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Volume 11 Issue 8 - May 2006

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performances on record

performances on record with passionate attention to detail and cathartic energy. He performs his own cadenzas, elaborate displays of virtuosity which, even if unquestionably not by Beethoven, never betray the spirit of the piece. This might not be everyone's favourite approach to Beethoven, but there is no doubt that both conductor and soloist are total masters of their art. Considering the thought put in by both of them, it is unfortunate that the generic liner notes reveal nothing about this specific perfonnance. To complete the disc, Beethoven's intimate romances nicely offset the monumentality of the concerto. Seth Estrin Concert Note: Maxim Vengerov performs Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No.1 with the Toronto Symphony on May 31 and June 1. Saint-Saens - Symphonie No. 3 Orchestre Metropolitan de Grand Montreal; Philippe Belanger, organ; Yannick Nezet-Seguin ATMA SACD2 2331 Although neglected these days in the concert hall along with most late Romantic F rench works, Saint­ Saens' 3rd Symphony has been well served on records by such venerable conductors as Barenboim, Maazel, Munch, Karajan and Ozawa. It is therefore a daring move by a 29 year old from Montreal, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, to attempt to join this august company, but under his direction the youthful Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montreal is already giving the famed Montreal Symphony a run for its money. His vision of the Symphony is expansive, with loving attention to detail and slow tempos, especially in the first two movements. He brings out previously unnoticed inner voices, always emphasizing the cyclical theme which underlines the structure. In the first movement the climax is splendidly developed and the 2nd movement glows with a sombre religious piety and wonderful support from the organ. The tempo picks up in the incisive Scherzo and the Trio is precisely detailed with its interaction of two pianos and the winds. The Transition is suspenseful and afterwards the explosion of 68 the organ is very effective. The symphony concludes triumphantly with the final accelerando and the long reverberated organ note. Much of the success is owed to the acoustics of St. Joseph's Oratory with its Beckerath Organ played sensitively by Philippe Belanger, who rounds out the disc with 3 interesting encores. My preference is still Barenboim's faster, exciting, incisive and very inspired 1976 reading, but this issue is a welcome alternative approach with superb SACD sound. Janos Gardonyi Shostakovich and Prokofiev Violin Concertos Sarah Chang; Berliner Philharmoniker; Sir Simon Rattle EMI Classics - 3 46053 2 Khachaturian and Shostakovich Violin Concer tos Catherine Manoukian; Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra; Eduard Topchjan Marquis - MAR 281 Two releases of the same work is an occasion that invites comparison. The shared repertoire of the Shostakovich violin concerto is where we find the fascinating difference between passion and precision. Sarah Chang's recording with the Berlin Philharmonic under Rattle is very satisfying. The playing is clean and precise. Both soloist and ensemble display a range of emotional dynamic that exploits the potential of this concerto. Chang's technique and intonation are superb. She plays the Scherzo with an appropriate brittleness. The daunting 3rd movement cadenza requires spot-on accuracy both in its opening arpeggios and ferocious closing measures with huge leaps and relentless double stops. Chang nails it. Chang and Rattle put in a technically flawless performance. Their interpretation, however, seems to counter the sometimes ponderous and heavy orchestration that Shostakovich used for good reason. Life under Stalin was no picnic and Shostakovich meant to convey this through tonality and orchestral colour. Some of the necessarily lugubrious writing has been brightened by Rattle' s approach. While precise and powerfully dynamic, he has lightened some of the chromatic chaos and harmonic weight in a way that really wasn't the composer's intention. Enter Catherine Manoukian and the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra. Manoukian writes her own liner notes and reveals an evolving fascination with Soviet history. She's an intelligent young woman completing a PhD in philosophy and confesses to an insatiable curiosity about practically everything. She's coming of age emotionally and looking for vehicles through which to express this. Manoukian brings the same technical excellence to this concerto that we hear in Chang's performance. Her tone, however, is