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Volume 15 Issue 7 - April 2010

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such an extent that he

such an extent that he now rivals Beethovenin his universal appeal. Zinman approacheshis task with characteristic thoroughnessand a scrupulous adherence to Mahler’sexacting performance directions. Hisadmirable control of orchestral balancesis well captured by RCA’s productionteam. Though Zinman’s performance ofthe three central movements of this vast,symmetrical five-part structure are beyondreproach, the convulsions of the weightyfirst movement are less well defined and therollicking finale, though certainly festive,falls short of the triumphant atmosphereestablished by Bernstein and Abbado in theirmultiple recordings of this work. Despitethe rather undernourished sound producedby the Zurich string section and Zinman’smicromanagement of events hindering thespontaneity demanded by Mahler’s moreoperatic moments, this is nonetheless a majorrecording which I heartily recommend.Daniel FoleyStravinsky - Pulcinella;Symphony in Three MovementsChicago Symphony Orchestra;Pierre BoulezCSO RESOUND CSOR 901 920At the ripe old age of 85 Pierre Boulezremains as fit as a fiddle and twice as stringy.This recording from the Chicago Symphony’sown Resound label captures a concertfrom February2009 featuringBoulez, currentlycelebrating his15th season asCSO principalguest conductor,in fine form infamiliar worksby Stravinskywith an exceptionally attentive and virtuosicChicago Symphony. The largest work hereis the complete ballet score of Pulcinella,Stravinsky’s strategic retreat into neoclassicismfrom 1920. The work for smallorchestra includes vocal contributions froma trio of fresh-faced singers, mezzo RoxanaConstaninescu, tenor Nicholas Phan, andbass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, with Phanmaking the lasting impression. I am happyto see that the texts and multiple translationshave been provided.Though this is certainly not Boulez’spreferred period of Stravinsky’s oeuvre, heprovides a genial performance nonetheless,though rather insouciant compared to thecomposer’s own account of it. It is bested bya magnificent performance of the Symphonyin Three Movements of 1945, which revivesthe old spark of Stravinsky’s early rhythmicdrive, and the enigmatic Four Études from1914. The notably desiccated acoustic ofChicago’s Symphony Hall complements boththe laser-like precision for which Boulez iscelebrated and the dry champagne that isStravinsky’s music.Daniel FoleyExtENDED PLAY – thREE tImES thREEBy Terry RobbinsAlthough resident in Quebec since 1993,Paris-born Patrice Lare studied in Moscowfor 8 years, and is steeped in the Russianpiano school tradition. His playing providesa massive foundation for the CompleteRachmaninov Piano Trios (XXI-CD2 1700) with his wife, cellist VelitchkaYotcheva (alsoMoscow-trained),and Canadianviolinist Jean-Sebastien Roy.Rachmaninov’sTrios Elegiaquesare both earlyworks in hisRomantic,post-Tchaikovsky mold. No.1 is a singlemovementtrio in G minor from 1892, andNo.2 a three-movement work in D minor,written after the death of Tchaikovsky inlate 1893 and dedicated “To the Memoryof a Great Artist”. This is big but alwayssensitive playing, perfectly attuned to thestyle and nature of the music. Recordedat the Radio-Canada studios in Montreal,the sound quality matches the tremendousperformances.I’ve sometimes wondered if the technicalheights reached by Lang Lang are alwaysmatched by the depths of his interpretations,but he certainly does his artistic reputationno harm with his first chamber music CD,Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov PianoTrios with Vadim Repin and MischaMaisky. Presumably this is his finalmajor releasefrom DeutscheGrammophon(477 8099),following his million signingwith Sony; if so,it’s a fascinatingfarewell,suggestingchamber music as a new field with hugepotential for him. The Rachmaninov triois the G minor, and both here and in theTchaikovsky A minor trio Lang Lang reallyseems to avoid “showy” playing, getting tothe heart of the music and clearly sharing theinterpretative view of his Russian colleagues.Again, the standard of the recording matchesthat of the two outstanding performances.At first sight, there doesn’t seem to beany connection