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Volume 19 Issue 2 - October 2013

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In Memoriam Richard

In Memoriam Richard Truhlar(February 14, 1950 – September 17, 2013)Richard truhlar was a man of broadhorizons. When I first met him I wasstill in high school and he, four years mysenior, quickly became my mentor in bothliterature and music. It was through him thatI discovered the vast riches of contemporaryfiction; my first exposureto the labyrinthine worksof Thomas Pynchon, KoboAbé, Julio Cortázar andAlain Robbe-Grillet. Inmusic Richard had verycatholic tastes and a vastknowledge of the classicalrepertoire. But moreimportant to me was hisinterest in the work of20th century composers.It was through him thatI first encountered themusic of Takemitsu,Penderecki, Messiaen andthe world(s) of electronicmusic. But Richard’s worldextended to earlier timesas well and I remember hisfascination with Elgar’sDream of Gerontius andhis affection for the musicof Delius. His interestsalso reached well beyondthe classical realm, witha wealth of knowledgeof the alternative rockscene. I remember when I was house-boundwith a broken leg in 1985 Richard made mea wonderful compilation tape of music byBrian Eno, Robert Fripp, David Sylvian andothers which kept me in good company inthose claustrophobic days of confinementand opened my ears to new worlds. Our relationshipspanned a number of technologies,from the LPs we spent late nights listeningto, through the cassette age of self-producedrecordings and compilations, into the digitalage. It was Richard who gave me my firstcompact disc — a recording of Schoenberg’sVerklärte Nacht performed by the EnsembleInterContemporain under Pierre Boulez.Richard Truhlar was a poet, writer offictions, visual artist, text/sound/musicalcomposer and performer, editor andpublisher; a true renaissance man. His maincontribution to the artistic community,beyond his own writings and compositions,was as a publisher. This is true in both theliterary and musical worlds. In the earlyyears he published chapbooks under his ownimprints of Teksteditions and UnderwhichDISCOVERIES | RECORDINGS REVIEWEDPEARL PIRIE ANDRÉ LEDUCDAVID OLDSEditions. This latter also had an audio armproducing cassette tapes of electronic andtext-based music and sound poetry in theAudiographics series. While admittedlyfeaturing much of his own creative output,I would emphasize that this was not vanitypublishing but rather a fully professionalenterprise featuring the work of a variety ofartists from around the country and evenacross the world. It wasRichard’s experience inproducing and successfullydistributing thisesoteric music that led meto recommend him for aposition at the CanadianMusic Centre when Ilearned that the coordinatorof the Centrediscslabel was leaving. Richardhad previously told methat he never stayed at ajob for more than sevenyears so neither of ussuspected that this wouldturn out to be such a goodfit that he would stay atthe CMC for two and ahalf decades.During that time heoversaw the productionof more than 120compact discs runningthe gamut of art music inthis country. Some of thehighlights were the thenComplete String Quartets(i.e. the first five) of R. Murray Schafer withthe Orford Quartet in its final recording; theCanadian Composer Portraits series, surelyone of the most important documents ofCanadian musical history; A Window onSomers celebrating the life and music ofHarry Somers, and a number of discs devotedto the work of Ann Southam. TalivaldisKenins and Gilles Tremblay were alsoparticular favourites, but Richard’s effortswere not restricted to the senior generationof composers. Among the many projects realizedunder his direction were discs devotedto mid-career composers Alice Ho, ChristosHatzis, Alexina Louie and James Rolfe toname just a few, and younger composerssuch as Chris Paul Harman, Melissa Hui,Jeffrey Ryan and Nicole Lizée had their firstcommercial releases on Centrediscs. Therewere also discs too many to innumerate ofchoral, chamber, orchestral, instrumentaland electronic music by Canada’s mostcreative artists.While the mandate of the Centrediscslabel is restricted to promoting the workof the Canadian Music Centre’s associatecomposers, Richard’s vision was again muchbroader. Concurrent with his activities as theCentrediscs coordinator, he expanded theCanadian Music Centre Distribution Service,providing global access to an extended catalogueof Canadian alternative and art musicencompassing many genres not otherwiserepresented by the CMC.Although very private and somewhat reclusivein his personal life, Richard was a manof vision and creative energy who touchedthe lives of many. As testified by a host offriends and colleagues from across the artscommunity at his memorial service, RichardTruhlar was highly respected, greatly lovedand will be sorely missed.You can read more about Richard’s life andwork at richardtruhlar.com and his most recentpublishing activities at teksteditions.com.