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Volume 12 - Issue 1 - September 2006

  • Text
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • September
  • October
  • Choir
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  • Orchestra
  • Arts

It was with shock and

It was with shock and dismay that I readabout the death of 31 year old guitarist AaronBrock last month . Aaron, whose outstandingdebut CD "Toccata" I reviewed in these pagesin the July issue, was also a contributingwriter to the DISCoveries section. He was atruly gifted musician who will be sorelymissed and our sympathies go out to his familyand friends . Donations in Aaron's memorymay be made to the Aaron Brock Trust, c/othe Brock Family, 53 Sherrick Dr. , GormleyON LOH IGO, to be used to create a scholarshipor award in Aaron's name .We also note the absence from these pagesof writer Merlin Williams, but in this instanceit is for happier reasons. Merlin hasdecided to concentrate his creative energieson writing music and although I hope to tempthim back from time to time to review particularlyinteresting brass recordings, for thetime being he has given up his "Band Stand"column and is taking a break from DISCoveries.We wish Merlin well with his compositionalactivities and look forward to hearingsome of the fruits of his labours.I'd also like to take this opportunity towelcome the newest addition to our creativeteam, jazz writer Ken Waxman. Ken, whosefocus is the more avant-garde end of thespectrum, has previously been published bySaturday Night, CODA and Music Works.For his maiden voyage at WholeNote Kenlooks at new releases on two Montreal labels,ambiences magnetiques and Effendi, that featureveteran bass player Michel Donato, anda curious offering from Philippe Lauzier,Miles Perkin and Robbie Kuster that combinesimprovisation with the chamber musicof Bela Bart6k.Bart6k's chamber music is also the focusof violinist Jasper Wood's new EndeavourCD with pianist David Riley, reviewed inthese pages by John S. Gray, as well as thatof the first release that I will talk about thismonth. The Penderecki String Quartet willrelease its recording of Bart6k's six stringquartets in September and in doing so will, tothe best of my knowledge, become the firstCanadian ensemble to record this importantcycle in its entirety. I've actually been "holdingmy breath" about this one since last Marchwhen the PSQ performed at Music Toronto.Although the two disc set (Eclectra ECCD-2075) was on sale at that performance, I wastold that the official . ..w '"launch would not beuntil September andwas asked to hold offon mentioning it inprint. I had the pleasureof hearing thePSQ performance ofEDITOR'S CORNERthe six quartets in two concerts for the Kitchener-WaterlooChamber Music Society acouple of years ago and was very impressedwith the way they had made these seminalworks "their own" . I was particularly takenwith how the newest member of the group,cellist Simon Fryer, blended with violistChristine Vlajk in some of the quasi-unisonpassages. The quartet has undergone anumber of personnel changes since moving toCanada from Poland in the late 1980s, mostrecently the replacement of cellist Paul Pulford,who was the first Canadian to join thegroup and was a mainstay throughout much ofits 20 year history. The Bart6k cycle providesa bridge between old and new with Pulfordfeatured on the first four quartets and Fryeron the final two. The set also incorporatesone of the signature traits of the group, withviolinists Jerzy Kaplanek and Jeremy Belltaking turns in the "first" chair. One mightthink these changes might lead to a less thancohesive whole, but this is not the case. Thegroup' s ensemble work is seamless and thereis a wonderful consistency of sound. Masteringthe Bart6k cycle has become one of thebenchmarks by which quartets are measuredand I'm pleased to say that with this recordingthe PSQ has confirmed its position as oneof the finest ensembles around today.In our last issue I promised a report on theCentrediscs " Portrait" of Harry Somers, butas you will see in our "Discs of the Month"section I yielded this privilege to senior writerJohn