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Volume 12 - Issue 6 - March 2007

  • Text
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • April
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Choral
  • Violin

20th Century idiom, much

20th Century idiom, much closer to herown style, but never overwrought.Shumas' producer Nick Peros contributedfive (of his seven) Poemes,and Linda matches those with five ofher own. All the music is excellent,with L 'Ocean Reve the standout increative shaping of beautiful phrases.Of interest to audio purists, thisCD was recorded in a small roomon a very large piano, and a non­Steinway at that. Three subtly differentperspectives come from th:eesound engineers, one of them beingthe legendary Paul Hodge. Tun:rsare not credited here. The cover pictureis by Jan Thorp, whose photosgrace each Shumas recording.Recommended.John S. GrayMODERN ANDCONTEMPORARYBarber; Korngold; Walton -Violin ConcertosJames Ehnes; VancouverSymphony Orchestra;Bramwell ToveyCBC Records SMCD 5241On this recording the Canadian superstarviolinist James Ehnes performssome of the world's finestmodern violin concertos.Erich Wolfgang Korn gold's ViolinConcerto in D, Op. 35, was premieredby the legendary Jascha He_ifet~ . Thepassionate Moderato nobde, ~nterspersedwith bravura passages, 1s followedby a lyrical Romance: Andante,and then a fiery Finale, full ofrhythm and contrast, punctuated bybrass and percussion reminiscent ofStar Wars scores. Not surprisingperhaps, as his relationship_ withWarner Bros. in Hollywood influencedKorngold' slate Romantic style.Before Toscanini premiered hisAdagio for Strings in 1938, SamuelBarber was pretty much unknown.However, his Concerto for Violinand Orchestra, Op. 14, has becomeone of the most played of all violinconcertos. The well-crafted orchestrationand narrative of the Allegro,the achingly beautiful Andante, andthe delightfully diabolic roller-coasterPresto in moto perpetuo are undeniableevidence of his talent.72William Walton 's knuckle-bustingshowpiece, Concerto for Violin andOrchestra, was commissioned byHeifetz in 1936. All three movements.Andantetranquillo, Presto capricciosoalla napolitana, and Vivace,are spectacular.Ehnes and the Vancouver SymphonyOrchestra give a virtuoso performanceof the highest order underBramwell Tovey's baton.Frank NakashimaConcert Notes: James Ehnes performsShostakovich 's Violin ConcertoNo.I with the Kitchener-WaterlooSymphony on March 2 & 3 and is featuredin the National Ballet's production"A Footstep of Air & Opus 19/The Dreamer & Voluntaries" beginningMarch 21.David Palmer's new recording forCentrediscs of Canadian organ musicprovides a fascinating survey of a co~ -ner of the repertoire that has been untilnow poorly represented on this label.The daunting conventions of the "GodMachine" has attracted relativelyfew adherents in recent times, andmore often than not the conventionalAnglican organists in ~anada hav: evidencedlittle interest in new music.Perhaps it is one of those demandinginstruments that, like theharp or guitar, dictate an insider'sknowledge. Deirdre Piper's choraleprelude Sarum: Variations on anAdvent Chant represents a refinedexample of the practitioner 's approachto the instrument, while BrentLee's clever Shadow Variationstakes the popular stereotype of the"spooky" radio show of the 1930sand stands it on its minimalist ear.David Palmer has a particular interestin the French school of organmusic, an influence which appearsto various degrees in the works ofChan, Evans and Koprowski representedhere; and indeed, the shadowof Olivier Messiaen threatens tooverwhelm the three extendedmovements of Alain Gagnon 'sEmergences.The works are performed on theexcellent sounding Casavant organat Calgary's EPCOR Centre for thePerforming Arts. It is a pity that theregistration of its 7 5 stops was notWWW. TH