8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 6 - March 2006

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Chinese Traditional

Chinese Traditional Guzheng Music Liu Fang Philrnultic PMPCD801 Liu Fang already has a distinguished reputation in Canada and abroad as a performer on the Chinese pear-shaped lute, pipa. In her concerts, she also often plays the guzheng, Chinese zither, with apparently equal accomplishment, and this is her first CD devoted entirely to solo repertoire for that instrument. While on the one hand I particularly enjoyed the traditional nature of this collection, with the intriguingly descriptive titles and familiar scales, tunes and embellishments, on the other hand, a splash of something more contemporary or the inclusion of one or two other instruments here and there might have provided a welcome touch of contrast. Nevertheless, among the twelve short pieces there are examples from different places - including Chaozhou, Henan, and Shandong - as well as two compositionarrangements, Chanting of a Tiema (wind chimes) by Zhao Dengshan, and Embroidering the Golden Tapestry by Zhou Yan Jia, one of China' s greatest guzheng teachers. The gamut of moods ranges from the more serious and elegant Three Varia ­ tions of Plum Blossom and Guangling Fantasia (which both emphasize the richly resonant lower strings of the guzheng) to lighter, merry tunes such as Freedom Flowers and A Red Point. The educative accompanying notes in French by sinologist and anthropologist Lucie Rault offer a scholarly perspective on the long history of the guzheng and its music, though the English translation (by Gabriel Safdie) is a little awkward in places. Annette Sanger 2006 JUNO AWARD NOMINEES Listed by Category For albums already reviewed in WholeNote, the date of the review (year and month) follows in parentheses. Reviews may be accessed at VOCAL JAZZ Twenty For One Cadence Cadence (2005-1 O) Christmas Songs Diana Krall Verve Rock Swings Paul Anka Verve Just You, Just Me Ranee Lee Justin Time (2005-09) Sophie Milman Sophie Milman Linus CONTEMPORARY JAZZ Shurum Burum Jazz Circus David Buchbinder Monkfish (2005-12) Encuentro en la Habana Hilario Duran & Perspectiva Alma (2006-02) Radio Guantanamo (Guantanamo Blues Project Vol. 1) Jane Bunnell EMI One Take: Volume Two Marc Rogers, Robi Botos, Phil Dwyer, Terri Lyne Carrington Alma (2005-10) Yemaya Roberto Occhipinti Alma (2006-02) TRADITIONAL JAZZ Mainly Mingus Dave Young Quintet Justin Time Ill (2005-04) Ask Me Later Don Thompson Quartet CBC Records (2005-09) In a Sentimental Mood Ian McDougall Quintet Barbarian Time Flies P.J. Perry Justin Time (2005-1 O) Let Me Tell You About My Day Phil Dwyer w. Alan Jones.Rodney Whitaker Alma (2005-10) CHILDREN'S ALBUM OF THE VEAR A Butterfly In Time CMSM Concert Theatre Productions Happy All of the Time Jake Jake The Fabulous Song Michelle Campagne & Davy Gallant The Secret Mountain Canada Needs You (Volume One) Mike Ford MapleMusic Baroque Adventure.· The Quest for Arundo Donax Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Analekta (2005-12) CLASSICAL: SOLO OR CHAMBER ENSEMBLE Magic Hom Canadian Brass Opening Day (2004-12) Folklore Denise Djokic & David Jalbert Endeavor Classics J. 5. Bach: Sonates pour via/on et clavecin, Vol. 7 James Ehnes & Luc Beausejour Analekta (2005-04) Albeniz: Iberia Marc-Andre Hamelin Hyperion (2005 - 07) Awakening St. Lawrence String Quartet (EMI 2005-05) CLASSICAL: LARGE ENSEMBLE OR SOLOIST(S) WITH LARGE ENSEMBLE ACCOMPANIMENT Freitas Branco: Violin Concerto Alexandre Da Costa - Extremadura Symphony Orchestra - Jesiis Amigo XXl-21 (2005-11) J.S. Bach: Keyboard Concertos Vol. 7 Angela Hewitt - Australian Chamber Orchestra - Richard Tognetti Hyperion (2005-09) Brahms: Concertos pour piano et oeuvres pour piano seul Anton Kuerti - Orchestra Metropolitain du Grand Montreal - Joseph Rescigno Analekta (2005-06) Concerti Virtuosi Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra - Jeanne Lamon Analekta (2005-11) Beethoven: Symphonies nos. 5 et 6Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra - Bruno Weil Analekta (2005-05) CLASSICAL: VOCAL OR CHORAL Viardot-Garcia: Lieder Chansons Canzoni Mazurkas Isabel Bayrakdarian - Serouj Kradjian Analekta (2005-03) Hyver Karina Gauvin/Les Boreades - Francis Colpron ATMA (2005-12) Scarlatti: Stabat Mater Emma Kirkby, Daniel Taylor - Theatre of Early Music ATMA (2005-10) Schubert: Die schone MOllerin Michael Schade & Malcolm Martineau CBC Records (2005-09) Schubert: Winterreise Russell Braun, Carolyn Maule CBC Records (2005-12) CLASSICAL COMPOSITION OF THE VEAR Illuminations Brian