8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 2 - October 2005

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  • Toronto
  • Choir
  • October
  • Concerts
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0 to~~~~~ 1 d ion r' I ~ ~l French Connection Emmanuel Pahud; Eric Le Sage; Paul Meyer; Fran1;ois Meyer EMIS 579482 Emmanuel Pahud, whose fame has spread far and wide, particularly excels on this CD of flute works by lesser known French Impressionist composers, wonderful pieces which flutists generally know but find few opportunities to play in concert. Noteworthy are his exquisite quiet passages, performed with excellent intonation and a beautiful warm quality in the lower register. Paul Meyer's clarinet playing is an absolute dream with great contrasts, wonderful sound, extraordinary articulation and sensitive intonation - a flutist's ideal partner for this music. The oboe responsibilities are fewer, but Frarn;:ois Meyer performs with perfect control and a sound well suited to the playing of his colleagues. In fact the balance between these three wind players is inseparable, very closely matched in sound quality and totally under control technically, even in the most virtuosic passages. The pianist, Eric Le Sage, has a total grasp on the challenge to support such motivated instrumentalists without hindering their freedom and still come through with important melodic material, often leading the very colouristic interpretations. The recording engineer has also taken a courageous stand, allowing the stunning diminuendos and never permitting the fortes to become ugly or overblown. This is a fantastic recording in which the spirit and deeper musical meaning of each piece is revealed. The comprehension of this music and style of playing is extraordinary, the pianissimos fantastic and magi- cal. My only personal quibble would be the questionable intonation in a few forte passages, but these occasions are rare and arguably add a certain excitement. I am sure all of the composers, if they were alive today, would be delighted with the performances. Robert Aitken MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Martinu - Le Raid merveilleux Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Christopher Hogwood Supraphon SU 3749-2 031 When one thinks of the "Roaring Twenties", images of women in flapper dresses dancing and smoking cigarettes come to mind. That, and the first transatlantic flight. Bohuslav Martinu's musical experiments are not easily associated with that era. What a delightful surprise awaits then the listener of this album. Martinu, though born in Bohemia, was a composer with a decidedly western-European outlook. He was well regarded both in France and Germany and it is little wonder that the three ballets included on this CD and his other ballet works (including lost score for "The Judgment of Paris") were composed with an eye for a Parisian premiere. Alas, it was not to be, since among other tragic complications, the death of Diaghilev cancelled the all-but certain commission from Jes Ballets Russes. Martinu 's adventurous scores, blending new jazz, Slavic folklore and incorporating early instruments, languished largely unperformed and swept aside by the Great Depression. Portions of the scores had a life of their own as symphonic suites, but the full potential of the music was never realized. While we don't associate Martinu with the "Roaring Twenties", it is even more difficult to connect Christopher Hogwood with the music of the 20th century. After all, the Academy of Ancient Music under his direction, introduced almost singlehandedly the idea of period performance. However, great musicians are versatile musicians. Hogwood has restored some of Martinu's scores to their original form and conducts the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra with great aplomb - Period performance of a different period. This CD truly is a Disc-overy. Robert Tomas ·.i 1-·~ • J , · •(•:.i i..

