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Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018

  • Text
  • September
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Quartet
  • Orchestra
  • Festival
  • Theatre
  • Violin
In this issue: The WholeNote's 7th Annual TIFF TIPS guide to festival films with musical clout; soprano Erin Wall in conversation with Art of Song columnist Lydia Perovic, about more than the art of song; a summer's worth of recordings reviewed; Toronto Chamber Choir at 50 (is a few close friends all it takes?); and much more, as the 2018/19 season gets under way.

Chrysostom Church in

Chrysostom Church in Newmarket. Volume 1 of this outstanding two-CD set is available on Naxos (8.573473). The complete 6 String Quartets of the English composer Alan Ridout are available on a new CD from the Coull Quartet (Omnibus Classics CC5014). Ridout was only 61 when he died in 1996. His quartets, from the last decade of his life, are well-crafted, attractive works with hints of the influence of Shostakovich, Bartók, Tippett and Britten, and more than support the description of Ridout’s music as “always playable, clear to listen to, beautifully fashioned and idiomatically written.” The Coull Quartet, formed at London’s Royal Academy of Music in 1974 and with two original members still present, gives beautiful performances on a CD which is a significant addition to the 20th-century English string quartet discography. Finally, Naxos has issued the four outstanding volumes of the Sarasate Complete Works for Violin and Piano, featuring the remarkable violinist Tianwa Yang and pianist Markus Hadulla, as a box set (8.504054). The individual CDs were originally released in 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2014, the latter two reviewed in this column in May 2012 and March 2014 respectively. With a retail price of around , this is an excellent and welcome opportunity to acquire a simply terrific series. Hopefully Naxos will do the same with Yang’s equally outstanding four CDs of the Sarasate Complete Music for Violin and Orchestra. Keyed In ALEX BARAN Canadian pianist Réa Beaumont’s recording Timeless (Shrinking Planet Productions SP0093 reabeaumont.com) includes works by Philip Glass, John Adams, Srul Irving Glick and others, as well a couple of her own compositions. Beaumont’s program is designed to show how “music changes our perception of time.” John Adams’ China Gates, for example, is composed without a time signature and is one of several whose flow supports the recording’s “Timeless” title. Toronto Symphony Orchestra affiliate composer Jordan Pal’s Study in White is the longest work on the program. Beaumont brings an impressive sustained energy to the gradually building intensity of this piece before ending it in the blaze of pianistic colour the composer intended. The six Glick Preludes are short. Beaumont plays them with great attention to the inner melodic material that Glick uses against his rhythmic elements. There’s some shared musical language between Glick and Beaumont that becomes evident on comparative listening. It makes her particularly adept at interpreting his music. Brian Finley spent nearly two decades patiently composing the 13 pianistic impressions that comprise his new recording Preludes to Canada (Booth Street Records BSR0002 brianfinley.ca). Experiencing the country from sunrise on the Atlantic coast to sunset on the Pacific, the pieces offer poetic and emotional portrayals of very specific places. Sometimes as localized as A Park Bench in Joliette and Victoria Harbour, the works focus intently on Finley’s personal experiences in these places. Even the more broadly conceived ones like North of 60 and Red River Dreams contain Finley’s unique language formed during many years as a pianist, composer and artistic director of the Westben Arts Festival. He writes with the simple yet mysterious introspection of Satie but is equally capable of enormously powerful orchestral gestures reminiscent of Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. Finley’s music can’t escape the reality that his Canadian experience has been principally shaped by the land. And he aptly opens his notes with words from Emily Carr that describe Canada as “something sublime that you were born into.” Anderson & Roe are no garden variety piano duo. Their new recording Mother - a musical tribute (SWR Music SWR19058CD swrmusic.de) is ample evidence of their stunning ability to arrange and reinvent well-known tunes in ways that leave you breathless. Covering an established song or piano work always runs the risk of leaving the listener wishing you hadn’t tried in the first place. Anderson & Roe, however, possess the highest form of originality combined with a gob-smacking keyboard technique that reimagines Lennon/McCartney, Paul Simon, Louis Armstrong and Freddie Mercury with both skill and panache. Their advanced understanding of structure and form in everything imaginable from fugues to gospel blues reveals their deep respect for the material as well as a womb of pure genius in which their arrangements are conceived. Grieg, Dvořák, Schubert and Brahms fare equally well in this duo’s creative hands. You should be running out to get this disc, right about now. Leslie Howard’s 99-CD set of Liszt’s piano music released in 2011 to mark Liszt’s bicentenary included a three-volume “New Discoveries” series. Continuing scholarly research since then has turned up more manuscripts and other early editions, compelling Howard back into the studio to record a fourth volume for the series, Liszt: New Discoveries Vol. 4 (Hyperion CDA68247 hyperion-records.co.uk). The disc’s program includes familiar titles appearing as early versions and sketches. Also, there are some tantalizing fragments listed simply as Album-Leaf that offer clues to the origins of some of Liszt’s later thematic ideas. Leslie Howard writes superb notes for this series and explains why the very substantial opening track is, by far, the most important discovery in this set. Hungarian Rhapsody No.23 S242/23 appears to have been erroneously divided into two halves long ago, because of a formatting difference in the manuscript. Howard presents it in its original extended form. Scheduled for release in late September, Volume 4 promises to be in high demand for serious Liszt collectors. With a mere handful of recordings in his discography, Pavel Kolesnikov’s regularly glowing reviews make his newest release, Beethoven (Hyperion CDA68237) a highly anticipated event. Kolesnikov plays the Sonata in C Sharp Minor “Moonlight” Op.27 No.2 with a seductive intimacy that makes you strain to hear 60 | September 2018 thewholenote.com