EWHOLEN OTE.COMprovided in the program boo~let asis the custom in organ recordings.Daniel FoleyGarden of Dreams -Music by David MaslankaDallas Wind Symphony;Jerry JunkinReference Recordings RR-108The wind orchestra is ripe with tonecolours unattainable in any other ensemble,since it includes a choir ofclarinets in various sizes, a quartetof saxophones, half a dozen trumpetswith low brass support, and ofcourse more percussion than youcan shake a stick at. David Maslankaexploits all these combinations inhis engaging, subtly shaded, almostcinematic music. A Childs Gardenof Dreams is based on the surrealdreamscapes recorded by an 8-yearold girl and analyzed by Carl Jung.Infectious melodies, frolickingwoodwinds over burbling mallet percussionand stirring brass chorusesevoke all the terrifying beauty of oursubconscious. Maslanka's fascinationwith Bach's chorales is woventhroughout In Memoriam, wherefanfare is contrasted with jaunty arabesques,building to a searing climaxwhich dissolves into plaintive solosfor oboe, muted trumpet etc. abovea shimmering texture of mallet percussion.Symphony No.4 also uses Bachchorale tunes as one organizationalelement. along with the composer'simpressions of the vast open spacesof his home in Montana. Complexlayering oftimbres, overwhelmingwaves of brass, undulating percussionand woodwinds, energeticrhythmic interplay in a slightly skewedboogie woogie section and the recurrenthymn tunes make this music asenjoyable to hear as it is to play.The Dallas Wind Symphony givesa virtuoso performance of this verychallenging repertoire, as might beexpected from one of North America'sfinest professional wind ensembles.The recording is clean andclear, even when the performers aregiving everything they've got. whichcannot fail to move the listener.Colin SavageChristos Hatzis - ConstantinoplePatricia O'Callaghan; MaryemHassan Tollar; Gryphon TrioAnalekta AN 2 9925The compact disc release of ChristosHatzis' multi-media theatricalmasterpiece Constantinople was along time coming, but perseverancehas paid off in spades.Hatzis says that he's not a religiousman. Not in the sense that conjuressocietal stereotypes. Yes, he wasraised Greek Orthodox, and his upbringinghas marked him indelibly. Thetexts are a composite of Greek andSerbian Orthodox chants to 12th c.Egyptian and 19th c. Byzantine poetry.The overarching theme is ~e?th ~dresurrection. However, Hatz1s musicand his mind transcend conventionalbarriers. Elements of urban gospel,parlour music and tan?o wit~ plainchant are interlaced with traditionalwestern and eastern tones.I spoke to Hatzis at the recentpremiere concert of his new workMystical Visitations, which he composedspecifically to inhabit MaryemTollar's world- rather than have hervisit his. This new work borrows amovement from Constantinople -Ah Kalleli!ln both works, the powerfulconnection between composerand singer is intoxicating.The hauntingly ethereal voices ofboth Constantinople s soloists, PatriciaO 'Callaghan and Maryem Tollar,are deftly supported and envelopedby Toronto's Gryphon Trio,who commissioned the work. Theadded impact of audio electroacousticssomehow binds the disparatepieces and pulls the whole together.Hatzis is a well-known advocate ofborderless music - if this is the directionof spiritual music in the 21st century,I say, bring it on!Heidi McKenziePerformance notes: As this magazinehits the streets Constantinoplewill be given 3 performances inMontreal (Feb. 28, Mar. 2 & 3) andlater in the month will have its Europeanpremiere at the Royal OperaHouse Covent Garden in London(Mar. 21 - 25). Constantinoplereturns to Toronto with 3 performancesat the Bluma Appel TheatreJune 7 - 9 as part of the LuminatoFestival. The Gryphon Trio performmusic of Berger, Arensky andKulesha with guest Joan Watson,horn, at Music Toronto on March 6.M ARCH 1 - APRI L 7 200 7

