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Volume 15 Issue 8 - May 2010

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ity and genius of the

ity and genius of the composer. The recording,captured in faultless sound, was made inthe sonically impressive Concertgebouw inBruges to which this group is very well attuned.For me, this has been an unexpectedand rewarding discovery.—Bruce SurteesCLASSICAL & BEYONDBeethoven – Live SymphoniesOrchestra de la Francophonie; Jean-Philippe TremblayAnalekta AN 2 9975-9a particular musicologistonce said,“French orchestrasare incapable of playingGerman music.”Whoever it was whomade this claim wouldsurely have secondAnalekta recording of the complete Beethovensymphonies featuring l’Orchestre de laFrancophonie under the direction of Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Founded in 2001 for thefourth Jeux de la Francophonie in Ottawa-Hull, this ensemble has earned a reputationtras,having given more than 200 concertsacross Canada, and undertaking a successfultour of China in 2007.There is certainly no dearth of Beethovencomplete symphonies sets, so do we reallyneed one more? Having said that, I canassure you that this one, recorded live atQuébec City’s Palais Montcalm in July of2009, can easily hold its own against theolder more established recordings. From theopening hesitant measures of the SymphonyNo. 1, the listener is immediately struck bythe youthful freshness of OF’s approach. Theplaying is noble and elegant, and when dramaticintensity is called for, it is achievedwithout the heavy-handed bombast that hassometimes characterized Beethoven recordingsfrom the past.Admittedly, one of my favourite symphoniesof all time is Beethoven’s No.7. I’mpleased to report that the interpretation heremovements, where the strings seeminglyshimmer in joyful exuberance. The secondmovement, mysterious and somewhat cryptic,is treated in a deservingly subtle man-compared to the merry-making of peasants,brings the symphony to a rousing conclusion.Wagner, who also happened to love this work,(once referring to it as “the very apotheosisof the dance”), would be pleased indeed!The climax of the set comes with thepowerful Symphony No. 9, a true world untoitself. Soloists Marie-Josée Lord, GenevièveCouillard Després, Guy Bélanger, andla Francophonie maintain a wonderful vocalcohesion, admirably blending with the or-Despite this being a live recording, extraneousnoises are minimal, and the burst ofenthusiastic applause at the end of each sym-the superb performances. My only quibblecordingsuch as this deserves better. Kudosto l’Orchestre de la Francophonie, to thesoloists, the chorus, and to Jean-PhilippeTremblay for breathing some overdue freshair into this well-trodden repertoire.—Richard HaskellBeethoven – Symphony No.9Christine Oelze; Petra Lang; KlausFlorian Vogt; Matthias Goerne;Deutscher Kammerchor; DeutscheKammerphilharmonie Bremen;Paavo JärviSony 88697576062chestrawas founded in 1980 by a group ofexceptional young students and went on tobecome one of the most sought-after chamberorchestras, appearing at the UN in 1983.They were invited to play at Gidon Kremer’sLockenhaus Festival where their 1986performance of Gubaidulina’s Seven Wordswas issued by Philips. Since 1992 they havebeen based in Bremen and are self governing,owned by the players. Paavo Järvi has beentheir conductor since 2004 and in Augustof that year they began recording a newBeethoven cycle using the Barenreiter UrtextEdition, starting with the Eighth.The reduced strings contribute to the creationof new textures that are in no way lesssatisfying for theaudience. The windsand brass are morepresent without losingperspective. Listenerswill have a newappreciation of thegenius and beauty ofBeethoven’s scores.Järvi has a clearstamp on these performances wherein he refreshesthe scores with his own phrasing andaccents, with tempi that adhere to Beethoven’smetronome markings. Diehard fans ofvitoo acerbic and will not easily accept hisapproach. Even though I was very familiarwith Järvi’s performances of all the others,this Ninth came as a quite a shock. It is as ifaside and let Beethoven speak for himself,unencumbered by generations of well meaninginterpreters. It works well for me andterpretationsthroughout the nine fully justifytheir existence among a plethora of sets,new and re-issued, which are mostly indistinguishablefrom each other.The state-of-the-art hybrid SACD/CDs,whether heard in stereo or surround, areof audiophile quality accurately delineatingthe instruments exactly as the conductor intended.The executive producers of these recordingsare the orchestra itself and MaestroJärvi, which just may account for theirexcellence.