious charm. But he can't avoid the offensive boorishness and uncontrollable rages. Cesari offers astute assessments of his extraordinarily popular films, recordings and radio broadcasts. Placido. Domingo's admiring preface testifies to Lanza's deep and enduring influence. Cesari includes detailed lists of recordings, films and concert appearances, copious photos and an accompanying CD of rare recordings. Lanza's saga, in its best telling so far, touches on too many aspects of talent and abuse to be overlooked. A Fiddler's Tale: How Hollywood and Vivaldi Discovered Me By Louis Kaufman with Annette Kaufman University of Wisconsin Press 479 pages plus CD, .95 U.S. Louis Kaufman is the most recorded violinist ever - not because of his more than one hundred recordings of concert music, including important premieres and the first LP recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, but due to the approximately five hundred Hollywood soundtracks where he can be heard as soloist and concert-master, from Top Hat and Serving Canada Since 1956. 24 stores including: Toronto: 925 Bloor St.W. 416-588-7886 North York: 2777 Steeles Ave.W. 416-663-8612 Scarborough: 1133 Markham Rd. 416-439-8001 Oshawa•: 902 Simcoe St.N. 905-434-1612 Brampton•: 370 Main St.N. 905-450-4334 Burlington•: 3180 Mainway Dr. 905-319-3330 Mississauga·: 900 Rathbum Rd.W. 905-273-3939 'Lessons available at these locations. Call for details! NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004

Tile Great Dictator to Laur a, Gone wirh the Wind, and Psycho. On the evidence of this delightful autobiography, Kaufman possessed irrepressible enthusiasm. Surrounded by brilliant friends and colleagues, and above all his supportive wife and editor, Annette Kaufman, a talented pianist who even served as music copyist in a pinch, he felt constantly protected by his 'reliable Karma'. Gracious, generous and endlessly curious, his most endearing quality is his joyful sense of adventure, whether facing extraordinary challenges touring the world. or tracking down then-unknown Vivaldi manuscripts across Europe. Welcome are the documentation of his various recordings, as well as wonderful photos, including paintings from his cherished art collection. The accompanying CD is a treasure, and confirms Kaufman's stature as one of the twentieth century's great violinists. Fine and Dandy: The Life and Work of Kay Swift by Vicki Ohl Yale University Press 319 pages .50 Fine and Dandy is a much-recorded jazz standard. Yet its composer, Kay Swift, to be written by a woman, is barely a footnote in the history of Broadway. Vicki Ohl's terrific biography should change that. Swift grew up in a cultured intellectual home, married an attractive, brilliant millionaire who became the lyricist for her most successful songs, and lived a life of high-style luxury - until she fell in love with George Gershwin, who as both lover and composer remained the passion of her life She composed the music for Balanchine 's first American ballet, Alma Mater, and as first music director of Radio City Music Hall wrote a song a week for over eighteen months. Swift emerges from Ohl's engaging and thoroughly researched chronicle of her long and creative life as dazzlingly multi-talented and impulsively self-centred. Ohl devotes proper attention to Swift's music, offering generous examples from her songs and classical scores, photos, a valuable bibliography, and a comprehensive list of her compositions. A new recording of Fine and Dandy from PS Classics is reviewed this month in Discoveries Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions By Mark Eden Horowitz Scarecrow Press 411 pages, .90 ---- Stephen Sondheim has no peer in the r---- .. -=-='--=t=--l musical theatre today. In \.Hl\:d! nt:rJ.10 this fascinating series of in- w h o s e terviews 1930 hit he reveals mastery of every aspect show of the same name was the first of his craft, and uncanny insight into his own creative processes. As both composer and lyricist for his musicals, he considers himself a 'playwright who writes with song'. He started out writing lyrics for shows like Gypsy and West Side Story. Yet he says that lyric writing is hell for him, compared to the 'picnic' of song-writing. He believes in the creative power of the unconscious, the importance of revealing psychological truths through character and mood, the need for simplicity and the effectiveness of leitmotifs. He loves harmonic movie musicals. surprises, and dislikes The interviews are followed by a list of his fifty favourite songs, with top honours going to the Gershwins' My Man's Gone Now, 'the best song I ever heard, and it moves me'. There are fond and amusing testimonials from associates, a thorough song list and discography. Sondheim may be a brilliant subject, but the well-prepared interviewer, Mark Eden Horowitz, is himself smart, probing, and refreshingly self-effacing . All of which makes this book essential reading for those with any interest in musical theatre. Canstage is presenting Side by Side by Sondheim at the St Lawrence Centre from November 22 to December 18. 3 DAY SALE • NO\'. IH. 20 & 21 • l•'rl. & 8aL. I Oam - 8pm • By appointment only Sundny l lam - Gpm • ( o appoint.rnenL needed) • [,urges/. \ii11tagc Slcimrny Col/oC'tion In C:1twda • l-of-a-k/11d Pieces • 8pec/al F/11/s/u:s • 1-of-

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