Views
2 months ago

Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019

  • Text
  • Theatre
  • Composer
  • Arts
  • Quartet
  • Festival
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • September
Vol 1 of our 25th season is now here! And speaking of 25, that's how many films in the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival editor Paul Ennis, in our Eighth Annual TIFF TIPS, has chosen to highlight for their particular musical interest. Also inside: Rob Harris looks through the Rear View Mirror at past and present prognostications about the imminent death of classical music; Mysterious Barricades and Systemic Barriers are Lydia Perović's preoccupations in Art of Song; Andrew Timar reflects on the evolving priorities of the Polaris Prize; and elsewhere, it's chocks away as yet another season creaks or roars (depending on the beat) into motion. Welcome back.

WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S

WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDREN MJ BUELL If you’re a new reader, a word of explanation is in order. In our regular photo contest, We Are ALL Music’s Children, readers identify members of the music community from a childhood photo, for an opportunity to win tickets and recordings. Who are September’s Children? WHO IS OCTOBER’S CHILD? SEPTEMBER’S CHILDREN are pianists Daniel Wnukowski, Marika Bournaki, David Jalbert, Angela Park, Ian Parker and Anastasia Rizikov. And the reason there are SIX of them? Some readers will recall the original Piano Six initiative which was launched by Janina Filakowska in 1994 with Angela Cheng, Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, André Laplante and Jon Kimura Parker, and continued from 2004 through 2010 as Piano Plus. They brought affordable high-calibre performances to upwards of 200 smalltown and rural communities reaching thousands of Canadians who might otherwise never have experienced the passion and magic of concerts, workshops, masterclasses and up-close in-person Q & A sessions with musicians who have international careers but who are fellow Canadians. Piano Six New Generation’s artistic director, Daniel Wnukowski, grew up in Niagara Falls and fell in love with the piano at the age of three. He was just a teenager CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! RICHARD SMITH, HOWARD LEVINE, and SONI SIN-HOU correctly identified all six pianists and their ensemble - PIANO SIX NEW GENERATION. A pair of tickets awaits each of our winning readers for the much anticipated Music Toronto – Piano Six Gala on Tuesday October 22 at the Jane Mallet Theatre, St Lawrence Centre for the Arts. The audience will be treated to an all-hands-on-deck voyage of music for one and two pianos, and up to 12 hands! when he attended a free Piano Six masterclass given by Fialkowska. It was a lasting experience that eventually inspired him to relaunch the initiative with Bournaki, Jalbert, Park, Parker and Rizikov. In the spring of this year, Wnukowski and Park began a first season of touring with visits to Rainy River and Fort Frances in Ontario; Fort Nelson and Fort St.John in British Columbia; and Slave Lake in Alberta. May also included a special Bravo Niagara! Piano Six Gala Concert with performances by Bournaki, Jalbert, Park, Parker, Wnukowski and special guest, pianist Godwin Friesen, in a program which included solos by each pianist, Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story, and the world premiere of a new work for six pianists by Toronto’s Darren Sigesmund. Piano Six New Generation will give a gala performance in October at Music Toronto. Expect to hear some familiar music and some performances unlike any you have heard before, from this group of highly accomplished Canadian pianists with a deep desire to share, as they prepare to launch their fall and winter touring schedule. Photo circa 1983, in Brescia, Italy After bravely crossing the ocean with her baby daughter and husband for a 2017 launch what adventures she continues to have! This September she’ll dare to lead a Romantic and New adventure following charts provided by her friends Felix, Peter, Andrew, and her brother Carlo. October will transport her (and us) to Vienna, returning to some Baroque roots. Know our Mystery Child’s name? WIN PRIZES! Send your best guess by September 21 to musicschildren@thewholenote.com Previous artist profiles and full-length interviews can be read at thewholenote.com/musicschildren. Or -– you can view them in their original magazine format by visiting our online back issues https://kiosk.thewholenote.com 56 | September 2019 thewholenote.com

