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Volume 17 Issue 3 - November 2011

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  • November
  • Toronto
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  • December
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combination of sensitivity and virtuosity,but also Wolodymyr Kolesnyk’s informedconducting of the Canadian UkrainianOpera Chorus, convey the work’s nobilityof theme. Fiala’s combination of modernismand Ukrainian choral material, alongwith some incursions of late romanticpiano writing, allow for an ample rangeof expression. I particularly like the highbell-like piano sounds in this work, evenmore so when actual chimes join inevoking the magnificent bells of EasternEuropean churches.Heather Schmidt is a remarkableCanadian composer-pianist who early on establishedan international profile. Her musicallanguage is somewhere in the same galaxyas that of Corigliano, Schwantner, or Hétu,and her individual voice is still developing.In the Piano Concerto No.2 I find the secondmovement’s intensity and orchestration particularlypowerful. Sense of structure andpacing, idiomatic instrumental writing, andharmonic control are all notable. Making itsound easier than it is, Quilico’s performancein partnership with the fine Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra led by DanielWarren is colouristic and well-paced, justifyingindeed the disc’s title, Tapestries.—Roger KnoxConcert Notes: The Canadian Music Centre(www.musiccentre.ca) hosts the launch ofTapestries in a public event on November 2.Christina Petrowska Quilico performs Grieg’sPiano Concerto with the Kindred SpiritsOrchestra at the Markham Theatre for thePerforming Arts on November 5.Ann Southam – Soundings fora New PianoR. Andrew LeeIrritable Hedgehog IHM002www.irritablehedgehog.comMost peoplewould celebrate afriend’s purchaseof a new piano bybringing over abottle of bubbly. Butwhen Toronto pianistJane Blackstonebought a grandpiano in 1986, composer Ann Southamshowed up with a magnificent new workcalled Soundings for a New Piano, dedicatedto Blackstone. On this new release, US pianistR. Andrew Lee gives the work what Ibelieve is its recording premiere.Southam subtitled the piece “12 meditationson a Twelve Tone Row;” each of its13 concise movements is like the turningof a musical kaleidoscope that enables thecomposer to explore a different emotionalfacet of a 12-interval row. Southam lovedthis form of musical inquiry, and used it ina number of piano works, culminating inher deeply contemplative Simple Lines ofEnquiry (2007). It’s fascinating, in fact, tofind several strands of musical DNA fromSLoE in Soundings — not just a nearly identicaltone row, but also some shared rhythmicand metric features, and a persistent questioningquality in the musical rhetoric.Lee captures the spirit of curiosity thatpropels Soundings, and vividly conveys thedistinctive, richly nuanced characters foundin these 13 compact movements, from thebold insistence of the opening movementthrough complex tendernesses andpassionate outbursts, all of it grounded by agentle rocking sequence that keeps recurring,at once questioning and comforting.A welcome addition to the Southamdiscography, this recording is availableas a 23-minute CD or as downloadfrom www.irritablehedgehog.com.—Tamara BernsteinConcert Note: Pianist Eve Egoyanlaunches her latest recording of music byAnn Southam — Returnings — at Glenn GouldStudio on December 2.MC Maguire – Nothing Left to DestroyBenjamin Bowman; Douglas Stewart;MC MaguireInnova 813www.innova.muOnce upon atime on the musicalplanet inhabited bywall-of-sound composerMC Maguirethere must havebeen a catastrophicexplosion, scatteringthe treasuresof civilization together with all the cast-offjunk of consumerism and the fallout ofpost-modern warfare. Through the blastedlandscape come the remaining voices of humanity,represented on this latest Maguirerelease by violinist Ben Bowman and flutistDoug Stewart. The CD is called NothingLeft to Destroy, and for those interested inreferences, consider his choice of artist forthe jacket: uber bad-boy Istvan Kantor.Maguire’s works are massively layeredand require repeated listenings for oneto begin to sort the material out. His is acreative imagination that never seems tolack for material inspiration. Consider thesonic blast-scape of the first track, TheDiscofication of the Mongols. He referencesa contemporary icon (nay, cliché), the lonelyherdsman with the iPod, to explain histhematic material. If I can decipher nothingelse in his liner note explaining the piece’sstructure, I can at least appreciate what hemeans about the loss of indigenous culture,and when you hear Bowman’s gorgeousviolin playing drowned by the eventuallyoverpowering disco beat, you understandthe intent of the piece. Along the way you’llwant to listen for anything you recognize.