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Volume 12 - Issue 1 - September 2006

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to, while the two Foster

to, while the two Foster numbersnaturally point to his American interests.But what of the concerto itself?While there are a multitude of recordingsavailable, I find this one verysatisfying indeed. Vogler approachesthe piece with much aplomb,demonstrating a style which is bothco~fident and deeply expressive,while the New York Philharmonicu?der R.obertson's able baton prov~desa lively and spirited accompamment.The disc concludes on alighter note, with Vogler, Kirch­~chlager and Deutsch joining forcesm Dvorak's seven Gypsy SongsOp.55 - a fitting end to a fascinatingprogram. Highly recommended.Richard Haskelln q 'MussorgskyPictures at anExhibitionGloria SaarinenDoremi CD DDR-71150As far as war-horses go, Mussorgsky'sPictures at an Exhibition mustbe high on the list. It is clear thattoday's pianists have technique to~pare and getting through Picturests n~t the hurdle it was even a generat10nago. Performances todayare not the exceptional events theyonce were.It was with something less thangre~t expec.tations that I began listeningto this new entry, especiallyfrom an artist whose recordingsare associated with less monumentalpieces. What a complete surprisewhen I found myself absorbed,not with the pianist but withthe music! So convincing is herappreciation of Mussorgsky's impressionsof the Hartman paintingsthat one becomes conscious, perhapsfor the first time, what eachof these pictures is about. Hear, forexample, the lumbering PolishCart, or the difference in characterbetween the two Polish JewsGoldenberg and Schmuyle. 'On the technical side there areno wrong or slurred notes that Icould hear and her playing is astounding,always assured and nev­~r tentat.ive even though she is playingenttrely from memory. Therests, or in some instances theirabsence, between sections are ex-62actly as the pianist played them. Therecording, made in Glenn Gould Studio,is exemplary.. An interesting and winning discwith a bonus of a perfect version ofRavel's Gaspard de la Nuit, recordedat the same time.Bruce SurteesMODERN ANDCONTEMPORARYContrasts - Bartok: Violin WorksJasper Wood; David Riley·Ricardo Morales 'Endeavour END 1015Beta Bart6k's chamber music isgood for the soul, or so I was informedby a mentor back in 1974 .Take heart, therefore, with JasperWood's new CD. Wood admits tobeing drawn to Bart6k's folk element,and, given the preponderanceof the sonata recordings, heconcentrates his attentions on therhapsodies.Contrasts is the major work presented,a commission by BennyGoodman. Spirited performancesflow effortlessly from Wood, Rileyand Morales; you will not heara better Contrasts anywhere.Szigeti's arrangements of the HungarianFolk Tunes are a delight.Total time is only 55 minutesrare in this age, almost as if the;~anted the option of releasing it onvmyl LP. Producer/engineer AntonKwiatkowski does his customary.first-rate job on the project,assisted by the warm resonance ofBurlington's Port Nelson UnitedChurch. Wood plays the CanadaCouncil's 1700 Taft Strad, whichalmost seems a living thing in hishands. The CF3 piano sounds verywarm, so that credit is certainly dueto technician Wayne Ferguson. PhotographerDavid Cooper fails to catchthe musicians in the heat of recordi~g,but gives us a stage-managedpicture of Wood, plus a thumbnail ofthe musicians for the back cover.Programme notes are superimposedover a background with some~eep-coloured edges resulting inImes that are difficult to read allin the name of fashion. 'John S. GrayWWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMEditor's Note: Benny Goodman'sown Columbia recording of Contrasts,with violinist Joseph Szigetiand ~omposer Bela Bart6k at the pianom 1940, is still available on compactdisc (CBS/Sony MK 42227).Stravinsky Conducts HisOwn WorksCologne Radio Orchestra,vocal soloists and NWDR Men'sChorus; Baden-Baden RadioOrchestra; Igor StravinskyMusic & Arts CD1184Momentary lapses in ensembleaside, these two discs of monophoniclive performances from 1951 and1954 have a sharper edge and keenermusicality than the comparativelypasteurised stereo recordings thecomposer made in the early 1960s.The 1951 sessions, originally releasedon the Columbia label, include asomewhat strident sounding stringorchestra in the 1928 ballet Apollonmusagetes and an historic performanceof t?e 1927 oratorio OedipusRex. This featured Peter Pears inexcellent voice as Oedipus; a game,though clearly challenged, MarthaModi as Jokaste; the superb baritoneHeinz Reh fuss as Kreon