8 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 5 - February 2008

tom-like rim shots of

tom-like rim shots of drummer Nick Fraserand the steady lope of bassist Neal Davis,there's enough space for the front line,which includes keening vibrato runs fromtenor saxophonist Jonathan Kay, acrid undertonesfrom alto saxophonist Chris Robertsand the reverberations and shifting, tonguefluffingof trombonist Tom Richards. Polishedand professional, Granite sounds mostsolid when involved in subtle dual voicing ofchromatic guitar runs with trilling horns.Throughout, no one slips too far outside,with the few shrill and off-centre texturesvery much a sideshow to the swinging mainevent.These six CDs prove that thinking players canuse different aural road maps to arrive atmany destinations of similar musical significance.Because the best jazz demands particularchemistry, similar sessions can producevariable results. That's what happened onthese next two trio discs by Toronto guitaristGeordie Haley. While his East Delta Trio'sSummer Garden Party is merely good, hisSea of Song Trio's Blue Boat is exceptional.Haley who movedwest from Fredericton,N.B. in 1997 isone of Toronto' smost versatile guitaristsand he works with many differentsizedbands. It's odd that Summer GardenParty isn't better. All the players are Maritimers- alto saxophonist Evan Shaw is aHartland, N.B. native and tabla player VineetVyas hails from Truro, N.S. - plus EDT'sunique instrumentation could open more musicalvistas. In contrast Blue Boat featuresstandard jazz trio instruments; and - at therisk of highlighting regional disparities - theother players are Ontarians: Burlington bassistRob Clutton and drummer Brandon Valdiviafrom Chatham. Much of Boat's seaworthinesscan be attributed to Clutton, whokeeps the vessel on an even keel rhythmicallywhile providing space for the guitarist's rapidchromatic runs and the drummer's rattles,snaps and rolls.At Party's best, as on Minor Figure, the titletune and Ipperwash unanticipated connectionsare made, as when funky guitar licksare superimposed on top of Carnatic-stylebeats or when false register asides from thesaxophonist meet Haley's ostinato lines.While the guitarist occasionally sounds sitarlikevamps to complement Vyas' Indian concepts,on Ipperwash all three fittingly evokeNative Canadian music to reflect its theme.60Displaying slurred fingering and speedy noteplacement throughout, Haley appears morerelaxed on the other CD. On No Parsing, hereplicates tough bottleneck guitar runs, yet onthe atmospheric, Crashed Tanker, suggests avariant of Country & Western picking thatcould win favour Down East. MaritimeC&W fans may be puzzled by Valdivia'sKeith Moon-like smashes and whaps on thattrack though, not to mention Clutton's sulponticello sweeps that produce electronic-likedrones.Often the three build up to contrapuntal linkagesthat encompass tempo and pitch changes.Favouring rim shots over ruffs, thedrummer still propels Dangling Manifesto,which is also notable for bass licks so fluidthey could come from an electric instrument.Yet despite speedy note patterns and feedbackexpansions from Haley here, the trio'scooperation prevents any one from lick overindulgence.Both discs are distributed fine wine: discs vintage and nouveauReviews by Bruce SurteesFrom the first few years of the last centurywe have enjoyed the privilege of hearing, atfirst with the drop of the needle, composersperform their own works in our home. Elgarrecorded extensively for HMV, Britten forDecca, but it was American Columbia thatundertook to comprehensively record thetowering innovator of the century, IgorStravinsky. Firstly with the New York Phil------ - - -- harmonic and theColumbia Symphony,then with theCBC SymphonyOrchestra and ElmerIseler's FestivalSingers here inToronto, and finallywith an orchestraassembled for him in California. A sumptuouslypackaged omnibus collection of22 CDswas issued in 1991 and included just abouteverything one would hope to hear in excellentsound, all but a few in stereo. That setstill appears on a Toronto retailer's web siteat 9.95 . Sony has re-issued that set, albeitwithout the extensive booklets, at, they say, avery reasonable price (88697103112, 22CDs). At this writing it has not yet appearedin the local stores, but I understand this is tobe rectified shortly. These are historic documentsthat belong in every collection (slighthyperbole), offering a rare opportunity tohear what the composer intended.On the subject of Stravinsky, ValeryGergiev brought his Kirov Orchestra toThomson Hall last December and treated asold out house to Le Sacre du Printempspreceded by the complete Firebird ballet.These were incomparable performancesfrom every aspect, tempi, balances andperfect intonation and articulation from theplayers. It was the timpanist who 'stole theshow', as he should because Stravinsky wroteLe Sacre that way, butthere were no lesserplayers. Naturally, oneattempts to re-live theexperience at home butno recording I own (Ihave just about all ofthem) matched thatWWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMevening's. Gergiev's own Philips (468 035-2)recording with this orchestra comes close,but does not quite match the luminous ferocityof the live performance and we are leftmourning the absence of that young, superenergetictimpanist.Previous favourites include the Decca recordingwith Ashkenazyand the DeutschesSymphony and Bernstein'sSony recordingwith the New YorkPhilharmonic withtheir incomparabletimpanist, Saul Goodman.What proved to be thehighlight of recentreissues is the DVD ofDie Fledermaus in the1972 filming conductedby Karl Bohm withthe Vienna Philharmonic.Bohm was notthe most bubbly conductorof his day buthe certainly knew theViennese repertoire ofthe Strauss family. The attraction of anyoperetta or opera must be the cast and herewe see and hear the cream of the crop circa1970: Eberhard Wachter is Eisenstein; GundulaJanowitz is Rosalinde; Erich Kunz isFrank; Wolfgang Windgassen is Prince Orlofskyand Waldemar Kmentt is Alfred. Directedby Otto Schenk, this scintillating production,which easily eclipses the DVD conductedby Carlos Kleiber, brings every characterbrilliantly to life as to their station born.The lavish ball in the second act is a riot,containing as it does, Mein Herr Marquissung by Renate Holm, the production'sAdele. The Frosch scene is an innocent delightas are the entire 137 minutes of thisdelicious, ever fresh, Viennese pastry. (DGDVD 0734371, 4:3 video and 5.1 surroundsound).One of the first big hits of The New ViennaSchool is Schoenberg's Gurrelieder. A newrecording is conducted by Michael GielenF EBRUA RY 1 - M ARC H 7 2008

