7 years ago

Volume 15 Issue 6 - March 2010

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Another celebration, the

Another celebration, the tenth anniversaryof the Toronto Music Garden, provides theimpetus for this book. Like the garden itself,this book is compact, clearly laid out,readily accessible – and lovely.The Toronto Music Garden began to takeshape when cellist Yo-Yo Ma approachedlandscape architect Julie Messervy aboutcreating a garden inspired by one of Bach’scello suites. The garden was to be the subjectof a film in the series Inspired by Bach,based on Ma’s performances of the sixsuites. The original plan was to build thegarden in Boston, where both Ma and Messervylive. When that didn’t work out, agroup of local donors helped to get built inToronto. Ma and Messervy were given a forlorn2.5 acre plot wedged in between theLake Ontario shoreline and Queens QuayWest, and they turned it into a veritablejewel.In her text, Messervy describes the intricaciesof basing a garden design on a pieceof music. She offers an interesting discussionof the relationship between landscapearchitecture and music, although she misattributesthe comparison of architecture tofrozen music. It was first made not by thelate twentieth-century American philosopherSusanne Langer, as Messervy writes, but bythe early nineteenth-century German philosopherFriedrich von Schelling (althoughGoethe often gets credit for it).Photos reveal the garden in full bloom,but no fall or winter views are included.Maps show the overall scheme of the gardenas well as details of the six sections.Plant lists for each section identify some ofthe nearly 10,000 perennials, 1380 grasses,40 varieties of trees and shrubs, and 420butterfly bushes.Various contributors add their own perspectives.Ma describes how Bach’s musichas been “joyously and meticulously broughtto life” in this garden. Tamara Bernstein,artistic director of Summer Music in theGarden, shows how the park is put to gooduse by events like the series of concerts thatshe organizes. David Miller, soon-to-be-formermayor of Toronto, points out that thegarden “has set the precedent for what ispossible.” Yet Miller doesn’t mention howlittle has been done on the Toronto waterfrontto build upon that precedent. Duringthe past ten years the neighbouring forestof sky-scraping condos that blocks the lakeshorefrom the city has grown even fasterthan the plantings in the garden. Nonetheless,as this book shows, the Music Gardensucceeds in providing the place of “pleasure,sanctuary and delight” that Messervyand Ma envisioned.Editor’s CornerOne of the most impressive discs to crossmy desk this month is a private release featuringthe first five works to win the KarenKieser Prize in Canadian Music. This prizewas established in 2002 to honour the memoryof one of the true, brave champions ofthe Western Art Music tradition in Canada.Karen Kieser’s long career at the CBC culminatedin her appointment as Head of RadioMusic, the first woman to ever hold that position.During her tenure she spearheaded programsfor the commissioning and recordingof Canadian concert music and later wenton to become the first General Managerof Glenn Gould Studio. As a triple-graduateof the Faculty of Music at the Universityof Toronto it is fitting that the prize inher name, endowed by friends and colleaguesfollowing her untimely death, should honoura U of T graduate student in compositionwhose work is judged to be especially promising.As I mentioned, the CD includes theprize winning works from the first five yearsof the award’s existence: Abigail Richardson’sdissolve for harp, piano and percussion;Andrew Staniland’s Tapestry for clarinet,cello and tape; Craig Galbraith’s TheFenian Cycle for mezzo soprano, Englishhorn and string quartet; Katarina Curcin’s…walking away from… for string quartet;and Christopher William Pierce’s Melodywith Gesture for wind quintet, string quintet,celeste and percussion. I find the maturityof the works and the diversity of stylisticexpression to be quite exceptional. Thelive performances were recorded during theGala 5th Anniversary Concert of the KarenKieser Prize atGlenn Gould Studioin January 2007and feature distinguishedartists includingGregoryOh (piano and direction),NorineBurgess (mezzosoprano)and thePenderecki String Quartet, among a host ofothers. This limited edition disc, which providesan invaluable glimpse into the formativeyears of these aspiring composers on thebrink of professional careers, is available bydonation only.The Karen Kieser Prize, which usuallyincludes a ,000 cash stipend and a CBCbroadcast, is funded by the proceeds of anendowment fund which is normally sufficientfor the purpose. Due to the exceptionalmarket conditions of the past 18 months,the Faculty is seeking additional funding toensure that this year’s prize can be awardedat its usual level. Once the prize amount isreached, any additional funds raised will beadded to the endowment. I encourage you tosupport this worthy cause which fosters andrewards excellence in Canadian composition.Contact Tyler Greenleaf at 416.946.3580or to make yourdonation and obtain your copy of this excellentdisc.Concert Note: On March 19 in Walter Hallthis year’s Karen Kieser prize will be awardedto Constantine Caravassilis for his workSappho De Mytilère for mezzo soprano, fluteand piano which will be performed by membersof the gamUT ensemble under the directionof Norbert Palej. The concert willalso include Three Songs of Great Rangeby Igor Correia, last year’s prize winningwork. The concert is at 7:30 and admissionis free.Here is a brief mention of other discs thathave piqued my interest this month:When approached by music publisher ErichDoflein, Bela Bartok embraced the ideaof writing a graduated pedagogical seriesin which, in Bartok’s words, “studentswould play works which contained the naturalsimplicity of the music of the people,as well as its melodic and rhythmic peculiarities.”His 44 Duos for two violins couldhave been mere didactic exercises with littleinherent musicality, but as evidenced inthe fine and nuanced performances by JonathanCrow and Yehonatan Berick on a newXXI recording (XXI-DC 2 1669), there isreal music here,from the pieces forthe most elementaryperformers tothe most advanced.The 2 CD set alsoincludes LucianoBerio’s Duetti perDue Violini, a setof teaching piecesinspired by Bartok’s duos but also intendedfor the concert stage.Do we really need another recording ofSchubert’s Death and the Maiden or the CMajor Quintet? After listening to these performancesby the Belcea Quartet with ValentinErben (EMI 9 67025 2) I am willingto answer inthe affirmative.But another questionis beggingto be asked: Canthere be too muchof a good thing? Ihave often thoughtso after sittingthrough the almosthour-long string quintet or the forty-fiveminute quartet. But while listening to thesewarm and expressive performances I did notfind myself checking my watch even once.Bravo to this fine British ensemble.The final disc I will mention is hard to categorize,although it is a logical extension of54 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMMarch 1 - April 7, 2010

