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Volume 14 - Issue 5 - February 2009

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ecordings reviewedEDITOR'S CORNERCCS 17198) bring a wealth of technique andexperience to their interpretations, and they bothseem to have made these pieces their own. "Rostropovich himself never recorded thethird suite in which Britten incorporated severalRussian melodies. My first exposure to thatpiece was through a 1995 recording featuring ayoung Israeli-born cellist Matt Haimovitz whoDecember 2008 marked the lOOth birthdays ofLeonard Rose at the Juiltwovery significant 20th century composers,liard School described asOIIv1er Messiaen and Elliott Carter. Carter is"probably the greatest talstillvery much alive and continues to make sig- ent I have ever taught" .nificant contributions to the repertoire. You canAt 17 Haimovitz signedread Pamela Margles' comments on some ofan exclusive recordinghis recent works in her review of Ursula Op-contract with Deutschepens' recording of his complete (at least to thisGrammophon and severdate)piano works elsewhere in these pages, al of his recordings of standard and non-standandnext month we will feature a review of ard repertoire won international awards overToronto's New Music Concerts centenary trib- the next 12 years. Three of those discs haveute to the American master. As for Messiaen been re-issued on DG's budget "Trio" line. Thewho died in 1991 , there is a wealth of material 20th Century Cello (80004505) now comprisbeingreleased to celebrate his centennial. I es 3 CDs and almost 4 hours of music includingwould highly recommend La Fete des belles all three Benjamin Britten Cello Suites alongeaux, a new Ensemble d'Ondes de Montreal with important works by Crumb, Kodaly, Durelease(ATMA ACD2 2621) . This work is t1lleux, Henze, Berio, Ligeti and many others.scored for six ondes Mar- I'm here to tell you now that the playing fieldtenot , one of the first has become even more crowded with the newcommercially produced ATMA (ACD2 2524) release of the Brittenelectronic instruments, Cello Suites performed by Denise Djokic. Thisand one which Messiaen ,, Halifax native whoused extensively. Due to ·' comes from a large mutherarity of the ondes this • sical family - her fatherbreathtaking work is sel-Philippe is a former condomperformed. In addition the CD includescertmaster of Symphonyfour Feuillets inedits (late , unpublished works)Nova Scotia - was at thefor ondes and piano performed by Estelle Lem-tender age of 21 namedire and Louise Bessette and an arrangement ofby MacLean's as one ofthe first movement of Ravel's String Quartet for "25 Young Canadians who are changing ourfour ondes Martenot. I find the haunting sound of World", and by ELLE as one of "Canada's 30the ondes particularly well-suited to Ravel. most Powerful Women". Djokic has shown aWe are still four years away from Benjamin strong affinity for modern repertoire; in herBritten's Centenary year, but Bruce Surtees' debut recording of music by Barber, MartinuOld Wine in New Bottles column in this issue and Britten (Suite No.3) for Sony Classical whichbrought to mind my own favourite pieces of this won an East Coast Music Award for Best Clas­British master. In February 2002 I wrote in sical Recording in 2002, and the subsequentthese pages: "Two recent recordings of Ben- "Folklore" on Endeavour Classics which injaminBritten's complete works for solo cello eluded works by Vaughan Williams, Stravinarewelcome additions to the available discog- sky , Janacek and Cassad6. On the currentraphy of these highly re- ATMA release, recorded at Domaine Forgetgarded but all too rarely last February, the cellist revisits Britten's thirdheard masterpieces. All suite with even more confidence and aplombthree solo suites were than the Sony recording from six years earliwrittenfor Mstislav Ros- er, and adds brilliant performances of the firsttropovich ... [and] with and second suites to complete the set. With thisthis in mind, all subse- recording Djokic proves herself to be living upquent recordings must be to the high expectations generated in her formmeasuredagainst Ros- ative years.tropovich's classic 1968 My final selection for the month combinesDecca performance , the cello playing, singing and song-writing skillsmarvellously remas- of multi-talented local musician Kevin Fox. Thetered for CD release inself-stated purpose of1989. I'm pleased to re- Songs for Cello & Voiceport that both of the cur-(www.kevinfox.ca) wasrent