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Volume 16 Issue 5 - February 2011

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  • February
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on CD, albeit by few of

on CD, albeit by few of the really elite performers.The Swiss violinist Rachel KollyD’Alba provides all that you could possiblyask for on Passion Ysaÿe (Warner WCJ 256468385-5), combining a dazzling techniquewith a sensitivity and artistry that earned herthe stamp of approval from Jacques Ysaÿe,the composer’s grandson.MODERN & CONTEMPORARYElectrologosJoseph PetricConAccord (www.josephpetric.com)We’ve comea long way sinceCanadian scientistHugh LeCaine(1914-1976) inventedthe “ElectronicSackbut”, thecontrolled synthesizerin 1945. Live electronic art was born, andthe three electroacoustic composers featuredon accordionist Joseph Petric’s new releaseall play homage to LeCaine in their artisticmanipulations.Take a listen to current mainstreampopular music on the radio – all the sametweaks, loopings and sounds can be heard on“Elektrologos” too. Bob Pritchard’s Breatheon Me (O Breath of God...) is an etherealsoundscape. Larry Lake’s early boomingSticherarion shows the composer experimentingwith technology while his laterwork, Fractals is more of a techno-chamberwork. Finally the great Orbiting Garden byChristos Hatzis is a sound explosion – Petriclines. This is the powerhouse performanceand piece.Accordionist Joseph Petric is an accomplished,sensitive and intelligent musicianwho has an international following bothrecorded output. He can play any style, butdon’t get me wrong, he is really in his elementin the world of electroacoustic music.He absolutely shines – it is especially hisimpeccable bellows control that shapes thedynamic interplay between accordion and“sound machines” here.A thousand raves to Joseph Petric andthe composers. This is an accessible andculturally important aural experience to beheard time and time again.—Tiina KiikGiacinto Scelsi – Piano Works 4Stephen ClarkeMode 227 (www.moderecords.com)Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988) was aremarkable Italian innovator. His musicis dissonant, improvisational, and oftenunorthodox rhythmically.StephenClarke’s virtuosityand artistic sensitivityare both evidenton this disc of 1930spiano music byScelsi.The triptychHispania- co guitar as it fans out from the pitches E-F.Clarke handles the “thrums,” ornaments,and “damped” tone clusters with panache.The wonderful slow movement starts at aslow tread, like a quest in the dark, and thenbecomes more agitated. Contrasting white-slow chords effect peaceful closure.I particularly enjoyed Suite No. 5,“The Circus” (1935). These miniatures areappropriately gestural, at times dance-like.The 5th piece has a profusion of acrobaticarpeggios, leaping up higher and higher untilthey cover the instrument’s full range. The6th is a tarantella like no other that rumblesin the depths! The last piece to me has hintsof fascist marches at a time when World WarTwo approached. Clarke captures well thework’s whimsical and sometimes childlikesensibility.Suite No. 6 (1939) has intriguingmoments, though Scelsi’s trademark fastrepeated notes here seem excessive. YetClarke has mastered them, as well asslightly each time. Recorded in Berlinand Toronto, the disc is a labour of lovewhose recording quality equals that of theperformances. I look forward to more Scelsias the Mode Edition unfolds.—Roger KnoxCosmophonyRachel Kiyo IwaasaRedshift Records (www.cosmophony.com)Canada isblessed with a remarkableroster oftalented pianistswho are dedicated tochampioning workby our country’scomposers. We canadd Vancouver’sRachel Kiyo Iwaasa to othatroster roster. Asherbio says, she has “a shameless passion forcontemporary music” and it shows on thissolo debut for the Redshift Music Society.liner notes, is a noun built on Greek rootsand literally means “sound of the cosmos.”It is also the banner under which Iwaasaunites her favourite Canadian composersto create a recital album inspired bythe planets. Completed over three years,“Cosmophony” starts with Denis Gougeon’sPiano-Soleil and extendsout across the solar system in a series often works from West-Coast composers,nine commissioned by Iwaasa expressly forthis project. She