Rob Bowman and many others) which is interspersed and overlapped with clips of the choir rehearsing and performing. Blyden-Taylor's vision for a Canadian ensemble dedicated to Afrocentric music is an interesting one and makes for good documentary material. The life and significance of the African-Canadian composer after whom the choir is named. R. athaniel Dett, is similarly engaging. although his story could have been told with more detail - it was not umil viewing the imerviews in tht: bonus materials that Den's pioneering role as a composer and director is made clear. But whether or not you are taken in by these various historical details. you cannot help hut be inspired by the dynamism or the goup itself. Bt:sides displaying tine vocal technique. rich vocal colour, rhythmic vitality, dynamic range and meticulous phrasing, this group wears its heart on its sleeve. The energy in the sound they create becomes infectious when paired with images of their intem, absorbed, smiling faces. It is this enthusiasm and musicality, above all, that makes the choir·s story memorable and enjoyable and convinces the viewer that Canada does indeed need to hear and celebrate the broad array or Afrocentric music this choir offers. Benita Wolters-Fredlund Concert note: February is Black History Month and the Nathaniel Dett Chorale presents "Voices of the Diaspora ... Songs of Ghana" with guests Kwasi Dunyo and the Kekeli Drum and Dance Ensemble at the George Weston Recital Hall on February 23. EARLY MUSIC AND PERIOD PERFORMANCE A. Scarlatti - Agar et Ismaele Esiliati Seattle Baroque Centaur CRC 2662 Under the patronage of Swedish Queen Christina, the young maestro di cape/la Alessandro Scarlatti, composed this work in 1683. With the Queen's support and encouragement, he eventually became the most famous and inOuential operatic composer of early I 8th-century Italy. It is interesting to note that although Pope Innocent XI began to censor opera, the result was the flourishing of oratorios (such as this one, taken from chapter 21 of Genesis) which were really operas thinly disguised as sacred works! Under the direction of former Tafelmusik players, Byron Schenkman (harpsichord) and Ingrid Matthews (violin), together with a continuo group including Margriet Tindemans (viola da gamba), Stephen Stubbs (chitarrone & baroque guitar), and Maxine Eilander (harp), Seattle Baroque gives an excellent account of them.selves. The mellifluous Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin, armed with an arse- • nal of expressive vocal colour, is in peak form in the role of Sara. The steely mezzo-soprano Jennifer Lane as Agar shares some particularly moving moments in duet with crystal-clear soprano Melissa Fogarty (Ismaele). Baritone Nathaniel Watson (Abramo) also contributes ably to the drama. This recording reveals an early work of an extraordinary young genius. Oratorio or opera? It's not easy to tell the difference here, but it doesn't really matter. Fra11k Nakashima Vivaldi - Dixit Dominus, RV 595 Jane Archibald; Michele de·Boer; Anita Kraus; Nils Brown; Peter Mahone; Giles Tomkins Aradia Ensemble and Chorus; Kevin Mallon Naxos 8.557445 VI\,\ I 1)1 \,·,,:,*14• -..uu .. l.i''t'>'•....,,..+)l"l::v-:1"
This instrument, recently acquired by Wilfred Laurier University, is much the focus of this CD. The producers have, significantly, given over a good chunk of the booklet in describing this fortepiano, and five of the six photographs show details of the beast in all its restored glory. The repertoire is not the least bit obscure: the six Klavierstiicke Op. 118, the four from Op. 119, the three Op. 117 lmermezzi, and the second · set of the Op. 116 Fantasies. Every work so familiar, yet now sounding as if heard for the very first time. This ancient piano, with its limited powers of sustain, is in fact similar to the one used by Brahms in his own studio, albeit an 1868 model. At 65 minutes, it is a disc packed with great music. Boyd McDonald plays with his usual tightly-controlled virtuosity. Tafelmusik fans will snap up this one. John S. Gray This is somewhat to do with the compositions themselves however, with their virtuosic piano parts leaving the cello in more of an obbligato role than that of star soloist. Especially noteworthy is the Brendels' strong performance of Op. 69. Only the dynamic differentiations could have been larger for my taste. The program notes by Misha Donat are thorough with respect to describing Beethoven's work. Some flipping of booklet pages is required however, as the works are not presented in chronological order on the recording, presumably due to the timing constraints of the medium. I would have also appreciated the inclusion of performer bios. This is a release to have and to hold. Strongly recommended. Tii11a Kiik Canada's international independent label The Shepherd on the Rock For her first recording with ATMA, the Canadian soprano Aline Kutan in a collection of songs with clarinet and piano, from the famous lied Der Hirt auf dem Fe/sen by Schubert to the Christmas Songs Op.8 by Peter Cornelius. CLASSICAL AND BEYOND Beethoven - Complete works for piano & cello Alfred Brendel; Adrian Brendel Philips 475 379-2 This two CD release of Beethoven's output for piano and cello is an engrossing tour-de-force from both compositional and performance standpoints. Beethoven composed five cello sonatas - the two early Op. 5 sonatas, the 1807 Op. 69 and the late sonatas of Op. 102. Since they are composed over an extended period of time, his compositional development is evident. The three variation sets - "See the conqu'ring hero comes" from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus and the two variation sets from Mozart's Die 7.auberjl.ote - complete Beethoven's cello and piano repertoire. Alfred Brendel and Adrian Brendel perform exquisitely here. Whether I listened intently or approached the recording as "background music", I remained transfixed. Pianist Alfred Brendel performs brilliantly though at times overshadows the solid and well thought-out performance of the cellist, his son Adrian. Chopin - Nocturnes and Impromptus (complete) Angela Hewitt Hyperion SACDA67371/2 Schumann's cunning takeoff of Chopin, in Camaval, had to be a nocturne. The nocturne and the mazurka are the two quintessential idioms ofChopin's style. Some of his mazurkas are nocturnes in disguise, and some of the pieces he called nocturnes show traits of the mazurka: Op 15 No 3 begins in a languorous mazurka rhythm and veers towards a mazurka-like modality, while Op 27 No I at its height develops into a real dancing mazurka; there are other instances. Another highly Chopinesque idiom, the march - often, specifically a funeral march - colours a key passage of the wonderful lmpromptu Opus 36 (included here as a bonus along with the other three impromptus) and several of the nocturnes: Op 55 No 1, Op 48 No 1 (a truly epic tone-poem) and others. Angela Hewitt identifies convincingly with this repertoire. Her interesting notes defend her often quicker-than-expected tempi; she avoids sentimentalizing the music or making it what my protestant forebears used to call "soupy." Occasionally she rushes and blurs sweeping moments (Op 15 No 1), and in characteristic "duet" passages (e.g. ;in the almost Tristan-esque Op 55 No 2), 5alml di Davide:: The Psalms of David Discover these forgotten masterpieces by Italian Baroque composer Benedetto Marcello, indelibly interwoven into the rich tapestry of the European Jewish diaspora. Featuring the celebrated Israeli mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham and the ensemble Fuoco e Cenere. Carl Phlllpp Emanuel Bach For this recording, the Boreades Ensemble welcomes the eminent violinist of Argentinian birth Pablo Valetti to enchant us with wonderful chamber music from the inimitable and intense genius of this great Bach's son. GREAT ARTISTS GREAT MUSlA EAT SOUND FEBRUARY 1 - MARCH 7 2005
C LA S S I C A L • N E W M U S I
from Deutsche Grarmno phon Anne Sof