Views
2 years ago

Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Listings
  • August
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Orchestra
PLANTING NOT PAVING! In this JUNE / JULY /AUGUST combined issue: Farewell interviews with TSO's Peter Oundjian and Stratford Summer Music's John Miller, along with "going places" chats with Luminato's Josephine Ridge, TD Jazz's Josh Grossman and Charm of Finches' Terry Lim. ) Plus a summer's worth of fruitful festival inquiry, in the city and on the road, in a feast of stories and our annual GREEN PAGES summer Directory.

as to the placement of

as to the placement of the orchestra in relation to the stage. He was also the first one who thought of turning off the lights in the auditorium during performance. Naturally the orchestra became an integral part of his music dramas and much of his orchestral music can be independently played at concerts. The Ring has ample scope for this, collected now on a single CD by Naxos with the Buffalo Philharmonic and their current music director, JoAnn Falletta. It’s primary purpose most likely is to show off the virtuosity of this fine ensemble and its conductor and perhaps give an introduction to the uninitiated at a low price. The excerpts evoke some of the great scenes, like the Entry of the Gods into Valhalla over a rainbow bridge or the Ride of the Valkyries where you can hear the shrieks of laughter of the warrior maidens and the neighing of the horses, or the wondrous Magic Fire Music with its shimmering curtain of sound. We can even hear the waves of the mighty Rhine carrying Siegfried to his eventual doom. Given the enormous popularity of the Ring today and dozens of new video versions, this modest CD is a good reminder of the timeless musical beauties that might escape the hurried wayfarers of our digital, plug-in world. Janos Gardonyi Mahler – Symphony No.1 Düsseldorfer Symphoniker; Ádám Fischer Avi-Music 8553390 (avi-music.de) !! It started innocently enough. Our stalwart editor kindly brought me this Mahler disc conducted by a fellow named Fischer. I presumed his first name was Iván, well known for the excellence of his Mahler recordings with his Budapest Festival Orchestra; but what was he doing in Düsseldorf? Well, I was (not so) sadly mistaken; Iván has an elder brother, named Ádám, who has been the music director of the venerable Düsseldorf orchestra since 2015. And what of the Düsseldorf ensemble? Established 200 years ago, it was led in its early days by the likes of Mendelssohn and Schumann. Though their symphonic profile is unfortunately overshadowed these days by their onerous commitments to the local opera house, they are an aristocratic ensemble of outstanding sensitivity that deserves a far greater international reputation. In fact, I was so impressed by the excellence of this recording of Mahler’s fledgling symphony I eagerly sought out and strongly recommend their earlier volumes of this ongoing cycle as well, which Fischer boldly launched in 2015 with the most under-appreciated of Mahler’s symphonies, the sphinxlike Seventh. I was floored by that 2015 performance, which is amongst the finest I have ever heard. From start to finish Fischer never loses sight of the connecting threads of this highly sectional work, expertly driving it to a triumphal conclusion. I was reminded of an incident in 1976 when I was astonished to witness a high school band sauntering down Bloor Street during the annual Christmas parade, blasting away the principal theme of the finale of this work. Mahler himself would have been delighted to have witnessed that event; his time had indeed come! That’s exactly how joyously the conclusion of this work reaches its spirited apotheosis. The subsequent volume featuring the Fourth Symphony is equally fine, a beautifully sculpted sonic landscape imbued with the effervescent spirit of Haydn, over which