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Volume 7 Issue 8 - May 2002

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  • Toronto
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DISCO\ ERIES Barber's

DISCO\ ERIES Barber's Violin Concerto; like the three other, outside and' play lesser-known works on the disc, it makes for a b a s e b a 1 1 welcome revisit to one of America's best now?") composers. • There is no- The Royal Scot- ... ~ ........ '.~"f-~,~~'.'9:~~~s__ thing partictish National SAMtJEUlARBUt ularly striking \'Mlu(~tttl Orchestra, un- ,............... ....,.~.....,,1,....,.,.,,,1 abouttheanonyder the leader- ,_....,,..,,...,,,.-.,.. -.,,,"~··"··~~ mous 1898 parship of young lour grand used American con- in Vol. 1 (1993), ductor Marin other than the Alsop, again fact that it is in proves the Old tune. The acou- · Worldcaneffec- stic is as dry as tiv~ly conjure up a drawing room the New. Their silvery leanness suits the modern and the micro­ Romanticism of Barber's works. phones are un- This quality matches the solo violin of James fortunate 1 y Buswell. He avoids the pitfalls that lurk in placed in such a Barber's concerto by balancing overt emotional way as to faithlyricism with New England reserve. His playing fully render Silis extremely clean, but never brittle, even in the verman' s VQfinale's furious moto perpetuoso. · calising in the The most infectious piece on the disc is quieter passages. Volµme 2 (1997) represents a Souvenirs, a saucy ballet suite that recalls the considerable technical improvement, with Palm Court orchestras of the past. ,The RSNO audiophile engineering by Anton Kwiatkowski winds and brass, in particular, shine in these of virtuoso performances on a splendidly vignettes. The strings have their moment, too, reconditioned 1913 Erard gfl\Ild piano. In ~ontrast in Barber's first opus, a diverting piece of to the first volume, the repertoire of18 selections juvenilia entitled Serenade for Strings. is more akin to the concert hall than the parlour, But it is another early work, Music for a Scene though still firmly rooted round the turn of the from Shelley, which provides the most potent century. , reminder of Barber's best qualities. Its classical · This recording may be easily found online at form, unabashed voluptuousness of tone, ahd www.marquisclassics.com. dramatic pulse all foreshadow the creator of Vanessa. Here, as elsewhere on the disc, Alsop adeptly leads the RSNO forces, coaxing forth Barber's kaleidoscopic colours and building patiently to those inevitable, glorious climaxes. Brian McMillan WORTH REPEATING The Parlour Grand Vol.1and2 36 Favourites from a Bygone Era Robert Silverman, piano Marquis Classics ERAD 161, ERAD 201 Daniel Foley (:oncert note: Robert Silverman performs Chopin's Piano Concerto N,o.2 with Sinfonia Toronto on May 4 at Glenn Goald Studio. Shostakovich: Symphony no.10; · Stravinsky: Violiµ Concerto in D Karel Ancerl, Czech Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic Wolfgang Schneiderhan, violin DG Originals 463666-2 A recognized authority on Shostakovich symphonies, Ancerl made this recording of the lO'h with his Czech Philharmonic in Munich in 1955. Although it is mono, the sound is brilliant and not at all constricted. Stravinsky was another Ancerl specialty and he drives the Berlin Philharmonic at a jaunty pace, which should immediately win over the non-believers in Stravinsky. Wolfgang Schneiderhan, ex concertmaster of The Vienna Philharmonic, was a champion of 20'h century music and approaches this concerto like an old friend. The stereo recording, made in 1962, belies its age. Speaking of Schneiderhan, another DG "Original" remains my very first choice of all the Beethoven violin concerto recordings: Schneiderhan with Eugene Jochum and the Berlin Philharmonic in May 1962 (DG 447 403- 2). In addition to a smashing performance, an added bonus is Schneiderhan's cadenzas, based on Beethoven's own written for the version for piano and orchestra, op.61a. Bruce Surtees Sibelius: Symphonies 1, 4, 5, 6 and Karelia Suite. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Herbert von Karajan EMI 72435 74858-2 (2 CDs for the price of one) Karajan recorded the First Symphony only once (1981) while the others in this package enjoyed several recordings for both EMI and DG. The EMI recordings, all with his own producer Michel Glotz, are to be preferred. There is a chapter in Elizabeth Schwarzkopf' s book .• "On and Off the Record," devoted to von Ka- ~-· rajan wherein she quotes from Sibelius's unsolicited letters One of the finest to expressing Among the more peculiar entries in Robert conductors to his total admiration for the recordings of his Silverman's catalogue of recordings are these hold the post with symphonies conducted by Karajan. two albums of sentimental reminiscences of a the Toronto It is the fashion in some circles to damn time when the piano ruled the roost of the Symphony was Karajan's recordings ofanything and everything respectable home. These mostly minuscule Karel Ancerl. with uninformed, negative criticism or selections are performed with affection and a Born in 1908 in mercifully spare us their verbiage by ignoring sense of mischievous fun on instruments of the Czechoslovakia, them altogether: Certainly, some of his period. after studies at recordings are of unfashionable performances The familiar, warmed-over chestnuts by Liszt the Prague Con- but others are superlative. These recordings (Liebestraum), Mendelssohn (Spinning Song) and servatory he be- belong in the latter group. Beethoven (Fur Elise) are the least of the first · came assistant to Hermann Scherchen in Berlin This First Symphony must be the most thrilling volume's campy charms. The 18 tracks of the in 1931. From 1934 he was frequently engaged on record. It just teems with energy. Under album include knuckle-busting thrillers like as conductor for the Czech Radio. · He died in Karajan this is an heroic statement. Sibelius Sinding's Rustle of Spring, emotive excesses such Toronto in 1973 after a series of illnesses that saying "Here I am!" The players are consistently as Gottschalk's lugubrious The Dying Poet and began in concentration camps during 'the Second alert with unbridled energy. Not for one secon~ Gautier's dreadful Le Secret, the last of which World War. He had taken over the Czech does anything sound tentative ... triumphant brass is just the sort of insipid drivel that made Philharmonic in 1950 but fled the Russian , and muscular percussion make the work sound classical music unpopular. (After this final cut invasion in 1968, settling in Toronto the following patriotic. As they used to say in a previous the pianist is heard to exclaim, "Ma, can I go year. ge[leration, "This will thrill the pants off you!" 58 www.thewholenote.com May 1 - June 7 2002

