7 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 3 - November 2004

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at least one flaw to

at least one flaw to prove that fallible human beings were playing. It still sounds perfect and still flawless. That very recording is on this disc along with an equally impeccable "Uofinished" from 1978. These recordings will make even the most jaded collector sit up and listen. The Triffan Act lll excerpts from the complete recording, including the 'liebestod, are almost a bonus. Sound tlfroughout is exemplary. Bruce Surtees Lang Lang: Live at Carnegie Hall Lang Lang, piano DG 474820-2 Pletnev Plays Schumann Mikail Pletnev, piano DG474813-2 Prokofiev: Cinderella Suite; Ravel: Ma Mere l'Oye Martha Argerich and Mikhail Pletnev, piano DG4748172 In "Live from Carnegie Hall", young pianist Lang Lang demonstrates his rare ability to inspire an audience to frenzied enthusiasm. It's not just his splendid technique and natural musicality, but also his infectious exuberance, that make him stand out. Yet for the most part these are not performances I will return to often. In Schumann'sAbegg Variations, Lang Lang willfully ignores many of the composer's dynamic markings, so that Schumann's layered textures are obscured. Haydn's Sonata in C Major Hob.XV/:50 becomes weighted down by his romantic indulgences. Schubert fares better, with lovely singing lines drawn out with warmth and imagination. The exquisite adagio is truly felt and beautifully shaped. Unfortunately Lang Lang builds climaxes so frequently that when a real one comes along, it has lost its dramatic and emotional impact. from Prokofiev's three-act ballet into In transcribing nine movements Tai Dun's impressionistic harmonies and evocative contrasts bring out Pletnev takes full advantage of the this Cinderella Suite for two pianos, his best. Still better is his Chophl Nocturne in D flat Major op. 27 no.2, pianos shariilg a score can produce wonderful array of effects that two with beautiful, natural phrasing - especially when played like this. marred only by excessive hesitations. The encore duet with his favides dramatic settings for the col­ The traditional tale of Cinderella prother, Guo-ren Lang, playing the traditional Chinese erhu, is great fun. between the grotesque step-sisters, ourful characters, like the Quarrel DGG really didn't need to include and the rhythmic structures for the so much clapping to convey the audience's enthusiasm. In Lang Lang Cinderella 's Waltz and the breathtak­ dances, like the gorgeous, lyrical they clearly have a pianist with ingly virtuosic Gallop. By the time enormous potential and the not-lobe-underestimated ability to com­ Finale, Argerich and Pletnev have they reach the triumphant grand municate with an audience. pretty well explored the limits of Mikhail Pletnev came out with his what is surely possible with two pianos in combination. own "Live at Carnegie Hall" recording a few years ago. Like Lang Lang, The piano four-hand version of he can be mannered, hesitating too Ravel's Ma Mere l'Oye is the composer's original, which he later ex­ frequently and exaggerating tempos. But, unlike Lang Lang, Pletnev instinctively honours the composer's tral score. In these five pieces Arpanded into the better-known orches­ markings and Intentions. With his gerich and Pletnev luminously evoke exquisite sense of the orchestral possibilities of the piano, he links Schu­ dreams, fears and imaginings. Two the magical innocence of childhood mann's episodic sections into a dramatic, propulsive whole. Even when thrilling - together or apart. pianists have rarely sounded more · he sounds almost improvisatory, he Pamela Margles has luminous clarity. Pletnev brings out Schumann's rich inner voices to Performance Notes: Lang Lang create vivid textures, but always joins the China Philharmonic on holds on to his singing line. His tempos are indeed fluid, but always ar­ Thomson Hall for a performance of Wednesday, March 16 in Roy chitecturally cohesive. Even in the Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a middle section of the Arabesque, Theme of Paganini. The National where ·schumann virtually deconstructs the rhythmic pulse, Pletnev act ballet Cinderella at the Hum­ Ballet performs Prokofiev's three­ retains the sense of direction. mingbird Centre on Apil 23 and 24. Schumann called his Etudes 'Symphoni que' for· good reason. Pletnev's masterful aoilities as both conductor and orchestrator provide his piano playing with the extensive palette of colours and textures of a full orchestra. Elgar - Violin Concerto; Vaughan Williams - The Lark Ascending Hilary Hahn; LSO; Colin Davis Deutsche Grammophon 00289474 5042 I was fortunate to attend a concert Yet what ultimately makes these given by this young lady at Roy Thomson Hall this spring. I was immedi­ performances so compelling is Pletnev's ability to reveal the soulful, ately taken by her delicate beauty, unattainable longings of Schumann girlish charm, calm relaxed presence and, of course, her wonderful the supreme romantic. Martha Argerich is as capable of playing of the violin. But nothing prepared me for this recording. soulfulness as-Pletnev - or any pianist today. But here she goads Pletnev The Elgar concerto is not an easy into dazzling surfaces and exuberant one to bring off. It is long, rambling, flights. Her imagination is boundless, structurally somewhat loose and her style flamboyant, and her technique sparkling. it not for a great performer and a one could get lost in the details were WWW, THEWHOLENOTE.COM master conductor. The dedication and commitment in by-gone days of such artists as Kreisler, Menuhin, Heifetz and recently Khung-Wha Chung, Zuckerman and Kennedy have kept it alive and well for nearly a hundred years. This is a wonderful performance. I sincerely think it surpasses all I've heard before. Ms Hahn plays with such maturity, passion, sensitivity and comprehension of the entire work that it is truly amazing. One simply forgets the time passing. In the first movement the slow section (closing subject) is handled so affectionately that you could imagine she is making love to the violin. One can oly admire the incredible virtuosity of the third movement, the suspense of the long cadenza and the mad dash to the finale (to a thunderous ovation, no doubt, in a concert performance). In the Vaughan Williams, the gossamer-like opening melody makes one feel one is ascending to heaven on Ms. Hahn's ethereal violin tone. Sir Colin Davis and the LSO, of course, must share the credit with their tremendous contribution to the success of this disc. Sir Edward would be pleased. Highly recommended. Gustav Mahler - Janos Gardo11yi Symphony No. 2 in C minor Claude Debussy - La Mer Eteri Gvazava; Anna Larsson Orfeon Donostiarra; Lucerne Festival Orchestra Claudio Abbado Deutsche Grammophon 00289 4775082 Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 3 in D minor York Holler - Der Ewige Tag Marjana Lipovsek WDR Rundfunkchor Koln; WDR Sinfonie-Orchester KOln Semyon Bychkov Avie AV0019 "My time will yet come." Such was Gustav Mahler's response to the hostility and misunderstanding his massive symphonies were subject to in his lifetime. It would be fifty years after his death in 1911 before his prophecy would begin to be realized, largely thanks to the pioneering example of Leonard Bernstein's recordings of the complete symphonies in the 1960s. Nowadays conductors mark their arrival in the big leagues with recordings of his works, though they may have little real affinity for his music. Mahler has become the indispensable summit of orchestral achievement. NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004

