6 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 1 - September 2006

  • Text
  • Jazz
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  • September
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ecording reproduces the

ecording reproduces the singers' pacingof their performances, and mirrorsthe theatrical flow of an actual performanceof this four-hour marathon.Pam MarglesST.\ :\TO R DStanford - The Revenge; Songsof the Sea; Songs of the FleetGerald Finley; BBC NationalChorus and Orchestra of WalesRichard HickoxChandos CHSA 5043This entertaining recording featuresthree not-often-heard extended choralworks - two of which feature asolo baritone voice- by the Irish-borncomposer Charles Villiers Stanford.Known primarily for a few gemsof Anglican Church music - and forhaving taught a number of well-known20th century English composers -Stanford is a bit of an enigma otherwise.He spent time in Germany inthe late 19th century, befriendingBrahms and Offenbach, among others.But his music betrays nothing ofthe earth-shattering compositional developmentsof the tum of the century.The works on this CD span twentyyears of Stanford's career but are heldtogether thematically by a strong connectionto the sea and the adventurouslife of the sailor. Songs of theFleet and Songs of the Sea are bothsettings of the at times clunky poetryof Sir Henry Newbolt, who was aclose friend of Stanford's. The Revenge:A Ballad of the Fleet is agripping poetic tale by Tennyson thatflies along with drama and excitement,thanks to the sensational male voicesof the BBC National Chorus of Wales.The recording's star, though, is Canadianbaritone Gerald Finley, whospins the ordinary lines that Stanfordgives him into pure gold. It is thrillingto hear a singer of Finley's calibrecompletely throw himself into the taskat hand.Kudos also to Hickox and his chargeswho imbue this recording with spiritand musicianship. It is a supremetribute to Stanford's memory: Hismusic never sounded better!Larry BeckwithEDITOR' S NOTE: Gerald Finleyhas been nominated as Artist ofthe Year for the prestigious ClassicFM Gramophone Awards 2006.Finley will give a rare Toronto recitalwith Julius Drake at the piano60on March 9, 2007 at Roy ThomsonHall.EARLY MUSIC ANDPERIOD PERFORMANCEL' Ange Marais -Pieces a trois vioiesWieland Kuijken;Les Voix humainesATMA ACD2 2374One of my neighbours, and I knownot which, is an enthusiastic studentof the bagpipe. Every day, thisneighbour sits in the backyard andplays contentedly for hours at atime. It has been known to interruptrehearsals and romantic conversations,to send hearing aids flying andto cause heart attacks.All of the side effects of my pitilessneighbour's antics were as nothingto me until I tried to listen to"L' Ange Marais" - the newest CDfrom Les Voix Humaines and WielandKuijken. Marin Marais wasknown as "the angel" due to the delicatebeauty of his characteristicallyFrench compositions, which was acontrast to Antoine Forqueray's"devil"ish Italianate pieces scored forthe same instruments. Susie Napper,Margaret Little and Wieland Kuijkenare the three most refined and musicalviola da gambists the world hasto offer. Needless to say, this doesnot go well with bagpipes.The beautiful interweaving of theinstruments and exquisite musicianshipwas not lost on me, as I struggledto hear the ornate beauty of thisrecording. This is by far one of themost enticing periods in history, andMarais one of the most enticingcomposers from that period. The recordingis superior to any that I haveheard of his pieces, and the performancesare tremendous.So I say to my neighbour-you mayupset my rehearsals, deafen mygrandmother, deprive my children ofsleep and repel my lovers, but you maynot mess with my Marais. This is war.Gabrielle McLaughlinAriosti - The Stockholm Sonatas IThomas Georgi; Lucas Harris;Joelle MortonBIS BIS-CD-1535WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM__ --:-; -~~4~:.- '1 •. ,,,The music heard on this recording,represents one of the most significantcollections of baroque works for theviola d'amore. AttilioAriosti (b. Bologna1666 - d. London 1729), was asinger, organist, cellist and composer,though remembered mostly as a playerofthe viola d'amore.Since much of Ariosti's scordaturamusic was notated in tablature, whichindicates where to place one's fingers,the player still might not know whatpitch will occur because the strings arenot tuned in the traditional way! In theprogram notes, Thomas Georgi offersdetailed explanation and scholarshipas to how he solved the many performingand interpretive puzzles.This recording is beautifully balancedwith all historical instrumentssounding clear and present. The musicalsensitivity and single-mindednessof these players is magicallycaptured in this intimate ambience.These performances offer delicateshading and subtlety as a reward forthe careful listener. Because of this,the repetitions of rhythmic patterns andmelodic motifs always remain freshand spontaneous. The lilting eleganceof the slow movements and the infectioustoe-tapping rhythm of themany