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Volume 17 Issue 3 - November 2011

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Editor’s CornerDAVID

Editor’s CornerDAVID OLDSArecent Naxos release of music byHoward Hanson (8.559700) performedby the Seattle Symphony under thedirection of Gerard Schwarz caught myattention because of this American composer’sinadvertent influence on the historyof composed music in our own country. Itwas Hanson, during a conducting engagementin Toronto in 1937, who encouragedJohn Weinzweig to enrol at theEastman School of Music inRochester where Hanson was thedirector. Unlike the University ofToronto at the time, Eastman hadcourses in 20th century musicand substantial library holdings.It was here that Weinzweigwas exposed to two works whichwould influence him greatly:Stravinsky’s Sacre du printempsand Berg’s Lyric Suite. The rest, asthey say, is history as Weinzweigwent on to become Canada’s firstimportant modernist composerand to mentor several generationsof composition students.This new disc, a re-issueof an earlier Delos recording,provides a grand introductionto the music of HowardHanson, featuring the expansiveSymphony No.1 “Nordic” — akind of homage to Hanson’sidol Sibelius — and the dramaticLament for Beowulf which alsoemploys the Seattle SymphonyChorale. Both works date fromthe 1920s before the composerhad turned 30, yet show a maturecommand of the medium by a young manwho would go on to become one of the mostlyrical symphonists of his time. I notice thatNaxos has just released the next instalmentin Hanson’s complete symphonies — withNo.2 “Romantic” — so evidently we can lookforward to hearing all seven in the comingmonths.Although he seems to have expungedit from his official biography, as a youngman Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi spent aseason at the helm of the Chamber Playersof Toronto in its final year of operations,1991–1992. He has since gone on to a numberof prestigious postings, currently MusicDirector of the Orchestre de Paris, followinga decade in the same capacity at theCincinnati Symphony Orchestra culminatingwith the 2010–2011 season.To commemorate their long and fruitfulrelationship the CSO has just released BalticPortraits (CSOM-946) with live performancesspanning 2002 through 2011. The discbegins with Fireflower, a short dramaticwork by fellow countryman Erkki-Sven Tüür,to celebrate Järvi’s tenth anniversary withthe CSO. Designed not so much a fanfareas a ceremonial bouquet — with “blossomsresembling flames” — it is a colourful workrepresentative of the composer’s recentorchestral output (symphonies 4–8), with amomentary reference in the rhythm sectionto Tüür’s early years in a rockband. Finnish symphonist AulisSallinen is represented by theSymphony No.8, “AutumnalFragments” which Järvipremiered in 2004 with theConcertgebouw Orchestrabefore introducing the work toNorth America in Cincinnati thefollowing season. The Finnishconnection continues with Gambit,a work composed as a 40thbirthday present for MagnusLindberg by someone weknow better as a conductor,Esa-Pekka Salonen. Beginningin shimmering ethereal wavesthe piece erupts into a dynamicextended middle section beforeeventually returning to its quietopening mood. Arvo Pärt’sCantus in Memory of BenjaminBritten with its familiartintinnabulations seems to groworganically from the Sallinenand then leads dramatically tothe final work, the SymphonyNo.6 of Estonian composerLepo Sumera, completed justmonths before his death atage 50 in 2000. Not only one of Estonia’smost significant composers, Sumera alsohad a wider public influence serving asthe Minister of Culture from 1988–1992during the country’s Singing Revolution.This dramatically compelling symphony,which would in other circumstances havebeen a mid-career milepost, adds to thelegacy of this strong and original voice, butleaves us wondering what Sumera mighthave accomplished if allowed even a fewmore years.A conductor who has not disavowed histime in Toronto, Jukka-Pekka Saraste wasdirector of the Toronto Symphony Orchestrafrom 1994–2001. He currently serves as theMusic Director of the Oslo Philharmonicand since 2010 is Chief Conductor of theWDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. TheLondon Philharmonic Orchestra has justreleased a disc of live recordings (LPO-0057)drawn from concerts Saraste conducted inFebruary and October 2008 featuring twoof my favourite orchestral works, Sibelius’Symphony No.5 and Lutosławski’s Concertofor Orchestra. Sibelius is of course oneof Saraste’s specialties — he’s recordedthe cycle of seven symphonies twice togreat acclaim — and Sibelius was, alongwith Mahler, a mainstay of his repertoirein Toronto.Unlike many composers, with Sibeliuswe are not given finished themes that arethen developed and reworked, but ratherfragments which seem to grow organicallyinto the final form of the composition.This live performance with the LPO isoutstanding as we hear Saraste buildingthe music block by block until we reach itsmajestic conclusion and the anticipatorytension of the final six chords. TheLutosławski concerto is a relatively earlywork which exploits the full resources of theorchestra in a dramatic and dynamic way. Isee this as a culmination of the composer’searly development, kind of a doctoral thesissumming up his understanding of the musicof the first half of the 20th century. Hisparticular influences were Bartók (whoseown Concerto for Orchestra was perhapsthe first modern day work in this form) andthe folk music of his native Poland. Shortlythereafter, his music began to developalong different lines as he incorporatedaleatoric aspects and added extendedtemporal and harmonic effects. One of theearliest works in the new style, premieredat the 1958 Warsaw Autumn Festival, wasanother homage to Bartók, the Musiquefunèbre in memory of the Hungarianmaster. But it is the wonderfully dramaticConcerto for Orchestra we are presentedwith here and Saraste really brings it to life,emphasizing the bombast of the exuberantpassages and the foreboding of the openingof the final movement with its hauntingdouble reed melodies. The thunderousovation which begins almost before thelast note sounds is testament to the Londonaudience’s appreciation.EDITOR’S CORNER continues atwww.thewholenote.com with a re-issue ofMonk’s Music, the only studio recordingwhich John Coltrane ever made withThelonious Monk, and contemporaryinterpretations of some of Monk’s classictunes by local avant-jazzers Ken Aldcroft andDave Clark.We welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments shouldbe sent to: The WholeNote, 503–720Bathurst St., Toronto ON, M5S 2R4. Wealso encourage you to visit our website,www.thewholenote.com, where you can findadded features including direct links to performers,composers and record labels, “buybuttons” for online shopping and additional,expanded and archival reviews.—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.com60 thewholenote.comNovember 1 – December 7, 2011

