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Volume 13 - Issue 10 - July/August 2008

Simeon, to Langlais'

Simeon, to Langlais' Corpus Christi and Durufle'sMesse "Cum Jubilo ", Les ChantresMusiciens carry off the nuances and difficultturns with aplomb. For Cesar Franck's settingof Psalm I 50, the choir is augmented byanother of Pautenaude's excellent choirs,!'ensemble vocal des Voix d'Elles.The second CD features another alumnusof Les Petits chanteurs, Claude! Callender,an accomplished singer who composed thefeatured Messe de Pardon as well as directingthe Ensemble Vocal Vox Luminosa. Thismass on the theme of forgiveness has a joyfulcharacter, full of hope and enthusiasm for thereconciliation of a troubled world. There aresome delightful, almost playful organ passagesfor Jacques Giroux and lovely solos bymezzo Chantal Denis and soprano Andree deRepentigny as well. A service centred aroundthis mass would be sure to cheer the congregationand no doubt organists will be lookingto incorporate this score into their choir'srepertoire.Dianne WellsKenneth Leighton - Organ Concerto;Concerto for String Orchestra;Symphony for StringsJohn Scott; BBC Nat'!. Orchestra of WalesRichard HickoxChandos CHAN 10461Conductor RichardHickox makes areturn visit to Cardifffrom his Australianduties, onceagain directing hisold Welsh orchestra,and this wonderfuldisc is the result. • ,, - @:}Kenneth Leighton ---- - - - -- -- -···-·has been under-represented in recordings lothese many years, so Chandos is doing a goodservice in bringing this out. Leighton's Concertofor String Orchestra Op.39 is thecrowning glory of the project - for many hisdefinitive creation - written when he was at theheight of his creative powers. Here the musicalforces give it the most loving attention.Almost as highly regarded is his late (1970)Concerto for Organ, Strings and Tympani, abreathtaking excursion in moderately dissonanttonal language. Also, Chandos has includedthe early Symphony for Strings Op.3from Leighton's student days.Orchestra, soloists and conductor are at alltimes deftly accurate, precise and expressive.The acoustics of Saint David's Hall,Cardiff, were never better than on those twodays in late November 2006 when this wasrecorded. Perhaps my ears are just too sensitive,but I can hear a high-frequency whistleat the start of several tracks, but otherwisethe recording is without equal. There are twoprecious photographs: one of the 1979 organconcerto performance, which has the appearanceof a 1905 image, and there is Leightonwith his old 1920's Bechstein B. Wonderful.A disc to treasure.John S. GrayEXTENDED PLAY - STRING ROUND-UPBy Terry RobbinsThis has been a great month for outstandingviolin CDs. At the top of the pile is the newSuper Audio disc of the Tchaikovsky & GlazunovViolin Concertos by Vadim Gluzmanand the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra underAndrew Litton (BIS BIS-SACD-1432).From the opening bars of the Glazunov weare treated to performances of depth andbrilliance that never falter. Gluzman is inparticularly glorious form in the Tchaikovsky,with a simply breathtaking finale, as fast asany you'll hear, but with dazzling techniqueand articulation. Tchaikovsky's Souvenir d'unLieu Cher is a perfect link between the twoconcertos, consisting of three Tchaikovskypieces as orchestrated by Glazunov, the first- Meditation - being the original slow movementof the Violin Concerto. As if any furtherties were needed, Gluzman plays theStradivarius violin once owned by LeopoldAuer, who premiered the Glazunov concertoin 1905. The Bergen Philharmonic and Littonare superb partners throughout, supplyingevery nuance of tempo and dynamic youcould wish for in supremely satisfying interpretations.Stunning performances, and awonderful CD.Not far behind comes another outstandingdisc, the Dohnanyi Violin Concertos Nos. 1& 2 with Michael Ludwig and the RoyalScottish National Orchestra under JoAnnFalletta (Naxos 8.570833). I must admit -somewhat shamefully - to not knowing thatDohnanyi wrote any violin concertos, letalone two, and - even more shamefully - tonot knowing Michael Ludwig; how anybodycould not be aware of a player of this worldclassquality is baffling. Ludwig is the Concertmaster,and JoAnn Falletta the MusicDirector, of the Buffalo PhilharmonicOrchestra, and they clearly work well together.The first concerto dates from 1915, and isin the German Romantic tradition of Brahmsand Bruch, while the second, from 1949 whenDohnanyi had moved to the US, is closer toBarber and Korngold in style. Ludwig and theRSNO are superb throughout, and the recordingquality is outstanding. Another 'must buy'disc!Naxos is also the source of the third CD inthis group, one