8 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 3 - November 2004

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ola da gamba and

ola da gamba and continua in D marepertoire. This recording features two suites played on I I-course lute, who contribute their significant musical talents to this ensemble. There's lots of music to choose from. In addition to composing over 1400 church cantatas, Georg Philipp Telemann, wrote over 60 quartets as well as trios. On this recording, the two concertos (Concerto for flute, violin, vi­ jor, and also in G major) and sonata (for the same instrumentation, in A and one each on theorbo and baroque major) are from the "Paris Quargu i tar, performed by Eduardo tets" (1730). The Trio in G minor EgUez, a player previously unknown (for oboe, violin and continua) from to me. Equally at home on all three the Essercizii musici, and the Quarinstruments, EgUez plays with great tet in G major (for flute, oboe, viofluency, grace and expressiveness, !in, and continua in G major), part a strong underlying sense of d ce ·of.the first set of Tafelmusik (1733) rhthm and m tre, and an obvious affection for h1 choen repert01re. round out the program. In general, a stronger flute pres­ The program is delightful; of P . ar- ence would have been appreciated, . ucular note are the . two opening and occasionally there were mo­ Allemandes of . the suite m F# ma- ments of questionable tuning, par­ JOr, te exq 1s1te Passaca1lle of the _ D mmor suite, an? the prel ?es, ticularly in the concertos. How­ ever, that really is a minor quibble h1ch re played m a . beautifully as this is an unquestionably delight- 1mprov1satory yet coes1ve anner. The recorded sound 1s beauul, as 1s the photography and graphic de- sign of the package - although it's a shame that since the booklet has no pocket, it's prone to falling out. Also much appreciated is the variety in between-track timing. Unfortunately I was disturbed by the pretentious tone of the program notes - sorry, but de Visee's name is NOT a household word despite the writer's claims - and by the complete lack of any information about the performer whose playing revivifies this composer's wonderful music. Georg Philipp Telemann: Quartets & Trios Ensemble Voltaire Alison Melville Catalpa Classics ND-30605-2 www Founded in 1987 as Ensemble Ouabache, this ensemble-in-residence of Trinity Episcopal Church in Indianapolis offers cheery energetic and stylistic playing that pervades throughout this recording of the music of Telemann. One should note that its membership includes Toronto residents (and Tafelmusik players), oboist John Abberger and violinist Christopher Verrene, 76 ful recording. When you hear that sparkling Vivace movement of the Quartet all sins are forgiven. ' Frank T. Nakashima ,... .... V- . lW..1Clitt 40! SAJ!l1•/.a- ,_ .. ,.-... -·L•1t1:>iui.. Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges - Violin Concertos Qian Zhou; Toronto Camerata; Kevin Mallon Naxos 8.557322 Isaac Stern was the people's violinist if there ever was one. The remarkable film From Mao to Mozart documented Stem's famous tour of China in 1979, as he concertized and gave masterclasses. The interaction between the 59 year-old Stern and the young Chinese violinists is fascinating, warm and life affirming. It turns out that one of those youngsters Stem came in contact with was Qian Zhou, an award-winning, immensely talented player featured on this elegant recent Naxos disc of forgettable works by Joseph Boulogne. At every turn the playing on this CD is charming, virtuosic and nuanced. Zhou's tone, control and command of expressive techniques and colours is wondrous. Unfortunately, the repertoire is too pedestrian to hold interest. Joseph Boulogne was the son of a French nobleman and Senegalese slave and has recently been "discovered" as having been a fine violinist, composer and athlete, active in the second half of the 18th century. His story is an interesting and unique one, but his formulaic, repetitive concertos were clearly clever vehicles for his own performance and showcase. Qian Zhou is a fine violinist and I look forward to hearing her in more intellectually and emotionally demanding repertoire. The Toronto Camerata is in good form here. Larry Beckwith CLASSICAL AND BEYOND Mozart String Quartets KV 499, 589&590 Hagen Quartet Deutsche Grammophon 477 508 1 This CD contains three of Mozart's last string quartets - the "Hoffmeister" and two of the three "Prussian" quartets, representing a peak of classical production in this medium: wonderful themes worked out with wonderful formal proportions. It all sounds so spontaneous. Mozart said he wrote music "as a sow pisses," but the detail of workmanship in these quartets betrays perspiration as well as inspiration. The textural refinements are astonishing - little silences break up a theme, only to be filled in with new turns of phrase when it reprises; pairs or trios of players engage in repartee; changes of register create an illusion of six, seven, eight voices instead of just four ... Expressive filigree in an adagio (K.499) or banjolike staccatos in a minuet (K.589) provide special sensuous pleasure. There are constant reminders of the composer's operatic bent - a cello melody (Largheno, K.589) suggests the lyricism of Belmonte or even Tamino; wide leaps in a violin line (finale, K.590) recall the histrionics ofFiordiligi. .. WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM The Salzburg-based Hagen Quartet, 1983 winners of the Banff quartet competition, has visited Montreal and Toronto on recent tours. Extensive previous releases on Deutsche Grammophon include the six "Opus X" quartets of Mozart. The playing style here has a nice sense of detail - a vigorous dynamic range respects the differences between soft and very soft, and the pungency of the sforzandos (the tiger's claws under the velvet glove, as one British critic calls them); the slight rests are appropriately exaggerated as "Luftpausen," akin to a singer's breathing. One regret: the allegro finales are all taken at tempo presto, and become marvels of virtuosity rather than examples of Mozartean wit. All in all, this is beautiful music, rendered with elegance, commitment, and good understanding. John Beckwith Beethoven - Hammerklavier Sonatas Op.101, 106 Anton Kuerti Analekta FL 2 3187 In 1818, at the outset of Beethoven's "late" period, Italian was a politically incorrect language; so, he inscribed these two works as for the "Hammerklavier," rather than the pianoforte, and replaced the indications allegro and adagio by "lebhaft" and "langsam. " The CD label applies the nickname to both sonatas, but it is commonly used only for Opus 106. They are extraordinary pieces, and quite new in several respects when compared to his previous piano output. Partly this is the result of new features in the instrument, introduced around that time: extra notes in the extreme high and low registers, and innovations in the pedal mechanisms affording a greater variety of colours. Partly also they reflect the composer's fresh attitudes to writing, such as his announced desire to find a new way of treating fugues. Both sonatas have original fugues in their finales, the first announced in an unprecedented deep bass, and the second overflowing to anticipate the length of the later Grosse Fuge for quartet. The registral extremes are obvious in the booming low-bass climax of the Opus 101 fugue or in the highnote glitter of the opening passages of Opus 106; the pedal devices lend unique colours in a misted-over stretch of the Opus 101 march move- NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004

ment or in exchanges with and without the soft pedal in the incomparable Adagio of Opus 106. Reviewmanship requires ranking in relation to the sixty-odd other recordings on the market, or to two earlier versions by this artist. Has the reviewer really heard them all? Well, no. I am however able to hark back to live performances in Toronto of Opus 106 by two of Anton Kuerti 's teachers, Rudolph Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. Kuerti is superb: he plays the pieces as if he wrote them. The sound quality makes you think you 're in a hall rather than a lab - it's ample rather than dry and up-tight. Whether for a fond reacqaintance with these works, or for a first encounter, the release is highly recommended. Joh11 Beckwith Sc mm F. RT ,,...,,., , "."·'

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