8 years ago

Volume 6 Issue 10 - July/August 2001

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34 Wholenote JULY 1,

34 Wholenote JULY 1, 2001-AUGUST31, 2001 NEW & RECENT RELEASES • Singing Somers Theatr~ Monica Whicher; Robert Cram, Kristina Szabo, Andrew Tunis, Julian Armour, Michael Colvin, Barbara Chilcott, John Hess, David Currie, Russell Hartenberger, and others Centrediscs CMCCD 6901 (Full Price) • Songs from thtl Heart of Somers Valdine Anderson, Jean Stilwell, Ben . Heppner, John Hess Centrediscs CMCCD 700J'(Full Price) • The Glorious Sounds of Somers Elmer Iseler Singers, Ruth Watson Henderson and others. Lydia Adams, conductor Centrediscs CMCCD 7101(Full Price) IN LISTpNING ro these first-class recordi11gs, one . feels oneself to be in the presence of greatness. Not only the presence of Harry Somers, the profoundly gifted Canadian composer who died in 1999,"but the whole host of talented musicians and actors who. perform a wide range of Somers' music for voice. Under the . stewardship of flutist. Robert Crain and' actor Barbara Chilcott (Somers' widow), Centrediscs has released the fiist three of a proposea multi-CD series entitled "A Window on Somers," designed to make available firstrate r.ecordings of the Somers catalogue. These recordings overwhelmingly· illustrate the ·1ove and understanding that Somers had for the voice and the expressive lengths to which he went in his vocal writing. "Singing Somers Theatre" is a marvellous collection of Somers' rriost avant-garde writing for voice. There are Somers "standards," namely the seminal "Kuyas" and 'Twelve Mi!liatures," and some "further out" works, inclUding the wild piece of performance art entitled "Zen, Yeats and Emily Dickinson." Leading Canadiarrsoprano Monica Whicher throws herself into these pieces and each track features simply brilliant work from her. ' "The Glorious Sounds of Somers" features fine performances of Somers' choral music, from the familiar ("Gloria", "God the Master of this Scene" and "Trois Chansons de la Nouvelle France") to the less famjliar ("Two Songs for the Coming of Spring"). Under the careful guidance of Lydia Adatns, the Elmer Iseler Singers are at their best when called upon ~o sing beautifully, but at other times they seem unwilling to enter fully into the spirit of the music and employ some of the radical techniques for which Somers calls. The excerpts from Somers' operas - "A Midwinter Night's Dream" and especially "Serinette" - come off gloriously, however, and fot my ears the highlight of this recording is a piece entitled "Crucifixion", which . Somers wrote for the.CBC in the mid-1960s. In IDISC(ttelling thy story of.Christ's passion in just over · ·seven minutes, Somers conjures up wave upon wave of dramatic intensity through the brilliant juxtaposition of choir and instruments, "Songs' froni. the Heart of Somers'' is an absolute wonder from beginning to end. It opens with three delightful pieces for soprano, including "Love-in-idleness," which is a tour-deforce for both voice and piano, featuring texts from the third act of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Nigllt's Dream." Jean Stilwell's performance of Evocations sets a high standard ·for this work. She obviously understands'every single nuance of Somers' writing from the otherworldly opening of ,:Loon' cry, night call" to the shattering culmination of "Moon cracks and spreads winter night." Tenor Ben Heppner closes the disc with heartfelt renderings of the early "Three Songs" and "Eternity." The falling semitone in the piano at the close of this last. song reminds the listener that throughout the entire recording pianist John Hess has brought to bear not only his virtuosity, but also his unique mind. He's the unsung hero of this fine CD. · Larry Beckwith Redemption: }»eter Paul Koprowski ~ . Concerti Aitken, Golani, Petric Toronto Symph_ony Orchestra Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor CBC Records SMGD 5206 (Full Price) .· THIS LONG AWAITED DISC serves as a tribute to the remarkable achievements of one of Canada's finest composers. Koprowski's music has been . · heard around the world arid some of it has come about through international commissions. This is the case with the "Flute Concerto" that was written jn 1982 at the request of the renowned Norwegian flutist.Per 0ien and the Oslo Philharinonic. Honouring Stravinsky's centenary year, the concerto is a dense and dramatic neoromantic tour de force performed brilliantly here by Canada's own master flutist Robert Aitken. Written a decade later for Joseph Petric and the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, the "Accordion Concerto" is a much more intimate work. Koprowski worked closely with the soloist, exploiting his particular skills and interests including a Cantilena second movement inspired byPetric's baroque transcriptions. The most recent work is the "Viola Concerto", written for Rivka Golani in 1996. Koprowski has taken full advan_tage of the brilliant resources of this flamboyant violist and produced a work in the grand concerto tradition. It concludes with a fiery cadenza, which I find to be marred only by an inconclusive orchestral finish. Even after repeated listening I just can't make sense of the tentative final cadence that · seems to leave something unsaid. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra shines under Saraste's baton in these recordings that manage to overcome the acoustic limitations of Roy Thomson Hall. This is a wekome addition to the all too limited Canadian 9rchestral repertoire available on compact disc and a fine complement to the legacy of Finlandia recordings made by Saraste during his tenure with the TSO. David Olds Throw the House Out of the Windowe (an~ other damn fine dancing tunes!) Terry McKenna, Renaissance lute and Baroque guitar, and others Marquis Classics 7 7471 81277 2 3 (Full Price) FoRFANSOF TERRY McKENNA, one of Canada's foremost musicians specializing in period plucked stringed instruments and a 20-year veteran . of the Toronto Consort, this first-ever feature recording is a long·awaited treat. Offering a wide selection of (mostly) lively dance tunes from the 16th to 18th centuries, traditional tunes from England, Scotland and Ireland, and pieces from Playford's Dancing Master, this CD is derived from McKetlna's personal favourites. , Recorded with an in-your-living room immediacy, the feeling is both intimate and fuIF Several ofMcKenna's musical mates provide much of the vitality ori this recording - Ben Grossman (hurdy-gurdy, cittern, bodhran, Jew's haip, percussion), John Edwards (lute and baroque guitar), .Sharon Kahan (Irish flute · and piccolo), Chris Verrette (baroque violin) and . Eugene Lascewicz (accordion). The simplicity of "Bill Ellis' Hornpipf;" (accompanied by a lazy-dog-sumrrier-afternoonsoft-shoe-shuffle provided by Ben Grossman), and "McKenna's Jig" (with flute) is very effective. An original composition by McKenna (a tribute to his family's dog), "Belinda's WaJtz and Chase", is a somewhat inconsequential ' piece of musical fluff. Following the title track ·"Throw the House Out the Window" (which exhibits the light touch and intimate tone characteristic of McKenna's solos), the hoedown-style medley of 'The Galloping Nag ..." with that plucking trio (consisting ofMcKenna, Grossman and Edwards) gets one's feet a­ tappin', as does the ensemble's work in "The Cobbler's Hornpipe". Meanwhile, "Wooden Shoes," involving the entire assembly, creates a wonderful rustic big band quality. The final , track, "Porter's Dream," is a beautiful tune - ~

