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Volume 10 Issue 9 - June 2005

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As those of you who

As those of you who attended the April WholeNote Salon will know, I am among other things an avid amateur cellist and it was my great pleasure on that occasion to perform piano trios with two of our distinguished reviewers, John and Larry Beckwith. Those two gentlemen have each chosen Beethoven recordings on the Bridge Records label to review this month and you can find their thoughts in the Discs of the Month section. We also have a pair of Vivaldi reviews by Frank Nakashima and Robert Tomas, reviews of two Canadian flute discs by John S. Gray, Bruce Surtees' impressions of the works"of two 19th century women composers, Daniel Foley looks at two Mahler recordings by Pierre Boulez and Tiina Kiik gives us her take on two new tango recordings. So all in all things seem to be happening in pairs this month. But that's not what I started out to say. Piano Trios and String Quartets are the most common chamber ensembles and the lion's share of the chamber music repertoire falls into one or other of these genres. My own amateur groups have most often also fit these formations but at the moment, due to the vagaries of personnel scheduling conflicts, I am performing in a hybrid of the two, a Piano Quartet. For this reason it was with great interest that I requested a review copy of Sibelius - Complete Piano Quartets (BIS-CD-1182). There are five quar- --- tets in all, and they are all lovely music, but not what I expected. None of the works are for the traditional instrumentation of piano, violin, viola and cello. Instead we find works for 2 violins cello and piano, for violin, cello and piano four hands, and even for violin, cello, piano and harmonium. These are all very early, some even student, pieces written between the ages of 19 and 26 and all except the last, the Quartet in c minor, are EDITOR' CORNER recorded here the first time. One of the most curious is entitled Ljunga Wirginia and is described as an "opera" to a [lost] libretto by Si- 12 belius' school friend Walter von Konow, although there is no reference to a vocal line in the score or sketches of this dramatic work. While I did not find any material here useful for my own music making purposes, the disc does provide some interesting insight into another side of this great Nordic composer known predominantly for his mature orchestral scores. Speaking of orchestral works, I have been enjoying a disc entitled Color by the French composer Marc-Andre Dalbavie (Naive MO 782162) in recent weeks. I first came across his music at a Continuum concert earlier this season where I was very impressed by a piece for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano. Dalbavie, born in 1961, represents a second generation of "spectral" composers, carrying on the explorations begun by Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murai! in the mid-l 970s. His work is also linked to developments in visual arts. The disc includes two recent orchestral works, Co/or (2001) and Ciaccona (2002) performed by the ·orchestre de Paris under Christoph Eschenbach. Eiichi Chijiiwa, the orchestra's co-principal violinist, is featured in the -=:;:::-::-::: Concerto for Violin from 19 6, a work # which he pre- ' miered at the· Donaueschingen Festival. "Color" is indeed an apt title for the Dalbavie disc, but it could equally apply to the music of Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. Perhaps better known as a conductor than composer, he has been at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the past 13 years and has recorded extensively with that orchestra. His most recent release however, Wing on Wing (Deutsche Grammophon 477 5375), features three recent orchestral scores performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The title piece is an eerie work scored for large orchestra, two wordless coloratura sopranos (Anu and Piia Komsi) and the prerecorded voice of Frank 0. Gehry. Wing on Wing (2004) was inspired by, and written for the opening of, the Walt Disney Concert Hall - new home of the L. A. Philharmonic - a strikingly angular, yet strangely curvaceous edifice designed by Gehry. The disc also includes the 2001 composition Foreign Bodies and 2002's Insomnia. This last is likened to "the dreamlike atmosphere of Goya's The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" by Corinna Hesse, author of the CD's liner notes. I agree - it's no wonder this man doesn't sleep much! And staying on the subject of orchestral discs, this month sees the re-release of an important disc of Canadian orchestral repertoire, thanks to a new arrangement between the CBC and the Canadian Music Centre. Orchestre Metropolitain 2 (CMCCD 10705) is the first fruit of a collaboration that will produce reissues of a number orchestral discs on the Centrediscs label that initially appeared in the CBC catalogue. One could ask why our national broadcaster is divesting itself of these historically important (and musically interesting) recordings, but at least we can be thankful that they are finding a permanent home with an organization committed to promoting them. It also means an important boost to the Centrediscs catalogue by making orchestral recordings, normally prohibitively expensive to produce, a viable option. This first offering, which features Montreal 's Orchestre Metropolitain under Walter Boudreau's direction, includes dramatic, high-energy works by five Quebecois composers: Linda Bouchard, Denis Gougeon, Brian Cherney and Boudreau himself, along with the haunting Orion by the late Claude Vivier. Of particular note is Bouchard' s Elan, a fiery overture-like work composed (as were Cherney's Transfiguration and Gougeon's A l'aventure) for the opening of concert of the Festival Montreal Musiques Actuelles in November 1990. WWW. TA EWHOLENOTE .COM The final release I'd like to mention this month is also on the Centrediscs label, but in this instance a world premiere recording. 16 Portraits: Music of Michel­ Georges Bregent (CMCCD 10705) features Christina Petrowska Quilico's live performance from the Music Gallery which was part of New Music Concerts' Piano Marathon Weekend in September 2003. The Portraits, subtitled Romantic Etudes for Piano, are exactly that. But not portraits of specific people or even places. The titles tell us that they are depictions of such nebulous concepts as "Unattainable Love", "Ideal Romance" or "Greatness", or characters such as "Misunderstood Visionaries", "The Beggar" and "Concealed Refugee". We are also presented with such exuberant sentiments as "Go Rocker-Gangs, Go!" and "Race for Cash", alongside the poignant "Vietnam Disaster". The works range from naively anachronjstic displays of Romantic pianistic fireworks, to Boogie-woogielike riffing, with many stops and side trips taken along the way providing a kind of compendium of "piano stylings" from the century leading up to the composer's birth. Not what we might expect from a composer of "serious" contemporary concert music, b.ut we must keep in mind that the cycle was begun in 1966 when the Bregent was just 18 years old. This is before his formal composition studies at the Montreal Conservatoire with Gilles Tremblay, although he already had produced the Grande Toccate-Sonate Barbare and the first version of his important biblical fresco Les Testaments. Lasting more than an hour and a half, Portraits was a project that Bregent continued to work on intermittently until 1988, 5 years before his untimely death. Petrowska Quilico, who was his wife for some of this period, brings many personal insights to her performance. It is obviously a labour of love, and one which we are thankful she has undertaken. We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. Catalogues, review copies of CDs and comments should be sent to: The WholeNote, 503 - 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also welcome your input via our website, www.thewholenote.com. David Olds Editor, D/SCoveries CONTINUED ON PAGE 46 )UNE 1 - }ULY 7 2005

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