7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 8 - May 2006

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
  • Choral
  • Singers
  • Jazz
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  • Repertoire

sweetly written Who's

sweetly written Who's Got Three. Fleck is constantly blurring the lines of genre - Weed Wacker touches on the banjo's more traditional sound, fused with elements of funk, while the album's closing track The Whistle Tune at times verges on classical. Along with the beautifully crafted compositions, and some strong solo playing from each of the band's individual members, is some wonderfully close-knit ensemble playing. The Flecktones have absolutely created another album worth holding onto. Sophia Perlman Vidov - arise, for there are four paths to truth JeffVidov JV2006-01 Jeff Vidov's multi-CD set is one of the most audacious projects to be heard or seen in a long time. We experience Vidov as both composer and keyboardist. He begins this massive project with two CDs of works by other composers, going from Bach to Satie. For the initial bold stroke, he launches into 16 of Bach's Goldberg Variations, after opening with one Satie Gymnopedie. As a Torontonian Mr. Vidov undoubtedly tries to pull out of Gould's shadow with this set, and Vidov's Goldbergs are neither as quirky as Gould's nor as stainless-steel polished as Hewitt's. He'd have benefited from Gould's obsession to sonic quality however: the piano is just slightly out of tune, remaining that way for two discs. Gould, remember, retained tuner Verne Edquist during his Toronto sessions, to tweak should one unison slip. Reverberant ambience increases from the first to the latter Bach variations, perhaps in hommage to Gould's recording tricks. Haydn Sonatas follow Bach, then on to Beethoven (four familiar sonata movements) and thence to Chopin. Here Vidov ventures into the realm of the virtuoso successfully, and it is worth hearing. The 'classical' portion ends with a Sa tie Gnossienne. On the jacket Jeff lists further repertoire, should you wish to hire him for a gig. Vidov's improvisations feature motivic cells being subjected to variations, with little reliance on the broad episodic form of many who try at this genre. The piano is very close-miked, as if you'd stuck your head under the lid, making listening a pleasurable experience in a big room with good speakers, but not ideal for headphones. The sudden appearance of studio orchestrations, rhythm section and singers takes you by surprise. Vidov's last World Music piece reminds one of Rick Wakeman in his 80's Switzerland period, complete with guitar that appears out of nowhere courtesy of audio engineering. This comparison is apt, as he follows with organ improvisations. However these climb an adventurous path where Wakeman never trod, and there is quite a mass of sound therein. This DVD is a beautiful aural and visual rendition of the very popular "Butterfly Lovers" violin concerto composed in Shanghai in 1959 by Chen Gang and He Zhan Hao. Like much Chinese or Chinese-inspired music, this is a programmatic piece: it is based on the story of two lovers who, for social reasons, cannot be united in this world and end up liv- The fourth CD shows us the ing together in eternity as a pair of measure of Vidov as composer, and butterflies. ensemble works from quartet to large It is not surprising that such a senorchestra are featured. Awaken is a timental fairy-tale translates into muwork that Vidov can be proud of, sic that is utterly romantic in style, and the orchestra shows discipline combining melodic and technical elin this recorded performance. ements from traditional Chinese Notes tell us about the recording, music (especially the use oftheerhu, not only the where and how, but a two-stringed fiddle) with lush oralso the why. It is in the 'why' text chestration and harmonies. In an inthat Vidov reveals much of his atti- terview on the DVD, composer Chen tude to commercial record labels and Gang relates that at the premiere perthe industry in general. There is only formance in Shanghai the whole auone small photo of Vidov, with no dience was clapping with tears in snapshots to show what must have their eyes. On this DVD we have been a most protracted effort. Strong an outstanding performance by the work: Vidov is to be commended. New Zealand Symphony Orches- John S. Gray tra with internationally famous violinist Takako Nishizaki. According to the notes, this is her seventh recording of this piece! The visual interpretation is stunning. Delightful dance routines - based on Chinese dance and martial arts mixed with balletic features - are juxtaposed with beautiful shots of natural scenery and pagodas. And, from time-to-time we return to film of the orchestra and the soloist, with it all melding together very smoothly. The choreographer, Dou Dou, certainly turns Butterfly Lovers - A Music and Dance Film by Marikki Hakola to artistic advantage many of the Takaka Nishizaki; New Zealand technological possibilities of the Symphony;JamesJudd DVD format - this is much more Marco Polo 2.220002 than a film of a stage performance. If you already know and love this well-known piece of music, you are sure to appreciate its romantic visual interpretation - both are equally tender, dreamy and fanciful. There are also interesting interviews with the leading artists in this production, and one also has the option of listening to the music without the visual component. Annette Sanger -- A NEW way to advertise your services in WholeNote! 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