—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comWe welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments should bemailed to The WholeNote. We also encourageyou to visit our website thewholenote.comwhere you can find added features includingdirect links to performers, composers,record labels and additional, expanded andarchival reviews.VOCALSospiro: Alessandro Grandi –Complete Arias, 1626Bud RoachMusica Omnia mo0506musicaomnia.org!!Grandi’s songswere highly popularin Venice in the 1620s.Here they are playedas they would havebeen — for solo voiceand instrument. Inthis case, tenor BudRoach accompanieshimself on the five-course Spanish guitarthat created real competition for both luteand theorbo. From the start, Roach interpretsa much-maligned genre by combininga sensuous set of lyrics with the strummingtechnique (in Italian, stile battuto) offered bythe Spanish guitar of that period. He brings areal vigour and animation to this CD.It is always tempting to associate this genrewith a lovesick young man describing hisanguish over unfulfilled love. From tracktwo alone, Grandi’s young man laments thepain he feels from Chloris, Lilla, Flora and awhole host of nymphs! For a really sensuousapproach, listen to the lyrics of È si grave‘Itormento, the anguish of the words accompaniedby expressive yet measured guitaraccompaniment. And for those who aretotally disillusioned, you are not alone — Sottoaspetto ridente warns of “a hidden, deadly58 | October 1 – November 7, 2013 thewholenote.com

poison. Don’t believe in Love!”Roach displays his own vocal versatility insongs such as Consenti pur e ti pieghi, whichtests his higher ranges. His skill with thebaroque guitar needs no further comment.Quite simply, this is a comprehensive renditionof Grandi’s multi-faceted arias, whichdemand and receive a multi-faceted performancefrom Roach. He himself acknowledgeshis inspiration from one of the very greatestperiod-performance musicians, the muchlovedJames Tyler, whose research into theearliest guitars has proved invaluable inbringing this genre to modern audiences.—Michael SchwartzHandel – OrlandoOwen Willets; Karina Gauvin;Allyson McHardy; Amanda Forsythe;Nathan Berg; Pacific Baroque Orchestra;Alexander WeimannATMA ACD22678Handel – AlessandroMax Emanuel Cencic; Julia Lezhneva;Karina Gauvin; Xavier Sabata;Armonia Atenea; City of Athens Choir;George PetrouDecca 4784699!!Ariosto’s early16th century epic,Orlando Furioso, hasbeen a real quarry foropera composers andtheir librettists. Theearliest was by GiulioCaccini, in 1625, andaltogether more than90 operas have beenbased on Ariosto.Handel composedthree: Orlando in1733 and Ariodanteand Alcina both in1735. In Orlando twoimportant roles wereadded to what Ariostohad provided: the shepherdess Dorindafirst appeared in a 1711 opera with musicby Domenico Scarlatti (the music is nowlost), while the wise and benevolent magicianZoroastro, a Sarastro figure, is essentiallyHandel’s invention.The orchestra on the CDs of Orlando is theVancouver-based Pacific Baroque Orchestra. Itincludes several musicians familiar to Torontoaudiences: the violinists Chantal Rémillardand Linda Melsted and the lutenist SylvainBergeron. The quality of their playing ismatched by the quality of the singing. Severalof the singers are Canadian: the sopranoKarina Gauvin, the mezzo Allyson McHardyand the bass-baritone Nathan Berg. There isalso a fine performance of the shepherdessDorinda by the American soprano AmandaForsythe. Orlando is sung by the youngEnglish countertenor Owen Willetts; he is arevelation. I have some reservations aboutthe casting of Berg as Zoroastro. AlthoughBerg is an accomplished singer, the rolecould do with a deeper bass. It was writtenfor the famous Antonio Montagnana and,among modern singers, David Thomas comesclosest to capturing the qualities Montagnanamust have had. Thomas can be heard in thecomplete recording of the opera conductedby Christopher Hogwood and also in theHarmonia Mundi recital record (no longeravailable), Arias for Montagnana.The earlier opera, Alessandro (Alexanderthe Great), is