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Volume 17 Issue 8 - May 2012

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DISCOVERIES | RECordINGS

DISCOVERIES | RECordINGS REVIEWEDEditor’s CornerDAVID OLDSThirty-Two Short Films about Glenn Gouldwas, I think, the first film I ever saw atthe Toronto International Film Festivalwhere it received a special citation backin 1993. Subtitled “The Sound ofGenius” this outstanding portraitby François Girard, producedby Niv Fichman for Toronto’sRhombus Media, went on towin four Genie Awards includingBest Film and Best Directorthat year. It was a great pleasureto find a DVD re-issue (sony88691912129) in my in-boxlast month and to revisit ColmFeore’s canny portrayal of Gouldin this docu-dramatic recreation of someof the more iconic moments of the artist’scontroversial career. While much is indeeddramatic reinvention, we are also presentedwith commentary by some of Gould’s colleaguesincluding film maker and violinistBruno Monsaingeon (who is also seen ina performance of Gould’s String QuartetThe TrumpetBy John Wallace and Alexander McGrattanYale University PressISBN 978-0-300-11230-6.00 hardcover, 360 pagesPublication Date: May 15, 2012“What mouthpiece do you use?” is theusual conversation opener, one trumpetplayer to another. So now we have anotheropener: “Have you read The Trumpet byJohn Wallace and Alexander McGrattan?”This book is a most welcomed addition to thelibraries of seasoned professional trumpeters(like me), a “must-have” for any aspiringtrumpet student or for anyone wishing tofollow the evolution and vibrant history ofone of the world’s oldest instruments.The Trumpet follows a broadly chronologicalpattern, starting by highlightingthe prehistory through civilizations of theancient world. Summaries of developmentsin the instrument and its playing techniquesfollow, setting the stage for more in-depthinvestigations of these topics in subsequentchapters. The Trumpet then chronicles aGArrY PAGEOp.1), Yehudi Menuhin and CBC broadcasterMargaret Pascu among others. Looselystructured on Bach’s Goldberg Variations,we are presented with a series of vignettesfeaturing Gould in monologue,in dialogue with himself andon occasion in interaction withothers. Feore carries the bulk ofthe performance but there area few supporting actors includinga cameo by screenplay cowriterDon McKellar. Some ofthe variations involve no commentary,combining music withfilm montage and in one case ananimation sequence by NormanMcLaren. If you missed this in the theatrefirst time around I highly recommend youcatch it on DVD now. I only wonder whyit has taken two decades to bring it to thehome market.In 1990 the great violinist and pedagogueYehudi Menuhin, mentioned above,continued on next pageperiod of more than a thousandyears, from the fall of the RomanEmpire in the West in the fifthcentury through to the end of the16th century. Wonderful inclusionof articles by Don Smithers andPeter Downey provoke fresh interestand controversy regardingthis relatively neglected period inthe history of the trumpet.Further chapters explore thetrumpet in the 17th and 18thcenturies, often referred to as “the goldenage” of the natural trumpet. I find particularinterest in the attention to detail regardingsophisticated performance conventions andthe virtuosic repertoire of the Baroque,including detailed studies of the trumpetparts in the works of Bach and Handel.Exploration of the new-found chromatic possibilitiestoward the end of this period leadsbeautifully to a detailed analysis of theconcerti for the keyed trumpet by Haydnand Hummel. As these are staple audition,examination and performance repertoire, sothe insights shared here by master teachersWallace and McGrattan are invaluable.Commentary outlines 19th and early 20thcentury development of valved instrumentswhich redefined the possibilities of the trumpetand the ways in which it was understoodby players, composers and audiences. Thecharting of detailed and useful technicaldevelopments and focus on the implicationsof these innovations for performance is followedby discussions of the often complexrelationships between natural and valvedinstruments, trumpet and cornet, as well asthe development and use of the piccolo trumpetin solo and orchestral contexts.In discussion of the development of thetrumpet as an orchestral and a solo instrumentsince the early 20th century, homageis given to Maurice André who significantlyextended the solo trumpet repertoire by commissioningnew works and by performingtranscriptions of baroque music. From the1960s, collaborations between trumpetersand avant-garde composers led to an expansionof classical solo repertoire; a veryuseful appendix of 20th-century solo worksis included as well as numerous orchestralexcerpts to provide further clarity.The role of the trumpet in jazz is a principaltheme in the final chapter, with analysisof the early recordings of Louis Armstrong,a fascinating discussion of the more mainstreamfields of popular music, brass chambermusic and the use of the trumpet inscores for television and the motion pictureindustry. A welcomed inclusion is the considerationof the image of the trumpet player,exploring, among other things, the significantrole of female trumpeters in jazz andclassical music. Finally, the future directionof jazz is considered through the prominenceof Wynton Marsalis and other influentialjazz trumpeters, inspiring the re-emergenceof the trumpet as a solo instrument inmusic today.Author John Wallace was fornearly two decades principaltrumpet of the PhilharmoniaOrchestra, London, and isprincipal of the Royal ScottishAcademy of Music and Drama.Alexander McGrattan is onfaculty at the Royal ScottishAcademy of Music and Drama,is a freelance trumpeter, anda leading exponent of the naturaltrumpet.Perhaps worth consideration is the British(er, Scottish) perspective inherent within thiswork. While for some, this gives it a specialappeal, for others, it may result in referenceswhich are less immediately accessible. It hasbeen suggested that this is the first majorbook devoted to the trumpet in more than 20years. In this reviewer’s perspective, and as atrumpeter, I would have to agree.Trumpeter Garry Page, The WholeNote’srecently appointed director of marketing, is“subbing” for regular BookShelf columnistPamela Margles who will return next month.60 thewholenote.com May 1 – June 7, 2012

