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Volume 18 Issue 3 - November 2012

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • December
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Concerts

WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S

WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDRENKEVIN HALPENNYWho isDecember’sChild?She’ll be rockin’Massey HallNovember 30!That smilehasn’t changed.Early birds cancatch her warm,bluesy voice onCBC Radio 2, weekendmornings.Know our MysteryChild’s name? Sendyour best guess tomusicschildren@thewholenote.comby November 21.Win concert ticketsand recordings!I Feel Lucky!Toronto, 1963.November’s Child Kevin MallonMJ BUELLKevin Mallon grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland.He is artistic director (and a founder) of the AradiaEnsemble, which tours widely and records extensively,and conductor of the Toronto Chamber Orchestra,with upwards of 50 NAXOS recordings. Mallon’s recentappointments are as music director of the ThirteenStrings Chamber Orchestra (Ottawa) and conductor of thenewly formed West Side Chamber Orchestra (New York).Mallon specializes in baroque music but conducts andis known for his fresh vigorous approach to a wide rangeof repertoire.Absolute earliest memories of music? My mother playingthe piano — we used to love it when she played the“Sabre Dance” from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayane! Alsomy father playing the piano and singing songs of the JohnMcCormack repertoire —“Roses of Picardy.” My fatherwas a big listener of the old tenors — Caruso, Björling,McCormack. He had a big collection of records and 78s,many of which I inherited. Indeed I got my love of recordsand being a collector from him. When I was about 14, hehad a stroke and couldn’t talk. Interestingly he lost interestin vocal music then and became an avid listener oforchestral music. This too was a big influence on me.Kevin Mallon lives in bothToronto and Ottawa, thelatter with his fiancéeLisa Drouillard, herdaughter Olive, two pugsand one cat! Kevin is anavid reader, a gregarioussocializer and a writerin his spare time.My uncle Kevin played theclarinet. He didn’t stick withit his whole life although heis a great lover of music anda great supporter of mine.Kevin was an electronicengineer genius (went to universityto do such at 17). Hemade my grandfather a stereogramin the 1960s, with arecord player, a reel-to-reeland radio all built in — somethingelse I inherited. Alongwith this he bought one ofevery type of record he couldthink of. (As kids we werealways amazed that granddahad a Beatles LP!) Among those was a record ofMenuhin playing the Beethoven concerto. I put it on oneday, at the age of ten, and thought it was the most beautifulthing I had ever heard. I absolutely insisted then,that I get a violin and have lessons ...Kevin Mallon continues at thewholenote.com.CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! HERE’S WHAT THEY WONAradia’s unique “The Dublin Messiah” lovingly reconstructs the premiere performance ofHandel’s Messiah: “The Ladies who honour this Performance with their Presence would be pleasedto come without hoops, as it will greatly encrease the Charity by making room for more company.The Gentlemen are desired to come without their Swords.” (the Dublin Journal, April 10, 1742). Thesame protocols apply at the Glenn Gould Studio, December 22, to Sharon Barclay and Rick Earlsand their guests! Handel’s Rinaldo (NAXOS 8.660165-67): “One of three complete baroque operasperformed and recorded with Aradia and Opera in Concert – Rinaldo is the middle project and oneof which I am very proud.” This 3-CD recording features Kimberly Barber, Laura Whalen, BarbaraHannigan and Sean Watson. A copy each for Joan Rosenfield and Laura Brocklebank!GRAHAM LINDSEYMusic’s Children gratefully acknowledges Rick, Emily, Mary and Ken, Suzanne and John, and Toutou.BEHIND THE SCENES continued from page 11Bogyo realized, from the outset, that it wascrucial to the growth and development of thefledgling musicians not just to play, but also tolisten. “Take Beethoven’s Fifth,” says Kuerti, “Toyou and me, it’s perhaps too well known, buteverybody hears it for the first time. And everymusic lover should have a chance to hear it live.”Thus was born the Concert Series as anopportunity to showcase home-grown talent,providing a platform for collaboration with artistssuch as Isabel Bayrakdarian and MeashaBrueggergosman long before they became wellknown. Kuerti continues this fine tradition byinviting the winners of the Young CanadianMusicians Award, on which jury he sits, to performin concert.Whereas Bogyo concentrated on home turfwith special attention to the Canadian landscape,Kuerti works from a broader palette,deepening the variety and range of works presented.When he invited nine of the TorontoSymphony Orchestra’s first chair players toopen the current season in what would turnout to be a sold-out concert, they already hadtheir work cut out for them. It was Kuerti whosuggested that they play Schubert and Spohr.“He’s a music scholar many times over,”says Christina Cavanagh, Mooredale Concerts’managing director. Kuerti views his taskas not merely one of programming an audiencefavourite such as Schubert, but giving anoverlooked master like Spohr his due. “He wasan incredible violinist himself and there is alot of virtuoso writing in the Nonet,” Kuertipoints out.Only two words guide Kuerti’s programming:“Great music.” As an artistic director heis intent on “presenting something people willbuy and love: some Canadian, so far as it’s reallygood, but also 20th and 21st century music.”And as with any impresario worth his salt, healso keeps a canny eye on breaking new ground.A case in point: booking the Dali StringQuartet for a concert next February. This younggroup, schooled in Venezuela’s El Sistema,focuses on Latin American music, in particularthe work of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, but plays the traditional string quartetrepertoire as well. Kuerti is just as enthusiasticabout Pierrot Moonstruck, where poetryand mime will, for the first time, be marriedto piano music and the soprano voice in a programthat evokes turn of the century Paris usingmusic by Chopin, Fauré, Debussy and Ravel.On December 4 Mooredale Concerts subscriberswill be ushered into Koerner Hallto hear Kuerti play yet another concerto,Brahms’ Second, as part of an a program thatalso includes the composer’s Symphony No.4,when he reunites with Marco Parisotto and theOntario Philharmonic. It will be another tributeto his stewardship of what began a quarterof a century ago as a mother’s quest and onewoman’s act of creative imagination: the openingsalvo in a continuing celebration of greatmusic.Rebecca Chua is a Toronto-based journalistwho writes on culture and the arts.60 thewholenote.com November 1 – December 7, 2012

