8 years ago

Volume 16 Issue 4 - December 2010

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mandate is Canadian

mandate is Canadian jazz, there’s a plethoraof great jazz created elsewhere. Hereare a few titles that really caught his attention:Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green– Apex ( – A brilliantalto sax collaboration between a hotnewcomer and a hardy veteran with stellarband. Vijay Iyer – Solo (– An ace pianist pays extraordinarycontemporary tribute to his inspirations.Jason Moran – Ten (Blue Note) – The bestWadada Leo Smith – Spiritual Dimensions( – This double-mastery of free jazz. Yehudi Menuhin & StephaneGrappelli – Friends In Music (EMI) –istscovering the musical waterfront.Terry Robbins found three titles of particularnote: Beethoven String Quartets Vol.4(Virgin Classics) – A mixture of early, midand late quartets, including the profoundC sharp minor Op.131, superbly played bythe Artemis Quartet. Rodion Shchedrin -Chamber Music (ARS MUSICI) the contemporary Russian composer (whoplays piano for two of them), highlighted byanceof the Bach-inspired Echo-Sonata forsolo violin. John Corigliano – The Red ViolinConcerto (Naxos) – Another superb disc inthe Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and theBPO itself under JoAnn Falletta recorded inRichard Haskell took particular delight ina new recording of Rachmaninov – PianoConcertos Nos.3 & 4 (EMI Classics) – Thepairing of Leif Ove Andsnes with theLondon Symphony under the direction ofAntonio Pappano is sublime. Andsnes’ performanceis bold, expansive, and technicallybrilliant, while Pappano coaxes a warm andlyrical sound from the orchestra. And DanielFoley found in Messiaen: Livre du Saint-Sacrement (Naxos) exceptional perform-massive work that demands close attentionto fully absorb its theological and programmaticintent.ageyou to visit our website, www.thewholenote.comincluding direct links to performers, com-on-line shopping and additional, expandedand archival reviews.—David OldsDISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comGounod – FaustAngela Gheorghiu; Roberto Alagna;Bryn Terfel; Simon Keenlyside;Royal Opera; Antonio PappanoRoyal Opera House/EMI 6 31611 9VOCALThe story ofFaust, an old manwho trades his immortalsoul for asecond chance atyouth, has fascinatedartists for centuries.Opera composerswere particularlyimpressed by it: there eareatleastadozat a dozenworks based on it, amongst them LouisSpohr’s Faust (1816), Hector Berlioz’s LaDamnation de Faust (1846), Charles Gounod’sFaust (1859), Arrigo Boito’s (1868), Ferruccio Busoni’s Doktor FaustThe Fiery AngelBoehmer’s Doktor Faustus (1983), AlfredSchnittke’s Historia von D. Johann Fausten(1994) and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’sProgress (1951).Gounod’s Faust is the most familiarwork and this production features a stellarensemble. As Faust, Roberto Alagna is inend shows signs of strain. Angela GheorghiuKeenlyside as her brother Valentin. Brynwith the necessary malice. Finally, the orchestraunder the skillful baton of Pappanodoes the score full justice.The production itself is another story.rousingtakes place under a giant neon Clubl’Enfer, as if we did not get the connection),it does not help the principals either. BeautifulGheorghiu here, for some inexplicablereason, labours under a mousy-blonde wig.The camera follows the singers too closely,revealing what we already knew – savefor Keenlyside, they are not great actors. Allears (and heart) wide open and your eyes—Robert TomasVerdi – RigolettoDiana Damrau; Juan DiegoFlorez; Željko Lučić; SachsischeStaatskapelle Dresden; Fabio LuisiVirgin Classics 5099964186894 --Rigoletto performed.The original play by Victor Hugocaused such an uproar in Paris that it dis-dichose it as a perfect vehicle for his newopera but it was forciblytransferred toan obscure Italianprincipality to placatethe Venetiancensors. Revolutionary,avant-gardeGerman direc-hoffwas therefore an aptchoicetocreateato create aversus evil or tormentors versus victimsmerged into a surreal nightmarish dream, adark void, sometimes stained in blood red,populated by scary weird creatures, like theduke’s courtiers all in black with devilishmasks. Inside this void for contrast appearsGilda’s pure white bedroom, decorated withstars on its walls that come to shine at night-for this moment alone.Three great names in the forefront of2008 to bring this concept throbbingly aliveher thrilling radiant high soprano, but herexceptional portrayal of an innocent younggirl who falls victim to the hatred and voraciousnessof wicked and thoughtless people.The role of Rigoletto in which Verdi createda hero of heretofore unknown complexity, islends his exquisite bel-canto tenor voice togreat rhythmic and dynamic drive and clarity,altogether a very sympathetic reading of—Janos GardonyiNe Me Refuse PasMarie-Nicole Lemieux; OrchestreNational de France; Fabien GabelNaïve V 5201There are no surpriseshere. Con-coleLemieux singsa number of famousand well lovedFrench opera ariaswith passion, musicality,technique anda pitch to die for. She eisaccompaniedbythefabulous Orchestra national de France underthe superb guidance of Fabien Gabel. Thecompanist”is so intimate that the recordingsounds like it took place in my living room!Unfortunately her performance (with the Je-the opera Carmen lacks the feminine vitalitythat makes the aria so intriguing. Thisis the only lapse however, and a listen toher ascending vocal line at the beginning of68 thewholenote.comDecember 1, 2010 - February 7, 2011

