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Volume 11 Issue 2 - October 2005

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Choir
  • October
  • Concerts
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Singers
  • Orchestra
  • Arts

Don Carlo are equally

Don Carlo are equally well presented and leave the audience calling for more. After a break during which the OSM provides a little Respighi, Hvorostovsky returns with a performance of Rossini's "Largo al factotum" that brings the summer evening's audience to its feet. He finishes the outdoor concert with a performance of "Dark Eyes" as only a Russian can. It's a great video and makes you wish you'd been there for the magic of the "live" performance. Alex Baran CLASSICAL & BEVON D Le Mozart Noir CBC Opening Night production with Tafelmusik about Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges CBC Home Video CMN297094 This 53-minute historical documentary tells the fascinating story ofone Joseph Boulogne, (1745-1799), Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who was born to a rich colonialist and his mistress slave, became a renowned violinist (having studied with Gossec, Leclair and Lully), Europe's greatest fencer, and a composer who influenced Mozart. He was a black man in the aristocratic society of 18th-century France at a time when the slave trade was still rampant. Definitely a story worthy of a Hollywood film script! With commentary and insights provided by Ashley Horne, Center for Black Music Research, biographer Gabriel Banal, Tafelmusik director Jeanne Lamon, violin soloist Linda Melsted, and narration by R.H. Thomson, the music of Saint­ Georges offers both an attractive and also distracting (in a good way) soundtrack (in 5.0 Dolby digital stereo) to the dramatic presentation. What a gifted musician this Chevalier was! His extraordinary technical talent is revealed especially in his challenging solo violin parts. This is an amazing story that has long been waiting to be told. Fine performances from Tafelmusik, beautiful visuals, a wonderful DVD from CBC's Opening Night series. Frank Nakashima 60 Back to Ad Index Concert Note: The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra performs in the International Bach Festival on October 7 at Walter Hall. Tafelmusik's own concert season begins October 12- 16 at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre. Editor's Note: Analekta has just released Tafelmusik's latest CD "Concerti Virtuosi" featuring musi~ of Vivaldi, Bach, Leo and others, and it will be reviewed next issue. _........., . .:..·1.\,. ~1-

