7 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 8 - May 2008

Includes the 2008 Canary Pages

like those on this

like those on this engaging CD then perhapsthat's not such a bad thing.Fantasies onoperatic airs were astaple of the 19thcentury keyboardand instrumentalsalon repertoires, butthis disc brings theIIDl'EIL\F,\ \T,\., IL,fO~ \'lt!LI\~ .:inun 1t l 1J lu~ 1l .1.:'trnt:rln1 ll.l!f11,Jr.,~rn!l I l .. ~~r,~l II t Jui ll' \'~ !'.' I 11.11..1,· r1e1 lll.ingenre right up to :~~;.:!~ ~~~ .. - ,date. Paganini, Raffand Hubay are includedin the nine tracks, but so are contemporarycomposers Osvaldo Golijov and StephenPrutsman, as well as arrangements of excerptsfrom operas by Stravinsky and Kurt Weill. TheGolijov and Prutsman works are world premiererecordings, as is pianist Benjamin Loeb 'stranscription of the famous duet from Bizet'sThe Pearl Fishers.Livia Sohn is fully up to the task, handlingthe virtuoso demands with confident brilliance,and the lyrical passages with a warm sensitivity.Her husband GeoffNuttall, first violin withthe St. Lawrence String Quartet,joins her onviolin in the Golijov, and on viola for the Bizetduet.Terry RobbinsBizet/Serebrier - Carmen Symphony"The President's Own" United StatesMarine Band; Jose SerebrierNaxos 8.570727Naxos house conductor Jose Serebrier is surelythe hardest working man in show business atthe bargain blue label, with over 250 recordingsto his credit. On this occasion he teams upwith the renownedUnited States Ma- 111:1 ,,,. .. ~.""tL,,..,, f;JrineBand in a liveperformance (applauseincluded)from 2007. The titletrack, the CarmenSymphony, is aseries of excerptsfrom Bizet's celebratedopera, re­13it.t'l l~tf'i.:l:n:'iu4 c\l!~U;:,. SHll'IIO"r,l~ .. vrn-l'• l.lJu..t•hT