Darren Copeland -Perdu et retrouveDarren Copelandempreintes DIGITALes IMED0683It is too easily forgotten that Canadawas, and in many ways continuesto be, a world leader in the field ofelectronic-based electroacoustic music.In that rarefied discipline, we hada Toronto school, a Vancouver schooland a Montreal school. Darren Copelandis one of the originators of thegenre, and has taken part in all threeof those regional schools, over aperiod of more than twenty years.Given the vast palette of soundsand reproduction techniques available,it is no surprise that Copeland's newrelease on Empreintes Digitales is ona Dolby 5.1 Surround audio DVD.That means you cannot play it on yourCD player, nor can you listen to it onyour CD Walkman. But if you do havethe latest high tech home theatre system,here is a disc to test the reproductivecapabilities of your equipment.Copeland's pieces, compositions ofone form or another, are helped byprogram notes disseminating the thrustof each. The frightening opening trackdeals with the terrorist attacks ofSeptember 200 I as subject matter,as well as using audio fragmentsfrom that busy news day as part ofthe sonic texture. Other pieces arelonger and more laid-back, notablyOn a Strange Road, implying a surrealisticcar trip. With this machinemusic, it is comforting to know thata human is behind it, nonetheless.John S. GrayJAZZ ANDIMPROVISEDStop Playing Those BluesLouis ArmstrongNaxos Jazz Legends 8.120817This release finds Louis Armstrong(in my opinion, the most importantmusician of the 20th Century) at acrossroads: about to set aside theM A RC H 1 - APRIL 7 2007big band format in which he 's beenworking for nearly two decades, andtake up working with a small jazzgroup, The All-Stars.Pops was filming "New Orleans"in mid-1946 when a session was recordedwith a Dixie/swing septetfeaturing Vic Dickenson and BarneyBigard (who was later to spenda long time with Armstrong). Sugar,I Want A Little Girl and a pairof blues all have vocals, and strongsolos, especially by trombonist Dickenson,the 'shaggy dog ' ofjazz.A couple of weeks later, a sessionwas shared by the big band (onEndie) and a Dixieland Seven includingtrombonist Kid Ory andagain, Bigard on clarinet. The futurestandard, Do You Know What ItMeans To Miss New Orleans? isthe standout here.The transition to the small bandwas sealed with a Town Hall Concerton May I 7, 1947, featuring JackTeagarden as well as cornetist BobbyHackett, pianist Dick Cary andPeanuts Hucko on clarinet. Six sidesfrom that event are included here,including the always-charming vocalduets with Big T, Rockin 'Chairand Back 0' Town Blues.The firming up of the All-Starsformat, which was to be Armstrong'sworking format for the nextthree decades, is represented withsome tracks from later in 1947, withCary at the piano, before Earl Hineswas to take over the chair.Tacked on the end is a bit of anovelty, the title track from the filmA Song ls Born, featuring swing erafavourites Benny Goodman, TommyDorsey and Lionel Hampton.The generous 64 minute disc offersexcellent and honest soundtransfers by Torontonians DavidLennick and Graham Newton, andfull notes and recording information.Ted O'ReillyYou Taught My Heart to SingHouston Person with Bill CharlapHighNote Records HCD 7134What at first glance might seem an"odd couple" pairing turns out to bean inspired idea. Tenor saxophonistHouston Person is a veteran of the"chitlin ' circuit", the neighbourhoodtenor and organ bars where he got hisstart. And most of his early recordingswere made with groups led byorganists, Johnny "Hammond" Smithand Charles Earland among them.Person was pretty much overlookedby jazz listeners until the mid-seventieswhen he joined forces withvocalist Etta Jones. Pianist Bill Charlapon the other hand comes from afamily with a Broadway pedigree.His father, Moose Charlap, was aBroadway composer and his mother,Sandy Stewart, is a well-knownvocalist. Charlap made his firstrecords in the nineties backing singerBarbara Lea and as a sidemanwith Gerry Mulligan.In 2004 Person and Charlap met inRudy Van Gelder 's studio where theymade this stunning CD. " Bill and I hadfound ourselves thrown together quitea bit over the last two years," notesPerson, "and it was only natural thatthe noodlin' we'd do at rehearsals orsound checks would lead to our makinga record together." He goes on tosay, " ... Bill and I [have] an affinityfor the Great American Songbook."All the evidence one needs is here.The playing of both men is inspired onsuch fine songs as S 'Wonder fit!,Sweet Lorraine, I Wonder WhereOur Love Has Gone and the lovelytitle tune. Don't miss this gem.Don BrownOne Flight DownCedar WaltonHighNote Records HCD 7157Cedar Walton has been recording fornearly 50 years now, as sideman andleader, yet he still has something tosay. Indeed, the pianist sounds fresherand freer than ever. (It must bethose six decades of practicing).Most of this release is trio performance,but the opening two Walton compositionsalso feature Vincent Hening,an always-wise player, heard here ontenor rather than his usual alto sax.The title track is a funky hard-boppishline which would have suited anArt Blakey band: groovy! The RubberMan follows, a jaunty (almost said'bouncy') line with a nice forwardmovement at a medium-up tempo.The next Billy Strayhorn Medleyis in fact three tunes played separately.The trio, with bassist David Williamsand drummer Joe Farnsworth,is more aggressive in the interpretationsof Lush Life (which has becomediluted by murderous versions by bad'chick singers') and Daydream . Thefirm hand by Walton is appreciated,WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMespecially in the witty Latin treatmentof Daydream. The straight-aheadRaine heck features Farnsworth 'swonderful brush work.Seven Minds is David Williams'feature, and perhaps it lies so well underhis fingers because it was writtenby a fellow bassist, the late Sam Jones.A nice, floating reading of thestandard Time After Time leads intoWayne Shorter's Hammer Head, goingback 40 years to the days whenthe composer and Walton were in theJazz Messengers. Another Messenger,Freddie Hubbard, wrote the closerLittle Sunflower, and Walton sidestepsits simplicity as a framework forgoing in many directions.This album was a companion for along road trip recently, and it neverwore out its welcome.Ted O'ReillySorry to be StrangeChris Tarry GroupCellar Live (www.christarry.com)"Sorry to be Strange", released on thenew Cellar Live recording label, is thelatest project from New York-basedVancouver bassist and composer,Chris Tarry. It's been a while sincewe've had a CD from Chris, but thisself-produced, evocative and deeplyemotional project has been wellworth the wait. Tarry favours electricbass, and possesses a rare skill onthat unforgiving instrument that allowshim to ring every nuance and colourout of an axe that is more strongly associatedwith fusoid, higher-fasterlouder"face melters" than the reflective,swinging and melodic post-bopcompositions found here.All the material on "Sorry to beStrange" is written by Chris, with theexception of Universal Traveler bythe progressive band Air. As always,Chris has surrounded himself withwonderful communicative players whodisplay a New York-ish versatility andenthusiasm, including Pete McCannon guitar, Dan Weiss on drums, JonCowherd on piano and Canada's ownKelly Jefferson on sax. Stand-outsinclude the joyful Here We Go Again(featuring a facile Dan Weiss) and thehauntingly beautiful, Prettiest Girl ofAll Time. Also of high calibre is theproduction itself, by way of engineerJohn Hopkins with mixing by ShawnPierce. The breathtaking cover shotof the Williamsburg Bridge at sunset73

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