7 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 6 - March 2007

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hythms for Psalm 4 7. I

hythms for Psalm 4 7. I found that inPsalm 23, the deep emotional contentdisplayed in the musical writing was alittle cold in expression by the voices.Again, this is the case with the deeplyemotive Set Me as a Seal, while, onthe other hand, the choir displays agreat deal of warmth in the lullabyDunne, Dunne. Os]ustiby EleanorDaley fe.atures a lovely layering ofsound with a marvellous richness inthe alto voices. The Miserere byB_asque composer Eva Ugalde ispitch-perfect with the gentlest of undulationsin the soprano part and love­!~ descending harmonic sequences.Finally, Gwyneth Walker's setting ofI !hank You God by E.E. Cummingscaptures the poet's delight ofnature and innocence in verse withbrilliant playfulness in the voices.Dianne WellsEARLY MUSIC ANDPERIOD PERFORMANCERameau - Keyboard SuitesAngela HewittHyperion SACDA67597From the late-baroque's huge bulk ofpleasant forgettable keyboard pieces,three repertoires stand out as exceptions- those of Bach, Scarlatti, andRameau. Of the three, Rameau's isthe smallest (Angela Hewitt fits morethan half of it onto a single CD), but itcovers a wide gamut of original musicalthought.L 'Enharmonique and the A minorSarabande, among other movementssuave and smooth in their harmoni~invention, foreshadow Faure. From thegravity of the E minor and A minorAllemandes, through the celebratoryverve of La Triomphante, to the uproariousclucking of La Paule, therange of expression is exceptional.Melodic quality is in the rarified leagueof the two contemporaries mentioned.Pianists who also play harpsichordare fewer than, say, violinists whoalso play viola. Hewitt, a pianist,plays Rameau on her instrument. Ican think of big-name pianists whomI admire but would rather not hearpl~y!ng .Rameau. She plays himw1th~n h1~ range (of pitch and dynamics,give or take a pianistic cre­~ce~do or two) and with genuineinsight. The rococo agrements, so70integ:al to his style, give a delicatepearliness to the lines; she does themclearly a~d with due variety.Stressing top melodies with herright pinkie (as harpsichordists cannot),she sometimes neglects other vitalstrands in the texture. As for notesinegales - those snappy dotted figuresoften called for, though not no­!ated - she is selective, shunning themm expected passages oftheAllemandes,but applying them expressively in,for example, the lovely E major Musette,catching there exactly the composer'sinstruction, "tendrement".In sum, this is beautiful musicsensitively delivered.'John BeckwithMarais - Semele:Ouverture et dansesMontreal Baroque;Wieland KuijkenATMA SACD2 2527Though many are familiar with MarinMarais as the remarkable viola dag?illba player who allegedly surpassedhis famous teacher Sainte-Colombewithin six months of training, not somany of us are acquainted with histragedies lyriques for the Academieroyale de musique. Marais, in fact~tudied composition with Lully, play'.mg gamba in the opera orchestra andeventually succeeded Andre Campraas batteur de mesure (conductor) in1704. While his operas are in the traditionofLully in terms of structure anddance forms, he also added some innovativeelements such as independentparts for solo instruments (notablythe trumpet and transverse flutein Semele) and the pastoral musette.Who better to introduce us to Marais'instrumental music fromSemeJe than an orchestra foundedby another gamba player? The orchestraon this CD, Montreal Baroque,was originally founded by SusieNapper, who has recorded manyof the viola da gamba works by Maraisand Sainte-Colombe on theATMAlabel. Wieland Kuijken, a renownedgambist in his own right, leads this fineorchestra with all the vigour andwarm!h required for the range ofselect10ns representing bacchanalianmerriment to the tenderness oflove, the trickery of jealousy and thethundering earthquake of Jupiter inall his glory.WWW. THEWHOLENO TE.COMRecorded to suit three different formats(surround, SACD, and regularstereo), the sound is exquisite. One~ord of caution: refrain from pumpingthe volume to excess, lest you sufferthe same fate as poor Semele!Dianne Wellsi'I' 11.\". IPiehl - SymphoniesToronto Chamber Orchestra·Kevin Mallon'Naxos 8.557761Naxos ever increases its contributionto th_e advancement of 18th Centurymusical culture, surpassing the laudableefforts of Nonesuch in the 1970's.Naxos leadership seem to have anointedKevin Mallon and the Toronto~hamber Orchestra as their competitionto Tafelmusik; at this point, Mallonand the TCO have released 12discs of baroque and early classicalmaterial, including contributing Volumes30 and 31 to Naxos' completeHaydn symphonies, with no sign ofany flagging in energy.To add to this impressive seriesof accomplishments, that team recentlyembarked upon a collectionof the symphonies of Bohemianclassicist Wenzel Piehl. Under-representedin the recorded canon thesefour Piehl symphonies fill an obviousgap. Do not consider this CD a mere~c?ol:ii;ly exercise, impeccable thoughit is; 1t s filled