8 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 9 - June 2008

~·.;1;:0f3~The Victoria

~·.;1;:0f3~The Victoria Dayweekend proved tobe a pleasantly gruellingordeal as severallate arrivalsforced their way tothe top ofmy listeningpile. Most notablewas a 6-CD set(Na"ive MontaigneMO 782179) of historic (though not ancient)performances of some significant and underrecordedworks of the late Olivier Messiaen(1908-1992), whose centenary will be celebratedthis December. Of particular note are1990 and 1991 live performances of Des Canyonsaux £,toi/es.. and La transfiguration denoire seigneur Jesus Christ under the directionofReinbert de Leeuw, who was recentlyin Toronto to conduct TSO Messiaen performancesduring the New Creations Festival. DeLeeuw's 1991 performance inspired the composerto say "C'etait une execution extraordinaire."Each of these enormous works, datingfrom 1971 - 74 and 1965-69 respectively, whichfeature a myriad of soloists and large orchestralforces (with choir added in the case of Latransfiguration), comprise 2 CDs and providebook-ends for the (mostly) older works containedon the other two discs of the set. Theseare the 1943 Visions de I 'Amen for two pianos(performed by de Leeuw and Maarten Bon)and the 1988 80th birthday concert featuringthe composer's wife Yvonne Loriod as pianosoloist with Ensemble Intercontemporain underthe direction of Pierre Boulez. The concertfeatured the celebrated Oiseaux exotiques( 1955-56), Sept Haikai ( 1962), Couleurs dela cite celeste ( 1963) and the world premiereperfonnance of one of the composer's lastworks, Un vitrail et des oiseaux ( 1986).Listening to pieces representing the output ofmore than four decades, I was reminded of acolleague who once jokingly said in referenceto Messiaen's music, "Why does Grandpaalways tell the same story?" Or as my ownfather likes to say, "Don't stop me if you'veheard this one." Admittedly Messiaen's musicalways sounds like Messiaen (i.e. "the same")but what surprises me is that in spite of havinginfluenced several subsequent generations ofcomposers through his teaching, no one else'smusic sounds like his. His is a unique voice andeven if it is "always the same", it is a gloriousstory, exquisitely told. I highly recommend thisentire set, but for those who want to pick andchoose, the two double and two single discsare available individually.Another multi-disc set that drew my attentionthis month is Christina Petrowska Quilico'snew 2 CD collection INGS (WelspringeProductions WEL0008) distributed by theCanadian Music Centre ( disc's unusual title is taken from Henry52EDITOR'S CORNER: June 2008ord ings reviewedCowell 's set Sixlngs (Floating,Frisking, Fleeting,Scooting, Waitingand my personalfavourite, Seething)which begins thesecond disc. Butbefore I get too farahead of myself I'dlike to say how impressed I was with the programmingof this set. From its opening track,Ann Southam 's hypnotically beautiful GlassHouses, to the close almost two and half hourslater with Omar Daniel 's Surfacing, the journeyis a diverse, well-paced and extremelywell-executed one that spans the work offifteen 20th century composers, including fourCanadians. One of the most exceptional aspectsof this set is the fact that these excitingand seemingly flawless performances were allrecorded live. They were mostly culled fromthe archives ofCBC Radio 2 but some- jazzinspired works by Masamitsu Takahashi andBill Westcott- were recorded during PetrowskaQuilico's faculty recital at York University'sAccolade Centre in January 2007. CBC producerDavid Jaeger, the pianist's main collaboratoron this project, is also present as composerwith Quasi Sospiri, an interactive work forpiano and computer-controlled electronicswhich expands the scope of the instrument byextending its reverberant qualities withoutbecomingjarringly synthetic. Coming midwaythrough the first disc it could be seen as providinga welcome respite to the potential samenessofan all-and-only-piano program, butfrankly the broad stylistic range of the repertoirerenders this unnecessary and we are ableto appreciate Jaeger's