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Volume 10 Issue 9 - June 2005

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Tchaikovsky - Symphony

Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4; Berlioz - Le Corsaire; Ravel - Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2 New Mexico Symphony Orchestra; Guillermo Figueroa New Mexico Symphony Orchestra NMSO 5 (www.nmso.org) These live recordings were made at the first concerts given by the ew Mexico Symphony under music director Guillermo Figueroa. Clearly, there was immediate rapport between them. The orchestra is terrific, and the conductor dynamic. In Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 Figueroa builds up exciting dramatic momentum. Yet even in the most emotionally weighty passages, his phrasing is graceful and his textures clear. Berlioz's Le Cor- • saire Overture effectively contrasts the tenderness of Berlioz's gorgeous melodies with the extravagantly propulsive rhythms. Figueroa 's brilliant handling of the evocative colours, sumptuous harmonies and intricate rhythms of Ravel's Daphnis e1 Chloe Suite No. 2 recalls the origins of this score, with its detailed scenario, in an extended ballet. The spectacular sunrise is accompanied by the sounds of bird songs and splashing waterfalls. Daphnis and Chloe enact the story of Pan and Syrinx, ending with Pan's mournful flute solo, splendidly played here. The orchestra brings down the house in the increasingly wild Dance genera le. The natural, realistically balanced sound does justice to Figueroa's carefully shaped textures. But it also reveals that audiences in balmy Albuquerque cough as much as freezing Torontonians. This recording certainly creates an awareness of a committed and spirited ensemble. Other, more well-known orchestras, like the London Symphony, have successfully produced their own recordings, and the Philadelphia Orchestra is apparently about to try. The rejuvenated Toronto Symphony, now sounding better than ever, should take note. Pam Margles Concert Note: The TSO performs Ravel's Daphnis e1 Chloe Suite No. 2 on June 8 and 9 at Roy Thompson Hall. Mahler - Lieder Quasthoff; Urmana; von Otter Wiener Philharmoniker; Pierre Boulez Deutsche Grammophon 00289 477 5329 Mahler Symphony No.3 Anne Sophie von Otter; Wiener Philharmoniker; Pierre Boulez Deutsche Grammophon 474 038-2 This Mahler Lieder album is among the many outstanding new releases from Deutsche Grammophon in celebration of Pierre Boulez' 80th birthday. There .is both genuine arrow and unfeigned elation in baritone Thomas Quasthoff's moving interpretation of the youthful Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Soprano Anne Sophie von Otter brings a similar intensity to the disturbingly morbid Kinderlotenlieder song cycle; her heart-felt interpretation of the cataclysmic finale, In diesen Wetter, is particularly harrowing. Regrettably, the Latvian contralto-turnedsoprano Violeta Urmana does not rise to the same dramatic standard with her pedestrian reading of the 5 Ruckert-Lieder. Boulez proves yet again what a superb vocal accompanist he is in these performances, which are stunningly recorded and authoritatively played by this supreme orchestra. Boulez' previous recording with von Otter dates back to the 2003 release of Mahler's Third Symphony. This is not your grandfather's Mahler. Pierre Boulez's lucid interpretation of the sprawling, sixmovement work exemplifies the stand he outlined in his 1976 essay on the performance of Mahler's music: "The more one gives in to impudent ecstasy, even in the hysteria of the moment, the more the initial motivation is disturbed ... [the music will] degenerate into the confused, chaotic, disoriented motions of an oaf!" This strikingly brisk and sure-footed account is a welcome breath of fresh air, the perfect antidote to the habitually cloying interpretations this work has attracted in the past. The excellent pacing of the lengthy, turbulent first movement. and the superbly controlled crescendo of the slow, ecstatic finale has rarely sounded so architecturally convincing. The vocal fourth and fifth movements feature exceptional singing by soprano Anne Sophie von Otter and the Vienna Boys Choir. Caprice Daniel Foley Sylvia Shadick-Taylor, piano Arktos 200482 This disc is indeed a great DISCovery. Sylvia Shadick-Taylor is a young, very talented virtuoso pianist· from Alberta who has toured Canada, US, Germany and Japan and even played Carnegie Hall. This, her third CD, is an ambitious and extremely difficult yet entertaining programme. As the unifying title suggests the ten pieces played here are "caprices" or "capriccios". They are all whimsical and light hearted, sometimes dreamy, even passionate and none are easy - a great way to showcase pianistic talent. She immediately captivates with her delicate touch and freewheeling spirit in Moszkowski's Caprice Espagnol especially in the "leggieramente" central part with its Spanish rhythms. Pieces by Mendelssohn and Weber follow but with her delectable, idiomatic playing of the Brahms Capriccio it seems as if she is poking fun at good old Brahms. Coming from this pianist, I am sure he would not have minded at all. From this point on the disc seerris to take off like a bird and her youthful exuberance is catching. In Gottschalk's Caprice de Printemps she shapes the rondo Mazurka so lovingly that one thinks that her playing is better quers all technical difficulties and is truly inspired although the length and difficult overall shape of this work may require more maturity. She sails effortlessly through Dohnanyi's incredibly difficult Konzerletilde where the already fast tempo just keeps doubling and tripling as it goes on. Wow! Need I say anything more? Most enjoyable and satisfying indeed. ' Janos Gardonyi MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Le Sacre du Printemps - A silent movie to the music of Igor Stravinsky A film by Oliver Herrmann Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Sir Simon Rattle Arthaus Musik 100333 Oliver Hermann's 2002 silent movie, accompanied by Le Sacre du printemps, illustrates the archaic Santeria religion's maxim that "Heaven is our House, Earth is our Marketp I a ce." Here is an outline of the plot: God is a black woman working in her kitchen making little people from goop poured into pastry moulds and popped into oven until done. The balance of the movie follows these now human creations as they go about their every-day, albeit outrageously bizarre lives, while God, at her kitchen window, keeps an eye on things through a telescope. A 75 minute collection of illustrations and explanations intended to clarify what is going on includes a long interview with conductor Rattle. Sir Simon does his best to respect the concept and the corn- · pleted film, but to these eyes the movie is an elaborate example of Euro-trash. Or could it be that the events are too enigmatic to be understood by a nonmember and the music is actually irrelevant? An interesting question. The production, which has garnered many awards, has been exhibited to appreciative audiences around the world, including Calgary. The performance of Le Sacre, recorded specially for this film, is quite exceptional. .. worlds beyond Rattle's 1987 recording with his 50 than the work itself. In the monumental Liszt A Capriccio she conwww. THEWHOLENOTE.COM )UNE 1 - )ULY 7 2005

