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Volume 15 Issue 1 - September 2009

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  • September
  • Jazz
  • October
  • Toronto
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  • Theatre

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undocumented choreography was certainly alabour of love. This is a fascinating accountas Dodson outlines and particularises on thesearch for documents, evidence, and peopleto illuminate this seemingly impossible task.Along with that, the costumes, their colorsand the scenery presented further enigma. Wealso witness Dodson and Archer supervisingthe 120 hours of rehearsals in St. Petersburg.Now, one can grasp what is happening on thestage featuring up to 47 dancers, often withindividual choreographic roles. The hugeKirov Orchestra under Gergiev plays withextraordinary vehemence and savagery, thelike of which one would never hear in an orchestralconcert. It certainly works here.Also included is The Firebird, presentedas originally staged with the choreographyof Michel Fokine and the sets designed byFokine, Alexander Golovin and Leon Bakst.These live performances were captured inhigh definition, wide screen video. The extraordinarilywide dynamic range is thrillingin 5.1 audio.Bruce SurteesEditor’s Note: See Old Wine in New Bottleselsewhere in these pages for a newly releasedversion of Le Sacre du Printemps from a conductoradmired by the composer.Prokofiev - Piano Concertos 2 & 3Evgeny Kissin; Philharmonia Orchestra;Vladimir AshkenazyEMI Classics 2 64536 2For his third release on the EMI label superstarpianist Evgeny Kissin finds himselfin convivial company with a program ofProkofiev concertos conducted by his compatriotVladimir Ashkenazy. Prokofiev’sSecond Concertois new to Kissin’sextensivediscography andwill no doubt beeagerly soughtout by his manyfans. There isno question thathis steely techniqueis up tothe task of this technically demanding workwith its crushing, heaven-storming passages,though there is poetry as well in his relativelyrestrained, rubato-inflected opening movement.Alas, the London-based PhilharmoniaOrchestra has seen better days, and Ashkenazy’sdirection is, perhaps understandably ashe has famously recorded all of Prokofiev’sconcertos himself, exceedingly deferential tothe soloist. The EMI recording balances thepiano far to the fore, with unrealistic results,while excessive filtering meant to obliterateaudience noises in these spliced-together concertperformances create a rather dry, bassdeficientambience.The album also features Kissin’s third recordingof Prokofiev’s ever-popular Third Concerto,following previous discs dating fromhis earlier contracts with RCA and DeutscheGrammophon. Again, fans of the pianistmay care to invest in this newer, curiouslyhumourless version, though Kissin’s earlierAbbado-led Berlin Philharmonic DG recordingfeatures a superior orchestra and moresensitive direction. Even better, seek out theclassic Martha Argerich performance withthese same forces, which remains far morecompelling.Daniel FoleyKorngold - Violin ConcertoPhilippe Quint; Orquestr Sinfoinica deMineria; Carlos Miguel PrietoNaxos 8.570791Erich Wolfgang Korngold is now chieflyremembered for his outstanding Hollywoodmovie scores of the late 1930s and early1940s, but 20 years earlier he had been anestablished and much-admired young prodigyin Europe,even managingto impressMahler withhis music whenonly 9 yearsold. His returnto a completelychanged Europeanconcertscene after theSecond World War failed to repeat his earliersuccesses, however, and he died, scarcelyremembered, in 1957.His Violin Concerto, though, has neverleft the repertoire, probably because it sosuccessfully combines both of Korngold’smusical worlds. Written in 1945 at the behestof Bronislaw Huberman and premiered byHeifetz in 1947, it is a rich and tuneful late-Romantic work, at times strongly reminiscentof the Barber concerto, with the main themesin all three movements taken from the composer’sown film scores.Philippe Quint is, as usual, in wonderfulform in a warm and beautifully recordedperformance. If you don’t yet know his brilliantplaying, then take advantage of the greatNaxos price to discover it now!Two early orchestral works complete theCD. Overture to a Drama, from 1911, wasthe first work the 14-year-old Korngoldorchestrated on his own; the influence ofMahler is clearly apparent. The Much AdoAbout Nothing Suite dates from 1918, andis perhaps better-known in the arrangementthe composer made for violin and piano, alsoavailable on Naxos.Terry RobbinsLorenzo Palomo - My Secluded GardenMaria Bayo; Pepe Romero; Romero GuitarQuartet; Seville