8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 8 - May 2006

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EDITOR'S CORNER As the record industry continues to make the most of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, this month once again we feature a "Mostly Mozart" section. We also welcome guest columnist Richard Haskell who offers some personal insights into that west-coast Canadian keyboard dynasty, the Parker clan, in the context multiple piano review in a Mozart edition of our "Extended Play" section. Haskell was for many years a music programmer at Classical 96FM and currently manages the "Music Gallery" section of the Nicholas Hoare book shop and we're happy to welcome him as a contributor. thanks to distribution by the Naxos empire, is Edition Gi.inter Hanssler on the Profil label. A German quartet that has been making quite a name for itself since its founding at the Franz Liszt Hochschule fur Musik in Weimar back in 1994 is the Klenke Quartet. Their recording ofK464 and K465 (PH04029), the final two of the "Haydn" set is fine addition to the discography. My own listening and viewing this month has also had a Mozart focus as you will see. The Brilliant Classics label has recently brought out 6 DVDs (92816-21) under the title "Mozart on Tour" which feature 13 hour-long documentaries that originally aired on European television during the previous "Mozart Year", 1991, the bicentennial of his death. Narrated by Andre Previn, recipient of last year's Glenn Gould Prize for music and its communication, each program includes a narrative look at what was going on in Mozart's life in the context of his worldly travels. Each also features a piano concerto dating from the period in question, performed by a variety of internationally renowned soloists. Volume 4, with which I passed a portion of the Easter week-end, told of young Wolfgang's break with his father and the Salzburg nobility in 1782 and his first extended sojourn in Vienna. Here he boarded with old family friends, the Webers of Mannheim, and found consolation from the heartbreak of seeing the elder daughter marry another, by falling in love with her sister Constanze. We are entertained with the tale of how some of this real life family drama found its way into Die Entfiihrung aus dem Serail. This volume features the Concerto K453 performed by Dezso Ranki and the English Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Jeffrey Tate in the splendour of the Austrian Imperial Palace, Schloss Schonbrunn. While I do enjoy these "travels with Wolfgang" which take us from early visits to London and Mantua, through Milan, Bologna, Mannheim and Paris, to Vienna, Prague, Frankfurt and Munich and eventually back to Vienna, I do have several reserva- 12 tions about the set. There is a dearth of information on the packaging itself (i.e. no liner notes or even recording data) and an absolute minimum of indexing on the discs - "play all" or "play concerto" being the only options. This means that to check the credits to find out who does what you have to fast forward through the entire disc. I also found that the discs were not readable by the DVD player in my computer, although they tracked fine on both TV systems. + ~--'-~~~~~~~ ,:I,·~~·· I I .,1 1, : ! The six string quartets that Mozart dedicated to Haydn also date from the time he spent in Vienna in the early 1780s. These masterpieces set the standard for the genre and are a benchmark for any ensemble. As mentioned above record companies are really "making hay" while the Mozart Year shines and budget re-issues of some very fine performances abound. Several examples that have crossed my desk recently include the Esterhazy Quartet's recording of all six (Decca 475 7108) and Canada's own Orford Quartet's K387, K421, K458 and K465 (CBC/ Eloquence EQCBC6890-91). A few companies are still making new recordings however and one worthy of note, whose products are now becoming readily available in Canada WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM _ Well that's a lot of Mozart indeed, but my listening has not been restricted to his output this month. It has concentrated on the string quartet medium however, at least if we include extensions. One might wonder why a string quartet would name itself after a composer who wrote never wrote one. That's what came to mind when I first saw the recent Skylark release (SKY0601) featuring the young Quatuor Satie/Satie String Quartet founded in 1999. I suppose it simply reflects this French ensemble's commitment to the repertoire of their homeland, a fact which is also reflected on this compact disc with familiar works by Ravel and Faure and a more recent composition by Frarn;:ois-Bernard Mache. It is nice to see this independent B.C. label getting support not only from the French Consulate of Vancouver, but also from the AFAA, a French government agency devoted to the arts. But where's the Canadian connection you might ask? Well that's provided by renowned pianist Jane Coop who joins members of the ensemble for the final offering on the disc, Faure's Piano Quartet No . I in C minor. It's a stunning performance, but strangely I find this wonderfully buoyant work jarring after the initially strident and then quietly dissipating modernism of Mache. I would have preferred a chronological passage from Faure's Romanticism through Ravel ' s Impressionism to the contemporary Mache. Perhaps in a concert hall with an intermission between the second and third pieces, the program as presented on the disc - Ravel, Mache, Faure - would work better. Nevertheless it is an interesting grouping, and one which takes me back to the early days of the compact disc. From LPs, with two twenty to thirty minute sides, suddenly we were presented with the possibility of 70 minutes (and now even more) of uninterrupted music. Evidently this is because the inventor wanted to be able to listen to the entirety of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony without having to leave his chair. My first MAY 1 - ) UNE 7 2006