Werther is to witness a vocal genius at work– a spine-tingling example of Lemieux’sartistry. exposé on the French art of singing duringthe Romantic era. Thankfully, Lemieux doesthe author amusingly refers to, but it really isan individual taste to either love or abhor thedramatics of the music and lyrics from thisperiod. I greatly enjoyed this release – themusic may not be completely to my liking,but Lemieux’s brilliant performance sells meon its credibility.—Tiina KiikDiamonds of the North – Songsfrom ScandinaviaDuo FreyaIndependent ( is an elegantly convincingintroduction to what is, after all, the mostimportant thing.—Alison MelvilleLet Beauty Awake (VaughanWilliams; Glick; Bowles; Barber)Joshua Hopkins; Jerad MosbeyATMA ACD2 2615Themes of travelevoke the feelings oflonging and at times,despair, and arewell-loved devicesof many poets. Thesong cycle embracedthe idea of travelmost famously with this recording we get a wonderful, if at timestenously connected assembly of four contem-liams,Srul Irving Glick, Paul Bowles (yes,the Sheltering Sky Paul Bowles!) and SamuelBarber reach for the texts of great poets, in--yondreasonable doubt that a great song cycledoes not have to be sung in German.The young baritone Joshua Hopkins, adio,must have quite a trophy case at home:he is the winner of 2006 Borletti-BuitoniTrust Award, the Verbier Festival Academy’sverband the Julian Gayarre Singing competition.His baritone is of a powerful, virile,yet smooth variety, although some will quibbleabout the unexpected vibrato. The inter-they lie down like cows” and make it convin--Classique’s winning streak.—Robert TomasThis recordingof Finnish, Swedishmusic for voice andpiano is truly fullof little musicaldiamonds – and arich introduction toart song.Jean Sibelius and Edvard Grieg are thetwo most familiar composers representedhere. Sibelius’s four dramatic songs withbroad dynamic shifts and big piano parts arevery impressive, but the transparent melan-Hiljainen kaupunki (TheSilent Town), makes it my personal fave.The composer’s own piano transcription ofFinlandia receives an extraordinary performanceby Saario, and to which Koistinenjoins in for the national song – a much moreintimate experience than the symphonic ver-are perhaps the most varied in mood, despitegems here are To Brune Øyne (Two BrownEyes), En Svane (A Swan) and the hauntinglybeautiful (and famous) Solveig’s Song.Perhaps the most ostentatious compos-understatement here. The one song byAlleluia – Sacred Choral Worksby Stephanie MartinChoirs of Saint Mary Magdalene;Stephanie MartinIndependent SJM 008 ( and beautifully crafted piece thatmakes clear why Kilpinen enjoyed great The Church ofpublic popularity. Two of my personal favourites,with their broad palette of colourand texture, were the songs by Toivo Kuula(1883-1918), and Swedish composer Hugovery charming Toronto has longbeen renowned forthe music gracing itsservices and beyondsince the time of viousfamed composer,affection and thoughtful musicalfamedsome information on the lesser-known com-organist and choir- church from 1921-1968. The latest musicianagain offers a repertoire uniquely suited tothis most excellent sanctuary of faith, inspirationand artistry. Indeed, suiting the historymusic is reminiscent of her predecessortextures and atmospheric harmonizationcombined with liberal measures of plainchant.The anthems and mass settings arelargely unaccompanied but there are a coupleof exceptions such as the lovely arrangementsfor winds in God so loved the worldand the organ taking its rightful place in InMagdelene nomine. Rather than exuberant,the title track Alleluia is soft and sweet withvoicings beautiful, serene and sublime. Thethe clarity and tonal perfection required forthese sensitive and graceful forms. Listeningto this recording will inspire many to attendproviding an excellent glimpse for those whomay never have the opportunity.—Dianne WellsCLASSICAL AND BEYONDMozart – Piano Concertos 12, 13 & 14Robert Blocker; Biava QuartetNaxos 8.557881 there appeared anadvertisement infrom no less a com-who was announcingthe publication ofthree new pianowith a large orchestra… or merely a quattro,that is, with 2 violins, 1 viola, and violon-are presented here performed by the BiavaQuartet with pianist Robert Blocker.The Biava was formed at the Clevelandhas gone on to win top prizes includingthe London International Competition andThe American-born Blocker has enjoyed amultifaceted career as pianist, educator (atprominent institutions as the Avery FisherArtist Program, and the Curatorium of the -his face!” The Biava plays with a keen precision,providing a solid accompanimentfor Blocker’s lucid and sensitive interpretation.This most sympathetic pairing betweenquartet and piano is clearly evident, for example,in the cheerful opening movementDecember 1, 2010 - February 7, 2011 69

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