every note. Tempi and phrasings may be conventional, but the overall approach is rarely so subdued – it’s very effective. The second movement is quite relaxed before he bursts into blazing speed for the third. It’s an entertaining performance of contrast and high drama. In the Seven Bagatelles Op.33, Kolesnikov exploits Beethoven’s whimsical technical devices by playing with exceptional lightness, separation and the sharpest staccato. He has a distinctive touch that lends a freshness to familiar repertoire. The program also includes the Piano Sonata in G Major Op.14 No.2, 32 Variations on an original theme in C Minor WoO80 and four unpublished works that will intrigue the curious. Howard Shelley appears as pianist and conductor with the Ulster Orchestra in his latest recording The Classical Piano Concerto Vol.5 (Hyperion CDA68211). The series is a companion to Hyperion’s earlier one, The Romantic Piano Concerto. You can expect to find all the usual works in this series but it’s interesting to find Jan Ladislav Dussek among the first recordings. As odd as it may sound, hearing music of the period that isn’t either Haydn or Mozart is actually refreshing, if not downright exciting. It sets aside the habitual assumption that those two composers had said it all. Dussek wrote with a natural clarity and showed a refined elegance in his orchestral scoring that comes across as a lightness of character lacking nothing in harmonic richness. Shelley is a demonstrated master at this genre, having recorded most of his 150 discs with small ensembles and chamber orchestras. His performance of Dussek’s Concerto in G Minor Op.49 is utterly beautiful. The second movement, for example, is wonderfully conceived and emotionally planned, and Shelley’s unerring judgement makes it hard to describe the powerful, moving effect he creates with the ensemble. Steven Osborne has a long relationship with Hyperion. After nearly two decades and 27 releases, his most recent, Sergei Rachmaninov Études-tableaux Opp.33 & 39 (Hyperion CDA68188), broadens his discography still further. The Étudestableaux are small compositions over which Rachmaninov admitted spending far more time and effort than his larger-scale works. The composer claimed that such concise expression required a higher degree of economy and precision. And although he discreetly admitted to having general programs in mind for these pieces, he deliberately never revealed them, leaving the music to be heard absolutely. In this disciplined context, Osborne performs impressively. He’s a very direct player, moving straight to the emotional heart of any given phrase or thematic idea. Moreover, Rachmaninov packs his Étudestableaux with emotion, requiring dramatic changes in expression that Osborne manages masterfully. Jonathan Plowright’s latest CD Suk: Piano Music (Hyperion CDA68198) features works from a ten-year period bridging the late- 19th and early-20th centuries. Josef Suk may be a lesser-known composer, but Plowright shows his music to be of surprising substance. As a pupil (and eventual son-inlaw) of Dvořák, Suk’s musical pedigree was superb, though somewhat overshadowed by the critical reception of contemporaries like Janáček. Plowright understands Suk’s language, capturing his moods and characterizations in an articulate and playful way. Spring Op.22a and Summer Impressions Op.22b are an unfinished attempt at a “Seasons” set, yet reveal the composer’s remarkable gift for portraying time and place in music. Similarly, Plowright performs Piano Pieces Op.7 and Moods Op.10 beautifully, leaving the strong impression that there is an expressive kinship between Suk and his older contemporary Edvard Grieg. Among the numerous ways Nicolas Horvath has distinguished himself is with his commitment to the music of Erik Satie. His latest installment in this series, Satie – Complete Piano Works Vol.3 (Grand Piano GP763 grandpianorecords.com) continues his 2014 project using the new Salabert edition. This edition corrects many errors by earlier publishers as well as others arising from Satie’s sometimes lax proofreading. Nearly half the disc includes world premiere recordings of the Salabert edition. Airs á faire fuir No.2, in particular, stands out as the first recording of Satie’s more chromatic revision of an earlier effort. Horvath plays Cosima Wagner’s 1881 Érard with its antique aural charm. In spite of the subtle technical compromises he is forced to make on this instrument, he nevertheless creates a sublimely haunting singing quality with his touch. Alessio Bax’s latest recording Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5; Southbank Sinfonia; Simon Oliver (Signum Classics SIGCD525 signumrecords.com) proves how beautiful small can be. The Southbank Sinfonia is a small ensemble of 32 emerging young professionals whose performance with Bax turns the monumental Emperor What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Got a Light? Jeremy Ledbetter Trio A raging explosion of inspiring contemporary jazz featuring Canadian virtuosos Ledbetter, Rich Brown, and Larnell Lewis at the top of their game. This World of Dew Aaron Shragge Its third release, Aaron Shragge’s critically acclaimed duo with Ben Monder “...delves deeper into that satori place in your brain.”- Jazz Times. The Space Between Us Jennifer Thiessen, Ida Toninato "…beautifully performed and with a unique sound… 4/5" - The Free Jazz Collective "…very inspired and moving…" - Vital Weekly Mobius David Clayton-Thomas New 2018 album of original material from the veteran Canadian singer. thewholenote.com September 2018 | 61

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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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
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