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Volume 19 Issue 8 - May 2014

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Concerts
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Choral
  • Singers
  • Festival
Includes the 2014 Canary Pages directory of choirs.

of her flawless and

of her flawless and stimulating technique,producing thrilling sonorities with assuranceand rhythmic precision.Under Bělohlávek, the Czech Philharmonichas regained the sound and authority of thepast, playing with palpable enthusiasm andpartnering in a very exciting and satisfyingperformance, superbly recorded.Just a thought: a photograph of therecording session shows Weilerstein facinginto the orchestra which may account for thetotal involvement of everyone concerned.Six shorter show pieces are included: Lasstmich allein, Op.82 No.1; Rondo in G Minor,Op.94; Goin’ home; Songs my mother taughtme, Op.55 No.4; Silent Woods, Op.68 No.5and an exciting Slavonic Dance in G Minor,Op.46 No.8. Even though she does not yethave a recognizable, distinctive sound of herown, Weilerstein excels with an engagingrendering of each piece, closing out this mostwelcome disc.Bruce SurteesFauré – Nocturnes and BarcarollesStéphane LemelinATMA ACD2 2466Stéphane Lemelin’sprogram interweavesFauré’s completenocturnes and barcarolles(13 of each) onthis two-disc release,providing an idealchronological overviewof the composer’sdevelopment. Lemelin’s program notesare clear and interesting. For example, henotes that while the pieces became lessnocturne- or barcarolle-like over the composer’slifetime, the publisher retained thosegeneric names in an effort to boost sales!Interpretively, Lemelin follows Fauré’sabstention from rubato yet maintains expressivenesswith inflections and sense ofbreathing, in the manner of a Fauré mélodie(art song). Technically he executes well, fromthe clarity and filigree work of BarcarolleNo.2 to the rumbling bass, octaves and eventone clusters of Nocturne No.12. Stylistically,many listeners will find the experimentalworks of the years 1902-1913 most difficult toappreciate: here Lemelin is uncompromisingin projecting the bleakness and obsessivequality of Nocturne No.10, or the repetitivemelody and harmony (for this chromaticallysophisticated composer) of Barcarolle No.9.And yet, on repeated hearing I find that thesepieces too reveal many beauties.As for Fauré’s accessible early pieces,Lemelin sets a high standard of commitmentfrom the beginning. His playing ofNocturne No.1 is full of harmonic interestand emotional depth. Though BarcarolleNo.1 is fairly conventional Lemelin elevatesit, capturing the beauty of texture and occasionaltwists of chord direction that willbecome stylistic trademarks. And so it goes,onward from these works and throughoutthis wonderful set.Roger KnoxMODERN AND CONTEMPORARY/JAZZStravinsky – Oedipus Rex; ApollonMusagèteSoloists; Monteverdi Choir; LondonSymphony Orchestra; John Eliot GardinerLSO Live LSO0751John Eliot Gardinercelebrated his 70thbirthday a year agolast month, and overthe course of his 50-year career, he hasrightfully establishedhimself as an internationallyrenownedconductor and pedagogue. Although regardedprimarily as an interpreter of music from theBaroque and Classical periods, Gardiner’stalents have also extended to includesuch composers as Beethoven, Berlioz,Mendelssohn and Massenet. Nevertheless,it’s not often he has approached 20thcentury repertoire, so this new CD featuringStravinsky’s Apollon Musagète and OedipusRex recorded live at his birthday concertin April 2013 with the London SymphonyOrchestra is