DISCOVERIES | RECORDINGS REVIEWEDAs i sit down to write this I have justread the shocking news of JeanneLamon’s announcement of her intentionto retire as music director of TafelmusikBaroque Orchestra in 2014. After more thanthree decades at the helm of this flagshipCanadian orchestra it is hard to imagine theorganization without her. Although steppingdown from the first chair (or stand as thecase may be), she will evidently be staying onto help with the creation of the TafelmusikInternational Baroque Academy. Of course theorchestra is such a well-oiled machine thatthere is no doubt it will continue to flourish,but the search is on for a new leader.Under Lamon’s direction a fledgling semiprofessionalensemble grew to become one ofthe world’s great period instrument orchestrasand we are blessed with a wealth ofrecordings documenting her tenure. Althoughmany of the original Sony releases have beendiscontinued, a number of key titles are nowavailable again on the orchestra’s own imprintTafelmusik Media which was launched earlierthis year. The bulk of the early TMreleases have been reissues of such importantclassics as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertosand Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but this monthmarked an important new phase with recentlive recordings from Koerner Hall. You willfind a review of the 2011 Handel Messiah innext month’s issue but in recent weeks I havebeen enjoying performances of Beethoven’sEroica and Mendelssohn’s Italian symphoniesrecorded in May of this year under thedirection of Bruno Weil (TMK1019CD). Theglorious sound of both the orchestra and theconcert hall are captured expertly by Germantone-meisters Stephan Schellmann and PeterLaenger. While Beethoven is not unfamiliarterritory for Tafelmusik — they have recordedall of the concertos for Sony’s Vivarte labeland Symphonies Five through Eight forAnalekta — I believe this is their first recordingof the music of Mendelssohn. I will leavethe question of whether a baroque orchestrahas any business venturing into the 19th centuryfor others to debate. For my ears thesebrilliant and lively performances are totallysatisfying. On this occasion the orchestralforces were supplemented to include 7-6-4-4-3 players in the string section with doublewoodwinds and trumpets and four horns.These latter are particularly worthy of note:Scott Weavers, Ronald George, StéphaneMooser and David Parker for their impeccableintonation on that most difficult to controlinstrument, but well-deserved kudos go toall involved.There is a Koerner Hall connection to thenext disc as well, Shostakovich & ShchedrinDAVID OLDS– Piano Concertos with Denis Matsuev andthe Mariinsky Orchestra under the directionof Valery Gergiev (Mariinsky SACDMAR0509). By the time this goes to printValery Gergiev’s performance with theStradivarius Ensemble will have come andgone, but we can look forward to Matsuev’sKoerner Hall debut in an all-Russianprogram on December 2.On that occasion the dynamicyoung pianist, winner of the1998 International TchaikovskyCompetition in Moscow, willperform a solo recital of musicby Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoffand Stravinsky. On the currentrecording he is featured as soloist inmore recent Russian works,including the introspectivePiano Concerto No.5 by RodionShchedrin (b.1932) which waswritten around the same time asMatsuev’s Tchaikovsky competitionwin. The disc opens with thefamiliar Piano Concerto No.1 whichShostakovich wrote in 1933, withits ebullient rhythms and obbligatotrumpet, and continues withhis Piano Concerto No.2 from1957. As the extensive liner