are legendary. These previously unreleased archival radio recordings have a magical quality about them. The resurrected 1978 performance in this CD is now my favourite Firebird, hands down, even over Stravinsky's own recording. Hear the Pulcinella ballet suite with new ears: conductor and orchestra have such delicate control! Add to that a bravura performance of Prokofiev's D major Violin Concerto No. l with soloist Edith Peinemann, along with her 18th century Strad, and this is an item you just must have. The German radio producers and engineers have worked their customary wizardry: you would swear that these three recordings, gathered from over a five-year period, were all recorded in the same hall, in the same week. The notes, in English and German, are in an eminently legible size. The next release in this series is eagerly awaited. If there's a heaven, I hope that Wand, Walter, Tintner and Klemperer are up there meeting over brandy and cigars. Here's to them. John Gray ,, \I II I "1nq,h•·11i, ''" I ,10:1!: I !• ,,. 1h, fl,, l . ~,,,,;,' , , · Kurt Weill: Symphonies Nos.1 &2 Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Marin Alsop Naxos CD 8.557481 With Weill, as with a few other prolific composers of his time (Korngold, Menotti), the concert works are vastly overshadowed by the works composed for stage or film. But on examination, the former turn out to have substance and interest. Weill wrote his First Symphony as a 21-year-old student, his Second as a renowned theatre composer. The First is a tight-knit one-movement piece, its rhetoric underlined in heavily dissonant harmony (chords built in fourths were a demier cri in post-WWI Germany). Recognized procedures from his more familiar repertoire are several fugatos and passages suggesting a wordless chorale. The Second Symphony, no less forceful in its way, suggests he learned a lot about the orchestra in the intervening decade: solo strings, virtually inaudible in the textures of the First, now come through clearly and tellingly; the timpani contribute imaginative independent ideas, rather than the cliche of an ominous roll every time the music changes direction. Indeed, this work rises to peaks of real orchestral brilliance belying its modest classical-sized forces. The last of its three movements develops into a relentless march - a ringer for Prokofiev in its air of hard-edged satire - and from there into a whirling tarantella. Throughout, this Symphony exudes the melodic originality its predecessor lacked. In the clarinet solo near the start, in the long solo-cello line of the slow movement, in the trumpet that so splendidly over-rides the tarantella, you hear the Weill of the theatre songs: you wait for the next note in the line, and when it comes, it sounds natural and right, though it's not the note you expected. John Beckwith Concert Note: The disc also includes Robert Russell Bennett's concert suite arranged from Lady in the Dark, a musical play about psychoanalysis written shortly after Weill's emigration to the U.S . that will be revived by Toronto Operetta Theatre next February. Editor's Note: On September 20 the John D . and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced that conductor Marin Alsop will receive a 2005 MacArthur Fellowship, a five-year unrestricted fellowship totaling 0,000 U.S. awarded to individuals across all ages and fields who, "show exceptional merit and promise of continued and enhanced creative work". She is the first conductor ever to receive the illustrious "genius award". Shostakovich - Symphony No.11 Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Alxander Lazarev LinnCKD247 1905 was the year of the failed uprising against the Czar, so well told in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 silent film, The Battleship Potemkin. The carnage on the Odessa steps, although only four minutes long, is one of filmdom's most memorable sequences. But it was fiction - it never happened. Nevertheless the film did convey the total ruthlessness of the Czar's subjugation of his people. Do we really need another recording of "the year 1905" symphony, when there are other fine performances available? Whether we need it or not, here it is and it is spectacular, both in performance and sound. Russian performances of Shostakovich symphonies are quite different from those originating in "the West" and Lazarev has imbued the Scottish National Orchestra, where he has been principal conductor since 1997, with the style required to deliver an idiomatic performance. The four movements are played without pause. The atmospheric first and third movements are both Adagios and the hushed strings quietly convey the murmurings of hushed expectancy and determination. The second movement, "the ninth of January," describing the massacre of the people is terrifyingly brutal. The fourth movement is an apotheosis with prophetic expectation. Technically the surround sound SACD is a triumph, clear, dynamic and transparent. Every instrument is correctly balanced and placed exactly where it should be and the dynamic range is true to life. As a stereo CD the perspectives are, as to be expected, somewhat reduced. Did we need this recording? It would seem so. Bruce Surtees Music for Flute and Percussion (Piazzola; Part; Shankar) Marc Grauwels; Marie-Josee Simard Naxos 8.557782 The combination of a single flute and a percussionist with a large battery of instruments is one that we don't have a chance to hear too often. But if a flutist were to embark on such a project, it would be none other than Marc Grauwels to bring it to life. And with Marie-Josee Simard on percussion, and twenty years of touring behind them, it adds up to a duo to be reckoned with. Among the composers whose work appears on this new CD, three of them agree with that opinion strongly enough to write pieces for the pair. The opening track, Piazzolla's The History of the Tango, was dedicated to Grauwels at the time of its 1985 completion. The four movements are a wonderful musical romp through imagined bordellos, cafes and night clubs. Michael Lysight, Alec Wilder, Frederic Devereese, Keiko Abe and Karen Young have each contributed beautifully atmospheric works to this collection, and especially Young's Ode to Nature is not to be missed. Arvo Part's minimalistic Spiegel in Spiegel, arranged from its original violin and piano form, is the most pleasant lullaby that you're likely to hear in this decade. Ravi CONTINUES Delicious Audio PROFESSIONAL PORTABLE DIGITAL AUDIO RECORDING SERVICE "Cop,,,;,g m"" we, Ooppeo," i 416-530-5798 deliciousaudio@gmail com '/ \ } ~i\ /'_ ~~ /f ~1 ~ • DIGITAL EDITING CD MASTERING CONTACT: - OPEN REEL TRANSFERS· 96/24 CAPABILITY KARLMACHAT 416 503 3060 OR 647 227 KARL MISTERS.MASTERS@SYMPATICO.CA OCTOBER 1 - N OVEMBER 7 2005 WWW .TH EWHOLENOTE.COM 63 Back to Ad Index

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