releases pass mus-to produce a pop recordter with flying colours...which would feature onlyBoth the NorwegianFox' s voice and cello.Truls Mork (VirginThere is some overdub-Classics 45399) andbing involved, but never-Dutchman Peter Wisp- theless the result is a stunning achievement.elwey (Channel Classics Comprised of eight original compositions andtwo covers - Kate Bush's Army Dreamer's andthe Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (are made ofthis) - the collection rises above usual "pop"fare with its thoughtful lyrics, sparse orchestrationand pure, unadorned vocal stylings. Thediverse offerings touch on swing, doo-wop andstraight ahead pop with a fine balance of melodicflair and emotional expression. The instrumentalfinal track cleverly invokes memoriesof such iconic cello pieces as Saint-Saens' TheSwan and Bach's solo suites without seeming undulyderivative. This is a very refreshing disc.We welcome your feedback and invite submissions.CDs and comments should be sentto: The WholeNote, 503 - 720 Bathurst St. TorontoON M5S 2R4. We also welcome yourmput via our website, www.thewholenote.com.David OldsD/SCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comJuno NomineeTHIS ISN'T SILENCEWorks for Symphony OrchestraCD Available atwww. briancurrent. cornWWW. THEWHOLEN OTE. COM

VOCALBe Thou My VisionOriana Women's Choir; William BrownIndependent WRC8-8072While this fifth recording()H I .\"\ .\by Oriana consists ofpopular hymns, anthemsand psalm settings, it is atreat to hear them set forwomen's voices with sixnew arrangements commissionedby the choir byJohn Beckwith, Eleanor Daley, Derek Holman,Leonard Enns, Jon Washburn and Ruth WatsonHenderson. Added to the stellar list of Canadiancomposers represented on this CD are psalmsettings by Srul Irving Glick, two of which aresung in Hebrew. The women's voices blendsuperbly and this repertoire is performed withskilful beauty thanks to the direction of WilliamBrown, with expert accompaniment by JamesBourne on piano or Michael Bloss on organ.Two absolute gems stand out on this recording:Fairest Lord Jesus arranged by Leonard Ennsand All Things Bright and Beautiful in an arrangementby Mack Wilberg. Both employ theservices of Leslie Newman, flute and ClareScholtz, oboe with parts creatively interwoventhrough the fabric of these well-known melodies.Add to that the light-hearted There's aLittle Wheel A-Turnin' in my Heart (arr. RobertA. Harris) and a heartfelt Kumbaya (arr. PaulSjolund) at the end of the recording; this is anoffering sure to inspire the spirit.Dianne WellsBellini - La SonnambulaBartoli; Florez; D' Arcangelo; Orchestra LaScintilla; Alessandro De MarchiDecca 478 1084The raison d'etre ofanyrecording of Bellini's LaSonnambula, one of themost charming be! cantooperas, is a great coloraturasoprano. This recordingoffers something different- a great coloratura --~ - ..___..~..­mezzo. Cecilia Bartoli is a remarkable singer,commanding a huge range, stunning agility, andoverwhelming dramatic inclinations. But heridiosyncratic mannerisms - excessive breathiness,quiet cooing noises, heavily aspiratedcoloratura - are cloying, especially when she isallowed to indulge in them as often as here.While she makes great efforts to lighten andsoften her voice, her rich mezzo with its tightlywoundvibrato is the wrong colour for the sleepwalkingAmina. And transposing three scenesdown to accommodate her lower range makesthe recording more about Bartoli than Bellini.No transpositions are needed for tenor JuanDiego Florez, who gives one of the finest performancesof Elvina on record. Florez sailsthrough this difficult part with accuracy andelan, confirming his reputation as the finest belcanto tenor on stage today. IldebrandoD' Arcangelo gives a warm, commanding performanceas Rodolfo, though the smaller roles56are taken by singers of lesser talents. The OrchestraLa Scintilla of the Zurich Opera Houseprovides authentic period instrument accompaniment,and is beautifully conducted by AlessandroDe Marchi. Though there is much here toenjoy, those looking for a recording of the operain modern sound would be better off with NatalieDessay in the title role on a recent VirginRecords release.Seth EstrinConcert Note: Orchestra La Scintilla accompaniesCecilia Bartoli in a program celebratingthe life and art of the great 19th centuryopera singer Maria Malibran, a superstarof her era and inspiration for such composersas Rossini and Donizetti, at RoyThomson Hall on March 1.Harrison Birtwistle - The