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Volume 16 Issue 2 - October 2010

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and romantic – which

and romantic – which may not be to everyone’stastes - but Kissin makes it all soundparticularly convincing. At the other end ofthe scale is the serene and ethereal ConcertoNo.27, Mozart’s last. While Kissin’s treatmentremains romantic, he demonstratesmore restraint here, in keeping with theoverall mood of the piece. At all times, theKremerata Baltica provides a sensitive accompaniment,and it would seem that Kissinis as adept at leading an ensemble as he iswith performing. repertoire performed by outstanding artists –it doesn’t get much better than this!—Richard HaskellAlessandro Scarlatti – CompleteKeyboard Works, Vol.2Alexander WeimannATMA ACD2 2528Alexander Weimann,currently dir-Baroque Orchestraand an impressivelyversatile musician,has undertaken torecord the completekeyboard works ofAlessandro Scarlatti. So far, this survey hasfocused largely on toccatas, omitting whatWeimann deems as pedagogical works orwhat one musicologist has simply called “pupilfodder.”These early 18th century pieces rarelythey were intended and over the years performershave produced recordings for harpsichord,organ and piano, and even arrangementsfor electronic keyboard with digitallysampled sounds!The choice of pipe organ, however, doesoffer several strong artistic merits. This instrumentin particular, with its Baroque voicingand tonal plan, gives Scarlatti’s music aother keyboard instrument. Its tracker action(direct mechanical linkage to the keyboard)also provides for remarkably fast single-noterepetitions that are impossible on harpsichordsand most lesser pianos. tempo, phrasing and registration (tonal colour).Despite some very high speed passagework, Weimann maintains a clarityand crispness that delivers each note when itmight otherwise be easier to drop a few. Hisplaying uses the instrument to its greatestadvantage.ATMA cites the instrument as a 1993Wilhelm at Église Trés-Saint-Rédempteurin Montreal but neglects to offer a complete“stop” list which most other organ recordingswould do. Organ fans can be obsessivelycurious about these things and will hopefor more information in Volume Three.Overall Weimann offers a very listenableand fresh take on Italian keyboard musicfrom the Baroque that is often overshadowedby the German school of the same era.—Alex BaranBeethoven – The Five Piano ConcertosPaul Lewis; The BBC SymphonyOrchestra; Jiří BělohlávekHarmonia Mundi HMC 902053.55 Beethoven pianoconcerto cycles hasreached a point ofsaturation. To standout, the performers,especially the pianistmust be utterly distinctive.Paul Lewisbreaks out of the crowd providing a banquetfor Beethoven lovers... even those with jadedears.I listened to this set in numerical orderand I was initially conscious of some idiosyncraticphrasing from the soloist but thatchanged to total immersion in Beethoven’sgenius. certoimpressed me as rather less imaginativethan I would have expected. The restof the movement corrected this impression.The second movement, Largo, is disarminglytranquil. Delivered as heartfelt poetry, “itfollow, whether Adagio or Largo, are playedwith the same rapt absorption. The thirdmovement is exhilarating where in the joy,the pulse and the humour are clearly conveyedby soloist, conductor, and orchestraalike. “classical,” the third concerto clearly has romanticbuds but even being in a minor key,has an air of optimism throughout. Lewis’smost convincingly. Number four is a leapare well adjusted to the sombre and seriousmood to the extent that their performanceis as good as the very best versions I haveheard. a festive work on a large scale that is heardhere to be just that. The orchestral texturepoints to a large orchestra and leaves behindthe “period” approach. Again a superlative,thrilling performance. glove, completely in agreement throughoutthe cycle, achieving ideal balances betweenpiano and orchestra. I have to mention thatI have not heard a piano more faithfully reproducedthan on these discs recorded by theBBC.Without discounting any of the keyboardtitans who have gone before, Lewis is muchmore