that features works for soloviolin and violin and piano by John Coriglianoand Virgil Thomson in the excellent AmericanClassics series (Corigliano: The RedViolin Caprices; Naxos 8.559364); the performersare Philippe Quint and WilliamWolfram. The Caprices and Thomson's EightPortraits are for solo violin; Corigliano isalso represented by his Violin Sonata from1963 and Thomson by Three Portraits andFive Ladies. Quint is tremendous in the solopieces, although his assorted breathing noisesdo become a bit annoying after a while.Last, but by no means least, is anotherfascinating CD from the American violinistJennifer Koh with her regular accompanistReiko Uchida. Koh always programmes withimagination and intelligence, and this CD,String Poetic (Cedille CDR 90000 103) is nodifferent, presenting a challenging but rewardingcollection sub-titled Americanworks: a 2lst century perspective. The titletrack is the World Premiere Recording of a5-movement suite written for Koh by JenniferHigdon; Lou Harrison's Grand Duo,John Adams' Road Movies, and Carl Ruggles'Mood, a short work completed fromearly sketches found after Ruggles' death in1971, complete the disc. This isn't alwaysmusic that's easy to listen to, but it's hard toimagine better performances.The string quartetsof Carl Nielsenreally should bebetter-known thanthey are, so it'sgood to seethe arrival of theSuper Audio CDNielsen String QuartetsVol.2 by TheYoung Danish String Quartet (DACAPO6.220522). This disc has the F minor Op.5from 1890 and the Eb major Op.14 from1898, and the Young Danish give solid, idiomaticperformances, as you would expectgiven the shared nationality. Gramophonemagazine said that their Volume 1 CD "setbenchmark standards" for Nielsen's quartets- not that there seems to be a great deal ofcompetition. Certainly the tone here is betterthan in the 2-volume Naxos set by the OsloString Quartet, but I would have preferred alittle less reverb and a bit more closeness inthe recording.Ernst Toch was an\ ',1, -.~ ,\. I. i 1 ~"~ •established andhighly successful1' 1.1 ·11 • 1.,111111 · 11composer whenHitler's rise topower in 1933forced him - andmany other Jewishcomposers -to fleeGermany. Tochended up in California in 1935, but never58WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM) ULY 1 - SEPT 7 2008

ecaptured the prominence and recognition heenjoyed in Europe. Naxos has released aninteresting CD of some of his solo and chambermusic, performed by Spectrum ConcertsBerlin, in their American Classics series(Toch: Piano Quintet; Naxos 8.559324). TheViolin Sonata No.2 and Burlesken for Pianoare from Toch's Berlin years, and the PianoQuintet and Three Impromptus for Cello arefrom 1938 and 1963 respectively. All areperformed beautifully, with Daniel Blumenthal(Piano), Annette von Hehn (violin) andFrank Dodge (cello) outstanding in their respectiveroles.JAZZ AND IMPROVIZEDAll About Jazz, Volume One - The OctetBob ErlendsonIndependent(www .cdbaby .corn/cd/boberlendson)One may wonderwhy someone who'sbeen such an importantpart of thiscountry's jazz sceneas long as Bob Erlendsonhas is sopoorly representedon record. But thepianist/composer/educator is certainly notalone. Consider for example fellow pianistsWray Downes, Ian Bargh and Mark Eisenman.What little there is on record by thoseworthies has them mainly in the role of sidemen.It's been the same with Erlendson, onthe scene since 1952. Prior to this release the74 year old veteran had made only one otheralbum as a leader, a solo performance issuedin 1988 that, according to this set's notes,was "neglected into obscurity".All the music on this octet date was recordedat the Calgary C-Jazz Festival inAugust of last year. Al Muirhead is on trumpet,Dave Reid, trombone, Gib Monks, alto,Eric Allison, tenor, Gerry Hebert, baritone,John Hyde, bass, and John de Waal, drums,with the leader on piano and electric keyboards.All nine tunes are originals writtenby Erlendson over the past half century, in asome cases for other musicians with whomthe pianist worked, tenorman D. T. Thompsonand vocalist Jody Drake among them.Erlendson's music is as comfortable as anold pair of shoes. It's obvious that the octetwas a working group and the players soundcompletely at home with the material. I eagerlyawait Volume Two in what I hope willbe an ongoing series.Don BrownTales of Love and LongingSheila Cooper; Fritz PauerCandid panorama records 004(www .sheilacooper .corn)For her third album as vocalist, saxophonistand arranger, uber-talented and quirky Canadian-bornjazz artist Sheila Cooper has chosento express herself in duo format with theacclaimed Austrianpianist, Fritz Pauer- alternating betweensaxophoneand vocal duets. MsCooper has longbeen one of the