6 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 10 - July 2006

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strument (described as "a Schanz Fortepiano"). The recording sessions took place in Toronto. Bilson's performances are immensely listenable: brilliant, touching, fully convincing. Despite the variety of ornamented reprises, fermate, and Eingange, called for in the style, and the exceptional delight of a cadenza written out by the composer in the Adagio of No. 39, the playing is never fussy or laboured. The fast finales are full of hilarious bumps, recalling the prestos in the quartets and symphonies. If music is a reflection of personality, Haydn was a warm, generous, and very wise man. John Beckwith Khandoshkin - Virtuoso Violin Music at the Court of Catherine the Great Anastasia Khitruk Naxos 8.570028 Described as "the first great Russian violin virtuoso", Ivan Y evstafyevich Khandoshki n (17 4 7- 1804) served in the St. Petersburg Imperial Orchestra at the court of Catherine the Great. His musical temperament was influenced by the concertmasters who were Italians. Khandoshkin's music is recorded with intimate (perhaps even dangerous) closeness by Moscowborn Julliard-trained violinist Anastasia Khitruk who performs the three violin sonatas of opus 3 with obligatory bravura and fearless ferocity. It should be noted that these sonatas are the only known examples of unaccompanied violin sonatas from 18th or 19th century Russia. The great technical demands of the music occasionally, and perhaps not surprisingly, threaten the intonation. The seemingly endless barrage of double-stops, ornamentation, arpeggiation, etc., are reminiscent of Italian violin music by Tartini, Locatelli, and Vivaldi. Lots of notes! Throughout musical history, variations have provided a vehicle for virtuosic display. This is certainly the case in Sonata No. 1. This, and other music on this recording, is intuitively and insightfully written by a composer who is also a vio- 52 Back to Ad Index linist. Because of this, one can't help but notice a strong physical and emotional connection between the player, Ms. Khitruk, and the music. Also on this recording are Six Old Russian Songs for Violin. Amazing virtuosity but, to some, it might feel like an overdose of notes. Frank T. Nakashima Migot - Le Zodiaque Stephane Lemelin ATMA ACD2 2381 This recording of piano works by Georges Migot (1891-1976) comprises part of ATMA's 'Decouvertes 1890-1939' series, which focuses on French music and is directed by the illustrious Canadian pianist Stephane Lemelin, whose playing graces these discs. The pieces of Le Zodiaque reflect Mi got' s particularly refined melodic lyricism and explorations in sonority - he loved how the interplay of harmonics produced a sort of aural polyphony - as well as the ambiguity of tonal centre which was to mark his later music so strongly. Not surprisingly, I suppose, this is particularly successful in the four pieces for the mutable signs, such as the limpidly shape-shifting 'Les Gemeaux' (Gemini) or the mystical wandering of 'Les Poissons' (Pisces). Migot was perhaps not so concerned to capture the specific essences of astrological symbolism as was Stockhausen with his Tierkreis, or Holst in The Planets; but in the sardonic, humorous musical depiction of a crab's movement in 'L'Ecrevisse', the low tessitura and majesty of 'Le Lion', or the obstinate ostinato figure which forms the basis of 'Le Taureau', he is delightfully descriptive. Two earlier pieces, with their more obvious influence from Debussy, are more innocent and simplistic but still ingenious; their inclusion gives the listener a real sense of Migot's development as a composer for the piano. Lemelin's playing is thoughtful, adventurous and expressive, and his affection for this repertoire is almost palpable. The recorded sound (by Anne-Marie Sylvestre) is excellent, and the inclusion in the booklet of Migot's Psalm for my Zodiac, a poem inspired by the first performances of the work, was a clever idea which provides a further understanding of this independent-minded, multi-disciplinary creator. Alison Melville Faure - Complete Nocturnes David Jalbert Endeavour END 1014 Faure's nocturnes, composed between 1875 and 1921, perhaps lack the sensuousness and melodic appeal of those by Chopin, yet their introspective, sometimes brooding quality gives them a charm all their own. As a set, they offer the listener a wide range of moods, and Quebec pianist David Jalbert in this exemplary new disc on the Endeavour label captures the essence of each one individually. Yet the subtle and refined approach taken by this young artist is only one reason I find this recording so satisfying. The overall sound is warm and resonant, an element which must be at least partially attributed to the superb engineering undertaken by recording technician Anton Kwiatkowski and his team at Port Nelson United Church in Burlington. The 13th and final nocturne was written in 1921, and exudes a feeling of darkness and anguish, surely the music of a composer resigned to the frailties of old age. This particular piece certainly caused me a degree of anguish when I chose to include it in a second year piano exam at the University of Toronto. Half-way through, I had a memory lapse, and try as a might, I couldn't get out of it. Some time later, the examiner said to me "that piece should only be attempted by a mature French pianist". Mature I wasn't, and French I am not, but in Jalbert's capable hands, this and the other 12 nocturnes become true mirrors of the soul. Highly recommended. Perspectives 2 Adreas Haefliger, piano AvieAV2082 Andreas Haefliger states his goal with these Perspectives CDs as "bringing the recital experience to the living room." In this, Haefliger succeeds very well. There is a sense of immediacy and vitality in his playing. On the first disc, he performs two relatively ignored Beethoven Piano Sonatas, the Op. 54 F Major and Op. 90 E minor. Haefliger performs these sonatas with sensitivity and rhythmic power. Showing a similar range of expression, in the Bartok Out of Doors suite, Andreas displays forceful command in the opening movement, and creates a hypnotic trance in "The Night's Music". The majestic Brahms F minor Sonata is played with virtuosity and great control. This is an enormous work, and Haefliger rises to the challenges repeatedly. My only criticism of the performances on this set has to do with the fact that none of the pieces on this disc have really strong endings. Many works have great endings, but when they don't, performers need to somehow create the excitement of finality, and in this respect, Haefliger, in my opinion, is not always successful. My only other reservation deals with the quality of the piano sound. Piano technicians and producers need to listen carefully for the occasional brashness of certain piano registers. While I thoroughly enjoyed the percussiveness of the Bartok, there were a few too many moments in the Brahms where the treble register sounded overly harsh. Overall though, Haefliger demonstrates excellent pianism, and strong musicianship throughout these CDs. Schubert-Liszt David Fray ATMA ACD2 2360 Jamie Parker Richard Haskell Do you remember that astonishing young French pianist from the WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM JU LY 1 - SEPTE MB ER 7 2006