something of a rarity.The ballet Apollon Musagète for stringorchestra was completed in January 1928,the result of a commission from the Libraryof Congress. Perhaps it should come as nosurprise that Gardiner would be drawn tomusic written by the Russian composerduring his neo-classical period. So just howdoes the founder of the Monteverdi Choirdeal with Stravinsky? In a word, admirably!Here, the listener immediately senseswhat great care Gardiner has taken with thisperformance, with no detail left untouched.The LSO strings are warmly resonant with theensemble achieving a fine of sense of balancein the ten contrasting movements.Oedipus Rex, completed a year earlier, is atougher nut to crack. Part opera, part oratorio,the work was based on Sophocles with alibretto by Jean Cocteau and then translatedinto Latin. Its mixture of musical styles canmake it a challenge to bring off convincingly,but here, Gardiner and the LSO - along withthe Monteverdi Choir and soloists that includeJennifer Johnston, Stuart Skelton and GordonSaks – achieve a wonderful sense of drama attimes infused with wry humour.Refusing to be typecast, Gardiner firstgained acclaim through his performancesof early music, but now succeeds at theother end of the spectrum, proving to be asadept at Stravinsky as he is with Monteverdior Mozart.Richard HaskellAmerican Grace – Piano Music from StevenMackey and John AdamsOrli Shaham; Jon Kimura Parker; LosAngeles Philharmonic; David RobertsonCanary Classics CC11Orli Shaham andJon Kimura Parkerbrilliantly performHallelujah Junction,for two pianos,written in 1996 byJohn Adams. Thepiece derives its titlefrom a truck stop on Highway 49 on theCalifornia/Nevada border. It is an extremelycomplex piece rhythmically and harmonically.The pianists play off of one another inchunky, alternating chords and jazzy syncopations.There is a moment of impressionisticrepose until the intense and ferocious boogie–woogie concludes the piece. Steven Mackey’sStumble to Grace is a piano concerto writtenfor Shaham in 2011 and commissioned bythe Los Angeles, St. Louis and New JerseyOrchestras. Although the concerto is in onemovement, it is divided into five stages, whichare inspired by those that a young child goesthrough in developing into maturity. Mackeyis a guitarist who had been thoroughlyimmersed in rock music until later in life. Heis now a Professor at Princeton University. Iwas absolutely enthralled with this piece andthe imaginative and unique orchestration. Theinteraction and play with the piano resultedin fascinating tonal colors. Both the orchestraand the pianist were superb in bringing thisunusual concerto to life. China Gates byAdams, a mesmerizing and hypnotic minimalpiece, was played by Shaham with sensitivity,articulation and crystalline touch.My only suggestion in regards to this excellentCD would be to change the order ofthe works. I would leave out the SneakyMarch by Mackey, which at a little over oneminute seemed superfluous, place ChinaGates second and end with the remarkableconcerto.Christina Petrowska QuilicoCompositeurs de la CASA DE VELÁZQUEZ:Samuel Andreyev; Kenji SakaïVarious ArtistsAcadémie de France à Madrid(casadevelazquez.org)Samuel Andreyev – The Tubular WestSamuel AndreyevTorpor Vigil Records TVR-CD006(torporvigil.com)We rarely hearabout Canadiancomposers livingabroad; the youngSamuel Andreyev(b.1981) hails fromKincardine, Ontariobut has made Parishis home since 2003. Andreyev’s music iscomplex, meticulously scored, and intriguinglyquirky – his ensembles often include80 | May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

