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Volume 12 - Issue 3 - November 2006

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Jan-Hendrik Rootering

Jan-Hendrik Rootering makes a remarkablystrong voiced, tireless andfrightening Wotan and Renate Behlea sympathetic Brunnhilde though withslightly less even vocal power.Excellent stereo sound with goodseparation. Great value, howeverthe libretto is only available fromNaxos on the Internet.Janos Gardonyi Gilles de Talhouet;Arthur SchoonderwoerdAlpha Alpha 096Richard Strauss - LiederAline Kutan; Louise-Andree BarilAnalekta AN 2 9913Canadian soprano Aline Kutan doesnot have the type of voice most peoplehave in mind when they thinkofa "Strauss soprano" : vocally richand generous, with a plush yet powerfulsound. But as anyone who isfamiliar with her Zerbinetta knows,Kutan has a perfect voice forStrauss's "other" soprano parts - thehighflying coloratura ones. On thisnew CD she tackles some of the tonepoems which are usually the territoryof an Ariadne or Marschall in, anddoes so with great success .Kutan lets her voice pour forth likea bird fluttering out of a cage, neverpushing it or giving it artificial weight.111e result is incredibly delicate singingwhich shimmers and glistens,without a dent in its beautiful lustre.Occasionally, such delicacy is a littletoo precious. At the end of the everpopularStiinchen, Kutan sings on aclimactic A sharp that the rose willshine forth, "hoch gliihn," but youcannot hear it in the clean, bright,but underpowered note she sings.The selection of songs is generousand varied. The Brentano Liederare perhaps most suited to Kutan's voice. Here, she lets forthbursts of notes and trills with pinpointaccuracy and a burnishedtone , while revelling in the texts ofthese songs about flowers, birdsand love. Louise-Andree Baril providessympathetic piano accompaniment.The CD is beautifullypackaged, but Kutan's excellentenunciation is no compensation forthe absence of texts in the booklet.Seth EstrinUne Flute Invisible .. . Musiquefrarn;:aise a l'aube du XXe siecleSandrine Piau; Herve LamyThe Paul-Elie Ranson painting usedas cover art and a quote included inthe liner notes , ut pictura musica:music is painting, painting is musique,evoke a perfect image for thesubtitle of this CD French Music atthe Dawn of the 20th Century. Theyconvey the poetic melding of the visualand the auditory to produce atmosphericimages created by yearningsthat brew just under the surface,so popular at the time. We aregiven an imaginary chamber operain six scenes, which takes VictorHugo's poem Viens! - une flute invisible,in which a young man declareshis love while "a flute unseensighs in the orchards" as the centraltheme set by various Frenchcomposers. Selections by Saint­Saens, Debussy, Godard, Caplet,Pierne and Roussel are organizedinto six tableaux each beginningwith a piece for solo piano fromDebussy's Epigraphes antiques.Each of the four musicians, SandrinePiau, soprano; Herve Lamy,tenor; Gilles de Talhouet, flute;Arthur Schoonderwoerd, piano;take various pairings in the strange,fluctuating harmonies, but equalturns in evoking the sensuous worldof shepherds, nymphs, naiads, satyrs,and other woodland creatures. The flute evokes virtuosityand magic of the unseen Pan whilesoprano and tenor as lovers cometogether only at the end in a tenderand sensitive rendition set by Saint­Saens in 1856, the same year asthe Hugo poem was published.Dianne WellsKyrylo Stetsenko -The Art SongsPavlo Hunka; Albert Krywolt;Russell Braun; BenjaminButterfield; Roman BorysMusica Leopolis( bass-baritone, Pavlo Hunka,a name now familiar to Canadiansthrough his association with the CanadianOpera Company, has takena giant step towards introducing theworld to the Ukrainian art song. Recordedand produced in Toronto by68 WWW. TH EWHOL ENOTE .CO MIi rR'liO.. i '=TSEi\i!\G,-=~~\ .,. ICanadian singer, composer and director,Roman Hurko and generouslysupported by the Ukrainiancommunity, the CD is very mucha collaboration: pianist, AlbertKrywolt, plays on all 42 tracks; andwhile the lion's share of the songsare sw1g by HWlka, there are significantcontributions by tenor, BenjaminButterfield, baritone, RussellBraun and cellist, Roman Borys.Careful listening to songs and followingthe text, generously providedin the original Ukrainian withEnglish, French and German translations,reveals a composer who wasa master of his craft. In This Song isFor You, for example, an octaveleap, used by Butterfield for all itsexpressive worth, illustrates the composer'sclaim that