“Paul is dead” in retrograde inversion mighteven be there.Track two is somewhat shorter and muchsweeter. S’Wonderful (that the man I lovewatches over me) is more homage thanlament, remixing three Gershwin songs andquotes lifted from depression-era cinema.Stewart’s flute wanders lonely as a drunkenGinger Rogers, one busted high heel, stilldancing with her imaginary Fred. Again, Iwant to hear the instrumentalist but lose himtoo often as he ducks behind the scenery. Infact, the critique that feels almost to missthe point is that Maguire’s sonic defaultsetting is too often on “stun.” Regardless,the results are without a doubt stunning andworth the listen.—Max ChristieUndercurrents – Contact performsthe music of Jordan NoblesContact Contemporary MusicRedshift Records TK 242www.redshiftmusic.orgOn TorontobasedensembleContact’s excellentdebut recordingof music byCanadian composerJordan Nobles,instrumental tonesare pure, performerinteractions retain focus and the recordingteam headed by Denis Tougas is superb. Themeditative cast of Nobles’ music suggestsretreat, even relaxation. But below theminimalist surface sheen, a certain uneaseof mood draws the listener’s attention andanticipation. Rhythms, melodic shapesand tone colours concentrate and shift ourresponses in surprising ways.Both composer and Contact players,directed by Jerry Pergolesi, contributeto the musical content. They take upconfidently the challenge of pieces that offerconsiderable freedom in the order and thequalities of musical events. Simulacrum,in which a melody circulates betweeninstruments, and Stasis, an open-form workwhere long tones enter and exit withouta fixed plan, are particularly successfulexamples. There is also an element ofrandomness in Grace, where musiciansexercise choice in the presentation of gracenote(ornamental) patterns.There are other musical processes, sometimesidentified in titles: interacting metricpatterns in Ostinati; tempo shift in TemporalWaves, featuring Rob MacDonald on multitrackedguitar; and in Undercurrents, crablikemotion up through ascending triads. Thelatter procedure occurs also in Stones UnderWater for piano, played by Allison Wiebe. Ilook forward to much more from Nobles andfrom Contact members including also SarahFraser Raff, violin, Mary Katherine Finch,cello, Wallace Halladay, saxophones andPeter Pavlovsky, double bass, joined here byEmma Elkinson, flute.—Roger Knox64 thewholenote.comNovember 1 – December 7, 2011

From Here On OutKitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra;Edwin OutwaterAnalekta AN 2 9992These are challengingtimes for theclassical music recordingindustry andit’s rare that a smallerlabel will producea CD of music bythree relatively unknowncomposers.Yet that’s just what Analekta has done onthis disc titled From Here on Out, featuringmusic by Nico Muhly, Jonny Greenwoodand Richard Reed Parry, performed by theKitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestraunder the direction of Edwin Outwater.The piece From Here on Out, byAmerican-born composer Nico Muhly, cameabout as the result of collaboration with theFrench dancer and choreographer BenjaminMillepied whose love of Bach and love ofrepeated notes both played a part in thecreative process. The result was music decidedlyneo-classical in sprit, with quirky,energetic rhythms contrasting with long expansivelines.In total contrast is Popcorn SuperhetReceiver written by Radiohead guitaristJonny Greenwood. Despite Greenwood’srock background, his compositional stylehere is decidedly contemporary, in this caseinvolving glissando strings, microtonal clustersand the use of an Ondes Martenot. TheK-WSO has no difficulties in mastering thetextural and rhythmic complexities of thescore, proof indeed that this ensemble isequally at home with 21st century music as itis with more traditional repertoire.The most intriguing music in this collectionis undoubtedly Arcade Fire multiinstrumentalistRichard Reed Parry’s ForHeart, Breath and Orchestra, a musicaldepiction of the heart and breath rates of thehuman body. The piece was especially commissionedby the K-WSO, and rounds out anintriguing CD of music you probably won’thear elsewhere. Kudos to both the K-WSOand Analekta for pushing the envelope!