7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 4 - December 2011

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however, which are

however, which are literally non-existent.The distinctive packaging —a silver foil heatsealedsleeve with purple lettering listing thetracks, brief credits and the websites of thepublisher and the composer —is certainlyeye-catching and presumably cost-effective,but ultimately does a disservice to theproduct. I think Storring is of the sameopinion because when he sent the disc hefollowed up with a note saying that given the“peculiar style of the packaging” he felt heshould provide an info-sheet withbackground about himself and the pieces.Although the information is available on theEntr’acte website, this fact is not mentionedon the packaging. The other works areIndices of Refraction (2005-2011) which uses mixer feedback, and Outside, Summer isBursting at the Seams which cites only cellobut the sounds here are every bit as varied asthose in the other compositions. This is anintriguing release by a young composer/performer well worthy of our attention.Dialectics –Expressions inSolo Percussionis a new CD byRichard Moore ( Itjuxtaposes works forrelatively pitch-lessinstruments—kettledrums, bass drums, drum set andmaracas —with pieces for melodicinstruments including vibraphone, marimbaand two members of the hammereddulcimerfamily: the large Eastern Europeancimbalom and its tenor counterpart, theAustrian hackbrett. The opener, Marchfor Two Pairs of Kettledrums was writtenmore than three centuries ago by JacquesPhilidor. Originally intended for twoplayers placed antiphonally, Moore usesoverdubbing to play the duet with himselfin a convincing manner. The title trackis a 1999 composition for two large bass movement Thesis is reminiscent of thesurf-rock classic Wipeout. Antithesis isintrospective, combining hand drummingwith the eerie sounds produced by drawingrubber mallets across the skin of the drumheads. Without a noticeable break Synthesisgrows out of the quiet and builds back to theopening movement’s frantic pitch. Moore’stranscription of Max Roach’s The DrumAlso Waltzes is an extended drum solo usinga traditional jazz kit which features a bassdrum and high-hat theme alternating withimprovised sections. Moore is one of veryfew cimbalom players in our midst andinterspersed with these percussive offeringswe are treated to his own adaptation of anAndante for solo piano by Bela Bartok onthis distinctive instrument, plus an originalwork by the Bavarian composer FrederikSchwenk who takes melodies from the folkrepertoire of the Finnish kantele, yet anotherethnic dulcimer, and adapts them for thehackbrett in a suite that features hammeredstrings in the outer movements and pluckedstrings in the middle. This is followed byan unusual piece by Mexican composerJavier Alvarez in which the performer isinstructed to improvise using maracasover an electronic track which varies fromenvironmental to industrial sounds andgradually transforms into a gentle folkmelody. Moore’s improvisation is so wellintegrated that it is hard to realize it is nota part of the original soundscape. Frankly,I wish the disc ended there. Moore is anaccomplished musician and these tracksdemonstrate his command of many aspectsof the contemporary percussionist’s arsenal.The disc however continues with Bach’sThird Suite for Solo Cello performed on amarimba. Perhaps it is just my prejudiceas a cellist, but I feel there is simply notVOCALAmanda Forsythe; Tyler Duncan;Mireille Lebel; Boston Early Music Festival;Paul O’Dette; Stephen StubbsThe Boston EarlyMusic Festival andthe German CPOlabel have successfullycollaborated on jectsof early operaso far, includingConradi’s Ariadne,Charpentier’s Acteon, two by Lully— Théséeand Psyché — and this, John Blow’s littleperformedmasterpiece from the early 1680s,Venus and Adonis. It’s a powerful and economicalpiece, full of drama, humour, actionand, ultimately, deep poignancy.The performance, co-directed by thelegendary lutenists Paul O’Dette and StephenStubbs, is as close to perfect as one couldhope for. Tempos are well-chosen and thesmall baroque band and chorus are livelyand colourful and really dive into the