EDITOR’S CORNER continued …became the second laureate of the GlennGould Prize, awarded every three years bythe Glenn Gould Foundation in recognitionof outstanding achievements in music andcommunication. This year the ninth iterationof the prize will be bestowed on LeonardCohen at a concert at Massey Hall on May 14featuring a veritable “Who’s Who” of thepop world which has been so influenced byCohen’s output over the past half century.The announcement of the award promptedme to revisit a DVD that was issued in 2010of a film by Tony Palmer entitledLeonard Cohen – Bird on a Wire(TPDVD166). This documentarywas shot during Cohen’s 1972European tour which also tookhim to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Ifound it very interesting to hearthe then 37 year old singer talkingabout how some of the songswere written 10 and 15 yearspreviously and how hard it wasto continue to relate to them somany years later. I wonder what hisperspective is now, 40 moreyears on. The film is verycandid and we see some lessthan winning sides of the artist,baiting stage (state) securityforces at a concert in Tel Aviv,petulantly refusing to return tothe stage on a night when he feelsthere is no magic in the performanceand demeaning (while seemingto reason with) disappointedfans after a concert in Berlin. Itis a surprising portrait in manyways, of a successful artist inmid-career, warts and all.The most surprising aspect ofthis film to me was the realizationthat so many of the iconicsongs that we know Leonard Cohen for,Hallelujah and First We Take Manhattannotwithstanding, were written as a youngman and, perhaps more surprising, that thevoice we never considered “good” was actuallyquite musical in those early years.Of course Cohen has had a long and successfulcareer and in recent years has continuedto release albums and tour extensively.The 2008 documentary Live in London and atribute concert at the Montreal Jazz Festivalthat year are testament to his ongoing influencein the music world. Most recently OldIdeas (Columbia 88697986712) has beenvery well received although this critic willreserve judgement on the recent output untilcover versions of the songs begin to appear.Evidently there have been 150 renditions ofHallelujah, in many different languages andgenres, but I have my doubts that the newAmen will achieve such glory.Another Glenn Gould Prize laureatewho has caught my attention this month isPierre Boulez who won the ,000 awardin 2002. A new recording of Mémoriale andDérive 1 & 2 featuring Ensemble OrchestralContemporain under founder Daniel Kawra(naïve MO 782183) presents interrelatedworks from the mid-1980s. The last of thesehas continued to occupy Boulez since itsconception with the most recent revisiondating from 2006; the first is based on amovement from the 1972 work … explosantefixe… written in response to the death ofStravinsky. So in effect the pieces herereflect three and a half decades of Boulez’compositional output.The disc seems organic in the way it progresses.It begins with Mémoriale for soloflute, two horns, three violins,two violas and cello, dedicatedto the memory of Canadian flutistLawrence Beauregard whoworked closely with Boulez inthe development of interactivecomputer/instrument interfacesat IRCAM, Mémoriale exists intwo versions: with and withouttechnology. I had to listen verycarefully to this recording torealize that this is the purelyacoustic rendition. The stringsusing metal practise mutes producean ethereal shimmering thatsounds almost electronic.Although composed in 1984,a year earlier than Mémoriale,Dérive 1 seems to grow outof the opening piece. Onlythis time the strings are notmuted and it is as if familiar materialhas been amplified, orrather magnified.This is taken a step furtherin the 50 minute Dérive 2. Iwas surprised to realize that althoughusing a much larger ensemblethan the opening pieces,the orchestration here involvesjust 16 players. My initial impressionwas of a concerto for orchestra butthe basic one per part instrumentation producesa deceptively full spectrum of sound.The addition of harp, piano, vibraphone andmarimba to the bare bones ensemble contributesto the effect. I found the bassoon,English horn and clarinet cadenzas especiallyintriguing.This recording will provide a good introductionto the music of one of the most importantcomposers of our time for those notyet familiar with Boulez. It is also an importantaddition to the discography for those whoalready realize the scope of this master.We welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments should besent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 BathurstSt., Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also encourageyou to visit our website www.thewholenote.comwhere you can find added featuresincluding direct links to performers, composersand record labels, “buy buttons” foronline shopping and additional, expandedand archival reviews.—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comVOCALBach – St. John PassionChoir of King’s College,Cambridge;Stephen CleoburyBrilliant Classics 94316Bach – St. John PassionBach Choir of Bethlehem; Bach FestivalOrchestra; Greg FunfgeldAnalekta AN 2 9890-1J.S. Bach’ssacred works forsoloists, choir andorchestra are allmind-bogglinglywonderful, so to beappointed the taskof considering thesetwo excellent performancesof his St.John Passion wasa true Easter treat.The first is a new releasefrom the BachChoir of Bethlehem(Pennsylvania), thesecond a re-issueof a 1995 releasefeaturing the Choir of King’s College,Cambridge. Both choirs have a venerable history:the Bethlehem group was the first BachChoir founded in the USA (in 1891) andgave that country’s premiere performance ofBach’s B Minor Mass in 1900; and the Choirof King’s College, Cambridge, has beenone of England’s premiere choral groups foreons. The BCB is partnered in this recordingproject by their own Bach Festival Orchestra,playing on modern instruments, while theCKCC is accompanied by the BrandenburgConsort on period instruments.The soloists on both recordings are alloutstanding. Though all the wonderful singersin the CKCC reissue are now no longeron the regular soloist “circuit,” the combinedcast listings read like a partial “Who’s Who”of the baroque scene. Of special note in theMay 1 – June 7, 2012thewholenote.com 61

Volume 26 (2020- )

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