passing clouds of mock menace occasionally appear. No detail is overlooked and the performance is full of personality with a chamber-music-like delicacy. It rivals my sentimental favourite performance by George Szell. The recordings in this ongoing cycle are edits of live performances captured by German Radio. The sound is excellent and the audience is undetectable, though at times the lower frequencies seem slightly indistinct (notably in the First Symphony), likely due to the unusual spherical design of the Düsseldorf Tonhalle, a repurposed, massive planetarium constructed in 1926. Fischer himself contributes his own provocative thoughts in the program notes. A fourth volume devoted to the Fifth Symphony was released in March. Digital downloads are available at avi-music.de. This series promises to rank among the most compelling of Mahler cycles in a very crowded field. Daniel Foley Prokofiev – Symphony No.7; Orchestral works Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop Naxos 8.573620 (naxos.com) !! Sergei Prokofiev made a disastrous decision in 1936 to return to his homeland, the Soviet Union. Already a much celebrated composer and pianist in the West, he was hoping the Stalinist repression and terror wouldn’t apply to him like it did to Shostakovich, who kept a packed suitcase by his bedside to be ready when the KGB showed up. It didn’t, but Prokofiev’s creative genius was much curtailed and, plagued with ill health, financial and marriage problems, he was driven to an early death in 1953 (a day I remember), a few hours before Stalin died. The Seventh Symphony that stems from this period shows no sign of the lessening of his talents, although it was aimed at pleasing the regime. What makes it so beautiful is his melodic gifts par excellence combined with tremendous skill in counterpoint, with countermelodies going in the opposite direction in the lower registers against the main subjects in the upper strings. The effect is remarkably original, and made transparent here by Marin Alsop. She recorded the entire set of Prokofiev’s symphonies with the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, with which she seems to have special affinity. Alsop takes a relaxed approach, somewhat slower than expected, revelling in the lyricism and beauties of the score, but gathers momentum in the last movement with an inimitable, energetic yet graceful style that I had the good fortune to witness when I last saw her with the TSO. In addition, there are two excerpts from the opera Love for Three Oranges, with the Scherzo delightfully driven in good humour and devil-may-care abandon, and the Lieutenant Kije Suite, where Alsop conjures up a monumental brass fanfare from pianississimo in steady crescendo to a formidable fortississimo, a remarkable feat by the Sao Paulo brass and Naxos engineers. Janos Gardonyi Sweet Dream Jean-Louis Beaumadier Skarbo DSK4165 (piccolo-beaumadier.com) ! ! How much repertoire is out there for the piccolo player? Through extensive discoveries, adaptations and commissioning, Jean- Louis Beaumadier continues to amaze us with the breadth of musical possibilities that his oft-maligned little flute possesses. Sweet Dream, the most recent addition to his fine collection of nearly 20 recordings devoted entirely to the piccolo, offers fresh new works rendered with the captivating artistry we have come to expect from this musician whom Jean-Pierre Rampal once dubbed “the Paganini of the Piccolo.” In Guarnieri’s Estudo, Guiot’s Sweet Project, and Damase’s For Piccolo, Beaumadier’s continuing partnership with pianist Jordi Torrent is the source of outstanding rhythmic precision, impeccable intonation and synchronicity of nuance. In particular, the jazzy, technical wizardry of Mike Mower’s Sonata is executed with effortlessly cool nonchalance. Carla Rees with her 80 | June | July | August 2018 thewholenote.com

