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Volume 16 Issue 8 - May 2011

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in London. The preface

in London. The preface of one such, TheGenteel Companion, printed by Henry Salterin 1683, provided this recording with its title…“Musick, beloved of Heaven, for it is thebusiness of angels; desired on earth as themost charming pleasure of men.” While therecorder may have been fairly accessible,it takes a skilled and sensitive hand to dowho better in modern times to lend a lightand supple touch than local virtuoso AlisonMelville, accompanied by Lucas Harris,guitar and archlute; Borys Medicky, harpsi-Mackie Jackson, baroque bassoon.One of the delightful aspects of acosmopolitan city like London in the 17thand 18th centuries was the constant tradingand intermarrying of styles, creating newperspectives on traditional forms. Thuswe have French-born composers like LuisMercy setting Scottish ayres, and theatricalpieces such as Handel’s Rinaldo overturemade especially delightful when transcribedfor more intimate performance. Melvillehas scoured through ancient collections toPaisible, Godfrey Finger and WilliamTopham set alongside Corelli’s well-lovedFoliaDivisionslively and charming portrayal of London’ssweeter side.—Dianne WellsBach – Famous Works on PedalHarpsichordLuc BeauséjourAnalekta AN 2 9970This fascinatingrecording celebratesthe essential triumvirateof a completeand satisfyingcomposer/ performer/instrument.a pedal harpsichordcompleted in 2009 by the brilliant and prolificMontreal instrument-maker Yves Beaupré,the program tours some of Bach’s best-lovedkeyboard works.The excellent French Canadian harp-international career and is known for hisvirtuosity, as well as being a probing andthoughtful performer. He dives boldly intothe full and rich sound world of the pedalharpsichord, a robust and powerful instrumentthat makes up in heft and colour whatit lacks in delicacy.From the profound and familiar openingplaying sparkles with precision, intensity andbeauty. Two substantial Prelude and Fugueselection of chorale preludes follow. In thechorale tunes in the midst of the surroundingmaterial, the sound colours being so identical.The recording concludes however with aspectacular performance of the monumentalC Minor Passacaille, BWV 582.There is a relentless intensity to thesound of the pedal harpsichord which maymake this recording not to everyone’s taste,but the remarkably free and deeply musical—Larry BeckwithBach – Flute SonatasJoshua Smith; Jory Vinikour;Ann Marie Morgan; Allison Guest EdbergDelos DE 3408This is Joshua Smith’s second disc ofcovered the sonataswith obbligatooffering features the suffer from heavy-handedness and lack ofimagination when performed on the modernextreme vibrato and heavy-handed articulation,and displays a consistently thoughtfulunderstanding of the music’s underlyingharmonic structure. In some of the fastermovements the passagework could perhapsuse a little more variety in its shaping, andsome of the allegros were too close to prestofor my taste. But Smith’s attentive phrasingand expressive delicacy, particularly in theslower movements, more than make up forthese small caveats. He is also brilliantlyaccompanied by colleagues Jory Vinikour,harpsichord, and Ann Marie Morgan, baroquecello, and the trio’s teamwork is prettyAn extra treat included on this recordingis the C minor trio sonata from the Musicalin which the bigger arcs of structure andharmony happily coincide with deftly outlinedmusical nuance. gives Bach a performance that makes atraverso player happy, but Joshua Smith doesso with consummate skill and aplomb.—Alison MelvilleAlways find more reviews online at thewholenote.comCLASSICAL & BEYONDMoonlight Fantasies – Beethoven;Schumann; ChopinIan ParkerAzica ACD-71264In Canadianmusic circles thename Parker hasalmost come to besynonymous withhigh standards ofexcellence in theformance,all stemmingfrom the renowned ned Vancouver-basednephews, Jon Kimura and James, have al-Ian, his son, continues the tradition, and thisnew recording “Moonlight Fantasies” provesthat he is indeed a worthy follower in thefamily footsteps.Ian began studying the piano with hisfather, and later continued at the JuilliardSchool, where he was the winner of the GinaBachauer Piano Scholarship Competition. Hemade his debut at Lincoln Centre in 2004,and has since gone on to perform throughoutfeatures music by Beethoven, Schumann,and Chopin, is a delight. Beethoven’stwo sonatas Op.27, including the famous“Moonlight,” show a polished and sensitiveapproach, while the great Fantasie in C Op.nicalbrilliance with deeply-rooted sensitivity.Whether or not Chopin’s Fantasie Op.49is his greatest work is open to debate, butParker’s interpretation would surely meetmyself included. My only quibble – and it’sa minor one – is the speed at which he takesthe thrice–heard lyrical secondary theme inthis piece. Although I would have preferreda little easing up of tempo, this is a minorpoint, and in no way mars an exemplaryperformance.Well done, Mr. Parker. Like your oldercousins, you have proved yourself a credit tothe family name.—Richard HaskellBruckner – Symphony No.8Orchestre Metropolitain du GrandMontreal;Yannick Nézet-SéguinATMA ACD2 2513 Séguin is a young,very talented FrenchCanadian conductorfrom Montreal,student of the greatGiulini, who ina short few years62 thewholenote.comMay 1 – June 7, 2011