MinotaurTomlinson; Reuter; Rice; Watts; Langridge;Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus;Antonio PappanoOpusArte OA 1000 DHarrison Birtwistle's mostrecent opera created a sensationwhen it was premieredat London's RoyalOpera House last spring.This DVD, recorded duringthe run, shows why - andwhy Birtwistle is generallyconsidered the leading composerof his generation in England.In this telling of the ancient Greek myth, theMinotaur - half human, half beast - develops asoul. By the end, he comes to realize that hemust die unloved because his actions are sovile. As John Tomlinson sang the Minotaur'sdying aria, I actually felt sympathy for thislonely guy just looking for love -Tomlinson'sacting is as riveting as his singing.Ariadne is not merely devious here. She iscomplicit in her half-brother's murderous rampages.She does help Theseus into the labyrinthto kill the Minotaur, but only after the beast hasdispatched the twelve young Innocents sent fromAthens as annual tribute. And not without bargainingwith Theseus - the robust Johan Reuter- to take her away with him. Christine Rice'snuanced performance justifies the composer keepingAriadne on stage for the whole opera.Birtwistle' s pacing is expert. His angular butlyrical vocal lines have a natural flow, and hesets David Harsent's poetic libretto so that thevoices can project over the colourful, oftenviolent orchestrations. The staging is powerful,although during the graphic on-stage rape andslaughter of the youths I did wish I was seeingthis opera from a seat in the Royal OperaHouse instead of up close on this DVD.It is heartening - and rare - to be able towatch a composer and librettist come on stageto accept cheering curtain calls. When Theseusclaims that only the shedding of blood can stopbloodshed, little does he understand how futilethat is. This landmark production reminds ushow opera can so effectively provide searingcommentary on our times.Pamela MarglesWWW. THEWHOLENOTE,COMEARLY, CLASSICALAND BEYONDSchumann - Kreisleriana; FantasieHenri-Paul Sicsic(www .henripaulsicsic.com)For those who believe, thebible tells us that the Lordcreated the world in sixdays - it took RobertSchumann only four towrite his famous piano setKreisleriana in 1838, notbad for a mere mortal!The equally famous Fantasie Op.17 - arguablyhis most famous piano work - took considerablylonger, almost two years from conceptionto completion. Both pieces require extraordinarytechnique, a deeply rooted sensitivity, andmost importantly, a keen understanding of Schumann'sown complex personality. Fortunately,all these qualities are in abundance in thisrecording featuring French-born pianist Henri-PaulSicsic, released on a private label.Originally from Nice, Sicsic studied in hisnative city where he was awarded a firstprize with highest honours in piano, a firstprize in chamber-music, and a diploma inorchestral conducting. Between 1986 and1992, he taught at Rice University, Houston,and then at the University of British Columbiabefore accepting a position with the Universityof Toronto's Faculty of Music in 2007.Schumann wrote of his Kreisleriana: "Mymusic seems so wonderfully complicated, forall its simplicity." Indeed, the set is truly astudy in contrasts, as emotionally complex asSchumann himself. Not surprisingly, Sicsicrises to the challenges admirably - how effectivelyhe conveys the contrasting moods within,playing with a solid self-assurance, whiletreating the more languid movements with aquiet introspection. Similarly, his treatment ofthe Fantasie is always boldly coloured, fromthe noble and grand opening measures to thetender finale, music clearly written with hisbeloved Clara in mind. In all , this is a fineperformance by an artist the Music Facultyshould be rightly proud to have on staff!Richard HaskellConcert Note: Henri-Paul Sicsic joins Jacqueslsraelievitch, Teng Li and Shauna Rolston forpiano quartets by Chausson and Faure in aFaculty Recital at Walter Hall on February 6.The quartet can be heard live in a previewshowcase at noon on February 3rd on Classical96.3 FM.Debussy - Preludes for Piano Books 1 & 2Ivan IlicPARATY 108.105We are fortunate to have this recording comeout this particular time. Although Debussy'sPreludes have been recorded a number of timespreviously, I find this issue far more successful.Many earlier releases have been discontinuedor suffer from outdated recording quality orsomewhat unengaged playing. This new highFEBRUARY 7 - M ARCH 7 2009

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