VOCALBerg – LuluJulia Migenes; Evelyn Lear; KennethRiegel; Metropolitan Opera; James LevineSony 88697910099Alban Bergfinished the shortscore of Lulu in thespring of 1934. LikeWozzeck, it wasstructured with whatGeorge Perle called a“recapitulatory aspect,”in that large sectionsof the second half repeat or alter movementsfrom the first half. Berg orchestrated Acts1, 2, and the first 268 bars of Act 3; theorchestral interlude of Act 3 and the closingscene were thrust into the Lulu Suite as apromo piece suggested and conducted byKleiber in November 1934. Delayed by thecommission of his violin concerto, Berg’ssudden illness and death left the remainderof Act 3 unorchestrated. Erwin Steinpublished Acts 1 and 2 and had engravedthe first 70 pages of Act 3 when the shortscore was locked away by the widow Helenein her lawyers’ safe. Frau Berg supposedlysaw uncomfortable parallels between anautumnal feminine interest of her husband’sand the seductive anti-heroine Lulu. Act 3was micro-filmed, there was a legal disputeand then Frau Berg died in 1976. Contraryto some stories, all but 86 bars could beorchestrated with a mathematical conviction.Happily, the task fell to Friedrich Cerha, acomposer devoted to Webern, Schoenbergand Berg. Berg scholar Anthony Poplegenerously admitted: “Whatever its minorshortcomings, Cerha’s realization isbrilliant work, and there is no reason tothink that there will ever be a necessity forthe completion of Act 3 in full score to beundertaken afresh.”The three-act version appeared in Paris onFebruary 24, 1979, starring Canada’s TeresaStratas to rave reviews. Franz Mazura wasDr. Schön and Kenneth Riegel his son Alwa,both of whom then appeared at the Metin 1980 in the production recorded in thisbeautiful DVD set. Lulu is Julia Migenes,a seductive and street-wise survivor, witha sharp dramatic edge. Evelyn Lear (awonderful Lulu herself) plays the lesbianCountess Geschwitz, completely at home inthis music and convincing as the only trulyhonourable character in the opera. Both theacting and the singing are compelling. JamesLevine loves Berg and draws a nuancedperformance of this complex and fascinatingwork. If you have not previously been wonover by Lulu, she may well seduce you withthis appearance.—Duncan ChisholmRossini – William TellGerald Finley; John Osborn; MalinBystrom; Marie-Nicole Lemieux; Orchestrae Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di SantaCecilia; Antonio PappanoEMI 0 28826 2With glorious Cmajor arpeggiosand a scene bathedin sunlight over themountains aboveLake Lucerne ina newly liberatedSwitzerland … soends Rossini’s lastwork for the opera stage. Guillaume Tell, amonumental, French style grand opera anda prototype for the genre later developed byAuber, Halevy and Meyerbeer, was indeedhis swan song after which, at age 48 andafter 59 operas, he wisely decided to take iteasy, enjoy his wealth and fame in Paris, bea great cook, give musical soirées and teachat exorbitant fees. William Tell is unlikeanything he had written before in its scope,scale and musical language. Even Wagnerexpressed unusual interest by saying that atone point Rossini created a “perfect fusionof declamatory style and emotional content.”“So I wrote music of the future?” askedRossini innocently. “No, Maestro, but musicfor all times!” was Wagner’s thoughtful reply.The opera is seldom recorded mainlyThe World’s FinestClassical and Jazz MusicDestinationChanging SeasonsPhil Dwyer Orchestra:Featuring Mark FewerDwyer’s mostambitious project yet– a compelling violinconcerto bridgingthe classical and jazzworlds in seamlessfashion.Each CD only $ 14.98Catch a Corner • CinqueJoey DeFrancesco,Steve Gadd, PeterCardinali, Robi Botos& John JohnsonThe debut album fromthis jazz supergroup.Free flowing,spontaneous music fullof joy!• 70 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, M5R 1B9(416) 922-6477• Town Square, 210 Lakeshore Road E.,Oakville, L6J 1H8 (905) 338-2360Live or work within 2 miles of our Yorkvillelocation? Beginning Dec. 1st,FREE DELIVERY on any + order.November 1 – December 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 61

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