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Volume 11 Issue 7 - April 2006

  • Text
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Arts
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Concerto
  • Choir

hythmically inventive

hythmically inventive shout choruses to evoke a 50's swing feel , while harmonic and melodic shifts pull the work into the present. Ironically, the clarinet solos often begged for the restatement of an intricately arranged melody and Rene Lussier is underused on guitar, with quick glimpses of his amazing talent often drowned in a sea of reeds. But these are minor quibbles on what is a truly original tribute to an idiosyncratic clarinet pioneer. "Let's Cool One" is a duo recording from bassist Frederic Alarie and guitarist John Gearey. Recorded on the premises of Montreal's Savannah restaurant sans audience, the CD captures the duo as they would perform for the Sunday brunch crowd at their regular gig. The label (Fidelio) proudly boasts that this is a record for their soft jazz fans, and the album does succeed at fulfilling these modest goals. This is well recorded straight ahead jazz for the brunch set with interesting arrangements of standards with the bass often taking the melodic lead and fine inside the box soloing from the duo. Tyler Hornby's "Shadows of a Brighter Day" features solid writing and expert playing from a crack band featuring Canada's perennial tenor sax man Mike Murley and fine Vancouver trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Murley is solid and distinctive in his solos, while Jensen's lyrically melodic yet punchy playing makes for some fine listening. The rhythm section is tight with Hornby powering out the arrangements on drums giving the session an upto-date Art Blakey feel, with strong melodic compositions and fine aggressive blowing. The weak link may be in the chordal structure of the compositions, which can drift into a vague modal area that leaves one wishing for the return of the melody to make sense of it all . Richard Underhill POT POURRI Touch Wood Mark Duggan Independent VMCD003 (www .markduggan.com) This outstandingly well-recorded CD highlights Mark Duggan's mastery of the marimba - his nimble articulation, his sensitive command of a broad spectrum of timbres. The repertoire leans towards a kind of pattern-music whose quirky ostinatos and droning harmonies are of South American derivation. The most developed number in this category is the title piece, "Touch Wood. " Its ostinato is immediately engaging, and as its two parts open into fuller harmony and ignite a short cadenza you wonder how two hands are managing all this, though no overdubbing is cited in the notes. The vaudeville ending is neat. Bill Brennan's Alegria, calls for two marimbas (Brennan and Duggan). Its rhythms explore novel paths: one part keeps going while the other slows down, speeds up, or goes briefly and Reichishly outof-phase, yet the music never sheds its Latin dance character. Two longer tracks depart into more comp I icated territory. The quartal harmony of bois sculpte establishes quick marimba patterns and then adds eerie long-held bassclarinet notes - like a close-up superimposed on a crowd scene. Myo Tokugi bases its fresher harmonies on oriental models, and offers the most dramatic work on the disc, progressive in the sense of constantly pushing forward and making you wonder what's next. For contrast there are four interludes (1 minute or so each) played by Duggan on Indonesian percussion, differently tuned . Here the irregular shivers, shimmers, spurts, and speech-like phrases feel freer and more flexible than the marimba pieces. John Beckwith Buscando mi voz Nicolas