scorewith emotional intensity. BEMF has a strongCanadian connection and the two Canadiansoloists—mezzo Mireille Lebel (Cupid) andbaritone Tyler Duncan (Adonis)—both acquitthemselves with a combination of beautifulsound and superb attention to text. Thethird soloist, American soprano AmandaForsythe, is less appealing, not for lack ofdrama, but because her sound tends towardthe relentlessly steely, not well-suited to thecharacter of Venus. She more than redeemsherself, however, in a stunning performanceof Blow’s Welcome, ev’ry guest, one of threeadditional pieces at the end of the recording.The accompanying booklet is packed fullof interesting essays, biographies of everyoneinvolved (even bassoonist Dominic Teresi,enough resonance, especially in the lowestregister of the marimba, to do the musicjustice. Certainly Bach can withstand beingtranslated into virtually any instrumentalform, but the question for me is does the instance my answer is no.We welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments should besent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 BathurstSt., Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We alsoencourage you to visit our website, www. features including direct links to performers,composers and record labels, “buy buttons”for online shopping and additional, expandedand archival reviews.of Tafelmusik), full texts and translations.The photos of the original BEMF productionof Venus and Adonis give some idea ofwhat a special project this was. How luckyfor us that it was recorded so exquisitelyfor posterity.— Larry BeckwithConcert Notes: Mireille Lebel can be heardwith Tafelmusik in Koerner Hall performancesof Handel’s Hercules January 19 to 22.Tyler Duncan performs in Mozart’s Requiemwith the Toronto Symphony OrchestraJanuary 18 to 22 and will give the premiereof Jeffrey Ryan’s The Whitening of the Oxwith New Music Concerts at the EnwaveTheatre on January 29.Il Complesso Barocco; Alan CurtisWith the exceptionof Hercules,Alexander Balusand Theodora, theHandel oratorioson this disc clearlymark him as an OldTestament composer(in contrast with his—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comcontemporary, New Testament composer J.S.Bach). Handel composed oratorios almost exclusivelyin his later years and his choice ofOld Testament historias such as Belshazzar,Susanna, Judas Maccabeus, Joseph and hisBrethren, Joshua and Solomon offer everybit of dramatic variety as the operas he composedin his earlier career, albeit withoutthe staging.Just as in his operas, the oratorios offermany an opportunity to showcase bothsopranos and contraltos through the use76 thewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012

of stirring arias and duets. “Streams ofPleasure” indeed, with arias such as Crystal (Susanna) sunggorgeously by Karina Gauvin in all its sensuousbeauty, contrasting brilliantly with the Fury with redsparkling eyes from Alexander Balus. Bothsing with the warmest tenderness in the recording’stitle love duet from Theodora andadd a most regal tone in the more contrapuntalWelcome as the dawn (Solomon).In the solo arias, both singers exploit theda capo form to the fullest with supremelyvirtuosic trills and ornamentations on thesecond round. Complesso Barocco’s superbability to shine whilst still allowing the fullestexpression of the singer is demonstratedbest in the sighing pathos of violin anddescending continuo parts that highlight thegrief and resignation in My father (Hercules).An exquisite addition to one’s collection ofHandel’s vocal music.— Dianne WellsConcert Notes: Karina Gauvin is featured inToronto Symphony Orchestra performancesof Britten’s Les Illuminations February 22 to23 at Roy Thomson Hall.BachDaniel Taylor; Tafelmusik BaroqueOrchestra; Jeanne LamonDaniel Taylorjoins Tafelmusik fortwo selections ontheir 78th recording,performing two ofBach’s four cantatasfor solo alto voice.Both on texts byDarmstadt courtpoet, Georg Christian Lehms, BWV54,Widerstehe doch der Sünde, is from Bach’sWeimar period while the other, BWV170,Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, wascomposed and performed in 1726 at theThomaskirche in Leipzig. While in the exhortationto “resist sin” in