8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 5 - February 2006

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • February
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Mozart
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Quartet

Glenn Gould Studio,

Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto, with probably nary an edit. The sound is clear and instrumental balances natural. The only composer residing in Canada on the CD is Toronto's Linda Catlin Smith, the recipient of the prestigious 2005 Jules Leger Prize for New Chamber Music. Her contribution to this CD is Diagonal Forms, which sparkles with pointillist vibraphone, glockenspiel and piano ascending and descending melodic passages, contrasted against sustained broke n chords by the winds and double bass. Then at other places, the tables are turned, the winds providing the 'diagonal' movement. Much of the time the music is thin and delicate in texture and unpredictable in form. Diagonal Forms repays repeated listening. "Array Live" is not by any means 'easy li stening', but music which demands attention and thoughtful and even detailed listening. Try it some evening with your best headphones on and a bountiful glass of your best red wine. Andrew Timar rhythms driving the piece along. Rain Cycles by Ronald Bruce Smith also includes two guitars (nylon stringed) and on Main Road by Daniel Janke, the composer plays the kora, a West African harp-lute. For this reviewer, the highlight of the CD is The Eleusinian Mysteries by Andrew P. MacDonald, with Erica Goodman on harp. It feels something like a harp concerto, with two louder percussive outer movements cushioning a gentler, mysterious middle section. The creative use of the harp, its glissandi, plucked chords, and melodic lines that weave in and out of the game Ian's pentatonic scale make for an engaging and full musical texture. One can certainly imagine the harpist as mystic high priest of the ancient Greek ritual on which this piece is based. As always, the Evergreen Club gamelan gives marvelous performances in all the music on this CD. Annette Sanger gamelan-like prepared piano. Evocative, searching motives in the violin are accompanied by repetitive fragments in the piano, all of which lead smoothly but unexpectedly to a brief quotation from the slow movement of Beethoven's A major violin and piano sonata, op. 30. As the quotation fades into the ether, like a distant memory, the seemingly random violin and piano fragments take up where they left off Violinist Andrew Dawes and pianist Jane Coop give an understated, but stunning performance. The only slight disappointment is a complicated, uninspired set of variations on " Home on the Range" for string quartet that goes on and on. The program note suggests the piece is heavily influenced by Chatman'scomposition teacher William Bolcom, which may be the case, but here Chatman needed to be reminded that brevspread is tastefully done. You even get two endings, the Finale proper on track 15, plus a reprise that would have been prepared for curtain calls, later adaptable for television credits as they rolled. The booklet consists of a sim ple single fold with a colour photo (from the original Winnipeg production?) on the cover. The interior notes are easy on the eyes, in French and English. Recommended. John S. Gray Gobeil - Trilogie d'ondes Gilles Gobeil Empreintes Digitales IMED 0576 Normandeau - Puzzles Robert Normandeau Empreintes Digitales IMED 0575 ity is the soul of wit. Empreintes Digitales here presents Larry Beckwith the DVD-Audio format debut of two Canadian composers whose electroacoustic works have won awards the world over. Always looking forward, their music is as challenging as it is rewarding. For There and Then Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan Artifact Music ART 034 Following two CDs (in 2002 and 2004) of