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Volume 10 Issue 2 - October 2004

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • October
  • Choir
  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • November
  • Orchestra
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Choral

DISC EDITOR'S CORNER

DISC EDITOR'S CORNER cominuedfrompage JI the Bach solo suites for the Channel Classics label more than a decade ago. Having Studied with Anner Bylsma, Wispelwey is a member of the second generation of period performance . practice advocates, but he also has shown an intense interest in the music of his own time. His latest Super Audio CD "The-Canticle of the Sun" (Channel Classics CCS SA .20904) features three works by the Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina, who now makes her home in Germany. The title work, an extended choral composition with obbligato cello, was written for the 70'h birthday of, in her words, "the greatest cellist of the 20'h century, a musician with a sund renched personality" - Mstislav Rostropovich. The choir in this performance is the Collegium Vocale Gent, under Daniel Reuss' direction. The cellist, to whom the most expressive line is delegated, is required during the development of the piece to play at lower and lower pitches until he reaches the bottom of his in irument's range. At this point he must still bring forth a variety of non-pitched sounds by playing below the bridge and employing several percussion instruments. Finally he returns to the cello to play steadily rising pitches, as though the soul were ascending to heaven. The work is based on "II cantico frate sole", the Hymn to Brother Sun of Saint Francis of Assisi. The recording also includes the etude-like Preludes for violoncello solo and the very haunting In Croce for cello and bajan, a Russian variant of the button accordion. One of my formative musical experiences took place around 1970 when I had the wonderful experience of hearing Andres Segovia fill Massey Hall with the sound of his solo acoustic guitar. Sitting in the upper gallery I was amazed by the clarity of sound that this man was able to project from the stage so far below and it is an experience that has stayed with me to this day. So it was with pleasure that I received the new compjlation release "Segovia - The Great Master" (Deutsche Grammophon 00289 VE RIES 474 9612). The double CD is nicely laid out, with a disc of 201h century works by such composers as Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Villa-Lobos, Torroba, Lauro and Ponce, and a disc of mostly Renaissance and Baroque music along with some "parody" pieces by Manuel Ponce that were originally attributed to Alessandro Scarlatti and Silvius Leopold Weiss. Segovia is equally at home in the music from all four of the centuries presented, but of special significance are the works by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco written especially for him. In 1932, on a trip to Venice with Manuel de Falla, Segovia met the Italian composer and it was thanks to this meeting and their subsequent friendship that Castelnuovo-Tedesco 's interest in the guitar was sparked, leading to more than 100 compositions for the instrument. The first disc includes selections from the popular 1960 suite Platero y yo and the only ensemble work of the collection, the charming Quintet for Guitar and String Quartet with members of the Quintetto Chigiano. The digitally remastered recordings are drawn from mono and stereo original master tapes dating from 1944 through 1962 and the sound is presentable throughout. The performances are superb. Speaking of guitar music, one of the discs to cross my desk this month features guitar concertos and solos by the Danish composer Pou! Ruders, performed by American David Starobin (Bridge 9136). The guitar album is part of an ongoing Pou! Ruders Edition, the fourth volume of which (Bridge 9143) includes orchestral works, a solo piano sonata and a piece for 2 superb guitaris.ts. Speaking of guitar music, one of the discs to cross my desk this month features guitar concertos and solos by the Danish composer Pout Ruders, performed by American David Starobin (Bridge 9136). The guitar album is part of an ongoing Pou! Ruders Edition, the fourth volume of which (Bridge 9143) includes orchestral works, a solo piano sonata and a piece for 2 pianos and percussion. Ruders was in Toronto in September to participate in Soundstreams' Encounters series (part of the SuperDanish festival at Harbourfront) and for the Canadian premiere of his opera based on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Having begun listening with the orchestral Fairy Tale, a neo-Romantic soundtrack-like work, and the playful Concerto in Pieces - Purcell Variations for Orchestra, I found OPERA AND CHORAL MUSIC Rossini - La Pietra del paragone Beinkowska; Gemmabella; Herrmann; Costantini Czech Chamber Chorus; Czech Chamber Soloists, Brno Alessandro de Marchi Naxos 8.660093-95 Even die-hard Rossini fanatics will be excused for not knowing La Pietra del paragone, or "The Touchstone". Despite an early success (after a premiere in Milan), the opera, written by the the11 20-year old composer, got quickly overshadowed by Tancredi, L '/taliana in Algieri and /l Barbiere di Siviglia. All in the space of 4 years! La Pietra is by no means a youthful throw-away. It is, however, not as accomplished, CD REVIEWS myself expecting fairly standard fare from Mr. Ruders. So I was pleasantly surprised when I moved on to the guitar disc and found some more challenging, and to me more interesting, repertoire. Even the Paganini Variations (Guitar Concerto No.2), which begins with a straightforward statement of the familiar theme from Paganini's Caprice No.24, quickly moves into unfamiliar territory. This is not to say that Paganini gets lost in the development, just that these variations venture further afield than might be expected. The first guitar concerto, Psalmodies written in 1989, is even more adventurous. A chamber concerto for guitar and nine instruments, performed by New York's Speculum Musicae, this work really does push the envelope. Concert Note: Canadian Opera Company performances of Ruder's The Handmaid's Tale continue through .October 9. Wr; welcome your feedback and invite submissions. Catalogues, review copies of CDs and comments should be sent to WholeNote, 720 Bathurst St. , Suite 503, Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also welcome your input on the web at www.thewholenote.c . om. David Olds Editor, DISCoveries (Wf,HA

