6 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 4 - December 2011

  • Text
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • December
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  • January
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journalist Anne

journalist Anne Midgette, invariably assumeat odds with the gravity of what’s going on.Concert Notes: January 11 and 12 at8pm in Roy Thomson Hall, Leon Fleisherconducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestraand performs Mozart’s Concerto for ThreePianos K242 with his wife, KatherineJacobson Fleisher, and former student,Stewart Goodyear.Fleisher also conducts the RoyalConservatory Orchestra and performs Concerto No.4 with Uri Mayerconducting, at 8pm February 17, 2012, atKoerner Hall.Gustav Mahlerby Jens Malte Fischertranslated by Stewart SpencerYale University PressIn Gustav Mahler’sown mind, his lifeand his music were“inexhaustibly”bound up together. By of Mahler throughthe direct relationshipbetween the two,Jens Malte Fischer isable to shed light onwhat makes Mahler’smusic so utterly his own. “Using a vocabularythat seems familiar and sometimes evenintimately colloquial,” he writes, “Mahlerexpresses all that is unheard of and uncanny,all that is unsettling and upsetting. What wasalien sounds familiar, and what is familiarnow seems alien.”Mahler’s life was as complex as his music,mostly because, as Fischer shows, he wassuch an intense, complicated and brilliantcharacter. Admiring though he is, Fischerdoesn’t shrink from describing how condescendinglyinsensitive Mahler could bewith colleagues, friends and, especially, hismuch younger wife Alma. But Fischer, likemost Mahler biographers, is equally toughon Alma. Even from her own diaries sheemerges as narcissistic, humourless and willful.But, as she wrote, Mahler “lived a life times worse on me.” She even gave up herown dreams of being a composer at his insistence,though Fischer seems unnecessarilyharsh when he disparages her talent on theevidence of her surviving compositions.In 1910, just months before he died, was. When he discovered she was havingan affair with Walter Gropius, he contactedSigmund Freud for help. No notes from thesession, which took place as they wanderedthe picturesque streets of Leiden, Holland,have survived. But among Freud’s writingsFischer found interesting references to a patientwho could only be Mahler. Fischer evenmanaged to track down the bill Freud sent toAlma after Mahler’s death.As a theatre historian, Fischer is able tooffer fascinating perspectives on various aspectsof Mahler’s work, such as the detailedand often idiosyncratic performance instructionsMahler wrote in his scores (whichFischer compares to playwrights’ stage directions).He is especially good at describingthe literary, artistic, political and religiouscurrents of his day, above all the prevailingclimate of anti-Semitism that drove Mahler,who was Jewish, to convert to Catholicism.But there are occasional lapses in musicaljudgment. Explaining Mahler’s famous remark,“My time will come,” he inexplicablydownplays the popularity of the works ofMahler’s supposed rival, Richard Strauss.The translation by noted scholar Stewart ingwith such vivid descriptions of Mahler’sworks as, “His First Symphony is a tempestuous,urgent, rebellious work, the com- without doubt the boldest symphonic visitingcard in the whole history of western music.”Concert Notes: The University of TorontoSymphony Orchestra under David Briskinperforms Mahler’s First Symphony onThursday, February 2, at 7:30pm in theMacMillan Theatre.Metropolitan Operaedited by Ellen KeelAmadeus PressThis attractivebook marksconductor JamesLevine’s 40 yearsworking withthe MetropolitanOpera. It’s a celebration,but there’sa poignant undercurrent,since,after this bookwent to press, lingeringhealth problems forced Levine to giveup his position as music director of the Metand withdraw from conducting assignments.Singers and orchestra musicians talk aboutworking with Levine, and he, in turn, offerscomments on his experiences conductingthem. We begin to understand what makesa great opera conductor. But all that mutual versialissues —and inevitably there havebeen plenty during his tenure —that wouldmake these comments more incisive. Levinehimself remains elusive.Lohengrin For the full text of Pamela Marglesreview of James Levine: 40 years at theMetropolitan Opera, please visit our website.Jazz Notes: Mr. Miller’s Talescontinued from page 33Here is an excerpt(from theinternet) from thepreface to MarkMiller’s Way DownThat LonesomeRoad: LonnieJohnson in Toronto,1965–1970. Itgives a taste ofJohnson, and justas importantly ofwhat makes MarkMiller tick.I want all you people to listen to my songI want all you people to listen to my songRemember me after all the days I’m gone— Mr. Johnson’s Blues, 1925So sang Lonnie Johnson on the very name, 86 years ago in St. Louis, mindfuleven then of his own mortality. If hehas indeed been remembered after all thedays, and now decades, since his death, 41years ago in Toronto, it has been largelyfor his early and essential contribution tothe histories of both blues and jazz.…These, at least, are among the memoriesof some of the many people whosepaths he crossed in Toronto between 1965 —theyears that serve as the time frame of thisbook. As much, however, as Way DownThat Lonesome Road is a biographicalstudy of Lonnie Johnson in this period,it is also a social and cultural history ofthe scene that he encountered in Toronto.As such, it takes its lead from my bookCool Blues, which found in the visits ofthe legendary alto saxophonist CharlieParker to Montreal and Toronto in 1953an opportunity to bring the modern jazzcommunities in each of those cities backto life. And like Cool Blues, Way DownThat Lonesome Road (which takes itstitle from a song that Johnson recorded in1928) is populated by a cast of secondarycharacters —musicians, critics, friendsand fans —who have stories of their ownto tell.… The story of his years in Torontocombines both — the happiest of timesand the hardest, a Dickensian sort of paradox,albeit in a tale of just one city. Thisis that tale; here is that city.— Published October 19, 2011 byThe Mercury Press/teksteditions© Mark Miller 201174 thewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012