his lyre will burstinto flames because of the intensityof his love. Many of the songs arisefrom the pain and anguish ofUkraine's lamentable history of oppressionby its neighbours. The starkpedal on open fifths on the piano atthe beginning of A Raven Caws, theangular melodic line in My Songs ,are devices effectively used to conveythe sorrow, grief, despair andloss that were the human price ofpolitics . The message is helpedalong too by Hunka's resonant bassvoice, which seems infused withthe sorrow of his Ukrainian ancestors.Stetsenko 's writing for thepiano , performed ever so intelligentlyand expressively by AlbertKrywolt , is masterful - mirroring,commenting on, supporting and (asat the end of My Songs) even addingto the meaning.Allan PulkerConcert note: The Elmer IselerSingers join with the VesnivkaChoir, Victoria Men's Chorale Ensembleand Kyiv Chamber Choirunder Mykola Hobdych's directionfor "The Sounds of Ukraine" onNovember 3 at the George WestonRecital Hall.Schoenberg - Moses und AronSchone; Merritt; Bespalovaite;Schneider; Ebbecke; Durr;Stuttgart State Opera;Roland KluttigNaxos 8.660158-59! I H '!'! -..rSome critics have called the Schoenbergmasterpiece "an impossibleopera" referring to the difficultyof the dodecaphonic music and theinherent problems of staging. Thebiblical story doesn't help either,though these days a burning bush ora staff-turned-snake should be acakewalk for ambitious designers.Added to this, it only exists as a fragment- Schoenberg did not completethe third act. In its form and subjectmatter it's much closer to the Handeland Haydn oratorios than to anyopera. Then there is the issue of"group" characters - but that obstaclenever stopped many productionsof Prokofiev 's The Love forThree Oranges. It is back to musicthen: the twelve-tone method stillconfounds the listeners. The verypeople who happily sat through somany hours of the sometimesdreary and overwrought Wagner' sRing Cycle refuse to sit throughunder three hours of music based ,as Schoenberg put it, on a singletone-row.The composer, who was also thelibrettist, eschews the dramatic potentialof the Exodus from Egypt andinstead concentrates on the philosophicalclash between two interpretationsof religion - the representative,tangible idolatry of Aron andthe mystical, incomprehensible monotheismof Moses. The reasons forthat lie in Schoenberg's own life.Prompted by escalating Austrian antisemitism,in 1933, Schoenberg returnedto Judaism after three decadesas a Lutheran. It is worth noting,that Moses und Aron was writtenbetween 1928 and 1932, so thework is a direct reflection of that journey.In this performance on NaxosCD, you will not find hUlllIDablearias or snippets popularized by TVcommercials. Instead, you will find,beautifully executed, one of the mostchallenging works of the 20th century.Any opera buff worth his orher salt, owes it to themself to takeup this challenge.Robert TomasConcert note: The Art of Time Ensemblepresents "Arnold Schoenberg:A Portrait" featuring Ode toNapoleon (with Ted Dykstra), VerkliirteNacht and Strauss' EmperorWaltz in Schoenberg's arrangementN O VEMBER 1 - D ECEMBER 7 2006

at the Harbourfront Theatre Centreon November 9 and 10.Arvo Part - Triodion; Ode VII;I Am the True VineElora Festival Singers;Noel EdisonNaxos 8.570239Arvo Part - Da PacemEstonian PhilharmonicChamber Choir; Paul Hillierharmonia mundi HMU 807401The Estonian-born Arvo Part (b.1935), is among the most wellknowncomposers of both instrumentaland choral works active today.He also belongs to a small but influentialgeneration of European composerswho re-discovered the spiritualpotency and profound musicallegacy embedded in ancient Christianliturgy. In Part's case, this searchfor a musical language and personalfaith amid the anti-religious climateof Soviet era Estonia culminatedin his Credo (1968), in which themusical language of J.S. Bach andmodernism were presented in openconflict. It seems difficult for thoseliving outside the iron curtain to conceiveat this remove, but such awork of faith and artistic convictionwas seen as a direct political provocationto Soviet officials.In the following decades, Partcomposed an impressive corpus ofmusically inventive, emotionally andspiritually-charged works. Theseinclude both large-scale choral workssuch as the St. John Passion andKanan Pokajanen, and the smallerscale ones included on these twobeautifully sung and presented CDs.The superb Elora Festival Singerspresent works in Part's maturestyle (1990 - 2001). What particularlydistinguishes them is Part's