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Volume 14 - Issue 7 - April 2009

ealisation of the human

ealisation of the human condition. Traditionallysung by a male voice, it is no lesspoignant from a female voice, particularlyfrom an artiste of Lud-:,.,., wig' s calibre. She hadCHRISTA LUDWIG them transposed to hernatural vocal range sothat " ... it was my voiceand not an artificialvoice created just soyou can sing somethingin the original version ...I maintain that this isthe winter' s journey ofa soul and not that of a man or a woman."Recorded in Athens in 1994, this is anexceptional, devoted performance reflectinga total empathy with the thoughts andimplications of the texts.For those who wish a male voice forDie Winterreise, the DVD of ThomasQuasthoff with pianist Daniel Barenboim,issued a couple of yearsago, is the finest I'veever seen or heard (DG0734049). Filmed inthe Berlin Philharmonieon 22 March 2005, thedisc also contains someinterviews and rehearsals.We are privy tosinger and accompanistfreely exchanging ideasand arriving at meaningful interpretations ofmatchless intensity.Daniel Barenboim is the conductor ofhis West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in anew DVD of the Leonora Overture No.3and the Beethoven Ninth (Medici Arts2055528). This was a concert given in theBerlin Philharmonie on August 27, 2006with soloists Angela Denoke, soprano; WaltraudMeier, mezzo; Burkhard Fritz, tenor;and Rene Pape, bass, and the State OperaChorus. Barenboim assembles the orchestraevery summer, bringing together young musiciansfrom Israel and the Arab countries.They tour widely and Barenboim's hope isthat this orchestra is a visible and viable artisticlink between their people. Here is absolutelyinspired playing witheach and every playergiving it better than theirbest. So well rehearsedare they that Barenboim'sdirections are fewer thanone is accustomed to seeing.I have viewed thisDVD several times andhave not been temptedto skip forward or stop.These are stunning, professional performances,superbly documented. Viewing this concertand seeing the performers and conductor wasa definite plus to the appreciation of the music.Seeing and hearing becomes one experience.A new DVD entitled Herbert von KarajanMemorial Concert features The BerlinPhilharmonic, Seiji Ozawa conductingwith soloist Professor Anne-Sophie Mutterrecorded in Vienna's Grosser Musikvereinssaalon the 28 January 2008. The programopens with the Beethoven Violin Concertofollowed by an encore of the Sarabande fromBach's Partita No.2 for solo violin and finallythe Tchaikovsky SixthSymphony (Medici Arts2072514 for Blu-ray;2072518 for DVD). Allthree works are in thestratosphere of superlativeinterpretations andperformances, quitefaultless, I thought. Thedeeply felt performanceof the symphony, playedwithout any histrionics, immediately joinsthe very short list of the greatest on record.Frankly, I didn't believe that Ozawa had it inhim. Mutter has never played better or morebrilliantly than she does here, employing theFritz Kreisler cadenza in the first movement.Her fans, as well as lovers of the concerto willbe beside themselves . All are abetted by thebest sound ever accorded these pieces . Thecamera work demonstrates how far the art hasprogressed over the years, in this case seenfrom the Blu-ray disc. If you are yet undecidedabout Blu-ray then this may well be thetipping point for you .Last year was the centenary of the birthof Olivier Messiaen, the French composerwhose music is still an enigma for the majorityof world's classical music lovers. He wasalso a teacher who led his pupils into thecaptivating and alluring, yet knotty ways ofdeparture from the establishment. He was anorganist and, more significantly, an ornithologist.Significant because he was fascinated bybird songs and believed birds to be naturalborn musicians. Maybe they are. He notatedbird songs aroundthe world and ~ardently incorporatedtranscriptionsJlrvier Messiaeninto his works asif were divinelyobliged to do so .His best knownwork is probablyThe Quartet for theEnd of Time which he wrote while a prisonerof war for short time in 1940 after the fall ofFrance in WW2. The combination of instrumentswas dictated by the available players;piano, violin, cello and clarinet. As an aside,during a conversation, an interview, I askedconductor Ricardo Chailly this question,"You work in a record store. A grandmotherasks for a recording to introduce her nine yearold granddaughter to classical music. What doyou give her?" Without any hesitation whatsoeverhe answered, The Turangalila Symphony.Not his recording, but the 'definitive'version conducted by Myung-Whun Chungis included in Olivier Messiaen CompleteEdition issued by Deutsche Grammophonin France on 32 CDs in a very neat little box(DG 4801333) , available in a limited edition.At a special low price, here are all Messiaen'spublished works performed by a host of wellknown musicians, far too numerous to listhere. Indeed, un vrai Banquet celeste.Love Opera? 'Irave[? Congenia[ peopfe?Why not discover the fabulous opera houses of Europe?60"Iain Scott's encyclopedic knowledge of opera is astounding. My last tour of Italy, withIain and his wife Barbara, was an exciting, totally interesting, never-to-be-forgottenlearning experience. Besides which I had an incredible amount of fun and made somewonderful new friends."- Jean Edwards, retired opera singer and tour participantHow? Just visit this website: WWW.Opera-is.cornWWW.THEWHOLENOTE .COM APRIL 1 - M AY 7 2009

