8 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 2 - October 2011

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In Concert 11, despite

In Concert 11, despite the rather statelyquality of all eight movements, the standardof hautboy playing is always maintained.It is Susie Napper’s mastery of the gambawhich gains exposure, reinforced in her duetwith harpsichordist Arthur Haas in a trackfrom Couperin’s third book of harpsichordpieces. In fact, Bruce Haynes returns withsome of his most inspired playing in twomusétes. Rural can only begin to describethe combination of hautboy, harpsichordand gamba as they imitate the sounds of theFrench bagpipe!And then the even more varied Concert 3(with another muzette–sic) to conclude thistribute to Bruce Haynes, and to the instrumenthe revived in the country of its birth.—Michael SchwartzTabarinades – Musiques pour le theatrede TabarinLes Boréades; Francis ColpronATMA ACD2 2658Tabarin wasthe stage nameof Jean Salomon.Born in 1584, heand Antoine andPhilippe Girardset up an open-airtheatre in PlaceDauphine, Paris.Lively shows put Parisians of all classesin good humour, promoting the sale ofTabarin’s range of quack medicines.Music accompanied the sketches; violinsand bass viol are depicted in illustrations.The comparison with commedia dell’arte istoo tempting for Director Colpron, who addsthe latter’s recorders, lute and guitar.From the start, this anthology (27 tracksin one hour!) features the liveliness of theFrench renaissance dance tune and manytracks are very familiar to early musiclovers; track 2 Les Bouffons is a casein point, although one of the “outdoor”instruments of the period (crumhorn,rauschpfeife) would perhaps have made foran even livelier performance.Several pieces are taken from morecourtly circles, ballets being an obviousexample. In these cases, woodwinds livenup what might have been rather subduedstring pieces.The selection is varied, as a motet and astately pavan find their way onto a CD of essentiallyFrench secular and theatrical music.None of this should distract the listener froman hour of highly enjoyable playing, nonemore so than the recorder-playing of FrancisColpron (listen to the stately quality of Dabei rami scendea). His direction brings asmany as 14 early musicians together, sometimes11 on one track–a veritable crowd forearly music enthusiasts!And one man did come to be deeplyinfluenced by Tabarin: real name Jean-Baptise Poquelin, stage-name Molière.—Michael SchwartzCLASSICAL & BEYONDBeethoven – The Complete Piano SonatasPeter TakácsCambria CD1175-1185 11( Takács is aprofessor of pianoat Oberlin Collegein Oberlin, Ohio.He was born inBucharest, Romaniaand by four wastaking music lessonsand made his debutthere at seven. When the family emigrated toFrance he was admitted to the ConservatoireNational de Paris. In the United Stateshe was awarded full scholarships to bothNorthwestern and the University of Illinois.It was with Leon Fleisher, with whom hemaintains a close personal friendship, thathe completed his artistic training at PeabodyConservatory. In addition to the usual oneon-oneinstruction, he gives master classes,adjudicates on music competitions, andconcertizes in the United States and abroad,performing in solo recitals, chamber musicand works with orchestra.It is evident that Takács has becomevery close to Beethoven’s spirit, for theseinterpretations seem to come from withinand not imposed on the score. These are notsimply scholarly performances but fresh,compelling renditions by a scholar who hasresolutely looked beyond the printed page.In addition to the 32 published sonatas, sixextras are included: WoO 50 & 51 (1797/8);The Elector Sonatas WoO 47 nos. 1,2,3; andthe sonata for piano four hands op.6 (1896/7)with Janice Weber, secondo. Plus, for goodmeasure, the Andante Favori WoO 57. Thus,the collection is uniquely complete.For me, Takács reveals qualities in theseworks that elevate them from piano piecesinto musical narratives that engage thelistener’s undivided attention and hold itbeyond the very last note. I hated to stop anyone of them or have my attention diverted incase I missed something. Even the shortestnote or phrase has meaning. A poor similebut it may be like habitually viewing asculpture from the same perspective and thenseeing it from a new aspect … same piece butdifferently illuminated … an added dimensionand a fresh appreciation of a familiar piece.Listening to these recordings arousednostalgic remembrances of the wondermentand excitement of hearing these worksfor the first time. I do hope that ProfessorTakács will favour us with some Schumann,played with equal dedication.Audiophiles will be very excited withthese hybrid discs