notesin four languages point out, theseworks reflect rare happy periodsin the composer’s often troubledlife. Their allegro and even allegrobrio movements seem almostout of character to my earswhich are more accustomedto the languor and angst of hislater compositions (culminatingin the final string quartet with itsfive adagio movements only brokenup by the inclusion of an adagiomolto Funeral March). Matsuevseems to enjoy this playful sideof Shostakovich and embracesthe jollity of these works in crispand exuberant performances. Theunfamiliar Shchedrin concerto ismore pointillistic and subdued,with darker colours from both thepiano and the orchestral accompaniment.It is an extended work — more thanhalf an hour in duration — with a slow middlemovement of touching lyricism and hintsof gamelan melodies. The rousing finale usesmodal scalar passages, but this time allegroassai, in a pianistic molto perpetuo, withorchestral interventions somewhat reminiscentof Messiaen, that builds and builds overa nine minute crescendo. The soloist’s playingis superb and Gergiev’s control of the orchestraoutstanding. Like the virtuoso ensembleitself, the Mariinsky Theatre boasts wonderfulsound and it is captured here in allits splendour. Concert goers at Matsuev’supcoming Toronto performance can look forwardto a similar sonic treat in the acoustic ofKoerner Hall.Last month I wrote about a disc of chambermusic by Finnish composer MagnusLindberg which featured cellist AnnsiKarttunen on each of its tracks. Karttunenappears again this month on a disc of Triosby Kaija Saariaho (Ondine ODE 1189-2), onceagain in every piece with otherwise diverseinstrumentation. In May 2011 the TorontoSymphony Orchestra presented theCanadian premiere of Saariaho’sMirage for soprano Karita Mattilaand cellist Karttunen with orchestra,a work written in 2007.Concurrently Saariaho produced atrio version of the haunting piecefor soprano, cello and piano whichwas premiered in 2010 by, anddedicated to, the musicians whojoin Karttunen to reprise their performanceon this disc, soprano PiaFreund and pianist Tuija Hakkila.The intimacy of this chamberversion of Mirage is simplystunning. Another near-TSOconnection occurs in the nextpiece, Cloud Trio, performed by theZebra Trio which includes formerTSO principal violist StevenDann, Karttunen and violinistErnst Kovacic. The eerie etherealstring timbres in this aptlynamed work have to be heard tobe believed. Dann, Karttunen andHakkila are featured in Je sensun deuxième coeur, a five movementwork based on Saariaho’s2003 opera Adriana Mater. Itwas originally intended to createmusical portraits of four charactersfrom the opera but when“she began to adapt the materialfor viola, cello and piano — adarker version of the traditional pianotrio — the music began to distanceitself from the opera.” It is certainlyan effective chamber worknot dependent on the programmaticinspiration for appreciation.The other offerings are Cendresfor alto flute, cello and pianowhich involves extended techniquesand vocalisms from theflutist (Mikael Hesasvuo), and Serenatas forpercussion (Florent Jodelet), cello and piano.The latter once again draws on other Saariahoworks as points of departure, in this case thecello concerto Notes on Light and, bringingthe disc full circle, the opening piece Mirage.The simplicity of the title Trios notwithstanding,this recording presents a wealth ofdiverse textures and instruments with definitiveperformances by musicians who havecollaborated extensively with Saariaho, oneNovember 1 – December 7, 2012 thewholenote.com 61

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