CD of the Ravel quartet featured another French ensemble, the Quatuor Viotti, and low and behold in addition to the de rigor pairing with Debussy's quartet, we were presented with the bonus of Faure's contribution to the genre. Strangely, in that instance too I felt the Faure somewhat less than appropriate. This is not to disparage the music of Faure - I'm happy to have it and in other contexts it is very satisfying - but just to say that sometimes less can be more. We tend to feel cheated if a CD has less than an hour's music on it, but I have often found myself thinking that unless the length of a particular piece of music demands it, an hour is more than enough. Of course the technology allows us to program as much or as little of a disc as we want to hear, and in the order of our choice, so I guess this could be considered a moot point. The final disc I'd like to speak about this month also involves a string quartet, with extensions. The Artemis Quartet was founded at the Musikhochschule in Liibeck in 1989, putting them in the senior category of the current generation of European quartets. For this recording (Virgin Classics 3 35130 2) they were joined by two members of one of the most distinguished ensembles of the previous generation, violist Thomas Kakuska and cellist Valentin Erben of the Alban Berg Quartett. The recording is dedicated to Kakuska whose death from cancer in July 2005 robbed the chamber music world of one of its best-loved figures . The repertoire is billed as "Three late Romantic string sextets", but the emphasis must I think be put on the word late. The disc opens with Richard Strauss' rarely heard sextet from the 1942 stage work Capriccio, "progresses" through Alban Berg's Piano Sonata Op.l in a very convincing transcription by Artemis first violinist Heime Millier, and concludes with one of the most forward looking pieces of the turn of the last century, Schoenberg's Verklii.rte Nacht. Written in 1899 this latter, touted as the first piece of programmatic chamber music, tells the story of star-crossed lovers as depicted in a poem by Richard Dehmel. It is a work which had a seminal influence on my own development when I stumbled upon Pierre Boulez' Domaine Musicale recording thirty-some years ago (and his later Ensemble Contemporain recording). For me this work was as ear-opening as the Bartok string quartet cycle that I discovered at about the same time, and as a matter of fact I named my first radio show "Transfigured Night" in honour of Schoenberg's masterwork back in my days at CKLN-FM (1984-1991). It is this original string sextet version, as opposed to Schoenberg's later string orchestra adaptation, that really speaks to me and I am pleased to say that in this performance I have found a worthy successor to my old vinyl pressing on the Everest label. While it may not quite live up to my "mistaken memories" of the Boulez performances from my formative years, this presentation, with its somewhat incongruous chronology giving the impression of moving forward from 1942 to 1899, makes for an enthralling listen. And clocking in at well under an hour, it seems just right for my aging attention span. We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. Catalogues, review copies of CDs and comments should be sent to: WholeNote, 503 - 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4 . We also welcome your input via our website, www. thew ho lenote. com. David Olds Editor, D/SCoveries MORE REVIEWS ON PAGE 64 For Tickets and Information Please call 416·466-1870 or visit our website at MAY 1 - J UN E 7 2006 November 5, 2006: Shostakovich: A Drama in Life and Music - 1 OOth Birthday Celebration Assembling a stellar cast from his native city of St. Petersburg , we are proud to present our first concertplus, featuring singers from the Mariinsky (Kirov} Theatre, as well as violinist Michail Gantvarg (returning to Off Centre after his sensational debut last season) and cellist Sergei Roldugin (in his Canadian debut), joining our very own pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin. December 3, 2006 Bel Canto Salon: I Capuleti e i Montecchi Composed for the 1830 Venetian Carnival Season, Bellini's I Capulet, e I Montecchi is based on the same Italian sources as Shakespeare ·s Romeo and Juliet. Quebec bel canto soprano Agathe Martel is our Juliet to Bulgarian mezzo soprano Emilia Boteva's Romeo. Guiding us through highlights of this rarely performed opera is Russian-German pianist Simon Rozin Kim. the artistic director of Off Centre's first opera-in-salon January 28, 2007 German Salon: Uncovering German Romanticism Feeling weighed down by midwinter's Sturm und Drang (that's ·'storm and stress" to us)? You are not alone so were the German Romantics, and they didn't even have our Canadian weather lo blame 1 Let the glorious voices of soprano Joni Henson and mezzo soprano Lynne McMurtry quell your restless spirit with the music of Mendelssohn, Wolf, Brahms and Schumann. February 25, 2007 Mozart;-l§g, 2M. . . Forever Does listening to ~lozart really make you smarter? We've assembled an all-Canadian creme de la creme of the international vocal scene to help us find out mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabo, soprano Shannon Mercer and baritones Russell Braun and Peter McGillivray Join pianists Carolyn Maule, Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin in a celebration of the beloved Mozart and of his eternally beguiling 'effer.t' April 1, 2007 12th Annual Schubertiad If a tragic history of music existed, surely the first chapter would belong to Franz Schubert. But whatever recognition he did not achieve in life, Off Centre annually pays tribute to our favourite composer, this year with soprano Rachael Harwood-Jones, baritone Jason Nedecky, cellist Winona Zelenka. violinist Jacques lsraelievitch and pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin May 6, 2007 Spanish Siesta: a musical journey through Andalusia with 3 Spaniards, 2 Frenchmen, a few Russians and a Pole! Soprano Agathe Martel and tenor Benjamin Butterfield, both Canadian singers - though Spanish at heartl - usher in the spring will tl1e tantalizing sounds of castanets and swishing flamenco skds in the music of Granados, Turina, de Falla and their honorary Spanish brothers Ravel. Debussy, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich and Moszkowsk1. iO/e! WWW.THEWHOLENOTE. COM

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