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Volume 16 Issue 6 - March 2011

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that exist only in

that exist only in single copy manuscripts inlibraries throughout Europe.Recorded on a Steinway in an acousticallylovely Catholic church in North EastLondon (UK), these performances make asubstantial artistic and historical contributionto the body of Liszt works.—Alex BaranBerlioz – SymphonieFantastique; CléopâtreAnna Caterina Antonacci;Rottendam Philharmonic Orchestra;Yannick Nézet-SéguinBIS SACD-1800Can you thinkof a large-scalework that embodiesthe spirit of Frenchearly RomanticismSymphonieFantastique?Completed in1830, the symphony marked the 27-year-as truly revolutionary both in size and inconcept. And who better to undertake sucha monument than supernova conductorYannick Nézet-Séguin with the RotterdamPhilharmonic on this BIS label SACD?stratospheric heights in a very short time.After studying in his native Montréal, hemade his European debut in 2004, andwithin four years had succeeded ValeryGergiev as Music Director of the RotterdamPhilharmonic. He was recently named MusicDirector Designate of the PhiladelphiaOrchestra commencing in the 2012-13season.From the opening notes – a series ofrepeated Gs - the listener senses somethingmagical about this performance. Nézet-Séguin approaches the music with a deeprootedsensitivity, carefully shaping it at alltimes, and easily capturing the multi-facetedmoods contained within. The orchestra –particularly the winds and strings – respondwith a warm and resonant sound.The second movement Valse is light andelegant, while the fourth movement, theMarch to the Scaffold is given the dramaticDreamof a Witch’s Sabbathat once bombastic, grotesque, and terrifying.Not surprisingly, the music is adeptlyhandled by a perfect pairing of conductorand orchestra, who bring the mad frenzy toa rousing conclusion.An added bonus on this CD is the shortcantata La Mort de Cléopâtre written twoyears earlier for the Prix de Rome. SopranoAnna Caterina Antonacci gives a dramaticand sensitive performance, thus rounding outthis most satisfying disc, easily among thebest currently available.—Richard HaskellSaint-Saëns – Music for Wind InstrumentsNational Arts Centre Wind Quintet;Stéphane LemelinNaxos 8.570964For some thename Saint-Saënsmay evoke the mustyectoplasm of theDanse macabre or,likewise ghastly,the Carnival of theAnimals embellishedwith OgdenNash verses intoned byatannedandtautand tautcelebrity. Actually, Saint-Saëns was a seriouscomposer of high calibre, an extraordinarypiano prodigy who wrote successfully inevery genre. This disc of works for windsand piano brilliantly performed by NationalArts Centre Orchestra principals reveals thewealth of expression and imagination withinIn the clarinet, oboe and bassoon sonatasof 1921, the 85-year-old composer is still athis peak. Of these “swan songs” the clarinetsonata is the most extended and varied of thethree, while the oboe sonata conveys a senseof antique classicism. The pure, pensiverepose of the bassoon sonata is rendered effectivelyby Christopher Millard. Its openinglifelong associate Gabriel Fauré in its chro-with its slow tempi and absence of virtuosityis particularly affecting.The early Tarantella and the Capriceon Danish and Russian Airs are unique, attractiveworks for upper winds with piano.Some pianists come to grief with the virtuos-Canadian pianist Stéphane Lemelin who is aspecialist in nineteenth-century French repertoire.Immaculate ensemble work betweenwinds and piano is notable throughout.Rounded off by the Romance arranged forhorn and piano, the disc is a must-buy forwoodwind and chamber music enthusiasts.—Roger KnoxBruckner – 10 SymphoniesBayerischen RSO; Lorin MaazelBR Klassik 900703Anton Bruckneris an unfortunateexample of what canhappen if an artisthas not enough con-too many interferingpeople. Poor fellow.He was not onlycastigated by the critics ics(eg (e.g. Hanslick)inhisinhis scores, but even after his death his famewas belittled by English critics who ridiculedhis work as “symphonic boa constrictors”or “symphonies that turn back on themselves.”Even in the 1960s this preventedhim reaching North America although hewas already famous in Europe thanks to theGerman-Austrian school of conductors. It allturned around in the 70s and at present hisfame is at its highest. There are several symphonycycles available: Karajan, Jochum,Barenboim, Wand, Chailly, SkrowaczewskiBayerischen Rundfunkorchester, led by itsmusic director at the time, Maestro LorinMaazel. It was recorded in 1999 in one continuousset of live sessions; each symphonyoccupies one disc except the magisterial 8thwhich takes up two. As a curiosity, the socalled Symphony 0 (Die Nullte) is added asan 11th disc. This piece was undeservedlyAs you perhaps remember from my earli-step by step, each is better, deeper, moreoriginal than the previous. Then there aretwo quantum leaps of divine inspiration: betweenthe 4th and the 5th and the 8th and the9th. By the time we reach the 9th, we havereached Olympus.Tempi are extremely important in musicand nowhere more important than for Bruckner,where a misjudged tempo can easilysink the performance. There are two schoolsof thought. One is the slow, measured andbroad tempo that allows the music to expand,enrich details. The immortal Celibidachewas a great representative of this. Ofcourse there is the pitfall of being too slowging,the music becomes boring. The otherschool goes with faster tempo which is moreexciting and the shape of the music is easierto follow (e.g. Barenboim). Maazel be-are on the slow side, but we are rewardedwith tremendous insight and sensitivity indeveloping the themes. There is great controlof dynamics from the almost inaudiblepp to the thunderous ff – just listen tothe feather light string tremolos at the openingof the 4th symphony. Another exampleis the beautiful Adagio of the 8th, one of thebest performances on the disc, where it takes22 minutes to reach a climax which is trulyearth shattering.This beautifully recorded set is highlyrecommended.—Janos GardonyiMahler – Symphony No.6Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra;Jukka-Pekka SarasteSimax PSC 1316Jukka-Pekka Saraste, valiant conductorof the Toronto Symphony during a verywas appointed music director of the OsloPhilharmonic in 2006, a position he continuesto maintain. This new release ofdate on his considerable accomplishments64 thewholenote.comMarch 1 - April 7, 2011