with superbly crafted18t_h Cent~ry o:chestral writing, adelightful listening experience.Piehl wrote nine works based onthe classical Muses, structuring themas symphonies. Four are presentedhe~e: Calliope, Melpomene, Clio andDiana. All adhere to the four-movementlayout and show great invention.Recording quality is excellent. AlthoughNaxos has recorded a highpercentage of their Toronto-basedprojects at Grace Church-on-the-Hillthis project made use of the more vo'.luminous space at Saint Anne's ("theByzantine") Church. The productionteam of Norbert Kraft and BonnieSilver have given Piehl as good as they~id wit~ Haydn, and to the averagelistener 1t sounds as great as if it wereVienna's Musikverein with the finestNeumann microphones.Recommended.John S. GrayConcert Note: Kevin Mallon leadshis Aradia Ensemble (also much re-corded by Naxos) in Handel's Apolloe Daine with baritone Neil Aronoffand soprano Deanna Hendriks at theGladstone Hotel on March 25.CLASSICALAND BEYONDSchumann - Fantasie·Kreisleriana; Arabe~keJonathan BissEMI Classics 3 65391 2Technical perfection nowadays, to useChurchill's immortal words, "is notthe end, not even the beginning ofthe end, but perhaps the end of thebeginning." This is definitely true for!onathan Biss who at the age of 26is already a mature artist. With somany Y?ung talents clamouring forfame, Biss has already established aninternational career with a busy schedul~in America and Europe, playingwith major orchestras and undermany famous conductors.No sensation seeking for him, therepertoire is what interests this youngrn~ an_d he plays it with the greatestdedicat10n and perfection. Perhaps themost impressive thing about him, toparaphrase Bernard Holland of theNew York Times, is his controlledimpetuousness. The best of allworlds: the frre of youth combinedwith maturity. Another Ashkenazy,perhaps? His choice of this Schumarmpr?IF"1 already shows his uncompromisingapproach. He begins with themost emotionally complex, Fantasie inC with its famous quotation fromBeethoven's An die ferne Geliebte.He plays this long, difficult piece withsustained emotion, wonderful touchand a variety of light and shade.B~ss pr~cee?s with the more 'popularKre1slenana. This work incidentallyhas nothing to with the famousviolinist born 20 years after Schumann'sdeath, rather it was inspiredby _the musical character KapellmeisterKreisler in a novel of E.T.AHoffman. These are 8 shorter piecesof mercurial mood changes but heldtogether cohesively by Schumann'scompositional mastery. The work endswith the playful No. VIII, performedby Biss with infinite charm and delicacy.The ubiquitous Arabeske endsthe program. It would make a wonderfulencore to a recital.M ARCH 1 - A PR IL 7 2007

I would probably pay my last dimeto hear this young man in person.Janos GardonyiLive in RecitalHelena BowkunIndependent( a first year undergraduate studyingat the U. ofT. Faculty of Music, Iused to stand outside the door of room252 and listen to Helena Bowkunpractice. I admit it, I was in awe. Whattechnique! What musicality! If only Icould play with such assurance!Since that time, the Toronto-bornpianist has earned a reputation not onlyas a performer and teacher but alsoas a music journalist - and after allthese years, she still continues to impressme. This new CD, a live recordingof a concert held at YorkminsterPark Baptist Church in Mayof 2004, is indeed ample evidenceof her musical talents.To be honest, the program is anythingbut revolutionary - a lot of oldchestnuts here - but in my opinion,there is nothing at all wrong with thetried and true. Schumann's Scenes ofChildhood provide a perfect introduction- these are miniature gems, andMs. Bowkun easily captures the varyingmoods of each tiny movement,from the cheerful optimism of ImportantEvent to the languor ofTraumerie. More technically advancedare the three Estampes ofClaude Debussy - Pagodes, LaSoiree dans Grenade, and the familiar]ardins sous le pluie. While theentire set is treated with great sensitivity,I felt that the third piece was alittle too rushed, sounding more like anetude than an impressionist depictionof a garden in inclement weather- it must have been a downpour!The most successful piece is, to mymind, the Chopin Barcarolle, clearlydemonstrating Bowkun 's flair for theearly romantic repertoire. A thoughtfulrendering of the Schubert Sonatain A major D959 brings this most satisfyingdisc to a close. Bravo Ms.Bowkun - let's hear from you again,and definitely not through a studio door!Richard HaskellWidor-Symphonies Nos. 5 & 9John GrewATMA ACD2 2370M ARCH 1 - A PR IL 7 2007Organ recitals on CD often displaya cult figure, but this release bringsus two! Charles-Marie Widor has aspecial niche in the organ world,eagerly promoted by Jehan Alainand his sister Marie-Claire and theseveral generations who followedthem. John Grew already had a fol ­lowing of master-class pupils at thetime he left Atlantic Canada forMcGill, growing even unto today.This collection of Widor's organsymphonies is therefore, from itsinception, a definitive edition.Widor's Symphony No. 5, Op. 