7 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 4 - December 2006

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era Shadowtime.There's

era Shadowtime.There's not much action in thisopera, and what there is mostly happensin the opening Prelude, when themain character, German-Jewish philosopherWalter Benjamin, who wasone of the twentieth century's mostprovocative thinkers, commits suicidewhile trying to escape the Nazis.But there are a lot of questions,especially in the multilayered vocalensembles, and in the interrogationsof various characters like the twoheadedfigure of Karl Marx andGroucho Marx.Charles Bernstein's libretto ispowerful and poetic. The bookletdoes have excellent notes and a synopsis,but it's too bad the text is notincluded with this recording. It waspublished separate! y.Femeyhough's scoring, especiallyfor piano, harp, guitar, and, in themystical final scene, electronics, providesvibrant textures. This workfeels fresh and expressive, andsounds like nothing you've quiteheard before. The versatile Britishpianist Nicolas Hodges is unfailinglyinspired and witty as Benjamin, ina part requiring a virtuosic pianistwho is also an eloquent speaker. Thesingers of the Neue Vocalsolistenand the musicians of the NieuwEnsemble under conductor JurjenHempel handle the formidable demandswith style and enthusiasm.Like Shadowtime, Danish composerPoul Ruder' s new opera Kafka's Trial features charactersdrawn from real life, in this case theCzech-Jewish writer Franz Kafkaand his two lovers. Ruders and hislibrettist Paul Bentley have cleverlyintertwined the details of Kafka'ssituation with the nightmare predicamentof Joseph K., the protagonistof Kafka's iconic novel The Trial.Kafka's own informal trial by the twooutraged women becomes all the morepoignant by beingjuxtaposed with theauthor's fictional tale of a bank clerkarrested, and ultimately executed, fora crime he did not commit and nevermanages to identify.Kafka's Trial features the expressivevocal lines and deft orchestrationsthat made Ruders' Handmaid'sTale, which the CanadianOpera Company produced a coupleof seasons back, so incisive. But thecharac ters in Kafka's Trial aremore strongly delineated as individuals,and their situations resonatemore meaningfully. There' s poignanthumanity as well as suiTeal humourhere.The principal singers perfo1mmultiple roles, slipping back and fo1ihbetween reality and fiction. Witheach character they take on a di f-74ferent musical style. If the eclecticscore doesn' t break new ground, itcertainly, like Femeyhough ' s moreexperimental work, makes for a verymoving and highly entertainingwork.The opera is performed in Danishunder expert conductor ThomasSl)ndergard. It was made at theRoyal Danish Opera, which commissionedthe opera to celebrate theopening of the new opera house inCopenhagen last season. This performanceis superb, with Johnny vanHal especially heroic as Kafka andJoseph K. The generous booklet hasthe full text of the libretto in Danish,with translations.Pamela MarglesCLASSICAL ANDBEYONDBach - Concertos for OboeJohn Abberger;Four Centuries of Bach:Analekta AN 2 9910One of the most prolific composersof all time, Bach is known for rearranginghis own work and theworks of others from one instrumentalgenre to another, as well as reusingand recycling movements ofhis works in a multitude of compositions.The concerto was probablythe most popular form of musica dacamera in the late Baroque, andwhile Bach wrote many of them,only a few have survived in theiroriginal form. Others were preservedin the many keyboard arrangementshe wrote for his co/Legiummusicum in Leipzig. By midto late 19th century, musicologistsexamining Bach's autograph scoresof the harpsichord concertos concludedthat many of these were originallywritten for violin, or oboe, orboth. The present recording (as withothers in its class) presents recon ­structions of these 'original' concertosbased on the BWV I 053, I 060,I 056, and I 055 concertos for harpsichord(or two harpsichords in thecase of I 060).John Abberger is p1incipal oboistwith Toronto's period instrumentTafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, aswell as th e American Bach SoloistsWWW. THEWHOLE