8 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 5 - February 2007

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  • February
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Book Shelfcontinued from page 59They all made witty comments briefly as a guest conductor, when itat each other's cost. About the got going again in 1923 after dismuch-hypedIgnace Paderewski, banding during the war.Rosenthal said, "He plays well, Hughes' extensive research procbut he's no Paderewski." But they · vides a rich cultural context for Weisallpaid.attention to each other. man's musical activities. Personal·Editors Mark Mitchell and Allan reminiscences from family membersEvans call Rosenthal's music-mak- and early documents like two •ing 'a resume of 19th century mu- 'friendly but definitely circum-• sic history'. Their centerpiece is a spect' postcards he sent to hisfragment of autobiography pub-wife~to-be in 1897 offer privilishedhere for the first time. With leged insight into this modest,appendices containing repertoire charming man. With a bihliogra-Iists and discography, the detailed phy, index, list of concert pronotesand index, and a CD of grams, historical photos, thoughRosenthal's recordings, some on poorly reproduced, and comprediscfor the first time, this volume hensive notes, this book makes ais a treasure.significant contribution to the earlyhistory of music in this country.Frank Weisman: CanadianConductor - A Biography, aMemoir and a Muska! Historyby Mary E. HughesTrafford Publishing252 pages, .95; available,The Battle of the Five SpotBy David LeeThe Mercury Press118 pages, .95.00 'Frank Weismanwas one of Canada'sfinest concertpianists andteachers. But, ashis grandaughterMary Hughesmakes clear inthis interestingbiography, it'sfor starting 'the Toronto SymphonyOrchestra in 1906 he should be bestremembered. Like so many musiciansfrom that first generation to beborn in this country, his contributionshave been largely overlooked.Hughes finds a few puzzles inWelsman's professional life. She investigateswhy he stopped performingas a pianist when still quiteyoung. He made a recording in1950, but it is not, unfortunately,available.commercially. More perplexingis why he was not involvedin the Toronto Symphony, exceptFrank Weisman:Canadian Conductorby Mary E. HughesA memoir, a biog·raphy and• musical history ofturn- of-the-20th centuryToronto and the TSO.To order directly saxophonistOrnetteColeman made an'unexpected, radicaland disturbing'entrance onto theNew York jazzscene when heopened at the FiveSpot Cafe in1959. 'Why didthe music cause such an outcry?'David Lee asks in this provocativestudy of 'a pivotal momentin jazz history'.Lee spent'his formative yearsworking at Toronto's Coda Publications,and then playing bass withBill Smith. Lee's descriptions ofColeman's music are vivid. Butwhen he tries to fit the music intothe theories of sociologist Pierr~Bourdieu, he loses sight otiits immediacy.We enter the world ofpost-modernist theory where 'theproduction of discourse about thework of art' becomes as meaningfulas the work itself, so that 'whatis said about Coleman's music is· part of what makes up its value.'At the same time, he lashes out atthe 'new recidivism' of neo-conslike Wynton Marsalis who have'bricked up the entrance' to thejazz canon. . , ·But then, in his conclusion, hemanages to convincingly pull itall together.Ultimately Lee is offering aheartfelt - and powerful - tributeto the creative validity of free jazz.He has.included a bibliography,index and thoughtful endnotes.Opera at Homeby Phil Ehre.nsaftThe Russians Are ComingThe Met's Onegin and the COC's Lady MacbethJanuary 6 2007 witnessed an auspicious. high tech update to theMetropolitan Opera's seventy-sixth season of Saturday afternoon liveradio broadcasts. ·Bellini's I Puritani was on the bill, starring thenewest diva of all, the young Russian soprano Anna Netrebko asElvira. A transnational audience, via high definition video andsurround-sound broadcast to theatres in North America, Europe andJapan soaked in the maddest Bellini heroine since Maria Callas.I had been stunned by a live Met performance of Tan Dun's newopera, The First Emperor, so my personal acid test of this hightech audio-visual wizardry came in a suburban Montreal movie theatreJanuary 13. I found the high definition broadcast a fine complementto the live experience, catching the devil that is in the details offine opera acting - without the back-and-forth bother of opera glasses.Nothing beats being in the opera theatre, but these Met live videobroadcasts are the next best thing. Real time performances have anedge and a buzz that surpass viewing opera DVD's at home on a bighigh definition screen and quality sound system. There is, I admit,a certain advantage to the absence of crinkling candy wrappers andrattling pop corn,.but give me the edge any time.In any case, if you're tempted to empty out your piggy bank andhead to New York for this month's staging of Tchaikovsky's EugeneOnegin, don't. Valery Gergiev wields the baton, Renee Fleming singsthe role of Tatiana, Dmitri Hvorostovsky plays Onegin, and RamonVargas sings Lenski. By mid-January, there was not a single ticketleft, save the standing room tickets that go on sale the morning ofeach day's performance. For Canadians, Cineplex Odeon movietheatres from Vancouver through Montreal and Quebec City, willprovide a pleasurable alternative on Saturday afternoon, February24th. But buy your tickets immediately: they sell out very quickly.Go online to the Met Opera web page (,hit the Canada button under "Locations and Tickets," and, voila!If and when the Met's new superstar Onegin i~ issued on DVD, thereference audiovisual document is Ki,litur' s 2005 remastering of tapesfrom a 1984 live recording at the Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg. Thisis an Onegi.n that comes right out of the mind's eye of how the ultimateromantic combination of Pushkin's story and Tchaikovsky's musicshould transpire on stage. Occasionally, Soviet rigidity in presentingClassic Russian stage works is ~good thing. This is one such occasion.Sets, costumes and physical movements and gestures are entirelyconsonant with Tchaikovsky's musical and dramatic intentions.Kultur also reissued a second excellent Onegin DVD in 2005,Graham Vick's celebrated Glyndebourne production taped live forthe U. K. 's Channel Four television. The technical quality is severalsteps up from what one sees in the Kirov DVD. The Dolby Digital2-channel soundtrack is impeccable. Glyndebourne's combination ofAndrew Davis conducting the London Philharmonic, Vick's staging,Elena Prokina as Tatyana, and Wojciech Drabowicz as Onegin is a·heady compound.But any Onegin aiming for first position on the list has to contendwith the idiosyncratic but great Solti/Weigl film that I reviewed forWholeNot'e in 2003. · This 1988 film is, and always will be, one ofthe most eminent instances of opera on screen.The other Russian side to Toronto's operatic February is, ofcourse, the COC's staging of Shostakovich's La.dy Macbeth of Mtsensk.Lady Macbeth was a. tragedy both on and off stage. Stalin'spersonal attack on Shostakovich's second and last opera turnedthe composer away from a genre central to his.artistic goals. To see'this opera is to weep over Shostakovich's personal loss and the lossof opera lovers forever.A new BBC/Opus Arte/Naxos DVD capturing a NetherlandsOpera performance of Lady Macbeth looks very promising. I'll· review it and its competitors next month. ·60 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM FEBRU ARY 1- M ARC H 7 2007

