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Volume 11 Issue 7 - April 2006

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EDITOR'S CORNER By the

EDITOR'S CORNER By the time you read this the April 2"d JUNO presentations may have already taken place, but I want to clarify something we printed last month in the list of nominated Classical recordings. Anton Kuerti's recording of Brahms concertos was included but it seems that after we went to press it was decided that the Analekta disc was not eligible as it was a re-issue of an earlier recording. Moved up from "also ran" is Arion Ensemble's Telemann recording "Tutti Flauti". Our review appeared in the July 2005 issue (and is of course still available on-line at www.thewholenote.com). We missed three of the classical nominees in our coverage over the past 18 months, but that has been rectified in this issue. Please see John S. Gray's review of cellist Denise Djokic's "Folk Lore" , nominated in the solo and chamber music category, in our Classical and Beyond section. The other two, nominated in the Best Classical Composition category, are Robert Turner's Symphony for Strings and Brian Cherney's Illuminations which both appeared on the four CD set "Ovation Volume 4" (CBC Records PSCD 2029-4). I have a feeling that the lock-out at the CBC last summer explains why we did not previously receive this companion volume to the Centrediscs Canadian Composer Portraits devoted to Turner, Cherney, Ann Southam and Istvan Anhalt (all of which have been reviewed in these pages). The Turner disc includes three selections with the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, including the nominated Symphony for Strings, a woodwind quintet and a piece for winds, strings and piano. Brian Cherney is represented by the nominated Illuminations performed by I Musici de Montreal, Into the Distant Stillness with Esprit Orchestra, a woodwind quintet, a solo piano piece and a string trio. It is a bit strange to realize that the JUNO category of Best Classical Composition is open to works written anytime over the past half century. Turner's string symphony is a classic work of its time ( 1960) and genre, with lots of dark brooding textures and lush timbres interspersed with occasional angular, strident sections. Strong as it is however, it is a dated work. So is the technology that was used to record it and unfortunately there is some distortion in the high and loud sections. Cherney's work is also for string orchestra, but it was written in 1987 and is much more recognizable as music of our own time. The orchestra is divided in two, with one group sometimes giving commentary on the other. The opening reminded me of a forest at dawn, an aural landscape that gets busier and busier as the birds awaken on all sides. Recorded in 1992, I Musici is captured in full clarity of sound. (Concert Note: Brian Cherney is currently serving as the Michael and Sonja Koerner Distinguished Visitor in Composition at the Univerisity of Toronto. On Wednesday April 5"' he will give a free noon-hour lecture/demonstration and on April 8'" the U ofT Wind Ensemble will premiere a new work commissioned for the occasion.) The fourth disc of the "Ovation" set provides the marvelous opportunity to hear three of Canada's great singers in their prime, in the 1976 recording of Anhalt's La Tourangelle with Phyllis Mailing, Mary Morrison and Roxolana Rosiak. This hourlong music theatre piece, one of Anhalt's most important works, also includes "commentary" by tenor Albert Greer and baritone Gary Relyea, a large intrumental ensemble conducted by Marius Constant and tape. The accompanying work, Cento (Cantata Urbana), is a dramatic setting of Eldon Greer's words from "An Ecstacy", for 12 voices and 2 channels of pre-recorded vocal and electronic sounds performed by the Tudor Singers of Montreal. All in all I think that the gentlemen are very well served by these recordings. In the case of Ann Southam however I question the choice to include only electronic compositions. With the Centrediscs Portrait focusing exclusively on the solo piano series Rivers and CBC's "Ovation" presenting only the tape compositions written as dance scores, we are given a very narrow picture of a composer with much broader interests, even though these are important sides of her creative work. Of course the excellent documentary that is included with the Portrait set does give us excerpts from other aspects of Southam's work, but snippets hardly suffice. The choice of sticking exclusively to the electronic works here could also be disputed on the grounds that four of the five pieces were already available on the CD "Seastill" (Furiant FMDC 4604-2). Better they had mixed things up a little and presented us with, for instance, Eve Egoyan 's marvelous performance of Southam's Figures with the strings of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from the broadcast recording of the Massey Hall New Music Festival performance back in 2001 . An opportunity sadly missed. Last month's cover story mentioned Kevin Mallon's extensive discography on the Naxos label. This month brought another two releases to the table, a pair of discs that illustrate the faith that Naxos has in Mallon. Pachelbel's Canon aside, Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks (Naxos 8.557764) likely rival Bach's Brandenberg Concertos and Vivaldi's Four Seasons as the most recorded works of the baroque era. This is at least the third recording on the II\ \IJl,,I. Naxos label alone, following releases \r.ub.,lu 11·1 · k, ,,,\'.,,I;, by the Prague Chamber Soloists and Capella Istropolitana. Obviously Naxos founder Klaus Heymann must feel that Mallon's Aradia Ensemble has something new and important to say about these works and I must say I agree - these old warhorses feel fresh and vibrant under Mal­ Ion's baton. At another end of the spectrum is a CD of symphonies by a Viennese composer who flourished in the second half of the 18"' century and who, in spite of several years spent researching the CJRT radio program Music Before 1800, I must confess is a new one on me. It seems Karl von Ordonez ( 1734-1786) was a nobleman by birth and a musician by avocation. Among his distinctions was being one of the first members of the Tonktinstler-Societat, a concert society dedicated to raising money for the widows and orphans of musil,.11l\,11l OIWO\J /. cians. Ironically, Ordonez spent the last three years of his life in sickness and poverty and barely escaped a pauper's grave. Although he has remained virtually unknown for two centuries, there is now a collected body of authenticated work that encompasses two operas (one for marionettes!), 27 string quartets, a violin concerto and some 73 symphonies. If the five included in this Toronto Camerata release (Naxos 8.557482) are any indication of the level of quality I would venture to say that the accepted repertoire of the early classical period is about to take a quantum leap, and Mallon proves himself once again an able and inspired navigator. While preparing for this April issue I had the pleasure of attending the launch of TSO concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch's new CD which features a talented young percussionist who happens to be Jacques' son Michael. "Hammer and Bow" (Fleur de Son FDS 57072) was given a celebratory christening with the help of L' Alliance Fran9aise and the French Consulate at Charles Pachter's architecturally stunning Pachter Hall and New 12 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM A PR I L 1 - M AY 7 2006