has selected her contributorswell, among them Rodney Sharman,Jeffrey Ryan, Marci Rabe, Jordan Nobles,Jennifer Butler and Emily Doolittle. Theyall use juxtapositions of science, mythologyand astrology to depict their selected planetsand amplify their individual voices. FromSharman’s truly mercurial Mercurio dal CielIn Terra to Rabe’s intimate yet eerie Venus,and from Ryan’s scintillating Saturn: Studyin White to Butler’s submerged sonics ofNeptune, Iwaasa covers a range of moodsand styles with great mastery. Noticeablyabsent is Pluto, which was delisted as aplanet during the project’s development.It’s replaced here with Doolittle’s optimisticbut ominous Gliese 581, evoking a distantplanet we had hoped inhabitable. Matching“Cosmophony” with George Crumb’s ambitiousMakrokosmos Volume II: 12 FantasyPieces after the Zodiac is a brilliant touchof programming, not only for its showcasingof Iwaasa’s full virtuosity – calling on arange of extended techniques – but also forits counterpoint to the more traditional techniquerequired by the Canadian collaborators.Excellent recording quality and lovelypackaging make this a strong release.—Jason van EykThe Minimalism of Erik SatieVienna Art OrchestrahatOLOGY 671 (www.hathut.com) Re-orchestratingthe quirky compositionsof ErikSatie (1868-1925)may seem peculiar,but that’s whatconductor MathiasRüegg and the10-piece ViennaArt Orchestra (VAO) do with élan on this75-minute CD. Over the past 33 years, theVAO has effected similar transformationson the music of other composers such asStrauss, Brahms and Gershwin, not to mentionmany of jazz’s greatest themes. Herethe procedures emphasize the pared-downand folkloric tendencies found in the musicof France’s Satie, a transitional composer,presaged experimental sounds.Recasting the music of a composerknown for his piano works, Rüegg’s arrangementsfeature no pianist, instead relying onthe VAO`s soloists to put a personal stampon Satie. for instance,revolves around Lauren Newton’ssqueaky scatting and Karl Fian’s whinnyingand slurry trumpet lines. , balances Harry Sokol’slanguid soprano saxophone solo on an undertowof mid-range brass and vibraharp textures.More radically, a composition such as becomes aromping circus-styled exposition with joyfulcontrapuntal rhythms courtesy of Wolfgang66 thewholenote.comFebruary 1 - March 7, 2011

Puschnig’s Arabic-sounding sopranino saxophoneand the reverberations from WolfgangReisinger’s tarabuka or goblet drum.Rüegg’s transformation of Satie’s worksas pared-to-the-bone minimalism is mostapparent on the three variants on Vexationswhich the composer wanted performed slowlywith many repetitions. Since one tracklasts more than 23 minutes and the other twoeither side of nine, the VAO adds neededemotion to these exercises courtesy of, inone instance Newton’s melismatic vocalese,and in another Roman Schwaller’s sensualtenor saxophone lines.—Ken WaxmanJAZZ AND IMPROVISEDSophisticated LadiesCharlie Haden Quartet WestEmArcy 2750816 (www.emarcy.com)Grammy AwardwinningbassistCharlie Hadenand his singer/wife Ruth Cameronhave married twoof their loves on“SophisticatedLadies” – classicsongs by American composers and contemporaryfemale jazz singers. These aren’t somuch the hard-core jazzers of today as theyare the beautiful balladeers such as MelodyGardot, Cassandra Wilson and Diana Krall.Neither are these tired standards; Haden andCameron have chosen some lesser-known butgorgeous songs with lyrics a girl can reallywrap her voice around. An interesting additionto the roster is operatic soprano RenéeFleming. Her big, rich voice and ability todeliver a lyric, along with Alan Broadbent’slush yet restrained string arrangement andsax master Ernie Watts’ plaintive tenor lines,turn A Love Like This into an ode to thebeginning of a love affair that works itselfall the way down into your chest cavity andwon’t get out.Another standout on the disc is Ill Windwhich Norah Jones’ warm, throaty deliveryimbues with just the right amount of fatalismto let us know things are going to get bad,but nothing we can’t handle. Interspersedwith the vocal tunes are instrumentals by the1986. To counterbalance the down-temposof the ladies, the men give us some boppystuff like Wahoo where they can stretch outa little but not as far out as they would havein the days when Haden played with OrnetteColeman and John Coltrane. The disc as awhole has an appealing 60s noir feel justright for a cool yet contemplative evening oras backdrop to a “Mad Men” style cocktailparty with hipster friends.