8 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 3 - November 2006

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the CD of the Concerto

the CD of the Concerto Koln playingexcerpts from Die 'Zauberflote, DerSchauspieldirektor, Eine KleineNachtmusik and more. The group isled by concertmaster Anton Steck,and the ensemble work is tremendous.Each piece sounds more perfectthan the last, the winds are outstanding,the strings victorious, thepercussion superb and the harpsichordstunning. So far, Koln waslooking pretty apple-worthy.I then turned my attention to thenext pleading goddess. But what'sthis? Christophe Rousset has presentedme with a DVD! Clearly theVenus to Concerto Koln's Juno, LesTalens Lyriques have made a liverecording of a concert at the Festivalde Saint-Denis. And what a cleanconcert! Every note in place, everyreed pre-dampened and every stringwell-tuned. The exquisite sopranovoice of Sandrine Piau (singing excerptsfrom 'Zaide, Davidde Penitenteand Betulia Liberata) made me situp. When I sat up, I looked at thescreen. Ms. Piau is a beautiful womanwho does very strange things toher face while singing. However, Ihad to admit that this performancemerited some serious apples.Which group has best earned thegifts of my undying praise? Shouldthe efforts of the DVD be laudedor punished? Should the modesty ofthe CD be commended or condemned?I thought of how Parisdealt with his task, and it occurredto me that I have no desire to bethe cause of the Trojan War. So, Ikept the apple and both discs. I recommendyou do the same.Gabrielle McLaughlinCLASSICAL ANDBEYONDwhen during performance of apiece of music, time stands still andthe performer (sometimes the composer)and the listeners fully sharein this precious immobility."Sonate pour arpeggione et piano"in A minor (D.821) by Franz Schubertseems to be entirely composedof such "blue notes". Possibly oneof the best examples of Schubert'slate chamber period (composed threeyears before the composer's untimelydeath in 1828), the Arpeggione Sonataowes its existence to an ephemera,called the guitarre d'amour. Justa year earlier Viennese instrumentmaker Johan Georg Stauffer inventedthis oversized instrument withdulcet tones. Unlike a regular guitar,the arpeggione (that was Schubert'sterm for the weird invention)is bowed, not plucked. Needless tosay, the invention did not take andSchubert's sonata is the only piecefor it still in the repertoire. Thanksto similarities with the cello, transcriptionswere relatively easy andquickly became popular. There is areference recording for this piece -with the incomparable Mstislav Rostropovichand Benjamin Britten. Canadian-bornQueyras and his colleagueTharaud are definitely on theirway to becoming a formidable duo- their passion for music, combinedwith fearless selections of repertoire(this disc also contains music ofBergand Webern) are the qualities necessaryto deliver on many "blue notes".While I have to honestly say thatthe Britten/Rostropovich recording isstill beyond compare, this HarmoniaMundi issue will become one ofmy new favourites and not just be-Year with good reason - she continuesto perform and record at the highestlevel. With this new release ofthree Piano Sonatas, Hewitt beginsher recording tour of Beethoven. Inher well-written liner notes, she discussesher selections for this CD -one well-known sonata, one lesserknownsonata, and an overplayed'student' sonata.While it is true that the Op. 10,No. 3 D Major Sonata is often playedby students, there is good reason -it's an excellent work, and Hewittreally shines in this performance. Inthe first movement, she generates atremendous sense of energy, withher brilliantly clear articulation andgreat rhythmic drive. Hewitt also displaysa very natural sense of rubatothroughout this disc, allowing thephrases to move forward and relaxin turn, well demonstrated in the lastmovement of this sonata, with its'question and answer' phrases.I've loved the Op. 7 E flat MajorSonata ever since I learned it for myRoyal Conservatory Grade X exam,so I was especially pleased to hearAngela's fresh and flowing interpretationof this work.To round off this disc, we get asolid performance of the dramaticOp. 57 F minor Sonata. For me, Iprefer a little more elemental roughnessin this piece. The audio qualityof this disc is really gorgeous, but Iwould have liked that feeling of theVU meters plunging over into thered a few times. Sometimes, screamingrage needs to be unleashed withno concern for anything else.Jamie Parker•. I

