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Volume 10 Issue 7 - April 2005

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own period instrument orchestra, the His versatility steers him through lively and alert Musica ad Rhenum, and an exciting group of young sirlgers. Textures are buoyant, coloratura and ornaments are stylish, and the historical winds and horns are delicate and gorgeous. But the imaginative Wentz resists high-powered accents and frenetic tempi, favouring lyricism over propulsion. The sound is excellent. Mi1rida1e. re di pomo is the most dramatically inspired opera under review here, and the terrific cast does it justice. Francine van der Hayden and Cecile van de Sant as Mitridate's two sons are standouts. Marcel Reijans is ardent and ringing in the title role. negotiatir.g the leaps of "Se di lauri" with affecting tenderness .. Ascanio in Alba, written for a royal wedding, features some lovely ensembles, suggesting the glories to come. Nicola Wemyss, Claron Mc­ Faddon, and Maaike Beekman are terrific, but the sole male, Tom Allen, lacks vitality and is undone by the florid passagework. Mozart's early use of a chorus, here Vocaal Ensemble Coqu, as wandering shepherds and shepherdesses, is intriguing. Mozart was seventeen when he wrote the last of these, ll re pas­ /ore. Rejeans displays real feeling. Johannette Zomer sparkles in an exquisite "L'amero, saro costante", accompanied by exquisite horn-playing. But tenor Alexei Grigorev is no Mozanian, with unnuanced ornaments and strained passagework. /l sogno di scipione, with a fascinating libretto by Metastasio, shows Mozart at his most creative. Frani;ois Soans as the philosophizing dreamer pulls off the demanding coloratura, but is underpowered until he opens up in his gorgeous high register. Claron McFadden gives an exquisite "Lieve sono". and Claudia Patacca a heartfelt "Ciglio eh". The sparse booklets provide plot synopses, musical highlights, libretti, though unfortunately without translations, and biographies. Pamela Margles Concert Note: Isabel Bayrakdarian Michael Schade and Russell Brun join the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra in a program of Mozart arias at Glenn Gould Studio on June 6. Puccini Angela Gheorghiu , Orchestra sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi; Anton Coppola EMI S 579550 Giacomo Puccini may well have written the most popular operas of all times - after all, if one were to count all the productions and recordings of La Boheme. Tosca, Madama Buuerfly ancj Turandot, they would probably outnumber all the Ai"das, Cannens and Traviatas. No wonder then, that it takes the mastery of the Puccini repertoire for a singer to be rruly recognized as a star. Angela Gheorghiu aQd her husband, Roberto Alagna are well established in this milieu as the "it" couple of the operatic stage and rec.:ording studio. Gheorghiou's voice, controlled, robust, without a trace of vibrato, is a power to be reckoned with. She easily outpaces her fellow Rumanian, the once-incomparable Ileana Cortubas. This disc, collecting almost all of the Puccini's great writing for soprano, from the well known and loved (Buuetjly, La Boheme, Gianni Schicchi, Turandot) to rare (La Fanciulla del Wes/, Suor Angelica) to obscure (Edgar, Le Villi), does not disappoint. Ms. Gheorghiu is as dazzling as ever,.though one might long for a bit of starved waitishess in Mimi or vulnerability in Magda of La Rondine. Alas, a voice this big does not do "waif and "vulnerable" easily. Gheorghiu is apparently equaliy magnificent on stage - one can understand why, if her acting keeps up with the emotional intensity of singing. The true revelation of this recording is the bonus disc, with just one aria, "Vissi d'arte." The first reaction is that of utter shock - this is.not Gheorghiu singing, this is her -channeling Callas! So uncanny is the resemblance of the interpretation, if not the voice, that the only permitted response to this stunning feat is goose bumps. Astonishing recorping! Robert Tomas Britten - Finzi - Tippett Who Are These Children? and other songs Ma·rk Padmore, tenor; Roger Vignoles, piano Hyperion CDA67459 Silent Noon Bryn Terfel, Bass-Bal'itone, Malcolm Martineau, piano Deutsche Grammophon 4775336 DON'T PLAY THIS CD ( Britten - Finzi -Tippett) until you've locked yourself in a quiet place where you can spend some reflective time with the texts of the songs. The poems are worth a focused read and of(er access to the composers' treatments one might otherwise miss. Each has selected profoundly thoughtful and moving texts that address the common theme of passing time as experienced in the transition through adolescence to adulthood. It's all there: first love, love found, love lost and the wonder of self-discovery in the years of youth. British tenor Mark Padmore demonstrates a wide capability in handling the vocal demands by these three English composers. From near opera hall volume to the subtlest of nuances, his expressive skill is captivating. His partner in this uniquely themed poetic project is pianist Roger Vignoles. Both artists are known for the intelligence of their performances. Vignoles, in fact, wrote the extensive and impressively researched liner . notes. Citing Gerald Moore as his career inspiration, years accompanying Elizabeth Soderstrom and Kiri Te Kanawa have made him one of the best. Together, Padmore and Vignoles prove how powerful art song can be. Rising to the technical and interpretive heights erected by Tippett and Britten they handle the apparently less challenging music of Finzi with a respect for its balance with the more complex texts of Thomas Hardy. By contrast, Bryn Terfel's survey of the "golden age" of English song on DG's new Silent Noon offers works from a dozen composers who take on everything from the sacred to the profane. Terfel proves once again that he's not just a big Welsh bass-baritone, but a singer whose reputation for dramatic and emotional display is well-earned. drunken sea songs, parodies and even a refreshingly creative setting of the Lord's Prayer. Highlights from this lineup include two sets of songs by Roger Quilter who dt;serves rediscovery as a composer at the heart of this renaissance of English song writing. I'd back anyone who claimed Terfel as one of Quilter's finest proponents. Savour the high notes above middle C that this nontenor delivers in the title track by Vaughan Williams and several other works as well. Simply astonishing. Happily included in this collection of English songs are the requisite pieces by Britten whose imaginative accompaniments of traditional tunes like The Salley Gardens have made them standards in most singers' repertoires. Cantaloube - Chants d' Auvergne Veronique Gens Alex Baran Orchestre National de Lille; Jean-Claude Casadesus Naxos 8.557491 CANTELOUBE CHANTS O'AUVC.f.GNE The Auvergne is a mountainous, romantic and unspoiled region of south west France, within its own cultural traditions and a folklore rich in colorful melodies. It even has its own dialect or p·atois, so unrecognizable that one wonders if it is French at all. This is the source of inspiration for Canteloube's song cycle which has been so popular that it actually outlived its composer's reputation. He has provided a lush orchestration which creates a bucolic atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of Bizet's L 'Arlesienne. The innocent feeHngs of shepherds for the enjoyment of lovemaking, longing for love, loneliness, abandonment, girls flirting, and lovers' quarrels are some the main themes. Nature songs (The Quail, The Cuckoo) are wonderfully charming and pl!lyful. Particularly fine and enjoyable is the famous "Bailero" expressing the frustration of a shepherd girl unable to cross a stream to see her lover. Already accomplished in the Barqque repertoire, and also making WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2005

inroads into Mozart, Berlioz and opera, Veronique Gens is ideally suited to perform these songs. A lyrical soprano with a wonderful light voice. but with occasional Carmen-like earthiness when the text requires it, Gens is also a native of the Auvergne with full command of the dialect. Her singing is luscious, uninhibited yet graceful and a joy to listen to. The Orchestre National de Lille under Jean-Claude Casadesus gives a sensuous and imaginative accompaniment. The recording is sumptuous and destined to be a best seller. Ja11os Gardo11yi Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano: Jewish Cabaret, Popular and Political Songs 1900-1950 New Budapest