—Cathy RichesSomething in the Air | Global CombosGLOBALIZATION, mass communicationand travel have created situationswhere standardized hamburger pattiesor drum beats can be experienced anywherein the world. Yet increased mobility in the21st Century also allows like-minded musicianswho live in different cities, countriesor continents to instigate regular workingensembles.This situation is particularlypronounced among improvis-instance is captured on MorningGlory (Maya Records MCD 1001www.maya-records.com) bythe trio of Augustí Fernández,Barry Guy and Ramón López.Although listening to the sensitive cooperationexhibited on the two CDS whichmake up this outstanding set suggests thatthe three members of the trio are inseparable,it’s not so. Pianist Fernández lives inBarcelona, bassist Guy in Switzerland anddrummer López in Paris. Here materialis divided among group compositions andthose written by the pianist or the bassist.A prime example of López’s sensitive accompanimentoccurs on Perpetuum Mobilewhere his press rolls back the pianist’s kineticpitter-patter and tremolo chording whichOUTSTANDING saxophonist and composerQuinsin Nachoff spends moretime in New York than in his nativeCanada, releasing cutting-edge albumsunderlining the key niche he now occupiesin contemporaryjazz. His latestQuinsin NachoffFoMo (Musictron,www.quinsin.com),with FoMo standingfor ‘forwardmotion’, is just that,delivering almost 80minutes comprising eight of his compos-itions that are splendid examplesof imagination, wit and daringyet show keen understandingof jazz traditions. Big Appletrumpeter Russ Johnson is thebright foil to Nachoff’s tenor, whilefellow Canucks (sinewy keysmanAdrean Farrugia on Fender Rhodesand drummer Mark Kelso) alternatelymassage and bruise rhythms. hms.The sound echoes provocative OrnetteColeman foursomes but with marginallysofter surfaces and an inclination to sneak inKEN WAXMANevolves in double counterpoint with Guy’sdobro-like twangs or bow taps against hisinstrument’s wood. Meanwhile A SuddenAppearanceencompassing Fernández’s outlined singlenotes, Guy’s screeching sul ponticellosprawls and López’s rat-tat-tats. Other piecessuch as The Magical Chorus and most of thesecond CD, recorded live in awith splashes of pianistic colorperfectly matched with vibratingcymbals, bowed strings or staccatoplucks that presage cascadingkeyboard runs. Fernández’sAurora suggests an Iberian takeon Hispanic rhythms, with thetremolo patterns revealing keyboard notes inrapid succession, yet with the line stretchedenough to keep the impressionistic narrativechromatic. Guy’s contrapuntal retort featuresscraped and stropped strings while the percussionundertow is mostly rim shots and thesounds of crushing crisp paper.Reviews of more global cooperation involvingCanadian reedist Philippe Lauzierwith German cohorts; a Hungarian-Francecombo; and a Polish-Ukrainian-German-American quartet can be found on our websiteat www.thewholenote.com.It’s Our JazzGEOFF CHAPMANpop-rock tags – and it thrills – the Rhodessurprisingly effective. On Devil’s Advocatethe leader energetically tests new ideasalongside vigorous trumpet, Odyssic sayswhile the title track surges, its snaky linesurgently counterpointed. Mellow creationssuch as Three Trees and the surreal AstralEcho Poem allow dramatic contrast beforethe folksy rumble of African Skies concludesa session superbly shaping new musicalscenery.The diverse talents of elite Montrealjazzers is on show on Jazzlab – OctoPortraits (Effendi FND107 www.effendirecords.com), the octet’sfourthsuch outing featuringstrong charts and stirring soloing.Power saxist Frank Lozanoseems to lead with his assertive,technically accomplishedwork, but everyone deservesmention, each contributing atune and solos – take bow. Saxmen RemiBolduc and Alexandre Côté, trumpeter AronDoyle, trombonist Richard Gagnon, pianistJohn Roney, bass Alain Bédard and drummerIsaiah Ceccarelli. Tracing The ChainFebruary 1 - March 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 67

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