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5 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 7 - April 2007

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EDITOR'S CORNER by David

EDITOR'S CORNER by David OldsWell the Canadian Music Centre has done it once again. Just when Ithought that Tiina Kiik's review of Elizabeth Raum's CD "How BodiesLeave Ecstatic Marks" in this issue would catch us up on the recentflurry of Centrediscs releases, I received a message that there was yetanother one in hand. "Le signe du lion" (CMCCD 12507) featuresVictoria's Aventa Ensemble performing music of ------Gilles Tremblay and as such has enough personal ~,....resonance with me that I feel compelled to cover,~_..this one myself. Although I have long admired themusic of Monsieur Tremblay and have had theprivilege of meeting him on a number of occasions,this is my first exposure to the relativelynew Aventa ensemble and I deeply regret havingmissed their Toronto debut at the Music Gallery in February. The cofoundersof A venta, Bill and Darnell Linwood are featured on tamtamand horn respectively in the title piece, a five minute celebratoryduet dating from 1981 honouring then-president of the Societe deMusique contemporain du Quebec, Maryvonne Kend:rgi. Bill Lin~wood is the artistic director of the ensemble and he d1rects traffic inone of Tremblay's signature pieces, Solstices, from a decade earlier.Subtitled "The days and seasons revolve", the composer tells us thatthe music is divided into four zones corresponding to the four seasonswith each season/zone assigned to a particular player: French hornfor winter; flute for spring; clarinet for summer and double bass forautumn, with percussion instruments providing commentary and harmoniclinks. Solstices is a somewhat aleatoric piece - a set of instructionsrather than a fully notated score - and Tremblay says that"the time and date of [each] performance will deeply affect its character".With this in mind it is a little disappointing that the notes don'taddress what exactly changes from one performance to the next orwhat is unique about this particular interpretation, although we aretold that it was recorded between May 15 and 18, 2006. For me thehighlight of the disc is Envoi, a concerto for piano an~ fi~een instrumentscommissioned and first performed by French piamst ClaudeHelffer in 1982. It is an extended work, nearly 40 minutes in duration,which reflects the influence of Tremblay's most importantteacher, Olivier Messiaen with whom he studied analysis in Paris inthe 1950s. Dedicated to the memory of Claude Helffer, this performancefeatures the renowned Quebec pianist Louise Bessette, herself apupil of Helffer and a well-respected Messiaen interpreter. Recordedwith the participation of the composer in the Philip T. Young RecitalHall at the University of Victoria, the performances and productionvalues are beyond reproach. Tremblay will celebrate his 75thbirthday this September and my only quibble ~ith thi~ tribute to ?neof Canada's finest and most active composers 1s that It does not includeanything written in the last 25 years.I'd like to thank jazz pianist Gene DiNovi forbringing this next disc to my attention. "Passagio"features another ensemble I missed whenthey were in this part of the world, more orless, at the Festival of the Sound last summer -the Zapp String Quartet. I have to confess that Ifind most "crossover" projects neither satisfyingnor particularly convincing, so when one comesalong that really works it's a particular treat. "Passagio" is chamber-jazzfusion with a visceral edge reminiscent of the first time Iheard the Kronos Quartet version of Purple Haze . Following thetraditional string quartet formation of two violins, viola and cello,this ensemble of obviously classically trained musicians has embracedthe world of jazz and improvised music in an extremely convincingway. "Passagio", their third album, features original workscomposed especially for them by "some of our favouri~e Dutch m~sicians/composers",all of whom are new to me. There 1s a rhythmicvitality, intensity and freedom in the playing that succeeds in capturingthe energy of the music. Of particular note is the pizzicato celloplaying which to my ear has the full richness of a double bass. Isearched the album notes in vain trying to find Gene DiNovi's connectionto the group and eventually called him up to ask . It seems thathis travels with clarinettist James Campbell have led on severaloccasions to Rian de Waal's Rhijnauwen Chamber Music Festival inThe Netherlands, where the members of Zapp were among the musiciansinvolved in the Dutch production of DiNovi's musical Alice inthe Orchestra. Campbell was sufficiently taken with the group toinvite them to his own festival in Parry Sound . You can visitwww.loplop.nl to sample and order the disc.Another unusual string ensemble is the conglomeration, or perhaps congregationwould be more apt, of a dozen young Quebec guitarists whocall themselves Forestare. In the notes to their eponymous debut album(ATMA ACD2 2550) Forestare's founder and artistic director AlexandreEthier explains that the name, rooted in the Latin "to create aforest", reflects his profound respect of and concern for the environ-CONTINUED ON PAGE 68

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