which are recorded infive channels that are available on the SACDtrack but are spot-on heard on the twochannel track of the discs. The instrumentis a Model 290, 9’6” Bösendorfer ImperialGrand and the recordings were engineeredby Soundmirror, Inc. of Boston.Finally, I must comment on the sumptuouspackaging which, itself, is a work ofart: a sturdy box houses a 144-page, fullcolour, hard-bound book of informativeessays and meticulous notes on each workwritten by Professor Takács. A pocket on theinside back cover contains a BEETHOVENTIMELINE, an 18”x19” folded 2-sided almanacof significant events in Beethoven’slife with contemporary milestones in theworlds of music, literature, science, philosophyand history. The CDs are individuallysleeved in a matching hard cover book.Professor Takács visited Toronto recentlyand he was kind enough to sit and chatwith me in the WholeNote offices. Partsof that conversation/interview with thisvery interesting and articulate man wererecorded and I urge the reader to view this—Bruce SurteesLizst – My Piano HeroLang Lang;Vienna Philharmonic;Valery GergievSony 88697891412For the Liszt bicentennialmost ofthe major recordcompanies haveissued new releasesand re-releases ofhis work. One ofthese is “Liszt–MyPiano Hero” bySony Classical featuring Lang Lang. Thecelebrated young Chinese pianist, a formerchild prodigy, is now 29 years old. Over thelast 10 years he has developed enormouslyfrom a dazzling showman somebody referredto as “the J.Lo of the piano,” to a maturingartist whose playing never ceases to touchyour heart. Lang Lang’s main attributes,I think, are his communication skills andexuberant love of playing the piano. RecentlyI saw him with 100 kids playing Schubert’sMarch Militaire at the Philharmonie Berlinunder his inspiring direction to a result ofoverwhelming success.This selection contains some of Liszt’smost popular pieces like La Campanella,Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 6 and 15, GrandGalop chromatique and many others ofsimilar vein, plus the Piano Concerto in Eflat major with Valery Gergiev conductingthe Vienna Philharmonic. A good crosssection of Liszt’s works from the dazzlingvirtuoso pieces to the more introspectiveromantic, dreamy compositions (LiebestraumNo. 3, Consolation No. 3, Un Sospiro) whichare played with exquisite touch and delicacy.There is idiomatic playing in the RhapsodyNo. 6 especially in the slow mid section(Lassu) where he captures the Hungarianspirit with the characteristic rubatos and62 thewholenote.comOctober 1 – November 7, 2011

accelerandos. La Campanella sounds like alittle bell the piece was named after.This fine recording will convert manysceptics to accept Liszt to be Chopin’s equalas a keyboard giant.—Janos GardonyiConcert note: Valery Gergiev conducts theMariinsky Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hallon October 21. Lang Lang performs all fiveBeethoven Concertos (one per night) with theToronto Symphony Orchestra November 9,10, 12, 17 & 19.Franz Liszt | An AppreciationTwo hundred years ago, onOct 22, 1811 in the Hungarian villageof Doborjan, later renamed Raiding intoday’s Burgenland (Austria),one of the most influential figuresin the history of Westernmusic, Franz Liszt, was born.Although from Hungarian ancestryhe never learned to speakthe language as he spent mostof his life in France, Germanyand Italy. His father was a talentedmusician who worked forthe Eszterhazy family and waswell acquainted with Haydn.The little Liszt at age of sevenalready knew how to write music and playedBach fugues and transposed them while “hisparents ate their dessert.” At the age of ninehe gave his first concert and at the age of10 he studied under Czerny and Salieri. Hisfame grew quickly and as a child prodigy hisfather took him on European tours.In the French capital he met Chopin andmany other prominent figures of the musicworld. He quickly developed into a phenomenalpianist and was idolized throughout thesalons. As a glamorous society beau he fellin love and ran away with a married woman,the beautiful Countess Marie d’Agoult, andhad three children with her. (One of them,Cosima later married Richard Wagner.)But the love affair didn’t last. Later he metPrincess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, adivorcee whom he wanted to marry but theceremony was cancelled in the last minuteby order of Pope, Pius IX. Instead he livedwith her in Weimar where as Kapellmeisterfor the Saxon princes he reshaped musicallife and attracted all the upcoming composersto his “court.”He became a “conqueror of Europe” andhis fame and fortune knew no bounds. Hewas also a most generous man: he returnedregularly to Pest-Buda (now Budapest) andgave