than competitive. We all have ourfavourites whose performances, quite often,are imprinted as the touchstone by whichto judge others. Let me just say that I enjoythese new performances immensely and,after returning to them often over the past—Bruce SurteesChopin – Etudes, Sonatas & ImpromtusJanina FialkowskaATMA ACD2 2554“… (Chopin’s)youth was spent entirelyin Poland, acountry which had,until his time, producedno composersof distinction….”Although I have toattribute the wordsof Judith Rice–Lesage in the liner notes ofthis album to her wilful ignorance of Polishcultural history, she is absolutely right inthe assertion that Chopin was a genius nobodycould take credit for. The masters ofthe past, Bach and Beethoven in particular,had an impact on the young Frederic, but it-notbe credited with creating new musicalforms (save for the Mazurka), the formshis brilliant mind. If nobody “created” Chopin,is there “something” that accounts forhis genius? I dare say yes, and that is thePolish national character. A nebulous andto cast a glance at the Chopin memorial inthe Warsaw Lazienki (Baths) Park to graspit. There he is, leaning into and cradled byan enormous weeping willow. The melodicease, the romantic, almost tragic melancholy,the spirited and irrepressible responseto the world around him – those are “Polish”traits. Is it any wonder that some of the bestinterpreters of his music are his countrymenand women? Janina Fialkowska was born inMontreal to Polish parents and became thestandard-bearer for Polish music in Canada.Her playing is passionate and precise, easilyhandling Chopin’s scores, notoriously crowdedwith notes for the right hand. That in itselfis a proof of both her spirit and her artistry,as Ms. Fialkowska nearly lost the useof her right hand due to cancer only a fewyears ago. This remarkable recording provesthe point that “you don’t have to be Polish toplay Chopin – but it sure helps!”—Robert TomasConcert Note: Janina Fialkowska is featuredin Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E minorin period performances on a 19th centuryPleyel piano with Tafelmusik October 7 to10 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.64 thewholenote.comOctober 1 - November 7, 2010

Pinnacles – Music of Diana McIntoshVarious ArtistsCentrediscs CMCCD 15810The CD coverpicture of compos--Intosh standing onOphidian Glaciersays it all – she lovesthe great outdoors.Her compositionalinspirations rangefrom Canadian glaciers to the peaks of Kilimanjaroin this intriguing new release.McIntosh evokes nature’s wide openspaces through her use of her wide openmelodic intervals. (An interval is the distancebetween two adjacent notes). Any listenerstill wary of new music’s dissonantqualities will quickly be won over by her useof sound to evoke images of natural beauty.McIntosh is also an excellent pianist whois continuing the centuries old tradition ofthe composer performing their own works.Like popular music’s singer-songwriters, nobodyreally plays her music better than Mc-Intosh herself. However, she has guided theother featured instrumentalists to interpretperfectly. Of special note is violinist KarlStobbe in the opening chamber music trackApproaching Kilimanjaro, and to no surprise,the composer’s longtime collaborator,local percussion superstar Beverley Johnstonin the duet Uhuru Kamili. Only McIntosh’sFrom Wapta Ice isslightly over the top in its emotive qualities,with her musical sensibilities.The good people at the Canadian MusicCentre’s Centrediscs have yet again produceda high quality release. “Pinnacles” showcasesthe music of Diana McIntosh at the pinnacleof her artistic career.