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Volume 11 Issue 7 - April 2006

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  • April
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Gombert - Magnificat I,

Gombert - Magnificat I, Salve Regina Oxford Camerata; Jeremy Summerly Naxos 8.557732 Gombert - Missa Media Vita In morte Sumus The Hilliard Ensemble ECM B0005917-02 When I first heard of Gombert, I asked whether it tasted best with a light cracker or a baguette. I made space for it in my cheese drawer, next to my Camembert and my Stilton. But no! Upon further inspection Gombert is not a cheese at all , but a composer. He wrote during the somewhat mysterious ti me between Josquin and Palestrina, and was forgotten by music historians for too many years. "Why?" you ask. "Is it because he was arrested for pederasty while serving in the court of Emperor Charles V of Spain, and banished to the High Seas?" How very strange that you should know that, while here I was thinking he was a sort of cheese. These two recordings take on the daunting task of reviving the works of Nicolas Gombert for modem audiences. The Oxford Camerata (directed by Jeremy Summerly) brings to life some of his more luscious works for eight and more voices. The direction and quality of the performance is beautiful and easy to follow. The pieces themselves are complex in an entirely satisfying and understandable way. The Hilliard Ensemble concentrates on Gombert's works for six or fewer voices, what with there only being six members of the group. The signature sound of this ensem- 68 DISCS REVIEWED ble is so stunning and fitting to this music that I fear I will never again be able to hear it any other way. The ensemble's bass (Robert Macdonald) has a voice that could non-surgically remove your solar plexus without you realizing it. I was left breathless. Each recording contains an interpretation of Musae Jovis, an epitaph for Gombert's teacher Josquin Desprez. Interestingly, in a moment where the words declare that 'Josquin speaks,' the music is suddenly recognizably eighty to one hundred years older. There were no flies on this genius, pederast or no. So I heartily recommend that you buy a fresh baguette, dust off your cheese plate and try a little Gombert with your crackers. Gabrielle McLaughlin Vivaldi - Gloria; Bach - Magnificat Martin Pearlman; Boston Baroque Telarc CD-80651 Clurit1 ,\ 1, 1;.i,11 i ri c ,1 t Boston Baroque consists of some of the finest instrumentalists in that city. The singers are of no lower a caliber, and yet the director does not Ii ve up to the same standard. This CD of some of the most important and frequently performed music of the Baroque era does an admirable job of presenting the pieces. As an exercise in accuracy, it is notable. The players, the choir and the soloists are all very good, so I listened to the CD thinking: " My, they are all very good." With so many recordings of the Bach Magnificat and the Vivaldi Gloria to choose from , however, "My, they are all very good" isn 't really the most exciting thing to think. Martin Pearlman has at his behest some of the most energetic and virtuosic musicians, and yet the disc boasts only of a good performance. The vitality of the compositions is lost in a sea of mannerisms that become staid and predictable. WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM Although I was not completely blown away by the drama and passion of this recording, I was duly impressed by the musicianship with which it was executed. The choir particularly attempts to break out from beneath the thumb of Mr. Pearlman, betraying some hidden emotion behind the words. I would not be surprised ifwe were soon to learn of a choral mutiny in Boston Baroque. Gabrielle McLaughlin Concert Note: The Oakville Children's Choir performs Vivaldi 's Gloria on April 8. Mozart - Exsultate Jubilate Carolyn Sampson; Choir of King's Consort; Robert King Hyperion CDA67560 Just when you thought you might be all Mozart-feted out - think again: the new Hyperion re lease featuring Carolyn Sampson with the King's Consort under Robert King's direction is decisively five-star calibre. Every once in a while a voice comes along in early Baroque music that literally penetrates my pores and I feel as if J could never get enough. Lucky for me, Sampson has all but cornered the market on early Baroque repertoire. This is her twelfth disc on the Hyperion label - she's recorded the biggees (Handel, Haydn, Monteverdi, Vivaldi , Rameau) and ventured into the hard-core aficionado fare with Zelenka and Schelle. As someone who grew up as a chorister in many an Exsultate, jubilate - I'm just thrilled to have a disc for one-stop listening. I had a hard time pulling highlights, as every track is truly worthy. The album is book-ended by Mozart's two settings of Regina ceoli KI 08 and K 127 - both written when the great master was still in his mid-teens. It's fun to listen to each, one after the other - their resemblances tally more than their differences, but the subtle changes in instrumentation and sheer compositional genius are brilliant. The other double-set works on the di sc are the Laudate Dominum K339 and K32 I. These couldn' t be more different in mood, tone, and technical demands for the soloist. The first is tempered and sublime without being sombre, the second reaches a celebratory note that buoys the soul. In a word, simply superlative (ok, two words). Heidi McKenzie Hurko - Vespers Vydubychi Church Chorus; Volodymys Viniar Right Angel Records "The landscape of Ukrainian choral music today is very motley" writes a prominent Ukrainian academic in the notes of this new recording. "The creativity of Roman Hurko fills a unique, original place in this landscape ... [his] creativity safeguards for us the greatness of tradition". Tradition is at the very heart of this setting of the first part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church All Night Vigil. Canadian born Roman Hurko makes liberal use of traditional chant and it's clear that his writing is completely at the service of the Service and is, at its best, the beautifully crafted work of an artisan. There are obvious comparisons to be made with the famous setting of the Orthodox Vespers by Sergei Rachmaninoff, which has somewhat oddly made its way into the standard repertoire of western choirs and turns up in performance regularly in the major choral centres of North America. While Hurko's setting is lush and passionate, it lacks the variety and subtlety of Rachmaninoff. That being said, there is a I ushness and mesmerising quality to Hurko's music that is very attractive if one shuts one's brain off and lets the music connect directly to the soul. The performance by the Vydubychi Church Chorus of Kiev is committed, polished and technically assured. We are rarely treated to performances by Eastern European choirs in Toronto, but when we are, we're reminded of the freedom and deep connection of the voice to the rest of the body that these choristers exemplify. These APRI L 1 - M AY 7 2006