N OTE.COM(San Francisco), and is known asone of North America's finest performerson historical oboes. This isthe debut recording of his ensembleFour Centuries of Bach, created topresent historically informed performancesof Bach's works. Historicaland scholarly musings aside (theliner notes are quite informative),this is a stellar recording by anystandard. The playing is meticulous,exquisite and musically sensitive,certainly equal to the task of realizingthese phenomenally beautifulworks. Abberger is joined by baroqueviolinist Adrian Butterfield(active in Britain as well as withDaniel Taylor's Theatre of EarlyMusic) in the Concerto foroboe andviolin in C minor (after BWV I 060);his own virtuosity is displayed particularlyin the third movementAllegro.A personal favourite is the beautifullyrendered Larghetto from theConcerto for oboe d'amore (BWVI 055). The accompanying smallchamber ensemble plays with absoluterefinement throughout this recording.A must have CD, not onlyfor baroque or oboe enthusiasts, butfor any serious music lover.Karen AgesMozart - Symphonies Nos. 40& 41Tafelmusik; Bruno WeilAnalekta AN 2 9834I admit I was initially a little wary atthe prospect of auditioning "yetanother" disc of Mozart's symphonies40 and 41. But from the beginning, thisnew CD from Analekta featuringTafelmusik under the direction ofBruno Weil proves thatthere is indeedroom for one more!Both symphonies were composed- along with #39 - within a12 week period during the summerof 1788, a particularly creative timefor the 32 year old composer. Theywere the last symphonies Mozartever composed, and as a group, havelong been regarded his finest effortsin the genre. Tafelmusik's approachis bold and spirited, coupled with apolish and precision that we havecome to expect from Canada's leadingbaroque orchestra. My only concernis that at times the ensemble'sexuberant spirit is taken a little toofar. For example, I' ve long regardedthe second movement of the Gminor symphony as nothing less thansublime, a true 18th century pastorate,serene and elegiac. Yet underWeil 's enthusiastic baton, the musicbecomes more a brisk walk in th ecountry rather than a casual saunter.Similarly, the Minuet that followsis also taken at a more hurried pacethan I would have liked. Indeed,those wishing to partake of thisdance should perhaps exchangetheir buckled pumps for a pair ofNikes in order to keep up! Nevertheless,this is a minor quibble, andyounger ears may very well disagreewith me. In all, this is an exemplaryrecording, withTafelmusikbidding farewell to the year of Mozarton a definite high note.Richard HaskellConcert Note: Tafelmusik performsits annual Messiah run at Trinity-St.Paul 's December 13-16 with theirSing Along Messiah at Massey Hallon December 17. "Bach and the Muses"is the subject of their January 18-21 performances.. ,.ft f"· • '1... '/ .:.Mozart -The Violin SonatasAnne-Sophie Mutter;Lambert OrkisDeutsche Grammophon4776318As part of Mutter's ambitious "Mozartproject" for the DeutscheGrarnmophon label, comes this 4-CDset of Wolfgang' s substantial sonatasfor keyboard and violin, nicely programmednot in chronological order.And there is yet another disc to comeof"mature" sonatas'Aside from being consistentlyand sonorously gorgeous, the recordingis a document of the myriad stylisticinfluences on Mozart from hisearly years until his early thirties.There are rousing German dances,throwback contrapuntal musings,lots of mid-18th century style Gallanta la Gluck and C.P.E Bach, and- of course - the forward-lookingmelodic and dramatic imagination ofMaza.ii himself.Each sonata here is a fascinatingentity in and of itself. You couldDECE M BER 1 2006 - F EB RUARY 7 200 7

