5 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 7 - April 2005

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obot:) have an intricate knowledge of each other's playing habits and styles, thus making for a vibrant and exciting resonance. Matthew Jennejohn plays with such fluidity that his instruments are easily m_istaken for the violins. The continua section is recorded in such a way that its support and its skill are both brought to light. The disc contains a great deal of interesting information about Alessandro Scarlatti and about his compositions. Matthew White. as the featured artist. appears on the front cover looking appropriately despairing. The back cover· depicts him in a very strange position (perhaps crying, perhaps in pain) and my immediate reaction was to phone all the Montreal hospitals to set: if he had been admitted. The, disc is truly spectacular and well worth the purchase. Don't worry - Matthew White is fine. The photo is for dramatic effect. Gabrielle McLaughlin Concert Note: Matthew White is teatured in Tafelmusik's presentation of Handel's Deborah, May 5-8. Vivaldi - Orlando furioso Ensemble Matheus; Jean-Christophe Spinosi a·ive/Opus 111 OP 30393 This is not the first great recording of this masterpiece - the splendid recording under Claudio Scimone with Marilyn Home and Victoria de Los Angeles is fortunately still available. But it is the first benefiting from recent scholarly revisions based on the important collection of Vivaldi manuscripts in the Turin library, as well as the use of period instruments. Spinosi favours weighty continuo enriched by theorbo and guitar, heavily accented down beats, fast rhythms and surging phrases - and never hesitates to take them to extremes. Though he can be overly theatrical, he creates extraordinary tension and excitement - just compare the two versions of Medoro's catchy aria Qua[ candido. In Spinosi 's hands the accompanied recitatives are as enjoyable and dramatically powerful as the arias, as they should be. His singers are outstanding. As Orlando, the young Canadian mezzo Marie-Nicole Lemieux spends a large part of the opera demented. In the process, she colours her gorgeous voice to create a breathtaking range of moods. As the sorceress Alcina, Jennifr Larmore thrillingly virtuosic when she whips off "Andera, chiamero". Bass-baritone Lorenzo Ragazzo's flexible lower range is well-complimented by his warm top. The orchestra and choir respond to the vocal lines with great verve. The informative booklet contains full texts and translations, photos, and some amusing inaccuracies in the biographical notes (Lemieux 'comes from Quebec Province' and sang Giulio Cesare 'with the Toronto Opera'). But why does Opus 111 use bizarrely-costumed models with vacuous facial expressions for the covers of this otherwise outstanding series? Pam Margles Concert Note: Marie-Nicole Lemieux sings Franz Schrecker's Five Songs for Low Voice and Orchestra with the Canadian Opera Company orchestra under Richard Bradshaw on Tuesday April 19 at Glenn Gould Studio. She is also featured. in the COC production of Rossini's Tancredi Aprill, 5, 7, 10, 13 and 16 at the Hummingbird and in Handel's Rodelinda next October. Lam en to Magdalena Koena Musica Antiqua Kiiln; Reinhard Goebel Archv 474 1942 Music for a While - melodies baroques Anne Sofie von Otter Archiv 4775114 Haendel - Opera Seria Sandrine Piau Les Talens Lyriques; Christophe Rousset Naive E 8894 There used to be a time, not long ago, when classical vocalists could not - or dared not sing the Baroque repertoire. Emma Kirkby in her reference recordings with the Academy of Ancient Music under Christopher Hagwood was the sole beacon of the purity and beauty of that music. Now, the vocal music of the Baroque is undergoing ... a renaissance. This month, there is a bumper crop of recordings that prove my point - all of them worth including in your vocal music collection. The music of the Baroque requires a very specific style of singing, almost entirely different from what the l 9th and 20th centuries accustomed our ears to. Imagine a single note of a baroque composition as a bull's eye and the voice producing it as a finely-honed dart hitting the target. This precision of targeting requires a pure voice and extraordinary breach control. It also means that the vocalists need to be or should be specialists, with only very few singers capable of the versatility required to perform both baroque and romantic music. I have to disclose my bias here. I belong to a growing legion of listeners who believe that Magdalena Kozemi is a musical genius. It has been only 5 years since her debut recording, and every new one amazes more than the previous. Her voice. a pure and perfect instrument, possesses the highest degree of control to deliver the most incredible sound, full of un-baroque restraint. The little known compositions, from Johann Christoph Bach and his better known cousins Johann Sebastian and sons C. P. E. and Johann Christoph Friedrich, are gems in their own right and we are fortunate to have an artist of the calibre of Kozemi to bring them to our attention. The specialization required for the baroque music usually comes at a price - for most singers that price is vocal range. Not for Kozena, not for Ewa Podles (and several others). Our next baroque specialist, Sandrine Piau, has paid that price but it does not take away from the mastery of her singing the arias from Haendel operas. Haendel was one of the composers behind the rise of female singers, who gradually replaced the castrati. Every aria on this great album was premiered·by a celebrated soprano of the day. Francesca Cuzzoni, Anna Maria Strada del P6, Faustina Bordoni, Elisabetta Pilotti-Schiavonetti, Elisabeth Duparc - unfortunately we do not know what they sounded like, but if they were anything like Sandrine Piau - no wonder they were celebrated. The delivery is impeccable, the "vocal targeting" precise and the accompaniment by Les Talents Lyriques led by Christophe Roussel make this disc yet another treasure from naive, a record label to watch. In contrast, Anne Sofie von Otter is not a baroque specialist. In fact, she may be one of the most versatile singers of the present day. She APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2005