2004 Montreal International Music Competition? Now David Fray has released his much-anticipated solo CD on the ATMA label. Featured are two of his competition pieces, Schubert's Wanderer Fantaisie and the Liszt B minor Sonata, with two of Liszt's transcriptions of Schubert Lieder as a buffer. Fray knows neither technical nor stylistic bounds, and he pays loving attention to each of the works. I am considerably drawn to Fray's powerful romp through the Liszt Sonata, though I still love Kathryn Tremills' reading of it (see my review in the February 2005 WholeNote, available online at www. thewholenote. com). Fray has wonderful dynamic control, which gives this often-bombastic piece a sense of great breadth and depth. The Schubert Wanderer is equally well served. But it is in the two Liszt transcriptions that special hidden treasures reveal themselves; Fray clearly has been playing Du Rist die Ruh since he was a little shaver, it flows so naturally from his fingers; a marvelous listening experience. This was recorded in Salle Francoys-Bernier in Domaine Forget on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence, in 2005. The sound impresses me: for once the listener's head is not underneath the lid of the Steinway, and yet the climaxes roar. The front cover features a photograph of Fray in a white necktie, appearing for all the world as a nervous schoolboy. Highly recommended. John S. Gray Paris at the turn of the last century. There was an unprecedented upheaval in the Arts: painting, sculpture, music and literature. In music, Debussy and his contemporaries blew apart existing harmonies and created new translucent textures with a colourful palette. Three composers in Paris during this time, Debussy, Ravel and the Romanian expatriate Georges Enescu, knew and influenced one another and in the case of Enescu and Ravel, were very good friends . Enescu was a wonderful violinist who played Ravel's works and the so-called gypsy violin provides a unifying thread on this CD. Beginning with Enescu's charming Impressions d'enjance, somewhat reminiscent of Schumann's Kinderscenen or more appropriately, Ra vet's L 'enjant et le sortileges, we are led through a set of nostalgic images from a child's evening, nighttime and morning experiences complete with a gypsy violinist down the street, a chirping bird, a cuckoo clock and sounds of a cricket, played with exquisite tenderness. The highlight of the disc is Ravel's well known Tzigane, a skillful pastiche of Hungarian gypsy tunes, and played with great panache, accompanied on lutheal, a piano type instrument that sounds like the gypsy "cimbalom". Works by Debussy include such felicities as the youthful, humorous and gypsy-like Nocturne et Scherzo, the ubiquitous Girl with the Flaxen Hair and the enchanting, tender Beau Soir. Both Philippe Graffin and Claire Desert are wonderfully sensitive and gifted young virtuosos, perfectly suited to the shifting, luminous world ofL'Impressionisme. Most enjoyable and highly recommended! Janos Gardonyi =nL.111 iii Ol Iii ii! UI I~ )jjjf )jjjf mil )m( mil NAXOS lllll lllll 111111111111111 Of CANADA LT D • Over 3,000 titles • All digital recordings • New recordings and compositions monthly • Criti ca l acclaim in all key classical publications • Featuring great Canadian artists All this at an astonishingly Low price! The world's leading Classical Music label! Leopold Stokowski Bach Transcriptions Bour"ernouth Svmphon\ .Jr':he~'ro Josb Ser ebrier, c0r1dui... ~ f)() 1 \,t> ·,t 11,, ·, .11 I , .. John Dowland fancyes, Dreams and Spirits N gel No, th lute J: ilh.ird S 11< \I 'SS \n \ lpi11 c s_, rnphnn) ' Ll,1h J.. .1 1" l!. \, 1111,u • \111

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