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Volume 27 Issue 6 | April 15 - May 27, 2022

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Vol 27 No. 6. Here’s some of it: “Growing up in a house full of riches” – the Kanneh-Masons; “As if the music knows what it is doing” – J.S. Bach; “Better experienced than described” – Women from Space; “Stories set in prehistoric times are notoriously difficult to pull off without invoking nervous laughter” – Orphan Song; “To this day when I look at an audience, there’s some part of me that sees a whole bunch of friendly teddy bears wearing bow-ties” – Boris Brott. …. etc

two concertos because

two concertos because they are what made her fall in love with the instrument. The Mozart Oboe Concerto is played in a buoyant and elegant style, mixing in many passages from the near-identical Flute Concerto in D Major. Gómez Godoy has a beautiful, ringing tone and shows a sophisticated yet charming sense of musical style and phrasing. Written in 1945, Strauss’ Oboe Concerto was one of his last works. Often a feat of endurance for the soloist, this concerto combines long, soaring musical lines with intimate conversations with solo woodwinds. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, where Gómez Godoy is principal oboe, shows a great understanding of supportive and chamber roles. In this beautiful rendition of she shows great control and musical maturity. Melissa Scott Mozart – Famous Sonatas and Fantasia for Fortepiano Luc Beauséjour Analekta AN 2 8931 (analekta.com/en) ! Chasing mastery in classical music performance is, undoubtedly, a lifelong endeavour. Once you add in the level of required specificity of technique, musical gesture, understanding of repertoire and the historically mediated instrumental touch demanded by an adherence to period piece performance, you end up with an important, but small collection of musicians whose dedication as both curators and custodians of the music of the past, as well individuals who contribute to a slowly, but ever growing, corpus of interpretations, variations and understandings of these canonical works, are worthy of praise, support and attention. Quebec’s Luc Beauséjour, who both administratively as the artistic director of the ensemble Clavecin en Concert, and performatively, as evidenced by his most recent Analekta release of Mozart’s Sonatas and Fantasia for Fortepiano, numbers among this committed group. His efforts to demonstrate the continued meaningfulness and relevance of the harpsichord, organ, and here, the Italian fortepiano – Mozart’s favourite – we learn in François Filiatrault’s informative liner notes, are showcased in this soulful and terrific release. Beautifully captured in Mirabel, Quebec’s Saint Augustine Church, this recording is bound to be appreciated in equal parts for Beauséjour’s supreme talent, the haunting clarity of this instrument – invented in the early 18th century but effervescent and alive in Beauséjour’s 2022 handling of Mozart’s frozen improvisations – as well as the beautiful recorded ambiance of a simple neighbourhood cathedral that acts as an additional performer and contributes mightily to the success of this disc. Andrew Scott Beethoven – Violin Sonatas Opp.12/1; 24; 96 Rachel Podger; Christopher Glynn Channel Classics CCSSA44222 (channelclassics.com/wp-content/ uploads/2022/03/44222.pdf) ! Recorded in May, 2021 on the “Maurin” Stradivari (1718) and an Érard fortepiano, this new recording of familiar repertoire from Rachel Podger and Christopher Glynn is full of fanciful joy, assured playing and great intelligence. Unlike Beethoven’s string quartet output, which stretches across all the periods of his remarkable career, his ten sonatas for piano and violin were written in a shorter span of