7 years ago

Volume 8 Issue 8 - May 2003

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extended aria "Inutiles

extended aria "Inutiles regrets" he conveys Aeneas's emotional torment with a vivid range of conflicting emotions. While Alagna doesn't have the versatility and reserves of power of the more heroic Ben Heppner or Jon Vickers, he has a thrilling urgency, a ringing intensity, and beautifully detailed phrasing. Bertrand"de Billy confirms him-· self as a most exciting young opera conductor. He sets moods brilliantly, leading the orchestr~ through Berlioz's precisely detailed markings, idiosyncratic orchestrations, and unexpected harmonic paths. The thrilling Angela Gheorghiu has been brought in for the ravishing duet "Grand dieux ... Ange adore" from La Damnation de Faust, but it is unfortunately cut off before the final section. The disc presents some fascinating items, such as Mephistopheles's Serenade from the early Huit Scenes de Faust, written before Berlioz transformed him into a baritone in La Damnation de Faust. The informative notes and annotations by Berlioz scholar Hugh Macdonald are valuable. Herreweghe's live recording of L 'Erifance du Christ from 1997 convinces us that something special is happening here. Herreweghe, who produces some of"today's finest recordings ofliturgical works, captures the deeply spiritual atmosphere. His soloists are among the best available: Paul Agnew an ardent, expressive narrator, Veronique Gens a tender, transfixing Mary, Larent Nouri a powerful, terrifying Herod. His two choirs, La Chapelle Royale and the Collegium Vocale are flexible and eloquent. And the Orchestre de Champs Elysees, on period instruments, provide especially vibrant colour, contributing to the profound sens~ of mystery. Pamela Margles Concert Note: The Mississauga Choral Society performs Berlioz' Requiem under Chrys Bentley's direction at 3:00 on May 4 at Hammerso11 Hall. Debussy - Melodies Sandrine Piao; , Jos van Immerseel Naive V 4932 The French soprano Sandrine Piau is mor~ commonly known for her affiliation with Baroque theatre music, notably her iong association with William Christie and his Les Ans Florissants ensemble. This album of Debussy appears to bring some of the sensibility of her "period p~actice" exv.erience to t)le Romantic repertoire with the assistance of an 1897 vintage Erard baby grand piano in the possession of her estimable accompanist, Jos van Immerseel. This instrument boasts a far greater differentiation of registers and a range of pastel tones that make our modem, overly homogenized keyboards seem vulgar by comparison. As ,the astute liner notes by Frarn;ois Le Roux attest, Debussy was an intimate of th(ffebrile literary salons of his time and an accomplished author in his own right. Song was central to his thought, and his contributions to the genre were profound. The album provides a chronological overview of his songs, opening with five selections from his Melodies de jeunesse, proceeding through the Ariettes oubliees and Proses lyriques of his maturity, and concluding with the late Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarme. The partnership of Piau's agile, somewhat slender voice and Immerseel' s elegant pianism is impressive. Though many singers have brought a greater level of languor and intimacy to these songs, few have been as successful in articulating the complex architecture of these intricately wrought melodies. Daniel Foley ming is brilliant: the orchestrati0ns are highly varied, the general atmo~ spheres of the pieces also, so Jet nobody be daunted by the prospect of seventy-five minutes of 17th-century Teutonic pew-sitting! . 'Ich habe Lust abzuscheiden' (Bux­ WV 47) sets the standard with a beautiful blend and balance of the three voices~ rich vocality of the instrumentalists, wonderfully evocative singing, and a sonorous simplicity and elegance which permeates the entire CD. In addition to cantatas we are also treated to an enchanting little piece over a ground bass, sung eloquently by Suzie LeBlanc; and 'chamber' organist Robert Woolley ~ets his chance to shine with a Fugue m C (Bux WV I 74), a delightful marriage of gigue and fugue. Emma Kirkby and Peter Harvey also sing beautifully, and the members of the Purcell Quartet play with profound Buxtehude -'Sacred Cantatas expressiveness without resorting to Emma Kirkby; Suzie LeBlanc any of the excesses heard in some Peter Harvey period string ensembles. The Purcell Quartet J .S. Bach's three cantatas for Trinity, recorded by the Collegium Vo­ Chandos CHAN 0691 cale Gent, date from 1724/25, Bach - Cantatas 2, 20 & 176 Bach's busiest years after his move Philippe Herreweghe; to Leipzig's Thomaskirche in 1723. Collegium Vocale BWV 2 and 20 form part of his first Harmonia Mondi HMC 901791 yearly cycle of chorale cantatas, be- These two recordings feature can- gun in 1724. BWV 20 features l\n tatas by two of the German Ba- extraordinary opening chorale set in rogue's leading musical luminaries, the form of a French overture; its presenting a kind of mini-history of, performance here is dazzling. BWV the German sacred cantata. ~· with its similarly remarkable open- Dietrich Buxtehude (c.1637-1707) mg ~hor?le and t~e delightful oboe spent his working life in Sweden playmg m the ana 'Durchs Feuer Denmark and finally in Liibeck a~ , :-Vir~ ~as S~lber .rein,' also makes for the Marienkirche, one of the most mspmng hstemng. Throughout this significant musical posts in northern CD, the orchestral playing is beauti­ Germany, where he worked from fully unified and full of character, 1660 until his death. The cantatas the choir is equally praiseworthy, and recorded here may well have bee~ the soloists are exemplary. This is performed at Buxtehude's famous ano~er in a long line ofwonderful 'Abendmusik' concerts to one of music-making by Philippe Herwhich the young Johan~ Sebastian reweghe and his crew. Bach is known to have traveled on If you can only afford one of these foot. The program presents various discs, I'd vote for the Buxtehude. cantatas of three types: biblical texts But make sure someone buys you Lutheran chorales and texts fro~ the Bach for your birthday. two or more sources. The program- Alison Melville

