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Volume 17 Issue 2 - October 2011

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adapters Brandon

adapters Brandon Ridenour and Chris Colettinote on their website how easily the pianowaltzes became brass music. Both bumptiouswaltzes and tender ones like the famousWaltz no. 15 in A Flat come off well inthese spotless renderings, recorded in theclear, resonant acoustics of Christ ChurchDeer Park. Considering the German brassbands of his time, the settings also seemhistorically appropriate. The Ballade evokesa sterner tradition of medieval knights andbattles in Ridenour’s adaptation for brassoctet. Augmented musical forces enable awide dynamic range, building through fatehauntedclashes to a tremendous climax.The disc’s greatest works are Brahms’last, the beloved 11 organ chorale preludes(adapted by Ralph Sauer) reaching back tothe sacred music of Bach and further (inwhich brass instruments were also prominent).Along with the two trumpeters, theCanadian Brass’s personnel include EricReed, horn, Keith Dyrda, trombone, andoriginal member Chuck Daellenbach, tuba.All contribute equally in such gems as OGod, thou righteous God and O World, Imust now leave thee, in performances thatpromise many fruitful hours of listeningand contemplation.—Roger KnoxWagner – Prelude; Elgar – Cello Concerto;Brahms – Symphony 1Alisa Weilerstein; Berlin PhilharmonicOrchestra; Daniel BarenboimEuroArts DVD 2058068 or 2058064Blu-rayI ordered thisdisc to hear a newperformance of theElgar. The Brahmsenjoys a satisfying,substantialperformance butdoes not quite displacethe top fewfavourites. Recorded live in the SheldonianTheatre, Oxford in 2010 it is the performanceof the Elgar that sets new standards inevery respect.The premier of the profoundly beautifulElgar Cello Concerto in 1919 was a fiasco.Elgar had not been given enough time toadequately or even inadequately rehearse theLondon Symphony Orchestra. Cellist FelixSalmond knew his part but the orchestrawas unprepared. The critics were mercilessand Elgar wanted to withdraw the work butSalmond’s devotion to the score persuadedhim otherwise.The first recording was of a truncatedversion with cellist Beatrice Harrison conductedby Elgar in 1920. She recorded thecomplete score with Elgar and the LSO in1928. The sensitive and fragile nature ofthe music seems to particularly suit femaleperformers. This is best demonstrated bythe young Jacqueline du Pré, who recordedit in 1965 with cellist-turned-conductor, SirJohn Barbirolli and the LSO for EMI. Shetuned the world into Elgar’s most introspectivestatement. As an aside, Barbirolli was inthe cello section of the LSO in the disastrous1919 premier.Who could have imagined that duPré’s mantle would have passed to AlisaWeilerstein. Weilerstein was born in 1982and has played cello since she was four.Her father founded the Cleveland Quartetand was concert-master of the ClevelandOrchestra. Her mother is a professional pianistand well known in musical circles. Inthe performance captured on this video, sheplays the concerto with such assurance thatit sounds like she owns it. Her musicality,sensitivity and competency as a performerare complemented by a strong, electrifyingstage presence. She is at one with herinstrument. A paragon. Her rapport withBarenboim and the Berliners is splendid andthe performance is nothing short of spectacular,certainly worth many listenings.Unquestionably, a must have. Do it now.