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Volume 15 Issue 6 - March 2010

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  • Toronto
  • April
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ideas of classical

ideas of classical ensembles.In very different spirit is the Livre desDanceries where flautist Robert Cram introducesa sprightly quality which is eventuallytaken up by the piano part in the second- Gai - movement. At last, the CD’s pianistcan relax! Next is Réligieux, longest of thefour movements, drawing on melodic religioussources. And then Conclusion, fromthe earliest bars a celebration of the othermovements and an exciting way to round offTrio Hochelaga’s vigorous interpretations.Michael SchwartzMODERN & CONTEMPORARYSibelius; Prokofiev - Violin ConcertosVilde Frang; WDR Symphony Orchestra,Cologne; Thomas SøndergårdEMI Classics 6 84413 2life balance between soloist and orchestra. Iam certain that we’ll be hearing much morefrom Vilde Frang.Bruce SurteesVilla-Lobos - Complete SymphoniesStuttgart Radio Symphony OrchestraWDR; Carl St. ClairCPO 777 516-2The eminent Braziliancomposer HeitorVilla-Lobos (1887-1959) took as hismodel for symphoniccompositions thecyclic approach endorsedby Vincentd’Indy, regarded inthe conservative Brazilianmusical circles of his day as quite innovative.Though Villa-Lobos was to discoveron first visiting France in 1923 that hewas a generation behind contemporary trendsin this regard, he doggedly held on to thismodel for the remainder of his works in thisgenre. The 12 symphonies are almost entirelycast in four often quite lengthy movementswith very few traces of the indigenousBrazilian characteristics for which he isbest known. His symphonies have never beenas popular as his celebrated Bachianas Brasilierasand Chôros cycles and the majorityof them have not previously been availablein recordings. Fortunately the Americanconductor Carl St. Clair began the project ofdocumenting these works in Stuttgart in 1997for the innovative CPO label and we nowhave the complete works in an attractivelypriced box set.The early symphonies date from 1917 to1920; symphonies 2-5 are part of a cycledocumenting the course of the First WorldWar (the score of the fifth symphony howeveris lost). The French influence is prominent,including Debussian whole tone passages,lush harmonies and programmatic quotationsof La Marseillaise. The Stuttgart forces copeadmirably with the often cruel string writingand congested scoring. The later symphoniesdate from 1944 to 1957 and were commissionsfrom various orchestras; the most impressiveof these, the grandiose “Amerindia”choral Symphony No. 10, was written for the400th Anniversary of the City of São Paulo.The harmonic language of these later worksis considerably more interesting and the orchestrationmarginally more concise, thoughthere is sometimes a surfeit of counterpointthat suggests mere note-spinning.Carl St. Clair is to be commended for hispatience in deciphering the error-riddenmanuscripts and contributing the essential interpretivedecisions this notoriously prolificcomposer neglected to indicate. Thoughthese self-consciously cosmopolitan symphoniesmay lack the charm of his overtlynationalist works they are typically impassioned,energetic, and well worth listeningto. This is a well-recorded landmark set andI don’t know how to start... she’s too good tobelieve! Even though Vilde Frang is new onthe recording scene, her debut CD has tremendousimpact, driven by her talent and intelligence.This kind of supreme violin playingis rare.Vilde Frang was born in Norway in 1986and made her debut with orchestra at the ageof ten. She concertizes throughout Scandinavia,Europe and the Balkan countries. Shehas shared the stage with such luminaries asMartha Argerich, Gidon Kremer, and MaximVengerov. She toured Europe and theUSA with Anne-SophieMutter (hermentor) and the CamerataSalzburg. Therecordings heard herewere made when shewas 22.There are severalrecent recordings ofthe Sibelius, both new and historic, re-issuesand discoveries, but this one stands out. Notsince Ivry Gitlis’ legendary recording fromthe mid-fifties (VOX) have I been so taken.From the opening bars the mood is set andthe heartfelt scenario unfolds. Her playing isnot only beautiful, it is original with genuinestyle and personality... attributes that havecharacterized the greatest music mastersthroughout a century of recordings. Fromthe lyrical first movement to the energeticfrisson of the finale I was mesmerized. Thatshe feels a close relationship to this concertois unmistakable.For the Prokofiev concerto, too, she playswith great