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Volume 10 Issue 10 - July/August 2005

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Albeniz - Iberia

Albeniz - Iberia Marc-Andre Hamelin Hyperion CDA67476/7 Isaac Albeniz' monumental solo piano work Iberia was composed from 1905-08. By this time, Spaniard Albeniz had lived in Paris for over a decade and the influence of Parisian art music combined with his own sensibilities resulted in an intellectual work deeply rooted in his native Spanish folk music. Three styles predominate throughout- impressionism, technical virtuosity and the fl avours of Spanish regional music . Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin uses his impressive technique to ably execute all of the in­ ~erent challenges of Iberia. This aspect in itself would be enough to experience Hamelin's work here. But what overshadows the Olympic level pianistic gymnastics required to merely perform Iberia is Hamelin's level-headed approach to such Spanish musical references as flamencos, jotas and fandangos. His musical connection to these Spanish forms elevates his performance to a stellar level. Most mov ing is the simple beauty that he creates in El Corpus Lockndge HiFi British Turntables Now Available! en Evilla of Book I. Musically it just doesn't get any better than this. Espana: Souvenirs, La vega, the amusing Yvonne en visite! and the rambunctious Na varra (completed by William Balcom) round out the other late works on this two CD release. There is a lot of piano music to listen to here and fans of Albeniz and Hamelin should be delighted . Perfect music for a long, hot summer! Tiina Kiik MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Bartok - String Quartets Vermeer Quartet Naxos 8.557543-44 Lockridge Hi-Fi proudly presents the remarkable Nottingham Spacedeck turntable. Canadian Retail Price: ,295 I have great admiration for string players who surrender themselves to the string quartet. Of the repertoire available to them, the quartet repertoire is surely the most intense, personal, inward and psychologically probing. From Papa Haydn forward , countless composers have reserved a special place - given a little extra - for the miraculous combination of two violins, viola and cello. Some have written only one and others have given us cycles that allow for a very personal glimpse into their composer's intellectual and emotional journey. Bartok's six quartets span thirty years and when gathered together - as they are in this new recording from Naxos by the Vermeer Quartet - they IHRTQ.K S trh~ (J·•wi:t·tct" H .~ Wff l l'l t>h!J ·v-:rlffffr Qu;md provide a fascinating and detailed look into his working mind. There are high points in each quartet. The first is bold , with a hefty scope and confidence; the second features a powerful intensity that flowers into an absolutely sublime last movement; the third is compact, slim, dark and tidy; the fourth is wild and features writing of great abandon and savageness; the fifth is a monster, with its great "Blue Rondo a Ia Turk" middle movement, and, considering the sixth was written in 1939, it ·is difficult not to read tremendous sadness, tragedy and wea-, riness into it. The Vermeer Quartet wisely recorded these over a nearly four year period and the result is well above average. The expansive melodies, powerful effects and virtuosity of the writing is captured and reflected well by the players. Only rarely does excitement get the better of them and the playing becomes too harsh. All in all, it 's a fi ne collection of music: a monument in a jewel case, capturing some stunning, intense performances of a substantial and remarkable group of pieces. Larry Beckwith • IIRrrn·:N ~h~.fml hi tfa R:f'qulem &~ bth'fit$M.'> :ltlilt1 f>.~~~~ tl-~1\ ~t:l '

fans out there I feel compelled to note that when I questioned him about his comments he responded: "I only meant that even 'under the influence' of Mahler, Britten maintains a British reserve. An interesting mixture." Vincent Persichetti - Serenade No.5; Symphony for Strings (Symphony No. 5) Symphony No. 8 Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney; Jorge Mester First Edition FECD-0034 Ernst Toch - Miniature Overture; Peter Pan (A Fairy Tale for Orchestra), Op. 76; Notturno, Op.77; Jephta, Rhapsodic Poem (Symphony no. 5), Op. 89 Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney; Jorge Mester First Edition FECD-0035 Carlos Surinach - Melorhythmic Dramas; Symphonic Variations; Feria Magica Overture; Sinfonietta flamenco Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney; Jorge Mester First Edition FECD-0039 William Bolcom- Symphony No. 1; Symphony No.3 (Symphony for chamber orchestra); Seattle Slew Orchestral Suite Louisville Orchestra; Lawrence Leighton Smith First Edition FECD-0033. The First Editions Records vinyl catalogue contained a large repertoire of new music originating in the Louisville Orchestra's remarkable program of commissions and recordings, most from the 1950s and 60s but some from as late as the early 1990s. The Santa Fe Music Group is currently reissuing all 150-plus titles on CD. These four examples are a welcome reminder of forgotten pieces of the mid-to-late 20th century - less likely to be encountered in live concerts these days than, say, forgotten pieces of the early 18th. They also reveal the fine playi ng standard of a medium-sized orchestra in a medium-sized U.S. town: the Louisville players may not sound exactly lush, but their crispness in passages like the fmale of Persichetti' s Eighth could . hardly be bettered by any of the Big Ten. Besides the obligatory ni11e symphonies, Persichetti produced nineteen keyboard sonatas, thirteen serenades for various instrumental ensembles, and twenty-five "parables" . again variously scored. His music epitomizes the approach to abstract musical fo rms by U.S. practitioners such as Walter Piston, Roy Harris, and William Schuman (all of whom were among early Louisville commissionees). The adagios are always broody. the allegros always "lean and athletic," and the endings always ruggedly optimistic (think Gary Cooper). Even the best works (the Fifth, for strings, for instance) come over as faceless and generalized rather than glowing with personality. Stravinsky, in one of his conversation books, asked what need U.S. composers imagined they were supplying in writing works called symphonies. An above-it-all sort of question, but listening to Persichetti you see what he meant. Ernst Toch (seven symphonies, thirteen string quartets, thirty-two movie scores) takes a more distinctive view. His Fifth Symphony is a work of constant contrasts, with especially sensitive moments for solo strings. The program notes fail to enlighten us as to its relationship to the biblical story of Jephtha and his daughter, evidenced in the title. In two of the other scores, rugged optimism is countered by what Toch called his "elfin" mood. Instrumental abstraction for Carlos Surinach means flamenco rhythms and scalic formulas. The four pieces on his disc revisit the same few ideas (think Vivaldi, Telemann), albeit they do so with verve and expertise. The Melorhythmic Dramas are deeper and looser in their range of expression, though still • DIGITAL EDITING CD MASTERING CONTACT: rl~/~~llllhPI~I ; IIII~I~ I 314 Churchill Ave ~ ~ Toronto , Ontario~ ~ M2R 1 E7 Canada ( ; Tel : 416-224-1956 ~ Fal< : 416 - 224-296~ ~ ~ MlKROKOSMOS www.mikrokosmos.com -e, ; ~ e. I b ; ~ We uyyour ~ ~ classical LP ~ ~ collection ~ (classical, such as Beethoven, Mozart , Stockhausen) we travel anywhere ~ for good collections ·OPEN REEL TRANSFERS· 96/24 CAPABIUTY KARL MACHAT 416 503 3060 OR 647 227 KARL MISTERS.MASTERS@SYMPATICO.CA ; ~ I ~ 'I ~ ~

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