.. praise may be exaggerated, but as this live recording from the Rossini in Wildbad Festival (in Germany) proves, La Pietra is a viable and enjoyable opera, not a forgotten musical experiment. Given the modest price of this well performed Naxos recording, there is no conceivable reason, for not including this little gem in one's opera collection. Even in a repertoire as well known, as that of Rossini, there are still discoveries to be made. Now, that's excitement! Britten - Peter Grimes Robert Tomas Winslade; Watson; Michaels­ Moore; Wyn-Rogers et al London Symphony Orchestra; Sir Colin Davis LSO Live LS00054 This concert performance from January 2004 is Sir Colin Davis' second recording of Britten's outstanding 1945 opera. The first of these from 1978 featured the great Canadian tenor John Vickers in an unsurpassd interpretation of the title role. In this new release tenor Glenn Winslade as Grimes creates an impression mid-way between Vickers' rendition and the more lyric reading preferred by Britten in his own 1958 recording of the work with his life partner Peter Pears. Grimes, an outcast fisherman wrecked by a life of wresting a living from the sea, is perceived as a murdering brute by the selfrighteous borough (modeled after Britten's familiar Aldeburgh). His only friend among them is the wellmeaning schoolmarm Ellen Orford, dutifully if not particularly dramatically sung by Janice Watson. Goaded by the busybody Mrs. Sedley (a suitably snaky Catherine Wyn-Rogers), the bloodthirsty mob eventually drives Grimes to his doom. The worthy cast is eclipsed by the stellar LSO Chorus, who contribute a performance of shattering intensity, matched only by the exquisite orchestral playing of the several extended interludes portraying the sea. This marks the fifty-fourth release in the awardwinning LSO live series of selfproduced, budget-priced recordings begun in 1999. The balance engineering is superlative and the complete libretto is provided. Remote Recording Recording Truck Portable Recording Systems Record Anywhere, Anytime Call Bruce @ PRB 647-272-3674 Daniel Foley Canada's international independent label S Li ?. ! L L ... l· L. : .. · '· First recording on the ATMA label featuring soprano Meredith Hall Chinese Tradltlonal Music Suzie LeBlanc Acadian songs with Chris Norman and • David Greenberg "7-

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