and the commandingbass of Otto von Rohr asTiresias. Translations of the narra­~ion (in German) and libretto (in Latin)are unfortunately not provided,though the otherwise informative linernotes provide a synopsis culledfrom the Wikipedia.The second disc features previouslyunreleased performances fromHans Rosbaud's brilliant Baden­Baden Radio Orchestra. The orches­~ra' s proficient resident pianist MartaBergmann is the featured soloistin the effervescent Capriccio for pianoand orchestra and also contributesthe important piano part in anexhilarating interpretation of the Symphonyin Three Movements. Thepoker-faced performance of the iconicSymphonies of Wind Instruments isnotable for its crisp, idiosyncraticarticulation. Stravinsky sets someunexpectedly blistering tempos in hisballet Jeu De Cartes to which theorchestra, despite his apparentlyclumsy upbeats, responds magnificently.These exciting performancesbelong in the collection of every admirerof this epochal composer.Daniel FoleyScelsi - Natura RenovaturFrances-Marie Uitti; MunchenerKammerorchester;Christoph PoppenECM New Series ECM 1963Saariaho - Complete CelloWorksAlexis DescharmesAeon AECD 0637There is surprisingly little knownabout Italian composer GiacintaScelsi, even though he died lessthan twenty years ago. An eccentricaristocrat, he refused even tobe pho~ographed.Even today hisapproximately 150 works are rarelyperformed and recorded. But bythe end of his life Scelsi had developed~ cult following, abetted bycommitted performers like Frances-MarieUitti, who worked closelywith the composer to producesome extraordinary cello pieces.In the three pieces for string orchestraon this disc, the MunichChamber Orchestra under ChristophPoppen creates luminous texturesfrom a severely limited palette ofpitches. The title work, Natura Renovatur,is especially dramatichighlighting Scelsi's use ofharmon~ics, microtones, bent tones trillsglissandi, tremolos, and vibrato t~create uncanny dimensions of sound.But even more moving here are thesolo cello works, with their exquisitesynthesis of the blissful and themelancholic. From the autobiographicalTrilogy - The Three Agesof Man Uitti performs the final movement,Ygghur. Her transcriptionsof two of the three solo vocal worksthat make up Three Latin Prayers,the Ave Maria and Alleluja, are soexpre~sive that, as with Ygghur,one wishes for the whole work.Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's thriving career has taken a decidedlymore conventional path thanScelsi's, with a busy performanceand recording schedule, and notabletriumphs. Yet her sound world isevery bit as distinctive, and her musicas memorable. 'The cello is myS EPTEMBER 1 - O CTO BER 7 2006

favourite instrument - at least I thinkso because I come back to it on aregular basis,' she writes in notes tothis recording.Saariaho creates fragmented,dream-like episodes with unusualconfluences of colours. In Pres andPetals she uses real-time electronicmanipulation of the cello. She pairsthe cello with the bass clarinet in OiKuu, and with the flute in Mirrors.Sept Papillons is written for a solocello whose virtuosic and lyricalsplendours evoke the butterflies ofthe title with a sublime balance offragility and power.Young French cellist Alexis Descharmesis a wizard. Tossing offspiralling glissandi, for instance, heconjures up images which don'tmerely fly into space, but indeedascend to heaven.These two discs are as enjoyableas they are fascinating. They havebeen produced with care, from thefine sound quality to the informativebooklets, each containing an essayby the performer.Pam MarglesKurtag - Kafka Fragments, Op.24Juliane Banse, soprano;Andras Keller, violinECM New Series ECM 1965The musical development of GyorgyKurrag to some extent parallelsthat of his fellow countryman andnear contemporary Gyorgy Ligeti,the recently deceased giant of modernmusic. Both were born in HungarianTransylvania, only three yearsapart. Both had hoped to study withBart6k, but those hopes were dashedwhen Bart6k died in the US in 1945.Kurtag did get to study with twogreats of 20th century music however- Darius Milhaud and OlivierMessiaen - during a sojourn in Parisin 1957. In time, he himself becamea renowned and generous teacher andamong his pupils were Andras Schiffand Zoltan Kocsis.Kafka Fragmente is a work whichresulted from a fascination with theworks of that author, a fascinationthat has lasted well over three decades.Apparently it was Ligeti whofirst suggested Franz Kafka's writingsto his young friend. A readingof Metamorphosis followed, but itSEPTEMBER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2006wasn't until