7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 4 - December 2005

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The Liverpool born

The Liverpool born "wunderkind" Simon Rattle is one of the great musical success stories of the present era. Starting with minor conducting work in England, later taking over the Birmingham Symphony and after many assignments in England and the U.S.A., in 1999, at the age of 44, he was chosen by the Berlin Philharmonic as its Music Director, succeeding Claudio Abbado and the legendary Herbert von Karajan. Bernard Haitink has said of him "he has such an open mind and really incredible charisma" but more to the point, he has a great interest in all kinds of music. He is equally at home in the 19th century symphonic repertoire, period instrument Baroque, adventurous modem works, opera and even jazz. These two recordings, one from the Romantic era and the other from French Impressionism, will give proof of this. It is interesting to note that later in his life Dvorak abandoned his main influence, Brahms, and much to the dismay of critic Hansli ck, turned more towards the prevailing influences of German Romanticism, Liszt and Wagner. He took an interest in program music, namely the "symphonic poem" originated by Liszt, but since he had an intense desire to express the folk idiom of his homeland he drew his inspiration from Czech ballads based on rather gruesome fo lk tales. These are very fine performances. The Noon Witch is wonderfully structured, highly dramatic and intense. My favourite, The Wood Dove, is very moving with the opening funeral theme beautifully played on the cellos and later the cooing of the dove has a strange and menacing orchestral effect. The well known Water Goblin written in rondo form with a strongly rhythmical 78 subject capable of many transformations and variations according to the mood of the rather frightening story, shows Dvorak's superb craftsmanship pointing towards Richard Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel. Debussy, one of the most influential and original composers of the 20th century, broke apart traditional values and like a burst of sunlight revolutionized harmony, orchestral texture and colour. La Mer, his masterpiece, has been so extensively recorded that it would be easy to form prejudices, but Rattle's new recording is now one of the best. It is spontaneous; more relaxed than Karajan, a richly detailed and multilayered reading aided by the virtuosity of his magnificent orchestra. The suitably sultry and languorous Prelude a / 'apres-midi.. offers beautiful flute playing by soloist Emmanuel Pahud and the lesser known "fill ups" are interesting, and make the disc well worth having. Janos Gardonyi Beethoven - String Quartets opp. 127 & 132 Hagen Quartet Deutsche Grammophon 477 5705 I got to know the Beethoven String Quartets while I was a student at Juilliard. After hearing Op. 132 for the first time and being completely overwhelmed by the slow movement, I said to my roommate, "!just feel so good to be alive!". He then told me about that movement's title, "A Convalescent's Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Deity, in the Lydian Mode". (Beethoven had been quite ill, and upon his recovery, was inspired to write a personal dedication for this movement.) It is a real joy to hear a wonderful ensemble like the Hagen Quartet playing Opp. 127 and 132. The string sound is gorgeous - a tribute to the musicians and the recording producer and engineer. The Hagen's sense of phrasing is fluid and intelligent throughout. There is never a harsh stroke in their play ing. From a purely personal perspective, WWW, THEWHOLENOTE, COM there was only one aspect of the Op. 132 interpretation that didn't fully convince me. In the slow movement, Beethoven alternates meditative Mo/to adagio Lyd ian mode sections in 4/4 meter with livelier Andante D major passages in 3/8 time. I've always liked the D major passages to have a greater sense of release, movement, and vitality than I felt with this recording. I thought the tempo could have been a notch or two quicker. Also, in going to the highest note of these 3/8 bars, l think it could work to either slightly push forward to, or slightly delay the highest note, rather than play these bars as steadily as they are played here. But really, this is an excellent disc, with both quartets receiving beautiful treatment in the Hagen's hands. Jamie Parker Concert note: Pianist Jamie Parker and hi s Gryphon Trio perform music of Mozart, Shostakovich and Faure at Walter Hall on December 5. Parker joins oboist Cynthia Steljes and bassoonist Michael Sweeney for a free noon-hour recital on December 8, again at Walter Hall. MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY (See also Editor's Corner) ,, I iHII! Barber, Korngold, Biirger - Cello Concertos Jan Vogler; Saarbriicken Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin Classics 0017672 What prompts an artist to make a recording? Many reasons, l suppose - to introduce the performer's artistry; to make available works not often heard or well known; to set forth a theme or vision. The particular package that this recording presents is intriguing because, in juxtaposing four (not three) pieces composed in America between 1932 and 1946, it embodies at least these three views. As an introduction to the artistry of cellist Jan Vogler, the recording is magnificent. With his passionate playing and golden sound, he is a musician who deserves to be better known. As an offering of little-known works for cello and orchestra, this is a goldmine. One can have fun imagining the unfolding melodrama behind Komgold's highly charged concerto, written for the I 946 Bette Davis film Deception and subsequently made into an autonomous piece. There is the sombre tragedy of the Burger Adagio - a theme with variations, memorable for its absolutely riveting orchestration. And then the masterful Barber concerto, which almost never turns up in concert programming. But why the final work: Barber's Adagio for Strings? It does not feature Vogler's playing; it is not at all an unknown work. Its inclusion surprises one at first - one could say, it's a convenient time-filler. But its sadness sums up what the inner cover (a bleak photo of the 1935 Manhattan skyline) and the liner notes also hint of: that this music speaks covertly but eloquently of a dark time, touched acutely by war. Simone Desilets Wolpe - Wolpe in Jerusalem, 1934-38 ... Ensemble Recherche; Werner Herbers; WDR Sinfonieorchester; Johannes Kalitzke; Mode Records 155 Stefan Wolpe created some of the most complex compositions in the history of Western art music, yet audiences are viscerally seized by Wolpe's inventiveness, emotionality, and sonic power. Having studied at Weimar's Bauhaus, he enthusiastically absorbed its egalitarian and participatory pedagogy and the philosophy of adjoining highly contrasting materials. His serial techniques surpassed orthodox procedures, but serial ism was just one of the tools in hi s conceptual kit and he used tonality just as innovatively, along with any other element of interest. Po litical radicalism led Wolpe to become, between 1929 and 1933, a principal composer of music for anti- D ECEMBER 1 2005 - F EBR UARY 7 2006