never say - as one does of Vivaldi entitled "The Violin as Voice" sheconcertos for instance - "oh , they dedicates this disc to Italian be! canallsound the same''. It's clear that to and she explores cantabile as­Mozart never went on "automatic pects like a singer would, with allpilot" when writing these pieces, the subtle dynamic shadings andrather seriously dipping into his sensitivity of the human voice.seemingly endless store of invention The less frequently performedand musical ideas.Spohr concerto, nicknamed Ge-Mutter 's tone and technique sangszene, is gentler and much lessshimmer throughout, though there is flashy than the Paganini but still exnotmuch variation in the sound, as quisite, with long cantilenas and ocifshe is telling the same story over casional quickening of tempo. Inand over again. Thankfully, it is a fact this piece is one of Hilary's fabeautifuland interesting story! Her vourites and she has been champiaccompanistLambert Orkis plays oning it for some time.with conviction and subtlety, taking Up and coming young conducthelead with ease and authority in tor Eiji Oue' s upbeat and symbioticthe early sonatas and accompany- accompaniment makes this discing the sumptuously long melodic even more enjoyable.lines in the slow movements of theJanos Gardonyilater sonatas with grace.Being on a major label, this collectionis rather highly priced. Onehopes DG will offer each sonata fordownload more affordably, or releasesingle discs at some point.Larry BeckwithMODERN ANDCONTEMPORARY....'" ·=v v VH~p6h0;0t60"0N0'0'0'6 ~A True North ChristmasA great Christmas gift idea:SeeTrue North Brasswith theToronto Children's ChorusDecember 16th@Roy Thomson Hallvisit us at.TrueNorthBrass.comor call (866) 509-0724Paganini; Spohr -Violin ConcertosHilary Hahn; Swedish RSO;Eiji OueDeutsche Grammophon4776232Those of you who may have readmy review on these pages of Ms.Hahn's rapt performance of the Elgarconcerto, would probably surmisethat I am a bit of a fan of thiswonderful young violinist. So don 'tbe surprised by the superlatives tofollow, because I find this new disctruly stunning. ln fact if you arewondering what to buy your lovedone for Christmas, this is the one'If Paganini was reborn as awoman, judged by this performance,it would be Hilary. She shows thefemjnine, lyrical side of this concertothat hadn't been known to mebefore. Her playing displays a rangeoflangwd lyricism, high drama, playfulvirtuosity and seductive youthfulinnocent charm. As for the diabolicaltechnical difficulties of this Concerto,the double stopped thirds, thericochet bowing, staccato volante,the glass tones etc. , she sails overthem as if they were child's play.In her well written introductionScenes de ForetsDenise Trudel, pianoMIREs MIR 29-017A house in a rural setting with abig 1887-vintage 7-foot piano? Thatsounds eerily familiar, but under theheadphones, I was convinced. DeniseTrudel has played Just about everykind of keyboard instrument onthis planet, so this project must havebeen a real pleasure for her.This CD sets out to confuse thelistener: The various sections ofSchumann's Waldszenen are interspersedthroughout the play list, withmore experimental works by CanadiansGilles Bellemare and DenisDion mixed in-between the Schumannmovements. If you have oneof those programmable CD players,you could, I suppose, arrange thetracks to hear the Schumann as onecontinuous 'straight' performance,but that would defeat the purposeof the production. Dion uses muchelectronic technology to augmentand enhance the sound of the piano,which contrasts radically with theSchumann. Trudel's home studio isnot spectacularly large, so there isno appreciable room ambience in theabsence of that digital manipulation.The liner notes don ' t actually tellRepresenting the largest collectionof restored Steinway Pianos in Canada.Restoration by Wayne Chen, German Steinwayfactory trained technician.Here is our partial inventory:Steinway Model S - Sat/Walnut ,000Steinway Model S - Sat/Ebony ,000Steinway Model M-Sat/Ebony (with QRS Player) ,995Steinway Model M - Sat/Ebony ,000Steinway Model L - Sat/Mahogany ,000Steinway Model A - RosewoodSteinway Model A - Sat/EbonySteinway Model B - Sat/EbonySteinway Model B - Sat/EbonySteinway Model D - Sat/Ebony,995,000,995,995,000We offer top price to buy and trade Steinway pianos.If looking for a particular model, finish, style, please call us.For inquiries of Sales, Service & Concert or Recording Rentalsplease call 905-709-2771 or 1-866-879-6741.70 East Beaver Creek Road (Hwy 7 I 404)www.pianokeyboard.comD ECEM BER 1 2006 - FEBR UARY 7 2007 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE. COM 75

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