7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 10 - July 2006

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EDITOR'S CORNER As I write this the thermometer has just hit 35 degrees for the first time this season, reminding me just how unpleasant it can be to be chained to a computer. Fortunately a lot of the preparation for this column involves listening to recorded music, and thanks to the marvels of modern technology that can be done just about anywhere these days. My preferred spot is in the backyard, where I can pop on my headphones and watch the birds and squirrels enjoy the lush jungle that my wife has managed to create over the past nine years since we moved into our house near Dufferin and Bloor. Of course birds and squirrels are not the full extent of our wildlife. Our bird-feeding also draws the attention of the many neighbourhood cats that come to try their skills at catching breakfast on the wing, and we are blessed with an itinerant opossum, occasional skunks and, of course, the obligatory raccoons. The city can be a wild place - I have witnessed a red-tailed hawk dining on a pigeon under our apple tree - but the most exotic creature, ol' possum notwithstanding, was last summer's visit from "Zorro", a Black-masked Lovebird who arrived one day in early August and stayed at our feeders until Labour Day weekend. Oh we don't imagine that he traveled from his native Tanzania on his own, or even willingly, and we realize that his chances of surviving a Canadian winter were slim to nil, but our hope is that he joined a southerly migration and found some suitable habitat. And my dream is that one morning this summer there he' ll be at our feeders once again ... But that's not the story I began to tell. I had the good fortune to rise at 6 o'clock this morning, which provided the opportunity to spend a good three hours in the back yard with my headphones on before the heat of the day set in. I will confess that if this weren't my "WholeNote Weekend" I would not have been wired to the CD player - my preference is to not only see, but to hear the little backyard critters - but thankfully it was a joyous task on this occasion. 1- ,:1-1 There were a number of intriguing discs this month that I earmarked for myself. The first came from an eclectic Californian label, M-A Recordings (www We have received three previous discs from this label, ranging from Renaissance lute music, to a disc combining Argentine tangos with Italian madrigals, to interpretations of JS Bach by 10 Back to Ad Index Hungarian jazzman Kalman Olah. All three were found "worthy" of review in these pages (see, back issues November and December 2004). The latest arrival was likewise too good to ignore. "Llama" (M070A) is perhaps the most unusual to date. It features a young Israeli percussionist, Ravid Goldschmidt, performing on a Swiss variant of the steel pan (played with hands not mallets) called a hang (pronounced hong and meaning hand in Bernese), and Spanish improvisational vocalist Silvia Perez Cruz. The result is a dreamy voyage that must be heard to be believed - imagine Bjork in Trinidad on some sort of tranquilizers. Goldschmidt's mellow one-man-steelpan-band (the hang is a "flying saucer" shaped instrument 53 centimeters in diameter with a bass note on the underside and eight notes tuned modally on the top) provides both accompaniment for the vocals and extended instrumental interludes. For more details on this unique instrument check out ( gallery/ hang/). Trained as a jazz multi-instrumentalist, Silvia Perez Cruz brings a wealth of creativity to this project. WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM As the temperature began to rise I was happy to shift gears to a new disc that was a little less mellow. Aaron Brock is a dynamic young guitarist whose debut album "Toccata" on the Analekta label (AN2 9853) is truly exceptional. Aaron is a familiar name in these pages as a contributing reviewer and I am thrilled to now have the opportunity to add him to our roster of reviewees. I first became aware of his work through my connection with New Music Concerts and a recommendation from Norbert Kraft. So how fitting it is to note that Norbert Kraft and partner Bonnie Silver are the recording team on Aaron's first disc. The production values are extraordinary - how do you record a guitarist so intimately without any of that annoying fingernoise? - and the playing is absolutely top rank. Add to this the interesting and somewhat unusual repertoire (modern works by Carlo Domeniconi, Joaquin Rodrigo and Agustin Barrios Mangore, an original by Aaron Brock and a transcription of one of Bach's lute suites, which in the extensive liner notes Brock suggests was actually composed for a keyboard instrument built to simulate the sound of a lute at Bach's request) and we are presented with a "must have" CD. Kudos to Aaron and Analekta. Regular readers of this column will know that I am an avid amateur cellist, and the other two discs that I have been spending time with both whet my appetite in this regard. The first is somewhat inappropriately entitled "Children's Cello" (BIS-CD- 1562) . On this extraordinary collection Steven Isserlis and pianist Stephen Hough explore repertoire for the beginning, intermediate and "young" cellist. I consider the title inappropriate because there is a wealth of music here that would satisfy performers (and listeners) of any age. I have personal experience with a number of the pieces, in particular the Goltermann arrangement ofBoccherini 's Minuet (aka the theme from "The Lady Killers") and Gabriel Marie's La Cinquantaine, but there are many others that I am now determined to track down - a task simplified by the publication information included in the program booklet - including works by Gavin Bryars, Frank Bridge, Amy Beach, Sheila Nelson, Francis Poulenc, David Popper and Felix Mendelssohn. The recording was inspired by the cello studies oflsserlis' son Gabriel and the disc concludes with a section entitled "Gabriel's Corner" that includes five works composed for the young protege. While I can't help thinking it might have been nice to hear the dedicatee's interpretation of these particular pieces, my overall impression of the program is that it is a rare treat to hear these "student" pieces performed with ded- J ULY 1 - SEPTEMB ER 7 2006

