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Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018

  • Text
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Concerts
  • Performing
  • Orchestra
  • Theatre
Presenters, start your engines! With TIFF and "back-to-work" out of the way, the regular concert season rumbles to life, and, if our Editor's Opener can be trusted, "Seeking Synergies" seems to be the name of the game. Denise Williams' constantly evolving "Walk Together Children" touching down at the Toronto Centre for the Arts; the second annual Festival of Arabic Music and Arts expanding its range; a lesson in Jazz Survival with Steve Wallace; the 150 presenter and performer profiles in our 19th annual Blue Pages directory... this is an issue that is definitely more than the sum of its parts.

is amply illustrated by

is amply illustrated by the two short works here. The Andante in D Major Op.64bis from 1898 is a transcription of the Brahmsian slow movement from the Violin Sonata Op.64, and Elohenu – Hebraic biblical song from1881 was inspired by Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei for cello from the previous year. Hülshoff is noted for his “great expressive force and a powerful, warm and nuanced tone,” says the booklet bio, and these works certainly afford him every opportunity to display those qualities. For his part, Triendl handles the ferociously difficult piano writing with a commanding assurance. Voices in the Wilderness – Cello Concertos by Exiled Jewish Composers is the subtitle of another cpo cello CD, Reizenstein & Goldschmidt Cello Concertos, with Rafael Wallfisch and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin led by Nicholas Milton (cpo 555 109-2 naxosdirect.com/items/goldschmidtreizenstein-cello-concertos-455472). The same performers were featured on an earlier release of cello concertos by Hans Gál and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Both Franz Reizenstein and Berthold Goldschmidt fled Berlin for England in the mid-1930s, but while the 32-year-old Goldschmidt arrived as a mature composer the 23-year-old Reizenstein was still keen to continue studying, which allowed him to find a place in British musical development that eluded Goldschmidt. Reizenstein’s concerto was written in 1936, two years after his arrival, but not heard until its premiere in 1951 with cellist William Pleeth. In almost all respects – thematic material, harmony, orchestration – it absolutely screams Hindemith, with whom Reizenstein studied in Berlin, but there are also touches of Vaughan Williams, Reizenstein’s teacher in England. Goldschmidt’s concerto was written for William Pleeth in 1953, using material from a lost pre-war cello sonata he had written for Emanuel Feuermann. Goldschmidt conducted the 1954 premiere with Pleeth as soloist. Wallfisch has a strong personal connection to these works: his German musician parents also settled in England and knew both composers as well as Hans Gál. His performances of these two fascinating but rarely-heard works are quite outstanding. The Chopin Cello Sonata comes paired with works by Robert Schumann and Edvard Grieg on a new Avie Records CD with Israeli- American cellist Inbal Segev and Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen (AV2389 avie-records.com). While all three works are by Romantic-era composers whose musical thinking was shaped instinctively by the piano, Segev notes that they “focus on the cello’s lyrical properties and I feel that here a beautiful tone is of paramount importance.” That’s certainly what we thewholenote.com/listening