The new transfers of the works on these CDs, all from analogue tapes, are state of the art using EMI's Abbey Road Technology. ART for short. Bottom Line: Sibelius was right. These performances are the best around. And they sound like it! Bruce Surtees INDIE LIST (Small and Independent Labels) Restless Urban Primitive Oliver Schroer's Big Dog Music BDOlOl Happily, violinist Oliver Schroer's Restless Urban Primitive is low on calculation. Rather, wqe tmusir Q!qamher 211 Danforth Ave. (4-16) 406-1641 Newand Used Classical and Jazz CDs DISCOVERIES he seems ·content putting together shards of music (sometimes coupled with various sound bites, like a foot treadle sewing machine recorded while searching for a spice market in Istanbul). Schroer's playing is honest and wacky. From the beautiful solo Hymn of the Wafidering Souls (a blend of Turkish and western baroque sounds) to the anthem· style Let the Bells Ring Out, the playing makes no attempt to please anyone's tastes other than his own. That philosophy might have gone just a little too far w:ith the track Door Fragment, but such is the case with experimental style recordings. I would have preferred less writing in the liner notes. Writing about music _is a tricky thing and !"found that Schroer's stories give away too much information - he should leave more to the listener's imagination. The best-shared experiences in music are those that bring about a sense of commonality and connectioQ through the deep mystery of creativity that Schroer speaks about so much in his words. All that said, congrats to Schroer for daring to put out what he's interested in, and not letting others sculpt or mould his attempts into too much of a package. If some of the tracks lack depth (like his recording of a squeaky door hinge .and the subsequent rosining of the bow that ensues), it is only because sometimes a Door Fragment is just a door fragment. Mark Fewer Trade-ins Accepted K:1ri1:

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