Views
2 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017

  • Text
  • March
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • April
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Performing
  • Theatre
  • Orchestra
  • Violin
On our cover: Owen Pallett's musical palette on display at New Creations. Spring brings thoughts of summer music education! (It's never too late.). For Marc-Andre Hamelin the score is king. Ella at 100 has the tributes happening. All; this and more.

Butterflies in the

Butterflies in the Labyrinth of Silence features the guitar music of the Swiss composer Georges Raillard (b.1957) in performances by the American guitarist David William Ross (Navona Records NV6071). Raillard studied classical guitar and composition in the mid-1970s, and his guitar compositions are available for download through his website at georges-raillard.com. The works here date from 1999 to 2008 and, with titles like Shells on the Beach, Summer Evening at the Rhine, Butterfly and Measuring Clouds, are clearly essentially light classical pieces. Although somewhat limited in technical range in comparison to many contemporary works – often with the feel of classical guitar études – they are consistently pleasant, well-written and competent pieces by someone who clearly loves and understands the instrument. There is lovely clean playing from Ross throughout a thoroughly enjoyable CD. The Cypress String Quartet celebrated its 20th anniversary and its final season in 2016, and for its final recording in April chose the two String Sextets by Brahms, asking longtime friends and collaborators violist Barry Shiffman and cellist Zuill Bailey to join them (Avie Records AV2294). The performers also opted to make the recordings in front of a live studio audience, although there is no hint of audience presence on the CD. The Sextets No.1 in B-flat Major Op.18 and No.2 in G Major Op.36 are given simply beautiful performances. Brahms always seems to have that quality of wistfulness and yearning, but the G Major work is particularly appropriate here, Brahms having learned from Robert Schumann the device of using musical notation to denote the names of people in one’s life and consequently turning this work into an emotional farewell to his lost love Agathe von Siebold. It is hardly surprising then that this work should make such a fitting conclusion to the Cypress Quartet’s career. As the quartet members note, the works were an obvious choice for this final CD: “these monumental String Sextets . . . with their warmth and reflective qualities, are perfectly suited to saying farewell.” The Cypress Quartet will be greatly missed, but this CD is a wonderful tribute to their talents. The outstanding French cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand is back with another excellent CD, this time featuring the Cello Concerto No.1 in A Minor Op.33 by Camille Saint-Saëns with the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester under James Gaffigan and also the Cello Sonatas Nos.2 & 3 with Bertrand’s partner, pianist Pascal Amoyel (harmonia mundi HMM 902210). Saint-Saëns clearly had a great love for the cello, and it shows throughout these works. Bertrand gives a passionate and convincing performance of the concerto, with excellent orchestral support. Bertrand and Amoyel are, as usual, as one voice in beautifully judged readings of the two sonatas. All of the usual outstanding Bertrand qualities – tone, phrasing, sensitivity and musical intelligence – are here in abundance. The Sonata No.3 is a late work that occupied the composer from 1913 to 1919, but unfortunately the final two movements have been lost, and the first two exist only in manuscript. This lovely performance is the first recording of the work and leaves us wondering just what we are missing in the two lost movements. I could easily use an entire column to review Cello Stories – The Cello in the 17th and 18th Centuries, the quite remarkable hardcover book and 5-CD set featuring the French cellist Bruno Cocset and his group Les Basses Réunies, with text by the Baroque cellist and musicologist Marc Vanscheeuwijck (Alpha Classics ALPHA 890). Cocset says that the intention is to show how an instrument and its repertoire have taken shape, and he has selected the musical program from his recordings for Alpha – some of them previously unreleased – made between 1998 and 2013. The five discs are: The Origins, with music by Ortiz, Bonizzi, Frescobaldi, Vitali, Galli and Degli Antonii; Italy-France, with music by Marcello, Vivaldi and Barrière; Johann Sebastian Bach, two CDs of cello sonatas, choral preludes, movements from the Cello Suites Nos. 1, 2 and 4 and the complete Suites 3, 5 and 6; and From Geminiani to Boccherini, including a short sonata by Giovanni Cirri. The book is in English and French, with full track listings and recording details, and there are 15 pages of full-colour contemporary illustrations. The astonishingly detailed and researched text portion on the history and development of the instrument and its playing techniques runs to about 50 pages and has 386 footnotes. The playing throughout is quite superb. It’s a simply astonishing project, completed in quite brilliant fashion. Some reviews in this section have a little arrow like this above the cover: All these reviews (see ads below) have been enhanced online at TheWholeNote.com/Listening L/R Danzas - Montréal Guitare Trio Danzas : Spanish Guitar by the Montreal Guitare Trio is an album of great classics. Spanish music at its most vibrant and colourful best! Mappa Mundi For its first album on the ATMA Classique label, the Canadian Guitar Quartet pairs works by contemporary composers with Vivaldi’s Concerto R.V. 531. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 / 4 Ballades Available at L’Atelier Grigorian 70 Yorkville Ave, Toronto & Grigorian.com Opus 8: Melancholy & Mirth Available at L’Atelier Grigorian, 70 Yorkville Ave, Toronto grigorian.com and www. opus8choir.com/store 70 | March 1, 2017 - April 7, 2017 thewholenote.com