Timeless Réa Beaumont Rea Beaumont’s emotional fourth solo piano album explores the complexities of time and concludes in a “blaze of pianist colour” - The WholeNote. Featuring 10 premieres. The Cradle Will Rock Opera Saratoga Marc Blitzstein's legendary 1937 musical in its first complete recording by the Saratoga Opera, conducted by John Mauceri get from her 1673 Francesco Ruggieri instrument in a rich and passionate performance. The Schumann 3 Fantasiestücke Op.73 were originally written for clarinet and piano and were transcribed for cello by the composer. Grieg’s Cello Sonata in A Minor Op.36 is full of the folk-inspired melodies so typical of the composer. The cello writing is comparatively straightforward, but the sonata has a simply huge and challenging piano part that at times sounds like Grieg’s Piano Concerto. The Scandinavian Pohjonen is in his element here, and quite superb. Segev’s playing in the really beautiful slow movement is absolutely gorgeous. A really nice ambience and instrumental balance complement an excellent CD. String quartets may not be what immediately spring to mind when you hear the name Charles Gounod, but he wrote five, two of which remained unpublished. All five are recorded together for the first time on the 2CD set Gounod: Complete String Quartets (Aparté AP177 apartemusic.com). The Quatuor Cambini-Paris performs on period instruments. The quartets are: No.1 in C Major CG561, No.2 in A Major CG562, No.3 in F Major CG563, No.4 in A Minor CG564, and No.5 in G Minor CG565. They are very much in the Viennese tradition, and while perhaps not sounding particularly French, are clearly well-crafted and highly entertaining. Performances are top-notch, with a resonant recorded ambience. The Polish ensemble the Royal String Quartet plays String Quartets Nos.1-3 by the 59-year-old Sir James MacMillan on a new Hyperion CD (CDA68196 hyperionrecords.co.uk). String Quartet No.1 Visions of a November Spring, written in 1988 and revised in 1991, is described as displaying a sense of lyricism in the face of aggressive turbulence; MacMillan calls it “sheer frenzy, craziness.” String Quartet No.2 Why is this night different? from 1998 takes its inspiration from the question Jewish children ask on Seder Night. Running a fine line between elation and anguish, it creates a feeling of celebration against a perilous backdrop. String Quartet No.3 from 2007 marked a return to absolute music – “Just the notes and nothing but the notes,” said the composer – but if anything is more approachable and effective than the previous two. The quite beautiful final movement marked Patiently and painfully slow ends with a high, quiet, ethereal and striking soundscape. Performances and recording quality are all first class. Stephen Dodgson String Trios, which includes Works for Solo Violin, Solo Viola and Solo Cello, features music by the English composer, who died in 2013 at the age of 89 (Naxos 8.573856 naxos.com). Three members of the UK chamber ensemble Karolos – violinist Harriet Mackenzie, violist Sarah-Jane Bradley and cellist Graham Walker – are the excellent performers. The two string trios, from 1951 and 1964 respectively, act as bookends on the CD around the brief Sonatina in B Minor for Solo Violin from 1963, the 1978 solo viola set of variations Caprice after Puck and the lengthy Partita for Solo Cello from 1985. These are all predominantly tonal works with fine writing, the slow movements of the two trios being particularly attractive. All but the String Trio No.2 are world premiere recordings. 68 | October 2018 thewholenote.com