in space, these pieces are most evocativeand satisfying, demanding repeatedhearings.The bonus track on the seconddisc is a video in which Rattle talksabout each piece and is seen in rehearsals,together with appreciationsof the four new pieces andstatements by the composers.Bruce SurteesPiano Left Hand RecitalAntoine RebsteinClaves 50-2502Look, Ma. One hand! Perhaps AntoineRebstein thought he could haveplayed this with one hand tied behindhis back, but when his right handceased to function, it seemed his careerhad come to an end. Fortunately,there appears to be plenty of repertoirefor left hand alone.For example, Brahms' transcriptionof Bach's Chaconne from thePartita No. 2 in D minor for solo violinshows respect of Bach's economicelegance in creating harmony andcounterpoint with limited resources.The baroque-influenced 6 Studies,Op. 135 by Saint-Saens are beautifullycrafted, tuneful pieces that explorethe full range of the piano.Apparently, a lack of manuscriptpaper prompted Dinu Lipatti 's Sonatina,based on Rumanian folk themes,to be written on single staves. Thesemovements are rich in sonority andtexture, more than compensating fortheir small appearance on the page.Alexander Scriabin's lyrical Preludein C-sharp minor, and rhapsodicNocturne in D-flat Major are characteristicof this composer, whilein Erwin Schulhoff's Suite No.3and Leopold Godowsky' s SymphonicMetamorphoses of the Schatz­Walzer, we hear almost unbelievablecompositions which one can hardlyimagine being played with twohands, let alone one.This recording not only illustratesseveral composers' cleverness inwriting for one hand, but also theillusion of virtuosity seemingly beyondthe capability of one hand.Rebstein, the musical magician,successfully maintains this illusion,effortlessly sounding as if he wereplaying with two.Frank NakashimaNOVEMBER 1 - DECEMB ER 7 2006MODERN ANDCONTEMPORARYThe Henry Brant CollectionVolume 3: Wind, Water,Clouds & Fire; Litany of Tides;Trinity of SpheresVarious Artistsinnova 410Eldon Rathburn - WorksChamber Players of CanadaATMA ACD2 2371While Elliott Carter continues aregular composing output at 97,here are CDs of new works by twoother vigorous, if more junior, seniors.Henry Brant was born inMontreal 93 years ago and EldonRathburn in Queenstown NewBrunswick three years later.The major Brant offering, dated2004, features the forces of the Milwaukeepremiere - three women'schoirs, a children's choir, ensemblesof violins and trumpets, other solowinds, percussion, piano, harpsichord,harp, dispersed around theperformance space under five conductors,with the composer addingimprovisations on organ and xylophonefrom a balcony. In this amazing35-minute "extraplanetary environmentaloratorio" the choruses,separated in the hall, sing texts fromthe notebooks of Leonardo on thefour topics of the title - one textassigned to each chorus - simultaneouslyand independently. Giventhe texts' emphasis, the entirescore is pitched in the upper registers,middle-C and higher.Brant's long specialization in spatialtreatment of large ensembles datesfrom his teaching years at BenningtonCollege in Vermont. In a convertedbarn, he developed precisionin placement of high or low, weakor strong timbres, as described in hisessay "Space as an essential elementin musical composition" ( 1965). Fordecades his works were unavailableon disc, considered unrecordable.WWW. THEWHOLENOTf.COMThe spatial qualities of Wind, Water,Clouds & Fire, now superbly capturedby Innova, nonetheless have tobe imagined: like most Brant, this ismusic intended for live performance.The companion works, from 1983and 1978 respectively, are no lessoverwhelming and original. The Litanyof Tides , a cycle of "spatial antiphonies,"evokes a wide varietyof tidal actions: loud surges of energyin low brass and percussionalternate with delicate wave patternsfeaturing a peripatetic soloviolin and, in the distance, four solosopranos. In the wildest of the double-orchestraupheavals, the sopranosare still audible. Brant co-conductsboth here and in Trinity of Spheres.Eldon Rathburn's career is celebratedin a retrospective CD featuringthe core musicians of the OttawaInternational Chamber MusicFestival where the disc waslaunched this past summer. Theearliest of the dozen pieces waswritten in 1933, the latest in 2002.They represent what the Englishcall "light music" (Coates, Hoffnung),a category reflected inNorth Americans such as LeroyAnderson and Spike Jones. Touchesof satire, even slapstick, arebalanced by a sensitive lyricism; itall suggests long and expert instrumentalexperience. Among manyenjoyable items is a short showpiecefor banjo and strings.John Beckwith.•-.. 1. ,;•I'• ~ • 1·~ , .. • ·._I I l·p..,. ~ .-~...I !~ .. ~, •.• !• . IH .. . _.,.Henry Cowell -A Composer Portrait Volume 2ContinuumNaxos 8.559193Lou Harrison -Chamber and Gamelan WorksVarious ArtistsNew World Records 80643-2Henry Cowell (1897-1965) was oneof the most innovative composersof his generation and, with the encouragementof Charles Ives, becamean indispensable catalyst inestablishing the infrastructure tosupport coming generations ofAmerican composers. He was avirtuoso pianist, polemicist andGuru to a generation of Californianmavericks, notably John Cage andLou Harrison.The New York-based Continuumnew music ensemble, currently celebratingits 40th season, has featuredCowell's music frequently over theyears and has recently made theirexcellent performances of his musicwidely available on two Naxos volumes,of which the second is themore tightly focused of the pair. Itaptly demonstrates Cowell's variedcreative genres, including the extendedpiano techniques (tone clustersand performing directly uponthe strings of the instrument) whichbrought him his early notoriety aswell as a selection of beautifullycrafted instrumental works demonstratinghis life-long interest in vernacularmusic outside the Europeancanon. His captivating 1957 triofor violin, piano and Persian drum,Homage to Iran, remains one of hisfinest achievements and it is wellworth owning this volume for thiswork alone.Originally issued on the now defunctCRI label, the New WorldRecords re-issue of the music of LouHarrison (1917-2003) adroitly highlightshis abiding interest in percussionensembles, the music of the FarEast, and just intonation systems.Among the Asian-influenced worksare the exuberant Concerto in Slendrofor violin and ensemble and threehauntingly evocative Gamelan pieces.The remarkable Suite for Percussionfrom 1942 features a novelcollection of brake drums, iron tunsand garbage cans - instruments,Harrison notes, "Henry Cowell guidedus to" . The most Western orientedof the selections, the String QuartetSet of 1979 (commissioned byToronto's own New Music Concerts)is rather less compelling,owing in part to a disappointinglyarid-sounding 1980 studio readingby the Kronos Quartet.Daniel FoleyIn TransitTimothy McAllister, saxophone;Kathryn Goodson, pianoinnova innova 652I spend a fair amount of time on theweb keeping in touch with my fellowsaxophonists around the worldon a site called the Sax on the WebForum ( The board is a great wayto keep tabs on all things saxophonic,from gear to repertoire to teach-71

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