Andrew Burashko and the Art of Time Ensemble’srecent forays into the world of Art/Pop song. A Singer Must Die (PheromoneRecordings PHER CD 1013) features theiconic voice of StevenPage in “arty”arrangements ofsongs by ElvisCostello, RufusWainwright, LeonardCohen, JaneSiberry, Radioheadand, of course,Page’s own BarenakedLadies (I’m Running Out of Ink).Among the distinguished arrangers are GavinBryars (Cohen’s A Singer Must Die), Jim Mc-Grath, Cameron Wilson and Rob Carli, whois also featured on sax and clarinet.Concert Note: Steven Page and the Art ofTime Ensemble will be touring this eclecticrepertoire with dates in Kingston (March 3),Toronto (March 4), St. Catharines (March 5),Kitchener (March 6), North Bay (March 7),Brampton (March 10), Belleville (March 11),Barrie (March 12) and Peterborough (March13).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 encourageyou to visit our website,, where you can find added features includingdirect links to performers, composersand record labels, “buy buttons” for onlineshopping and additional, expanded andarchival reviews.David OldsDISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comVOCALNight and DreamsMeasha Brueggergosman; Justus ZeyenDeutsche Grammophon 289 477Has it really been twelve years since sopranoMeasha Brueggergosman made us situp and take notice when she sang the titlerole in James Rolfe’sBeatrice Chancy herein Toronto, followedby her appearance ayear later at the MillenniumOpera Gala?Since then, this nativeof Fredericton,New Brunswick hasrightfully gone on to international fame, appearingregularly on concert stages throughoutEurope and North America. Her newestdisc - the fourth altogether and second forDeutsch Grammophon - appropriately titled“Night and Dreams” is inspired by all thingsnocturnal.With German-born pianist Justus Zeyenproviding a sensitive musical partnership,this is a wonderfully varied program indeed!While most of the repertoire dates from themid-to-late Romantic period with songs bycomposers such as Debussy, Fauré, Duparc,Brahms and Wolf, there is also a liedby Mozart, a lullaby by Montsalvage, andan evocative Portuguese song, Anoiteceu, byFrancis Hime. All are miniature gems, andwithin the overall intimate and introspectivecontext of the whole Brueggergosman effortlesslycaptures the varying moods of eachsong. Her interpretation of Debussy’s BeauSoir – the opening track – is magically lyrical,while Duparc’s Phidylé soars with joyousintensity. In all, this is a most satisfying recordingand further proof (if any were needed)of this soprano’s enormous talents.Richard HaskellBach - Violin and VoiceHilary Hahn; Matthias Goerne; ChristineSchafer; Münchener Kammerorchester;Alexander LiebreichDeutsche Grammophon 477 8092The twelve arias onthis disc have beenselected by violinistHilary Hahn becausethey all featurea prominent partfor solo violin. Shehas searched throughBach’s cantatas, theSt. Mathew Passion and the B- Mass to puttogether a lovely, surprisingly well-balancedprogram.But the concept behind this disc, evidentright from the title, “Violin and Voice”,overplays the role of the obbligato violin inthese arias. It’s not the leader here – its job isto comment on what the singers are singing.Fortunately, Hahn proves to be a sensitiveensemble player. Responding to the singersand never intruding on the vocal lines, shelightens her sound, restricts her vibrato, andsharpens the edges of her phrases.The Münchener Kammerorchester underAlexander Liebreich offers buoyant support.But the key to the success of this venturelies in the heartfelt, dramatic singing.Baritone Matthias Goerne’s yearning intensityin “Welt, ade”, with soprano ChristineSchäfer singing the chorale part, is matchedby Hahn’s expressive obbligato. Schäfer isequally affecting, with an engaging honestythat illuminates these mostly religious texts.Her poignant “Erbarme dich”, given here inMendelssohn’s transposition, blends exquisitelywith Hahn’s lyrical, stylish playing.The highlight for me is the impassionedperformance by Goerne and Schäfer of theduet “Wann kommst du, mein heil?”, withHahn providing beguiling elaborations on theoperatic dialogue between Jesus and a soullonging to join him.Pamela MarglesMozart Arias for Male SopranoMichael Maniaci; Boston Baroque;Martin PearlmanTelarc TEL-31827-02Michael Maniaci apparently does not mindbeing a Canadian. In one interview he admittedthat frequent performances in Toronto(with Opera Atelier and others) convincedsome of his fans that he must be a Canuck.He may not be one by birth, but he certainlywas born to share his rare gift with us.Male soprano hasthe same ring to it asnarwhal – a rare, almostmythical creature,barely knownand even less understood.By an accidentof nature, Maniaci’slarynx did not growto a full size in puberty and produces soundsthat best can be described as unusual. Muchhigher than a countertenor, much more robustthan a boy soprano, his voice is one ofa kind, possibly approximating what castratimight have sounded like. It is a perfectlypitched instrument, with a lot of agility andgreat technique.For his first solo album, Maniaci chosemusic written by Mozart especially for castrati,including the celebrated “Exsultate, jubilate”.This voice takes some getting usedto – at first, Alleluja! sounds strange and notentirely convincing. Once you get over theshock of the unknown however, especially inthe Lucio Silla arias, this new interpretationtriumphs over pre-conceived notions. Our initialresistance to what is in effect a return toMozart’s preferred interpretation is a testimonyto the way in which performance standardshapes our listening ability. So, open upyour ears (and minds) to Michael Maniaci’sunique voice and indulge in what could beMarch 1 - April 7, 2010 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 55

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