DISCOVERIES | RECORDINGS REVIEWED DAVID OLDS In the summer issue we published Alex Baran’s final column, which is sad news indeed for me and has made my job as assignment editor a bit more onerous. But as far as I know, there is no grave understory to his announced retirement, it was simply time to move on and focus on other things. During the past decade he contributed a variety of reviews to The WholeNote – his first pair appeared in December 2009 – but for the past four years he has focused on keyboard recordings under his own Keyed In masthead. As with Terry Robbins’ Strings Attached, Alex’s column simplified my editorial duties by enabling me to ship out any and all applicable discs to him and leave sorting out their relevance to his discretion. It always amazed me how Alex could write about a dozen discs each month and make them all sound individual, finding positive aspects to each performer’s approach and describing them in terms as nuanced as the recordings he was writing about. Although my WholeNote relationship with Alex goes back a decade, my professional association with him dates back to the early 1990s when I was a music programmer at CJRT-FM where he was an on-air host and later program director. I worked closely with him writing scripts for CJRT Concert and selecting recordings for Music for Midday for five years at what I still consider to be, New Music Concerts and The WholeNote notwithstanding, the best job I’ve ever had (and the only one that generated a pension thanks to its affiliation with Ryerson University). So that being said, I will miss Alex’s insights and his diligence. For the moment you will find the Keyed In banner maintained, with a number of writers contributing their own insights, both seasoned WholeNote reviewers and some new voices. In this issue I’m very pleased that outstanding young Toronto pianist, Adam Sherkin, has taken on three discs in his WholeNote debut, and I think you’ll agree he is an excellent addition to our team. Welcome Adam! To keep this “all about me” as is my wont, I’ll mention that some of the highlights of my career at CJRT included selecting the music for Peter Keigh’s Music before 1800, working with engineer William van Ree to record the live performances that aired on CJRT Concert, doing on-air interviews with celebrities such as Ben Heppner for This Week In Music and producing a week-long tribute to Tālivaldis Ķeniņš (a distinguished Latvian-Canadian composer mentioned in the Canadian Amber review later on in these pages). It was not all “days of wine and roses” however. Occasionally my penchant for contemporary music would land me in hot water for programming music a little too strident for the mainstream tastes of our core listeners (and the management). One notable instance was selecting Canadian composer Henry Kucharzyk’s Figure in a Landscape, a 32-minute orchestral work written for choreography by Christopher House at Toronto Dance Theatre. I thought its performance by the National Arts Centre Orchestra under Trevor Pinnock provided enough classical credibility, but it ultimately proved a bit “much of a muchness” for Music for an Afternoon and host Adriane Markow. I did not program it in isolation, however, and cleverly, I thought, had it follow Schumann’s Carnaval, a 30-minute piano suite whose opening chord sequence is exactly mimicked, although one tone higher, in Kucharzyk’s orchestral score. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed the similarity, but to me it provided a significant entry point into the modern work. It was this sort of jigsaw-puzzle placement of pieces that provided real satisfaction in my job as music programmer. All this seems a long introduction to the first disc I’ll write about, but you’ll see the connection in a moment. In one of the eerie synchronicities that I have mentioned before, while editing this month’s Keyed In, I had just finished Roger Knox’s review of Sheng Cai’s ATMA release of Liszt etudes when I received an email from that distinguished young Chinese-Canadian pianist himself. He said he was writing at the suggestion of producer Keith Horner to tell me about his album Robert Schumann Piano Music that has recently come out on the Centaur label (CRC 3696 naxosdirect.com). I told him that seemed strange because we were reviewing his Liszt CD in the coming issue. He explained that although recorded at Glenn Gould Studio in 2017, Centaur had some problems with the release and it was delayed nearly two years. Born in China, Cai studied at the Shanghai Conservatory where he was a top prizewinner of the National Competition in 1998. The following year, his family immigrated to Canada where he began studies at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto with Anton Kuerti. Cai later earned his bachelor of music degree under full scholarship at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Since his debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 – a performance for which the Toronto Star praised his “…subtle sense of rubato to a judicious choice of tempi...” – he has gone on to perform concerti by Bartók, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Gershwin, Grieg, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saëns, Schumann and Tchaikovsky, with numerous orchestras across North America and in Shanghai. I’m sure that delay in the release of this disc was very frustrating to Cai, but as far as I’m concerned it was worth the wait. Opening with the brilliant Toccata in C, Op.7 where the interlocking lines are skilfully brought out, the disc continues with the extended Humoreske in B-flat Major, Op.20 with its contrasting, though mostly delicate movements. The one exception is the boisterous Sehr lebhaft in which Cai shines and is obviously having a great time. The gently rolling Arabeske in C Major, Op.18 provided an oasis of respite before the stately opening chords of Carnaval Op.9 brought back the flood of memories mentioned above. Subtitled Scènes mignonnes sur quatre notes (tender scenes on four notes), the 20 brief movements are musical cryptograms centred on the notes A, E-flat, C and B represented in German as AEsCH (with Es pronounced S). Asch is the name of the town where Ernestine von Fricken, Schumann’s then fiancée was born, and also are letters which appear in the composer’s own name Robert Alexander Schumann. The sequence of letters also appears in the German word fasching, meaning carnival, hence the title of the work. There are many more encryptions in the collection, but none of this is really necessary for enjoyment of the wonderfully playful, charming and, at times, dramatic work. While I tend to avoid solo piano recitals and recordings because, as I may have said before, eventually to my ears it all seems like “just so much banging,” that was certainly not the case in this instance. My attention was held throughout the 72-minute performance by this exciting young pianist, a result of his choice of repertoire, his mastery of technique and his inherent musicality. Makes me wish I had listened to his Liszt disc before sending it off to Roger. I see that I’ve pretty much used up my allotment of words for the month already, but there is another disc that I’ve been enjoying and wanted to mention. The Kernis Project: Debussy (Sono Luminus DSL-92233 sono-luminus.squarespace.com) is the culmination of thewholenote.com September 2019 | 57

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)