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Volume 16 Issue 8 - May 2011

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Editor’s CornerDAVID

Editor’s CornerDAVID OLDSChromaDuo iscomprised ofCanadian guitarvirtuosos TracyAnne Smith and RobMacDonald. Foundedin 2009, the duois active acrossthe continent andinternationally. They specialize in music ofthe 21st century and have a body of commissionedwork, some of which is showcased ontheir debut recording Hidden Waters wherefour of six compositions were written especiallyfor them. The disc opens with one ofthe two exceptions, The Raw and the Cookedby British composer Stephen Goss, a set ofminiatures drawing on a number of musicalByrne to the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Whilethe composer’s program note does not conveyany direct link to the book of the samename by anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss,in others buried deeply within the textureas distinctive as Astor Piazzolla the musicis not obviously derivative or clichéd, andalthough many of them originate in popularin the world of art music.The nine selected movements from Goss’suite are followed by Still the Sea, whichThis primarily gentle set of pieces pays tributeto the late, great Japanese composer ToruTakemitsu, himself no stranger to writingfor the guitar, and Takemitsu’s own self-Pierce composed two pieces for Chroma,an Adagio and Fugue inspired by Bach andThree Pieces for Two Guitarsmix. Here introspective pieces are contrastedwith a central Allegro Ritmico which whilereminiscent of a gentle spring rain gives wayto momentary tempestuous outbursts.The title of the disc is derived from anotherpiece composed for the duo, Niterói,which means “hidden waters” in Tupi, anative language of Brazil, and is the nameof the Brazilian city which provided the inspiration.This multi-layered work has densetextures, complex rhythms and employs anumber of extended techniques providingthe duo with an opportunity to really showtheir chops. I am very impressed with theirensemble work and the cleanness of theirhere, perhaps in part due to the impec-Kraft who also seems to be a mentor for thehttp://tracyannesmith.com/discography.Interwar Duets(Analekta AN 2 9971)features familiar andunfamiliar worksfor violin and celloperformed withaplomb and vigourby Olivier Thouinand Yegor Dyachkov.Most familiar is the Sonata for Violin andCelloI remember once, after not hearing thisextremely virtuosic work in a decade or so,tuning in to a radio broadcast during the Vif,avec entraining“Oh that’s so familiar, which quartetis that?” – such is the dexterity required ofthe two musicians. Thouin, associate concertmasterof the Orchestre symphonique detake it all in stride. They make it soundeasy, even effortless, while capturing allthe excitement and nuance of the moment.This consummate musicianship is on showthroughout the disc, which includes lesserknown but delightful duets by Martinu andHonegger. But the real gem for me is theingattention in recent years and with eachnew discovery our awareness of the tragedyof the composer’s death in a concentrationcamp becomes more acute. Schulhoff’sDuet is in the classical four movement formof the sonata. Framed by dramatic rondosutilizing “modal language pushed to the edgeof atonality,” the central movements includeZingaresca – a rollicking Gypsy dance – anda sombre Andantino. Although one mightwonder whether the austere combination ofviolin and cello could sustain the listener’sinterest for the duration of the disc, I had nomarvellous performances.Haydn BarytonDivertimenti VolumeOne (FofM 36-811www.smithsonian.org)for baryton, violaand cello performedby the SmithsonianInstitute’s residentEsterházy Machine (Kenneth Slowik, Stevenan unusual instrument, kind of a hybrid violand lute, which is pretty much extinct today.The instrument played here by KennethSlowik was built in 1986 by George Cassisof Baltimore, Maryland after 18th centurystrings and a fretted neck, the barytonresembles a viol da gamba and is similarlyheld between the knees and played with abow. The difference is a rank of brass andsteel strings which run under and throughthey can vibrate sympathetically or beplucked individually by the thumb of theleft hand through the open back of the neckto create counterpoint with the melodystrings. The range of the baryton overlapsthat of the viola and cello so that there isa lush blending of the instruments and weare not always sure from which the melodyis originating and this makes for someintriguing listening. We are often amazed at104 symphonies – but these numbers palein comparison to the more than 170 workswhich incorporate the baryton, including123 trios for the forces here. Taken twoor three at a time they make for pleasant,entertaining listening, but I must confessI found the 66 minute disc a bit “much ofa muchness.” I hope that “Volume One”does not imply that we can look forward toanother 23 volumes to complete the set! We also encourage you to visit our website,www.thewholenote.com, where you canperformers, composers and record labels,“buy buttons” for online shopping andadditional, expanded and archival reviews.—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.com60 thewholenote.comMay 1 – June 7, 2011