Kingma quarter-tone alto flute joins them in Véronique Poltz’s four expressive and inventive miniatures, Midnight with Pan. Although employing flutter-tongue, wholetone and quarter-tone passages, this music is engagingly accessible; movement three, Sweet Dream, exudes utter serenity. The controlled beauty of Beaumadier’s pianissimo is featured in Flint Juventino Beppe’s A Piccolo Poem. William Bardwell’s gamelan-inspired gem, Little Serenade, uses the percussive textures of the mandolin and xylophone to contrast and support some very lyrical piccolo playing. Rounding out the disc are Gordon Jacob’s Introduction and Fugue for piccolo, flute and alto flute, Magalif’s infectiously cheerful piccolo duet Tarantella and the improvisatory-like duet, Naomi for piccolo and flute with voice, by Magic Malik (Malik Mezzadri). This CD is highly recommended for both the piccolo aficionados and its skeptics! Nancy Nourse MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Alan Hovhaness – Music for Winds & Percussion Central Washington University Wind Ensemble; Larry Gookin; Keith Brion; Mark Goodenberger Naxos 8.559837 (naxos.com) !! This spellbinding, beautyfilled CD, featuring several world premiere recordings, will delight Hovhaness’ fans (like me). For anyone unfamiliar with Hovhaness’ luminous exoticism, these ten short, varied works spanning the years 1942-1985 are a perfect introduction. Hovhaness’ amazing output over his long life (1911-2000) includes 67 symphonies (!) among 434 opus numbers (!), many drawing upon his father’s Armenian heritage, as well as other Eastern musical traditions. Mystically inclined, the Massachusetts-born composer revered mountains as sacred, referencing them in the titles of over 30 works, including two on this CD. October Mountain for six percussionists highlights the marimba in music recalling Balinese ceremonial song and dance. In Mountain under the Sea, a chanting saxophone floats above throbbing harp and percussion, suggesting magma welling from an underwater volcano. The Overture to Hovhaness’ opera The Burning House, scored for flute and percussion, evokes the austere stateliness of Japanese court and theatre music. Vision on a Starry Night for flute, harp and percussion is sweet and dreamy, while melancholy informs Meditation on Ardalus for solo flute and The Ruins of Ani for eight clarinets, a threnody for a medieval Armenian city destroyed by the Turks. The most lustrous gems in this musical jewel box are works for band. Hovhaness exulted in solemn, incantatory brass and woodwind melismas, spotlighted in the Armenian processional Tapor No.1, Three Improvisations on Folk Tunes (from India and Pakistan), Hymn to Yerevan and the sixmovement Suite for Band. A truly entrancing disc! Michael Schulman Michael Daugherty – Dreamachine; Trail of Tears; Reflection on the Mississippi Amy Porter; Evelyn Glennie; Carol Jantsch; Albany Symphony; David Alan Miller Naxos 8.559807 (naxos.com) !! Among the younger composers prominent in the fecund musical topography of the United States, Michael Daugherty stands out as being fascinating, compelling and yet profoundly revolutionary in his ability to use the timbral palette of orchestral instruments, squeezing haunting and intuitive, drone-like modalities to evoke feelings of sadness and joy, nostalgia and anticipation, on a grand and sweeping scale. His music on this disc has been rendered with urbane and stylish theatre by the Albany Symphony conducted by David Alan Miller. The cloudy sound masses of Trail of Tears have been created out of microscopic tangles of intrepid instrumental lines. These gradually become clearer as the work progresses through its ferociously revelatory second movement. This micropolyphony of the melodic line, pursued by flutist Amy Porter, entwined with the percussive outbursts of the Albany Symphony, comes to a mighty resolution in the finale. In Dreamachine and Reflections on the Mississippi – considerably darkened by the Delta’s history – Daugherty summons his visionary skills to create a compelling musical world, at once eerie and beautiful. The music receives an epic fillip with the inclusion of Dame Evelyn Glennie on percussion and Carol Jantsch on tuba. Orchestral tensions mount in the darkened imagery of Reflections on the Mississippi; the visceral drama of Dreamachine is completely re-contextualised in Glennie’s inimitable manner and expressed in a magisterial rhythmic style, where complex layers of tempi are used to drive the music forward. Raul da Gama George Perle – Orchestral Music (1965- 1987) Jay Campbell; Seattle Symphony; Ludovic Morlot Bridge Records 9499 (bridgerecords.com) !! Christopher Hailey’s excellent accompanying notes to this release quote American composer George Perle (1915-2009) on his intentions: “Music that was going to do what music used to do, with its basis being the 12-tone scale instead of the diatonic [seven-note] scale.” Based on these premiere recordings, Perle succeeds with clear phrasing and textures, melodic and rhythmic interest, consistent pitch content and colourful, inviting instrumental groups. The Sinfonietta 1 (1987) exemplifies these traditional virtues, opening with a propulsive neo-classical feel. Perle’s string writing is exemplary both in part-writing and mood creation; in the second movement, the Seattle Symphony’s string section supports a questioning clarinet solo beautifully. Other works differ; A Short Symphony (1980) is more influenced by Alban Berg’s expressionism, especially in the intriguing last movement where Perle’s in-depth involvement and analytical insight into Berg’s works produce remarkable results. Six Bagatelles (1965) are miniatures. No.5 is notable for its otherworldly high divisi strings that surge and recede. In No.4, a solo cello emerges powerfully, contrasting with sustained woodwinds. This piece led to the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1966), where the solo-orchestra juxtaposition becomes a natural fit with Perle’s style. He contrasts one orchestra section with another or with the cello in an idiomatic and imaginative way. American cellist Jay Campbell is expressive and assured, conductor Ludovic Morlot balances all wonderfully, and the Seattle Symphony shines. The clever Dance Fantasy (1986) rounds off this remarkable disc. Roger Knox Aaron Jay Kernis – Dreamsongs: Three Concertos Paul Neubauer; Joshua Roman; Royal Northern Sinfonia; Rebecca Miller Signum Classics SIGCD524 (signumrecords.com) ! ! In these three very disparate concertos, composed between 2009 and 2014, Pulitzer Prize laureate Aaron Jay Kernis has drawn inspiration from thewholenote.com June | July | August 2018 | 81

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020
Volume 26 Issue 3 - November 2020

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020
Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020
Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020
Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020
Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 3 - November 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)