Editor’s CornerWith The Goat RodeoSessions (SONY beingtouted as Yo-Yo Ma’s mostsuccessful release to date, itlikely doesn’t need my help withpromotion. But I can’t help butmention it as it touches on somany of my own musical interests.Evidently a “Goat Rodeo” issomething which depends on animprobable number of high riskfactors all coming together atonce. Hyperbole aside, this re- very busy musicians from acrossthe musical spectrum and it is course we are aware of Ma’s di- and his world and roots music projects likeSilk Road and earlier collaborations withMark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer. On thisouting bassist Meyer also plays piano andD A V I D O L D Sgamba. The other contributors,Nashville session-manStuart Duncan and bluegrassstar Chris Thile, respectively dolinand plectrum banjo; and and vocals to the mix. Meyer,Duncan and Thile also sharewriting credits on all the tunesleaving Ma the odd man outsimply playing his cello. Butwith the bottom end so ablyanchored by Meyer, Ma getsto exploit the upper reaches ofhis instrument and the resultingensemble is an extraordinarystring band. Add the lovelyvoice of Anife O’Donovan on acouple of tracks and you have a wonderfully in American folk traditions, incorporates a Local cellist Nick Storring was also the2011 recipient of the Canadian MusicCentre’s Toronto Emerging ComposerAward. Like Ma, Storring works in a varietyof genres, but unlike his mainstreamcounterpart, pretty much all of Storring’sexcursions are far from the beaten path. Rife,a recent solo release on the adventurousBritish label, features electronic compositionscreated over the past six years. Artifacts,takes as its main sound source a “nearbroken”7/8 size violin given to the composerby his grandmother. After nearly 22 years asA “GOAT RODEO” IS SOMETHINGWHICH DEPENDS ON AN IMPROBABLENUMBER OF HIGH RISK FACTORSALL COMING TOGETHER AT ONCEa wall ornament the instrument became theinspiration for this extended suite. Althoughwe are occasionally aware of the sound ofthe violin being plucked or bowed, for themost part the source is obscured byextensive electronic processing, computermanipulation, recording onto a dictaphonewhose power supply was shorting out andthe use of intentionally damaged CDRs and wouldn’t know this from the liner notesThe World’s FinestClassical and Jazz MusicDestination13 Discsonly 26. 98Beethoven.KarajanThe Nine Symphonies The final digital recordingspresented at this price for the first timeThe Five Piano Concertos The Violin ConcertoTriple ConcertoMissa SolemnisOvertures: PLUS Phone orders only.December 1 – February 7, 2012 75

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