7 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 1 - September 2007


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Continued from page 10VOCALSchubert Among FriendsThe Aldeburgh Connection (Gillian Keith;Colin Ainsworth; Michael Schade; GeraldFinley; Stephen Ralls; Bruce Ubukada)Marquis 81365It is this kind ofrecord that makesthe life of the reviewereasy. It simplyradiates youthfulness,musicalbrilliance and thejoy of singing. I fellin love with it atfirst hearing.TheAldeburgh Connection that promotesyoung Canadian singing talent celebrated its25th anniversary by assembling four brilliantsingers to bring us this ' Schubertiad' inspiredby the casual gathering of the composer'sfriends to perform his music in an informal setting.While Fischer-Dieskau is the non-plus ultrain Schubertian Lied, our justly world renownedMozartean tenor, Michael Schade would comeclosest to him in very spirited, exhilarating andbeautifully modulated renditions of Grunen andMusenssohn. His voice is faultless and hisGerman diction (so important in expressing thepoetry) is immaculate. The light soprano voiceof Gillian Keith adds a welcome cheerful notein a bravura interpretation of Die Schmetterlingwhere one can literally see a butterfly flitteringfrom flower to flower in the sunlight.Her expression for the heavenly Die Sterne isunsurpassed. Unfortunately the German dictionis often a bit of a stumbling block for non-nativeborn singers.The also internationally famous GeraldFinley, a strong baritone impressive in his lowerregisters, expresses the all-pervasive sadnessin Der Wanderer an den Mand, a song veryclose to the spirit of Die Winterreise. YoungColin Ainsworth can only be heard in assemblynumbers so it is difficult to judge his interpretiveskills. While both piano accompanists, festivalfounders Bruce Ubukata and StephenRalls, are thoroughly competent and stylish,Ralls achieves such a rare symbiosis with thesingers that I am reminded of the great GeraldMoore.Janos GardonyiConcert note: The Aldeburgh Connection beginsits season with "New York Exotic" onSunday October 21 at Walter Hall.SEPTEMB ER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2007Back to Ad IndexPERIODPERFORMANCELully - TheseeHoward Crook; Laura Pudwell; EllenHargis; Harry van der Kamp; BostonEarly Music Festival; Paul O'Dette &Stephen StubbsCPO 777 240-2Thank goodnessthere is a lastingrecord of this landmarkproduction ofone ofLully's mostpopular and enduringworks for the stage.Without the benefitof " visuals" one is allowed to wallow andwonder in the nuances ofLully's narrow musicalvocabulary, but one that is made up forwith a brilliant dramatic and choreographicgenius.The performances on this recording - fromthe 200 I Boston Early Music Festival - aremostly outstanding. Veterans Howard Crook(Thesee) and Harry van der Kamp (Aegee)are standouts. Soprano Ellen Hargis, a BostonFestival mainstay, is only pleasant as Aegle, notmaking the most of her many dramatic highsand lows. Canadians Suzie Leblanc (Cleone)and newcomer Mireille Lebel, in a variety ofroles, turn in tremendous performances, full offreedom and beauty. But this whole showowes a debt of gratitude to the unique andfearless presence of another Canadian, LauraPudwell in the role of the scheming and underhandedMedee. She makes this character herown, giving it three-dimensionality and deepmusical and dramatic interest in every scene.Pudwell is priceless.In the bass role ofArcas, Canadian OlivierLaquerre is a bit of a disappointment andAmerican soprano Amanda Forsythe soundscompletely out of her element and comfortzone in her various smaller roles, especially inthe French ornamentation.The orchestra is a complete treat to hear inthe dances and larger scenes, and the conti nuosection, which carries the weight ofaccompanyingthe long, dramatic recitative scenes, isbri 11 iantly centred and varied.One of the best recordings of French Baroqueopera I've ever heard.Larry BeckwithCLASSICAL AND BEYONDFranck - Douze Grandes Pieces pourOrgue Vol. t & 2Pierre GrandmaisonATMA ACD2 2573I can think of no better advocate for organcompositions than the Basilica of Notre-Damede Montreal organist Pierre Grandmaison. Inhis over 30 year association with the church,he has had the enviable opportunity to becomeacquainted with its Casavant organ. It takes along time to really understand the mechanismsand idiosyncrasies of any musical instrument,WWW. THEWHOLENOTLCOMso imagine thedaunting task ofmastering a 90 stop,four-manual andpedal, 122 rank, 7000pipe creation!Grandmaison 's dedicationand patiencehas paid off - hislove and knowledgeof this organ is apparent throughout this twovolumerelease of the complex and occasionallyeven idiosyncratic organ works of Frenchcomposer Cesar Franck.Featured are the popular Six Pieces pourGrand Orgue, written early in Franck's compositionalcareer. Here, " Priere" is a beautifulexample of the composer' s musical abilities,with Grandmaison's ethereal performancemaking this the track to listen to on this release.Trois Pieces pour Grand Orgue was composedfor the four-manual Cavaille-Coll organoftheTrocadero concert hall that was built forthe 1878 Paris Exposition. Grandmaison writesin his bilingual liner notes that critics have beenunfairly harsh about the first movement Fantasieen la majeur. I am siding with the criticsthis time. This is a very odd harmonic workthat still has me shaking my head in confusion.Hard to believe that this was penned by thesame composer who wrote the enjoyable TroisChorals which complete the disc.The wide-ranging scope of Franck's organcompositions combined with the fabulous musicianshipof Pierre Grandmaison make " DouzeGrande Pieces Pour Orgue" a welcome additionto any collection.17ina KiikHill, Alfred - String Quartets Nos. 1-3Dominion QuartetNaxos 8.570491Alfred Hill was bornin Melbourne, Australiain 1869. Helived in New Zealand~lrn:d!f![.I.""'"!( 1tu 11.;- r ..from the ages of , , ,three to seventeen,studied in Leipzig, re- '"m'""'turning to New Zea- Q,·~ 11 1 "land in 1891. From L----===-===i1910 until his death in 1960 he resided in Sydney.He was a romantic composer nurtured in theEuropean environment of Schubert, Weber,Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, and RichardStrauss. The impact of his music is reminiscentof those popular composers and yet he did notcopy from them. His quartets are ultimately allhis own original creations.That being said, his music was stylisticallyanachronistic. We must remember at his timecomposers such as Stravinsky, Schoenberg andProkofiev were dominating the contemporarymusic scene. That may be one of the reasonshis is not a household name. Of course, livingin Australia may be another reason for his obscurity.It is clearly our loss because his musicis engaging and addictive.The emotions expressed in these first threequartets range from the mournful and pensive57

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