8 years ago

Volume 9 Issue 4 - December 2003

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Guay proves that he is

Guay proves that he is one of Canada's finest performers of contemporary music. Wallace Halladay Canadian Composer Portrait: Barbara Pentland Various artists Centrediscs CMCCD 9203 Canadian· Composer Portrait: Norma Beecroft Various· artists Centrediscs CMCCD 9303 Ovation 3 (Tremblay; Kenins; Beecroft; Beckwith; Pentland) Various artists CBC Records PSCD 2028-5 The recent release of "Portraits'.' of Barbara Pentland and Norma Beecroft brings the total in this excellent series, a joint initiative of the Canadian Music Centre and the CBC, to 15 thus far. These portraits include a one-hour radio documentary prepared by CBC producer Eitan Cornfield and an additional disc or two of (mostly) archival recordings. The CBC "Ovation" series provides an additional CD of repertoire from each of the featured composers. As might be expected from such a broad-ranging project, some of the discs feel more like a pot-pourri than a c9hesive whole, but this is probably a~ inherent problem when trying. to portray careers that span half-centuries. After all, if the music all seemed cut from the same cloth it would not speak well for the creators of a supposedly "new" music. We are treated to a thirty-year span of Pentland' s uncompromising creative output, from the Concerto for Piano and Strings and Symphony for Ten Parts of the mid-1950s through chamber music of the 60s, 70s and 8@s. The Ovation disc extends this portrait by including a number of solo piano works (among other things) including Angela Hewitt's performance of the 1941 Studies in line, a piece which the documentary tells us cost Pentland a job at the University of Minnesota when she played it for the hiring committee who had otherwise considered her "a nice girl". The Portrait gives . us the composer's own performance of Shadows - Ombres and Three Duets after Pictures by Paul Klee (with protege Robert Rogers). Also featured are a number of significant chamber works with the Purcell String Quartet, accordionist Joseph Macerollo, the Vancouver New Music Ensemble, harpist Erica 72 Goodman and flutist Robert Aitken. Robert Aitken also has a prominent role in the Pprtrait oL Norma Beecroft, with whom he founded New Music Cohcerts back in 1971. Both the .Portrait and Ovation discs begin with flute works: Tre Pezz.i Brevi features Aitken and his pianist wife Marion Ross, and the Improvvisazioni Concertante No. J, a nearconcerto, features Aitken's mentor TSO principal flute Nicholas Fior~ (although Fiore is unacknowledged in the booklet). Beecroft's pioneering efforts in the integration of electronic media into concert works is well represented in such "mixed" works as the 1964 From Dreams of This latter work is the fruit of a program initiated by the Canada Council in which composers are jointly commissioned by three (or more) orchestras that each commit to perform the work. In 'this instance it was the Victoria Symphony, the · Hamilton Philharmonic (heard in this performance under Victor Feldbrill's direction) and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Canadian composers are rarely given the opportunity to write extended orchestral works (R. Murray Schafer's title No longer than ten minutes aptly outlining the usual stipulation). This initiative gave composers not only the opportunity to write for larger forces, but more importantly guaranteed a number of performances of the work, thus taking a major step toward building a living Canadian repertoire. The same could be said of the current recording project. Praise and congratulations are due to all concerned. JAZZ Shade Holly Cole Alert Records 6152810392 Brass for narrator, soprano chorus Holly Cole's latest CD, the aptly orchestra and tape, through, Co/lag; .name "Sha~e", gives us a very cool '76 (which integrates a number of and r~freshmg place to hang out for intermediary works) to Amplified a while, .for a ?u~ber of .reasons. String Quartet with Tape, complet- ~he first is her smgmg. While lots of ed in 1992. Another late work Ev- smgers seem preoccupied with voocations: Images of Canada, c'reat- cal gymnastics and higher/louder/ ed entirely in the digital realm , is fas~er, Ms. Cole understands how to less successful, lacking the compiex- dehver ~ so~g :-V!th~ut ~ett!ng in its 1ty of the acoustic sound sources that way, whlle still m1ectmg 1t with plenty Beec~~ft has previously used injux- of style and personali'.Y.. . tapos1t10n with synthetic colours. A~othe.r strength of this CD 1s her The CBC Ovation box set also in- ~ho1ce of songs. Instead of the same eludes discs devoted to Gilles Trem- tired ol~ ~tandards, we get a mix of blay, Talivaldis Kenins and John the fam1har and the not so familiar Beckwith, whose "Portrait" discs '.rom.several di~ferent genres. Case were released (and reviewed in these m pomt: the mam theme of the CD is pages) earlier this year. Highlights heat and summer, yet she has not include Tremblay's challenging eel- included t~~ do~e-to-death Summerlo concerto from 2000 Les Pierres time. Sure it s a tme song, but enough crieront, Kenins' Quartet No_j for already. (Joke stolen from Rob Mcpiano, violin, viola and cello (the ne- Conn.ell: "Ho~ many girl singers glected companion to the oft-per- does it take to smg Summertime? All formed Quartet No. 2) and Beck- of ~en_i, appar~ntly. ")Instead we get with's Round and Round. a s1zzhng, douole-time-feel version WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM oflrving Berlin's saucy, Heatwave; a melancholy and sultry Something Cool; and a sad and beautiful rendering of Brian Wilson's God Onlv &o~. . Much credit for the freshness and inventiveness of this record should go to the musicians and the freedom they've apparently been given to create and contribute. The core band is John Johnson on saxes, flute and clarinet, George Koller. bass, Mark Kelso, drums and Holly's long time collaborator, Aaron Davis on piano. There is lots of great work from the guests to.o, such as, Guido Basso's rich tlugelhorn, and the distinctive guitar sounds of Kevin Breit. If you find yourself wandering in a musical desert and need relief, seek out some "Shade". Cathy Riches Music Of The Twenties David Olds Rob McConnell Tentet Justin Time JUST 196-2 When the bandleader tells you "This is the best band I ever pad", you listen to him. When it's Rob McConnell, who led one of the world's greatest big bands, The Boss Brass for over 25 years, you may dare t~ ask for proof. He could offer "Music Of The Twenties" as primafacie evidence and win over any jury. This is old-fashioned music in many ways: the tune selection the straight-ahead ungimmicky re~ording, the acoustic instruments and the pure craftsmanship of the players. And what players they are! Guido Basso and Steve McDade are on trumpe\ and tlugelhorn, McConnell and Terry Promane play trombone, and the saxes have P.J, Perry on alto, with teriorists Mike Murley and Alex Dean. The driving rhythm sec­ . tion is Dave Restivo at the piano, Steve Wallace on bass, and drummer Terry Clarke. This is a band of All Stars! The solo work is well spread around great, long-lived compositions by masters like Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers (not Rogers, as the cover says) and Porter. They are familiar titles, but beautifully arranged by the DECEMBER 1 2003 - FEBRUARY 7 2004