musette (a piccolooboe) or a Casio SK-1(a now-defunct electronickeyboard).Andreyev is cleverin establishing stasis,then disturbing itconstantly: both intermittentlyand unexpectedly. The colours ofhis orchestration – imagine an ensemble ofpiccolo, musette, piccolo clarinet and tin canstogether in Vérifications – never offend. Thecomplexity of his textures seems organic,almost improvisatory, yet over multiplelistens, I hear the careful planning and evolutionof sounds – a chimerism of form.The concertante work for piano, À proposdu concert de la semaine dernière, systematicallyseparates left and right hand, andaccompanies each in a hauntingly Schnittkeesquebipolarity.Andreyev’s music is sometimes raw – evenFour Discs from empreintesDIGITALesIt’s been close to 25 years since thefounding of the unique Montreal-based labelempreintes DIGITALes (empreintesDIGI-TALes.com) in 1989 by Jean-François Denisand Claude Schryer. Solo-directed since 1991by Denis, the label has produced 130 discsrepresenting 107 composers and specializes incontemporary electroacoustic music, acousmaticand musique concrète. Although thesegenres of music are not the common farefor most of the concert events listed by TheWholeNote, it is important to realize that thetechnical innovations and ways of thinkingthat have been pioneered by the practitionersof this music have had a wide influence on avast array of musical forms and styles as wellas media-based art forms.One of the most distinguishing featuresof electroacoustic music in general is that itis composed primarily within a studio environmentand is designed to be listened tothrough loud speakers. And although theingredients of melody, rhythm and harmonycan be an aspect of electroacoustic music, itsprimary focus is on the sound itself, whichcan originate from recordings made in aparticular acoustic environment, or generatedand processed through purely electronic ordigital technologies. Sometimes the originalsound source is recognizable – such as recordingsof ocean waves or the inside of a piano,and in other situations, the sounds have beenstudio processed beyond recognition of theiroriginal context.Back in 1990, empreintesDIGITALes offeredits own vision of the wide array of possibilitieswithin the electroacoustic genre. Itpublished the groundbreaking Électro ClipsCD which featured three-minute miniaturesby 25 different composers, each one representinga unique approach to working in astudio environment.WENDALYN BARTLEYprofane – but reveals its intention profoundly.Fortunately, Canadian ensembles are takingmore notice of this composer (alreadypublished by A. Leduc); the Edmonton NewMusic Festival featured his music this season,and Esprit Orchestra has commissioned anorchestral work (planned for 2014/15).I would be remiss not to mentionAndreyev’s venture into pop music: thecomposer has a full-length release on theTorpor Vigil label. Andreyev – on The TubularWest – is “geeky” (in the most positive sense):a kind of early Beck meets Sondre Lerche, butthe detail of the arrangements clearly pegshim as a “real composer.” Andreyev is also apublished poet.Wallace HalladayChiyoko Szlavnics – Gradients of DetailEnsemble musikFabrik; Peter Rundel; DirkRothbrust; Asasello QuartettWorld Edition CD #0022 (world-edition.com)More recently, the label has released fournew albums by four unique composers:Martin Bédard (Montreal), Pierre AlexandreTremblay (Montreal/UK), Andrew Lewis (UK)and David Berezan (Calgary/UK). Althoughthe pieces are of longer duration than thethree-minute clips, each disc presents fourunique approaches and aesthetic visions.Each of Bédard’sfive acousmaticcompositions on hisTopographies CD(empreintesDIGI-TALes IMED 13121)creates a sonic pictureof specific acousticenvironments, rangingfrom recordings made in restored jail cellsto the soundworld of trains. He also weavesin tributes to what he calls “phonoculture”– lyrics from a Rush song or the audio heritageof a specific community. He is captivatedby specific behaviours, whether those be ofa night watchman or of metal under stress,and his compositions are expressions of hiscuriosity.The five compositionson Tremblay’s2-disc set entitledLa Marée (IMED13123/124) are excellentexamples of theinteraction betweenlive performers and aform of live processingof the solo instrumentalist. I found hispiece La tombeau des fondeurs particularlyengaging with its rhythmic and timbral pulsationsthat create a seductive sonorous qualitysuggestive of the casting of a metal or bronzebell or gong. All his pieces are meditations onlife, a balancing of contradictions.Armed with greatinsight and awarenessof 20th century classicalmusic history,in her first CD,Gradients of Detail,Berlin-based Torontocomposer ChiyokoSzlavnics explores musical ideas that whileleaning toward abstraction possess a finelynuanced sensitivity to the nature and receptionof sound.One of her primary memes is the use of“pure,” senza vibrato, sustained tones, andyet there is plenty of motion in the musictoo. Some tones rise in pitch while othersfall in slow glissandi. At other moments theyoverlap and interfere, creating sonic moirépatterns, or are occasionally interspersed witha timbrally thick staccato, the sonic equivalentof a fuzzy thick point on paper. Szlavnicsassays these common raw materials withThe music of Lewison his CD Au-delà(IMED 13125) is agreat example of pureacousmatic musicin which the originalsound sources areheavily processed andthe original contextis predominantly unrecognizable. However,Lewis’ skill at weaving sounds togethercreates strong impressionistic and imaginarysoundscapes. His track Cân, the Welshword for song, takes the Welsh musical heritagebeyond the traditional sounds of harpsand male choirs. Short interjections of thesetraditional sounds are juxtaposed with moreabstract sonic textures.And finally, themusic on Berezan’sAllusions Sonores(IMED 13122) offersthe listener a windowinto the places hehas visited. Seeinghimself as a composerwho collects and“uncovers” sounds as part of his creativeprocess, each of the five pieces reflectsplaces he has personally visited or interactedwith. Ranging from the sounds of aBalinese thumb piano to recordings made inAlberta’s badlands to the chirping sounds oftemple and palace floors in Japan, listeningto Berezan’s music is similar to listening tothe ocean. Each piece has a very distinctivewave-like motion with the constant ebb andflow of the sound textures rising up and thenfalling away.These four discs are a testament to theongoing commitment this independent labelhas for a very unique and distinct genre ofmusic. It is known and respected internationallyand considered the go-to place forthe keen listener and connoisseur of electroacousticmusic in all its varied forms.thewholenote.com May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 | 81

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