8 years ago

Volume 14 - Issue 8 - May 2009

lar gem; also included

lar gem; also included are some of his mostfamous, such as the Frog Galliard, whichreceives an elegantly spry performance. Alsooffered are various lute song and broadsideballad tunes set for lute alone, including Canshe excuse, Lord Willoughby’s welcomehome, Fortune my foe, Goe from my windowand other Shakespeare-era chart-toppers.North also performs his own particularlybeautiful version of Francis Cutting’s Awakesweet love.Besides his exemplary playing, North’sreadable notes provide much helpful andinteresting information. And the recordedsound on this disc is beautiful.Congrats to Naxos for their support ofDowland’s remarkable music, as played byone of his most excellent champions.Alison MelvilleTelemannTwelve Fantasies for Solo ViolinAugustin HadelichNaxos 8.570563Like a musical wolf in sheep’s clothing,the Telemann Fantasies lie in wait for thecompetent but unsuspecting amateur violinistsearching for solo Baroque works less challengingthan the Bach Sonatas and Partitas.I’ve been trying to play these things forover 35 years - which probably says moreabout my reluctance to practise and the relativebalance of “competent” and “amateur” inmy technique than anything else - and whileTelemann clearly intended them for amateursand students the deceptively straightforwardwriting is often quite angular and strewn withtechnical pitfalls.Composed in 1735, the Fantasies displayelements of the Baroque sonata, concertoand suite, with limited two-part writing andless multiple stopping than the Bach; the1968 Barenreiteredition, however- and with classicunderstatement -remarked that “thedouble stoppingand chordal workcan only be tackledby a competentplayer.”Augustin Hadelich’s playing goes farbeyond merely competent, making everythingsound easy and natural without ever beingtrivial. The short, slow chordal passagescould perhaps be embellished more - comparisonwith the solo Asseggai of Telemann'sSwedish contemporary Johan Helmich Romanwould certainly suggest this - but Hadelich'sornamentation is clean and unobtrusive.These are not the Bach solo works in anyrespect, leaning more towards Corelli than toTelemann's German contemporary, but theystill have much to recommend them.Recorded in Newmarket by the regularNaxos team of Norbert Kraft and BonnieSilver the sound quality is, as always, impeccable.Terry Robbins50Haydn – La Passione(Symphonies 41; 44; 49)Arion; Gary’s Arion orchestra is joined in thisrecent CD by the English harpsichordist GaryCooper in a program of three remarkablesymphonies from Haydn’s so-called “Stormand Stress” period. What makes this recordingunusual, aside from the highly contentiousinclusion of a harpsichord continuopart, is the modest size of the 17 memberorchestra, ostensiblymodelled afterthe forces availableto Haydn at theEsterhazy palacewhere these workswere first heard.This recordingclaims to be a premiereof sorts, inthat the performance of the Symphony No.41 is presented, as Cooper explains in thebooklet notes, “without the pomp and clatterof additional trumpets and timpani”. Anadmirable intent to be sure, but regrettablythere’s clatter galore from the over-mikedhorns and an often relentless harpsichord partwhich contributes a considerable din of acridovertones of its own. Though the virtuosityof the ensemble is quite evident, particularlyin the hell-for-leather tempos of the 44thand 49th symphonies, Anton Kwiatkowski’sover-the-top sound engineering (or to be fair,perhaps it’s a distorted pressing of the albumthat’s at fault) inflates the modest ensembleto gargantuan proportions, undermining thevery intimacy that was the stated intent ofthis small-scale performance. If heavy-metalHaydn is your thing you may enjoy thesebristly, bracing interpretations.Daniel FoleyCLASSICAL AND BEYONDBeethoven - Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2Mari Kodama; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestre Berlin; Kent NaganoAnalekta AN 2 9955I looked forward to hearing these concertosafter Nagano’s Beethoven Fifth Symphonyrecorded with the Montreal Symphony (AN29942-3). That performance was a wave offresh air in dynamics, phrasing and tempi anda welcome addition to the catalogue, holdingone’s attention to the last bar.Mari Kodama is endowed with astonishingvirtuosity, selfassurance and control.This remindedme of Glenn Gouldwhen his limitlessability, boardingon arrogance,could stand in theway the music. Asthese performances unfold I was persuadedthat she is offering genuine musical insightswith a personal touch that is quite appealing.About eight minutes into the first movementof the first concerto, Beethoven’s geniusis manifested using simple means for theunfolding drama of the music. Descendingscales, played 3 times, remind me of similarscales in Mozart’s Don Giovanni whichportend the demise of the Don. How thesesimple passages are played is one of the criticalmeasures of artistic insight. No reservationshere nor with the inner world of theslow movement. The third movement, takenat a brisk pace, is exhilarating.Kodama’s style is perfectly akin to thesecond concerto. Her no nonsense, clearapproach suits this work perfectly. Sparklingthroughout and as stylistically satisfying asany I know of.The orchestra is just the right size for theseworks and Nagano, as expected, provides illuminatingsupport, fresh and pointed beyondmerely impeccable. The spacious recordingis clean and well projected with a pleasingambience.It will be quite interesting to hear the otherthree concertos as they may require less of thesparkling pianism and more heavyweight musicianship.Odds are she’ll make it brilliantly.Bruce SurteesChopinAndré LaplanteAnalekta AN 2 9964We can only wonder why it took AndreLaplante – a pianist long renowned for hisinterpretations of late-romantic repertoire –until now to record an all-Chopin disc. But inlight of the well-balanced program and superbplaying, it was well worth the wait! Includedon this Analekta recording are 2 majorworks, the Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 35 andthe Fantaisie Op.49, in addition to two earlyNocturnes, (Op. Post. in C sharp minor, andOp.15 No.1), and the three Mazurkas Op.63.The Sonata, the second of Chopin’s effortsin the form, raised more than a few eyebrowswhen first published in 1840. Schumann evenwent so far as to refer to it as a binding togetherof “four of his maddest children.” Nomatter, Laplanteapproaches themusic with aplomb– this is powerfuland noble playing,and my only quibble- and a minorone at that - wouldbe the overly briskpace he takes inthe opening movement. Yet the familiar thirdmovement “Funeral March” is treated withthe solemnity it deserves, and the finale,with those fleeting octaves once described as“wind over church-yard graves” embodies aspirit that surely would have pleased EdgarAllan Poe.The two nocturnes and three mazurkasw w w .t h e w h o l e n o t e.c o m Ma y 1 – Ju n e 7 2009