darker and she has some fabulous slides into notes that are just perfect for their emotional content. She claims to overplay the work to combat the sameness threatened by Shostakovich's heavy writing, but Manoukian never really delivers on this. Her dynamism is not demonstrably greater than Chang's. In fact, Chang captures more of the Scherzo's angularity. The two violinists also take different approaches to the cadenza. Chang is more graduated in her build to the wild ending. Manoukian takes a faster pace, but her darker tone and personal phrasing deliver a more engaging, convincingly intimate statement. As for the Armenian Philharmonic, intonation problems in the winds keep them from matching the ensemble playing of their Berlin counterparts. They do, however, capture the darkness that Shostakovich wanted and that the Berliners missed. Final verdict: a near draw. A lex Baran Concert Note: Maxim Vengerov will perform the Shostakovich concerto with the TSO under Andrey Boreyko's direction on May 31 and June 1. Dedication Andres Segovia Deutsche Grammophon 4775060 ovia's death on June 3rd 1987. Though I had yet to hear a single note by Segovia (or any classical guitarist) I mourned his death as much as a twelve-year old could. Another guitar icon, George Harrison, was my idol then - but I had an instinctual feeling about the relevance of Segovia. Such was the overwhelming power of his personage. At the start of Segovia' s career the guitar was not considered a medium for the interpretation of serious music. Over the course of his lifetime Segovia succeeded in changing that attitude. This CD re-issues recordings made between 1954 and 1968 and represents composers who were convinced by Segovia's artistry to inscribe their music to his name and cause. This music is 'For and because ofAndres Segovia' as one such dedication aptly describes. The first disc of this two CD set is devoted to the music of Mexican composer Manuel Ponce. The second includes large works by Tedesco, Tansman, Harris and others. Segovia's interaction with these composers produced full-scale concert works with true depth and variety of expression - precisely the kind of compositions that are very rare in the pre-Segovia guitar repertoire. The instantly recognizable poetry of these performances reminds us of why Segovia succeeded in his mission: a seemingly limitless palette of tonal colours; total control of articulations and dynamics; his unique way of making an instrument devoid of true sustain seem to sing; and that unmistakable personality evident in every single note. Unlike the first brittle sounding re-issues in the digital domain, this re-mastering (in 24-bit) seems to capture more of the natural warmth of the analog originals. Aaron Brock Ives - Wor ks for Violin and Piano Jasper Wood ; David Riley Endeavour Classics END1012 Is the music of quintessentially American composer Charles Ives (1874 - 1954) " .. . more respected One of the many radio broadcasts I than loved"? That's one of the isheard as a child is still stuck in my sues raised in the liner notes in this memory - the announcement ofSeg- WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM M AY 1 - ) UNE 7200 6

collection of two of Ives' violin and piano Sonatas (No. 3 and 4), two independent movements from other sonatas and a collection of his songs arranged for violin and piano. The Sonatas make a case for the complex, thorny Ives, full of the harmonic, rhythmic vigour and melodic exploration for which he is justly (in)famous. It must be said that they are also chock-a-block of (sometimes very poignant) nostalgia, featuring quotations from early ragtime and popular religious melodies of his youth. In contrast are the more straightforward Ives songs chosen here, arranged by American composer Mathew Fuerst. The piano parts are stylishly presented by David Riley, though in places, I wish I could hear the lustrous presence of the 1700 "Taft" Stradivarius violin, better. It's presented a bit back in the mix and is too 'dry' for my taste. This is a minor caveat however and the youthful-looking, multi-prize-winning violinist Jasper Wood, born in New Brunswick and trained at the Cleveland Institute of Music, performs with musicality, throughout. Ives' Berceuse at I '25" is the briefest of lullabies - yet it is a complete musical thought, full of characteristic Ivesian longing and melancholic charm. This evanescent lyric without words, eloquently closes the CD. Do we respect the music of Charles Ives? I find that I can easily fall in love with it. Andrew Timar Celtic Impressions Gayle H. Martinlndependent GHM-003 (www .musiccentre.ca) If you remember Paul Murray's CBC program Organists in Recital, you know that Atlantic Canada has long been home to some dedicated organists, and