EDITOR'S CORNER continued from page 10OPERAcompanion pieces to the Schumann quartets that you will findreviewed later in these pages in the debut of the newest addition toour WholeNote team, Terry Robbins - welcome aboard Terry!And before I move on from "unknown" composers, I'd like toreturn to Mieczyslaw Weinberg whom I mentioned last month.Chandos has just released Volume 3 of the Symphonies of Weinberg(CHAN 10334) which includes Symphony No. 14 (1977) and thepremiere recording of Symphony No. 16'(1981) performed by the National PolishMonteverdi - L'Orfeo ·Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice(Trisha Brown, choreography)under the direction of Gabriel Chmura, whoMonteverdi - Combattimento Brown; Keenlyside; Lascarro;conducted our· National Arts CentreOrchestra from 1987 to l 990. I mentionedthe connection with Shostakovich last monthLe Concert d' Astree;Emmanuelle HaimVirgin Classics 3 63350 2Trisha Brown Company;Concerto Vocale; CollegiumVocale Ghent; Rene Jacobsand in these late symphonies I also findEach new recording from French harmonia mundi HMDcorrelations with the work of that master, but ,conductor Emmanuelle Hai'm of- 9909003.04in complementary, not just derivative, ways.fers something fresh, exciting and Since I have never been completelyAlthough the 14th is scored for a full Mahler size orchestra, there provocative. Her chosen repertoire won over by .opera on DVD, I

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