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Volume 11 Issue 3 - November 2005

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Back to Ad Index m n,sc[•VJ1~11-1 The DISCoveries family keeps expanding and this month it is indeed family that we welcome to our ranks. Long-time WholeNote family member Simone Desilets adds reviewing to her already extensive portfolio in this issue, drawing on her own musical training to provide an insider's look at discs of cello music by Boccherini and Geminiani. We also add another youngster to our fold this month with Seth Estrin who is studying Classics and art history at U of T. Seth's musical background includes cello studies with Christina Mahler (see Frank Nakashima's review of Tafelmusik's new disc), piano with Diane Werner, and a number of years of voice training with Ann Monoyios. In the words of his proud mother Pamela Margles, another long-time WholeNote contributor, Seth "has a disconcertingly encyclopedic knowledge of even the most obscure operas, their productions, and performers past and present associated with them. He is also a witty and elegant writer. .. " Reading his insights into the DVD recordings of fl Turco in Italia and L 'Elisir d'amore I must say I have to agree. Welcome aboard to both of you! EDITOR'S CORNER This month we received a vast number of exciting new releases, as always far more than we could find room ---------, for in these ,.. l) ' [ '>.lt\ pages. And l\~I, II as usual I managed to squirrel away a few '. 1:..- of them for myself. The Amici Ensemble, whose 2005- 2006 season begins at Glenn Gould Studio on November 4, has just released its 10th CD. The disc (Naxos 8.557347) features a Trio for clarinet, cello and piano which represents the first important work in Vincent D'Indy's mature style. D'Indy himself played all three of the instruments involved, and his understanding of their idioms comes to the fore in this charming work. It is paired with one of my favourites from the Romantic chamber repertoire, Eight Pieces Op.83 by Max Bruch. Clarinetist Joaquin Valdepefias, cellist David Hetherington and pianist Patricia Parr are in their usual top form and give inspired performances. They have been making music together for the past 20 years and their name "says it all " - a truly musical friendship. The recording, made in the warm acoustic ofHumbercrest United Church is everything we've come to expect from the Naxos production team of Norbert and Bonnie Kraft. With the arrival of the next disc, a collection of works by the French composer WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE,COM !,11 11 .. 1·i,u1r11, Louise Far- L... ..... L--_.lDL....,..;...__ renc(1804-1875), I thought immediately of Amici because of the inclusion of a wonderful clarinet trio. Amici may well have introduced this little known composer's music to Toronto when they performed this work last year. That season marked the bicentennial of Farrenc's birth and the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris hosted a series of concerts aimed at giving "centre stage to an artist with a rare and inventive temperament, who succeeded in giving passionate expression to a profoundly original inner world." Fortunately fo r us these performances are now being released on compact disc. The first disc (nai've V 5033) also put me in mind of Ten Centuries Concerts, a series here in Toronto in the 1960s that featured "major works by minor composers and minor works by major composers". I say this because I find Farrenc's Nonet for strings and winds could easily be considered a major work. In the half hour long composition dating from the 1840s she uses the same instrumentation that Louis Spohr did in 1813: flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and double bass. The combination is very effective and provides pretty much the whole range of the wind and string families so I am quite surprised that it is not more common in the repertoire. Farrenc uses it to create a striking work of almost symphonic proportions. The disc also includes piano works and the Variations Concertantes for violin and piano, providing an ex- cellent introduction to Louise Farrenc's oeuvre. Another woman composer whose music crossed my desk this month is Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. There is a local connection with this new recording (Naxos American Classics 8.559268) in that it includes Rituals, a ----------,., work writ- '.!!~ !1,,l• \, l \,,)I, m_J ten for and featuring Toronto's all-star percussion ensemble ---.. 1 1 11\l \rtl '"""" ~i. ,lm C r,11., l'ln lC,ln.,I, Nexus, with L_ ______ __. the IRIS chamber orchestra, an ensemble that draws its membership from across the United States. In the four movement work Zwilich draws on Nexus' extensive collection of exotic instruments from around the globe. Rather than attempting to use the instruments in culturally authentic ways, the composer says that her goal " was an existential kind of authenticity: searching instead for universal ideas that would be true to both myself and the performers while acknowledging the traditional uses of the instruments." Each of the movements focuses on a ritual associated with percussion, culminating in "Contests", which progresses from friendly competition to warlike exchanges that effectively exploit both the skill and the showmanship of Nexus. Rituals is paired with Zwilich's 1998 Violin Concerto and the recording once again features the soloist for whom it was written, Pamela Frank, although in this instance she is performing with the Saarbriicken Radio Symphony Orchestra rather than the Orchestra of St. Luke's with which she premiered the work at Carnegie Hall. This lyrical post­ Romantic concerto has been touted as "A Love Song to the Violin" and in the capable hands of Ms Frank and conductor Michael Stern it receives a warm and tender reading. WhileNaxos pushes its American Classics series, the Ca- ~ nadian Music Centre continues to L----""=.:;..;.;"-";;;...i celebrate our own country's composers. As you will read in Ted O'Reilly's review in the Discs of the Month section, the CMC has just released a 3 CD set devoted to Phil Nimmons. We also received NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2005