more traditional music from the Sunda region of West Java, the Evergreen Club has once again returned to its more familiar, original territory of contemporary Western compositions for gamelan, bolstered by the addition of occasional non-game Ian instruments for added variety and textural enrichment. "For There and Then" comprises five pieces from the last fifteen years or so by Canadian composers, including two, Kissed and the title track For There and Then by Evergreen C lub member Bill Parsons. Unfortunately the otherwise very informative liner notes give us little insight into the ideas behi nd these two pieces. The latter features the composer on electric guitar, an interesting sonic contrast to the gamelan instruments in the thick of repetitive and insistent additive 66 Chatman - Vancouver Visions Various artists Centrediscs CMCCD 11105 This recording is a retrospective of Stephen Chatman 's chamber music and a document of his collegial relationships at the University of British Columbia, where he is the head of the composition department. The earliest composition on the disc was written in 1971 - the playful Wild Cat for solo flute - and the most recent is the Varley Suite for Solo Violin, commissioned last year for the farewell recital of Andrew Dawes. T he Black and White Fantasy ( 198 1) is played with great gusto by pianist Jane Coop. Five settings of Miriam Waddington's poems ( 1995) are well written but given an underwhelming performance by soprano Robyn Diedger-Klassen and pianist Karen Lee-Morlang. The Lawren Harris Suite for Piano Quintet (2003) is a strong, well-crafted piece, wonderfully performed by Sara Davis-Buechner and the Borealis String Quartet. A highlight of the disc is In Memoriam Harry Adaskin, a s hort one-movement piece for violin and Davies - The Big Top Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; Earl Stafford Water Lily Records WLCD 5905 If you had a chance to catch The Big Top on television or saw the ballet on that 1988 Canadian tour, this CD wi ll please you immensely. And for those of you hearing this music for the first time, a treat is in store. Victor Davies is one man who has demonstrably devoted his life to music, in a variety of idioms, and we expect much from the creator of the Mennonite Piano Concerto and Anerca. Here he shows himself master of the score, from first to last. The CD presents the ballet to us over 16 tracks. Perhaps, back in the days of vinyl, they might have made a segue of several of the episodes. Throughout, the large instrumental ensemble performs to perfection. The Pranksters/lion and The Great Ravi are particularly effective as orchestral pieces, and the Winnipeg wind section deserves special praise. Recorded quality is excellent, and studio creativity w ith instrumental Gi lles Gobeil hits the mark with his "Trilogie d'ondes". The trilogy is made up of three distinct works featuring the ondes Martenot, played by Suzanne B inet-Audet. Voix blanche [White voice] deals with an excruciating slow bui ld-up to a crescendo that really never occurs. This is a piece where the ondes reigns supreme. Its rich timbral qualities, its unmistakable glitchy, percolating sound and its fantastic ability to blend in with the tape are riveting. With its unnerving climax that comes and goes over and over again, th is is without a doubt the most unsettling piece in the trilogy. By the time we get to La oil vont !es nuages .. [Where the Clouds Go ... ] the mood that is fashioned leaves much guesswork at the forefront of the listener's mind. Climaxes come in series of bursts and we are left wondering what will Gobeil do next? In the final movement, the longest piece in the trilogy, La Perle et l 'oubli [Pearl and Obi ivion] the ondes is disguised as the soul in a journey on its way to incarnation and WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM F EBRUARY 1 - M ARCH 7 2006