VOCALSwell, Burst and DyeGabrielle McLaughlin; Lucas HarrisIndependent(www.cdbaby.com/cd/gabriellemclaughlin)The celebrationof melancholyis as prevalent inmusic for singerand lute in the early17th Century asthe double-entendre.And the well-chosentitle of this recordingmakes ample use of both. This phrase,“Swell, burst and dye” ends each of the threeparts of Griefe keep within, composed by-cessivedisplays of sorrow. He then presentsmusic as both the vicarious expression andthe cure. This central piece is a wonderfulranoGabrielle McLaughlin and lutenist Lucasthrough “pubescent drama toward the resignationof adulthood and the sometime despond-gressivelylean toward a darker side, turningin I saw my Ladye Weepe, Semper DowlandSemper Dolens, pavan for lute, and culminatingin Thomas Campion’s spooky When thoumust home to Shades of Underground and TheSypres Curtaine of the Night.Gabrielle McLaughlin has a wonderfulpure, even, declamatory style equallyperfect for portraying smitten youth, heartbrokenlover or gamine sprite. Her emotivequalities shine forth particularly well in herexcellent phrasing. And in the the interplaybetween the singer and lutenist, there is perfectsynchronicity. Cover design by MartinChochinov is suitably disturbing, and worthmentioning also are the playfully authenticspellings in the liner notes.—Dianne WellsHaydn – AriasJane Archibald; Orchestre SymphoniqueBienne; Thomas RösnerATMA ACD2 2661Papa Haydnwas an extremelysuccessful musi-by the standards ofhis era. He was, onemusical entrepreneur.In the periodof transition from “composer as a servant”to “composer as an artist” he took advantageof the circumstances to sell his works manytimes over and ended up a wealthy man. Healso had a dramatic impact on the develop-and established his symphonies as ideals aspiredto by many. It was however during hiswhen Haydn wrote over 20 operas. Most ofthem have disappeared from the standardrepertoire, but like so many works of PapaHaydn, once brought back, they have a lotof staying power. I am talking here of thecomedic Il Mondo della Luna, the classicOrlando Paladino and his last opera,yet another take on the story of Orfeo etEuridice, written in the year of Mozart’sdeath. Arias from these and other operas arebrought to record by the Canadian coloraturasoprano, Jane Archibald. Although a fairmusical distance from her typical repertoireof Zerbinetta, Musetta, Olympia and Queenvocal agility and provide a foreshadowingof the COC performances of next season asZerbinetta and Semele. An added bonus ofbeautifully by the Swiss Bienne Symphony,entedViennese maestro.—Robert TomasWalter Braunfels – Die VogelDésirée Rancatore; Brandon Jovanovich;James Johnson; Martin Gantner;Los Angeles Opera; James ConlonArtHaus Musik 101 529 “Trust the text!” –this much repeated,often ignored theatricalincantationproves its wisdomin the Braunfelsopera The Birds.Too frequently,composers, directorsand producers think that the play’sstrength is not nearly enough for its success.Hence, we are frequently left scratching ourheads. Just a few seasons ago, the StratfordFestival staged the almost 2,500 year oldplay by Aristophanes in a truly bizarrefashion that led my seat companion to call it“Sesame Street on acid.” Fortunately, WalterBraunfels was a man of tradition. While theViennese School was transforming music ofthe early 20th century with their atonal experiments,Braunfels fully embraced GermanThe Birds premieredin 1920, none other than Bruno Walter conductedand lavished extreme praise on thework and its author. Alas, Walter Braunfels,as one of Germany’s assimilated Jews, stoodno chance against the regime that emergedin the 1930s. His brutal dismissal and almostcomplete purge of his works from the publicrealm, was not overturned in the composer’sof The Birds took place in 1971, seventeenyears after his death.In this production for the Los AngelesOpera, both conductor James Conlon andBraunfels’ work with the same respect hehad shown for Aristophanes. By playing upbest of Braunfels the composer and Braunfelsthe author is on display. The strong cast,and Brandon Jovanovich as Good Hope, onlyemphasize the reasons why Braunfels’ returnto the stage, while long overdue, is muchappreciated.—Robert TomasEARLY & PERIOD PERFORMANCEThe Business of Angels – EnglishRecorder Music from the Stuart EraAlison Melville; Lucas Harris;Nadina Mackie Jackson; Borys Medicky;Joëlle MortonPipistrelle Music PIP1110The recorderlarityin the Stuartinstructional manualsand collectionswith repertoireof excellent qualitywere publishedMay 1 – June 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 61

Volume 26 (2020- )

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