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Volume 16 Issue 5 - February 2011

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Gardens of SpainLyne

Gardens of SpainLyne Fortin; Esther GonthierAnalekta AN 2 9972Wolf – Italienisches LiederbuchCatherine Robbin; Daniel Lichti;Leslie De’AthAnalekta AN 2 9956Two recentAnalekta releasesfeature the musicof Hugo Wolf, thelate 19th-centurylife-long composerof lieder. Onerecording focusesexclusively on onecycle by Wolf, whilethe other includeshim in a collectionof Spanish andSpanish-inspiredpieces. Whileboth song cyclesare named forthe countries thepoetry originates from, Wolf’s musicitselfisitself isdecidedly Germanic.In each of the excerpts from SpanishesLiederbuch performed by Lyne Fortin, shecertainly has the dramatic presence to handlethe “Sturm und Drang” required by the constantlychanging emotional content. In selec-passionately compared to a girl or a womannessthat Fortin delivers beautifully. Fortintruly Spanish repertoire on this recoding.The cantos by Cuban composer Joaquinthat keep quite a pace until the third selectionwhich slows but maintains the emotivemomentum. In fact, throughout the CD, thissinger sings as though always on edge, withsmouldering moments juxtaposed with shrillpeaks of high anxiety, keeping the listenerthrilled with uncertainty. Pianist EstherGonthier keeps the tension high throughoutand especially shines in the Torroba, whereher piano takes on the persona of a strummingguitar.Hugo Wolf’s Italienische Liederbuch israrely performed in its entirety, consistingas it does of no less than forty-six vignettes.Having performed a few of them in a recentconcert tour entitled “Songs of Venus andMars”, mezzo-soprano Catherine Robbinand bass-baritone Daniel Lichti were inspiredto record the complete cycle sincethe lieder neatly fall into categories suitablefor both male and female singers. Again,in paying homage to the Tuscan folk poemsand Venetian vilotehis own nationality, but the translationsinto German still make for quite the rangeof emotion, from passion to reverence andplayfulness to despair. Both Robbin andLichti along with pianist Leslie De’Ath adda certain elevation to sentiments of romanticexploration in the same way that Wolf transformsthe simplicity of the lyric to a moreclassical standard of high art. The singers,well known for their expertise in this repertoire,imbue the performance with superbtonal quality, warmth and grace.—Dianne WellsEARLY & PERIOD PERFORMANCESalsa BaroqueEnsemble Caprice; Matthias MauteAnalekta AN 2 9957Matthias Maute’snotes explain salsabaroque as being17th and 18th centuryLatin Americanand Spanish musicwith a diffusionof harmonies andrhythms of Europeand Africa blended with Amerindiannuances and styles. Hybrid must be anunder-statement.The choice of pieces is itself varied asZipoli’s pastorales vie with his battagliasand in turn mingle with Gaspar Fernandes’compositions with their unsullied preconquistadortitles. The opening (anonymous)chaconne combines easily recognizablebaroque music with spirited Latin Americanembellishments; Variations on la Gayta andthe lively singing of further settings bringhome the passionate nature of this fusionof music from Spain and her new colonies.Listen to Lanchas para baylar for furthermore indigenous need only listen to theHanacpachap cussicuinin. It is incomparablyLatin American, mainly because it is datedto 1631 in Cuzco!Looking at the cover design of this CDwith its electronically-drawn drizzlings ofLatin American dressings and then translatingits title (baroque sauce), you might getthe impression this is one for the tapas-baryuppies. It is, in truth, a valuable introductionto music created by Spanish andPortuguese composers who were assigned tothey found there.—Michael SchwartzVivaldi Oboe ConcertosAlex Klein; New BrandenburgCollegium; Anthony NewmanCedille FOUNDation CDR 7003(www.cedillerecords.org) of his time, Antonio Vivaldi (1675-1741)wrote a total of 14 concerti for oboe, plusan additional threefor two oboes. Thissampling of eightof them, from oneoboists, is a recentre-release of materialoriginally recordedin 1993. AlexKlein is probably best tknownasaformera principal oboist of the Chicago Symphony,a position he held from 1995 to 2004, whenhe left the job due to focal dystonia, a neurologicalcondition affecting the muscles inand I had the pleasure of hearing him performlive in Kitchener a couple of years ago).In addition to composing, Vivaldi alsotaught music at the Ospedale della Pietá,an orphanage for girls in Venice. In theinsightful liner notes with this recording,Klein suggests that these works were perhapswritten for these girls, with their particulartalents and personalities in mind. Given thetechnical challenges of these concerti andthe limitations of the oboe of the time, ifthis is true, these girls must have been trueprodigies! Speculation aside, this recordingpresents these works in their best light,played here by a true virtuoso. Klein’stechnical mastery of the instrument isstaggering – even the most virtuosic passagesan impression of total ease; and embeddedwithin the most technically demandingsections, Klein manages a sensitivity andsubtlety of expression that only a truemaster can convey. This recording deservesundivided listening attention to fullyappreciate the complexity and nuance ofperformance.—Karen AgesJ.S. Bach – Organ WorksNicolas-Alexandre MarcotteXXI-21 Productions; XXI-CD 2 1713Organist Nicolas-Alexandre Marcotteorgan built in 1973by Karl Wilhelm forÉglise Saint-Matthias(Montréal). It is entirelymechanical (tracker action)and voiced in thevery best Baroque style. Marcotte’s repertoirechoice (some duets, a Fantaisie, a TrioSonata, etc.) is far from standard Bach butcarefully chosen to demonstrate the Baroquekeyboard technique of note detachment, thevery antithesis of the Romantic tendency forlegato in nearly everything. The playing isbrilliant and the acoustics perfect – an altogetheroutstanding recording achievement.—Alex Baran62 thewholenote.comFebruary 1 - March 7, 2011

