8 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 7 - April 2002

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Saint-Saens: Music for

Saint-Saens: Music for Violin and Piano Jasper Wood; James Parker Disques Pelleas CD-0110 Proust, according to Barry Corber's excellent progr.amme notes for this CD, greatly admired Saint-Saens, calling him a "musical humanist." Certainly the term is apt. The composer's style is brilliant,. yet erudite, at times even academic; in an age that looked for the great romantic gesture, his essential taste was for wit and clarity. , Jasper Wood and James Parker beautifully illuminate the, strengths and negotiate the contradictions of this music. Wood's palette is broad, ranging from full-blooded virt.uosity •to ravishing delicacy, but his playing is above all intelligent, clean and balanced. Parker is his match, in both musical sensibility and technical command. One could occasionally wish for a little more presence from him, especially in slow movements, but that is a minor quibble. These players revel in romantic sound, colour and mood, but maintain a clear sense of line and structure, and are never self-indulgent. , The CD includes the two violin sonatas; Triptyque, a slight but charming late work dedicated to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium (an accomplished violinist); and the Danse macabre, a character piece best known in its orchestral version. These are works that, while certainly not unknown, are infrequently performed. Wood and Parker convincingly make the case for them, and delight the listener along the way. If anyone needs a good argument for public · support of the arts, this recording produced with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council (and indirectly the Canada Council which owns the violin on loan to Jasper Wood), provides one. Vivaldi: Stabat Mater, Nisi Dominus, Longe Mala David Daniels, countertenor Europa Galante; Fabio Biondi Virgin Veritas 7243 5 45474 2 3 Mary McGeer DISCOVERIES Galante, whose previous recording credits include the most exciting version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons on disc (Virgin Veritas 7243 5 45465 2 5). In the Stabai Mater, Vivaldi's earliest known sacred work, their distinctive articulation gives sensuous shape to each line, and their flexible tempos create immediacy. The Nisi Dominus, a showpiece for alto voice, is also featured on German countertenor Andreas Scholl's recent Vivaldi album. Beautiful as Scholl 's singing is, Daniels offers a more compelling performance, highlighted by moments like the eloquent intertwining of his voice with Biondi's viola d'amore in the Gloria Patri, and the atmospheric word-painting of the Cum Dederit Dilectis, where Daniels brings out the beguiling quality of the chromatic-,.Jines. Striking string effects evoke the exotic and mysterious influence of Vivaldi's Venetian roots. The less well-known motet Longe Mala is a bravura tour-de-force. After this recording, it is' sure to be heard more often. j::~.~~~·~\~~{1\i6 ~h~ li ~ ~':.

WORTH RE PEA Tl NG Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade; Antar L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande;. Ernest ~nsermet DISCOVERIES first stereo recording but there is nothing tentative, either abou\ the recording or the performance. Check out others in this series. Bruce Surtees Decc~ Legends 470253-2 1 Spirit Song: The Vocal Music of Harry This is from the latest batch in Decca's Freedman · continuing Legends series, re-introducing some of the best recordings from those halcyon days when no expense need be spared to document the finest performers of the time. Prominent was Ernest Ansermet. The mathematicianturned-conductor's recordings set new standards of excellence in both performance and stunning realism of sound. As only to be e)\pected, reviewers become, shall we say, a little jaded. Oh no! Not another Scheherazade might be an oft-heard exclani.ation. Surprise! After a few bars it is only too apparent that this is not just another Scheherazade. Sonically, this disc is exemplary ... dynamic from bottom to top, from side to side, from front to back. That . would be to no avail if the performance were less than masterfully conceived and shaped. This is high drama. Ansermet's unerring pace gives the work a real sense of the unfolding stories told by. Scheherazade to ensure she has a tomorrow. Tqe first violin of the orchestra, now a respected musician in Toronto, was Lo.rand Fenyves. As the voice of Scheherazade he portrays her as a real enchanter.. No wonder she saves her neck. Rimsky's less familiar but dramatic Antar was taped in June 1954. This was Decca's wqe !Uusic Otqamber 217 Danforth Ave. (416) 406-1641 Newand Used Classical and Jazz CDs Various artists Centrediscs CMC-CD 6700 Celebrating his 80'h birthday this month, Harry Freedman remains one of Canada's most performed and prolific composers. This 2000 Ceritrediscs release presents a wide selection of his vocal works in authoritative performances, closely supervised by the composer. Freedman typically employs the voice as a musical instrument rather than a narrative device. He is fond of the practice of vocalising qn nonsense syllables and himself points to Duke Ellington's evocative Creole love Call as the ancestor of the earliest wo.rk on this disc, the Two Vocalises composed for his wife Mary Morrison in 1953. An accomplished pe.rformer of the most difficult vocal music imaginable, Morrison also happens to be a highly gifted teacher. All the outstanding voices to be heard on this recording are graduates of her studio at the University of Toronto. Barbara Hannigan, who gives expert performances of both Two Vocalises and Toccata (with flutist Dianne Aitken), is but one example of her mentoring. Trade-ins Accepted Apri I 1 -- May 7 2002 51

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