authority. After the eerie opening,she introduces a measure of frivolity andrhythmic vitality, always with taste and respectfor the composer. Altogether, anothermagnificent performance.A compelling case is also made for therarely heard Humoresques.Throughout the coherence and rapport betweensoloist, conductor and orchestra is capturedon a dynamic recording with a realamust-have item for aficionados of LatinAmerica’s greatest composer.Daniel FoleyCreating A LandscapeRéa BeaumontShrinking Planet Productions SPP 0089(www.creatingalandscape.com)Sometimes the planets align, and fortune favoursthe bold. These sayings only partiallydo justice to Réa Beaumont, who takes commandof the stage of Glenn Gould Studiowith a stunning set of contemporary pianoworks.Opening with Arvo Pärt’s groundbreakingtintinnabular work Für Alina, the dynamiccontinues to remain below mezzo piano foran astonishing 13 minutes. Cage’s very earlyIn a Landscape, played as it was written withno prepared piano devices, rounds out thisepisode. As you proceed through the works,the material grows gradually denser andmore adventurous. Beaumont chose anotherearly work, Colin McPhee’s Op. 1 PianoSketches from 1916, showing the composerin great form beforehis exposure tothe gamelan. BarbaraPentland’s relativelylate (1983) Vincula isan adventurous bit ofpolyphony, and sensitivelyplayed. ChanKa Nin cascades arpeggiatedlines in Vast. Brent Lee’s SubjectiveGeometries restores the tranquility. Thesurprise ending is Anton Kuerti’s 6-movementSix Arrows (1974) in a thoroughly 20thcentury idiom, far removed from anythingremotely related to Beethoven.Beaumont handles all this repertoire withenviable ease. Glenn Gould Studio’s handpickedSteinway D274 is sensitively recordedby the legendary team of Jaeger and Quinney,with help from Dennis Patterson. The recordedsound is not “in your face”, but nonethelessyou can clearly hear subtle nuances ofpedalling. You absolutely must hear this.John S. GrayFringe PercussionFringe PercussionIndependent FP2009(www.fringepercussion.com)From the first ten seconds of the first track of“Fringe Percussion”, I was held spellbound.The Vancouver group of the same name isable to hold their own in the diverse and talentedpool of Canadian percussionists andpercussion ensemblesby performing an interestingprogramwith consistent precisionand musicality.John Cage’s DanceMusic for Elfrid Idewas an unknownwork until its 200558 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMMarch 1 - April 7, 2010

discovery in the Mills College archives.Composed for dancer/student Elfrid Ide, it isa charming three movement work. The performerscapture Cage’s nuances with elegance,especially in the softer sections. JocelynMorlock’s Darwin’s Walken Fish Quartetis all musical fun and games, with a splashypercussive ending that contemplates what lifewould be like if fish were four-legged creatures.The Fringe Percussion recording ofJohn Wyre’s Marubatoo is based upon thework’s unrecorded trio version. ComposerColin MacDonald’s contribution is Enginuity.This feels more like a work in progress,with the clever idea of having the vibraphoneand marimba supporting the drumming reallycoming to fruition in the final third ofthe work. The energetic Latin flavoured LosForwards by Graham Boyle completes therelease.What strikes me in listening to Fringe Percussionis the meticulous rhythmic ensembleplaying which is overshadowed only by aformidable musical sense. Jonathan Bernard,Martin Fisk, Brian Nesselroad and DanielTones play together like lifelong friends.Here’s hoping that they continue drummingtogether for a long time!Tiina KiikJAZZ & IMPROVIZEDnota benePJ PerryIndependent (www.pjperry.com)Take five great standards, a Charlie Parkerblues and five originals, add PJ Perry - surelyone of the best straight ahead saxophonistsin the country, or any country for that matter- and a rhythm section that really knows howto swing and youhave a CD deservingof a place in yourcollection.The standards includethe familiarLimehouse Blues andGeorgia On My Mindalong with Be MyLove, The Gypsy and What’ll I Do. Add Parker’sMood and the five interesting PJ originalsand you have just over an hour’s worthof honest jazz. On one of the original pieces,Salsa Saxofono, the regular rhythm sectiontakes time out in order to feature David Verelleson piano and Jalidan Ruiz on congasand timbales.Recorded in August at Humber RecordingStudios and October at Inception Sound,this recording shows that not only is MarkEisenman an inventive soloist but also a sympatheticaccompanist, adding just the righttouches behind the leader’s forceful saxophoneplaying. PJ is a joy to listen to andbassist Neil Swainson and John Sumner ondrums provide the icing on the cake.Jim GallowayYoung & FoolishSophie Berkal-SarbitIndependent KEC-CD-5150 (www.sophieberkalsarbit.com)To have one CDunder your belt whenyou’re only 19 isquite an accomplishment.For SophieBerkal-Sarbit to bereleasing her secondat that age is a marvel.Berkal-Sarbit hasa background in musical theatre that showsin her singing style, which has a gutsinessand assurance beyond her tender years.Piano master Bill King produced and arrangedthe 12 covers on the album that openswith the heart-starter I’m Gonna Live TillI Die and moves through songs by a rangeof old and new composers including Porter’sLove for Sale and Strayhorn’s gorgeous,desolate Lush Life. Refreshingly, newersongs like Sting’s Until and Pick SomebodyUp by Raul Midón also get reworked here.King has assembled a roster of local luminarieslike drummer Davide di Renzo andDuncan Hopkins on bass. As always, RobPiltch brings much to the mix with his gorgeousnylon-string guitar work. “Young andFoolish” can be found on iTunes as well as instores across Canada.Cathy RichesTouching YouMaxine WillanIndependent MWCD-0002(www.maxinewillan.com)Australian born, but resident in Canada sincethe early 70s, Maxine Willan’s second CDunder her own name is an entertaining mixof standards and originals. There are somesolo performances and on the other tracks anassortment of musicians including Kiki Misumi,cello, Jon Maharaj, bass, Ethan Ardelli,drums, Walter McLean, percussion and onone track the tenor sax of Kurt Lund whoalso co-produced the album with Maxine.This is not powerhouse jazz that will forcefullyremove you socks, but a light, easy-listeningselection of well chosen melodic compositions,including the haunting Lost In TheStars by Kurt Weill, Oscar Peterson’s LoveBallade and DonThompson’s Lullaby.The CD is representativeof the workMaxine has been performingover theyears before audiencesaround the Torontoarea and if youhave enjoyed hearing her live, now you willbe able to invite her into your home with thispleasant collection.Jim GallowayEXTENDED PLAY - POMO DUOSBy Ken WaxmanDuo playing is probably the most difficultkind of improvising. Not only must eachplayer depend on only one other to modify oraccompany his ideas, but unbridled creativityhas to be muted to fit the other musician’scomfort zone. As these CDs demonstrate,skilled improvisers aren’t fazed by the challenge;but the instruments they choose aresometimes unusual.Ever since his arrival in Toronto fromWinnipeg 30 years ago, reedist Glen Hallhas played with top local and internationalmusicians. A few years ago he began noticinghe was being confused with pianistGlen (Charles) Halls, who had moved to thecity from Edmonton. Being equally sardonictypes, before Halls relocated to Alberta,the two decided to compound the confusionby recording a duo CD, Glen Hall + GlenCharles Halls - Northern Dialogues (QuietDesign Records CD Alas 009 www.quietdesign.us).Still there are as many musicalas jocular reasons fordoing so. With Hallalternating betweenbreathy bass flutepressure and sprightlytenor saxophone runs,the eight tunes ragefrom atmospheric andmeditative to rhythmicand bluesy. More formalistic than Hall,Halls often appears to be playing a fantasia,mixing legato chords with downward cascadingarpeggios. With the low-frequency curvaturesof his flute moderato and pointillist tocomplement the pianist’s comping, it’s Hall’sexplosive saxophone tones which make thegreatest impression. After adding speedy excitementto the measured and nearly opaquepianism on Astral, with Anything BluesHall’s flutter-tonguing encourages Halls todisplay varied keyboard strategies includingtremolo strumming.Hall has organized the annual 416 TorontoCreative Improvisers Festival since2001. Guests from the 514 area code werewelcomed last year, with Montreal turntablistMartin Tétreault’s sounds most unique.Live 33 45 78 (Ambiances MagnétiquesAM 191 CD www.actuelle.com), a duo withBerlin-based turntablistIgnaz Schick,provides examplesof these jangling andratcheting textures.Unlike hip-hopperswho use LPs to insertsong snatchesor scratch beats, theCanadian-German duo manipulate tone-armsand cartridges as additional sound sources,while pummelling electrified surfaces fordistinctive timbres. In two suites they mixMarch 1 - April 7, 2010 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 59

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020
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Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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