—Richard HaskellVox Terra – Music for the Clarinetwith a Global FocusCris InguantiRedshift Records TK 425www.redshiftmusic.orgVox Terra, a discfeaturing VancouverbasedclarinettistCris Inguanti, is asatisfying collectionof mostly recentworks for theinstrument in avariety of settings.Unaccompanied in the earliest work, JoanTower’s Wings (1981), Inguanti includes duos,a trio, a quartet and a highly effective workwith electronic interface and pre-recordedsound. His collaborators include two ofthe composers featured, as well as the fineMarie Julie Chagnon in the clarinet duo byMichael Tenzer, and pianist Corey Hamm onthree of the 13 tracks.At first blush the album’s subtitle, Musicfor Clarinet with a Global Focus, seemsto stretch a point. Only two composerspresented hail from outside of NorthAmerica. New York and Western Canada arewell-represented, and Toronto’s own DavidOcchipinti plays guitar in his own Artsand Letters. But before anyone takes thisapparent geographic exclusivity too muchto heart, they ought to pay attention to theliner notes, most written by the composersthemselves. Balinese, Bolivian and Balkaninfluences can reasonably be claimed,though at least in Tower’s case, SouthAmerican rhythmic character is subsumedinto her own very personal voice.More to the point is the refreshinglistenability and humour of the collection.The strengths of the various pieces, and thefine musical performances given them, atonefor the absence of any music emerging fromAsia and Africa. With the exception of thefinal track there is nothing tremendously“avant-garde” or difficult for the listener toprepare for, and a good deal of sheer simplepleasure to be had nodding along to MichaelLowenstein’s Ten Children #3. Wait beforegiving up on track 13. Nicola Resanovicsaves some delightful surprises for thosewho suspend the wish to turn off the clamourof the opening electronic sequence.—Max ChristieMakii Ishii LiveRyan Scott; Esprit Orchestra; Alex PaukInnova 809www.innova.muWith a stronginternationalreputation, MakiIshii (1936–2003)stands among theforemost Japanesecomposers in theavant-garde concerthall tradition. Ishiihad a strong predication for the purity anddrama inherent in percussion sounds and thethree concerti on this CD, first recordingsall, place them and the percussionist frontand centre.Ishii’s idiosyncratic musical universerevealed in these works reflects his maturestyle, one that straddled two musical worlds–combining the language, compositionalmethods and sound palette of European andJapanese musical traditions.The solo parts are here masterfullyperformed from memory by the Torontopercussionist Ryan Scott. Twice nominatedfor a JUNO, Scott has built a career playingpercussion with many Toronto and Americanensembles and orchestras.Saidoki (Demon) (1989–1992) featuresnew instruments called Cidelo Ihos, metalsculptures created by Kazuo Harada andYasunori Yamaguchi for this work. Theyare sounded by striking and bowing, creatingunpitched metallic soundscapes, frameddramatically by the Esprit Orchestra spreadout throughout the hall. Adding to the metalsounds is a battery of wood and skin instrumentsconstructed for this work by RyanScott. The orchestral writing emphasizes itsconcerto nature, clearly revealing the voiceof the percussion soloist. By the rumblingghostly ending Ishii’s programmatic aim, toevoke the vigour and energy of a “roughdemon” with the “inner soul of a human,”has been imaginatively evoked.The earlier, equally virtuosic Concertantefor Marimba (1988) was composed for afive-octave marimba solo accompanied byan ensemble of six percussion instruments.It is overall more transparent in texturethan Saidoki, though possessing no fewertheatrical gestures. The third Ishii concerto,South-Fire-Summer (1992) utilises a largebattery of standard orchestral percussioninstruments. Initially framed with sparseorchestral accompaniment with plenty ofsonic room for soloist Ryan Scott to displayhis mallet control and fine musical taste, itbuilds to a roaring climax.The clear live sound, recorded over anumber of years by CBC Radio 2, clearlyreveals the timbral and textural details ofthese works. Kudos to producer David Jaegerand recording engineers David “Stretch”Quinney, Doug Doctor and Steve Sweeney.—Andrew TimarConcert Note: Ryan Scott is featured inMaki Ishii’s South-Fire-Summer at theEsprit Orchestra concert at Koerner Hall onNovember 30.JAZZ & IMPROVISEDTo Brazil with LoveDiana PantoneOne Music DIA-CD-1293www.dianapanton.comTo Brazil WithLove from vocalist/composer DianaPanton is a perfectjewel of a CD. Eachdelightful trackis an exquisitelymanicured musicalfacet, set firmlyin the Brazilian idiom and seamlesslysung in French and English by Panton.Her diaphanous vocal sound never insistsand her high speed vibrato is like thebeat of a hummingbird’s heart — natural,untainted and pure. The Brazilian-infusedNovember 1 – December 7, 2011 thewholenote.com 65

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