jazzworld's best-keptsecrets. Residing inVienna since 2006,she previously spent a number of years inNew York City, recording, touring and performingwith her own quartet, as well as topinternational musicians such as Dave Liebmanand Renee Rosnes."Tales of Love and Longing" is a series ofintimately told musical stories (nine standardsand one original), and begins with a simpleand gorgeous arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael'srarely performed Winter Moon.Austrian piano icon Fritz Pauer has an impossiblyfacile and yet sensitive touch,matched only by Cooper's sonorous, multitexturalsaxophone sound. Her instrumentsings with a genderless human ache. As avocalist, Cooper is a no-nonsense, in-tunepurist in the mode of Julie London or thetechnically superior Helen Merrill in herfabulous prime. Every note is placed perfectly,with a knowing, sadder-but-wiser nuance.A stand-out is Tommy Wolf's I'm a Fool toWant You. With such a melodramatic lyric, asinger might be tempted to chew up the scenery.Not so for the ever-tasteful Ms Cooper,who wears her jazz vocal hat on this track.She has, instead, positioned the tune with anun-cluttered elegance, while rendering hervocal with a dollop of plaintive longing. Pauerconstructs another flawless solo on this tune.His prestigious piano chops are simplybreathtaking. By the way, Sheila Cooper canalso swing - as she does on Irving Berlin'sjaunty How Deep is the Ocean. This CD is a"must-have" for any jazz lover, as there's nodoubt that it will be a perpetual joy.Lily SwingsLily FrostMarquis 774718-1393-2-0Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeLily Frost is a Toronto musician whose singingand writing career has taken her to someinteresting places,both geographicallyand stylistically.Gigging in Canada,Cairo and Tahiti,and covering suchdiverse genres aslounge, country,and Latin, Frost hasdeveloped into aversatile performer with the experience to dojustice to her latest project, a tribute to themusic of Billie Holiday.With The Swinging Dukes (Clive "Pops"Jackson, bass fiddle; Steve Taylor, drums;Chris Dean, guitar and banjo; Jimmy Roypedal steel; plus Greg Shea and WaylenMiki, piano) backing her, "Lily Swings" hasa distinct alt-country feel and the live-off-thefloorrecording technique gives it an upbeat,Saturday night dance hall vibe as opposed to adark, smoky jazz club mood one might expect.Mercifully, Frost has chosen to honourHoliday without attempting to imitate her.That said, on some of the tunes Frost coaxesout the vocal qualities she shares with Holiday- bright horn-like timbre and fast vibrato- and delivers it all in a cool, controlled manner.Holiday was no helter, and was oncefamously appraised by Ethel Waters as singinglike her "shoes are too tight". So while Iwouldn't go that far with Frost - she and theband have a lot of fun with these tunes - Ifound myself wishing on a few occasions thatthey would let out the reins a bit more. Butthis is a record made by seasoned pros whohave no doubt been there and done the highoctane thing and have come to appreciate theunderstated power of being able to just plainSwing.Cathy RichesEXTENDED PLAY -EXPATRIATE (ANDHOMEBODY) SOUNDSBy Ken WaxmanEager collaborators, as much as geographicproximity, is responsible for the migration ofgifted Canadianimprovisers to theUnited States.One of the music'sdistinctive stylistswith profound effectson jazz's evolutionfrom the early1950s on was aMontreal-born pianist.No, not that one.. . but Paul Bley. Bley's associations withreedists Ornette Coleman and Jimmy Giuffreare well known. A reissue from 1990, 12+6In A Row (hatOLOGY 649,www.hathut.com) is not only a milestone inBley's evolution, but points out another developmentthe pianist helped to initiate: partnershipwith like-minded Europeans. Bley'sassociates here are Austrian flugelhornistFranz Koglmann and Swiss reedist HansKoch. The title's inferences to 12-tone rowsare realized with sparse contrapuntal harmonies,broken counterpoint and skittering runsfrom the pianist, tongue slaps and chalumeauvibrations from Koch's bass clarinet and chromaticlip burbles from Koglmann.Yet obtuse formalism doesn't overshadowjazz roots. Bley's Solo 2 includes righthandedbass syncopation, and there's anexcursion into waltz time on Duo 2. MeanwhileSolo 6 channels boogie-woogie forefatherJimmy Yancy, in a Europeanized fashion,with Bley bearing down on the keys whilesimultaneously tinkling higher pitches. Thepiano-less Duo 3 highlights intersectionsbetween Koglmann's brassy, triple-tonguingand overblown split tones from Koch's alto) ULY 1 - S EPT 7 2008WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM59

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