Nazi workers' movements and he learned how to draw people into even his most challenging music. But cruel turns of fate interrupted Wolpe's access to larger audiences. When the Nazis seized power in 1933, Wolpe was a triple target: a Marxist, a Jew, and a composer of degenerate music. He escaped to Palestine in 1934 and later emigrated to New York where he established links between experimentalists in the visual arts and music. Tragically, he was soon sidelined by Parkinson's disease. Mode's CD of instrumental music from Wolpe's Palestine period is a very important document. Wolpe had time to work on ideas that had been put off from 1929 to 1933, ideas which ultimately had great impact on the joyous explosion of New York modernism. There's a full orchestral version of Passacaglia, plus the Concert for 9 Instruments, a chamber orchestra suite for Moliere's Malade lmaginaire, and two important chamber pieces. The performance and sound qualities live up to Mode's usual high standards. Phil Ehrensaft JAZZ AND IMPROVISED Lofsky and Mike Francis. On some tracks sax work is shared by Phil Dwyer, John Johnson and Michael Stuart (Russ' brother), and the fleet flute of Bill McBirnie is heard on One Note Samba. Russ Little is a great trombonist, best known by most for his muscular, machine-gun style. The ease of his playing has always made it seem a bit glib, but on Snapshot his work is emotionally deeper. I'm most impressed with his ballad work on standards like My One And Only love; A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and the light-bossa version of Autumn In New York. On More Than You Know Russ could give Tommy Dorsey a run at playing smooth and high, and Michael Stuart's alto work is wonderful. The funkier side of Russ Little is heard on Cold Duck Time, a 1969 tune that finds Phil Dwyer in an Eddie Harris mode. Little's Caribbean background outs itself on the calypso-flavoured original little Prince, while straight-ahead swingers like the opening Undecided and Eugene Amara's Out On A limb get your toes tapping. Russ Little's intention with this release was to show what he can do, play some good tunes and have fun. He's managed all three. Ted O'Reilly Dave Holland: Live in Freiburg (DVD) Dave Holland Quintet Euroarts DVWW - JDHQN -i __ I_ I ltt I I I J\ ,'I I I I 11 \If I\ I --.JJf- MISTER'S - >-t- MASTERING HOUSE This live performance by bassist Dave Holland's quintet, filmed in 1986 at the Zelt-Musik-Festival in Freiburg, offers an hour of stimulating improvised music. What was arguably the best of Holland's various quintets has Kenny Wheeler on trumpet and flugelhorn, Robin Eubanks, trombone; Steve Coleman, alto saxophone, and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums. David Holland works in much the same way Charles Mingus did. He enjoys '·the controlled freedom" that was the earmark of the late bassist/ composer/bandleader's music. And with sidemen/colleagues like the ones he has here the music breathes and develops in a naturally flowing, organic manner. The horn players work together beautifully. The combination of Kenny Wheeler's logical improvising, Steve Coleman's earthy alto, and Robin Eubanks' forthright trombone makes for an unbeatable front line. Wheeler's a no-nonsense player with a gorgeous tone on both his horns while Steve Coleman 's a natural storyteller with a most distinctive sound. And Robin Eubanks is delightful. He brings a forthright, bristling, approach to an instrument not heard nearly as often as it should be in today's jazz. DIGITAL EDITING CD MASTERING • OPEN REEL & CASSETTE TRANSFERS · CONTACT: 96/24 CAPABILITY KARLMACHAT 416 503 3060 OR 647 227 KARL MISTERS.MASTERS@SYMPATICO.CA GOLD RECORDS JUNO AWARDS Snapshot Russ Little Rhythm Tracks RT-CD 0006 Toronto trombonist Russ Little was a front-rank studio player/composer/arranger (he wrote the SCTV theme) who got off the music scene entirely for a few years, but has recently picked up his horn again. I believe thi s is the first record under his own name, so Little has made sure Snapshot reflects all his interests and directions in jazz: a bit o'this, a bit o'that. His co-producer drummer/percussionist Brian Barlow anchors the rhythm section with Tom Szczesniak on piano (and accordion on one track) and Scott Alexander on bass. Gu itar work is spread among Rob Piltch, Lorne D ECEMBER 1 2005 - FEBR UARY 7 2006 2" analog/24 bit digital recording & mastering Great live room in old movie theatre Yamaha Grand Piano Hammond M3 & Leslie Milestone Drums per hour Call for a coffee and tour WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 79

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