qualities are present in this recording in spades. The sound will involuntarily bring the listener to tears. Larry Beckwith Editor's Note: Roman Hurko' s CDs are distributed by the Canadian Music Centre (www.musiccentre.ca). I'm happy to report that Manze gets it absolutely right at every turn in this beautiful recording. I soappreciated the special sounds of the period winds and horns and the aural colours they create in their various combinations. And Manze' s own playing is beautifully transparent without losing technical assuredness. He takes wonderful risks with tempo, dynamics and rhythmic accents (especially in the rustic last movement ofK. 219). Larry Beckwith Ill jjj jjj jjj jjj jjj jjj jjj jjj \mi' \mi' m\l \mi' \mi' NAXOS ///II Ill/I /11/11//111/11/ OF CANADA LTD • Over 3,000 titles • All digital recordings • New recordings and compositions monthly • Critical acclaim in all key classical publications • Featuring great Canadian artists All this at an astonishingly Low price! The world's leading Classical Music label! . \ !{ ,o I. I) ( h~·1 lt1n·,, I >p. S Mozart - Three Violin Concertos Andrew Manze; The English Concert Harmonia Mundi HMU 807385 Violinist Andrew Manze has emerged as one of the most exciting period performers on the stage today. In his formative years, he studied violin with Marie Leonhardt and Simon Standage, then spent a number of years as the Associate Director of the Academy of Ancient Music (injecting some badly needed energy into their ranks at the time!). He succeeded Trevor Pinnock as the Director of The English Concert in 2003 and has been taking them from strength to strength ever since. At the same time, his recital career (with harpsichordist Richard Egarr) and guest directorships of many ensembles has meant that his special inventiveness and spontaneity has reached a wide audience. This new recording of Mozart violin concertos numbers 3, 4 and 5 (K. 216, 218 and 219) is a superb vehicle for Manze's talents, not only as a soloist, but as an orchestral leader. In these pieces, the 19-year-old Mozart displays an astonishing command of orchestration and knowledge of the possibilities of each of the instruments he employs. Unfortunately, modern-day performers sometimes get impatient with the delicacy and balance needed to bring off satisfying performances of these works. APRIL 1 - M AY 7 2006 Schubert - Symphony No.9 Berliner Philharmoniker; Simon Rattle EMI 3 393822 This is not a symphony about brotherhood or victory. Perhaps it's a symphony about music - music, not just as the "holy art" of the famous Schubert lied, but as a force that can both delight and terrify. In recordings past and present, timings vary from 45'20" to 63'35": a matter of observance or non-observance of repeats, rather than tempo variance. Rattle's Berliners give a generous 57' 43 "; they include the long repeat of movement 1 and most (not all) marked repeats in movement 3, and ignore the cuts sometimes made in the finale. The initial horn passage is suitably inviting, played warmly and with due attention to its 2-bar pianissimo echo. The oboe solo in movement 2 has a nice woodsy acidity . The trombones range from soft and lyrical to snarly (that unexpected eruption before the long silence in movement 2). The strings deliver their core figure in movement 3 with irresistible crispness. A couple of seasons ago the Globe and Mail, reporting on Rattle's New York appearance, called him the world's greatest conductor. The present cover photo seems to endorse that notion. As to any live appearance in Toronto, the Globe stringer said, "Forgeddaboudit." Those who, like me, paid an arm and a leg to hear the announced performance of this great John Tavener lament for Jerusalem Choir of London & Orchestra Jeremy Summerly, conductor 8557826 (,l 11 IH \II Sil ()\- \l~LI· "\ 11' \ \l.nin1,,! '11Jul•l_l nh 111r',:m··.i \ l.u\'l. l., l",mottd • l'qit· 1- u 1u J1 1!i.,',:1mill.i11 • C,r1., ... 1:u:1, 1." I"" Guitar Music of Argentina, Volume 2 Victor Villadangos, guitar 8557658 \ \(;~ El{ l 'n 1> ''· ,tH•< ' l( .;o ""'"" • J ,,,.,, h ,·,; '-i I. l•·•;t, I '>ILl !I !;. I I • "t., 11'< ·!1 !,, .t, 1 .. 111 .. 1 /.,,.:n,,,1, '-1101'~. ! I Richard Wagner Das Rheingold Staatsoper Stuttgart Lothar Zagrosek, conductor 8660170-71 Samuel Arnold Overtures, Op. 8 Toronto Chamber Orchestra Kevin Mallon, conductor 8557484 MOZART 1{1 q11i,·1 \U :111 • ll uh T • l ll m .urn • ~ri d l ( ' n , m 11ll, .11,.l,11:1111a1 d 1,., I ,i1J1i~,.,. " •11:un,·ru, , h,,1,r \J.,,•1,·11 '-c l1H!,t1.Jn1"'" Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Requiem Gew and h aus Kam mere h or Leipziger Kammerorchester Morten Schuldt-Jensen, conductor 8557728 BAUi \ 1 \l:Ht li t n l':1,,i111 1 1,., 1., ·,1,, - , .i,, · 1 .,., . , .... ..,••.,,. I.. ,., 1, -.,t,,l,, •\f,,l',,!lo I ""' 1,,, .1, .. ,1 .. .,1.. , 11, ·

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