time – between 1797 and 1812. The three on this disc include the first, the last and the most popular, all in major keys and all given beautifully imaginative performances. Opus 24 in F Major “Spring” is particularly thoughtful, with exciting tempi and full of conversational, intimate ensemble playing. In a recent feature in The Strad magazine, Podger and Glynn spoke about this recording project with insight, Podger commenting that “I find it fascinating to play Beethoven after having pretty much only lived with and around earlier music. What I’ve enjoyed so much is finding the places where he’s being an 18th- and early-19th-century artist, and where and how he breaks free of those shackles.” Indeed, both players bring a fresh approach and wide array of colours and improvisatory spirit to the performances. A recent all- Beethoven Wigmore Hall recital by Podger and Glynn is still available on YouTube and well worth experiencing. Larry Beckwith Night Music Jan Lisiecki Deutsche Grammophon (deutschegrammophon.com/en/catalogue/ products/night-music-jan-lisiecki-12595) ! Jan Lisiecki, the Calgary-born, RCM Glenn Gould School graduate and former Gramophone Young Artist of the Year, leans into his impressive touch, interpretative creativity and familiarity with the canon of elegant and imminently listenable piano music on this acoustically beautiful and well-executed capture of Mozart, Ravel, Schumann and Paderewski. Unlike Vladimir Horowitz, who preferred to perform recitals on Sundays at 4:00 in the afternoon, Lisiecki has programmed here a celebration of “night music,” most obviously Mozart’s 12 Variations in C Major on “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman,” but bookending the album with the lesser-known Miscellanea, Op.16: No.4, Nocturne in B-Flat Major by Paderewski for a satisfying and sonically excellent album of an idealized and relaxed twilight listening experience. Undoubtedly I am not the first observer to marvel at Lisiecki’s obvious talent, depth of pianistic understanding and musical maturity while pointing to his young age (27!). That said, Night Music, a 2022 release on Deutsche Grammophon, does offer another welcome glimpse into an already exceptionally developed talent on today’s classical concertizing stage who continues to play with the theme of night for ongoing listener delight (this release follows his two-CD set of Chopin’s Complete Nocturnes). While the standout moments on this disc are many, it was Lisiecki’s dynamic touch in the piano’s lower register and fulsome exploration of the entire keyboard on Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit – Scarbo – (all within a single nineminute performance) that, for me, was simultaneously the tenderest, most stentorian and impressive. Andrew Scott Sibelius – Symphonies 2 & 4 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Owain Arwel Hughes Rubicon Classics RCD1072 (rubiconclassics. com/release) ! This new issue features a remarkable conductor most of us probably have never heard of – Owain Arwel Hughes. Coming from Wales, he has conducted many of the finest orchestras of the world and is now principal associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic, accumulating an impressive discography mainly of British, Scandinavian and Russian composers. His current project is to record all seven Sibelius symphonies with the Royal Philharmonic and this is the second issue of that set. The Second, the most famous of the seven, was an overnight success at its premiere in 1902. It catapulted Sibelius into fame as one of the best composers of the 20th century, a patriot and the pride of his native Finland. It is a glorious work in the sunny key of D major. Although there are dark moments, 46 | April 15 - May 27, 2022 thewholenote.com