Keyed In ALEX BARAN Christina Petrowska Quilico’s new recording Soundspinning – Music of Ann Southam (Centrediscs CMCCD 26018 musiccentre.ca) brings her discography to nearly 50 CDs and adds another item to the Canadian Music Centre’s already enormous collection of recorded Canadian works. Petrowska Quilico and Southam were close friends and frequent collaborators. Their relationship has given Petrowska Quilico a unique point of access to Southam’s world and established her as a respected interpreter of Southam’s piano compositions. The repertoire on the disc includes five cycles of miniatures, many of which are based on a 12-tone row that Southam used extensively. But the recording also includes two “Bluesy” sets, Three in Blue and Five Shades of Blue, that are particularly intriguing for their obvious reflection of jazz influences. All of them are delightfully playful creations that Petrowska Quilico plays with superb technique and unbridled joy. The most substantial item is Altitude Lake, written in 1963. It provides a considerable contrast to the shorter pieces on the rest of the disc. As a larger conception it comes across as episodic and complex. Petrowska Quilico spends generous amounts of time exploiting Southam’s technique of sustained resonances and dramatic contrast. Remembering Schubert is of nearly equal length but more meditative. Southam uses a Schubert-like figure strongly reminiscent of an art song accompaniment to cycle through numerous tone row wanderings. Soundspinning is an important recorded document in the compilation of Southam’s piano works and is masterfully performed by Petrowska Quilico. Canadian pianist Lucille Chung has released her 11th recording, Liszt (Signum Classics SIGCD533 signumrecords.com), that includes a variety of short works before launching into the Sonata in B Minor S178. Chung writes a portion of the liner notes to explain her personal understanding of Liszt’s music as it has evolved over her career. The B Minor Sonata reveals, for Chung, the composer’s mature voice and dispenses with the extravagant scale of virtuosic pianism often found in his earlier writing. Her argument acknowledges that the sonata in Liszt’s hands is an evolutionary new form but also stresses that he is stripping away the “razzle-dazzle” in favour of his introspective quest. Consequently, Chung takes every opportunity to explore the moments of repose with softer touch, intimacy and plenty of hesitation. She brings a different kind of intensity to the sonata than is usually heard, one with less bombast – but not less impact. She sets out to play the sonata with a different intent, to explore the depths rather than conquer the heights. Her playing is brilliant and entirely up to the technical demands of the piece. Her new appreciation of the composer’s personal presence in the music makes the sonata, despite her lifelong acquaintance with it, entirely fresh and alive. Luisa Guembes-Buchanan’s new 2CD set Robert Schumann – Perspectives (Del Aguila Records DA 55312 luisagbuchanan.com) is going to attract a lot of attention for several reasons. Guembes-Buchanan plays with a remarkably wide expressive range. She embraces every opportunity that Kinderszenen Op.15 gives for imitate expression and pulls the music deeply into a very private place. It’s an amazing effect that’s supported by very close and clean recording. She performs on a Fazioli 228, which is a little smaller than a full concert grand. It has a harmonically rich bass and mid-range, and suits this repertoire and the performer’s playing style extremely well. Guembes-Buchanan explodes into the opening segment of Kreisleriana Op.16 with breathtaking technique. She brings this level of energy to all the fast movements in this cycle, creating a stark contrast to the atmosphere of Kinderszenen. The second disc includes the Sonata Op.22 in G Minor and the Faschingsschwank aus Wien Op. 26. In the latter, Guembes- Buchanan plays the Scherzino with an arresting lightness and the Finale with another demonstration of her raw keyboard power. She also includes some rarely heard fragments from Schumann’s papers to conclude the disc. The whole package is set in a beautifully bound book with photographs of letters, manuscripts and other historical images along with quotes by prominent pianists, and pertinent liner notes for the program. Meiczyslaw Weinberg – Piano Sonatas Opp 8, 49bis, 56 (Deutschlandfunk Kultur CPO 555 104-2 naxosdirect.com/ items/weinberg-piano-sonatas-opp.- 8-49bis-56-448637) is the fourth recording in Elisaveta Blumina’s project to record the piano works of this Russian composer. Although Polish-born, Weinberg’s writing strongly reflects his upbringing and education under the Soviet regime. Centralized authorities are threatened by creative expressions that challenge broadly imposed norms on a society, and for Weinberg this meant finding ways to work within established constraints without drawing too much official criticism that might derail his career and livelihood. Consequently, Weinberg and other composers struggled to find ways of expressing their modernism that would sustain their efforts in the long term rather than jeopardize them. Weinberg’s music is a fascinating example of how this compromise was struck. His writing uses traditional forms with a strong tonal centre that includes some careful exploration of unconventional melodic lines. There’s a hint of atonality but nothing jarring. His rhythmic structures are largely traditional but open to extended experimentation. Blumina chooses three sonatas that offer a clear picture of Weinberg’s development. The earliest is Sonata No.2 Op.8 in A Minor written in 1942. Its beautiful melodic ideas are plentiful and their development easy to follow. The latest in the set is from 1978. The Sonata Op.49bis shows a general disregard for the caution and compromise in the earlier work. Here, angular clusters of dissonant notes freely interrupt melodic ideas that themselves are only distantly related. Blumina plays this sonata with all the boldness and discontent that Weinberg wrote into it. Her performance is powerfully intriguing. Shi-An Costello has a new recording that is more a concept than a performance. Rounded Binary – Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach and Dmitri Shostakovich (Blue Griffin Records BGR463 bluegriffin.com) finds relationships in works from very different historical periods and links them to explore that kinship. J.S. Bach is the launch point for the experiment and Dmitri Shostakovich is the destination. Costello first plays Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Major BWV846 at a conventional speed, then repeats the Prelude at four times the speed and just a fragment of the Fugue at half speed. Here he makes the transition to the Shostakovich Prelude in A Minor Op.87 which uses the same rhythmic pattern as the Bach prelude and is now familiar because of the high-speed version of the Bach on a previous track. Costello explores other linkages that include the shared emotional thewholenote.com October 2018 | 69

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
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Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
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Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
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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

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