ication by first rank professionals at the top of their game. my plans for "How I hope to spend my summer". I got the same impression from another cello and piano recording this month, one that features Alban Gerhardt with pianist Steven Osborne performing works by Shostakovich and Schnittke. Of course the featured works are the two exceptional sonatas by these famous Russian composers, but as there are so many fine recordings already available of these two works that in itself would not make this Hyperion CD (CDA67534) worthy of note. What makes it special to me is the inclusion of 2 elegiac solo works by Schnittke, and more importantly 8 incidental pieces arranged from diverse aspects of Shostakovich's oeuvre. The liner notes say that time constraints necessitated leaving out 3 of the 11 transcriptions which are evidently published by Sikorski as Eleven Pieces for cello and piano. I say evidently because they are not listed on the Sikorski website and I have not yet been able to track them down. The pieces, which could easily have found their way onto the Isserlis recording, are charming. If I can get my hands on the music they will find an honoured place in And here is my plan: Rise with the birds and spend an hour (or two or three) with a good book in the back yard enjoying their company; practice the cello for about an hour each morning, with particular attention to Mendelssohn's Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49, and whichever of the pieces mentioned above I am able to put my hands on; go for long bike rides with WholeNote senior editor David Perlman; listen to fabulous new CD releases including the Centrediscs "Canadian Composer Portraits - Harry Somers" (CMCCD 11306) that just arrived on my desk. This four CD set (the most extensive in the series of Portraits thus far) includes an hour-long documentary (perfect listening for a long drive in the country) and a wealth of orchestral music spanning the career of one of Canada's most distinguished composers. I look forward to having the next two months to prepare my report for you on this extremely welcome addition to the country's recorded legacy. 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, David Olds Editor, DJSCoveries SCHUMANN kl\ IJ I, l_)I ,\" I I Everything for the Music Lover ... For all instruments and voZces l\11.usical!J trained staff to help and advzse Your source for all Urtex Editions and distin_~uzshed Eurcpean publzshe;s Greutgifl zdei1s far !vlusic Lover (]Jzldren :\- Music Vqx1.rtment, 1vzth musical b(loks) Cf):\-, DVV \ instruments and great summer camp idras V1s1t us online at Debut release by the young pianist DAVID FRAY who has won important awards in his native ' France, as well as in Japan and at the 2004 Montreal International Music Competition. .. , ;:~ - :::::;:" Canada Persian music for setar and tombak by Montreal's TABASSIAN brothers' (best-known for their work with the group Constantinople) 5% o.ffyoNr 11ext purrhase 1vith !Jle11tio11 this ad offer valid on regular priced items Main Store: 210 Bloor St. W. Toronto Tel: 416.961.3111 North: 1455 16th Ave. Richmond Hill Tel: 905.881.3400 J U LY 1 - SEPTEMB ER 7 2006 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE,COM Back to Ad Index

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