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Volume 17 Issue 1 - September 2011

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VOCALA Lesson in

VOCALA Lesson in LoveKate Royal; Malcolm MartineauEMI 9 48536 2No, Kate Royalis not a stage nameof the Duchess ofCambridge. It isthe real name of ayoung English soprano,whose ascentto fame has acceleratedsince one specialevening in 2004, when as an understudydin The Magic Flute at Glyndebourne FestivalOpera she got to sing Pamina when a divagot sick. Sounds like a typical operatic story,except there is nothing typical about Ms.Royal. The child of singers, she studied atthe Guildhall School and won the KathleenFerrier trophy. Her happy association withGlyndebourne continues, with great resultssuch as the recently-reviewed Don Giovanni,with Royal as Donna Elvira.Her lyric soprano seems particularly adeptat conveying emotion — her heartbrokenand confused Elvira was, well, haunting.of the year for concert performances andrather than relying on existing song cycles,she has created her own — with some greattensivecycle of songs penned by Schumann,Wolf, Schubert, Tosti, Bridge, Copland,Ravel, Fauré, Britten, Debussy and Strauss.They are artfully woven into four stagesof a woman’s life, being “Waiting,” “TheMeeting,” “The Wedding” and “Betrayal.”These phases are neatly spanned by twoversions of William Bolcom’s Waitin (sic).Royal navigates without effort throughEnglish, German and French texts, infusingeach song with her personal mark.How personal? Well, dear reader, listen toCanteloube’s “Tchut, tchut” from the Songsof the Auvergne and judge for yourself!—Robert TomasBerg – LuluLaura Aikin; Cornelia Kallisch; Alfred Muff;Peter Straka; Zurich Opera;Franz Welser-MöstArtHaus Musik 101 565Since its premierein Zurich in1937 Lulu cannotescape controversy.Granted, in 1937the subject-matterof a sociopathicprostitute was ascontroversial as itis today, but there is so much more at stakecompleted in the 1970s from Berg’s sketchesand discarded drafts. Even so, this recordingpremiere and to satisfy those, who claim thatIt is an opera with probably the mostcomplex female character in history. In partsductiontakes a deep, psychological view ofher character. She is a victim of childhoodsexual abuse, illuminated by silent vignettesprojected throughout. She also is treatedby her husbands and lovers in a proprietary,misogynistic way — illustrated by femalemannequin body parts encased in plasticDamien Hirst sculptures, the body partsexplain her coldness and at times hatred towardsothers. This approach actually works,portraying the heroine as damaged beyondrepair and thus tragic, not just loathsome.Alfred Muff deserving of a special mention),Franz Welser-Möst handles the orchestrabeautifully. Fair warning, though: given thegraphic nature of the projections, this mayLulu is not for the faint of heart.—Robert TomasSongspinJuice vocal ensembleNonclassical Recordings(www.nonclassical.co.uk)Traditional, classicaland new musicmeet head on inthe debut albumby a cappella vocaltrio Juice. Bringingart music forwardto a hip, modernsensibility, theirperformances are enjoyed from Wigmorerangementsthat are incredibly complex andvocally demanding, their delivery is crystalclear, clean and precise whether mimickingthe babbling brook in Paul Robinson’sTriadic Riddles of Water or a pointillistic,northern lights-like brilliance in ElisabethOf the Snow. With the use of breath,sighs, sonorous and dissonant harmonies,these women demonstrate how the primalresonance of the human voice has the abilityto shape (or even bend) our psyches.Downright eerie are arrangements of thetraditional English folksong Cruel Motheras well as group member Kerry Andrew’scompositions Lullaby for the Witching Hourand luna-cy. Both a sense of wonder, andfear of the tenuous relationship betweenmother and child is evoked through the useof punctuated breath and long, languoroussighs in an arrangement of Gillian Welch &T-Bone Walker’s Didn’t Leave Nobody butthe Baby. Extremes in rhythmic complexitiesSanbiki No Kasikoi Saru sounding almostlike a game of skill in which none of thethree voices trip or falter. They end off therecording with seven playful, quirky remixes;having already taken the listener to theedge, they then extend far beyond.—Dianne WellsCLASSICAL & BEYONDJadin – Quatuors à cordes, Œuvre 1Quatuor Franz JosephATMA ACD2 2610Child prodigyHyacinthe Jadinpremiered his ownpiano concerto atthe age of 13 duringthe FrenchRevolution, an eventwhich both inspiredand overshadowedhim. He composed in almost every contemporarygenre, including harpsichord andpiano pieces, revolutionary hymns, conventionalsonatas and trios and chamber musicwhen it was exclusive to the aristocracy.Quatuor Franz Joseph is certainly conventional:two violins, viola and cello. However,a largo which very soon becomes an allegrothat is tackled with relish by the quartet.The allegro and following adagio, minuetand second allegro combine to create chambermusic at its most exhilarating.Much less serious in tone are the twoother quartets, in A major and F minor.Both exemplify the conventional chambermusic of the pump room, albeit enlightenedwith the demands of the presto last movementof the A major and the folkloric qualityof the F minor’s polonaise.was by then ubiquitous. Jadin was uniqueit was almost never publicly performed andslow introductions to his symphonic works.All from a 19-year-old!We are lucky that Quatuor Franz Josephis bringing Jadin to the ATMA label; hisspirited music makes his death at 24 all themore tragic.—Michael SchwartzBeethoven – Piano Sonatas 8; 17; 23Ingrid FliterEMI 0 94573 2Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, with hissymphonies and string quartets are amongthe supreme achievements of civilization inthe same sphere as the work of Shakespeare,60 thewholenote.comSeptember 1–October 7, 2011