—Tiina KiikWild BirdDuo Concertante; Barbara BuddCentrediscs CMCCD 16110MODERN & CONTEMPORARYViolinist NancyDahn and pianistTimothy Steevesformed Duo Concertantein 1997, andhave had over a dozenworks for violinand piano commissionedfor themfrom Canada’s leading composers. Three –R. Murray Schafer, Chan Ka Nin and KatiAgócs - are represented on this fascinatingand beautifully-produced CD from the CanadianMusic Centre.Schafer’s works open and close the disc.His tremendous three-movement Duo, premieredin 2008, is a real gem, and the bestwork on the CD for me.Chan Ka Nin’s Late in a Slow Time isthe longest - and most immediately striking– work of the four. In 2001 the composerheard Nova Scotia poet Carole GlasserLangille, a friend of the Duo, reading fromher book of poems of the same title, and wasinspired to write a musical work that wouldincorporate the recitation of the poems. BarbaraBudd is an outstanding narrator in awork that draws you in and doesn’t let go.Kati Agócs’ Supernatural Love follows,comparison, being perhaps more in the ex--Schafer’s Wild Bird, originally for violinand harp, was written in 1997 for Jacques Israelievitch’s50th birthday. Timothy Steevestranscribed the harp part at the composer’ssuggestion. It’s a wonderful piece, intended to“celebrate the violin’s versatility,” as the excellentbooklet notes tell us. That it certainly does!—Terry RobbinsNinaKellylee EvansPlus Loin Music PL4528www.kellyleeevans.comJAZZ & IMPROVISEDRecognized forwriting and deliveringsongs of exquisitebeauty anddepth, KellyleeEvans is a perfectexample of musicalhonesty in its purestform. Several yearsback, the sweet-voiced Ottawa-based singersongwriterwas summoned to France to recordan album for the Plus Loin label. “Theysaid I could do whatever I wanted as long asit was standards,” Evans recalls. She decidedto dedicate the recording to Nina Simone,selecting a dozen songs famously cut by TheHigh Priestess of Soul. Talk about a challengingundertaking! Simone – who beganplaying Bach as a toddler – was a legendarypianist, vocalist, composer and civil rightsadvocate, one of the 20th century’s most important(and arguably, underrated) musicalgeniuses; in her 70 years on earth she forgedan unmistakable style fused with classical,jazz, pop, rock, folk and her own originals.The impressive results demonstrate Evans’impeccable taste.It was a wise decision not to include keyson the recording, as Simone was incomparableas a pianist. Instead, Evans is joined byshining Chicagoan Marvin Sewell on guitarsçoisMoutin on bass and André Ceccarellion drums. What makes this recording shineis how freshly these songs are re-imagined.Whereas Simone’s gritty voice was dramaticallyfuelled by anguish, Evans’ interpretationof the same material scintillates with a pure,soulful optimism. Here’s hoping this outstandingeffort earns new fans for both KellyleeEvans and Nina Simone.—Ori DaganThe Beat Goes OnEmilie-Claire BarlowIndependent EMG445www.emilyclairebarlow.comWith “The BeatGoes On” Toronto-basedjazz singerEmilie-Claire Barlowhas done what afew wise singers aredoing these days,namely looking tomore recent erasand songwriters for fresh material ratherthan the overdone American Songbook. Thistime out, Barlow has focused her considerabletalents and jazz sensibilities on the 60s.The opening track sets the tone for the albumas Kelly Jefferson provides nuanced saxRaindrops Keep Falling on My Head. Barlowhas written all the arrangements herselfand the stripped down instrumentation thata Pucci print dress. We feel transported to aYorkville coffeehouse as just bass and congas(Ross MacIntyre and Davide Direnzo)accompany These Boots Were Made forWalkin’. Very groovy. Iconic sounds of the60s bubble up in the woodwinds on SoulBossa Nova as it’s mashed up with the classicSonny & Cher title track.An exploration of the 60s wouldn’t becomplete without a journey to that hotbedof musical innovation, Rio de Janiero, andthe cover of O Barquinho (My Little Boat)featuring Reg Schwager’s nylon string guitarskills perfectly evokes a carefree Brazilianday. Barlow’s specialty is bossa nova (doOPato on YouTube) so when she surprisinglyimposes that style on Dylan’s Don’t ThinkTwice, It’s Alright it actually works.“The Beat Goes On” will be released onOctober 12 and Barlow is performing live toair on JazzFM91 October 21 at 7:00pm, andat the Queen Elizabeth Theatre May 14, 2011.—Cathy RichesDouble PortraitBill Charlap & Renee RosnesBlue Note 509996 27560 2 0Successful piano duets call for the abilityto listen to each other bend a little, give upsome ego and converse with each other. OscarPeterson and Count Basie, Willie “TheLion” Smith and Don Ewell, Duke EllingtonOctober 1 - November 7, 2010 65

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