between the works on thelatest CD from faculty members at McGillUniversity’s Schulich School of Music (XXI-CD 2 1699), but they are in fact closelyrelated. Jonathan Crow (violin), JohnZirbel (horn) and Sara Laimon (piano)open with a beautifully warm reading ofthe Brahms E flat Horn Trio. This wasthe first work written for this instrumentalcombination, andwas inspired bythe death of thecomposer’s mother.Brahms choseto use not thenewly-developedvalve horn but thenatural waldhorn,with its sentimentalties to his family and his youth in Hamburg.It was, in turn, a request from a Hamburgpianist for a horn trio to be played along withthe Brahms that led György Ligeti to writehis own Horn Trio in 1982; moreover, Ligetihad also lost his own mother earlier that year.Sub-titled “Hommage à Brahms”, it is ademanding, complex and multi-layered workin the same four-movement form. Again, theperformance is exemplary. Brahms’ mentorSchumann wrote his Adagio & Allegro forhorn and piano in 3 days in February 1849;the first substantial solo work to fully explorethe potential of the new valve horn, it is stilla demanding piece, and Zirbel and Laimonare terrific. Recorded at the acousticallyexcellentSchulich School, the sound qualityis outstanding.MODERN AND CONTEMPORARYFeldman; Babbitt - Clarinet QuintetsMark Lieb; Phoenix Ensembleinnova 746 (www.innova.mu)Both Milton Babbitt and Morton Feldmanhave had a powerful impact on the music ofour time. But these two American composers,born ten yearsand ninety milesapart, are rarelyheard together,since their musiccomes from suchdifferent artisticworlds. Thispairing of theirclarinet quintets isrevelatory.Feldman’s soulful, tender and understatedlyricism has a direct appeal. His Clarinetand String Quartet from 1983 still soundsaudaciously visionary today, twenty-threeyears after his death.Babbitt’s music is undoubtedly complicatedby his use of serial techniques for all aspectsof a piece, from the pitches to the rhythmand dynamics. But the Quintet for Clarinetand Strings from 1996 is warm, jazzy, andcharming. This is not wholly surprisingsince Babbitt, who is now ninety-four yearsold, once wrote a Broadway musical, as thebooklet notes tell us, and analyzed JeromeKern’s All the Things You Are in lessons,as former student Steven Sondheim once56 www.thewholenote.comApril 1 - May 7, 2010

ecalled.Clarinettist Mark Lieb uses the chameleonqualities of his instrument to weave in andout of the four strings, whose immaculate andexpressive playing responds to the clarinet’swealth of colours.This is an important and exciting disc,and it offers the first recording of Babbitt’squintet. So it deserves better than theunattractive yellowy-brown cover art whichspills onto each page of the booklet, makingthe notes and bios – welcome as they are –difficult to read.Pamela Margles5 X 3Trio FibonacciCentrediscs CMCCD 15710“5 X 3” is a spectacular release on whichTrio Fibonacci – violinist Julie-AnneDerome, cellist Gabriel Prynn and pianistAnna D’Errico– have chosenfive works fromtheir extensiverepertoire oforiginal Canadiancompositions.This is Canadianmusic at its finest,from performance,compositional and production viewpoints.Ana Sokolovic’s Portrait parle isa shimmering soundscape of musicalideas based on an odd synoptic table ofphysiological traits from the French policecirca 1900. Paul Frehner’s Quarks Tropesis a two movement work in which hesuperimposes violin and cello parts to hissolo piano work Finnegans Quarks Revival.The brooding first movement with itsmournful cello part is especially noteworthy.Analia Llugdar’s haunting Tricycle exploresresonance as a compositional tool with itssliding string lines and ringing piano part.Trio Fibonacci is also known for itsperformance of classical repertoire. Fittingthen that the other two works have thecomposers draw from it. Jean Lesage’sThe Mozart Project, subtitled “the authorquestions himself on the complexity of stylesand the mixing of genres”, combines a bitof Mozart with a bit of Lesage to create afascinating mix of musical styles. In ChrisPaul Harman’s Piano Trio, material fromBach’s E Major Partita for solo violin ismodified so that the three players play as onethrough the clever use of intervals, canons,rhythmic and pitch shuffling.Trio Fibonacci plays with passion, accuracyand in-depth understanding of interpretation.