Cantata 54 Bachprovides a dramatic struggle complete withharmonic discord and a chromatic fugue,Cantata 170 focuses on the peace of a promised“delightful rest” in heaven. Rather thanvoice strictly accompanied by continuo, thereis much interest in the interplay betweenvoice, strings and particularly organ. Taylormaintains a reverential character throughout,even in the dramatic moments, focusing insteadon the calm and steadfast reassuranceof faith with superb tonal control that never along with director Jeanne Lamon, violinand John Abberger, oboe, who are featuredrespectively in the Suite in A minor for violinand strings, BWV1067 and the Concerto foroboe and violin in C minor, BWV1060. Themiddle adagio cantabile movement in thelatter allows the two soloists to engage inan exquisite musical exchange. All performwith deftness, poise and grace worthy ofBach’s enduring artistry.— Dianne WellsMax Emanuel Cencic; Ann Hallenberg;Sonia Prina; Il Complesso Barocco;Alan CurtisGluck is oftenstyled an operaticreformer, buthe composed manysuccessful examplesin the earlier operaseria style in whichvirtuosic da capoarias alternated withsimple recitatives. In the year 1750 he selectedtexts by Pietro Metastasio of Rome, partlybecause Metastasio specialized in classicalthemes and partly because his librettos wereadmired by composers and performers alike.Ezio is set in Rome after the title character,a Roman general, has defeated Attilathe Hun, promptly arousing the jealousy ofEmperor Valentiniano III. An intense romanticintrigue is grafted by Metastasio ontothe historical background.From the start, Metastasio’s words varybetween heart-felt and lengthy arias and This is apparent in Act One, Scene Twowhen Ezio, Massimo and Fulvia reveal theinitial romantic intrigue within the plot in avery short space of time before Ezio devotesan aria to pleading with Fulvia to be loyalto him.Metastasio has created characters who is virtuous but at the same time he is cowardlyand credulous, while Ezio is courageousbut lacks a sense of caution. This is thebackdrop against which Gluck composed hisopera while Gluck had not yet himself settledin Vienna.For all these problems and challenges,the opera lover can settle down to acomplex but rewarding work, aided byBruce Alan Brown’s comprehensive andexplanatory notes.— Michael SchwartzCLASSICAL & BEYONDAngela Hewitt; Orchestra da Camera diMantovaHas it really been 26 years since AngelaHewitt made the world sit up and take noticeas the winner of the Toronto InternationalBach Competition? Since then, the Ottawanative (now based in London) has gone onto achieve international fame through herinterpretations ofsuch diverse composersas Bach,Couperin, Ravel andMessiaen (himselfone of the judgesin the competition).This newestHyperion releasefeatures three early piano concertos byMozart, the nucleus of a proposed project torecord all 27. Together with the Orchestra daCamera di Mantova, under the leadership ofCarlo Fabiano, Hewitt proves that she is as athome with Mozart as she is with music fromthe baroque or late romantic period. Thedisc is a gem! Her playing is stylish and elegant,demonstrating well-articulated phras- demands, while the 29-member ensembleconstitutes a formidable musical partner.These concertos were all written beforeMozart was 22 and, not surprisingly, containa mood of youthful optimism. Yet themusic is not all galanterie. Indeed, for me,the highlight of the recording is surely theslow movement from the Concerto No.9, awork completed in January 1777 for VictoireJenamy, the daughter of the famed choreographerJean-Georges Noverre. Here, thesombre and elegiac mood is so perfectlyevoked that I can’t help but envision a countrychurchyard in late autumn, the baretree branches silhouetted against a grey -nale —among the only concerto movementsMozart wrote in which the soloist beginsbefore the orchestra—thus bringing thispleasing disc to a close. Bravissimo a tutti others in the series.— Richard HaskellLiszt RecitalJanina FialkowskaCanadian pianist of world renown, JaninaFialkowska made an heroic recovery fromcancer in 2002 and bravely returned to herDecember 1 – February 7, 2012 77

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