Orpheum Society Chicago; Philip V. Bohlman, artistic director; llya Levinson, Music Director Cedille Records CDR 90000 065 University of Chicago ethnomusicologist Philip Bohlman and Moscow Conservatory-trained pianist Ilya Levinson have created an important recording, supplemented by 78 pages of valuable liner notes. Disc one presents songs in original languages; on di c two they reappear in English. The ensemble combines opera singers with new music and jazz instrumentalists, the same heady mix that prevailed first time around. Aside from the minority who made it across the Atlantic to the Americas, or across the Mediterranean to Palestine, the Red Sea did not pare for most Viennese Jews. But thanks to these scholars, some of their music has survived. Magic Breath - English, Phil Ehre11saft Yiddish and Hebrew Art Songs composed by Helen Medwedeff Greenberg; Margaret Burton, soprano; Elizabeth Acker, pianci Toreador (www .toreadorrecords.com) llliLEJ'I ' ·, 111 -•••; llQ.a..# .. .QTlQU --- .. • Over 2,700 titl!!'S • All d!gftal recotding • Hew recordings and compoitiMs monthly • Criti ea L accla! m in a tl key dmical publication5 0 F C A N A 0 A L T 0 • Featuring great Canadian artists .All this at an astonishingly low price! The world's Leading Classical Music Label! Dbcover the Mosic of the Baroque Era 855816-61 C.ANTt'l.OUO!:. C.tAN'l'] l;)/.-.;..l",,,t:.1·1f.',"ff". Canteloube • Chants d'Auvergne Veronique Gens, Soprano 8!'>5191 ;.!.{: l:N ·;1 l)! I (I !OK. \t ;\I 'S!C Classes high and low, and multiple ethnicities, rubbed shoulders in Vienna's cabarets in the years leading up to World War Two. Major composers and writers in the Austro­ H ungarian Empire and Germany transformed popular cabaret music into a high, mordant art of social and political satire. Jewish participation was especially pronounced: Leon Botstein estimates that between a third and half of the patrons attending concerts and opera in Vienna before the Holocaust were Jewish. Jewish composers' were equally active - think Schoenberg and Weill for starters. "Dancing on th.e Edge of a Volcano" begins with a Yiddish variation on the ultimate cabaret waltz, Viennese Coachman 's Song, penned in German by the Jewish composer Gustav Pick. So here's the precedent for Irving Berlin's all-time cross-over hit, White Christmas. Berlin's Cohen Owes Me Ninety­ Seven Dollars may be the outstanding track on an outstanding disc. It's a fine illustration of how the cabaret baton was passed on to popular cheaters on New York's Lower East Side, Montreal's Main, and the like. Hebrew songs by Weill, Dessau, Milhaud, Wolpe and Copland show how the baton was passed on in Palestine. APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2005 Originally ,from Baltimore, now living in Toronto, Helen Medwedeff Greenberg (b.1939) has composed many works for solo voice and piano, choir, and wind instruments. "Magic Breath" presents an array of excerpts from her various song cycles based on Yiddish and English poems, as well as settings of Hebrew liturgical and biblical texts, beautifully realized by soprano Margaret Burton of Minneapolis, and Toronto pianist Elizabeth Acker (with occasional accompaniment by Tom Bartsch), In describing the overall compositional style, the term neo-Romantic comes to mind, The Yiddish songs, which comprise the first six tracks on this recording, are highly programmatic or expressionistic in nature, The music is well-wedded to the poetic imagery. In A Vinterlid (A Winter Song), for example, the opening words "Run wild angry winds" are reflected quite literally in the vocal and piano lines. The next six tracks present refreshing (if somewhat sentimental) arrangements of familiar Hebrew texts, in a gentle, lyrical mode, In Shehecheyanu, Burton is joined by lyric baritone Matthew Zadow in a V•n"-l - Symph. Vol. 3 Toronto Camerata '· · ssmaj El.CAR "'h;- '\c.r'f l!":cb>j>tl: « Gluck· Orphee et Euridice 8660185-86 Pick up yo'!r. 2005 NAXO$ Catalogue or VJs1t www.naxos.com TORONTO - give . k't'' ,, gift card ·•• ... Available at 333 Yonge St. and 50 Bloor St. West OTIAWA - Bank/Sparks St. music• DVD• more HMV WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 75

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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