Henry Purcell - Sonatas and Theatre Music Chatham Baroque Dorian DOR-90309 Dolle - Pieces de Vfole Petr Wagner & Jacques Ogg Dorian DOR-93246 Dorian Recordings has recently released these two exceptional eds of the music of one obscure and one celebrated composer, both of whom lived through extraordii;iary times. Little is known about the 18th century French gambist Charles Dolle except that he published a number of collections of first-rate music for viola da gamba and continuo. As the instrument waned in popularity, some compq_sers - mostly French - tried desperately to hang 6n to and protect the rich tradition that had grown up around the instrument in the 17th and early 18th . centuries. The music of Sainte-Colombe and Marais, masters of the instrumeiit from two generations earlier, clearly inspires Dolle. German gambist Petr Wager - a student of Wieland Kuijken - clearly has an affinity for Dolle's music and the technical prowess to make it all sound easy. Never mind that it's conservative writing: I thoroughly enjoyed wallowing in the poignant, melancholy melodies and marveled again at the rich sonorities of this special instrument with its incredibly wide range and delicate timbre. Chatham Baroque is the baroque ensemble-in-residence at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, and maintains a busy touring and recording schedule. Their two violins, gamba and lute are joined by special guest violinist Scott Metcalf (a former regular with Tafelmusik) for a charming recording of Purcell's chamber and theatre music for strings. Purcell's trio sonatas and sonatas in four parts are the culmination of the great English renaissance tradition of writing for viol consort: mellifluous, harmonically daring writing inspired by the early experiments in instrumental writing. Canzonas and Passacailles abound and are delivered with technical flair and a lively sense of abandon by the performers. This repertoire is juxtaposed brilliantly with two lengthy suites from · Purcell's theatre music of the 1690s. This is entertaining, dance-based music with Purcell's unmistakable popular style. The performances are stunningly vibrant and inventive. I can't recommend this CD too highly. It's one of the best I've heard in a long time. Larry Beckwith Fran~ois Couperin: Keyboard music --1 Angela Hewitt, piano Hyperion CDA67440 If Bach's keyboard music can work on the piano, why not Couperin's? Both wrote for the harpsichord. But, unlike Bach, Couperin wrote out all his ornaments, and specified not just mood and tempo, but also instrumental' technique. He even begged performers to play his music just as he had written it. Today, with the prevalence of period instruments, it's a rare and brave musician who performs these works on the piano. The intrepid Angela Hewitt, whose recordings of Bach have had a great success, manages to adapt Couperin's highly specific style of ornamentation, rhythm and shading to the demands of the piano, although, with the strings being hit rather than plucked, not all his intentions can be realized. In Les Baricades Misterieuses, the piano action creates a texture more undifferentiated than the desired effect of a lute, in spite of Hewitt's meticulous clarity. But what make this disc work so well are her ornaments. They flow and sparkle seamlessly, varied in speed and timing to create maximum expression. Hewitt is attuned to every nuance of these short, characterfuLpieces, capturing the wit, melancholy, grandeur, tenderness, gaity, social commentary and sentimentality that make these works so powerfully appealing today. Hewitt's own booklet notes are, as always, a most welcome pleasure, as is the recorded pianp sound. With this delightful disc, and the two more projected, Hewitt could well bring Couperin's Pieces de Clavecin back into the piano concert repertoire. Pamela Margles Howard Cable - Seasons' Celebration . Symphony Nova Scotia; · Howard Cable CBC Records SMCD 5226 The Halifax-based orchestra continues its tradition of high quality recordings under the venerable Howard Cable. The 14 selections all pertain to Canada's traditional celebrations. Cable sticks to his forte as an arranger of light orchestral bon-bons here, and the orchestra delivers a smooth well-balanced sound. Rodgers and Hart's My Romance (for Valentine's Day) is a most apt vehicle for Cable's skills, and the track displays the considerable talents of oboist Suzanne LeMieux. Opening Night is a broad arrangement of themes from Anne of Green Gables, with a much grander orchestra than you're ever likely to see in the pit at the Festival Theatre in Charlottetown. Youthful singer Cliilina Kennedy makes a delightful appearance here. Cable's treatment of Wassail, Wassail is exceptionally sumptuous, and bound to raise a few eyebrows among the purists. The real gem among the disc is Cable's own Point Pelee Reverie (for Thanksgiving Day), which features an impressive solo passage for David Parker on the horn. There is something for just about everyone on this CD. The reverberant sonic environment of All Saints Cathedral in Halifax, previously horn~ to SNS for their award-winning Delius CD (under the late Georg Tintner) serves ably for this repertoire. The accompanying booklet is well designed and easy to read. CBC Producers Karen Wilson and Adrian Hoffman can be proud of this product. John Gray Qigang Chen - Iris Devoilee Various soloists; Orchestre National de France Muhai Tang, Charles Dutoit, Didier Benetti, conductors MIKROKOSMOS 314 Churchill Ave Toronto, Ontario M2R 1E7 Canada Tel: (1) 416-224-1956 Fax: (1) 416-224-2964 We buy your classical LP collection (classical, such as Beethoven, Mozart, Stockhausen) we travel anywhere for good collection May 1- June 7 2003

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