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Volume 20 Issue 1 - September 2014

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essential recording of

essential recording of this repertoire.Bruce SurteesIn the NightStephen HoughHyperion CDA67996Pianist StephenHough is absolutelybrilliant in his solorelease In the Nightwhere the manyaspects of night,from nightmares toinsomnia to deepsleep to bliss, aregiven a pianistic rendition. Beethoven’s PianoSonata in C sharp minor “Moonlight” is anobvious inclusion here. Hough begins withthoughtful reflection and a mournful lyricalmelodic statement which weaves arounda steady rhythmic framework and sets thestage for an emotionally dark yet hopefulperformance. Likewise his performances ofFrederic Chopin’s Two Nocturnes Op.27 arecharged and driven by deep musical maturity.Both Robert Schumann’s In der Nachtfrom Fantasiestucke, Op.12 and Carnavalare performed with technical and musicalwizardry.The pianist’s own composition PianoSonata No.2 “notturno luminoso” is a tourde force. It is always such a joy to hearcomposers perform their own work. Thoughclearly steeped in romantic attributes,Hough chooses more modern jazz-evokingharmonies, witty repartees between high andlow pitches, and excursions into sharp, flatand natural sections to evoke the many sidesof nighttime living. From crashing percussionchords which never overwhelm, to suddensilences, to a soothing final cadence lullingone to sleep, Hough musically evokes nighttimeat its very, very best and very, very worst.Superb production qualities, well-writtenliner notes, a great performer and a greatchoice in repertoire make In the Night pianomusic to listen to any time of day.Tiina KiikTchaikovsky – The SeasonsPavel KolesnikovHyperion CDA68028While Tchaikovskyis most famous for hisballets, operas andorchestral music, healso completed a largenumber of piecesfor solo piano. Thesemay not be as wellknown, but they bearthe same attention to detail and finely craftedmelodies as his larger works – and these characteristicsare very evident in the two setsOp.37b and Op.19 found on this Hyperionrecording performed by Siberian-born pianistPavel Kolesnikov.Still only in his early 20s, Kolesnikovwas a first-prize winner in the Honenspiano competition in 2012, and is currentlypursuing musical studies at Moscow StateConservatory in addition to private lessonswith Maria João Pires in Brussels. To date,he has performed at Carnegie Hall, Berlin’sKonzerthaus and the Banff Summer Festival.The Seasons (1876) initially appeared asindividual movements in a musical journalspanning the course of a year, each one representinga different month. Charming andgraceful music, each movement is characterizedby its own unique character, fromthe quiet reflection of “January (By the fireside)”and the exuberance of “February(Carnaval)” to the gracefulness of “December(Valse).” Kolesnikov’s approach to the musicis thoughtful and intuitive, demonstratingan understated sensitivity combined with aformidable technique.The Six Morceaux, composed three yearsearlier, is also a study in contrasts. Onceagain, Kolesnikov effortlessly conveys theever-changing moods, right up until thestriking “Thème original et Variations”which concludes the set and the disc with afine flourish.Well done, young man, you’ve alreadyaccomplished much in your short life and ifthis fine recording is any indication, you’reheaded for greatness.Richard HaskellMODERN AND CONTEMPORARYJohn Burke – MysteriumEnsemble VivantIndependent (ensemblevivant.com)John Burke isa distinguishedCanadian composerwhose work has fortwo decades movedbeyond the concerthall to engage withcontemplative practicesof severalcultural traditions. This disc includes piecesfrom the composer’s repertoire of worksbased on walking a labyrinth. The informativeprogram notes describe Burke’s music as:“Neither concert nor ritual, it accesses a thirdtype of experience, surpassing the sum of itsparts.” In my own experience, both one’s ownpassage and the presence of other labyrinthwalkers can become uncanny. Burke’s finelywrought writing takes labyrinth music to anew level that will be especially rewardingto those interested in this work, with precisionsof sonority, dynamics and rhythm thatEnsemble Vivant, led by pianist CatherineWilson, fully deliver.Mysterium, the opener, encompasses thesequence of 12 harmonies upon which allthe pieces are based. Expressive long tonesplayed by Erica Beston, violin, and SharonPrater, cello, over a repetitive broken-chordpiano accompaniment remind me of passagesin