Royal Symphony Orchestra;Rafael Frühbeck de BurgosNaxos 8.572139The two glorious vocal collections by Spanishcontemporary composer Lorenzo Palomofeature many influences from traditionalSpanish, Sephardicor Arabroots to moremodern daycontemporaryand quasi jazztonalities.The rich tonalcolours andharmonies areonly surpassedby the ever present musical “surprise” lurkingaround every corner.The eleven songs comprising My SecludedGarden are composed to the Spanish lovepoems of Celedonio Romero, the late “grandmaestro of the guitar”. Love with all its surprisesoffers Palomo the opportunity to superimposethe above mentioned styles. SopranoMaria Bayo’s voice is occasionally too shrillbut she is confident in her attitude, whileguitarist Pepe Romero (Celedonio’s son) providesa perfect backdrop. Callen los pinos,is the melodic gem of the collection with anunforgettable fortissimo climax and a suddensweet ending.Love is still the lyric theme in Madrigaland Five Sephardic Songs. The composer setsthe traditional texts to a more uniform musicalinfluence, this time the melodies of Jewishsongs. Now Bayo’s voice is rich and deep,her intonation flawless, while the guitar settingallows Romero to display his mastery.Concierto de Cienfuegos for four guitarsand orchestra is given a superb rendition byThe Romero Guitar Quartet and the SevilleRoyal Symphony Orchestra. With manymusical surprises, this three movement workwith Spanish flavours is easy on the earsthough deeply rooted in contemporary harmoniesand rhythmic variations.The biggest surprise of the day howeverwas how much I enjoyed “My Secluded Garden”and Lorenzo Palomo’s music. Ole!Tiina KiikTreble & Bass -concertos by Ståle KleibergMarianne Thorsen; Göran Sjölin; TrondheimSymfoniorkester; Daniel ReussLindberg Lyd AS 2L59SACDThe Norwegian composer Ståle Kleiberg wasborn in Stavanger in 1958 and now lives inTrondheim. Several of his works have beencommissioned by the Trondheim SymphonyOrchestra, including the two excellent Concertosrecorded here featuring Trondheimnative Marianne Thorsen on violin and theorchestra’s Swedish principal bass playerGöran Sjölin,sensitivelyaccompaniedby conductorDaniel Reussand the excellentTrondheimensemble.Kleiberg’stwo stringconcertos are52 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM September 1 - October 7, 2009

oth cast in a traditional three movementfast-slow-fast framework yet exhibit a veryindividual melodic approach that is remarkablycompelling. Restricting himself for themost part to easily comprehensible two partcounterpoint, Kleiberg composes long linesof chromatically inflected strands of everevolvingmelodies that captivate the listenerthrough a process of seamless organic metamorphoses.Decidedly post-modern in theirallegiance to tonality, these concertos exhibithighly effective and idiomatic string writing.This is especially evident in his double bassconcerto. For such a burly fellow, the soul ofthe contrabass is at heart rather melancholy,intimate and a bit clumsy, and a real challengeto compose for. Soloist Sjölin performsmiracles in the many extended passages inthe highest register and is rock-solid in hisperformance of the luminous sections composedentirely from the natural harmonics ofthe instrument. There’s never a dull momentin either of these eminently accessible works.Highly recommended.Daniel FoleyShort Stories - American music forsaxophone quartetAncia Saxophone QuartetNaxos 8.559616Borrowing from popular music has almostdefined American “classical” music sincethe time of Ives, and the Ancia SaxophoneQuartet hascompiled a discof commissionsand favouritesthat captureTwentieth CenturyAmerica.The Choralefrom Ives’String QuartetNo. 1 opensthis disc, which also includes the third movementof his Fourth Symphony. Ives wouldhave embraced the organ-like sound of thesaxophone quartet for his collage of hymns.The influence of Elliott Carter can be seenin Fred Sturm’s Picasso Cubed (a reworkingof a Coleman Hawkins improvisation, perhapsas seen through a kaleidoscope), and inDavid Bixler’s Heptagon (seven short jazzyWebernesque movements). Accordionist DeeLangley joins for Elusive Dreams, wherecomposer Carleton Macy demonstrates howwell the instrument blends with saxophones.The minimalist movement is represented byMichael Torke’s July. Written one hundredyears after the Ives, Torke also likes to borrowfrom popular music: “Whenever I am drawnto a particular… pop song, I scratch my headand think, ‘I like that, how could I use it?’”Jennifer Higdon – who is popular now inthe orchestral world – wrote the title track,Short Stories, for the Ancia Quartet. Eachpicturesque movement invokes a film whilelistening. Higdon knows each