Beckwith. The Somers portrait wasone of three Centrediscs releases to arrive onmy desk over the summer. Tiina Kiik sharesher impressions of the "NorthWord", theElora Festival Singers' recording of the musicof Leonard Enns in the following pagesand I'd like to tell you about "A I 'a venture! ",a collection of works by Denis Gougeon(Centrediscs CMCCD 11506). Gougeon wasappointed composer inresidence with theMontreal Symphonyin 1989, the first to holdthat position, and thetitle track was featuredon the orchestra's SouthAmerican tour early inhis tenure. It was alsoselected as Best Orchestral Work in the 1991SOCAN competition. Originally performedby the Orchestre Metropolitain under WalterBoudreau' s direction in 1990, it is that premiereperformance we are presented with onthis recording. Like A l'aventure, the exuberantand exhilarating song of joy Heureux qui,comme featuring soprano Marie-DanielleParent and the ensemble of the SMCQ hasbeen previously available on compact disc .Available for the first time is theebullient Jeux de cordes, a fivemovement work from 1995 performedby the Erato String Quartetrecorded in the studio of RadioSuisse Romande in Geneva.These three earlier works arecomplemented by the 2002 vocalcomposition Clere Venus which takes its inspirationfrom the 16th century poet LouiseLabe. Through her own oeuvre and the exampleof her literary salon, Labe became one ofthe first to assert women's right to literarycreation. Gougeon takes seven of Labe's sonnetsas his text for this work which is dedicatedto and movingly performed by Ms Parent.ATMA Classique is another label that hasbeen serving as a voice for Canadian composersin recent years, with releases by the MolinariString Quartet, the Ensemble contemporainde Montreal and the Nouvel EnsembleModerne among others. This latter, NEM asthey are more familiarly known, have a newrelease featuring commissioned works byMichael Oesterle (b.1968), Serge Provost(b . 1952) and Gilles Tremblay (b.1932). It isTremblay's A quelle heure commence letemps? (At what time does time begin?) thatgives the disc (ATMA ACD2 2376) its title.A " Lyrical monodrama, for bass-baritone,piano solo and chamber orchestra, on a textby Bernard Levy", the work is dedicated toNEM conductor Lorraine Vaillancourt, singerMichel Ducharme, "1>pianist Jacques Drouinand several members S' 1 ·. \'\ 1:c lR I)oftheensemble._.,.._Dating from 1999,this is the work of amature artist at thepeak of his form.Many of Tremblay ' songoing artistic concerns are present in thework, which is somewhat reminiscent of theearlier Yepres de la Vierge in its chant-likevocal line and characteristic use of extensivebrass and percussion, but there is a broaderpalette of orchestral colour as strings take ona prominent role. Michael Oesterle's AnnusMirabilis takes its inspiration from AlbertEinstein's " Year of Miracles" , 1905, whenthe physicist found original solutions to anumber of problems in the natural sciences,published his Theory of Relativity and unveiledhis famous equation e=mc2 . Writtenfor fifteen instruments it is a rather sparsethough rhythmic work, where only a few performersare heard at any given time . SergeProvost's Les ruines du paradis was inspiredby the Russian wing of the Architecture Exhibitat the Venice Biennial in 2000 althoughthe piece did not take shape until 2004. Thedramatic one movement work is divided intothree sections, Utopias-Paradises-Ruins duringwhich the world is "first dreamed up, andthen torn down". All in all this disc providesa remarkable snapshot of three importantQuebec composers at different stages of theircareers.GO TO 5812WWW. THEWHOLENOTE .COMSEPTEMBER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2006

SEASON HIGHLIGHTSMASTER CLASSES AND LECTURESAdrianne Pieczonka,James Campbell,James MacMillan, Peter Frankl, Hakan Hagegard,Christopher Small, Alejandro Vifiao,Lodi I'vlamouri & Gerald FinleyCHAMBER Music SERIESGuarneri String ~arret, Sr. Lawrence String~arrcc, Gryphon 'frio, So Pacussion, GomalanBrass ~inter, and the Aviv & 'fobi ~\rtctsNEw Music FESTIVALIncludes the fifi:h _inniversarv of the Kar

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