Messiaen and in minimalism; the moodis sombre. Wilson’s playing of Lungta, animprovisatory piano solo with tone clustersand flourishes, is evocative. Longest isthe multi-sectional Hieratikos, with intricateensemble writing performed magnificentlyby Wilson, Joseph Peleg, violin, andSybil Shanahan, cello. Norman Hathaway,violin and David Young, bass, join in a closingvariant of Mysterium, rounding off a movingexperience.Roger KnoxOlivier Messiaen – Turangalîla Symphonie.Angela Hewitt; Valérie Hartmann-Claverie;Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; HannuLintuOndine ODE 1251-5I remember well aperformance of thisstunning 1948 work inthe mid-1960s duringSeiji Ozawa’s timeat the helm of theToronto Symphony(1965-1969). Ozawalater recorded thismodern classic with the TSO for RCA to greatinternational acclaim with the composer’swife and sister-in-law, Yvonne and JeanneLoriod, as soloists. This new recording alsohas a Toronto connection because it washere in 1985 that Canadian pianist AngelaHewitt came to the world’s attention bywinning the Toronto International Bach PianoCompetition, of which Olivier Messiaen wasone of the adjudicators. As we know, she hassince gone on to a stellar career.Turangalîla is taken from two Sanskritwords – turanga, time and lîla, love – andthis about sums up the essence of this work,perhaps the most inventive, original andforward-looking piece since Stravinsky’sLe Sacre du Printemps. The ten movementsincrease in complexity as the workproceeds. The odd numbers deal with seriousissues, like life and death, the “tragic plane”as the great Arthur Koestler would say. Theeven-numbered ones like the fourth representlove with a playful scherzo that movestowards the sentimental with Janáček-likeharmonies embellished lovingly by the pianosolo. Hewitt conjures up marvellous soundswith the extended bird-calls in the sixthmovement; this is certainly an apex of thecomposition, where one simply melts into theheavenly harmonies back and forth betweenLintu’s virtuoso orchestra and the pianist.For extra orchestral brilliance Messiaenadded a curious electronic instrument,called ondes Martinot (played by ValérieHartmann-Claverie ), with shivers of glissandosglistening in the love music and someweird barking shouts of joy amidst the overwhelmingjollity and magnificent cacophonyof the finale, a triumphant movement oftotal mayhem that somehow reminded meof Strauss’ Symphonia Domestica. This is a72 | September 1, 2014 – October 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

gorgeous disc, in the four-star category.Janos GardonyiSymphonies of Wind InstrumentsRoyal Norwegian Navy Band; Ingar Bergby2L 102The venerableRoyal NorwegianNavy Band (RNNB),founded in 1820,apparently includesa mere handful ofactual members ofthe military, yet itperforms with theprecision one might expect of soldiers orexceptionally sober sailors. Ingar Bergby,much in demand as a guest conductorthroughout Norway, has been the principalconductor of the band since September 2008.The repertoire of this new disc includes someof the most notable works of the 20th centuryband repertoire. The title track, a scintillatingperformance of the celebrated compositionby Igor Stravinsky, is likely the most familiarof these to the average listener. Stravinsky’sformer nemesis, Arnold Schoenberg, is alsorepresented by his purportedly “accessible”Theme and Variations for band, commissionedby Karl Engel in 1943 for the U.S.high school band market. Though couchedin a tonal language it is both technicallyand intellectually more challenging thanwhat the publisher likely had in mind. TheRNNB breezes through this intriguing workwithout a care on that front. The bulk of thealbum is devoted to outstanding renditionsof two major works by Paul Hindemith. TheKonzertmusik Op.41 from 1926 is a rarelyrecorded, powerfully performed threemovementcomposition in an amusinglyneoclassical style while the Symphony in Bflat is an imposing wind band masterpiecefrom 1951. The performance of the latter is asfine as can be imagined, far surpassing theclassic stereo version by the Eastman WindEnsemble and Hindemith’s own recordingwith the Philharmonia Orchestra, in bothsound and technical precision. The discconcludes with Norwegian composer RolfWallin’s intriguing Changes (1984), an essayin the sonic interplay of static and incisivegestures. The 2L audio production engineeredby Morten Lindberg is spectacular, witha wide sound stage and vivid presence evenin the conventional binaural format. In additionto the SACD layer an extra Blu-ray