when the shimmering sampling of scream-like voices breaks through, you know the composer has hit a nerve. With perfect precision and undying sense of drama, "Trilogie d'ondes" is a major work in Gobeil's catalogue of masterpieces. Robert Normandeau has a much denser overall approach to his own work. His pieces seem to be bathed in a thick soup which is as tasty as it is sometimes difficult to digest. " Puzzles" begins with the title composition, which is made up of various audio elements that fit together like pieces ofa puzzle. Do they really fit though? Over the course of about 6 minutes, we' re confronted with various vocal samples, creaking doors, hammer blows. All of these pieces are entrenched with a drilling, mechanical beat. Perfectly suited to the composer's acousmatic diffusion techniques, the 5.1 Audio Surround mix makes all the difference. Sound percolates from every corner of the room, making your head spin at break-neck speeds. Starting off Eden is a lovely, serene Vietnamese vocal, which then is replaced by loops of music, stretching into eternity. While an angry voice repeats demands on Hamlet Machine with Actors, the piece is further coloured by drill presses, screams of agony and bubbling, gurgled noise formations. Momentous and densely populated with new, brave ideas, " Puzzles" is a journey that should be reserved for only the truly adventurous explorers of new sound worlds. Tom Sekowski Still - Piano Music: Africa, Seven Traceries, A Deserted Plantation Mark Boozer Naxos 8.559210 The Naxos American C lassics 2005 release of piano music by William Grant Still is an important anthology, the pioneering work of this Black American composer. Still's lifetime spanned over eighty years, his most prolific writing was during and immediately following World War Two. He would have been to the Americans what Nathaniel Dett (the namesake of Toronto's own, Nathaniel Dett Chorale) was to the Canadians - in fact, these two pro! ific and courageous musicians were contemporaries, and shared many of the same honorifics for their works. I fell in love with the unpretentious beauty ofStill's more abstract works: Three Visions and Seven Traceries, and even the piano arrangement of Africa by Arvey. Together these works evoke images that travel through time from Africa, the cradle of civilization, through slavery and emancipation, to the heavenly life beyond this world. The Blues - from his ballet work, Lenox Avenue, seems to me like an academic composer trying too hard to sound "hip." American pianist, identifiably from the African Diaspora himself, Mark Boozer's interpretation is flawless, and it's not without a strong emotive edge - I just think Still's work shines the brightest when he's not trying to fit into the mould ofan established idiom. Heidi McKenzie Concert Note: The Nathaniel Dett Chorale presents a program entitled " Voices of the Diaspora- Verses in Song" as its contribution to Black History Month at the George Weston Recital Hall on February 22. Editor's Note: For other " Black History Month-themed discs, see "Discs of the Month" on page 70. JAZZ Woody Herman and his Swingin' Herd 1964 Woody Herman VAi 4345 (DVD) Woody Herman's Swingin' Herd is seen and heard in full cry in this fifty-minute program (L 'Heure du Concert) leased from Radio-Canada. This is the band that made a series of memorable albums for the Philips label. For his 1964 T V appearance Woody decided to take a retrospective approach. He selected two pieces that go back to the Band That Plays the Blues (Blue Flame and Woodchoppers Ball), four from the First Herd's repertoire (Apple Honey, Sidewalks of Cuba, The Good Earth and Caldonia), two Second Herd classics (Early Autumn and Four Brothers), and five pieces that had recently been recorded by his Swingin' Herd (Jazz Me Blues, Thats Where It Is, Lonesome Old Town, Body and Soul and Days of Wine and Roses). For some reason his Third Herd is not represented. There's plenty of fine solo work here. Tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico shines on Apple Honey and Caldonia while fellow tenormen, Carmen Leggio and Jackie Stevens, show their mettle on Jazz Me Blues and Early Autumn respectively. In their very different ways, trombonists Phil Wilson and Henry Southall recall the late Bill Harris. Wilson's astonishing, yet quirky, technique is showcased on Lonesome Old Town, while Southall 's hilarious outing on Caldonia cracks up the whole band. The trumpet section is on fire throughout with Bill Chase handling most of the high note stuff. The racetrack tempos chosen for Apple Honey and Caldonia bring to mind Nat Hentoff's wry observation: " Familiarity breeds acceleration". An exhilarating presentation. Don Brown Jeru Gerry Mulligan; Chet Baker Living Era CD AJA 5612 I was a student at the time these recordings were released as 78s and I can remember get-togethers where we would listen, entranced by the music of Mulligan and Baker and the quartet with bass and drums but no piano. Over a relatively short period of time -August of 1952 to May, 1953 they produced more than two dozen sides, a number of w hic h were to become definitive versions. They' re all here - Bernie s Tune, Line For Lyons, Nights At The Turntable, Watkin' Shoes plus great versions of standards like My Funny Valentine, Moonlight In Ver- mont, Darn That Dream, The Nearness Of You and Tea For Two - 27 tracks in all, including a 20 second statement of Mulligan's signature song, Utter Chaos. They have lost little, if anything, in the intervening years and the magic of the interplay between the two horns is as sublime as ever, perfect foils for each other. The otherwise informative liner note does have one significant typo: Mulligan died in 1996, not 1966 as stated. I' m sure there is a fresh young market for this music, and for those readers who were there first time around it is an opportunity to have, in one neat package, the recorded output of one of the best small groups in jazz. Jim Galloway Set in Stone Nehring/Koller & Braid Effendie FND058 This release offers a collection of eleven compositions by the late Freddie Stone, a Toronto composer/trumpeter of wide experience, including a stint in Duke E llington's orchestra. At the time of his death (at 51) he was most interested in developing further his earlier Third Stream interests, combining composition with free playing. Though there was nothing 'weird' about his work, Stone was certainly idiosyncratic and out of the mainstream. Unfortunately, little notice of Stone has been taken in the nearly two decades since his passing, a situation remedied by the ironically titled "Set In Stone": all is always in flux on this trio recording. Bassist George Koller worked/studied with Stone, a nd has been stalwart in championing his philosophy. Lorn e Nehring does something few drummers seem to do these days: listens. The youngest player here, pianist David Braid, likely never met Fred Stone, but he follows the teacher's edict to find "the uniqueness of their statement", shining brightly on the whole record. Some of these pieces will be instantly grasped by the listener, including D Minor Waltz, t he Shostakovich-based Demetris (sic) Theme FEBRUARY 1 - M ARCH 7 2006 WWW. THEWHO LENOTE. COM 67

Copied successfully!

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)