Hernandez Independent NH-2005 Guitarist Nicolas Hernandez is a true product of his environment. Born and raised in Canada, he has absorbed some of the many styles of music that make up the modern Canadian musical landscape : blues, Middle Eastern and, in particular, East Indian scales all show their influence on his debut recording Buscando Mi Voz . But because Nicolas was born to Spanish parents, flamenco has made the deepest imprint. Traditional flamenco has very rigid parameters that dictate the songs' form, and for musicians like Nicolas who are creating modern flamenco, these stylistic dicta can pose a problem: How do you create something new and original that is still authentic? Nicolas has wellestablished flamenco guitar skills gained through over 25 years of studying with Spanish guitar masters and lately playing with Canada's own guitar phenom, Jesse Cook, and acting as Musical Director of the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company. Where he is finding his voice, as the title of the disc states, is via exploration and collaboration with musicians from a variety of musical traditions. This is best illustrated by Raga por Bulerias, a haunting blend of an East Indian melodic phrase (the raga) and a traditional 12/8 flamenco form (the bulerias) which features tabla player Ravi Naimpaly. The eight original songs on the disc are sparsely populated , sometimes with only percussion and palmas accompanying Nicolas's lush, melodic playing. Local "world music" luminaries Art Avalos and Ernie To liar add congas and bansuri (bamboo flute) and Jesse Cook guests on cajon (box) . Violinist Chris Church, who has apparently been playing enough flamenco to earn himself a Spanish nickname - 'El Cri', plays on two tracks here. This beautiful disc may be found at L' Atelier Grigorian or www.nicolashernandez.com Cathy Riches Camino Oliver Schroer Big Dog Music BD0601 In 2004, the lanky Canadian violinist Oliver Schroer and several friends packed their bags and walked for two months and 1, 000 km on the Camino de Santiago. This "Camino" of the CD title is an ancient pilgrimage trail that dates back to the 9th century and stretches from southern France to Spain. Schroer carried his rich-sounding, five-string David Papazian violin in his backpack. He also lugged two compact mobile recording studios. One was for ambient sounds - bells, bees, birds, walking feet - and the other for recording his violin playing in about 25 churches and cathedrals along the Camino. Schroer's previous CDs seemed edgier, filled with fast passages in complex, odd meters. Here, one hears consonant, slow-moving melodies, no doubt influenced by the long decay time in the stone churches he found. His unusual and eloquent slow vibrato, which he uses to fine emotional effect at the end of phrases, adds extra poignancy. On repeated listening, distinctly Bachian layered lines began to emerge, so I wrote to Schroer, and asked him. He replied that "I grew up listening to the Hendryk Szerying recordings of the [Bach] solo partitas and sonatas. I have sometimes described the style of these pieces as 'folk partitas' . The music [recorded on "Camino"] was my prayer in many ways. It was a thread stitching together the many thousands of steps we took on this trip. " That accurately sums up the works of this evocative and meditative CD, which runs a full gamut from fully pre-composed to inspired improvised material. It was a pleasure to be an ear-witness on a part of Schroer' s journey. For Oliver's fascinating Camino diary, complete with photos, visit www. ol iverschroer .com. Andrew Timar 76 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM A PR IL 1 - M AY 7 2006