“5 X 3” is a recording that should be heard byeveryone.Tiina KiikA Little Dark MusicFrank HorvatIndependent LTLP02(www.frankhorvat.com)Released deliberately to coincide withEarth Day, Horvat’s new CD, on whichhe plays all thesounds with pianoand electronickeyboards, willmake wavesmusically. This isborne out furtheras he prepares togo on an extensivetour.The opening Working With The Sun isstartling with the prepared piano sonority(sheets of bond paper on the strings)impacting immediately. But it is a sunnypiece, certainly the most upbeat of all ofthem. The Week After employs a keyboardsounding very much like an old FenderRhodes in polyphony with the big Steinway,through the medium of the studio overdub. Inthis piece Horvat employs a repeating idéefixe of arching chord progressions. Anotheridée fixe is a feature of Poverty, with itschromatic bass line that seems a distantcousin to Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony.In Earth Hour, Horvat allows himselfmore freedom in a long improvisation thatexplores tonalities, sonorities and rhythms.I’m curious as to why this improvisation isdivided into a dozen tracks – one could pickout one’s favorite segments, I suppose – butEarth Hour really should be heard as onecontinuous piece, a journey, really, which isits strength.Recorded in CBC’s studio 211, the pianois as near to perfect as those expensivemicrophones can possibly reveal: there’snot even a pedal squeak. Engineer DennisPatterson quietly excels behind the glass.Highly recommended.John S. GrayMC Maguire - Trash of CivilizationsMax Christie; Mark Rogers; TrevorTureski; Ryan Scott; MC McGuireinnova 742 (www.innova.mu)The world as MCMaguire hears itis what “Trash ofCivilizations” isall about. It maynot necessarily bethe same world thelistener inhabits,but a fascinatingworld it is. OnCPU, Maguire manipulates, reverses andexpands his electronic samples to createa wall of sound backdrop to live musicalperformances. He may not be of the caliberof my esteemed colleague sound masterJohn Oswald, but Maguire’s tough guy auralstance makes for powerful and eclecticlistening.The Spawn of Abe is the stronger of thetwo double concertos featured here. Derivedfrom an earlier work The Bride of Palestine,Maguire heaps a bundle of samples fromsinging to Arab pop music to Klezmer bandsto helicopters to amass a jungle of soundto accompany live performances by MaxChristie on B flat clarinet and Mark Rogerson oboe. Lots of excitement and lots of noise.Narcissus auf Bali is almost 40 minutes ofmutating rhythms performed with perfectionby Trevor Tureski on vibraphone and RyanScott on marimba. A rewrite/remix of anearlier ballet work for choreographer LeeSu-Feh, the CPU layering encompasses agamelan flavour. Too bad that often it justdoesn’t make sense – perhaps too much ofa good noise thing combined with a lackof dance visuals makes the work drag. Butdedication pays off in the final eight minutesof crescendo and sound hype.MC Maguire’s music is not for everyone.It’s really weird yet highly original andrewarding for those who dare to listen.Tiina KiikJAZZ AND IMPROVIZEDNew York RendezvousIrene AtmanIndependent (www.ireneatman.com)The first thing thatstrikes you whenyou hear IreneAtman sing for thefirst time is thatshe’s apparentlyspent a lot ofhours listening toBarbra Streisand.Fortunately forthose of us who aren’t huge Streisand fans,she’s emulated the good stuff – excellentcontrol, pitch and a big range – anddiscarded the tendency to turn every tune intoa three-act opera. Toronto-born but now NewYork-based, Atman gives the impressionof someone who has been around the blocka few times – in a good way. Listening to“New York Rendezvous” you feel you’re inthe hands of a complete pro. Her bandmatesadd to that experience as piano player FrankKimbrough, Jay Anderson on bass and MattWilson on drums assuredly make their waythrough this collection of late era standards.Songs like Taking a Chance on Love andTime After Time are light, swingy treats,but Atman is at her best on the ballads suchas Why Did I Choose You and Alfie as shebeautifully conveys the sentiments of thesongs without tilting over into schmaltz.Cathy RichesConcert Note: Atman teams up with GuidoApril 1 - May 7, 2010 www.thewholenote.com 57

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