8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 2 - October 2013

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  • October
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outstanding playing and

outstanding playing and great dynamics inthe Perpetuum Mobile: Allegro finale.The Bartók pieces are equally well-served,with just the right mix of spikiness and lyricismin the two Rhapsodies from 1928 andthe Rumanian Folk Dances from 1915.The final track is the short Scène de laCsárda No.4 – Hejre Kati byBartók’s fellow-countrymanJenö Hubay. Written some 40years before the other works onthe disc, it seems a bit of an oddchoice, but it provides a rousingending to an excellent debutCD that suggests there are greatthings ahead for this duo.I must admit to being quiteastonished to find that Britain’sBrodsky Quartet hasbeen around for over40 years — two foundermembers are still there — andhas over 60 recordings to itscredit. Their latest ChandosCD, In the South (CHAN10761) is typical of their widerangingand intelligent programming,exploring the attraction of the South inmusical history, and its relationship with andinfluence on the North.It’s essentially a recital of short, almostlight classical works by composers from bothhemispheres, although the programmaticlink does seem a little stretched at times.The Brodsky members play with a lovelysensitivity and a great dynamic rangethroughout the disc, and really seem to getMODERN & CONTEMPORARY continued from page 62soloist. Yefim Bronfman does not disappoint.He has the skill and energy to make scales,arpeggios and fast repeated notes sing andflow. Only chords could have been playedwith more voicing and colour. But this isa live recording and the excitement thatwas prevalent is intoxicating. There aremany references to the Ravel piano concertiand I could hear Prokofiev, Stravinsky andRachmaninoff as well. The movements areplayed without interruption but I wouldhave liked a few more sections of reposeand tranquility to break up the continualtechnical display. However, I applaud thework and performance. This should become astandard in piano concerto repertoire.The Al largo (2010) is almost symphonicat about 24 minutes. The New YorkPhilharmonic and Alan Gilbert showcase thehorns in the opening fanfares with energybut also highlight the lyrical strings withtheir lush intensity. It is an extraordinarymix of fresh chamber music and Mahlerlikesymphonic grandeur. These are excellentperformances from all the musicians andconductor.—Christina Petrowska Quilicoto the heart of these works, which are notinsubstantial despite their brevity.Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade opens thedisc, followed by Puccini’s soulful Crisantemi(Chrysanthemums). Verdi’s String Quartetin E Minor, the composer’s only work in thegenre, was an attempt to marry the Italianvocal tradition with the Germanclassical quartet form. Criticalopinion differed on its success, buthere it is handled quite beautifullyand with great sensitivity; it’s nevertoo heavy or serious and the lyricalqualities are never over-stressed.I don’t recall ever having heardTurina’s La oración del torero(The Toreador’s Prayer) before,but it really is a quite beautiful and veryeffective work. Astor Piazzolla’s Four,for Tango was written four years beforethe composer’s death, and is typicalof his later tango compositions. Itsdissonances and percussive effectsshould come as no surprise, as itwas written for the Kronos Quartet.The disc ends with two of the Paganini 24Solo Caprices, arranged for string quartetby the Brodsky’s violist Paul Cassidy. No.6is particularly attractive, and No.24 hassome fascinating instrumental effects.The programmatic link, apparently, isthat Paganini represented the instrumental“southern individualism” of the19th century,which is viewed here throughthe “northern” string quartet form. A bitof a stretch, perhaps, but nonetheless aterrific CD.JAZZ & IMPROVISEDBut BeautifulMonica!!With the release ofher latest recording,refreshing, Romanianbornvocalist MonicaChapman displays asuperb vocal instrumentwith impeccableintonation, aswell as a tasty menu ofelegant jazz “standards” framed by the skilledarrangements and inspired, rhythmic andzesty piano work of producer Bill King. Thetight ensemble of first-call players includesDuncan Hopkins on bass, Mark Kelso ondrums, Reg Schwager on guitar, Luis JorgePapiosco on percussion, William Sperendei ontrumpet and Anne Lindsay on