—Bruce SurteesEditor’s note: Alisa Weilerstein receivesMacArthur Fellowship. Alisa Weilersteinwill receive 0,000 in no-strings-attachedsupport over the next five years after beingnamed as a MacArthur Fellow. The 29-yearoldcellist was awarded the so-called ‘genius’grant by the John D. and Catherine T.MacArthur Foundation.Mahler – Symphonies 1–10Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich; David ZinmanRCA Red Seal 88697 72723 2Until recentlySwitzerland’sTonhalle OrchestraZurich had littleinternational prominenceand, bycomparison withErnest Ansermet’srenowned SuisseRomande orchestra, a sadly meagre discography.That all changed with the arrival in1995 of American conductor David Zinman.He brought an injection of fresh blood to thisvenerable ensemble and soon hit a home runwith of a swiftly-paced, revisionist box setof Beethoven symphonies which sold overa million copies. The rejuvenating effect ofhis stewardship is confirmed by the genuineoptimism and esprit-de-corps expressed ininterviews with the members of the orchestrain an accompanying documentary coveringthe recording of the Sixth Symphony and thestory behind its composition. (Incidentally,this DVD includes a visit to the control roomwhere the producers claim with a straightface that they aren’t adjusting the balancethrough the mixing board. Not when thecameras are running, anyway.)Few boxed sets of Mahler symphonieshave ever proven themselves outstandingin all respects, though the Bernstein andKubelik collections from the 1960s remainworthy contenders despite their age. ThoughZinman’s excursion to the nine planets ofMahler’s known universe contains morehits than misses, there are a few disappointmentsalong the way. The bulk of the ebullientFirst Symphony (Zinman includes theexcised Blumine movement as an appendix)falls flat, the genial Fourth fails to smile,and the infinite longing of the first movementof the Ninth Symphony fails to registeremotionally due to clumsy or non-existenttempo adjustments and less than subtle dynamicgradations.The more objective middle symphoniesfare best, with an excellent Third andFifth and highly effective Sixth and Seventhsymphonies, the latter two distinguishedby the sweetest, most contented cowbellsI’ve ever heard. The choral symphonies,Two and Eight, feature world-class vocalsoloists including Juliane Banse, AnnaLarsson, Birgit Remmert and Anthony DeanGriffey backed by the magisterial WDRRundfunkchor Köln.The set concludes with the incompleteTenth Symphony in the rarely-heard ClintonCarpenter version, an interventionist realizationthat attempts to flesh out the harmoniesof Mahler’s extant sketches and incorporatesquotations from his previous symphonies.I’m not entirely convinced by the resultsbut it’s fascinating to hear this alternate tothe prim and proper Deryck Cooke version.My reservations aside, the mid-range price,ample documentation and exemplary sonics(including an offbeat 4.1 [sic] SACD layerfor ye boys what have such toys) make thisan attractive proposition and a leading contenderamong the avalanche of recent releasesin the ongoing Mahler celebrations.—Daniel FoleyHONENS LAUREATESThe Latest CropThe Honens International PianoCompetition, based in Calgary, commencedin the early 1990s and occurs every threeyears. Its next edition will take place in2012, with a prize advertised as the largestanywhere: 0,000 cash, plus three yearsof management and concerts, for the firstplacewinner.Another angle to the Honens Competitionis the occasional issuing of CDs of pastwinners. Four releases have just appeared,each recorded in 2010 at the Banff Centre.They are a homage to the recently deceasedAndrew Raeburn, who directed the Honensfor a decade, and earlier in his career ranclassical record labels in England and theUS. Raeburn is listed as producer on oneof these discs, the Bach release by MinsooSohn, a follow up to Sohn’s Liszt recordingas First Laureate of the 2006 competition.The other three, featuring the 2009 laureates,were produced by Banff recordingengineer Theresa Leonard.The piano soundcaptured is uniformly fine, closely miked64 thewholenote.comOctober 1 – November 7, 2011