Lamentably, there are no translations provided for the German texts of this ambitious choral/orchestral work. Daniel Foley Claudio Abbado's powerful performance of Mahler's Second Symphony at the Lucerne Festival in the summer of2003 created a sensation throughout Europe thanks to the excellence of the handpicked ensemble he assembled and his meticulous rehearsal process. Every moment of this performance is a marvel of coherence. Abbado has an intuitive feeling for Mahler and an exceptional ability to project the long line of this discursive music to a direct and inevitable conclusion. The joyfully spontaneous music making of this stellar occasion has been faithfully recorded with minimal editing. The performance of Debussy's La Mer is equally thrilling, with a truly explosive conclusion that has the audience roaring its approval. The audience's no doubt polite reception of the Mahler Third Symphony has been suppressed on the Jive recording from the West German Radio Orchestra of Cologne. Though this is evidently an excellent ensemble the interpretation is quite disappointing. Mahler's orchestrations consistently omit the meu.o-piano dynamic marking. Alas, there are an abundance of these to be heard in Bychkov's performance, whenever double or triple pianos are called for. A heavy hand at the mixing board does not help matters. To cite but one example, the oboe solo at the onset of the second movement, intentionally marked a dynamic level below that of the string accompaniment, is boosted into prominence and robbed of its intended intimacy. Perhaps the best thing about this competent though wooden performance is the companion piece by York Holler, former director of the infamous WDR electronic music studio. Der Ewige Tag is an appealing mix of old school 1950s serialism 1970s thematic appropriations (fro Mahler's Seventh Symphony) and 1990s digital processing techniques. NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004 Wieniawski - Sarasate James Ehnes; Eduard Laurel CBC Records MVCD 1168 In his fourth release on CBC records, virtuoso violinist James Ehnes continues to amaze us with his playing, this time with just a pianist in support. But in this instance we hear no less an accompanist than Eduard Laurel, whose deft touch does not overbear. Wieniawski's Polonaises open the disc, followed by three more crowdpleasers from the Polish master. The playing is impeccable throughout. Sarasate's three sets of Sp anish Dances, op. 21, 22and23round out the disc with hardly any Jet-up in the frantic energy. Only in the final track, the Introduction and Tarantella op. 43, do we hear.a moment of peace, before the renewed flurry of virtuoso histrionics. Those who follow Ehnes on his concert tours will treasure this CD. The warm ambience of Glenn Gould Studio makes for a nice partnership with these two musicians. In keeping with current production and engineering practice, the piano is held back in the aural field, but not to the ridiculous degree you often find in other virtuoso solo outings. Keith Homer's liner notes are well researched and informative, and there is a foreword from Ehnes himself. As I expected, there is no photograph of the two musicians together, either playing or posing. And those red letters on a black background make the cover almost illegible. It does high- 1 ight the excellent drawing by Schuessler, though. John S. Gray Messiaen - Eclairs sur l'au-dela l,\erliner Philharmoniker (Symphoniker); Simon Rattle EMI Classics 5 57788 2 Messiaen's final orchestral work was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for'their sesquicentennial celebrations in 1992 and received

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