piece simply for what itis- a sensuous exploration and amplification ofthe piano's acoustic world.There are simply too many fine pieces to gointo detail here, so I will just mention the highlightsfor me: Messiaen 's Premiere communionde la Vierge (from Vingt regards sur/ 'erifant Jesus) , Alexina Louie's Star FilledNight and Takemitsu's Les yeux clos. In addition,the hard-core post-serial school is representedby the Premiere Sonate of Pierre Boulez,while more accessible offerings includeLowell Lieberson's Apparitions, David DelTredici 's Fantasy Pieces and even a couple ofArt Tatum arrangements, /'II Never Be theSame and Don't Get Around Much Anymore.All in all this is a compelling and eclectic journeythrough the annals of20th century composition.Incidentally, Christina Petrowska Quilicowill be the recipient of the 2008 Friend ofCanadian Music Award, to be presented by theCanadian Music Centre and the CanadianLeague of Composers this month.But let's not be fooled into thinking thatPetrowska Quilico 's disc has run the entireWWW, THEWHOLENOTE,COMgamut and exhaustedthe possibilitiesof piano compositionin our time. A newCD by BrigittePoulin , Edificesnaturels on theQuatuor Bozzinilabel (CQB ),takes us on a tour of four very different landscapesmapped by Canadian composers JamesHarley, Ana Sokolovic, Denys Bouliane andPaul Frehner. Harley's piece, which gives thedisc its title, was actually inspired by a landscape-the "beautiful and strange rock formationsviewed at Bryce Canyon." (Coincidentallyit was Bryce Canyon that inspired Messiaen's Des Canyons aux Etoiles mentionedabove.) Ana Sokolovic's Danses et interludestake the composer's Baltic heritage as theirpoint of departure and utilize the rhythms ofthe Serbian language. Bouliane's contribution isalso a dance, but in his case one based on punsand word games. The most extended and mostrecent work included is Frehner's 36-minuteFinnegans Quarks Revival completed in2007. Its eight interrelated movements are"named after the whimsical names of thequarks that inspired them" - Down; Bottom;Beauty, Strange; Charm; Up; Truth; Top. Ofcourse, as the composer points out, one of thetenets of quantum theory is the basic interconnectednessof all phenomena, and he confessesto having therefore taken some liberty in thesearch for ways to relate ideas. That beingsaid, we are nonetheless presented with acohesive series of sometimes lyrical and alwaysthoughtful sketches. Concert note:Brigitte Poulin is one of the Montreal musiciansinvolved in "Transmission", presentingworks ofBoulez, Xenakis, Murai!, Aperghis,Vivier and Manoury at the Music Gallery onJune 5 as part of the soundaXis festival.The next disc also comes from Quebec butin this instance explores the world of traditionalfolk music throughthree-part a cappella r ··-::,~~ii!M::>---':,·~vocals, lively instrumentalsin "period"style and originalsongs. Genticorumhas been performingtogether since 2000and with the releaseof their third CD LaBibournoise( have firmly establishedthemselves as players on the internationalfolk circuit. This summer they will performin California, Vermont, Maine, British Columbia,Quebec, Newfoundland and August 15-17at the Ottawa Folk Festival. Multi-instrumentalistsall, the three perform on wooden flute,J UNE 1 - J ULY 7 2008

fiddle(s), guitar,jaw harp, fretless electric bass(tastefully played and never seeming anachronistic)and foot-stomp percussion. The texturescreated belie the fact that there are just threepeople producing all that sound, but carefullistening confirms that this is indeed possible inreal (reel!) time: two singers and flute, okaythat's three mouths; flute plus fiddle andbass- that's only three pairs of hands; addseveral pairs offeet; well yes, three wellcoordinatedpeople could do that all at onceand evidently they do. Highlights are the acappella title track- I've not been able to finda definition for the word "bibournoise", but thesong is about being confined in a wondrousprison cell made of food, walls of mutton andfloors of ham, with buckets of wine to wash itall down- and Hommage a Andre A lain/LaGigue