many concerts for charity. He was alsoinstrumental in the creation of Wagner’sBayreuth Festspielhaus with a large contributionof funds.This age bred many Romantic heroeslike Lord Byron, Robbie Burns, BenvenutoCellini, Niccolo Paganini, and Hector Berliozwhose colourful lives imitated their art. Lisztwas one of these but he did not die young likethe others and lived to a relatively healthy 75.Being a pianiste extraordinaire he composedmainly for the piano. His outputwas prolific and many pieces such as theJANOS GARDONYIHungarian Rhapsodies, the Paganini Etudes,Années de pèlerinage and the b-minor Sonatahave become immortal masterpieces, staplesof the repertoire and difficulthurdles for any aspiring pianist.He revolutionized the pianoconcerto by compressing thetraditional three movementstructure into a single, freeflowing, long movement, butstill maintaining, in the formof episodes, the usual introduction,allegro, andante, scherzoand presto finale sequences.Later in life he concentratedon orchestral writing andinvented a new form, the symphonic poem.He wrote 12 of these of which Les Preludesbecame the most often played but accordingto critics, some of the others like HéroïadeFunèbre, Orpheus, Mazeppa and Hamletare superior. Following the footsteps ofBerlioz’ Symphonie fantastique Liszt furtherdeveloped the romantic symphony withhis Faust and Dante symphonies, whichrival Berlioz.Disappointed in being unable to marryhis Princess, Liszt took on monastic ordersand retired in a monastery near Rome. Hebecame an Abbé and lived in a cell withminimal furnishings and an old out of tunepiano with the middle D missing. Monasticlife, however did not suit him. He continuedto travel, visiting the Princess who livedin Rome. His journeys were mainly toBayreuth, Budapest and of course, Rome.In his seventies his health began to fail andafter catching a bad cold on one of his trainjourneys he died in Bayreuth in the midst ofhis daughter’s family in 1886 at the age of75. Ironically, his much younger son-in-lawRichard Wagner had died three years earlierin 1883.All life must come to an end, butLiszt certainly made the most of it. Adashing romantic hero idolized by womeneverywhere he went, he was a magicianof the piano who took pianism to a levelnever before imagined. As a composer herevolutionized and extended, along withBerlioz, the symphony orchestra withinstrumentation and orchestral effectsnever heard before. His influence as acomposer on his contemporaries and the nextgeneration cannot be overestimated. FranzLiszt enriched the history of music and itis unlikely there will be another like himever again.A Victorian Romance – Music for theEnglish ConcertinaJoseph Petric; Boyd McDonaldAstrila AST2322652-2( concertina isa distant relative ofboth the accordionand the bandoneon.All three were “invented”in the 19thcentury. Thanksto the phenomenalsuccess of AstorPiazzolla, his tango Nuevo bandoneon compositionsand performing style is popularwith accordionists around the world. Nowinternationally renowned Joseph Petrictackles the intricacies of English concertinamusic from the British Victorian eraon the accordion, with help from pianistBoyd McDonald.Two multi movement works by BernhardMolique are featured as well as GeorgeMacFarren`s melodramatic Romance. Theseare not deep or challenging works but are allpretty compositions that were very much thestyle during the 1800s. Accordion and pianoas a duet often results in a tuning and intonationnightmare, but the superb fortepianoaccompaniment of Boyd McDonald tossesany such fears immediately out the window.His performance provides a solid and steadysupport to Petric’s musical viewpoints andexceptional phrasing and bellows control.The sound quality superbly replicatesthe salon atmosphere. Petric has writtencomprehensive liner notes that provide historicalexplanations. Readers interested inmore information should check out the bookVictorian Music for the English Concertinaavailable at the Toronto Public Library.I enjoy how Joseph Petric plays. However,I am a bit disappointed in his performanceon “A Victorian Romance.” StylisticallyI would have liked to hear more dynamicdifferentiation and “attachment” to themusical flow, but that’s just a personalthing. This is still an excellent release withfine performances.—Tiina KiikBrahms on BrassCanadian BrassOpening Day Records ODR 7415( raisedon Brahms’s keyboardmusic, I wassurprised by thesewonderful adaptationsand performancesof the SixteenWaltzes, Op. 39,Ballade, Op. 10,No. 1, and Eleven Chorale Preludes, Op.122. Brahms was a multifaceted composerindeed. Canadian Brass trumpeters andOctober 1 – November 7, 2011 63

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