which follow are miniature jewels, but to mymind, Laplante saves his best for last withthe magnificent F minor Fantaisie, hailedby many as Chopin’s greatest work. I haveheard many versions over the years, but Ican honestly say this is among the finest Ihave encountered. His treatment is nothingless than sublime, from the ominous openingmarch, to the thrice-heard secondary theme,a veritable love-song. There is a world ofcontrasting moods in this piece, and Laplanteeffortlessly captures them all, thus bringingthis most satisfying disc to a close.Richard HaskellBrahms; Korngold - Violin ConcertosNikolaj Znaider; Wiener Philharmoniker;Valery GergievRCA Red Seal 88697103362The young Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaiderappears in the august company of the mightyVienna Philharmonic in this live recordingfrom December 2006. The notoriously volatileValery Gergiev provides an unusually restrainedinterpretation of the Brahms Concerto, well intune with the beautifully honeyed tone Znaiderdraws from the Guarneri “del Gesu” violin onceowned by Fritz Kreisler and now on loan toZnaider thanks to aDutch foundation.It is a performanceof striking intimacy,long on beautythough a bit short onthe drama that otherartists have foundin this celebratedwork. ThoughZnaider gives it his all, it seems Gergiev’s reticencein such familiar repertoire makes for justanother day at the office as far as the orchestra isconcerned. Gergiev and the Philharmonic seemmuch more engaged in Erich Korngold’s 1945Violin Concerto, a work which is derived inlarge part from the composer’s Hollywood filmscores composed during his decade of exile fromhis native Vienna. Attractively scored and directin expression, it was premiered by Jascha Heifetzin 1947 and though it found little favour inEuropean circles of the time it has never fallenout of the repertoire. All in all, a superb additionto Znaider’s discography.Daniel FoleyMichael Rabin Collection, Volume 2Live PerformancesMichael RabinDOREMI DHR 7951-3Not only violin fans but all music lovers willbe delighted with this set of performances bythe legendary Michael Rabin, a violin virtuosoand fine musician who, in his short life (1936-1972), generated explosive excitement andhad, and still has, one of the most evident cultfollowings in classical music.The three CDs, each of a little over 80minutes duration, are fully loaded with liveperformances, all previously un-issued in anyformat, of concertos, solos and real showpiecesfor violin and orchestra. These were takendown at various stages of Rabin’s meteoric ca-reer, from his precocious teen-age years whenhe was a frequent and popular guest on TheBell Telephone Hour broadcast nationally onthe NBC Network,to the fully mature,seasoned masterdelivering astoundingperformancesof the Brahms,Bruch’s 1st, andProkofiev’s 2ndviolin concertos.We hear also hisearliest known live performances of the Wieniawskifirst concerto, a work that to this dayonly Rabin plays with such finesse. He laterrecorded it for EMI, as authoritatively as ifhe owned it. Both Perlman and Shaham haverecorded the concerto but neither approachesRabin’s supremacy in this repertoire. Alsoincluded in this set are two ‘contemporary’concertos apparently played only by Rabin:those by Richard Mohaupt (German-American1904-1957) heard here with the Philharmonic-Symphony conducted by Mitropoulos (1954)and American Paul Creston’s Concerto no.2,commissioned by Rabin (1962).A 1952 collaboration between the youngRabin and the mature and celebrated ZinoFrancescatti is heard in a scintillating performanceof the first movement of Bach’sDouble Concerto BWV1042, Rabin playingprimo! Six of Paganini’s Solos Caprices(Berlin 1961) are wondrous.Most of the repertoire presented here doesnot exist in Rabin’s commercial discographyor in previously issued live performances. Theinformative and authoritative liner notes werewritten by Doctor Anthony Feinstein, author of“Michael Rabin: America’s Virtuoso Violinist”(Amadeus Press, 2005), the only biography ofthe late musician.It is known that Michael Rabin wished to recordthe Brahms Violin Concerto. This set honoursthat wish with a breathtaking performancefrom 1967 with Rafael Kubelik in Chicago. Thesound is of studio quality as are all the tracksexcept for the Mohaupt and Creston concertoswhich were rescued from contemporary acetates.The set helps to fill significant omissionsin the catalogue.Bruce SurteesNEWMa y 1 – Ju n e 7 2009 w w w .t h e w h o l e n o t e.c o m51CDRELEASEMODERN ANDCONTEMPORARYAnn Southam - Pond LifeChristina Petrowska QuilicoCentrediscs CMCCD 14109( disc features piano music by AnnSoutham, one of Canada’s most important -and most interesting - composers. The titlesof the works on this disc refer to naturalbodies of water, not just ponds but rivers andcreeks as well. So, while the ten movementsof Soundstill capture the calm surface of awindless pond, Noisy River, Fidget Creek,and Commotion Creek ripple and dancealong. But whether these exquisite compositionsare smooth or turbulent on the surface,underneath they teem with life.The distinctiveness of Southam’s soundworld lies in her ability to create a sense ofspace around the notes. A simple motif canemerge from the layers of sound, and, with arhythmic or harmonic twist change the courseof the music. It’s moving, and it encouragescontemplation of what lies beyond thesounds.Most of theseworks were writtenfor Canadianpianist ChristinaPetrowska Quilico,who in 2005 recordedSoutham’sRivers (also onCentrediscs). Hervirtuosic commandof the keyboard brings these works to life.With theatrical flair she balances the fine gradationsin pitch and rhythm to create subtleshifts in mood, from nostalgic contemplationto irrepressible joy.The cover art is lovely. But a reproductionof the painting by Aiko Suzuki which inspiredSoutham to write Spatial View of Pond I andII would also have been meaningful. Therecorded sound is clear yet resonant, helpingto make this disc such a delight.Pamela MarglesTheGallery Playersof NiagaraoboeCAnAdiAnQuARTETSABRAM | HATCH | OESTERLE | ROLFEAVAILABLE AT • CD Baby • iTunes

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