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Volume 15 Issue 10 - July/August 2010

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  • Festival
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
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Catherine Latham joins

Catherine Latham joins Rachel Becketton recorder in No 4, reinforcing the virtuososkills demanded of the instrument. The recorderconveys the plaintive tones of the andante,perhaps more poignantly than wouldthe flute, which only makes its (belated) appearancein a subdued No 5.There is even an unsung heroine - viola-playerJane Rogers alone performs in allsix concertos, saving her best for No 6. Hercomments are worthy of the reflections publishedin this invigorating CD.Michael SchwartzDragonetti’s New Academy -Chamber Music of Domenico DragonettiJohn Feeney; Loma Mar QuartetIndependent DNA2009•In these days of specializedmusicaldisciplines, we tendto forget how ofteninstrumental virtuosityand excellentcompositional skillswent hand-in-handin the 18th and 19th centuries. No surprise,then, to discover that the Italian double-bassvirtuoso Domenico Dragonetti wrote a largenumber of chamber works, although hardlyany were published during his lifetime.Dragonetti spent most of his adult life inLondon, and all the works on this disc wereprepared by John Feeney from manuscriptsin the Dragonetti collection in the British Museum.They may not seem particularly memorableon first hearing, but the composer wasnot only a regular at salons and musical eveningsin London but also travelled in Europe,particularly to Vienna, where the developmentof the Viennese Style in the late 1700shad been of huge significance in the emergenceof the double bass as a solo instrument.His compositions intelligently reflect themusical language of the day and the variousstyles he encountered.The String Quartet No.1 employs theregular line-up, but the three string quintetsare quite different. No.31 is for 2 Violins, 2Violas and Bass, so the violin still handlesmost of the solo work, but Nos. 13 and 18 arefor Violin, 2 Violas, Cello and Bass, givingthe works a somewhat bottom-heavy feel asthe bass assumes a solo role.Top-class performances and excellent recordingambience make this disc – possiblythe first of a series – an absolute delight.Terry RobbinsCLASSICAL & BEYONDBrahms - Piano Music Vol.3Antonin KubalekIndependent ak01 (www.cdbaby.com)•The Czech Republic’s loss was surelyCanada’s gain the dayAnton Kubálek decidedto flee politicalunrest in his homelandin 1968 to settlein Toronto. Since thattime, he has quietlycarved out his niche,earning a reputationas an outstanding pianist, pedagogue, and recordingartist, his talents exemplified in thenearly 20 CDs produced for the Dorian label.This latest offering is one originally intendedto be Volume 3 in a series of music byBrahms, but Kubálek managed to obtain therights, and has released it personally. Recordedin 1995, it features four early works: theSonata Op.1, the Ballades Op.10, the Variationson a Hungarian Song Op.21 #2, andthe Scherzo Op.4. The sonata is a large-scalework - Brahms first attempt at the form - andfrom the opening chords, Kubálek treats thisconfident music with a bold assurance. Considerablymore mysterious and dramatic arethe four Ballades Op.10, music from 1854inspired by the Scottish poem Eduard. TheVariations and the Scherzo (Brahms earliestextant composition) abound in technical challenges,while possibly proving that the composer’spiano music is sometimes less than“pianistic.” But Kubálek meets the difficultieswith apparent ease, demonstrating both virtuosityand intense lyricism, and without theflashiness that often characterizes the playingof many of his younger contemporaries. Asalways, he remains the consummate musician.Since the fall of communism in 1989, Kubálekhas travelled back to the Czech Republicseveral times in order to give recitals andhold master classes, but luckily for us, he hasno intentions of returning permanently. Mayhe continue to share his talents - both in concertand on fine CDs such as this one - for along time to come.Richard HaskellJeunesses Musicales Canada 60Various ArtistsAnalekta AN 2 9927-8• Since the foundingof Jeunesses Musicalesdu Canada 60years ago in 1949 byGilles Lefebvre followinga meetingwith Father J.H. Lemieux,Anaïs Allard-RousseauandLaurette Desruisseaux-Boisvert, the admirableorganization has been supporting youngartists embarking on their