April Is Opera Monthcontinued from page 12features Chinese-American sopranoAi-Lan Zhu as Cio-Cio San, GordonGietz as Pinkerton, Lauren Segal asSuzuki, Gaetan Lapierre as Sharplessand Gerald Isaac as Goro. DanielLipton conducts the HamiltonPhilharmonic and Graham Cozzubbodirects. Visit www .operahamilton.ea for more.AND OUTREACH1952: Trouble in Tahiti. Thisone-act comic opera by LeonardBernstein is part of the concertseries in the Richard BradshawAmphitheatre of the Four SeasonsCentre. Baritone Jon-Paul DecosseAi Lan Szu as Cio-Cio SanMadama Butterfly(Sam) and mezzo-soprano Megan Latham (Dinah) are joined by a trio ofjazz vocalists. In this satire on American suburban married life, Dinahand Sam face marital breakdown, from which the latest movie release"Trouble in Tahiti" is their only escape. The opera plays from noon tolpm on April 23. Admission is free .1957: West Side Story. For more Bernstein one need only head overto the Stratford Festival, where "West Side Story" begins previews onApril 11. The show opens on June 5 and runs until October 31. PaulNolan is Tony, Chilina Kennedy is Maria and Tessa Alves is Anita.Stratford last presented "West Side Story" in 1999 at the Avon Theatre.This time it's at the larger Festival Theatre directed by Chicagoan GaryGriffin. See www .stratfordfestival.ca for more.1984: Sunday in the Park with George. The Shaw Festival continuesits exploration of Stephen Sondheim with this meditation on artistGeorges Seurat (1859-91) and his creation of the pointillist masterpiece"Un dimanche apres-midi a l'Ite de ta Grande Jatte" (1884). WhileAct 1 concerns itself with Seurat, Act 2 focuses on his great-grandsonGeorge, also an artist, who comes to learn about art from the ghosts ofthe past. The musical stars Stephen Sutcliffe as Georges/George withJulie Martell as his muse Marie/Dot and a strong cast including, NeilBarclay, Kyle Blair, Patty Jamieson, Gabrielle Jones and Jay Turvey.The productions is conducted by Paul Sportelli and directed by AlisaPalmer. Previews begin April 1, with the show opening May 22 andplaying until November 1 at the Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the­Lake. Visit www.shawfest.com.1996: Ruth. Arcady, an ensemble dedicated to the recording andperformance of the music of Canadian composer Ronald Beckett,will perform his "Ruth" written to a libretto by Roger Bayley, thefirst in the composer's trilogy of religious music dramas that includes"John" (1997) and "I Am ... " (1998). The CD of "Ruth" employs anumber of soloists, a chorus of 28, a youth chorus of 44, string quintet,keyboards and percussion. For church performances the forces arereduced to violin, cello and percussion with Beckett himself leadingfrom the keyboard. The opera will be performed at Forward BaptistChurch, 455 Myers Road, Cambridge, on April 24. For tickets, call519-220-1542. A second performance will take place at the CentralPresbyterian Church, 97 Wellington Street, in Brantford on June 5.Both performances feature Marion Samuel-Stevens as Ruth, MichaelYork as Boaz and Christopher Fischer as the Narrator. Visit the Arcadywebsite (www .arcady.ca)As if full opera performances were not enough there are also severalopera and music theatre concerts on hand . The University of TorontoOpera Division hosts "Why Can't You Behave?" a revue of the songsof Cole Porter and witticisms of Dorothy Parker April 3-4 (www.music.utoronto.ca), and renowned diva Renee Fleming with HartmutHoell at the piano gives a concert of art songs by Dutilleux, Messiaen,Richard Strauss and others at Roy Thompson Hall on April 17 (www.roythomson.com).ll:Christopher HoileA PRIL 1 - M AY 7 2009

Volume 26 (2020- )

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