leader, and his co-producer Rick Wilkins who delivered a Basie-like chart on Remember that seems to play itself. · McConnell's writing, as always, distinguishes itself in the little things as well as the big: subtle key changes that lift things at just the right time; an unexpected tempo change; or even a complete change of tune, as when Guido Basso is suddenly heard playing Tristeza in the middle of Always, or the inclusion of Summenime (with a bang-on nod to Miles from Guido) at the end of Indian Summer. And, speaking of endings, look out for the gong at the end of ... well, just be prepared! Be prepared to appreciate a band that can cruise like a Bentley, then downshift to roar around a corner, Porsche-I ike. Ted O'Reilly Maple Groove (Songs From The Great Canadian Songbook) Ranee Lee Justin Time JUST 194-2 Ranee Lee is one terrific performer. She comes on stage with authority, wins the audience over immediately, and carries you through to the end with a well-paced set. The musical integrity holds, too. Ms. Lee is a delight in person, but there's a bit of a problem with her newest CD, the all-Canadian "Maple Groove". Some of the music is not appropriate for a jazz artist to work with, no matter how great Rick Wilkins' new arrangements are, or the original version may be. To my ears, Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind is best left to the composer: it resists swing. This is also true to a lesser extent of Bruce Cockburn's My Beat, which sounds a bit out-of-date, as does Spinning Wheel from David Clayton-Thomas. Oscar Peterson's Hymn To Freedom (with vocal ensemble) seems a bit out of place and lacking the usual gospel depth. The majority of the choices work however, with first-rate musicianship under guitarist Richard Ring's direction. Bill Evans' Waltz For Debby (Canadian Gene Lees is the lyricist) DECEMBER 1 2003 - F EB RUARY 7 2004 is warmly done, and Percy Faith's Maybe September is treated reverently. Going 'way back, Ranee has fun with Some Of These Days, and the late-night reading of Put Your Dreams Away. She finds jazz in Jann Arden's It Looks Like Rain, and gives Undun by Randy Bachman a light Latin sound. Get this release, and be sure to take it with you for an autograph when you see Ranee in performance. Everything works when she's right in front of you. Ted O'Reilly Riverside Original Jazz Classics Sampler Various Artists Riverside OJCCD-3706-2 I've never understood the value of those multi-disc CD players, or the shuffle playback feature. I've always wanted to hear the music the way the artist or producer wanted it presented: track 1 through to the end. Since someone has worked hard to present a sequence of different moods, keys and tempos, and maybe a storyline, it's always seemed wrong, somehow, to change that. I know some think that's boring, but here's a solution: a well-crafted sampler, such as this "Riverside Original Jazz Classics" which features 17 different tracks. In the '50s and early '60s, the label was one of the active independents along with Blue Note and Prestige, though less stylized than those labels. Orrin Keepnews was the main producer, and he brought to the label both under-recognized artists and those on their way up. Represented here are talents like Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Sonny Rollins and even Duke Ellington in a piano duet with Billy Strayhorn. Singers include Abbey Lincoln, Eddie Jefferson and Mark Murphy. It's a lovely selection of talent and tunes, and serves its purpose perfectly: great listening on its own, and as an introduction to the many releases in the OJC series. Ted O'Reilly CONTINUED World class early music on period instruments Maria, Madre di Dio Agnes Mellon. soprano Matthew White. countertenor Arion directed by Monica Huggett " The voices are gorgeous, and perfectly matched. But ultimately ifs the conjunction of sensual beauty and intense sorrow that floors the listener " (The National Post) VIVALDI. A: Stabat Mater HANDEL. G.F. ·Ah' Che troppo ineguali SCARLATTI. A.. Salve Regina HANDEL/FERRANDINI II Pianto di Maria EMCCD 7757 D'Anglebert : Pieces de clavecin (Paris. 1689) Hank Knox. clavecytherium Hank Knox travels through these pages[ ... ] with the precision. the skillful technique and the imagination of a great harpsichordist " (La Presse) La belle Homicide : Musique fran

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