concert careersthrough concert tours, scholarships, competitions,and just plain good advice on thevarious options available to them. Many acclaimedCanadian artists have played theJMC circuit – no wonder then that this twoCD compilation features a plethora of worldclass Canadian JMC talent extracted from anumber of previous Analekta releases.Space prevents me from naming everyone,so here are my gems. The set kicksoff with a gut wrenching performance of aman’s heart breaking by bass Joseph Rouleau(with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden)in “Elle ne m’aime pas!” from Verdi’sDon Carlos. Violinist James Ehnes is perfectin the Adagio from Bach’s Sonata in G MajorBMV 1021. Ensemble Caprice’s take onVivaldi’s Concerto in C major RV 533 is surprisinglysuccessful in its spirit. It is a joy tohear pianist Anton Kuerti as the accompanistto violinist Angèle Dubeau in Schubert’sSonata for violin and piano in D Major. TheGryphon Trio’s rendition of Piazzolla’s TheFour Seasons of Buenos Aires meticulouslycaptures the quality of the composer’s ownperformances.I only wish more contemporary music hadbeen included (even though harpist ValerieMilot is excellent in Salzedo’s Scintillation).Also, performance dates would have madethe liner notes more complete.This is a fine release to enjoy time andtime again, and a fitting tribute to JMC’s 60years of work with Canada’s finest musicians.Tiina KiikMODERN & CONTEMPORARYShostakovich - Symphony No. 8Royal Liverpool PhilharmonicOrchestra; Vasily PetrenkoNaxos 8.572392• The Eighth Symphonyof DmitriShostakovich (1906-1975) was composedin the summer of1943 as Soviet forcesturned the tide of warwith their decisivevictory at the Battleof Kursk. Though it is less well-know than itsmuch-hyped predecessor, the garish “Leningrad”Symphony, it is in all respects a far superiorwork. The epic five-movement structureof the Eighth is balanced on a pair ofmemorable Scherzo movements that movefrom biting sarcasm to sheer terror, flankedby a poignant 25-minute opening movementand a finale terminating in an atmosphere ofserene resignation. The ambiguous, highlypersonal language of the work was criticizedfor its dearth of overt patriotism and waspoorly received. Christened the “Stalingrad”Symphony by Soviet propagandists, performancesof the work were officially banned in1948 and the work was not heard again inRussia until 1956.This superb Naxos disc marks thethird installment of a very promising seriesof Shostakovich symphonies conductedby Vasily Petrenko with the Liverpool Philharmonic.Though a mere 34 years old, the56 THEWHOLENOTE.COMJuly 1 - September 7, 2010

Russian maestro clearly has the Liverpool ensemblein his thrall. With his uncanny knackfor drawing together the disparate elementsof Shostakovich’s prolix language into a coherentargument and an equally fine ear forsubtle interpretive details, Petrenko makes avery strong impression indeed. The recordingis bright and spacious, the performance is excellent,and the price can’t be beat.Daniel FoleyJAZZ & IMPROVIZEDRicochetAdrean FarrugiaIndependent AF0610• There is a dedicatedgroup of youngermusicians in Torontomaking their mark onthe jazz scene. ThisCD features the musicof one of the outstandingmembers of thatcoterie, Adrean Farrugia.He is in the company of some of Toronto’sleading players performing a programmeof mostly original compositions. Theone exception being Blackberry Winter, a littleheard song by Alec Wilder and LoonisMcGlohon in a beautiful duo performance byAdrean and vocalist Sophia Perlman who isheard on two more of the album’s eight tracksusing her voice very effectively in wordlessvocals.Adrean’s strengths as a composer aremuch in evidence, displaying a wide spectrumof musical traditions which he has absorbedand developed into his own creativepersonality. The broadness of his musical paletteis impressive, ranging from Meadowlarkwhich features the cello of Kiki Misumito the driving layers of sound on Situmaniwhich features the horns of Kevin Turcotte,Kelly Jefferson, Sandar Viswanathan andWilliam Carn. Andrew Downing on bass andAnthony Michelli on drums add immensely tothe success of this recording and are joinedon a couple of compositions by tabla playerRavi Naimpally.This is contemporary music of a veryhigh standard and an excellent addition tothe growing body of artistic work by Mr.Farrugia.Jim GallowayTime/After Time: A Jazz SuiteGeordie McDonaldSonavista Records (geomic@interlog.com)• Audaciously taking on nothing less than ahistory of our sad planet, from the big bangto its potential post-apocalypse, veteran localdrummer Geordie McDonald has put togethera multi-faceted two-CD set that meldsfuturistic, multi-ethnic and contemporaryimprovisations.