with the SWR Symphony Orchestra ofBaden-Baden and Freiburg (Hanssler SACD93.198, 2 hybrid discs). The well chosensoloists are Melanie Diener (Tave), YvonneNaef (Waltaube), Robert Dean Smith(Waldemar),Gerhard Siegel(Klaus-nar), Ra! fLukas (Baur), and thespeaker is AndreasSchmidt. The twochoirs are those of theBavarian Radio andthe Leipzig Radio. Therecording was made from 28-31 October 2006during a celebratory tour made by the totalensemble for Gielen's eightieth birthday.There is an enormous amount of informationin the SACD layer which happily exposesdetails usually lost in the volume of soundgenerated by the huge orchestra and twochoirs behind the soloists. Some listenersmay like to hear a more theatrical deliverythan Andreas Schmidt offers but in theensuing sunrise that may well be forgotten.There is no shortage of Gurrelieders, butnone sounds better than this one.Gustav Mahler, superstitious about a ninthsymphony, called it Das Lied von der Erdeand nicely side-stepped the fate of he whowrites a ninth symphony.For this sixpartsong cycle hechose four translationsby HansBethge of verseswritten by a wanderingpoet of theTang Dynasty, LiTai-Po, which hepublished as The Chinese Flute. The secondsong, The Lonely One in Autumn, is by ChangTsi. Der Abschied, the calm farewell to theearth, combines the poetic thoughts of MongKao-Yen and Wang Wei with the final lineswritten by Mahler himself. BIS has issued aversion using Chinese texts by Daniel Ngwhich are soon to be published by UniversalEditions (BIS-SACD 1547, hybrid surroundsound). These are reconstructions of theoriginal Chinese poems combined with aChinese translation of Mahler's own text ofthe four last lines . This recording can beprogrammed to play the entire Chinese textor to pick up the score where Mahler's linesappear and finish in German with those originalwords. The soloists are Warren Mok andNing Liang with The Singapore SymphonyOrchestra conducted by Lan Shui. Both soloistsare well known in the West and havebeen heard extensively in opera housesthroughout Europe and in North America.The performances are very fine without exhibitingany heart-on-the-sleeve sentimentalitywhich may or may not sound odd in Chinese.A footnote: as language and usage endlesslyevolve the dialect spoken by the Chineseof the Tang Dynasty would not be understoodtoday.FEBR UARY 1- M ARCH 7 2008 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 61

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