Kurrag read Kafka's diariesand private texts, publishedposthumously, that the idea of a musicalsetting germinated.Snippets of text, brief observations,and sometimes single wordsemerge through Kurtag's method ofnibbling at the edges of the often-hermeticwriting. If Kafka's diaries arefilled with angst, regret and existentialterror, so is Kurtag's music. Theausterity of unaccompanied sopranoand violin, trying to decode the meanings,is at times reminiscent of Schoenberg'sErwartung, but here thereis no moment of grace, no emotionalliberation. Instead, the music isdemanding and compelling, as thetexts remain puzzling yet fascinating.Familiarity with the modernmusical idiom is a must, as Kurragdoes not offer any intellectual shortcutsor easy access points. In theright hands (such as these), and forthe right ears, this is masterful musicof exploration and contemplation.Robert TomasEnns - North WordElora Festival Singers;Noel EdisonCentrediscs CMCCD 10905"NorthWord" features five choralworks by Canadian composer LeonardEnns based on the collection ofpaintings entitled Northern Nativityby Canadian artist William Kurelek,and the perspective of Word as takenfrom the Gospel of John. The EloraFestival Singers under the directionof Noel Edison perform in theirusual flawless fashion along withappearances by oboist James Mason,organist Jurgen Petrenko and a selectionby the DaCapo ChamberChoir.The highlight is the four-movementcantata Logos, a setting of theverses from the Gospel of John forchoir, organ and oboe. Enns masterfullyutilizes whole tone and diatonicscales to musically depict theabstract Word versus the Humanrespectively. The first movemententitled "In the beginning was theWord" is especially moving - underthe backdrop of the Elora Singers'almost inaudible yet dynamicallybuilding chant of the word "Logo",the lack of tension and resolution ofthe whole note scale successfullycreates the musical notion of "Oneness"of the Word and God. Amournful and sombre oboe solo illuminatesthe rejection of the Wordin the otherwise diatonic anddance-like second movement. Thetriumphant final "Gloria" of thethird movement and the diatonicorgan part of the fourth movementjourney completes a moving work.It is the serene nature of Enns'music that is its greatest strength -every note and harmony seems tohave been carefully contemplated.The Canadian Music Centre has yetagain done an outstanding job promotingCanadian compositional talent.Tiina KiikWarren BurtTne Animi11oq of ListsAnd the Alchjlon Tronsposit,mBurt - The Animation of Lists;The Archytan TransportationsWarren BurtXI Records XI 130Microtonal minimalism is WarrenBurt's calling card. Spread over thelength of two CDs, his latest opus isa moving tribute to the sound of tuningforks composed in 2002 at therequest of Phill Niblock. Accordingto Burt, The Animation of Lists utilizes"self-built just-intonation tuningforks, multi-tracked and computertransposed [ ... ] exploring ideas ofLockridge ' Hi Ficomplex just intonations, long scalepermutation structures, and[ ... ] pitchand rhythm transpositions of pre-recordedmaterials." The forks aremade of aluminium and there aretwo kinds - treble and bass. Eachpiece is around 16 minutes long andeach has a slow, nearly painful development.The fork is struck andyou're able to hear reverb long afterwards,as it overlaps into the nextstrike. This goes on for another fifteenminutes or so, at which point,the next piece starts, sounding oddlysimilar to the last one, but with aslight shift in pitch. It's a dream-inducingstructure that travels acrossclouded mystery lands of never-never,where sleep comes easy. Burt isa serious composer of course and themusic is serious with a capital S.The second composition, And theArchytan Transpositions, uses heavytranspositions of the tuning. This isthe way Burt got other pitches hecouldn't produce with the forks themselves.A heavy-handed algorithmwas written to control the series ofpitches. In fact, just as haunting asthe previous piece, this one developsin a slow paced environmentsurrounded by a ton of reverb comingfrom the forks and a delicatelydisappearing sound.It's interesting to listen to the twoCDs side by side just to hear themultitude of similarities and variancesyou're bound to discover. Hauntingand serious mind-altering musicfrom one of the reigning kings ofmicrotonal sounds.Tom SekowskiExperience the thrill of a live performancein your own home.I.,0.(Exposure 20108 IntegratedAmplifier & CD Player@"i\~ieat dCOUSl l i..SNeat Motive 2 SpeakersCall Lockridge Hi-Fi today for details."Q)16th Ave~*Q)>

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