42,No. 1 is the more well-known work,and Grew allows wondrous breathingspace in the middle movements.The well-known Toccata is as brilliantas you will hear anywhere. Themore mystical No. 9, Op. 70 showsWidor in more advanced tonal territory,and Grew gives it his fullestattention, with wondrous results.The massive Casavant at L'EgliseSaint-Norn-de-Jesus, one of Canada's finest organs, is one of the biggestin Montreal. Recently restoredto its ancient glory by Casavanttechnicians, the instrument itselfvies with Grew for prominence.Exhaustive lists of stops occupytwo pages of notes. The organ tuneris credited, but we are left in thedark as to the engineer's microphones.A pity that Canadian worksweren't added to the collection ;short works by Daveluy and GeorgeFox come to mind. Perhaps the producerswished to maintain a certainFrench purity here.John S. GrayString Quartets of Sibelius;Stravinsky; RavelDaedalus QuartetBridge Records Bridge 9202The Daedalus Quartet took the GrandPrize at the 2001 BanfflnternationalString Quartet Competition, and hassince firmly established itself amongthe top ensembles in its field.20th century and contemporaryworks feature strongly in the quartet'srepertoire, so it is no surprise to seeworks by three 20th century masterschosen for this, their debut CD recording.What does come as a surprise,perhaps, is the realisation that some20th century works are already almost100 years old or more, the Ravel datingfrom 1902-03 and the Sibelius Dminor Op.56, "Intimate Voices", andthe Stravinsky Three Pieces from1909and1914 respectively.It is obvious from the opening minutesof the Sibelius that this is goingto be playing of an exceptionally highstandard, and nothing that follows onthis disc does anything to change thatview. The intonation is faultless , thesound and tone rich and warm , theensemble playing immaculate, andthe dynamic range quite wonderful.Above all, the Daedalus plays witha sensitivity and passion that showsa deep understanding of and commitmentto these works, while alwaysmaintaining a feeling of spontaneitythat makes the playing soundconsistent! y fresh.The recording quality is clear andwarm, the booklet notes (written bythe quartet) excellent. Brother andsister Kyu-Young Kim and Min­Young Kim alternate on first andsecond violin, with K yu-Young takingthe lead in the Ravel. This is animpressive debut CD from a quartetthat already displays a greatsense of maturity. We can only hopethat they will continue to explore the20th century repertoire on disc.Terry RobbinsGershwin; RachmaninoffAlan HobbinsMaestro Music CompanyMMCD03( Hobbins is an amazing Canadianpianist of Jamaican descent, livingright here at our doorstep, inToronto. Our celebrity obsessedculture being what it is, I doubt manypeople have heard of him. This is apity, because he is an artist of majorstature and this CD proves it.Hobbins is at least twice blessed.Not only has he a natural affinity tothe Romantic movement, particularlythe great 'princes of the piano 'Chopin & Rachmaninoff, but he isWWW. THEWHOLE NOTE.COMalso very much at home in the worldof American jazz with its complex andsyncopated cross-rhythms. The Gershwinsection begins with an ambitious,spirited, imaginative and technicallybrilliant account of Rhapsody in Blue,the complete, unabridged and formi ­dably difficult solo version, followedby 6 preludes of differing moods andcharacter. Here Hobbins truly capturesour heart with a sultry Blue Lullaby,the Spanish Prelude with itsrumba rhythm and finally, the irrepressible,Scott Joplin type ragtime,honky-tonk piano of Rialto Ripples.Rachmaninoff's Preludes are theMount Everest of the piano, influencedby Chopin and Liszt. Hobbinscontinues with the composer's 6 bestknown of the genre. The list alternatesbetween Chopinesque, sensitive,arpeggiated pieces (G sharpminor, D major, E flat major) and themore grandiose, passionate and dynamicPreludes (C sharp minor, Gminor, B flat major) .All performances are superb, butHobbins really pulls out the big gunsfor the B flat major Prelude wherehe plays with such romantic abandonthat he reminds me of the greatMartha Argerich.We wish Alan Hobbins continuedgreat success.Janos GardonyiParadise RebornLinda ShumasPhoenix Records PHX71872Linda Shumas made a mighty entranceto the Toronto scene in 1984,with a solo recital at the Trinity-St.Paul's Centre. In the decades that followed,she concertized and gigged justabout anywhere she could find a piano,including every incarnation of theMusic Gallery from 1087 Queen Westonward. Recent duet, trio and chamberensemble forays have borne fruitin her awesome musicianship, carryingover into her solo work.Unlike her 1985 LP "Voices fromthe Cloisters" (later released on compactdisc by Phoenix Records# 1369. lD), Shumas concentrates heremainly on the work of other composers.Rameau, Couperin, Scarlatti andHaydn represent the 17th and 18thCenturies in this collection, and Shumascertainly gives a good account ofthe music. Rachmaninoff and Scriabingive us her perspective on the early71

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