sickly invalid at the end of his rope (as hishinky widow would have us believe) histrionicswould seem an essential component. Rattlerather surprisingly keeps his cool and looks tothe larger structure of the work. This approachis at its least convincing in the turbulent Rondo­Burleske movement in which the mood swingsof the slower central section are glossed overand the biting sarcasm only hits home towardsthe end. The deliberately paced first movementalso betrays moments of less than shatteringimpact, notably the underplaying of the trombone'sdeath-motive at the climax of the development.In the finale however the Berlinstrings win the day with their passionate tonein a performance filled not with the customarydespair but with a spiritual transcendence.Abbado and Karajan have both left us historicrecordings with this same orchestra with similarlyApollonian approaches which top thisperformance, so it's at best a bronze star forRattle.In a sign of the times, the performance waspre-released as an mp3 download before beingreleased as a 2 CD set for the price of a single.The package includes a computer applicationenticing you to join the EMI club, writeyour own review, and win prizes! I should beso lucky.Daniel FoleyPortraits: Elgar - Enigma Variations; Mussorgsky/Ravel- Pictures at an ExhibitionToronto Symphony Orchestra;Peter OundjianTSO Live ( - Pictures at an Exhibition;Borodin - Symphony No. 2;Polovtsian DancesBerliner Philharmoniker; Simon RattleEMI 5 17582 2Regular TSO concert goers may rememberhearing Elgar's Enigma Variations and Mussorgsky'sPictures at an Exhibition earlierthis season. Caught up the thrill of the occasionone may suspend the critical factor and respondenthusiastically to the event but not havethe luxury of critiquing the actual performancein their Monday morning chair. The TSO themselves,not the CBC, recorded these twoevents which are available for download ontheir site, TSO.ea, under "TSO Live - Portraits".The "hard copy" to which I am listeningis probably not intended for general distributionas it has neither a catalogue number nora bar code. The Elgar comes off very wellindeed. The performance is vitally fleet-footedand recorded in appropriately exuberant anddynamic sound with accurate perspectives.The Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures, however, isnot quite so successful. Oundjian does nothave anything fascinating to say about any ofthe episodes which tend to be on the slow sidewithout being reflective leading to a pervasivelysombre effect. The sound is appropriatelyrobust with convincing perspectives. TheTSO's earlier recording of Pictures conductedby Jukka-Pekka Saraste from March 1996 hasbeen re-issued by Warner Music (Apex CD388432). This brilliant recording is unique,using orchestrations by Leo Funtek and SergeiGortschakov as selected by Saraste. Greatidea, great recording.EMI recorded Pictures with Simon Rattleand the Berlin Philharmonic in the Ravel orchestrationduring live performances given inDecember of last year and has issued it on CDtogether with Borodin's Second Symphony andthe Polovtsian Dances, all from the sameprogramme. The difference in engineeringphilosophy is most revealing. Setting aside thestature of the orchestra and the venue, thePhilharmonie, the EMI sound is brilliant, sinewyand expansive revealing both the treesand the forest. The performance under Rattlemust be highly recommended for his suave andpoetic shaping of each picture captures eventhe jaded listener's attention through to thevery last bar. The Old Castle's aura of pastgrandeur is unmistakeable; The Ballet of theUnhatched Chicks is impertinently chatty.The imaginary Great Gate of Kiev demonstratesRattle's expertise as he makes thisfamiliar episode sound newly minted. TheBorodin Second Symphony, another familiarpiece, is treated to a vigorous performance ofgreat power while remaining quite translucent.The Polovtsian Dances, sans choir, is anothertour de force and a natural crowd-pleaser. Thissurely was an evening to be remembered forthose present in the Philharmonie. For us , thisdisc contains performances and recordingsthat, individually or collectively, sweep thefield.Bruce SurteesJAZZ & IMPROVISEDPennsylvania GreyMEM3Independent ( mainstream jazz polished to ahigh sheen, "Pennsylvania Grey" could be thepunch line to an anecdote that begins with thequestion: what happens when a Toronto drummer,a bassist from Sydney, Australia and apianist from Seattle hook up in Brooklyn?Three graduates of the Manhattan SchoolofMusic, four-year-old MEM3 consists ofpianist and jazz educator Michael Cabe, sturdybassist Mark Lau, who has backed folks likesaxophonist Dave Liebman, plus homeboypercussionist Ernesto Cervini, who performedwith the Toronto All Star Big Band and record-ed with vocalist TaraDavidson. The CDfeatures three tunescomposed by eachof the principalsplus one standard.Not only do theperformances showoff each player'sskills, but the simpaticointeraction also shores up individual limitations.Sometimes this involves Cabe, whoseprodigious technical skill allows him to slip intocommonplace runs and chord sequences.Luckily the tough, double-stopping bass thumpsplus the drummer's inventiveness prod thepianist into exploring unexpected improvisationalavenues.Taken adagio, the more-than-12-minute titletrack is a prime example of this, with the atmosphericouting becoming progressively moreinvigorating as Cabe limns the taut theme withone hand, while producing cross-tempo variationswith the other. Reaching a crescendo ofdense, impressionistic broken chords, Lau'shard-toned, flamenco-styled strnmming, whichseems to echo back inside his bass, introducestheme recapitulation, with the finale cementedby the drnmmer's distinctive cymbal cracks.More expansive on his own Cerebrau,Cervini trades fours with the pianist, matchingCabe's kinetic chording with snare backbeats,press rolls and tom-tom patterning as Lausteadies the others' output with an undercurrentof walking bass lines.Overcoming its growing pains, MEM3 'sapprenticeship is swiftly coming to an end onthe evidence of this CD.Ken WaxmanDay and Night - Live at the AtlanticJazz FestivalDavid Liebman; Mike Murley;Jim Vivian; Ian FromanCornerstone Records CRST CD130Recorded live at the Neptune Theatre, Halifaxin July 2003, here is another addition to thegrowing and valuable library of the CanadianCornerstone label.Bassist Jim Vivianand drummer IanFroman support DavidLiebman (sopranoandtenorsaxophoneplus Indian bambooflute) and MikeMurley (tenor andsoprano saxophone)who make great sparring partners. The sessiongets off to a rousing start with the title tune byLiebman, based of course, on the changes ofCole Porter's Night And Day. This is followedby a Murley original called That's What YouWant , a moody introspective performance,followed by the more melodic, "straight ahead"Tad Dameron composition, Gnid.The CD then features four minutes ofintroductions by Liebman which are interestingM AY 1 - ] UNE 7 2008WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM63

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