there are a number of instruments of note in that region. Into those Maritimes came scholar and organist Gayle Martin, in time to fill the large gaps left by the departure of Harmon Lewis and the late David MacDonald. When Martin commissioned a new work, no local musician, Celtic or otherwise, would suit this project: the honour was reserved for Edmon- MAY 1 · ] UNE 7 2006 ton-based Jacobus K loppers (b.1937). His new four-movement suite is another of his impressive, sweeping statements, following closely his on the heels of his recent Canticle of the Sun. Celtic Impressions treats various familiar strathspeys, airs and jigs as subjects for contrapuntal elaboration. The marching toccata on Scotland the Brave will bring a smile when you hear it. Two works by Sowerby (1895- 1968) and a work by Graham Hunter (B. 1948) round out the disc, which runs to over 60 minutes in total. Martin's playing is perfectly complimented by the 1965 Casavant in the Mount Allison University Chapel. The interior has a relatively short decay time, but Martin handles this with ease. If you are a connoisseur of organ music, "Celtic Impressions" is a must. John S. Gray Crossing The Line Pat LaBarbera Quintet Jazz Compass JClOlZ Pat LaBarbera brought considerable talent and experience to the Canadian jazz scene when as a 30-year old he moved to Toronto in 1974. This CBC Radio recording (at the nowdefunct Top O'The Senator) was a celebration of Pat's 60th birthday, and his 30 years in the city as player and pedagogue. He arrived from 7 road-years with the Buddy Rich band, but continued international work, as with the late drummer Elvin Jones, appropriately, given that LaBarbera's primary influence was John Coltrane. Pat has a great grasp of all the reeds, and an understanding of all of jazz' history: he has been playing since childhood in a family band - his father was his first teacher. Brothers John and Joe are professional musicians, too, and drummer Joe (ex-Tony Bennett, and in Bill Evans' last trio) is heard here, with featured guest trumpeter Randy Brecker. Ace players Neil Swainson on bass and pianist Brian Dickinson are LaBarbera regulars. Four tracks are by Pat - Crossing The Line, a muscular post-bop romp with fleet Brecker work; the moody Yours Or Mine Or Blues suggests '60s funky stuff; the Latinate Mind Games; and the medium-tempo-anda-touch-dark It Used To Be. LaBarbera loves semi-obscure standards, and there are two here, the ballad There's A Lull In My Life with thoughtful Swainson, and graceful Dickinson piano work; and While My Lady Sleeps has a nice, fatsounding solo by Randy Brecker. The wrap-up is Monk's Bye Ya, with a march/New Orleans backbeat intro by Joe LaBarbera that gives the classic a new twist. This excellent U.S. release is on offer at the main downtown Toronto retailers' jazz sections, and at www.jazzcompass.com. Ted O'Reilly Concert Note: Pat Labarbera is a featured guest when the Mark Eisenman Trio celebrates its 20th anniversary at Walter Hall on May 13. Movin' & Groovin' Jake Langley Alma ACD62212 Less and less often can you hear a working group make music these days: there are so few of them! "All WWW.THEWHOLENOTE. COM Hi Fi 5-Star Hi-Fi System - Anyone? • JM : .-...,, Star" performances or "Tribute to ..." are increasingly the norms these days. Guitarist Jake Langley's new release features a working group, even thought it's not his: with organist Joey Defrancesco and Byron Landham on drums, the trio works as the organist's group! But, " .. . a rose by any other name" and all that, they play together with the assurance and style of a fine double-play combination, it's just that Langley may have a little more prominence here than if Joey's name were to be on the label. The blueprint for the classic Hammond B3 trio such as this was drawn years back - the architect was the late Jimmy Smith. Smith willed his instrument to Defrancesco, and it's used on this Toronto recording. Most of the music is comfortable standards in jazz: Dis Here, Bobby Timmons' 45-year old hit; a couple by the under-recognized Duke Pearson, Jeanine andMinor League; the lightly-romping Canadian Sunset; and Jingles, by Langley's idol Wes Montgomery. Two ballads are featured: Who Can I Tum To, and Crazy She Calls Me, played as a solo by the leader to close the disc. Langley contributes two originals, the bright Uptown and the more laidback shuffle blues Take It Easy. You won't find sharp edges here, if you're looking for cutting-edge jazz, but you should still handle with care: this stuff can get hot! Ted O'Reilly Exposure 20105 CD Player Exposure 20105 Integrated Amplifier Pro-Ac Studio 140 Speakers @i I Please ca ll (905) 475-6300 for further information. ~11m:@lmb~Wtro , i,

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