audiodisc is provided for the hyper-discerningaudiophile.Daniel FoleyJAZZ AND IMPROVISED MUSICWhose Shadow?Lara SolnickiIndependent LSMCD002 (larasolnicki.com)Toronto singer Lara Solnicki has released asecond CD that is a bit of a departure from herfirst, which was largely made up of standards.Something in the AirGuelph Jazz Festival Reaches A New MaturityMoving into a comfortableadulthood, the annualGuelph Jazz Festival (GJF),September 3 to 7, hasn’t abandonedits presentation of newartists. However it has reached thestate where musicians who havebeen there in the past are returning,but mostly in new contexts. Casein point in 2014, the 100th anniversaryof bandleader SunRa’s arrival on this planet – hereturned to the cosmos in 1993– where the Sun Ra Arkestra,now under the direction of altosaxophonist Marshall Allen,gives two performances onSeptember 6. The first is anafternoon parade; the second couples theband with dancers from the Colman LemieuxCompany for “Hymn to the Universe,” amulti-media presentation at the River RunCentre (RRC).Minus the visuals you can sample a Sun RaArkestra performance on Live in Ulm 1992(Golden Years of Jazz GY 30/31 leorecords.com) when Ra, the man from Saturn, was stillin charge. Unusual because there’s extendedinput from trombonist Tyrone Hill, guitaristBruce Edwards and electric bassist JothanCollins, this 10-piece Arkestra features fourdrummers, two reedists and two trumpeterswho faultlessly follow the segues directed byRa’s piano. An intense track like The ShadowWorld is defined by screaming reed multiphonicsas the rest of the orchestra harmonizes;while James Jacson’s nasal oboe and Allen’sKEN WAXMANguttural flute bring otherworldlyexotica to The Mayan Templesjust as a bass vamp and percussionbumps keep it attachedto terra firma. Elsewhere thepercussionists’ claves produce amontuno pulse on a Latinizedversion of Fate in a PleasantMood, but before the dancebeat becomes too predictable, Raslips in references to other Raclassics while sounding if he’splaying a honky-tonk keyboard.Suggestions of spirituals and theSecond Line alternate with brassycrescendos, and just as you thinkall the tricks have been revealed,the group presents a raucous recreationof Fletcher Henderson’s HocusPocus. Later there’s a vocal version of Preludeto a Kiss whose clip-clop backing is crownedby a strident Allen solo. With marching bandprecision and rhythmic hand claps, most ofthe second CD is given over to a singalongmedley of Ra’s greatest hits including Spaceis the Place, We Travel the Spaceways andOuter Spaceways Incorporated. Ra may haveleft this earth, but the Arkestra continuesimpressing people.Another veteran musician who has helpedextend the lineage of jazz is New Orleansbasedtenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan. Hereturns to the GJF September 6 to playthe River Run Centre’s Co-operators Hallwith another Free Jazz pioneer, drummerMilford Graves, plus Canadian pianist D. D.Jackson. Jordan and Graves haven’t recordedtogether but Trio and Duo in New Orleans(NoBusiness Records NBCD 64/65 nobusinessrecords.com)suggests how they maysound since here the saxophonist’s partneris another Free Jazz percussion pioneer:Alvin Fielder. More interesting is the secondCD of duos, although both are also in topform on the first CD that adds the latebassist Peter Kowald. Jordan’s temperedsplit tones and stentorian output thatstands up to every challenge are completelyoriginal. In the main, he’s comfortable in thealtissimo register and on pieces such as DuoFlight, invention is paired with stridencyas screeched multiphonics alternate withmoderato slurs. Fielder uses shakes and shuddersfrom percussion add-ons to make hispoints. In the final minutes, as Jordan movesinto lower pitches, the two attain a spikyrapprochement that brings in bop echoes.Even when Fielder takes a protracted solo ashe does on E. Fashole-Luke, there’s no showoffcommotion, just moderated pizzazz. Thedrummer’s ruffs, ratamacues and reboundsshow a man in perfect command of his kit.This sound authority extends to Jordan, whoutilizes screams and melisma to build up tomajor saxophone statements. That the CD’sfinal track was recorded seven years afterthe first four, with no letdown in power, is aconfirmation of the musicians’ skills.To read about pianists Fred Van Hove andVijay Iyer plus percussionist Lê Quan Ninhalso featured at the GJF see the continuationof this column at thewholenote.com.thewholenote.com September 1, 2014 – October 7, 2014 | 73

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