one\that is certain to have you humming along.' · Frank T. Nakashima ''1, . ·It's Wonderful The Susie Arioli Swing Band Justin-Time, SAS.!!-2001-21 (Full Price) THE FIRST TIME I saw the Susie Arioli Swing Band was about a year ago, on Canada AM. · Anytime I see something other than pop music ,on moining television, I'm inclined to stop and liste'n. I was immediately struck by the fact that the vocalist, Susie Arioli was playing brushes accompanying· herself while she was singing. That kept me listening long enough to be captivated with her clean, clear vocal style, and her band's sympathetic, swinging support. I'm pleased to report that all of these aspects are int.act on the Susi~ Arioli Swing Band's debut CD "It's Wonderful" and Susie's simple direct and in-tune style is refreshing to li~ten to. The use of acoustic, rather than electric gtiitars on many of the tracks also keeps the sound and feel of the session faithful . to the Swing Era. Particular favourites' of mine . include the tracks "If Dreams Come True," l'I Cover The Waterfrpnt" and "What Is Thi~ Thing Called Love." The last tune in particular - js a revelation - the SASB take this tune at a tempo considerably slower than the breakneck pace it's often played at. · . If you like your swing music straightforward and melodic, you' 11 want to grab this disc. The Susie Arioli Swing Band will be appearing at the Harbourfront Blues and Barbecue Festival in Toronto on July ·7, the Beaches Jazz Festival on · July 29, and at the Summerfolk Festival in Owen S01,md, Aug. 17-19. · Merlin Williams CONCERT PREP Specific connections to current events Heavy Metal . Metcalfe,Macerollo, Sonierville, Laughton, Johnston; The Hann.aford Stre'et Silver Band; - , Bramwell Tovey, conductor . Opening Day Records ODR 9319 (Full Price) ' Tiffi HANNAFORD STREET Silver ' Band's latest CD release is a spectacular program of music commissioned by.the HSSB. · ·The disc opens with John · Burge's "Rocky.Mountain Overture," a rescoring by the composet ofa work originally written for orchestra that retains all the . spacioµs grandeur of the original. "Botanicus" by Chiµ'les Cozens features Curtis.Metcalf's euphonium displaying a remarkable fleetness as bumb,lebee visiting flowers in a garden. · JoeMacerollo is the HSSB's guest soloist for Gary Kulesha's "Concerto for Accordion and Brass Band." Described as a battle of wills bet~een the band and the accordion, the range of timbr~ .and range of sounds coming out of' Macemllo's accordion is astounding. Composer Roger Bergs "Attractive Metal" features Boston Symphony Orchestra Principal Horn James Sqmerville while J. Scott Irvine's delicately transparent "Aubade" features the trumpet of HSSB member Stuart Laughton. "Mechanical Advantage" by Omar Daniel showcases percussionist Beverley Johnston oh a bewild~ring array of instruments, including musical saw, tom-toms, kick drums, marimba and metallic percu'ssion instruments constructed by the composer. 1 · ' This is the first CD I've heard recorded in· Hammerson Hall at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga arid judging by this disc Hammerson should be sought out by other large ensembles. · HSSB will be performing 1July,2l & 22at' the Westben Arts Festival Theatre in Cartipbellford, and at Music on the Henley, · Aug. 18, in St. Catharines. Quartetto Gelato ·Neapolitan Cafe QG Recordings QGR 2004 TORONTO'S QUARTETIO GELATO has met with great sue- . c~·ss with their easy mix of ki~chand · classics in arrangements of exceptional virtuosity.· Merlin Williams Their latest confectfon is a selection ofltalian populru> songs and instrumental numbers along with a classical favourite from Boheffiia. · "Neapolitan Cafe," their fourth CD and the first on their own label, is also the first of thefr releases to feature the sensitive playing of the · ensemble's newest member, accordionist Joseph Macerollo. The tremendous dynamic range of his instrument is matched at every move by the quartet's fine sense of ensemble. Mact'.rollo's own technical prowess is amply . demonst,rated throughout the disc, most brilliantly in C.T Cozen·s' arrangement of the . classic "Carnival of Venice". ·· . The centerpiece of the album is a richly hued performarice'of:oboist Cynthia Steljes' arrange-. ment ofDvorak's "Four Bagatelles" which 1 alone is well worth the price of the album .. . Origh'ially scored for two vi

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