Concert Note: Oliver Schroer is the featured guest of the Toronto Consort in its final program of the year "The Journey to Santiago" at Trinity St. Paul's Centre April 28 and 29. Gravitas John Dubinski; John Kameel Farah Independent ( www .galaxydynamics.org) Collaborations between computer animators and keyboardist/composers are still relatively rare events. When they do occur, a rich harvest of sounds and images is expected. Gravitas is not a CD, but a video DVD. Remember Koyannasqatsi? You cannot just listen to this as a piece of music; you must watch images and hear the music simultaneously. The adventurous Gravitas project features collaborations between cosmologist/animator John Dubinski and keyboardist/composer John Kameel Farah (www.johnfarah.com). There's a serenity to Dubinski's morphing of nebular globs, calculated to simulate the complex interaction resulting when two or more stellar masses come into close proximity, just as our own Andromeda galaxy continues to be spiraling outwards. For those interested in the short theoretical explanation, Dubinski includes a brief treatise in the notes. John Kameel Farah is remembered for his most fiery Music Gallery debut in the late 1990's when he gave a performance using Eve Egoyan's concert grand. His music for Gravitas is a much different oeuvre: simple structures of electronic textures which rarely stray from their opening tonality, but do not intrude overmuch. The use of synthetic drum sounds is questionable, but the percussionless majority is easy on the ears. Spiral Metamorphosis in particular owes something to Eno's collaborations with Robert Wyatt (Music for Airports). A most collectable 44-minute DVD, but the review copy as received wouldn't play in all DVD players. John S. Gray APRIL 1 - M AY 7 2006 OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES I wonder how many of us have attended a performance that transcended all expectations and now lodges in our memory of unforgettable experiences. I have only a few to recall but there is no doubt at all that those who attended a performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto on the evening of January 3rd 1967 in Prague wil I never forget what they witnessed. Fine Old Recordings Re-Released by Bruce Surtees Here was the 21 year old Jacqueline du Pre with her dear friend Sir John Barbirolli conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing a score that was close to both their hearts. That perfor­ Bchi;-o:s-1 - = . •a, mance was recorded by the BBC and now licensed to Testament, who has coupled it with the first and second Bach Suites for unaccompanied cello recorded by Du Pre during January of 1962 [SB T 1388]. t'litl111 Jacq ioe lh11e du Pr.e [ _. Eb!! ~i-:i~u---.-­ This_is worlds apart from other cellists energetically playmg all the notes in the right order. Here is a celebration of Elgar, wherein du Pre is playing from inside the score, realizing the vision beyond the dots on the page. There are some less than perfect passages in the orchestra, but this adds to the It was the 1967 movie, "Elvira Madigan" that introduced the unwashed masses to Mozart's 21st piano concerto, the second movement of which was orchestra rather than them playing against each other. The well balanced sound is in the best Decca tradition. One of the most sought - after Sviatoslav Richter collections was never available from any of the usual suppliers. Permission to issue any recordings of the now legendary Carnegie Hall concerts from October 19 to 30, I 960 was vehemently withheld by Richter himself and the only recordings to be heard were from private sources. A box of six well filled CDs from Doremi [DHR 7864-9, mono] contains all there is to be had from those five evenings in satisfactory sound ... not studio quality but quite acceptable to Richter compleatists. Check the contents at www.Doremi.com. The enclosed notes are by the late cellist Peter Schenkman who reminisces about his career and Richter's arrival upon the world scene. DG has reissued the Beethoven nine symphonies with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic on DVD [440 0734107 3DVDs]. This set presents Karajan's excitement and reality of this super-human way w_ith Beethoven between 1967 and 1972, performance. How fulfilling this must have been for predatmg Sony's five individual DVDs which all concerned. Of her four available performances of document 'performances' during 1982-84. The the concerto, this one is the most powerful. method of makmg these videos was for conductor Jacqueline du Pre gave her all to whatever she and orchestra to make a perfect audio recording played and the Bach Suites which accompany the and then create a video p_erformance to concerto on this disc are no Jess committed and synchronize with 1t. In this way close-ups and individual. Also of interest, there is a very moving montages, some of them outrageously artistic, not documentary on DVD from OpusArte [CN 0902 DJ possible to do live, can be created. This said, these entitled Jacqueline du Pre in Portrait which ~e extra-ordmary performances, full of vitality and follows her from childhood to post-career teacher elan the e_qual of, or better than, any of Karajan 's and includes a complete Elgar concerto conducted commercial audio-only recordings. The sound, now by her husband and Beethoven's Ghost Trio with expanded to 5: I _surround, is far more dynamic and Barenboim and Zukerman. ahve than earlier issues. The three discs are available separately as symphonies 1,2,3; 4,5,6; and ~ 7,8,9. MO ZART heard throughout the three- Kleenex tale of a circus performer, Elvira Madigan and her doomed love affair with her army officer. Geza Anda's 1961 recording was used in the movie and DG quickly completed the whole cycle with Anda, available now as a boxed set [DG 469510, 8cds]. While there are quite a few sets ofpianistdirected performances, Perahia, Buchbinder, and Barenboim, it is the Ashkenazy cycle that I enjoy most and it is now in a slim-line box at a special price [Decca 4768904, 10 CDs]. In these recordings, made with the English Chamber Orchestra and the Philhannonia from 1966 to 1988, there are attractive dialogues between soloist and WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM Note: Sony has a DVD of the Eroica outside of their cycle recorded live on the occasion of the Jubilee concert celebrating the orchestra's I 00 years. The date was April 30, I 982 and this is truly a 'you are there' Ii ve, over the top performance, in stunning sound [SYD 48434]. If you never attended a Karajan concert this disc conveys much of the experience. While only 55 minutes, this is a must have DVD. Bruce Surtees 77

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