“Time/AfterTime” is an instrumentalparable thatbegins with a briefelectronically propelledexplosion andends with more than12½ minutes of Mc-Donald’s inventive polyrhythms on drumsand ancillary percussion including a bell tree,claves, oversized cymbals, woodblocks andrain sheets. The suite encompasses the skillsof 18 [!] of Toronto’s top improvisers plusNew York-based trombonist Roswell Rudd,whose inventive brays and slurs perfectlyfit the primitive-modern CD the drummerorganized.Organized is the key word since McDonaldonly composed one track. The others aregroup improvisations or themes written bythe other players such as alto saxophonist/Shuffle Demon Richard Underhill; trumpeter/FlyingBulgar David Buchbinder; baritonesaxophonist/educator David Mott; and inventiveflutist and bass clarinetist Glen Hall.A perfect example of this contrapuntalconcordance both in writing and playing occurson Hall’s Tribal Survival. Accompaniedby vibrating resonations from John Rudel’scongas and Rick Lazar’s doumbek, thevamping horn section plus staccato hocketingfrom vocalists Maryem Tollar and SophiaGrigoriadis, the trombonist splutters crosstones throughout, working up to a climax ofstaccato, flutter-tonguing.Further Rudd duets that include a lowpitched,plunger-and-slurs face-off with Mott,and Buchbinder and the trombonist advancingtheir version of modern tailgate styles,confirm that McDonald recruited the perfectcrew for this project.Ken WaxmanSaturday MatineeMichael Louis Johnson; The Red RhythmUrban Meadow um2010001(www.urbanmeadow.ca)• Every Saturdayafternoon in a tinycasual bar locatedat Dundas St. W.and Ossington in theQueen West area ofDowntown TorontoRed Rhythm recreatejazz standards fromthe swing era and originals composed byleader Michael Louis Johnson. This recordingcaptures the atmosphere of these sessions- nothing earth shattering and a strong emphasison entertainment. Leader Johnson has anenthusiasm that largely compensates for whathas to be described as a limited techniqueon trumpet. He brings the same zeal to hisvocals which are featured on every track.The solo department is without doubt in thehands of guitarist Roberto Rosenman andbassist Terry Wilkins with rhythm guitaristPatrick Gregory giving solid support. Thereare also guest appearances by Bob Stevensonon clarinet and Chris Bezant on guitar whichadd in no small measure to the quality of therecording.Entertaining is the key word when describingJohnson’s approach to his craft - TheHobo Knows being a prime example. Thesecond half of the CD in particular demonstratesjust why the group is so popular withits small but loyal following.Jim GallowayIT’S OUR JAZZBy Geoff ChapmanCellar Live is a Vancouver jazz club withits own prolific record label (www.cellarlive.com)and an owner-performer-composerchief in the enterprising CoryWeeds, who’s also a deejay and record producer.Here are two of its newest releases.Trumpeter ChrisDavis is a relativelynew member of theWest’s jazz elite andhe shows why withBaila Bonita (CellarLive CL020510).In an unusual combowith alto saxist IanHendrickson-Smith, bass Adam Thomasand drummer Jesse Cahill, U.S.-born Davissoon suggests the style, fluency and attackof a 1960’s Freddie Hubbard, though tunestructures are more complex and demanding,often involving pleasing unison runs. Onsix of the nine tracks he wrote, Davis displayswell-thought-out ideas. The front line’sespecially chipper on West 42nd Street, offersa brawny All That Glitters with the leader’sthrowback Latin trumpet while the craftilycharted You Dig is a post-bop rallying crywith busy pulse-stirring Cahill roaring vigorouslyhere and on the succeeding Iniquity.Elegant muted trumpet, pretty alto counterpointand provocative march beat round outthis impressive disc.The boss has tohave an occasionalpiece of the action,so here’s TheCory Weeds Quartetdeclaring Everything’sComing UpWeeds (Cellar LiveCL011909). Themusic’s played by the band Weeds brought toOntario earlier this year – American trumpeterJim Rotondi plus western stalwarts RossTaggart (piano), John Webber (bass) and WillieJones III (drums). The leader on tenor andJuly 1 - September 7, 2010 THEWHOLENOTE.COM57

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