Cherney OVATION 4 CBC Records (2005-11) Our Finest Hour Chan Ka Nin MAJESTIC FLAIR CBC Records (2005-03) String Quartet No. 7 (The Awakening) Christos Hatzis AWAKENING EMI (2005-05) Illuminations Peter Togni THE HEART HAS ITS REASONS Warner Classics (2005-06) Symphony for Strings Robert Turner OVATION 4 CBC Records The Golem of Bathurst Manor KlezFactor Standback Records STBK 0601 The debut CD of this Toronto based ensemble, "The Golem of Bathurst Manor" is a spirited romp off the well-beaten path of the Klezmer revival that has swept North America recently. As daring and creative as its title, this CD is not for the Klezmer traditionalist, but is rather a foray into the realm of rock and jazz. Of the ten tracks, only four are based on recognizable traditional Klezmer tunes; the rest are original compositions of bandleader Mike Anklewicz. The Golem, by the way, is a man-made (somewhat frightening) creature in Jewish folklore fashioned out of clay and brought to life for the purpose of performing menial tasks and protecting the community. Anklewicz writes that the title track was inspired by Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, in which the author weaves the legend of the Golem of Prague into his own story. What is woven in this track is a complex contrapuntal layering of electric guitar, clarinet, soprano sax and violin, over a bedrock of percussion, introduced by a jazz piano solo, with elements of chorale style harmony, a real mix of musical styles that nevertheless has cohesiveness. The track titled Naftule Brandwein is a Badass Mathematician pays tribute to the legendary Klezmer clarinetist of the earlier part of the last century; the "Mathematician" refers to the successful juxtaposition of 4/4 and 7/8 meters in the piece, and "Badass" is a tip of the hat to jazz bassist Charles Mingus. The six musicians of KlezFactor, all Conservatory trained, give polished performances throughout this well-engineered (in both the technical and musical sense) release. Anklewics displays not only a mastery of saxophones and clarinet, but arranging skills derived from formal study of com- I position. Mark Pellizzer plays a mean electric guitar, ranging from punk rock to Caribbean style. They are joined by Ali Berkok (piano and melodica) , Gregg Brennan (drums, percussion) , Jennifer Bur- 76 WWW. TH EWHOL ENOTE.COM M ARCH 1 - APRIL 7 2006

ford (violin), and Steve Gotlib (bass). Karen Ages Concert Note: KlezFactor will perform at the Free Times Cafe on March 5, and at The Bagel (285 College St.) on March 22 where they'll be joined by the York University Klezmer Ensemble. Road to Kashgar Orchid Ensemble Independent OE 2004 In my books, the Orchid Ensemble defines the very essence of "Canadian music". Two of the ensemble, Lan Tung and Mei Han, have married their traditional music and instrumentation with a hodge-podge of western, Middle Eastern and Asian delights. Each track on the CD is a journey unto itself. The musicians themselves describe the album as a set of musical landscapes of the Silk Road. In fact, the title, Road to Kashgar, references a nexus of the Silk Road in northwest China. The album criss-crosses both time and space, spanning over 2,000 years of cultural inspiration and influence, and reaching across China, India, and Persia. The 7 /8 rhythms of the title track create stunningly specific visual imagery of a caravan with Persian or Indian travelers as they approach Kasghar from the West. The two seemingly most out of context tracks are both surprising and fun: Yaribon and Bengali/a - harkening to Jewish and Bengali influences respectively. The blends are superb with just a dash of today to make this music accessible even to the world/fusion music novice. We are blessed with the guest appearance of Iranian singer, Amir Haghighi 's voice on this last track. The music has a decided Asian flavour - but the mix is a unique fusion of sound that screams: MADE IN CANADA!!!! Heidi McKenzie Concert Note: The Orchid Ensemble performs a noon-hour concert in Waterloo on March 1 in the chapel at Conrad Grebel University College. M AR CH 1 - A PR IL 7 2006 OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES On March 20, 1948 the NBC Television Network inaugurated a series of 10 concerts conducted by Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra transmitted live from their Studio 8H and later from Carnegie Hall. In 1987/88 RCA issued these concerts on the state of the art 12 11 laser discs. They appeared on DVD in Japan in July of 2002. Now, Testament has secured the rights from the Toscanini family and NBC and the entire series is available