the finale, with two themes alternating in a long, gradual crescendo in 3/4 time ascending towards a climax when, after a long-held minor motif suddenly turns into major in fortissimo, is absolutely magnificent. Symphony No.4 in A Minor is completely different. It’s a deeply personal statement and the conductor must feel, indeed inhabit, its emotional climate. In the words of Sibelius, it is completely devoid of the “compositional tricks or circuses” composers use to thrill audiences. Right at the outset a deep, sad cello theme slowly develops until stopped by forceful chords on the brass and then a forlorn, echoed horn call as we are enter a misty, dark, barren, somewhat frightening territory. There is some happiness, like a lovely scherzo second movement, but the sky quickly darkens, diminishing it into oblivion. The overall effect is puzzling, but with repeated hearings its many hidden beauties come out and, according to some critics, it is the most beautiful of Sibelius’ symphonies. Janos Gardonyi Bruckner 7 Gürzenich-Orchester Köln; François-Xavier Roth Myrios MYR030 (myriosmusic.com) ! There is a cataclysmic moment in the second movement of Bruckner’s Seventh: There are two climaxes following one another, but the second one comes fortissimo with an Earth-shattering cymbal crash, as if the heavens would open up. The whole concert hall was filled with glorious sound. I remember the great Skrowaczewski doing it beautifully many years ago at Massey Hall with its fabulous acoustics. This is how my conversion to Bruckner started. The Seventh still remains one of my favourite symphonies. This new recording is conducted by a new firebrand, François Xavier Roth who is making big waves in Europe today. He is a scholarly conductor with a no-nonsense, analytical approach, meticulous attention to detail and a natural gift to enter the composer’s mind to follow the compositional process and to choose the right tempo. Out of a near silent tremolo the symphony begins with a wondrous melody in the strings picked up by the woodwinds, an overarching theme that seems to dominate the first movement. It goes through many variations, but the solo flute crops up often chirping like the little forest bird leading Siegfried to awaken the sleeping Brunnhilde. (Wagner was much admired by Bruckner!) After a crucial Adagio second movement comes an exciting Scherzo, with a simple theme and an underlying rigorous ostinato having a rhythmic urge that has always reminded me of cavalry galloping through a wide open plain. The Finale sums it all up with a resounding peroration of the majestic brass. This recording has huge dynamic contrasts that will test your stereo equipment. Janos Gardonyi Bassoon Steppes Lola Descours; Paloma Kouider Orchid Classics ORC100190 (orchidclassics.com) ! Two questions come up when considering this recording. First: why would I listen to an album of all- Russian chamber music at this time in history and, second, why would I listen to it played on a bassoon? The answer to both is the same: this is a spectacular recording in every way; moving, virtuosic, unpredictable and life-affirming. Russian bassoonist Lola Descours and French pianist Paloma Kouider present a gorgeous program ranging from short pieces by Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov to longer works by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff. All the works on the album are transcriptions or arrangements, some by the performers themselves, with the exception of a new work, Air “I Walk Unseen,” written for Descours by the Russian-born Lera Auerbach. This work is lovely, tragic and compelling. It has some pitch bending and colour trills, both used extremely effectively. But all the music on this album is so brilliantly played that you won’t believe it wasn’t written for the bassoon. This is a testament to Descours’ virtuosity: she’s a product of the best European training available and she’s the first bassoonist ever to win the Tchaikovsky Competition. Her sound is effortlessly fluid and expressive in all registers, her vibrato and phrasing always tasteful and heartfelt. And Kouider’s playing moves from crystalline thrills in the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata to exquisite delicacy in Glinka and Rimsky-Korsakov. The world is a troubled place right now; do something nice for yourself and listen to this album. It will make your day. Fraser Jackson Gabriel Pierné – Feuillet d’album Antoine Laporte Independent (antoinelaporte.ca/home- 1?lang=en) ! The music of Gabriel Pierné is not all that well known today compared with that of his more famous contemporaries Claude Debussy and Paul Dukas. Born in Metz in 1863, he studied at the Paris Conservatoire, winning the Prix de Rome in 1882 and ultimately enjoying a successful career as a conductor, organist and composer. Included amongst his large output is a significant number of piano compositions presented here on this twodisc recording by Quebec pianist Antoine Laporte, a prize winner at the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in New York and the Jinji Lake International Piano Competition in Suzhou, China. The Quinze pièces pour le piano Op.3 from 1885 is a delightful set of character pieces, each one evoking a particular mood from the light-hearted Coquetterie to the rousing Tarantelle finale. Laporte’s approach is refined and elegant, displaying fine tonal colours while aptly demonstrating Pierné’s eclecticism. The Premier Nocturne Op.31 is a languid and lyrical essay while the Étude Op.13 concluding the first disc is a true tour de force that Laporte handles with great panache. Disc two takes the listener into other facets of Pierné’s compositional style – the Trois Pièces Op.40, the Variations Op.42 and the posthumous set of Six Pieces which are tributes to other composers. Most striking is the degree of technical prowess demanded of the performer, found in the virtuosic first and third movements of Op.40 and the finale of the Variations. Throughout, Laporte delivers a brilliant performance of this often daunting repertoire. French-only and English-only booklets and notes are available. This is a fine recording of music deserving greater recognition. Richard Haskell Concert note: Antoine Laporte performs a solo recital of works by Gabriel Pierné at Espace culturel Saint-Gilles in Brownsburg, QC on May 13. Things in Pairs Audrey Wright; Yundu Wang Navona Records NV6392 (navonarecords.com) ! Things in Pairs is an album that captures a listener’s heart from the very first note. Not only is it following a clever concept of pairing music from across five centuries in a way that is both exciting and meaningful, but it also features performances by violinist Audrey Wright and pianist Yundy Wang that are beaming with passion and artistry. It is easy to hear the musical narrative here and appreciate the connection between the compositions. Coupling Biber’s Passacaglia for Solo Violin with Balancing on the Edge of Shadows by contemporary composer Rain Worthington is simply splendid. Biber thewholenote.com April 15 - May 27, 2022 | 47

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