tackled Swedish folk and classical songs, music of Elvis Costello as well as plethora of operatic roles and traditional lieder. She is, to my knowledge, the only mezzo-soprano to record a song by ... ABBA and make it a revelation. In ;, Music for a While", it's early baroque music that receives the "von Otter" treatment. Frescobaldi. Caccini, Monteverdi, Purcell and Dowland of course do not present a challenge for von Otter. It's her versatility that makes this remarkable disc less than perfect. Her beautifol and powerful voice does not easily conform to the strict standard of the epoque. Rather than throw a vocal dart at the notes, von Otter brushes over them with broader strokes, allowing for a round, unrestrained sound. This minor quibble aside, the disc is a beautiful collection of great performances. As mentioned before, we do not really know what the singers of the Baroque sounded like. Just as the entire period performance ·movement, the "baroque singing" is a conjecture, albeit based on meticulous musicological research. One can only hope that Bach, Haendel and Monteverdi had the benefit of singers as talented as these three remarkable vocalists. Robert Tomas Bach - Mass in B Minor The King's Consort; Robert King Hyperion CDD22051 Judging by his extensive program notes Robert King is intimately familiar with the breadth and sonority of this inspirational masterpiece by Bach. Using a men-and-boys choir in this 1996 recording, he follows historical precedents as Bach did not use women's voices in any of his sacred compositions. As to be expected, there are a few moments that are somewhat less refined or graceful as a result, but still the brilliant tone of the•boy sopranos and altos of the Tolzer Knabenchor offers great clarity and definition to the counterpoint. The listener is also compensated with disciplined, freshly enthusiastic and astonishingly mature performances from these young fellows. The tiuid lyricism of tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson and the bold baso of Michael George were perfectly suited for their respective solos. Carefully conceived in every phiase, nuance, and dynamic, maestro King has crafted a beautifully detailed performance in which the dancing lilt of the Gloria in excels is Deo, the sobbing mournful Crucijixus, the triumphant Et resurrexit, even the break-neck tempo of Cum Sancto Spiritu, seemed to make perfect sense. If Bach heard this, I think he would have approved. Frank Nakashima Mozart: La finta semplice Helen Donath, Teresa Berganza, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Thomas Moser Mozarteum-Orchester Salzburg; Leopold Hager Brilliant 92345 Mozart: La finta giardiniera Elzbieta Szmytka, Joanna Kozlowska, Marek Torzewski Orchestre du Theatre Royal de la Monnaie; Sylvain Cambreling Brilliant 92348 Mozart: Lucio Silla Lella Cuberli, Ann Murray, Christine Barbeaux, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson Orchestre du Theatre Royal de la Monnaie; Sylvain Cambreling Brilliant 92343 Mozart: Mitridate, re di ponto Francine van der Hayden, Cecile van de Sant, Johannette Zomer, Marcel Reijans Musica ad Rhenum; Jed Wentz Brilliant 92344 Mozart: Ascanio in Alba Nicola Wemyss, Claron McFaddon, Claudia Patacca, Maaike Beekman, Tom Allen Vocaal Ensemble Coqu; Musica ad Rhenum; Jed Wentz Brilliant 92347 Mozart: II re pastore Johannette Zomer, Francine van der Hayden, Alexei Grigorev, Marcel Reijans Musica ad Rhenum; Jed Wentz Brilliant 92342 Mozart: II sogno di scipione Claron McFadden, Claudia Patacca, Franc;ois Soons, Marcel Reijans Capella Amsterdam; Musica ad Rhenum; Jed Wentz Brilliant 92346 There is enough splendid music in these early operas alone to count Mozart as a great operatic .composer. Recordings cai;i be hard to find and expensive. But you can buy all three discs in the budget label Brilliant's Mitridate for less that the price of a single disc in Rousset's star-studded recording. La finta semplice, written when Mozart was twelve, is a light-hearted comedy about a woman pretending to be a simpleton. The experi,,. enced Leopold Hager leads some top Mozart singers of the day in a delightfully stylish, if unexciting, reissue from 1983. Recitatives are stilted, and the orchestra plays down the character of the score. But there is some terrific singing, especially from.Helen Donath as the 'feigned simpleton' of the title, Anthony Rolphe-Johnson as the real simpleton and Teresa Berganza as the vivacious love-interest who drives the very silly plot. The plot of La jinra giardiniera is even sillier. Mozart was ten when he wrote it. But it is studded with gorgeous arias like "Crudeli fermate", sung here with fiery intensity by Joanna Kozlowska as the 'feigned garden girl' of the title. She is pursuing her lover, who has stabbed her and run off, leaving her for dead. As the playfully appealing servant-girl, Elzbieta Szmytka is charming in her mood changes from poignant despair to hope. But the men here are an unexciting lot in this live performance made in 1989 at La Monnaie in Brussels with their expert orchestra under a responsive Sylvain Cambreling. Lucio Silla was recorded at La Monnaie under Cambreling four years earlier with the same sensitive pacing, but unfortunately the same intrusive stage noise and coughing. Again the cast is uneven, with some sublime singing. The duet "D'Ellisio in sen" with the lovely Ann Murray and a scintillating Lella Cuberli is one of the highlights of this whole group of discs. The four recordings led by Jed Wentz are recent. Wentz uses his OTE CO On location recordings of jazz and classical music Twenty years of live recording for public radio William Van Ree phone: 416 694 3505 97 Highview Avenue cell: 416 452 6623 Scarborough ON M1N2H6 DIGITAL EDIT.ING • CD MASTERING . ·OPE N REEL TRANSFERS· 96/24 CAPABILITY CONTACT: KARL MACHAT 416 503 3060 OR 647 227 KARL MISTERS.MASTERS@SYMPATtCO.CA APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2005 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM

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