on five individual DVDs [SBDVD 1003-1007]. The camera work falls far short of today's standards but one must remember that at that time there were no zoom lenses and the cameras were almost immovable. The audio though is quite acceptable and maintains the maestro's balances, particularly in the brass and winds. Disc one contains five Wagnerian excerpts including the Prelude to Act Ill of Lohengrin; Tannhauser Overture and Bacchanal; Forest Murmurs from Siegfried; Siegfried's Rhine Journey; and The Ride of the Valkyries. Then we see a Beethoven ninth from 3 April 1948 with soprano Anne McKnight, contralto Jane Hobson, tenor Erwin Dillon and Norman Scott, bass. A young and modest Robert Shaw receives an appreciative touch from Toscanini during the final applause. The Wagner excerpts, as those in the later discs, make it clear that Toscanini well deserved his reputation as a supreme interpreter of this music. The Ninth, although not 'definitive' illuminates Maestro's radiant vision of Beethoven's extraordinary statement. Disc two has the Brahms "Double Concerto" with his first desk men, Mischa Mischakoff and Frank Miller. Toscanini's Brahms was always firm, expansive and conveyed a real feeling of inevitability. RCA posthumously issued this splendid performance on CD. Two shorter Brahms pieces follow. Toscanini's tempi and balances for Mozart proved to be exactly what the period performance pundits 'discovered' years later as witness the 40 1 h symphony on this disc. After Dvorak's Symphonic Variations there follows an electrifying Tannhiiuser Overture in dynamic sound. Disc three contains a complete concert performance of Ai"da from 26 March and 2 April 1949. The principals are Herva Nelli as Alda, Eva Gustavson as Amneris, Richard Tucker as Ramades, and Giuseppe Valdengo as Amonasro. Toscanini conducting Verdi has to be taken seriously and there is much to admire here. But, for me, concert performances of opera are not completely engaging, no matter how noble the efforts. Throughout there are excellent Fine Old Recordings Re-Released by Bruce Surtees WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE .COM images of Toscanini's technique as he directs with complete and unerring authority, without relaxing for a moment. There are no subtitles available although the Japanese edition, issued by Toshiba EMI, has embedded Japanese subtitles. Disc four has Weber's Euryanthe Overture followed by the Brahms First Symphony in which we see and hear Maestro at his legendary best. Toscanini brings the sense ofunstoppable power and yet there is the ever-present lyricism and forward motion. The extra tympani parts added to the coda of the last movement and the juggernaut energy make this performance uniquely irresistible. More Wagner follows with the Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin; Forest Murmurs; the Prelude und Liebestod from Tristan; Siegfried's Death and the Funeral March from Gotterdammerung and The Ride of the Valkyries. Special mention must be made of the vital Gotterdammerung excerpt which is unusually sharply edged in the clarity and texture of the brass. The fifth disc contains Cesar Franck's Redemption; Sibelius's ~ En Saga; two of Debussy's ,,.... Three Nocturnes; and The William Tell Overture. Also on this final disc is the tenth and final televised concert from Carnegie Hall - Beethoven's Fifth and Respighi's The Pines of Rome. So appropriate, because the Beethoven is a work he studied again and again to satisfy himself that he understood what Beethoven intended . Respighi was a friend whose works he championed while others treated them with derision. The Pines of Rome proves to be the ultimate show-stopper. I compared the picture quality on the Testament discs new with both the laser discs and the Japanese DVDs and found them to be virtually identical, still haunted selectively by a bloom around some highlights. As for the audio component, the sound is impressive - very clean and dynamic. No caveats at all here. In sum then, these five DVDs are true historic documents. Toscanini was, arguably, the last century's most esteemed conductor, about whom more books have been written than any other. However, as with other greats of his era, his recordings have been bypassed by the advances in technology and pale against what is possible today. Be that as it may, there is no Arturo Toscanini before the public today, no blinding talent standing head and shoulders above the rest. These DVDs are the last we will see of the man recognized around the world as The Maestro. Bruce Surtees 77

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