Moose Factory which recently reopened on Grange Ave. The French connection is a result of lsraelievitch's heritage and the fact that both he and Pachter are Chevaliers of France's 1,l ~ , ;~tHr,,.,:-:q_.:· Ordre des arts et lettres, one of that country's highest honours. Jacques and Michael performed a number of highlights from the new CD, including selections from Raymond Luedeke's Haiku-inspired Ah, Matsushima, with Basho's poetry narrated by Measha Brilggergosman. They also performed several movements from Christian Woehr's Djembach: Suite, a virtuosic composition which calls for djembe (an African drum) and is loosely based on the idea of a baroque suite of dances. As the CD does, the ecclectic program began with an arrangement for violin and marimba of Piazzola's Borde[ 1900 from L'histoire du Tango originally for flute and guitar, and ended with Srul Irving Glick's charming, soulful and celebratory A Night at Heaven '.s Gate: A Klezmer Rhapsody, written in 2000 and dedicated to Israelievitch and his wife Gabrielle. For this last selection Jacques and Michael were (and are) joined by TSO principal cellist Winona Zelenka. Concert Note: Jacques and Michael lsraelievitch give the Canadian premiere of Isle of Beautiful Illusion, a work composed for them by Alexander Levkovich, as part of the Toronto Symphony's New Creations Festival on April 5. Passover and Easter are coming up and later in these pages you will find Phil Ehrensaft's essay aboutArgentian composer Osval- do Golijov who has managed to combine both in his modern and eclectic setting of the St. Mark Passion (see Extended Play: Passover Edition). Two very different discs that tell the story of Christ on the Cross are Dietrich Buxtehude 's Membra Jesu Nastri (Harmonia Mundi HMC 901912) and James MacMillan 's Seven Last Words from the Cross (Hyperion SACD 67460). Buxtehude, the German organist Bach walked 200 miles from Arnstadt to Lubeck to hear play, wrote seven interlocking cantatas following the medieval hymn cycle Salve mundi salutare, mystical contemplations of the individual parts of the crucified Christ's body. As the cantatas progress our gaze is gradually drawn upwards from the feet, to knees, hands, pierced side, breast, heart and finally to Christ's countenance. The poetic medieval texts of each cantata, set as solo arias, are framed by biblical quotations for tutti voices and instrumental forces. Buxtehude's creation is extremely effective and moving. It is given a stunning performance by one of Europe's most respected early music vocal ensembles, Cantus Colin, under the direction of Konrad J unghanel who founded the group two decades ago. Scottish composer James MacMillan first came to my attention when Evelyn Glennie was invited by the Toronto Symphony as the percussion soloist in his 1992 orchestral Veni, veni Emmanuel. I got hooked, but mostly I confess by Glennie (who will return to perform Chen Yi's Percussion Concerto with the TSO on April I). MacMillan, like John Tavener and Arvo Part, is a deeply religious composer whose musical sensibilities can remind us of earlier periods of musical history. MacMillan's music has more of a modern density of texture and edginess than that ofTavener and Part however, and this is well exemplified in Seven Last Words. MacMillan uses texts from the liturgy (Good Friday Responsories forTenebrae and the like) as commentary on the "last words" (i.e. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do; Woman, Behold thy Son!; My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? et al) and like Buxtehude, varies the setting from soloists and small groups to the full forces of the choir and orchestra. And like Cantus Colin, Polyphony, the renowned British choral ensemble featured in this performance, is led by the man who founded the group 20 years ago, Stephen Layton. They are joined by the Britten Sinfonia for this extremely powerful performance. Like Brian Cherney mentioned above, James MacMillan will be the Koerner Distinguished Visitor in Composition at the University of Toronto next Fall. One of the conditions of the residency is a commission to compose a new work for the students. The result is Sun Dogs for massed choirs which will be performed at the Faculty of Music early in November. Speaking of the University of Toronto, I CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 ~4.ockridg_e HiFi Lockridge April Promotion "First Hi-Fi System for Music Lovers" "Musical" "Best Value" "Highly Recommended" Complete System for ,648 (Taxes Extra): Cambridge Audio 540C v2 CD Player - 9 Cambridge Audio 540A v2 Integrated Amplifier - 9 Tannoy Mercury F3 Speakers - 0 Pair • • r:=-· "' -., ,-:-, .:-1,1 · ·i n / 0 dO jud:ice to ~"(\gc; !:iovr cP, .0 N OJ 'O ,: 'O I 0 ~ 0 (.) T 0 s: _J Q) > .,: c Q) ~ "' s: www.audiolinmu sic .com - -~-~ :- · - · ~ . .! . _ ·-- · ·--- ' :-~~-_:, ~ cctL~~j;fJ: .. J-)t:lLY.~ ~-f~JLi-jf --~~-CC:_= -~·AlrD:J O -Lri'J /V\ u s~rc_: -~ APRIL 1 - M AY 7 2006 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE,COM 13

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