instrument, andwrites very well for saxophone quartet.The American Classics Series on NAXOScontinues to record a wide range of musicand artists, and Ancia’s disc is an enjoyablelisten.Wallace HalladayJAZZ AND IMPROVISEDJust FriendsCanadian Jazz QuartetCornerstone CRST CD 133The Canadian Jazz Quartet (Gary Benson,guitar, Frank Wright, vibraphone, DuncanHopkins, bass and Don Vickery, drums) hasbeen an important part of the Canadian scenesince 1987 - important because they havemaintained amusical philosophyofplaying greatstandards andmaking musicthat swings. Individuallytheyare all talented,experienced soloistsand as agroup they blend beautifully. For this recording,the CJQ invited three guests to contributeone number each. Trombonist Alastair Kaygives a virtuoso performance on Memories ofYou, master flutist Bill McBirnie adds a Latintouch with Blue Bossa and Mike Murleyon tenor sax romps through the title track,Just Friends. The remaining titles make upa cross-section of great standards and showtunes ranging from Gershwin’s EmbraceableYou to Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring.This album also gives an all too rare opportunityfor the playing of guitarist GaryBenson and vibes player Frank Wright to beheard by a wider audience. Frank’s renditionof Where Are You, for example, is a thingof beauty and just listen to how Gary glidesthrough Have You Met Miss Jones. The DDs,(Hopkins and Vickery), make the whole thingswing like the pendulum of a finely oiledclock as well as contributing some fine solos.All told “Just Friends” is an excellent exampleof discriminating taste and musicalityand will occupy a pleasurable hour of any dayor evening.Jim GallowayNostalgiaThe Andrew Scott Quintet meets Jon-ErikKellso and Dan BlockSackville SKCD2-2073The bebop era saw the extended use of standardpopular songs as the basis for new compositionsbased on the chord changes of thefamiliar themes.“Nostalgia” takes this as its basic premisewith a programme of compositions by musician/composerssuch as Tadd Dameron,Barney Kessel, Fats Navarro, Charlie Parker,Gigi Gryce, Zaid Nasser and one by leaderAndrew Scott and Jake Wilkinson. Havingsaid that, the first selection is Ben Webster’sDid You Call Her Today, his swing stylevariation onRose Room,but for the restof the albumit’s bebop linesover familiarstandard harmonies.If you area jazz buff, seehow many youcan get rightbefore looking at the liner notes!Pianist Mark Eisenman, bassist Pat Collinsand drummer Joel Haynes integrate beautifullyand Mark contributes some outstandingsolos, while Andrew Scott is equally comfortableplaying unison lines, comping or stretchingout on a solo.Trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso and clarinettistDan Block, although of a later generation,have chosen to follow in the steps of the greatearly innovators and both play with lyricalconcept, creative ideas and the playing skillsto make it all come together. As John Norrisrightly states in his accompanying notes,they are indeed real jazz musicians. This CDis a welcome addition and upholds the wellearned stellar reputation of Sackville Records.Jim GallowayLive in VancouverRichard Whiteman TrioCornerstone CRST CD 131(www.richardwhiteman.com)Pianist Richard Whiteman has been workingas a leader and sideman in the greaterToronto area for over twenty years. A polishedplayer whether you prefer bebop ora ballad, Whiteman has recorded six timesunder his ownname, includingthe aptly titled“Solo Piano”and the criticallyacclaimed“Grooveyard”.As a leader heworks frequentlyin the traditionof piano,bass & drums, arrangements echoing theglorious trios of Peterson, Evans and Jamal.After recording on the Cornerstone label withsuch Canadian luminaries as bassists MikeDownes and Neil Swainson and drummersJohn Sumner and Barry Elmes, his latest triois completed by Brandi Disterheft on the bassand Sly Juhas on the skins. The pair share anexciting chemistry that reflects countless gigsplayed since their years at Humber Collegeearly in the new millennium. Whiteman givesboth Disterheft and Juhas generous time toshine on this fine live recording. The eighttracks represent the best of what was recordedby Cory Weeds at The Cellar over twonights in February, 2008. An 11’39” takeon I’m Confessin’ gives each player a niceopportunity to stretch out, the original Bluesfor Jervis is a cheerful one and The SongSeptember 1 - October 7, 2009 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 53

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020
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Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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