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Volume 14 - Issue 1 - September 2008

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;I-;;,, -;)I-J1 ~(~___'.'.'.: j _ I ...512)Orchestra; Collegium Vocale Gent;Skip SempeParadizo PA0004Beautifully performed in its own right, thisset will be of particular interest to those whowonder about the beginnings of opera. Theplay la Pellegrina was performed along withthese Intermedii for the wedding of Ferdinandode' Medici and Christine de Lorraine,Princess of France(Florence 1589).With music composedby the likes ofMarenzio, Malvezzi,Caccini, Peri,Archieli, Cavalieriand Bardi, it is easyto see how the lntermediimay havebeen the highlight of the festivities. The Intermedii,which began as a pleasant diversionperformed as staged madrigals and dancesbetween the acts of a play, eventually grew tobecome the main attraction of an evening'sentertainment at the opulent houses of theMedici dynasty. Over time, as the music,dance, machinery and stage design of thesevignettes became more and more elaborate,the form naturally expanded to create someof the first extended musical dramas. Manyof the texts for the 1589 Intermedii featured inthis set were written by Rinuccini and Striggio,who went on to create the librettos forthe first operas composed by Peri, Cacciniand Monteverdi. The Collegium Vocale Gentalong with Capriccio Stravagante provides anexcellent interpretation and insight into thisgenre. Director Skip Sempe adds an interviewdiscussing the historical and musicologicaljustifications for the orchestration, vocalstyle and ornamentation, modern performanceand recording of these works. Executedmagnificently, this is a rarified view into oneof the most extravagant performances of theperiod .Domenico ScarlattiDuende Harpsichord SonatasSkipSempeParadizo PA 9003Dianne WellsHarpsichordist extraordinaire, tireless impresarioand accomplished record producer SkipSempe scores another major success with thisrecital of vibrant sonatas by the Italian keyboardwizard Domenico Scarlatti.As the title of this release indicates, Sempehas chosen those particular sonatas that exhibitthe elusive quality of Duende. FedericoGarcia Lorca observed, "Everything that hasblack sounds in it, has duende." It is a conceptclosely associated with the defining56qualities of Spanishart - in particularthe folk and flamencomusic theItalian-born Scarlattiabsorbed duringhis lengthyservice to the royalcourts of Iberia.The selectionsexpertly conjure what Sempe describes asScarlatti's "high-risk gambler's instinct":virtuosic exuberance, passions, regrets,echoes of guitars and mandolins and wildnights sing throughout this fantastic musicallandscape. The recording quality is excellent,vibrant without becoming overbearing andblessedly devoid of the distracting mechanicalsounds older instruments are prone to . Canadianmusician Olivier Fortin joins Sempe onfour of the fourteen sonatas, performing solosonatas arranged as duets on a matched set ofharpsichords built by Bruce Kennedy in 1985 .An accompanying promotional disc also containsnumerous selections from the sizablestable of young talent appearing on previousreleases from Sempe's own Paradizo label.Daniel FoleyCLASSICAL AND BEYONDBeethoven - The SymphoniesBerlin Philharmoniker; Claudio AbbadoDeutsche Grammophon 477 5864This is ClaudioAbbado's thirdcompleteBeethoven cycleand his second withthe Berlin PhilharmonicOrchestra.Recorded 2000-2001, it features allthe fine productionand execution that listeners have come toexpect from Deutsche Grammophon. It doesnot, however, offer anything new. It hasalmost all the force of Karajan's 1963Beethoven cycle but little else to distinguish itfrom that older, much loved set of renditions.Certainly the ensemble is in top form butAbbado's vision is one of lyric clarity thatdoesn't distinguish itself from among theBPO's Beethoven recording history.While this makes for a lukewarm reception,the five disc set is handsome and overallmusically satisfying. The packaging is elegant.Most of the interpretations seem liftedfrom Karajan, except they lack the ferociouselement that pushed Karajan's sound over thetop. The orchestral preamble to bass-baritoneThomas Quasthoff's entry in the finale of theNinth Symphony, for example, doesn't havethe dynamic kick that forces the listener'sears wide open.Conversely, anyone who considers Karajanjust too brutal an interpreter will probablyadore these renditions. This may be Abbado'sfinal shot at this symphonic cycle and hisWWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMmelodic strengths largely make up for hislack of tutti crunch. These performancesreveal a consummate professional who hasall the tools but not the genius necessary toplace him among the greatest directorswho've held the podium for Berlin's top orchestra.John KeillorMahler 10Wiener Philharmoniker; Daniel HardingDeutsche Grammophon 477 7347Gustav Mahler didnot live to add thefinishing details tothe grand torso ofhis lOth symphony,though he had gottenas far as orchestratingthe first andthird movements ofthis five-movementwork before his untimely death at the age of50. For decades only these two movementswere performed until Mahler's widow Almafinally consented to allowing Deryck Cooke's"performing edition" of the entire score to beperformed in 1963. The edition for this recordingis Cooke's 1976 third revision, publishedposthumously in 1989.Though the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestrahas recorded the opening Adagio movementseveral times under prominent conductors(Bernstein and Abbado both consideredthis the only legitimate portion of the work),this is the VPO's first recording of the completesymphony. Oddly, the familiar firstmovement receives on the whole the leastconvincing rendition. Fortunately, as thesymphony progresses, both orchestra andconductor rise to the occasion, hitting theirstride in the waltzing fourth movement andmoving sensitively through the finale to providea touchingly expressive end to this magnificentwork.Album and booklet are festooned with ahalf dozen fashion shots of the intense youngmaestro Daniel Harding (Sir Simon Rattle'smost prominent protege) but nary a one of thecomposer. As this is Harding's debut appearanceon the exclusive DG label, it appearsthat no expense has been spared to provide aproper studio realization of the work. Recordedon-site in the Grof3er Saal of theMusikverein, this disc boasts much fineracoustics than DG's recent string of meretriciouslive recordings.Daniel FoleyEXTENDED PLAY - CLASSICALVIOLIN CONCERTOSBy Terry RobbinsFranz Clement is generally remembered - ifhe is remembered at all - as the soloist in thepremiere of Beethoven's Violin Concerto,supposedly sight-reading from the manuscriptand at one point apparently playing his violinupside down. Not quite the sort of figure youS EPTEMBE R 1 - O CTO BER 7 2008

would expect to be the subject of a musicalrevelation, but that's exactly what he is onBeethoven and Clement Violin Concertos,a superb 2-CD set featuring Rachel BartonPine and the RoyalPhilharmonic Or- · 'chestra under JoseSerebrier (CedilleCDR 90000 106).Beethoven heldClement in the highestregard, and withgood reason: he wasan exceptional violinistand a gifted composer. His D MajorViolin Concerto is an impressive work thatputs the Beethoven, long regarded as beingstylistically unique for its period, in a newperspective, and is all the more remarkablefor pre-dating the Beethoven by more than ayear. The concerto has not been performed in200 years, and this world premiere recordinguses the new edition prepared by CliveBrown, who also provides the outstandingbooklet notes. Barton Pine is superb in bothconcertos, combining a sensitive understandingof contemporary performance practicewith flawless technique and glorious tone; shealso wrote the excellent cadenzas. The RPOand Serebrier are perfect partners, and therecorded sound is outstanding. At the bargainsingle-CD price this is an absolute 'mustbuy'!Nine violin concertos have been attributedto Haydn over the years, only four of whichhave proved genuine. One has been lost, andthe other three are featured on an excellentNaxos disc by Augustin Hadelich with theCologne Chamber Orchestra under HelmutMiiller-Bruhl (Haydn Violin ConcertosNaxos 8.570483). The CCO has a long historyof period performance, since 1987 on moderninstruments, and the balance between periodstyle and a full, warm sound is very satisfying.The harpsichordcontinua adds !