sometimes seen as heroic,whereas Orlando has been labelled magical.Both labels are misleading. In OrlandoHandel is more concerned with exploringOrlando’s madness and the interactionsbetween the characters than with Alcina’smagical world. Although Alessandro opens ina suitably martial manner, much of the restof the opera focuses on the way Alessandro istorn between two women and on the rivalrybetween them. That rivalry mirrors that ofthe singers for whom the parts were written,Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni,“the Rival Queens.” On this recording theirparts are very well taken by Karina Gauvin(as the Scythian princess Lisaura) and JuliaLezhneva (as Rossane, Alessandro’s captive).It also features two superb countertenors, MaxEmanuel Cencic as Alessandro and XavierSabata as the Indian King Tassile. I wouldrecommend both recordings to anyone interestedin Handel or baroque opera.—Hans de GrootConcert Note: Isabel Bayrakdarian willimpersonate both Rival Queens in a series ofconcerts with Tafelmusik April 9 to 13.Mozart – Così fan tuttePersson; Brower; Plachetka; Villazon;Erdmann; Corbelli; Chamber Orchestra ofEurope; Yannick Nézet-SéguinDeutsche Grammophon 4790641!!This opera buffawith wonderfulsymmetry of threemen, three women,two sisters, two loversand two “cads” isone of Mozart’s mostenduring. He was not,however, the first oneto try to set the libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte,who also wrote Don Giovanni and Le nozzedi Figaro. It turns out that none other thanAntonio Salieri tried his hand at this operaof intrigue, betrayal and happy ending. Alas,Salieri gave up after just a few duets had beenscored and Mozart had the green light to addyet another gem to the operatic repertoire.The title (sometimes translated as “Such areall women”) frequently raises the feministire, but a closer reading (and better translation:“They All Do It”) quickly diffusesthe argument.It is about the games people in loveplay — and the male protagonists emerge notonly humbled, but also shamed. What is ofparticular interest in this recording is theassured conducting of the Quebec wunderkind,Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who is rapidlyestablishing a reputation as a go-to operaticconductor. His appearances at the Metand elsewhere are greeted with uniformpraise. Another point of interest is the participationof Rolando Villazon. The Mexicantenor, after a brilliant debut and a string ofsuccessful roles, had to undergo vocal cordsurgery — every singer’s nightmare — in 2009.Unfortunately, as recently as April of 2013 hehad to cancel a number of appearances due toongoing vocal problems. It has to be said thathis voice is not fully recovered, but in thisrecording cannot be faulted.—Robert TomasPeter von Winter – Das LabyrinthChristof Fischesser; Julia Novikova;Malin Hartelius; Michael Schade;Thomas Tatzi; MozarteumorchesterSalzburg; Ivor BoltonArtHaus Musik 101 677! ! If you did not knowthat The Magic Flutehad a sequel, you arenot alone. Despitethe three decades ofsuccessful productionsafter its 1798premiere in Vienna,Das Labyrinthdisappeared fromthe stages, it seemed,for good. After thesuccess of The MagicFlute, Emanuel Schikaneder, ever the impresarioand driven by profit as often as by artalone, sensed the public’s appetite for more.The libretto was the easy part — still fantasticaland baroque, and yet more down toearth in character descriptions, makingthem more ambiguous and human. Butwhat of the music? With Mozart’s death, itwasn’t possible to find another composinggenius to take on the task. Enter Peter vonWinter, acclaimed composer of the era, inservice to the Bavarian court. He took asurprisingly fresh approach — only a fewhomages to Mozart, a playful re-interpretationof Papageno’s tune, but other thanthat — original, definitely romantic music.Truth be told, the re-animated Queen ofthe Night does not scale coloraturas comparableto those of Mozart. Neither is Sarastro thestentorian announcer of what’s right and true.The frantic set changes were Schikaneder’sway of dazzling the audience and seemunnecessary now. This Salzburg production,only the second this century, however, provesthat Das Labyrinth is a worthy companionpiece and ideally presented side by side, ormore cheek by jowl, with The Magic Flute — asSchikaneder intended.It may yet happen — there are two newproductions of the opera planned for thisseason in North America alone!—Robert Tomasthewholenote.com October 1 – November 7, 2013 | 59

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