dance movements seem tomake the 26 tracks fly by.Frank T. NakashimaThe Musical Treasures ofLeufsta BrukDrottningholm BaroqueEnsembleBis BIS-CD-1526In the early 18th century the littleSwedish principality of Leufsta wasowned by the Dutch industrialist BaronCharles de Geer, whose alreadyimpressivemusic library continued toexpand after his move to Sweden.Drawing from this historic collection,this disc offers us a rare glimpse into18th-century Swedish musical life.The disc opens and closes with violinconcertos by Vivaldi (RV362) andTartini, both of which receive impres-,,sive renditions from soloist Nils-ErikSparf and his excellent colleagues.Violinist/spy William Corbett is representedwith a sweetly melancholic triofor violins and continua. Marcello'ssixth cello sonata receives a stylishlyenthusiastic performance from MimeYamahiro-Brinkmann, followed by alightweight yet cheerful quartet by J.C.Pepusch . Harpsichordist BjornGafvert reveals his solo talents in athoroughly French 'Ouverti.ire' by theGerman gadfly C.F. Hurlebusch, andSchaffrath 's Duetto IV is elegantlyand luminously played by Gafvert andtraverso player Bjorg Olien. Also includedare some very entertaining folktunes set with continua lines, althoughI would have liked more variety in theaccompanying instruments. But that'smy only quibble, and it's very small.Drottningholm Baroque play withexemplary unanimity of ensemble,phrasing and expression, and theirornamentationis always inventive yettasteful . The recorded sound and balanceis excellent, as is the booklet, althoughthe program neglects to mentionthat Gafvert also plays organ.Alison MelvilleMozart - Piano Sonatason FortepianoRobert LevinDeutsche Harmonia Mundi82876-84236-2There are few people alive today whoare more intimately familiar with themusic of Mozart than American musicologistand pianist Robert Levin,who begins a project to record thecomposer's complete piano sonataswith this recording of the fust three,K279-281.Levin here performs them on afortepiano which would have beenvery familiar to the 19-year old composerhimself. Levin is certainly notthe first to record these sonatas on tl1efortepiano, but he is probably the firstto utilize the instrument to the fullestdegree. The deep resonating bass ofthe piano is here replaced with twangyclear low notes, while the upper registeris anything but soft and lyrical.Mozart was clearly revelling in theopportunity for sudden dynamic contrastswhich the fortepiano allows, andthese come out much more clearly onLevin's instrument than on the modempiano. Many pianists plumb theseworks for sentimentality and warmS EPTE MBE R 1 - O CTOBER 7 2006

eauty, but Levin, playing at fast temposemphasizes the innovative and unusualrhythmic and melodic aspectsof the works. A sense of flowing lineis achieved through balance and carefulphrasing rather than seamless legato.Ornamentation is applied liberallyand with flair; Levin even improviseshis own cadenza in the thirdmovement of Sonata K 281.The CD is accompanied by a fascinatingand highly entertainingDVD in which Levin discusses anddemonstrates his inspired approachto these sonatas.Seth EstrinCONCERT NOTE: Robert Levinwill be speaking about his new completionof Mozart's Mass in C Minorat performances of the workwith the Toronto Symphony on October25th and 26th (also being performedon the 28th).Schubert - Sonatas for pianoand violinJos van Immerseel;Midori SeilerMecenat Musical ZZT060501Whenever we think of Schubert'schamber-music, it 's invariably thegreat Octet, the "Trout" quintet, or thestring quartets which come to mind.Certainly more modest, but no lessworthy, are the four sonatas for violinand piano composed between1816 and 18 I 7, when the composerwas not yet 20 years of age. Whilethese miniature gems have neverbeen totally neglected, this new recordingfeaturing Jos van lmmerseeland Midori Seiler is a delight.Immerseel is already known as afine keyboard player and leader ofthe group Anima Etema, while Seilerhas earned a reputation as one ofEurope's finest Baroque violinistsand member of the Akademie fUrAlte Musik. Together they bring ayouthful freshness to this musicwhich seems particularly appropriatein light of the composer's youngage. For the recording, Immerseelperforms on a copy of an I 8 I 4 Viennapianoforte, while Seiler, a violincrafted that same year - so theresulting sound is undoubtedly whatSchubert would have heard at thetime of composition.These are splendid interpretationsS EPTE M BER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2006- Seiler demonstrates an elegant andimpeccable technique, while lmmerseel'ssensitive accompaniment perfectlycaptures the wide rangingmoods inherent in Schubert's score.How perfectly this music would havesuited those musical soirees in early19th century Vienna- as enjoyablethen as they are today.The attractive packaging and fineinformative booklet only adds to theappeal of this CD. Highly recommended.Richard HaskellFUTURE CONCERT NOTE:Midori Seiler will join sisters Maywni,Naomi and Yuri who comprise theSeiler String Quartet for a