7 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 4 - December 2004

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • December
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  • February

The Mau in tl1e Red Suit

The Mau in tl1e Red Suit .Joe Seal) and Paul Novotny SeajamS.11011-2 Tht:se nine sclei.:tions from jazz vc1crans Joe Sealy and Paul Novotny an: grown-up Christmas musii.: \ ith a sense of wonder and dt!light. Simple. sophisticaced. heanreh and playful, they include Novotny's n.:visiting of' Howard Blake's theme lor the lilm "The Snowman" that has the gentle couch of snowllakes melting on your tongue. Sealy's arrangement of the traditional We Three Kings nicely complements his origmal The Dunes, which envisions 1he three mysterious visitors in their dest:n travels, with strong Arabic and African flavours. Novotny's uplifting Good Folks more than once riffs on the bel()ved hymn Go Tell It 011 tlze Mo11111ai11. Among the collaborators arc Archie Alleyne, Mark Kelso, Walccd Abdulhamid. Debbie Fleming, and Molly Johnson who upplit:s lyrics for.a sexy. bluesy cold-weather song called It Started. A Ceremony of Carols The Toronto Children's Chorus Marquis 81327 Fiftv Years of Christmas Music Chir of St. Simon-the-Apostle, Toronto lndependent (ww" .St-simon-the-apostle.ea) 88 Among this year·s standouts are two distinguished compilations from local choirs that feature children's voices. "A Ceremony of Carols'' is mainly a reissue of previously released material, bui it goes to town wich a lineup of stirring 1raditional carols like Es is ei11 Ros' e111spnmge11 and Noel 11011vele1. Most of the 65-mimue recording is taken up with two major suites: John Rutter's Dancing Day (with invigorating harp accompaniment by Judy Loman) and Benjamin Briuen's A Ceremony of Carols. The choir performs these demanding pieces with a crystalclear diction and attention to dynamics. which is a1 the same time never sterile. Toronto's Choir of St. Simonthe-Apostle has accrued a century of performance in the English choral tradition. Unfortunately, the group. made up of men and boys for mos1 of its his1ory, has only been recording for hal r thal lime. In ''Fifty Years ofChrisunas Music", tht: ensemble presents 14 works recorded at various periods. Recording qualities vary greatly from selection to selection, as one might expect. Howl;lvcr. the calibrt; of arrangemen1s and performance. as. well as the selection of unusual repertoirt: - including Provenal and medieval songs - makes this disc well wonh hearing. Concert Notes: The Toromo Children's Chorus presents ''Music for the Holiday Season" in Markham on December 11. In Toromo they perform "A Chorus Christmas" including Britten's Missa Brevis on December 18. Britten's A Ceremony of Carols will receive a number of performanct:s this month: Etobicoke Centennial Choir December 10: Uxbridge Chamber Choir December 11 (further afield listings); St. James Cathedral "Music at Midday" December 14 and the Amadeus Choir on December 18. Noel Pianissimo Duo Campion-Vachon Aoalekta 2 9818 Guy Campion and Mario Vachon specialize in piano for four hands, and this disc is their dexterous tour 1hrough 25 classic carols and coniemporary Christmas tunes. They open with five heartfelt and slightly jazzy renderings of old-fashioned c w m wO. •wW"ị lruHE\ w H no carols that might serve as accompaniment for an intimate Yuletide soiree a deux. But then they get frisky with the next ten pieces. whkh are done "in the style of" such composers as Ravel; Mendt:lssohn and Liszt. (Some of the bes1 are We Wish You a Merry Christmas a Ja Bach and the Gershwin-styled Let fr Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow.1). Then the duo settles down again, more or less. into ten more traditional renditions. Odd. but fun. A Winter's Night - The Best of Nettwerk Christmas Various artists Nettwerk 30379 Maybe This Christmas Tree Various artists Nettwerk 30380 Two compilations by contemporary Canadian artists. Although both include a few cheerful standards. the overall mood evokes the loneliness and disaffection of urban, post­ Christian Christmas. "A Winter's Night" features such big names as Barenaked Ladies, Ron Sexsmith, Sarah Mclachlan, Avril Lavigne and Chantal Kreviasuk (the latter two collaborate on a plaintive and unadorned 0 Holy Night). Meryn Cadell performs a heartbreaking L ENl/OT•e. Cat Ct1rol; The Be Good Tanyas sing about a homeless man in Rudy, and Martina Sorbara leaves us wondering how cynically we should take her assertion that It's rile Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The title of ''Maybe This Christmas Tree" is a pun: it's the third in a series thal started with ''Maybe This Christmas". Except for Lisa Loeb, the artists are less well known: The Polyphonic Spree. Death Cab for Cutie. Jars.of Clay. Belasana and others. They give us songs of crowded sidewalks, intimate dinners and sparkly lights that may not hold a promise of peace or redemption, but at leas1 of a good 1ime. Pilaie's upbeat Fairytale of New York exemplifies this quality. Also of note: Polyphonic Spree· s faith fu 1-to-the-origi nal Happy Xmas (War Is Over). The Mario Lanza Christmas Album Mario Lanza Naxos Nostalgia 8.120720 There's nothing ironic or cynical about this recording, whi(;h offers 20 numbers originally laid down by the beloved Hollywood belter bet we en I 950 and 1952. The repertoire includes carols, religious standards like Ave Maria and some inspiring songs of the period like You 'II Never Walk Alone from the musical Carousel. Lanza's fullthroated and unabashed renditions of songs about guardian angels and rosaries. lushly backed up with full orchestra. chorus and a few church bells for good measure, reveal how much North American religious attitudes have changed in the past few decades. While many will flnd this recording unbearable, others will breathe a nostalgic sigh, Puer natus est Concerto Palatino; Studio de Musique ancienne de Mo11treal Christopher .Jackson ATMA Classique ACD 2 2311 cn o M ,. --D- £ -CĒM - 8 _ £ _ R _1_2_0_0_4_-F ĒB - RU_A_R_Y_7_2_0_05

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