8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 1 - September 2005

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  • Toronto
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  • Bach

HI 0/SC(lllJ@;)l:f.1

HI 0/SC(lllJ@;)l:f.1 EDITOR'S CORNER, continued from page 15 and Mark O'Connor), the Mothers of Invention, and to my pleasant surprise, memories of one of my favourite alternative albums of the late 1980s, Seigen Ono's "The Green Chinese Table". Perhaps, as a cellist, the special appeal for me is in the fact that with Higgins' bass providing a solid rhythm section the cello is placed in the privileged spot of melodic soloist. This is not to say that the bass is in a subservient role. As the leader of the band, and with the chops to carry it off, the bass is often front and centre. Of course on the high end Djukic holds his own admirably too. The other two discs offer much more traditional fare - Erynn Marshall' s "Calico" and Luke Mercier and Rolling River's "Across the Sea" . Marshall, a Victoria B.C. native who came to Toronto to study ethnomusicology, has spent a great deal of time in West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina studying the indigenous fiddle music. She says she was pleased to find such an active "old time" scene here in our fine city, including such musicians as Chris Coote, Arnie Naiman and Kathy Reid-Naiman who are among a dozen fine musicians featured on the album (Merriweather Records M04EM, The copious and somewhat scholarly notes, complemented by illustrations of several of the unusual instruments employed in the production (which includes such rarities as the Teilhard Frost fretless r.t D/SC(lllJ@iU:f.1 CD REVIEWS: VOCAL MUSIC r>Ur.Cc.­ OfJi.VL/\i .l Muse - Purcell; Dowland Daniel Taylor; Da Sonar; Les Voix Humaines ATMA ACD2 2389 This is a reissue of two discs from the popular Canadian countertenor, dating from the late 1990s. The Purcell disc, originally issued in 1997 as "On the Muse's Isle", features two well-known theatre songs, an excerpt from one of the St. Cecelia' s Day odes and the poignant, devotional Evening Hymn. Taylor's singing is full of his hallmark rich and even tone and impeccable tuning . The unceasing languidness of each song wears a bit thin however, from Fairest Isle to Music fora while and the others. I can't quite understand the decision to include two versions of O solitude, my sweetest choice (one with a more spare continua accompaniment than the other), especially since compatriot Nancy Argenta made the same decision with her O solitude record in 1995 . Well .. . there are now many recorded versions of the song to choose from! Also included on the disc are four of Purcell 's inventive string sonatas, played with flair and elegance by some of Montreal's finest Baroque instrumentalists. The Dowland CD, recorded in 1998 as "Tears of the Muse" , is a collection of Dowland' s most wellknown lute-songs, accompanied by the sensational gamba duo Les Voix Humaines and lutenist Andreas Martin. Taylor succeeds in wringing the sweetness from each note of Dowland 's simple tunes and he seems to enjoy the sophisticated camaraderie of his instrumental colleagues. A real Dowland aficionado might want more in the way of diction and attention to the nuances of the poetry, but the beauty of Taylor's line and tone more than make up for this. gourd banjo, the Wuang bass harmonica and the Peter Cox banjo-ukelele) in no way compromise the down-home sound of the music-making. The overall feel of the disc is one of reverence mixed with exhilaration - a real feeling of the joy of participating in the recreation of these time honoured fiddle tunes for posterity. (Performance note: Chris Coote and Arnie Naiman are among the banjo players featured at Barrie's Colours of Music Festival on September 24.) Luke Mercier's disc (CDLMOlOl) has a similar feel of participatory reverence. Less scholarly in its approach, the disc features ol 'timey tunes mostly learned from historic recordings (always credited) such as "From the Altamont: Black Sting- Together, at a bargain price, these recordings make a great introduction to the essential solo vocal music of these English giants. Larry Beckwith Performance notes: Daniel Taylor is among the soloists featured during the U of T International Bach Festival Oct 1-7; Songs of Dowland are featured with soprano Hallie Fishel and the Musicians in Ordinary at Heliconian Hall Oct 1. Dame Kiri and Friends: The Gala Concert Kiri te Kanawa; Auckland Philharmonia EMI Classics 5 44555 9 (DVD) Remembering her humble hardworking small-town origins before her rise to become a huge international star, Kiri Te Kanawa has established a foundation to help talented young singers and musicians in her home country of New Zealand. To launch the Foundation, she band Music", adapted and improvised upon by Mercier during a winter hiatus from the city spent in a cabin in Hastings County . Upon his return to his professional life as a luthier (violin maker) at the "Old Fiddle Shop" (aka George Heinl and Co. Ltd.) Luke enrolled a number of his co-workers in this recording project. Who would have known that the employees of Toronto's premiere violin shop, purveyors to the carriage trade of classical string instruments, had among their heart beats those ofa "different drummer". This disc is a treat. If you can't get down to Heinl 's at 201 Church St. during the 'banker's hours' they keep, I suggest you visit Mercier on-line at www. LukeMercier. com. We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. Catalogues, review copies of CDs and comments should be sent to: The WholeNote, Suite 503, 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S2R4. We also welcome your input via our website: . David Olds Editor, D/SCoveries held a sold-out gala concert with other local stars: soprano Malvina Major, mezzo Helen Medlyn, tenor Simon O' Neill and a chorus of young singers, accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia. The resulting DVD release on the EMI label allows us to share in that evening, the arias, ensemble pieces, the grand dames in glorious gowns. The program begins with a traditional Maori song, then launches into favourite arias, the first of which is Dame Kiri singing in the purest of tones the piece she is probably best loved for: the Countess's aria "Porgi Amor" from Marriage of Figaro. The concert continues with many old chestnuts from the operatic repertoire, sprinkled with a couple of surprises such as Enya's May it Be from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Dame Kiri also gave an exquisite performance in duet with violin in Morgen by Richard Strauss. Tenor Simon O'Neill makes a fine showing in Make Your Garden Grow from Leonard Bernstein's Candide and mezzo Helen Medlyn with her spiked hair and intense expression made a fascinating Carmen for Habenera . Dianne Wells Editor' s note: Dame Kiri and Friends is also available as a CD (EMI 5 57976 2). 56 WWW. THEWHOLE NOTE.COM SEPTEMBER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2005 Back to Ad Index