Canadian Composer Portraits: are hauntingly performed by An­ Brian Cherney (Centrediscs CM- tonio Lysy, the cellist for whom CCD 10405), and by my count they they were written, and pianist Rena are the nineteenth and twentieth Sharon. volumes in this Centrediscs series. I spent a very pleasant afternoon driving back from cottage country on the Thanksgiving weekend listening to Eitan Cornfield's documentary about Cherney's formative years growing up in Peterborough under the pressure of a "Soccer Mom" whose focus was music ("if you didn't practice enough you were in hot water"), the lasting influence of his first composition studies with George Crumb at the Interlachen Music Camp and later with Samuel Dolin at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, and his career as a composer and professor at McGill University for the past three decades. There is an unusually strong emphasis on family in this documentary, with commentary from the composer's children, wife and brother. Family is an important part of Cherney's music too. His wife created signature tunes as lullabies for each of the children in their infancy which Cherney later incorporated into the music he composed for their weddings, and the string quartet included on the companion disc is an elegy in memory of his father. This disc includes four world premiere recordings of significant works from Cherney' s catalogue. A larger issue of family , or at least his heritage, is contained in the 1992 composition In the Stillness of September 1942, which deals with the deportation of265,000 Jews from Warsaw to the Treblinka death camp. The holocaust is a recurring theme in Cherney's work and this too is addressed in the documentary . "Stillness" is also an ongoing concern, and this work is one of seven that deals with the subject. It was commissioned for TSO English horn soloist Cari Ebly in 1992. Ebly and harpist Judy Loman are the dedicatees of the most recent work included here, La Princesse lointaine, dating from 200 I. Inspired by the relationship between William Butler Yeats and Maud Gonne, the work is a kind of anticoncerto where the two solo instruments represent the poet and his love. This large-scale orchestral work is contrasted with Like Ghosts from an Enchanter Fleeing , six pieces for cello and piano, composed in 1993. Once again English literature provides inspiration in the form of Shelley ' s "Ode to the West Wind" and Strindberg's play "The Ghost Sonata". The brief vignettes Most peopie would be very hard ll i}\ qw pressed to [ ._ .,.,\ / name even \, a handful of 1t$'£:i ~o~pao~!:s~ I ~)=¥ but the Centrediscs Portraits series brings home the fact that there are dozens who deserve to be household names - at least in musically literate households. There are other labels that also champion our creators to a greater or lesser degree, and the publishing house Doberman-Yppan is one such. Works by Jacques Hetu & Andre Prevost (DO 505) features the exceptional young Quebec cellist Yegor Dyachkov and his recital partner Jean Saulnier in their third compact disc release. The pair performs the broodingly lyrical Sonata, Op.63 by Hetu, surely Quebec' s greatest living Romantic composer, and the equally moving Sonata No.2 by Prevost. Dyachkov, who won the Women's Musical Club of Toronto Career Development "Artist of the Year" Award in 2000, also performs Prevost's Improvisation for solo cello and is joined by Le Nouvel Ensemble Modern under founding director Lorraine Vaillancourt in Menuhin: Presence. This latter, in the words of Prevost, "owes its existence to the invigorating and irreplaceable presence of this great musician and humanitarian embodied in that genius of a man, Yehudi Menuhin", who he first met in 1975. Composed in 2000 for Yegor Dyachkov and NEM, it was to be Prevost's last work. Thanks to Radio Canada producer Laurent Major we are able to share this final testament of one of Canada's leading composers. Concert Note: Yegor Dyachkov will perform Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony on December 2 and 3. We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. Catalogues, review copies of CDs and comments should be sent to : The WholeNote, 503 - 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4. David Olds Editor, DISCoveries OLD WINE NEW BOITLES PAG E 73 CD REVIEWS PAGE 74 ANALEKTA .·:.~'~ ·,· T\Ft, I.MU , I K B,\RO(~UF 0 1ic11 r ,,T H,\ . ~-? :·. J(t-.~ ,BAROQUE.AD~ ENTURE :

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