CLASSICAL AND BEYONDMozart – Piano SonatasRobert SilvermanIsoMike 5602 (www.isomike.com)If we acceptHans von Bulow’sdecree to pianiststhat “Bach is theOld Testament andBeethoven is theNew Testament ofmusic,” where doesthat leave Mozart?As a kind of musical John the Baptist?But if Mozart has been relegated to therole of a pianistic voice crying in the wilderness,it’s not the composer’s doing, but thefault of the musical world. Some pianists,such as Glenn Gould, have disdained hispiano music as lightweight. Others, such asAlicia De Laroccha, have unwittingly givencredence to this view by performing Moz-there are folks who feel that Mozart’s pianomusic needs to be performed on a periodfortepiano – as if he can’t quite compete with“important” piano composers when playedon a modern instrument.Enter Robert Silverman, the Vancouverbasedpianist who has earned a reputationas a Beethoven interpreter with a penchantfor complete sonata cycles. Now, in this seven-discboxed set on the audiophile IsoMikelabel, Silverman has recorded all 18 Mozartsonatas, and also the Chromatic Fantasy inC Minor.What makes these performances so consistentlyengaging is the breadth he bringsto his interpretations. He’s not out to directlyoverthrow traditional ideas about Mozart,but rather to enfold them within a broadervision: while there’s sometimes a “Mozartkugel”sweetness to his playing, there’s muchmore than that. In Silverman’s hands, thismusic is dramatic, humourous, effervescent,calm, blissful, tragic, and many other thingsas well.For instance, there’s Sonata No. 15,which Silverman, in his notes, describes as“the most curious work in Mozart’s entiremovement begins as a lively romp, but withiblesteel. The second movement is less complex,perhaps, but inward-looking and carefullyshaped. And the last movement is pureinnocence and charm – until the changefrom major to minor brings just a touch ofwistfulness.The only non-sonata on these discs, theC Minor Fantasy, is no less impressive. Contrastsare sharply drawn, intensity builds andrecedes, colours range from light to dark,and the music is always going somewhere.Sonically, these discs are as clear as abell and as pure as the driven snow. Andspeaking of Glenn Gould (whom I mentionedfour paragraphs back), can Silverman beheard very quietly humming in some lyricalpassages? It sounds like he might be.—Colin EatockBeethoven – The Symphonies& The Beethoven ProjectDie Deutsche KammerphilharmonieBremen; Paavo Järvi; Christiane Oelze;Annely Peebo; Simon O’Neill; DietrichHenschel; Deutscher KammerchorSONY 86977814396 (4 DVDs) “As long as wewill be performingthe Beethoven symphoniesthey willalways be slightlydifferent. Thereis no way of makingan identical performance...it simplydoesn’t work that way. Oneofthethingsthatthings thatI value most by doing those cycles is that Ifeel that the next one can be a little bit betterbecause I have learned something from theone before and I feel that I know how to dothem better and I feel that the orchestra andI have a closer communication because we’vebeen through this process.”Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmoniehad already recorded theBeethoven Symphonies for CD release over aperiod of four years from 2004-2008. Thoseperformances had positive reviews and I wasvery impressed by the clarity and energy ofthe playing and the hard-edged recording.The new cycle on DVD was recorded notin four years but four consecutive days, September9-12, 2009 in the Beethovenhalle inBonn. It is plain to hear that the ensembleis far more engaging and persuasive. Thethrilling live performances are both inspiredand inspiring, a tribute to Järvi’s panacheand inspiration; they glow from within... arefreshing experience. The sound dynamics,whether heard in stereo or 5.1 surroundsound are exceptional, as they must be here.Play the extra DVD, “The Beethovenhow this event came together and also get toknow a few of the players and experience theorchestra’s general camaraderie. More valuableare the rehearsal excerpts in which Järviworks with the players on matters of tempi,phrasing, dynamics, and balance and illustratesBeethoven’s sense of humour. Later,one of the players relates a conversation betweenplayers on the last day as to whetherthey should play it safe in the Ninth. Theydecided to go all out and hold back nothing.I promise that even the most jaded listenerwill be listening with new ears.—Bruce SurteesWidor – Complete Organ SymphoniesJean-Guy Proulx, Gilles Rioux,Benjamin Waterhouse, JacquelinRochette, Jacques BoucherXXI-21 Productions; XXI-CD 2 1720Organ recordingsare as muchabout the instrumentas they are aboutthe performer andthe repertoire, soit’s often hard to saywhat should reallyget top billing. XXIpresents us with a complete set of Charles-Marie Widor’s 10 (Organ) Symphonies per-different instruments built by Canada’s CasavantFrères of Saint Hyacinthe, Québec. Thisset is a substantial document. It illuminates aunique period of French music history in theearly 20th century when advancing technologyhad a huge impact on pipe organ building.New materials, better mechanisms andityto design “orchestral” instruments withbroad palettes of colours. Moreover, a growingbody of organ works in this “orchestral”genre was waiting to be heard and Widor’s10 symphonies are among the best to illustratethis phenomenon. These six CDs offermany outstanding examples of how skilfulorganists can register (colour) the complexinner voices of Widor’s writing. Some remarkablehighlights deserve special mention.Symphony No.1 is a collage of contrastingdynamics and colour. Organist Jean-GuyFebruary 1 - March 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 63

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