a Pierre Chartrand, a tribute piecethat begins as a gentle fiddle tune and morphsinto a lively dance. Once again it took carefullistening to separate the layers: fiddle,jawharp, bass and foot percussion. The final pieceLe Pommeau is a set of reels "composed in theshower ... Music to clean the soul and warmthe heart." That works for me'The final disc I want to mention also has aFrench connection, but in this instance it isCollette Savard'srural Franco-Ontarianheritage thatcomes into play.Now living in Toronto,she hasincorporated moreurban jazz and poporientedsensibilitiesinto her writing and-:, ~~;\.Collett! Savard -,,1:{::r,n boyfriend :rcomposition, crafting what she calls "a soulfulnew style of folk music." What drew me toCollette's new CD Zen Boyfriend( is its instrumentation.l cannot think of another contemporaryinstance where the main accompaniment isprovided by dulcimer or ukulele. Oh there isample acoustic guitar, with occasional dobro,violin, viola, percussion, bass, and on one cuteven the baritone sax of Richard Underhill, butthe most intriguing tracks involve Savard'ssturdy vocals with very meagre instrumentation,mostly provided by producer John Zytaruk.All the songs are original compositions.Particularly effective are Quarter-Life Crisis(banjo, guitar and bass) and the closing trackOver the Waves where Zytaruk's lap steel (attimes reminiscent of John Gzowski 's hauntingwork with Mary Margaret O' Hara) providesthe only support for Savard's vocal melody andsparse ukulele strumming. Concert note:Collette Savard performs at Mitzi's Sister(1554 Queen St. West) on June 13.We welcome your feedback and invite submissions.CDs and comments should be sentto: The WholeNote, 503 - 720 Bathurst St.Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also welcome yourinput via our website, OldsD/SCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comDISVOCAL AND OPERABach and the Liturgical YearShannon Mercer; Luc BeausejourAnalekta AN 2 9907The twenty selectionson this CDperformed by sopranoShannon Mercer,organist LucBeausejour, oboistWashingtonMcLain, violinistNicole Trotier andcellist AmandaKeesmaat present arias and organ chorales inchronological sequence following the churchcalendar. Traditionally, the church yearbegins with Advent, but this recording organizesthe material in a sequence more accessibleto the modern world, starting with NewYear and then leading through Easter, Pentecost,Advent and Christmas, including observancesand celebrations in between.To lead us through the year with joy andheartfelt celebration, a voice as light as abreeze, lithe as a fairy and luminous as anangel graces this repertoire along with asuitably heavenly ensemble. Most notable isthe gorgeous tone and dancing lyricism ofWashington McClain playing baroque oboeand oboe da caccia for which one thanksBach profusely for having given the oboistequal voice in so many of the cantatas. Fromthe wealth of material one could choose fromBach for the liturgical year, the choices hereare a good mixture of the familiar and therelatively obscure, representing an appealingrange of masterful sacred selections to carryus through the seasons.Dianne WellsMozart - Le Nozze di FigaroErwin Schrott; Miah Persson; GeraldFinley; Dorothea Roschmann; Rinat Shaham;Royal Opera; Antonio PappanoOpusArte OA 0990 DWhether Marriage ofFigaro is Mozart'sbest work for thestage is arguable, DonGiovanni being a closecontender, yet thissplendid new releasemakes a very goodcase for it. Althoughcontaining great comedyand a full range ofhuman emotions plusmuch of the composer's most heavenly music,it has been a difficult opera to bring off@r~~~LAUNCH PARTY!Friday June 27, 8:00PMSydney's Island Restaurant51 20 Dixie Rd, MississaugaCall 905-624-3444for Dinner Reservations cover includes:AutographedEMANCIPATION CDComplimentary glass ofwine and hors d'oeuvres(8-9:00PM only)Exciting Entertainment!For Full Event detailsand CD SalesVisit www.RoselynBrown.comJUN E 1 - JULY72008WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM53

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