Birmingham Orchestra on EM!. In S: 1 sound, every line of Stravinsky's score can be heard without any spotlighting or exaggerated balances. We hear what Rattle heard. As it is unlikely that this performance will be issued in any other way. if you want to own an uncommonly persuasive Le Sacre that hold's your attention, get this DVD and if you don't wish to watch the movie again, don't look, just listen. Bruce Surtees ferent), Boulez is said to call ·the third concerto the 'Cinderella of the family'. Its 'mildness' makes it his least favorite. While it may be the least innovative, in Helene Grimaud's strongly characterized performance with the vibrant London Symphony Orchestra, it is anything but mild. The gorgeously meditative Adagio religioso, and the thrilling final Allegro vivace makes it every bit as great. Pamela Margles Concert Note: Helene Grimaud performs Ravel's Concerto in G Major with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on June 8 and 9 at Roy Thompson Hall. Bartok - The Piano Concertos Krystian Zimerman; Leif Ove Andsnes; Helene Grimaud Chicago Symphony; Berliner Philharmoniker; LSO; Pierre Boulez Deutsche Grammophon 00289 447 5330 As a young composer who called all non-progressive music useless, Pierre Boulez was considered outrageously radical. But today the French conductor and composer is - rightly - venerated as one of the dominant figures of twentieth century music. This disc is part of the ongoing celebrations of his eightieth birthday. It presents Boulez conducting three of today's most interesting pianists, each with a different orchestra, in Bartok's three piano concertos. Krystian Zimerman gives a poetic, intense performance of the first concerto. He is never harshly aggressive, no matter whether the textures are highly energized .and percussive, as in the dynamic first movement, or rhapsodic, as in the stringless Andante, where the superb winds and percussion of the Chicago Symphony represent the orchestra. Leif Ove Andsnes humanizes the spiky edges of the second concerto with insightful subtlety. The extended duet with the timpani in the Adagio is thrilling, and the ending of the final movement is splendidly boisterous, with the Berlin Philharmonic in its element. In the English and German versions of the booklet notes, (the notes in French are altogether dif- Nightingales for Katy Karin Aurell, flute Independent KAOOl (Canadian Music Centre Distribution www.musiccentre.ca) If you are one of the fortunate who have experienced the New Brunswick-based Motion Ensemble's wonderfully balanced sound when they were on tour, then you cannot be unaware of the sonic mastery of flautist Karin Aurell. Her CD of solo flute pieces is a thing of singular beauty. Repertoire on this disc ranges from the very old, of Bach and Telemann, to the very new, works by Gilles Tremblay and New Brunswick's own Richard Gibson. Aurell opens with Debussy's Syrinx, in a marvelous performance that rivals Debost and Rampa!. Gibson's Nightingales for Katy is a sparkling, imaginative work that explores much of the flute's resources, and Aurell maintains admirable control throughout even the most taxing of the passages. Tremblay's 1994 Envol might well have one of its best readings here. The late Swedish master Sven-Erik Back's Sonata for Flute Solo is one of the major works on the disc, and Honegger and Ibert are represented. Recorded in the peaceful sanctuary of the Mount Allison University Chapel in Sackville NB, one could get the impression that Aurell has played there all her life; UNE 1 - UL Y 7 05 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM

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