program ofMozart, Vivier and Brahms at GlennGould Studio on May3 &4, 2007. TheVia Salzburg concert al so features thechoreography of Sasha I vanochko.CLASSICAL ANDBEYONDl j .._ I O h.C l\ SidJI.' I';( !' l'l I I'\I; • HIStokowski - Bach TranscriptionsBournemouth SymphonyOrchestra; Jose SerebrierNaxos 8.557883"Komm, sUsser Tod" ("Come, sweetdeath") is a 2 I-bar solo song by J. S.Bach. Leopold Stokowski 's orchestrationsupplies string harmonies, assigningthe voice part to a unison oftrumpet, oboe, and three flutes,joined in a second verse by harp andmuted brass. The result is both a luxurioussonorous experience and anunapologetic misreading of Bach'stext. Igor Stravinsky said he "recomposed"a Bach organ work, ratherthan transcribing it. Arrogant? Perhaps;Stravinsky regarded himself asBach' s equal. But Stokowski regardedhimself as Bach's superior,transmuting the baroque originals for"the greatest of all instruments, the[modern] orchestra."Dynamics surge and heave, cadencepoints are telegraphed, endingstypically undergo a grandioseritard underlined by a drum roll , orelse a hushed fade-out. The emotionalityis Hollywoodian: Stokowski doesfor Bach what Cecil B. DeMille didshow-piece for the smooth, rich,Philadelphia-cream string toneStokowski was famous for: high cellosalternate with violins on the melody,wringing passion from its rise andfall , and slowing at every phrase-end.The largest inclusion here is thegreat organ Passacaglia, a favouriteof conductor-transcribers who beganas organists. Years ago Sir ErnestMacMillan presented his own versionwith the Toronto Symphony, and nextseason Sir Andrew Davis promisesone of his own. Stokowski's is a dramatic,all-stops-out rerun of the Bach­Elgar Fantasie.An enjoyable CD, if you can forgetthe last forty years of Bach-appreciation.Added are re-scorings ofwell-known pieces by Handel andPurcell, and an effective religious tonepoemcreated from two plainchanthymns. The performances are fine.John BeckwithCONCERT NOTE: On NovemberI 5 the TSO will perform AndrewDavis' transcription of Bach's Passacagliaand Fugue in C minor. Theprogram also includes Stewart Goodyear'sperformance of Mozart's PianoConcerto No. 21 and TSO principalviolist Teng Li is featured in Berlioz'Harold in Italy.Danse MacabreMarty Smyth, organIndependent Smyth-01Marty Smyth certainly gets around.When not part of a duo, or of a chamberensemble, or providing continua forlarger works, he is music director atNorthlea United Church in Toronto.But this CD of organ transcriptionswas recorded at Holy Trinity Anglicanin Chatham, Ontario. In that senseSmyth is very much a kindred spirit toPeter Richard Conte of the massiveWanamakerorgan of Philadelphia (seemy review of"Magic!" in the March2002 issue of WholeNote availableonline at Chatham organ is the very antithesesof tracker-action purism, andso Edwin Lamare's Carmen Fantasiaseems just the right thing to do.Dvorak's well-known Humoresqueshines under these conditions.for the Bible. The "Air" from the Lamare's version of Liszt's transcrip­Orchestral Suite No. 3, beautifully tion of Saint-Saens' Danse Macabreset for strings by Bach, becomes a will raise hairs on the back of yourWWW.THEWHOLENOTE. COMneck. But the real surp1ise is the arrangementof the Andante fromBeethoven's Fifth Symphony, inSmyth's own transcription. Beethovenwould have approved.Smyth's playing carries a realsense of enviable breadth with theseworks, and there is joy, too.Holy Trinity, Chatham, has a veryshort reverberation period, and as aresult the details shine through.Smyth produced and engineered thesessions himself. There are photographsof four of the pipe choirs, butnone of the talented Mr. Smyth. Theorgan specification is detailed, as tobe expected. The cover painting byDerrick Chow is striking. I have afeeling that this is a strictly limited-editionrelease, however, so you shouldgrab a copy while they are available.John S. GrayEditor's Note: "Danse Macabre" isavailable from the Organ HistoricalSociety: of Dvorak'sCello ConcertoJan Vogler; Angelika Kirchschlager;New York Philharmonic;David RobertsonSony Classical 82876-73716-2It should perhaps come as no surprisethat Dvorak's great Cello Concertoin B minor - begun during hisfinal months in America and completedafter his return home - shouldbe the happy result of elementsdrawn from both the Old and theNew World. But what were the influenceson the 54 year old composeras he created one of his most renownedworks? This new Sony recording,featuring cellist Jan Voglerwith the New York Philharmonicconducted by David Robertson,is an intriguing attempt to findout. Opening with Dvorak' s lovesong Lasst mich Allein evocativelysung by Angelika Kirchschlageraccompanied by Helmut Deutsch,the CD also features two vocalpieces by Stephen Foster, Jeanniewith the Light Brown Hair and WiltThou be Gone, Love?. The lovesong was apparently a favourite ofa young lady with whom Dvorakhad been very smitten years earlier,and is quoted in both the secondand third movements of the cancer-61

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