Dvorak - Rusalka Subertova, Machackova. Zidek, Nohynek, Haken Prague National Theatre; Zdenek Chalabala Supraphon SU 7008-9 Stravinsky - Le Rossignol Dessay, McLaughlin, Grivnov, Naouri, Mikhailov et al. Opera Nationale de Paris; James Conlon Virgin Classics 5 44242 9 9 These two DVDs are worlds apart in their production values yet they have much in common thematically. Both are based on fairy tales and involve the supernatural, and both are theatrical interpretations based on previously issued audio recordings. Supraphon's release ofDvorak's Rusalka is a re-mastering of a 1975 Czech television enactment based on the venerable 1961 recording with the superb Milada Subrtova in the title role. With the exception of bass Eduard Haken as the elder Water Sprite, the original cast is pantomimed by actors wearing very bad wigs. Oddly enough, Haken does a worse job of vocal synchronization than the actors do . The English subtitles bad syntax have, while the evocation of Rusalka' s mysterious water world is limited to the most primitive of double exposure techniques. However if you can overlook the production shortcomings of 30 years ago this remains a very fine , authoritative performance featuring solid ifunspectacular singing from tenor Ivo Zidek as the Prince, an appropriately steely tone from Alena Mikiva as the conniving Foreign Princess, and a sensitively paced interpretation by conductor Chalabala. Christian Chaudet' s astounding realization of Stravinsky's The Nightingale is by contrast a totally state of SEPTEM BER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2005 Back to Ad Index the art production, replete with extensive computer generated effects that took a team of ten specialists a year to perfect. Stravinsky's libretto, derived from H.C. Anderson's tale of The Emperor and the Nightingale, is sung in Russian here despite the French title. In contrast to Rusalka, Chaudet has for the most part retained the same cast as the audio recording on which the production is based (EMI 5 56874 2). His interpretation of the parable of the Nightingale is set in a riotously colourful fantasy world infested with flying digicams, omniscient computer monitors and the tyranny of the mass media. It is complex, extravagant and a true feast for the eye. The extensive bonus tracks detailing the making of the film run twice as long as the opera itself. The sensational coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay is simply stunning in the perilously taxing role of the Nightingale. As for the rest of the cast, I will simply say there isn't a weak link among them. This is a brilliant production that sets the bar incredibly high and simply has to be seen to be believed. Daniel Foley Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini Kunde, Ciofi, Di Donato, Naouri Choeur de Radui France; Orchestre National de France; John Nelson EMI Virgin 3 45706 2 The first production of Benvenuto Cellini was not a success. Berlioz's subsequent cuts and alterations did not improve its reception, and left the score in confusion. Fortunately his original version for the Paris Opera survived and has now been published, adding over thirty minutes of music, restoring the sung recitatives, and putting the whole opera in proper order. This is the first recording of the original version. Editor Hugh Macdonald, who had worked on the superb landmark 1972 recording of the revised version Berlioz made for Liszt in Weimar, points out, in the excellent booklet notes , the irony that in his time Berlioz was rejected for what we most value today - his originality and inventiveness. The plot is loosely based on the autobiography of the great Renaissance 111 111 111 mm m III m m mnmnimnmn NAXOS 11111 11111 11111 11111 11111 OF CANADA LTD • Over 2,700 titles • All digital recordings • New recordings and com positions monthly • Critical acclaim in all key classical publications • Featuring great Canadian artists All this at an astonishingly Low price! The world's leading Classical Music label! "~mph,,11i 1·,,,,,-. I :u11! ~ I .11!, in !he lli rl. • , ,.~,p!,.,11' r '\ •dun• Weill Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 Marin Alsop - conduclor 8557481 \ll SI(' HlJ, I· I l 11· \!) l'l'll! ·1 ,,I( I\ Music for Flute & Percussion Marc Grauwels, flute Marie-Josee Simard, percussion 8557782 ~ H lii\l MEL \i,,11. { .. n 1" \ !, uu,!,r 1, .. , 11.,..,~,. \ i,.h• · l ' 'i Pick up your ·2oos, NAXOS Catalogue Available at TORONTO - 333 Yonge St.• OTTAWA - Bank/Sparks St. CONTINUES WWW. THEWHOLENOTE , COM 57

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