—Bruce SurteesLive from the Lugano Festival 2009Martha Argerich and FriendsEMI Classics 6 07367 2you try Lugano, capital of the Italian speakingcanton Ticino near the sun drenchedsouthern slopes of the Swiss Alps. Preferablyin June when Martha Argerich’s annual festivaltakes place. Since 2002, BSI Bank hassponsored this event, focused on the onceraven haired (now completely grey) Argentineanbeauty and pianiste extraordinaire, alongwith a coterie of young musicians to rehearseand perform concerts of the highest caliberand inspiration.The 3 discs are nicely subdivided intothe chamber music of 1) Schumann, Mendelssohnand Chopin, 2) the Hungarians andRussians, and 3) theSpanish and French.Already on CD1 there is a stunningpiano duet versionof the MidsummerNights Dream Overturewhere the shimmeringpp strings aretranscribed into translucent, lightning fastand wonderfully controlled virtuoso pianoplaying of Argerich and Cristina Marton.Chopin’s early work from his years in Poland,Introduction and Polonaise Brillante,is guaranteed to raise everyone’s blood pres-abandon by Martha Argerich and GautierCapuçon (cello).More unusual pieces follow on CD 2.First the inimitable young violinist RenaudCapuçon plays Bartok’s 2nd Violin Sonata,a “multilayered study in sonority, predominantlydiscordant harmony and structure yetstill traceable to Hungarian folk tradition.”From the Russians we encounter Glinka andRachmaninov, from the latter a curious rarity,a Waltz for 6 hands at a single piano(!).I would have liked to see this as I’d imaginethere could be some logistical problems here.The third disc features larger scale worksand here my favorite was Ravel’s RapsodieEspagnole transcribed for two pianos bythe composer and played atmosphericallyand with imagination by Sergio Tiempo andKarin Lechner. A set to treasure. State of theart recordings.—Janos GardonyiTchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet; StringSerenade; Francesca da Rimini; VictorEwald – Brass QuintetsPhiladelphia Orchestra; Christoph EschenbachOndine ODE 1150-2D56 THEWHOLENOTE.COMMay 1 - June 7, 2010

Orchestra becamefamous, both live and,since 1926, throughrecordings, for theopulence of its sound.One has only to experienceOrmandyconducting the RachmaninovSecond Symphony on the EuroArtsDVD (EA 2072258) to hear exactly what Imean. Christoph Eschenbach was one of therecipients of this legacy, serving as the orchestra’sMusic Director from 2003 to 2008.Francesca da Rimini has been a favouriteof mine since time began. I enjoyed it asa rather lurid piece, with swirling strings andwinds, much percussion and tormented passagesfrom the whole orchestra (I was veryyoung). Eschenbach has a broader, romanticview of the work, perhaps prosaic, focusingmore on the emotions of the condemnedFrancesca than on her surroundings in a sensationalperformance that is more expressivethan ever. As he does in his Houston recordingfor Virgin, Eschenbach broadens out theRomeo and Juliet, too, is unhurriedwith meticulous attention to detail, conveyingthe poignant tragedy of this oft told tale.Similarly, the Serenade for Strings may bethe best you’ll ever hear.Victor Ewald (1860-1935) was a contemporaryof Tchaikovsky… at least for a while,and his compositions for brass are highly regarded…at least by the members of the orchestrawho perform them here. These Quintetspresent no problems to the listener andare, in fact, rather pleasant to hear.The sound throughout is clear, spacious,and well suited to the repertoire.—Bruce SurteesSaint-Saëns – Piano TranscriptionsLucille ChungXXI XXI-CD2 1682are only two kinds of music: The good andthe boring kind.” Well, Saint Saëns may notbe the greatest composer or even one of thegreatest, but he certainly never wrote boringmusic. And he couldn’t have picked a betterperformer of his piano music than the young,immensely talented Montreal-born virtuoso,Lucille Chung. Since 1989, when only10 years old, she has built an impressive careerwith the world’s leading orchestras andperformed in over 30 countries. Her playinghas self assured attack, virtuosity, romanticabandon and a sense of youthful exuberance,but there is still room for more subtlety.She hasn’t recordedmuch as yetand this