-a great deal, andthe tempos arecrisp and brightthroughout. Hadelich'splaying isexcellent in allrespects . He sweptthe a wards at the1l \ l.1\Indianapolis International competition in2006, and looks set for a stellar career; thisCD marks his professional recording debut.Highly recommended.Period style is more prominent on anotherintriguing 2-CD set, Giuliano Carmignola'srecordings of the Mozart Violin Concertosand the Sinfonia Concertante with ClaudioAbbado and his new, hand-picked OrchestraMozart (DGG Archiv 00289 477 7371). Thisis the orchestra's first period-instrumentrecording, and their stylised playing may notbe to everyone's taste. The softer attackfrequently has little sustain, for instance,making for quite different phrasing. Theinterpretations are sensitive and thoughtfulthough, with a sparing use of vibrato andSEPTEM BER 1 - O CTOBER 7 2008some interesting ornamentation choices.Tempos are again quite fast, with a devilish"Turkish" episode in the Rondeau finale ofthe A major, and there is no languishing inthe slow movements either. Danusha Waskiewiczplays viola in the wonderful Sinfonia.Incidentally, Abbado and the OM havealso just released an excellent 2-CD set offive Mozart symphonies in the same style(DGG Archiv 00289 477 7598). The performancesare live Italian concert recordingsfrom 2005/06, but the excellent sound qualitygives virtually no indication of an audiencebeing present.MODERN ANDCONTEMPORARYHommage a MessiaenPierre-Laurent AimardDeutsche Grammophon 477 7452As Olivier Messiaen'smusic cutsdeeper and deeperinto the mainstreamclassical canon, hisname is becominginextricably boundwith pianist Pierre­Laurent Aimard. Asa student of both.._..Messiaen and his wife Yvonne Loriod thisinterpreter has been groomed for the job ofproviding definitive renditions of all the composer'spianistic material. This disc commemoratesMessiaen's centenary with earlysolo piano selections from 1928 to 1950.The spacious breadth of Messiaen's celestialbrand of tonality was fully formed fromthe start - all of the material in this collection(Preludes pour piano, selections from Catalogued'oiseaux, and Quatre Etudes derythme) demonstrate a fully formed auralvision of rare genius. Hints of Satie and Debussy'sinfluences are evoked without undueemphasis. Aimard's renditions are evocativeand refined, an irrefutable argument for hisA-List status as an interpreter. But his performancesalso have a selflessness that directsthe ear past the player and into thescores themselves so that this recording is atestimony to the composer's emerging statusas the supreme French composer of the mid-20th century.The aesthetic accuracy and comparativesimplicity of early scores also serve to helpMessiaen-resisters hear past their deficiency.It's praise through faint damnation to say thatWWW,THEWHOLENOTE,COMno better performances of these scores mayever be available. Aimard may have won therace before it really started.John KeillorFiestaSimon Bolivar Youth Orchestra ofVenezuela; Gustavo DudamelDeutsche Grammophon 4777457When this year's Glenn Gould Prize went toJose Antonio Abreu, few in Canada had evenheard of this remarkable conductor, teacher,economist and humanitarian. The SimonBolivar Youth Orchestra is just one of thefruits of the sistemaAbreu set up in hisnative Venezuela toteach music tohundreds of thousandsof disadvantagedchildren. Itsconductor for thepast eight years hasbeen his student andprotege, Gustavo Dudamel. Though justtwenty-seven, Dudamel has just been madethe new music director of the Los AngelesPhilharmonic.After discs of weightier material - Mahlerand Beethoven symphonies - they here offershowpieces from Latin American composers.These programmatic works all have roots infolk melodies and traditional dance rhythms.The most memorable pieces encompass thesultry moodiness of Silvestre Revueltas'Sensemaya, the painterly vistas of Noon onthe Plain by Antonio Estevez, the lilting evocationsof Danz6n No.2 by Marquez and thetempestuous drama of Ginastera's manylayereddances from Estancia.The flamboyant exuberance of these youngmusicians and their charismatic conductorwouldn't be nearly so enjoyable if their ensemble-workwasn't so focused and theirrhythms so articulate. They take LeonardBernstein's Mambo from West Side Story,the only non-Latin -American piece on theprogram, much faster than Bernstein everdid. But they pull it off.The booklet for this live recording includesan essay based on interviews withDudamel, and a list of every one of the overtwo hundred members of this extraordinaryorchestra.Pamela MarglesTimothy Corlis - Notes TowardsVarious ArtistsChestnut Hall Music CMH080523( www .myspace.com/timothycorlis)Occasionally we find a CD that truly standsout from the rest, and here is one, certainly.Timothy Corl is is a composer of great depthand passion, not to mention a pristine, polishedcraft. The opening Prelude for the Nightof the Lunar Eclipse, a post-impressionisticduet for cello and piano, draws you in compellingly.The title track follows, for chorus and57

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