Dante andMichelangelo. Thebest pianists haverecorded them, likeSchnabel, Backhaus,Gieseking, Kempff,Rubinstein,Horowitz andRichter to name onlya few. Now a new challenger allengerbythenameofname Ingrid Fliter has arrived to add to the roster.Born in Buenos Aires and having studiedin Europe, she has already won prizes atnumerous international competitions and receivedthe prestigious Gilmore Award. Thisis her 3rd issue with EMI after two very successfulChopin recordings. Here she selectedworks that probably best suit her temperament,three of the Master’s most turbulentand passionate sonatas, all with a nickname:Pathétique, Tempest and Appassionata.She plays with great fervour, almostreckless passion, abandon, phenomenaltechnique, precision and imagination rarelyfound in other pianists. Nowhere does thiscome out better than in the performanceof Op. 57, the “Appassionata”, where thenearly deaf Beethoven with violent outburstsInterestingly, it is somewhat related to the5th Symphony. Notice the four note motivesimilar to the Fate motive that permeatesthe 1st movement of the 5th. The whirlwind,turbulent last movement where the speedand excitement just builds and builds to thebreaking point, ending with an even fasterfrantic gypsy dance coda is guaranteed tolift you out of your seat, that is if you are notalready standing.—Janos GardonyiGabriel Dupont – Les heures dolentes;La maison dans les dunesStéphane LemelinATMA ACD2 2544In this ter-pianist Stéphanestrong case for theremarkable pianomusic of Frenchcomposer GabrielDupont (1878-1914).These works amalgamate mate late romantic andimpressionist elements into a personal voicethat meaningfully conveys the composer’sstruggle with tuberculosis. Dupont wasknown in his day for operas; here too melodypours out and harmony is intriguing.The 14-piece set Les heures dolentes(Doleful Hours) is a diary from the composer’ssickbed at a spa. Particularly touchingis the charming “A Friend has Come withSome Flowers” at the work’s midpoint. Thelast four pieces suggest confrontation andresolution: “Death Grinds,” “Some ChildrenPlay in the Garden,” the truly great “WhiteNight—Hallucinations” with its terrifyingThe ten pieces of La maison dans lesdunesture,especially the sea. Water has life-givingstatus in both the playful “The Sun Plays inthe Waves” and the dissonant, surging men-delivers a tour de force of “maritime pian-to be the most spiritual piece of all, on thelevel of the “In Paradisum” from Fauré’sRequiem. Whether the pianistic challengesinging melody, pedalling dense passageswithout getting waterlogged, or achiev-Highly recommended.—Roger KnoxElgar – Piano Quintet; String QuartetPiers Lane; Goldner String QuartetHyperion CDA67857Elgar has alwaysbeen more famousfor his large-scaleorchestral and choralworks than forhis chamber music,but included amongstring quartet anda piano quintet. Both pieces were writtenover a two year period between 1918 and1919 when the aging composer was residingin a cottage in West Sussex — and bothare presented here on this Hyperion recordingby the Australian-based Goldner StringThe quartet is an appealing anachronism.After all, only six years before, Stravinsky’sRite of Spring had caused a scandal in Paris,while in Vienna, the Second Viennese Schoolwas making strides with serialism. Elgar