violin (whosesensitive and evocative work enhances theentire project).With an extensive background in opera,theatre and classic cabaret, Chapman moveseffortlessly between styles and eras, as wellas seamlessly embodying both the Frenchand English lyrics. Her highly trained vocalinstrument is a rich, precise, alto thateasily transmits the emotional intent of thematerial, whether interpreting a melodicpost-war ballad such as the Van Heusen/Burke title track, or a depression-era Rodgersand Hart favourite such as Ten Cents a Dance,or the heart-rending ballad L’amour Le Vrais.In addition to her innate musicality,Chapman is defined by her strong theatricalsensibility and holds her own on theEllington/Strayhorn opus, Lush Life and alsoswings Ella-style on Someone Like You. Atrue standout is the rarely performed JohnnyMercer tune This is Always, which was a1950s hit for another gorgeous alto, the late,great Irene Kral. Chapman’s version is a totaldelight and features a moving and harmonicallythrilling piano solo from Bill King.—Lesley Mitchell-ClarkeConcert N ote: Monica Chapman launchesBut Beautiful at the Pero Lounge, 812 BloorSt. W. on October 4 at 8pm.June 16thHübsch/Martel/ZoubekSchraum!!Having adoptedthe venerable violada gamba as his maininstrument, Montrealbasedformer doublebassist Pierre-YvesMartel is also adaptingit to unusual sonicsituations. On thisnotable release named for the day on which itwas recorded, Martel, who directs a differentensemble October 11 at the Music Gallery,mainly uses the timbres of his bowed viol as asound source, the better to intersect with theequally extended techniques of his Germanbandmates: tubaist Carl Ludwig Hübsch andpianist Philip Zoubek. Although the resultsare at a far distance from the consort andsacred compositions from the height of theinstrument’s popularity before the turn of the18th century, they suggest a beguiling futurefor pre-modern instruments.Hübsch and Zoubek, who have workedwith some of the continent’s most advancedmusicians, specialize in subverting expectedsounds as well. Throughout the five trackshere for instance, Zoubek frequently buzzesharsh cadenzas by plucking, stopping orstrumming the piano’s strings. Additionally,when the keys are put to use the resonatingclangs produced are marimba-like. Forhis part the tubaist shuns the instrument’sfamiliar guttural lows. Instead, using a varietyof mutes, valve-twisting and embouchurerefinements, he expels whistles and clicksand vibrates unaccented air from his horn.Harshly scraping the tuba body with otherobjects, the resulting scuffs onomatopoeicallyintegrate with Martel’s agitated spiccato64 | October 1 – November 7, 2013

pumps and Zoubek’s rubbed strings andsemi-depressed key patterns.On Top, the appropriately titled, most spectacularand longest track, the polyphonictexture-layerings duplicate these and othersounds, including flute-like peeps and organresemblingswells. Overall, the key to thistrack and the fascination of the entire disc’sMontreal pianistMarianne Trudelassembles her musicfrom a spectrum ofelements, mixing jazz,folk, pop, classical and worldmusic into a compelling originalmix. She’s performed in a numberof contexts, including a septet, butfew of her ensembles have possessedthe immediate allure of the trioTrifolia with bassist ÉtienneLafrance and percussionistPatrick Graham heard on thegroup’s debut Le Refuge (TRUD20131, Partof the trio’s charm is its sheer stylisticand sonic breadth, includingTrudel’s willingness to overdubdifferent keyboards, Lafrance’ssheer virtuosity and Graham’sexpanded drum kit. Steppes hasthe feeling of a French music hall,with Trudel playing accordionand adding a wordless vocal whileLafrance adds embellishmentsin his extreme upper register. AsPossibilités et Limitations grows in intensity,Graham adds sparkling accents withtiny cymbals. It’s amiable, unusually tunefulmusic that just keeps surprising.Montreal guitarist Gary Schwartz has puttogether an 11-piece band for the CD LettingoLive: The Music and Influence of OrnetteColeman (,drawing on key membersof the Montreal free jazz community likesaxophonists Alex Côté and Frank Lozano,violinist Josh Zubot and bassist NicolasCaloia. The result is a thorough re-thinking ofsome of Coleman’s more familiar works, anorchestral view of pieces originally conceivedfor piano-less quartets that adds shiftingtextures, a certain brassiness, electric guitarand keyboards, and an expanded harmonicpalette. Alexandre St. Onge’s arrangement ofColeman’s signature Lonely Woman reveals aknack for unusual voicings, while the band’spower and Schwartz’s guitar come to the foreon Law Years.Canadian jazz composers are more aptto celebrate expansive prairies, mountainvistas or maritime shorelines than Sudbury,STUART BROOMERproduction is how ancillary tropes such as theviola da gamba’s string sweeps and the piano’ssingle-note examinations calm staccato interjectionsto create a still spiky but compellingnarrative. Plus it proves that traditionalinstruments, appropriately used, can generatea thoroughly modern tonal experience.