yet resonant. Musicchoices are diverse,and avoid muchof the customarycore piano repertoire— no Beethoven,Schumann, Chopin,Liszt, Scriabin,or Rachmaninoff.Russian EvgenyStarodubtsev presentsthe most interestingrecital, clusteredaround the 1920s:Karol Szymanowski’sthree bracingMasques, PaulHindemith’s jazzySuite (1922), Schoenberg’s Five Pieces, Op.23 and Stravinsky’s Sonata (1924). His playingis objectivist in spirit, which may suit aneoclassical milieu.Russian Georgy Tchaidze offers a lovelySchubert program with warmth and care. Heplays the songful A Major Sonata, Op. 120,the Wanderer Fantasy, and four short characterpieces like he loves them.American Gilles Vonsattel delivers acompelling, mostly French recital: Ravel’sSonatine and Gaspard de la Nuit, five selectionsfrom Debussy’s Images, and shortpieces by ArthurHonegger andHeinz Holliger (b.1939). His playingis notably colorfuland expressive.Korean-AmericanMinsoo Sohn’srendering of thelofty GoldbergVariations is gentleand pianistic, withfleet tempos, lyricalcounterpoint, andoccasional zest.Sohn observes therepeat signs in eachvariation, yet almostdecoration-free: his Bach journey stretchesto a sobering 75 minutes, when it could havebeen more pleasant at under 40.While not issued as a set, all four blackand-whiteCD jackets and booklets lookexactly alike: sternly modern in design, withfrustratingly small type. Eric Friesen, theCBC classical radio broadcaster, has suppliedbrief conversational liner notes, takenfrom his interviews with the performers. Formore information visit www.honens.com.—Peter Kristian MoseStrings AttachedThis month I’m catchingup on a backlog of solorecital CDs.Analekta has issued a beautiful2CD set of the Bach Six CelloSuites on Viola by the outstandingEnglish violist Helen Callus(AN 2 9968-9). Five are in theoriginal keys, while No. 6 istransposed up a 4th from Dmajor to G major, apparentlyto enable Callus to retain moreof Bach’s open-string effects.The move away from the cellotessitura — the viola is tuned oneoctave higher — gives the worksan added brightness and a quitedifferent feel. Callus maintainsa beautiful sense of line, andhandles the multiple-stoppingand contrapuntal elements quiteeffortlessly. Recorded at SalleFrançoys-Bernier in Saint-Irénée,Quebec last year, the sound iswarm and resonant.By comparison, the AvieRecords 2CD set of the Six Suitesperformed on Baroque cellos (althoughone is from 1798) by Tanya Tomkins(AV2212) seems a bit slower and more contemplative,with a tone quality closer to aTERRY ROBBINSviola da gamba, but I found thatit didn’t hold my interest overextended listening: I had noproblem listening to the Callusset from start to finish, butcouldn’t do it here. Perhaps thelack of a strong sense of pulse,particularly in the dance movements,contributed to that. Don’tget me wrong though — this isthought-provoking, intelligentand carefully measured playing,albeit with a different, somewhatcooler, life or spirit than the violaset. (Tomkins’ Benvenue Trioco-member Eric Zivian composeda double for the Sarabandein the Suite No.6.)You don’t have to read thebooklet notes for the Linn 2CDset of the Bach Sonatas &Partitas for Solo Violin by PavloBeznosiuk (CKD 366) to realizefrom the opening bars that thisis another performance by aBaroque specialist — the thinhigh register, the sparse vibrato,and the overall lack of a bigsound make it obvious. Again, though, thisis clearly a very personal and thoughtfulinterpretation. Tempos are not fast, but thedance movements in the Partitas are neverallowed to drag. Beznosiuk makes someinteresting choices with variations in some ofthe repeats, as well as with the innerworkings of the chordal sections; he alsochanges or omits the occasional note fromthe standard editions, but he’s not exactlyalone in that respect. Overall, though, this isan interpretation that didn’t engage meemotionally, all the more because of thedistant nature of the recording.There’s anotherterrific CD of theSix Sonatas for ViolinSolo by EugèneYsaÿe, this time bythe Icelandic-bornviolinist JudithIngolfsson (GENUINGEN 1102). I reviewedthe Rachel Colly D’Alba set onWarner last February, and referred then tothe startling originality and individuality ofthese remarkable works. They’re arguablythe most significant solo sonatas sinceBach’s, yet despite being well represented onCD — one single web search today turned up16 different issues — they haven’t been recordedby many of the really “big” names inthe field. It’s almost impossible to offer anobjective comparison with so many choicesavailable, but this is another impressive setthat never makes the pieces sound forced orawkward. And that’s saying something.On her latest soloCD+DVD set, levioloncelle parle(the cello speaks)(harmonia mundiHMC 902078)the French cellistEmmanuelle Bertrandpresents an excellentprogramme: Britten’s Suite No. 3 in Cminor, written for Rostropovich; GasparCassado’s Suite from 1926; a relativelynew (2003) and quite moving work fromBertrand’s partner and regular accompanistPascal Amoyel called Itinérance; and aknock-out performance of the Kodaly SuiteOp. 8, which really doesn’t sound like it waswritten in 1915. Bertrand’s breathing is a bitintrusive at times, but nothing can detractfrom the wonderful playing. The DVD isan engrossing 47-minute film by ChristianLeblé including Bertrand talking about themusic (in French with sub-titles), sections ofthe CD studio recording of each work, and afascinating look at Bertrand one-on-one witha student in a section of the Kodaly Suite.STRINGS ATTACHED continues atwww.thewholenote.com with reviews ofdiscs featuring the complete works forviolin and piano by Stravinsky (Isabellevan Keulen and Olli Mustonen), Brahms(Arabella Steinbacher and Robert Kulek)and Rautavaara (Pekka Kuusisto and PaavaliJumppanen) and a 3 CD set of Elgar’s violinmusic performed by Marat Bisengaliev.October 1 – November 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 65

Volume 26 (2020- )

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