7 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 4 - December 2005

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Concert note: Reg

Concert note: Reg Schwager and Guido Basso perform with Mike Murley, Tara Davidson and Steve Wallace at Glenn Gould Studio on February 7. POT POURRI a heavy use of overdubs, which means the disc is quite orchestral in scope. "Vivace" is a fantastic solo exercise that works on every conceivable level. Tom Sekowski movements featuring an evocative and skillfully realized vocalize by D.B. Boyko, there is much contrast in uttered text and musical texture in this work. This is surely a contemporary gamelan classic. I've heard this group before but never to greater musical advantage and sonic beauty than on this CD. Andrew Timar Vivace Claude Lamothe Analekta AN 2 9808 It's rather odd that in the press materials that tout this album, we ' re made to believe that the cello has been overlooked by musicians for centuries? Which musicians are they referring to? Rock musicians? Avant-garde crowd? I've heard plenty of cellos being utilized in my years of digging through musical recordings and nowhere have I found reticence towards this gorgeous instrument. Canadian cellist Claude Lamothe fell in love with his instrument a long time ago and his Analekta debut "Vivace" only reinforces that bond. The thing that grabbed me about this recording is its liveliness and lack of sombre and down-trodden themes. From the breezy, almost hummable See You ... through to the uplifting crescendos on Dia a Dia: Tango Nocturno, Claude's music (most of these pieces were penned by him) is something to sing about. When a dour moment takes over - as it does during the pensive La Cathedrale de Bourges - it lasts a bare few minutes. It almost serves as a reminder that he's playing "classical" music - something that has a long history and something that most listeners are all too serious about. The beauty of the record lies in the delicacy ofLamothe's approach. His playing tends to be awfully fragile which means that his ear seems to be concentrating on details and nuances. The way he approaches a piece like Eine Walzer is tremendous - underp Jayed and stark at once. But don ' t be fooled by al I the delicacy as Lamothe in fact favours 82 New Nectar - New Music for Javanese Gamelan Gamelan Madu Sari Songlines CD SGL 24042 ( The elegantly digitized picture ofa section of a Javanese gong on the cover is an appropriate visual metaphor for the music inside - a contemporary take on the centuries-old Central Javanese gamelan (orchestra) tradition. Gamelan Madu Sari (formed in the wake of Expo '86) is the name of the set of instruments and, in true gamelan tradition, also the name oft he group of musicians playing it (as well as singing with it). The first such ensemble on the west coast of Canada, Gamelan Madu Sari has for over 19 years presented its own concerts. It has also been actively hosting musicians, as well as dance and puppet masters from Indonesia; however New Nectar marks its first and welcome foray into commercial recording. The six compositions on this lush-sounding CD, while played on two different gamelan from central Java, are composed and idiomatically and stylishly performed by Vancouver-based musicians. Given limited space, I can only mention here what for me is the most fully realized composition and performance here - the three movement Dreams He is a Ba ll of Fire ... Or A Hummingbird, by Kenneth Newby. Starting off like a gentle ball of fire, the majestic first movement is scored for full Javanese gamelan and clearly speaks volumes of the composer's confident mastery of writing fo r gamelan instruments and the game Ian's idiosyncratic musical language. At times an ebullient stream of bubbling, interlocking figuration, and in other WWW.THEWHOLEN OTE.COM Paris to Kyiv Alexis Kochan; Fragmenti Olesia Records AKBCD 05 Paris to Kiev is the brainchild of Winnipeg singer Alexis Kochan. Combining the ancient and the modern, she draws from a rich tradition of Ukrainian music, mystic prayer and ritual, folk poetry, medieval Slavonic chant, Carpathian fiddle music, and interweaves these traditions with elements of jazz, new music and influences of western Europe. In a recent interview she describes this fourth album by the group, as a conceptual whole made up of fragments representing the past. A psychologist by training, she uses these fragments in the same manner that memories of our life cycle rise up from the psyche on a cathartic journey reminding us of youth, sexuality, burdens of a soul bound to the human body, and of mortality. The unique voicings in this ensemble representing the Ukrainian tradition include the sopilka(a wooden block-flute made from elder) and the bandura (a hybrid instrument combining characteristics of the lute and harp) played by Julian Kytasky as well as overtone singing by Alan Schroeder with Michael Thompson. Added to the mix are producer Richard Moody on viola and guitar (electric & acoustic), percussionists Christian Dugas and Rodrigo Munoz and fretless bassist Paul Yee. Alexis Kochan's singing is painted with soft, evocative hues to gently draw our deepest yearnings, and invite us in the fi nal song, to rest for the soul. Dianne Wells Le cercle de I' extase La Schola Saint-Gregoire; Omar Sarmini & the Alep Oriental Orchestra Atma ACD2 2361 The concept behind this recording is superb, timely and relevant. In today's unsettled world, we are bombarded daily with the horrors ofreligious intolerance, this CD stands out as a gesture of reconci 1- iation. As the liner notes state, this is a musical and spiritual dialogue between two religions- Sufism (the mystic aspect of Islam) and Christianity. Both are based on very similar principles, including belief in the same God and the reading of sacred texts (the Qur'an and the Bible respectively). More specifically, these performers are all holy men: Christian monks from Quebec and Sufi dervishes from Syria. Their encounter here is certainly something quite unusual from a musical and devotional perspective. So, how exactly do they meld these two rather different traditions? In general, the Sufis dominate the musical texture with their elaborately ornamented solo vocal lines, choir, instrumental interludes - including the viol in, oud (lute), kanoun (zither) and ney (flute) - and distinct, mesmerizing, drum beat. By contrast, the Gregorian chant displays less sonic variety, being purely vocal and delivered in that very poised and serene style which we have come to associate with Christian liturgical music. Very often the chant is interspersed with the Sufi music, seemingly in the background, while the beautiful vocal improvisations of Omar Sarmini are placed in the forefront of the mix. The modal differences between the two traditions are carefully and cleverly negotiated in order to give relati vely seamless transitions back and fo rth. All the musicians are exemplary, and the performance feels completely comfortable and effortless. This CD demonstrates music's special capacity to transcend religious and cultural barriers - particularly pertinent during this season of goodwill. Annette Sanger D ECEM BER 1 2005 - F EBRUAR Y 7 2006


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