Philharmonic and now as Chef d’Orchestrefor the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra.Last fall he was invited to conduct the BerlinPhilharmonic and with rousing success.The Canadian recording companyATMA Classique has been lucky to snap himup and made several recordings with him, allgiven high esteem and international prizes.One of these is Bruckner’s immense 8thSymphony, a formidable task for even themost experienced conductor, and the result isspectacular.“Bruckner is all about space” says theartist and the recording makes us feel it withhave I heard the ending, where Bruckner’sgods make their triumphant entry toWalhalla, so full, so uplifting, and all bellsringing, like the whole universe comingconductor, “but heralds a beginning of a newera” perhaps unintentionally paraphrasingWinston Churchill. There are many exquisitemoments, like the ppstrings that introduce the scherzo theme, atheme that’s repeated endlessly, never twicethe same, in a steady crescendo. Or theprayer-like, hushed Adagio, one of the mostintensely beautiful selections of music everwritten that builds over 23 minutes to anearth shattering ff climax.A triumphant recording. Best yet in hisBruckner cycle.—Janos GardonyiMahler – Symphony No.2Kate Royal; Magdalena Kožená;Rundfunkchor; Berliner Philharmoniker;Simon RattleEMI 6 47363 2Mahler – Des Knaben WunderhornSarah Connolly; Dietrich Henschel;Orchestre des Champs-Élysées;Philippe HerrewegheHarmonia Mundi HMX 2901920Mahler’s Second Symphony has awas the work that inspired him to becomework has always been refreshingly distinctive,with an organic plasticity that neverdescends into mere taffy-pulling. He takessome interpretive risks here, milking theimpressive dissonance that heralds the re-deliberate, stentorian pace while elsewhererevealing an obsession with details that areseldom heard in lesser interpretations. TheBerlin musicians play like gods throughout.with the Birmingham SO is still revered forJanet Baker as the vocal soloists. Alas, theydon’t make voices like that these days; herequickly becoming aubiquitous presencein several recentrecordings. Thesymphony is spreadover two discs, withalone occupying thelive performance(mercifully withoutapplause or otheris exceptionally wellrecorded.Harmonia Mundihas re-issued at abudget price Philippe Herreweghe’s 2006recording of the orchestral songs fromMahler’s settings of folk poetry from thepopular 19th century anthology known inThe Youth’s Magic Horn. Thestring section of Philippe Herreweghe’sChamps-Élysées orchestra is a reducedensemble that performs in the imperturbable,“historically informed” manner, lending anexceptional transparency to the orchestraltexture – though it must be said that Mahlerhimself cared little for interpretive historicalHenschel brings a swaggering authority inthe military songs while Sarah Conolly’shoney-hued tone provides ample rustic charmto the lighter numbers. While Herreweghe’sprecise accompaniment falls a bit shortdramatically in comparison to the classicSzell, Bernstein or Abbado performancesthis unique and admirably recorded disc isnonetheless well worth owning.—Daniel FoleyLive Recordings 1963–2006Zubin Mehta;Israel Philharmonic OrchestraHelicon Classics 02-9625To honourZubin Mehta’s 40thAnniversary asIsrael PhilharmonicOrchestra, HeliconClassics has assembledthis set ofthirty-seven live performancesselected from Mehta’s expansiverepertoire, from Vivaldi to now. Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, ChaimMischa Maisky, and many more. Theset includes a disc of music by Israelicomposers. Available space precludes listingthe works but among the standouts is Bloch’sSchelomoby cellist Mischa Maisky supported byMehta and a white-hot orchestra. It’s onefor the books. The Verdi Requiem wasrecorded at an open-air performance inJuly of 1968 given in Manger Square infollowing a call for peace in the Holy Land.The concert started late so as not to disturband Bonaldo Giaiotti. This performancegenerated headlines and is included as acase is merely adequate.There is an overall characteristic bloomaround each of these performances and adistinct impression that the musicians areattentive to each other. Perhaps it is thisand their esprit de corps that has resulted inperformance heard on these discs.This is an attractive collection ofidiomatic performances of mostly familiarworks, well played and well recorded.Complete details of the contents at www.heliconclassics.com.—Bruce SurteesChausson – Concert;Mathieu – Trio & QuintetteAlain Lefèvre; David Lefèvre;Quatuor AlcanAnalekta AN 2 9286Son of Montrealcomposer/pedagoguerealized prodigiousachievements as achild pianist andcomposer. Paris criticÉmile Vuillermozdubbed the ten-year-old Mathieu “TheCanadian Mozart” following a piano recitalof his original compositions.The Piano Trio and Piano Quintetwere written in his early 20s. The words“passionate” and “luxuriant” have stayedwith me throughout my encounter withthis music. Mathieu’s emotional range andthe delicate interplay of instruments makethe Trio absorbing listening. I especiallymystical proto-minimalism, as brought tolife by pianist Alain Lefèvre, violinist LauraFor the virtuosic Quintet the Alcanperformance. In this exciting piece I hearWould Mathieu’s career have progressedmore effectively had he studied withnow privileged to celebrate anew AndréMathieu’s youthful musical genius.Chausson’s similarly virtuosic Concert isas being “akin to a concerto for piano andviolin” with string quartet; here violinistMay 1 – June 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 63

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