—Ken Waxmanthe Northern Ontario city bestknown for standing in as themoon in NASA equipment tests.But the city has produced a smallcadre of gifted musicians, amplydemonstrated by the QuatuorPhilip May Quartet’sSudbury (Romhog 122, DrummerMay has assembled formerSudbury associatesguitarist Reg Schwagerand trumpeter KevinTurcotte along withbassist Clark Johnstonand special guestJeannette Lambert,Schwager’s sisterand another formerSudbury resident.Tunes like Schwager’sPick-up Trucks andHockey Pucks andTurcotte’s Theme forTony’s Basement areevidently fuelled byreminiscence, achievingthe lyrical sublime on Schwager’sSudbury Sunday Morning. Lambertmakes notable contributions withAndré Paiement’s Dimanche aprèsmidiand two takes of Stompin’Tom Connors’ unlikely SudburySaturday Night, adding a jazz touch toConnors’ trenchant homespun observations.Toronto drummer/composer Barry Elmesopts for a relaxed, ebullient swing on hisnew Quartet’s Happy Hour (CornerstoneCRST CD 142, band’s sound is largely set by Hammondorganist Vanessa Rodrigues, whose smooth,bubbling sound creates a gentle, continuousswing. The band’s featured soloists areguitarist Reg Schwager (again: he may beCanada’s most frequently recorded jazz musician— if he’s not, he should be), contributingthoughtful, luminous solos and tenorsaxophonist Perry White, who brings aspecial intensity to every occasion, even oneas laid back as this. The repertoire is largelyfamiliar standards, and each one shines, fromthe sinuous Comes Love to the charminglyantique When You’re Smiling. Schwager’sfinest moment comes on Jerome Kern’sYesterdays, while White brings a harder edgeto Softly as in a Morning Sunrise. The moodmay be low-key, but these are masters atwork, creating one of the year’s more memorablerecordings.Vancouver drummer Jesse Cahill leadsanother organ combo, The Nightcrawlers, onVolume 3 (Cellar Live CL030913, The style is strongly shaped by 60s souljazz with elements of blues, funk and gospel,whether the tunes are fresh offerings byguitarist Dave Sikula and Hammond organistChris Gestrin or covers of compositions bythe idiom’s original masters, like Brother JackMcDuff or Big John Patton. Everything aboutthe band’s vibe resonates with the 60s BlueNote and Prestige recordings: it’shard-driving, soulful music withtenor saxophonist Steve Kaldestadsummoning up some of StanleyTurrentine’s tight vibrato andCory Weeds, playing alto for theoccasion, blending equal partsbop and blues. Cahill soundsborn to the style, animatingthe proceedings with patternsthat are at once tight and loose. TheLatin funk groove of Patton’sLatona is especially good.Expatriate Toronto drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt hasdifferent bands for different occasions:his September Trio may bereserved for his most concentratedand pensive work, as evidenced byits second CD, The DestructiveElement (Clean Feed CF276 CD,, whichtakes its title and epigram fromJoseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, significantlya work driven by multiplenarrative perspectives. There’ssomething similar going on inthis music. Completed by NewYork-based tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelinand pianist Angelica Sanchez, the groupcreates textures of extraordinary density,as in Back and Forth, in which composedand spontaneously generated patterns seemto wrestle in time in a piece that at timessuggests an attenuated blues. That complexityis a key value here, with the musiciansachieving a kind of continuous interdependenceand isolation of voices, as if everythingboth fits and doesn’t fit, whether it’s the sunand-cloudplay of harmony on the title trackor Eskelin’s frequently cheery brushwork.It’s challenging work that rewards close andrepeated listening.Always find more reviews online at October 1 – November 7, 2013 | 65

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