with Simon Rattle's live Birmingham recording in the July issue of WholeNote, but it did not reach me in time. Nagano's Berlin performance outclasses Rattle' s account in several respects. Beyond the much better sound (on two SACD's as opposed to Rattle's one) and lavish packaging, tenor Robert Gambill is able to achieve what Jon Villars could not, an authoritative and heroic account of his very taxing part, though in fairness I suspect some backstage studio voodoo may be involved. The casting of the vocal soloists is otherwise comparable in quality, though Nagano's German choirs clearly have the edge in projection and diction. The exposed low B-flats of the bass section in the final Chorus Mysticus are clearly audible here and make a telling difference. Both conductors exhibit a similar impetuous streak, though when Nagano decides to accelerate for effect his orchestra is apt to respond more efficiently. Michael Tilson Thomas' account of the Ninth Symphony in the San Francisco Symphony's self-produced Mahler cycle is a highly idiosyncrat­ ic interpretation distinguished by its exaggerated dynamic range and obsessively micro-managed tempos. MTT's cogent broadening of the fourth beat of the cadences in the first movement evolves into lachrymose ellipses of silence by the finale. Only the biting third movement is spared this cathartic approach. This is a ~ schizoid, Death in Venice take on Mahler that occasionally struck me as a wee bit affected. The symphony is sumptuously recorded in a hybrid SACD two-disc set compiled from a week of performances in 2004. Unfortunately the high sonic definition does not always flatter the orchestra's habitually tight and constricted "American" string tone, though they are chillingly effective - here it is given a spirited performance, the likes of which one would be very thrilled to hear live. The first movement moves right along within those transitional passages Mahler specifically asks to be played without expression. What the string section of Claudio Abbado's Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra may lack in finesse and instrument insurance is more than made up for by sheer numbers and enthusiasm. With an extra 25 play- , Svmphoni No. 'J ers (imagine the plush luxury of 19 violas!) the powerful string unison that launches the finale of this work immediately springs to life. As always with Abbado there is a masterful attention to the details, including the use of specially constructed large metal plates to produce the low bell tones Mahler asks for in the first movement rather than the shoddy tubular chimes usually resorted to. In strong contrast to Tilson Thomas' s worried hemming and hawing, Abbado brings a judicious, relentless yet always sensitive pacing to this performance that says to us: Mahler is strong . Recorded live at Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the hope and devotion that lights the faces of these fine young musicians adds an emotional dimension to this phenomenal performance that I found quite moving. Daniel Foley Ill Ill Strauss - Ein Heldenleben Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Mariss Jansons RCO Live 04005; DVD RCO 04102 Bruckner - Symphony No.8 Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Bernard Haitink RCO Live 05003 Beethoven - Symphony No.2; Brahms - Symphony No.2 Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Mariss Jansons RCO Live 05002 DvoYak - Symphony No.9 Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Mariss Jansons RCO Live 04002 The Concertgebouw is the latest orchestra, as of this writing at least, to issue its own recordings as CDs, SACDs, and DVD-videos, and their entry is well timed to coincide with Mariss Jansons assuming the post as conductor following the departure of Ricardo Chailly. As can be heard and seen in the Ein Heldenleben, he is firmly seated in his new post. The performance took place just a few days into his tenure and he is off to a grand start. The Concertgebouw is unquestionably one of but a handful of the world's incomparable orchestras and has maintained its excellence for generations. Jansons, conducting from memory, elicits a memorable performance, both sensitive and boldly dynamic, without any fussing with the score although he effects a fall and rise to an extended fortissimo in the final bars which is very dramatic, very satisfying. The production values are first class, both the 16:9 video and the convincing surround sound. The SACD version is a composite of three concerts, including the one above and, while is very impressive in surround sound, it does not equal the you-are-there illusion of the DVD version which also contains an interesting biography of Jansons, "The Sixth Maestro". The Dvorak New World Symphony is certainly basic repertoire and out being hurried. The familiar second movement is treated as a chorale to good effect. Following a well sprung third movement, the finale, is well considered and steadily paced leading to a positive finale. The recording is exemplary, both in SACD surround and as a stereo CD. There is no attempt to make more of the Beethoven Second than there is. Recognizing its genealogy Jansons' elegant reading does not impose any anachronisms prompted by Beethoven's later works as ifto demonstrate that this is what he wrote but this is what he really meant. The Brahms Second enjoys a first class, energetic reading, straight off the page without any significant adjustments to comment upon. In sum, two recommended performances, clearly documented in surround sound or stereo, depending on the player. In addition to his other strengths, Haitink is one of our very finest Mahler and Bruckner conductors. The Bruckner Eighth here is from last February and hence, his very latest thoughts on the piece. Haitink recorded this work in Amsterdam twice before, 1960 and 1981 , but on the 18th and 20th of February this year he appears to be merely going through the motions. He is uncharacteristically missing a sense of ardour and involvement. If the recording, surround sound and all, is to be believed this performance was unworthy of this conductor and orchestra. Well, anyone can have an off day· Bruce Surtees CONTINUES Aeel~rlc,n presents DIGITAL MUSIC DOWNLOADS! Canada's premier accordion and clarinet duo continue to innovate with the launch of their all-new digital music downloads! From Bach and Mozart, to Piazzolla and Mancini, Acclarion's unique and exciting music will be available for listening instantly onlinel It's like having Acclarion oncall 24 hours a day, performing the music you want to hear! COMING SOON TO www.ACCLARION.ca O CTOBER 1 - N OVEMBER 7 2005 Back to Ad Index WWW. TH EWHO LENOTE.COM

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