with this relativelyunfamiliar but verycharacteristicsteady, forwardthrustingtempi casta refreshing newlight onto the broadTragic TragicSymphony, and though he is sensitive to theexpressive nuances called for in the score,he is careful to avoid wallowing in maudlinexcess. Though inexorable march tempos arevery much the mainstay of this symphony,hectic mood-swings of the Scherzo movementand underplays its demonic aspects.Otherwise however the dividends are impres-played Finale, where the relentless tread offate leads to a shattering conclusion, markedby literal hammer-blows of fate, the thirdof which, suppressed in most editions, isimpulse to ever-higher levels of tension resultsin a spine-tingling conclusion with theorchestra in glorious full throttle.The sonic impact of this disc is quitespectacular considering that this is a recordingof a live concert (without a trace of audiencerestlessness) from March 2010. Kudos tothe engineers of the Norwegian BroadcastingCorporation for providing such a spaciousand well-balanced sound stage for this ac-—Daniel FoleyOff the Beaten PathIan HominickMSR Classics MS 1341(www.ianhominick.com)Even the mostmusically illiterateman on the streetwould undoubtedlybe familiarwith the names ofBach, Mozart, orBeethoven. But howabout those othercomposers who perhaps lacked that creativespark of these geniuses, and who have beenthey deserve at least some recognition aswell? Pianist Ian Hominick certainly thinksso, and the result is this intriguing recordingon the MSR Classics label, appropriatelytitled “Off the Beaten Track.” Featured hereheard all that often. For an even balance,there is also music by Liszt, Sibelius, andGershwin, resulting in a well thought-outprogram of piano music in different stylesspanning a period of roughly 150 years.Canadian-born Hominick studied at Mt.Allison, and later, at Ohio State Universitywhere he was Assistant to Earl Wild andAndré Laplante. He is currently on faculty atthe University of Mississippi.The disc opens with a rousing little sonataby Muzio Clementi, containing a themeTheMagic Flute. Today, Clementi is rememberedas a piano-maker and teacher, butthis piece demonstrates not only his abilitytechnical prowess. More languorous is theSecond Valse by Benjamin Godard, and theNocturne by the 19th century piano titanhe a virtuoso violinist? Indeed, but includedhere is a charming Rondino on a Themeby Beethoven as transcribed by Godowsky.Most impressive is Die Lorelei by FranzLiszt, music that began as a vocal piece.displaying the dazzling technique requiredof this demanding repertoire. In completecontrast are the two closing selections,Novelette in Fourths and MelodyNo.40. These have the Jazz Age written allover them, and bring this most enjoyabledisc to a close. —Richard HaskellStrings AttachedTO CELEBRATEtheir 20thanniversary, theSt. Lawrence StringQuartet solicitedproposals fromacross Canada forshort works withoutpieces that were consequently created forrepertoire that anniversary year, and arepresented on their latest outstanding CDfrom the Canadian Music Centre, Sea to Sea(Centrediscs CMCCD 16310). The worksobviously differ in sound and form, but allare strong, interesting and very accessible.Sepia Fragments,which made an immediate impact despiteRounds, the title referring to the frequentuse of overlapping individual melodies; A tire-d’aileAllaqi, the Inuit term for a clearing inthe sky, which has a strong rhythmicalopening mimicking Inuit throat singing,and a lyrical second half based on InuitA Table at the Bushwakker, portraying aBrewpub. Decidedly tonal in feel despitethe use of a tone row, this last has one quitebeautiful section of tender, rhapsodic musicdepicting an amorous couple oblivious tothe noise around them. Recorded at the Uthroughout, withthe SLSQ soundingas if they have beenperforming thesepieces for years.Every now andthen a CD comesalong that blowsyour socks off. EnterTERRY ROBBINScellist Josef Feigelson with his stunningCD of the Complete Music for Solo CelloVolume 2 by the Polish/Soviet composerMieczyslaw Weinberg, a colleague andfriend of Shostakovich who died in 1996(Naxos 8.572281). Previously available onthe Olympia label, these World PremiereRecordings of the Sonatas for Solo CelloNos. 2, 3 & 4 (plus the original – andrecorded in New York in November 1997.March 1 - April 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 65

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