unorthodoxdisc proves that sheis not afraid of takingproachwas sceptical.What would the 2ndPiano Concerto soundlike on solo piano? One of the most impressiveopenings in the piano concerto literatureis the impassioned solo cadenza that developsinto a breathtaking crescendo leadingup to the ff entry of the orchestra, a big momentindeed, which cannot be duplicated bypiano solo, but this problem notwithstandingthe 1st movement takes shape almost like theoriginal. As she proceeds, the Mendelssohn-dlesection seductively swings with no effortat all. She has the time of her life, totally relaxedand happy.The works that follow, except for the ubiquitousBacchanale, are mostly piano/orchestrapieces transcribed for piano solo by thecomposer, who was a tremendous pianist inhis own right. An interesting curiosity is Africawith its exotic and oriental atmosphere,ending with the Tunisian national anthemcarried off triumphantly by our pianist.—Janos GardonyiMODERN & CONTEMPORARYPoulenc Plays PoulencPoulenc TrioMarquis 81403composer FrancisPoulenc (1899-1963),the Poulenc Trio isa world-class chamberensemble. OboistVladimir Lande, bassoonistBryan Young,and pianist Irina KaplanLande all have busy orchestral and solocareers in the Baltimore/Washington DCto come together to explore some of the mostexquisite music written for their trio of instruments.To my knowledge this is theirto come. The recording opens with Russiancomposer Mikhail Glinka’s Trio Pathétiquein D minor, which hails from the composer’stime spent in Italy. Operatic lyricism is carriedin the oboe and bassoon lines, and thepiece ends in an effortless-sounding blaze oftechnical virtuosity. Next is the well-lovedand much performed trio by the group’snamesake. Poulenc was a member of “LesSix”, French composers who eschewed pretentiousnessin music in favour of simplicityand sometimes satire. Best known forhis chamber music, Poulenc’s Trio for Oboe,Bassoon and Piano expresses a wide paletteof sentiment, from dark and brooding, towildly playful, to suave sensuality, the threeinstruments playing off each other as equalparticipants in an engaging conversation.Following this is the light-hearted, singlemovementFantasie Concertante on Themesfrom Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, by 19thcentury arrangers, oboist and bassoonistCharles Triébert and Eugène Jancourt. Themost interesting work to me however, is thelast, and perhaps least known, the 1995 Triofor Oboe, Bassoon and Piano by Americancomposer, conductor and Glenn Gould Prizelaureate André Previn. Its three movements,20th century aesthetic, while still tonal, andincorporate elements of jazz, and mixed meterwriting.The playing on this recording is bothtechnically superb and musically sensitive,and the CD is well engineered in termsof balance and sound quality. The trio hasalso commissioned a number of new works,which is part of their mandate of expandingthe repertoire for this combination of instruments.I look forward to their futurerecordings!—Karen AgesCastelnuovo-Tedesco; Respighi;Guastavino – Violin ConcertosJose Miguel Cueto; St. PetersburgSymphony Orchestra; Vladimir LandeMarquis 81407rarely heard music. Here he assembles a recitalthat combines not just little-known compositionsbut also the intricacies one wouldexpect of a piece by Castelnuovo-Tedescocommissioned and premiered by Heifetz. Infact, all the pieces he selects are virtuosicand technically demanding.The Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concerto looksto religious inspiration; Jewish melodiesgrace what the composer described as a biblicalconcerto. Those looking for the solemnityof synagogue liturgy, however, mustintroduces more popular, folkloric arrangements.For all that, this music remains virtuosicthroughout- Cueto’s playingin the third movementunderlines hisreputation.Concerto gregorianowas not well received,which disappointedRespighi.This adverse criticism is hard to understand.In the second movement one may listen toCueto’s sensitive interpretation of the andanteespressivo; in the third, masterful play-Chant awaits.And so to Guastavino - a chemical en--Guastavino avoided direct inspiration fromfolk-music. And yet these last four minutes,evocative of Guastavino’s Argentine backgroundand transcribed by Cueto himself, isa wonderful way to celebrate José Miguelby religion or folklore.—Michael SchwartzMay 1 - June 7, 2010 THEWHOLENOTE.COM 57

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