colourfulmusical palette, culled froman immensely wide range of historicalEuropean musical sources. Inthese compositions you can hearstyles and techniques from medievalplainchant, conductus and rhythmicmodes, as well as Orthodox dronesand Renaissance polyphony. In con-N O VEMB ER 1 - D ECEMBER 7 2006trast, other sections of the same workare often steeped in the flavour oflater-period harmonic modulationswhich are skillfully and surprisinglymingled and merged with disjunctmodernist melodic leaps and piquantharmonies. I suppose that's whatmakes Part's work 'post-modern'.The primacy of the religious text alwaysshines through however, propellingthe music to its logical andoften magical completion. Just listento the mystical sounding series ofcadential chords which end TheWoman with the Alabaster Box .Given the acclaimed EstonianPhilharmonic Chamber Choir'sslightly larger forces and a morespacious recording hall, the sonicresult on their Harmonia MundiCD is more distant. Interestingly,this results in making Part's musicsound overall more traditional - thatis less edgy - than on the EloraSingers' recording. The tempi takenby Part expert Paul Hillier inDopa la vittoria are also a little slowerthan those taken by Noel Edison,adding to the more relaxed musicalmood evoked by the Estonians.In general I prefer Edison's masterful,more incisive, approach.As Paul Hillier writes in hisnotes on Part's Magnificat, "It ispossible to analyze this work, butimpossible to explain why the resultis so lovely." It's a prime exampleof Part's ability to seize theessence of a text and express itssignificance in what seems like asingle inspirational moment.Andrew TimarConcert notes: Noel Edison and theElora Festival Singers present "SoupConcert: A Canadian Choral Tapestry"as part of the Elora FestivalWinter Series on November 19. ArvoPart's chamber music is juxtaposedwith that of early Renaissance mastersJosquin, Compere, Tromboncinoand Cara in the opening programof Scaramella's season on November4 at Victoria College Chapel.EARLY MUSICAND PERIODPERFORMANCEJoseph Leopold Eybler­String Quartets Op.I No.1-3Eybler QuartetAnalekta AN 2 9914Discovery of an obscure composerin this day and age is a rare delicacy.The formation of a chamber ensembleto foster the revival of sucha composer is even rarer. And whenthose players form a wonderfullyWWW. THEWHOLENOTf.COMmature and cohesive unit, then youhave a very compelling recipe.Joseph Eybler had been a choristerat St. Stephan's and was close toHaydn, carrying on a correspondencethat spanned decades. His immersionin Viennese musical life gave himgreat advantage in corning to gripswith the relatively new string quartetform. Eybler's output is very muchin the post-rococo idiom, well craftedand easy on the ears. Three 1787quartets are presented here, from thecomposer's 22nd year.The newly-formed Eybler quartetof Toronto (Julia Wedman, AisslinnNosky, Patrick G. Jordan and MargaretGay) tackles this material withpoise and grace. They play upon theirremarkably expressive period instruments,almost convincing the listenerthat this is 18th century Vienna,when in fact it is the culmination of adozen days' recording this year, atToronto's Hurnbercrest United.Recording producer Kevin Mal-' I I HIon has tamed Humbercrest's cavernousreverberation so that all instrumentsspeak clearly to us. Eyblerviolist Patrick Jordan wrotethe well-researched and concisenotes, which are in both official languages.Chris Beard's fashionablyposedmonochrome photographmust suffice to show us the group.Highly recommended.John GrayMozartConcerto Kiiln; Anton StockArchiv Produktion 477 5800Mozart - Airs Sacn~sSandrine Piau; Les TalensLyriques; Christophe RoussetArmide Classics ARM009I received two recordings of Mozartin the mail - both by renowned andaccomplished ensembles. LesTalens Lyriques, directed by harpsichordistChristophe Roussel, is aprized French orchestra, and ConcertoKiiln is unparalleled in its productionsof Mozart. Suddenly, I sawmyself as Paris judging the goddesses(only you may be surprised to hearthat neither group offered me Helenof Troy as a reward for my loyalty.)With these two deserving deitiesbegging me for the golden apple, mywork began. I began by listening to0 0 0Wi5'0"6N0'0"6'0h8'0'8"()VA True North ChristmasThe season~s best gift ideais right under your nose!Rick Phillips, of CBC's SOUND ADVICE givesA True North Christmas a full 5 stars!for this and other qrea t deeds,visit us at. ·TrueNorthBrass.comor call (866) 509-0724

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