himselfadmitted, “It is full of golden sounds … butyou must not expect anything violently chromaticor cubist.” Nonet heless, t his is elegant music,elegantly played, and the Goldners handle theintricate string writing with its subtle harmonicshifts with great precision and warmth.The more expansive piano quintet is equallyconservative, but is marked by a considerablytetare perfectly matched, treating the tempestuousopening movement with bold assurance.Similarly, the middle movement adagio isgiven the pathos and anguish it deserves, whilebrings the disc to a satisfying conclusion.Between the two chamber works are fourhitherto unrecorded solo piano pieces, twodating from the early 1930s, and all ofthem, charming examples of Elgar’s keyboardstyle. In all, this is an exemplary recordingof music written by a composer wholife — there’s hope for us all!—Richard HaskellGlenn Gould in Concert 1951–1960Glenn GouldWest Hill Radio Archives WHRA-6038The tragedy ofGlenn Gould asconcert pianist isseldom discussed.He faced cripplingperformance anxietieshe could notovercome, and aban-career in his early thirties. He then commencedto become even more famous in hissubsequent life as a combination recordingartist, CBC arts producer, music journalist,and general Toronto eccentric.Here we have the Glenn Gould most of ushours of previously unreleased recordings.All of this material is unedited, taken fromradio broadcasts or private recordings: it israw Gould, so to say, with the occasionalsmudges and wrong notes of all pianists,from an artist who in later life insisted onzealous control of his work, in his bid foredited perfection. The performances arefrom Canada, the USA, Russia, Austria, andSweden. Gould biographer Kevin Bazzanahas supplied lengthy biographical notes, inextremely small print. The release itself isCanadian/German and cryptic, except fora clear warning label: “Not available inthe USA.”A 1958 Vancouver Festival performanceof — guess what? — Bach’s GoldbergVariations opens this boxed set. The Ariadances with tremendous musicality andcontrapuntal verve. It feels more elastic andpersonal than the famous Columbia debutrelease of 1955. Variations 29 and 30 areelectric and wild, and played interwovenas one.There’s a wonderful performance of theBeethoven Second Piano Concerto withPaul Paray and the Detroit Symphony, withan aching slow movement. We tend toput Gould in a cerebral, clinical camp ofpianism: not here. With the same conductorand orchestra — on the same night, noless! — Gould then teamed up with the DSO’sconcertmaster Mischa Mischakoff andwarm performance of the Fifth BrandenburgConcerto. Gould’s long solo cadenza, writtenby Bach, is muscular and songful.Other treasures abound, including a gentlereading of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 109 froma Vienna recital, Schoenberg’s intimate,spiky Piano Concerto with the ClevelandOrchestra, and some gorgeous Beethovenchamber music from the Stratford Festival.There’s an oddly dreary Gouldperformance of the Brahms FirstVictor Feldbrill — that then roars to life forSwedish mezzo-soprano Kerstin Meyerjoined him for Schoenberg’s song cycleSeptember 1–October 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 61

Volume 26 (2020- )

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