Melia Watras: 26 (Sono Luminus SLE-70007) is a fascinating CD inspired by the concept of violists performing and sharing their own compositions. Violists Watras, Atar Arad and Garth Knox (here playing viola d’amore) are joined by violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim in five works by Watras, two by Arad, one by Knox and a duo by American composer Richard Karpen. All the players have extensive chamber music experience, Arad with the Cleveland Quartet, Knox with the Arditti Quartet and Watras and Lim as co-founders of the Corigliano Quartet. The playing is of the highest standard throughout. All of the nine works – there are three duos for two violas and two for violin and viola, three solo viola works and a solo violin piece – are world premiere recordings, and each one is a real gem. It’s a terrific CD, and one which should appeal to a much wider audience than just lovers of the viola. The CD title, incidentally, represents the combined number of strings on the four instruments used. SPHERES – Music of Robert Paterson is the new CD from the Claremont Trio – violinist Emily Bruskin, cellist Julia Bruskin and pianist Andrea Lam (American Modern Recordings AMR 1046). The two major works by this American composer are quite different but form a pair, the shorter and sweeter 2015 Moon Trio, commissioned by the Claremont Trio, being a sister piece for the much longer and more strident Sun Trio, a 1995 work revised in 2008; Donna Kwong, who was a founding member and pianist of the Trio for 12 years from its foundation at the Juilliard School in 1999, is the pianist in the latter work. The Toronto-born cellist Karen Ouzounian joins Andrea Lam and Julia Bruskin in the Elegy for Two Cellos and Piano, a 2006 work originally written for two bassoons in memory of a well-known New York cellist, and transcribed for two cellos in 2007-08. Quoting liberally from the Bach cello works, it’s a simply lovely piece. And finally, Henning Kraggerud is the brilliant soloist leading the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra on MOZART Violin Concertos Nos.3, 4 and 5 and the Adagio in E, K.261, a Naxos Music in Motion DVD (2.110368). Filmed before a small audience in the intimate but resonant Akershus Castle Church in Oslo in January 2015, the camera work is understandably a bit limited, with cameras in front on the left, right and centre providing close-ups and occasional tracking. The picture quality could perhaps be a little sharper, but colour and sound are fine. It’s the playing we’re here for, though, and it’s simply sublime. Kraggerud’s 1744 Guarneri Del Gesù has surely never sounded warmer or brighter, and the joy, exuberance and perfect communication between soloist and orchestral players is a delight to see. The performances throughout are superb, with brilliant outer movements and beautifully judged slow movements. Kraggerud, who provides his own cadenzas, gives introductions to each work (in Norwegian with English subtitles) with fascinating insight and stories, including what may well be the historical source of all viola jokes; and there is a brief Behind the Scenes bonus track showing preparations for the concert. Keyed In ALEX BARAN Adam Kośmieja plays a remarkable contemporary program in his recording Serocki – Complete works for solo piano (Dux 1284). The music of Kazimierz Serocki (1922-1981) is regrettably unfamiliar to most North American audiences. Its uniqueness lies in his 12-tone style. Serocki demonstrates a strong affinity for rhythm and texture as the key drivers in his music. Whether he’s drawing out a languorous elegy or spinning a feverish virtuosic passage, he writes for clarity using very little pedal and favouring generous application of staccato. On rare occasions he will seem impressionistic and reveal the French influences he absorbed as a student in Paris. More curious and delightful is the unmistakable, if subtle, flavour of something that is teasingly Broadway and flirts with jazz. Pianist Adam Kośmieja does an extraordinary job of playing this music. He obviously has a deep understanding of what Serocki is saying and how he means it to be said. Kośmieja’s ability to meet the widely different interpretive demands of the music is impressive. He lists, among his teachers, names like Gary Grafman, Paul Badura- Skoda, Ivan Moravec, Lang Lang and numerous others. The Sonata for Piano has two wonderfully maniacal movements, veloce and barbaro, that contrast sharply with the other two inquietamente and elegiaco. It’s a substantial work, rich in variety and it’s exceptionally well-played. The Gnomes: Childrens’ Miniatures is fascinating for its simplicity as repertoire for children yet intriguing for the way it introduces them to the 12-tone system through the strategic placement of gentle dissonances. The disc is a wonderful issue from Polish Radio. Ukrainian-born pianist Irena Portenko has conceived a yin-yang study of contrasting concertos that may have more in common with each other than meets the ear. Her new release Versus: Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.2; Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1; Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra; Volodymyr Sirenko (Blue Griffin Recording BGR417) opens with an intense performance of the Prokofiev Concerto No.2. Actually, there’s no other way to play it. It’s dramatic, dark and relentless. Prokofiev’s first few performances met with uneven success. He cites generally better public acceptance with each performance, but it was a rocky start. The work was, for 1913, a challenging audience experience. Dense and replete with rhythmic and melodic complexities, it left first-time listeners dealing mainly with the heavy emotional experience. Stravinsky, however, was impressed. Diaghilev, too, was complimentary and reportedly invited Prokofiev to play it as a stage production while dancers moved around him on the stage. Curiously the third movement has the feel of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with the strong bass pulse that drives the dance, Montagues and Capulets. The writing is undeniably brilliant and is matched by the performance. Portenko is satisfyingly at home with this music, meeting its technical and interpretive challenges with confidence and style. She brings the same energy to the Tchaikovsky Concerto No.1 in B-flat Minor Op.23. It too, is grand and relentless. Although she is very clear in her notes that she sees this as the counterbalance of light and positive energy to the Prokofiev. Noteworthy in this performance is the way some of the inner wind voices are brought forward in the second movement, creating the impression of familiar music never heard before. A very impressive recording. thewholenote.com March 1, 2017 - April 7, 2017 | 71

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2019)

Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)