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Volume 17 Issue 5 - February 2012

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and finally some

and finally some published posthumously.Whether you are familiar with Britten’ssongs, or Blake’s poetry for that matter,you will appreciate the intelligent, focusedreading of the material in the Finley-Drakecollaboration. And you will love the soundthat the two artists create — love it enough tocome back to this record again and again.—Robert TomasA Bridge of Dreams – A Cappella Musicfrom the Pacific RimArs Nova Copenhagen; Paul HillierDacapo 6.220597Curious and delightfullycaptivating,this recordingby the 14-voice ArsNova Copenhagenensemble underPaul Hillier presentsa programme by(mostly Western)composers of music from the Pacific Rim.Hillier’s credentials rest largely on hisyears of work in early music. His abilityto cope with challenging contemporaryrepertoire, however, leaves no doubtabout his extraordinary musicianship.While his programme for this recording iswell balanced — including works by NewZealander Jack Body, Australians AnneBoyd and Ross Edwards, American LouHarrison and Lui Sola, a multi-disciplinaryartist from China — two works really deservespecial mention.Harrison’s Mass for St. Cecilia’s Dayis tinged strongly by his attraction toChinese and Indonesian music. The Latintext, sung in an obvious plainsong style, isfrequently embellished by modal phrasingsand ornaments from the Oriental world.The effect of this fusion is surprisinglycompelling. One is never quite sure if what’sbeing sung is ancient or modern. Harrison’sskilful writing moves effortlessly throughan in-between realm where he createssomething new from something ancient.Edwards’ Sacred Kingfisher Psalms alsocombine otherwise unrelated material intoa remarkable composition. Using portionsof Latin psalm texts, Edwards pays homageto the aboriginal spirit of his homeland byweaving the native names of indigenousbirds into his Latin text. The chantingevokes ancient aboriginal rituals as wellmedieval European polyphonies.Harrison’s and Edwards’ works appear topractice some kind of musical alchemy anddo so with the skilful formulation of ArsNova’s choral ingredient.—Alex BaranThere’s more at www.thewholenote.com:Janos Gardonyi reviews Diana Damrau’snew recording of Lieder by Franz Liszt andTiina Kiik shares her thoughts about LucianoPavarotti – A Film by Esther Schapira.EARLY & PERIOD PERFORMANCEIl Progetto Vivaldi 2Sol Gabetta; Cappella Gabetta;Andres GabettaSony Classical 88697932302Vivaldi – Cello ConcertosJean-Guihen Queyras; Akademie furAlte Musik, BerlinHarmonia Mundi HMC 902095These are two lively and exuberantrecordings of the music of Vivaldi and hiscontemporaries, focussing on the Venetiancomposer’s rich and somewhat varied celloconcertos. There are 27 cello concertos byVivaldi that have come down to us and astrong cross-section is represented here.Gabetta and Queyras are two of the world’sleading cellists and belong to a generation ofmodern European musicians who have fullyintegrated baroque style into their musicalphilosophies.The “ArgentineFrench Russianborn”Sol Gabettahas been garneringrave reviews for herplaying sincefinishing her studiesin 2006. Shemaintains a busyperforming and recording schedule and awide repertoire, from Bach and Vivaldi toShostakovich, Elgar and Ginastera. Herplaying on this recording — her second CDof Vivaldi concertos — is exquisite and theorchestral playing (directed by her brother,violinist Andrew Gabetta) is exciting andelegant. Of special interest is the Concerto inD Major by Leonardo Leo, which looksforward stylistically to the galant music ofthe later 18th century, and the worldpremiere recording of the Concerto in DMinor by Giovanni Benedetto Platti, aninteresting and dramatic work that we shouldhear more often.Jean-GuihenQueyras was born inCanada, but broughtup in France. Hewas the winner ofthe 2002 City ofToronto ProtégéPrize as chosen byGlenn Gould Prizelaureate Pierre Boulez and his playing ispossessed of a remarkably burnished andgorgeous tone. His interest in chamber musicis apparent in the program of this CD, whichfeatures sinfonias and orchestral concertosby Vivaldi in addition to the concertos forsolo cello. The Berlin Akademie providestasteful and profound support, exploitinga wide range of string colours. Of specialnote is the playing of lutenist SimonMartyn-Ellis. Included are two sinfonias byAntonio Caldara, to my ears not as musicallyinteresting as the Vivaldi works.Of the two recordings, the one by Queyrasfeels a little more rehearsed, steady andthoughtful. The Capella Gabetta has thefeeling of being a pick-up band, albeitone made up of very fine players. Bothrecordings are full of life and youthfulenergy and are highly recommended.—Larry BeckwithVivaldi – Return of AngelsEnsemble Caprice; Matthias MauteAnalekta AN 2 9995This CD builds onEnsemble Caprice’sfirst recording ofVivaldi’s sacredmusic, Gloria!Vivaldi and hisAngels. Once again,we are transportedinto the confinesof the Ospedale della Pietà, the orphanagewhere Vivaldi taught orphaned girls violinand singing, and composed concertos andsacred music.Vivaldi’s charges enjoyed great famethroughout Europe, a fact made even moreamazing by the thoroughly demandingquality of the compositions. Listenerseven included the English traveler EdwardWright, who states that the girls “have aeunuch for a master, and he composes theirmusic!” It is a unique description of Vivaldi!Ten lady singers are assembled byMatthias Maute; not a male voice is to beheard even though the opening “Coro” fromJuditha Triumphans is inspired by a militarytheme. Less warlike are the “Coro O quamvaga” and the aria “Armatae, face” (bothsung with distinction by Shannon Mercer).Other soloists make their mark: LauraPudwell, contralto, in Si Fulgida, andGabriele Hierdeis in the motet O qui coeliterraeque serenitas. Also on the CD, perhapsstrangely, are two pieces by Zelenka (thesoloists Mercer and Pudwell once again) andeven two concertos by Vivaldi; perhaps itwas Vivaldi’s custom to spare the voices ofhis charges from over-exposure and Maute isfollowing suit.In fact, the Ensemble’s interpretations,solo or otherwise, present a spiritual andintense selection of Vivaldi’s compositionsfor his orphaned girls. This reviewer looksforward to a third CD.—Michael SchwartzThere’s more at www.thewholenote.com:Michael Schwartz enjoys A French Soiréecourtesy of Trio Settecento, as well as recentJuilliard piano graduate Evan Shinner’sdebut CD @bach.60 thewholenote.comFebruary 1 – March 7, 2012

CLASSICAL & BEYONDCarl Czerny – A Rediscovered GeniusAnton Kuerti, St. Lawrence String Quartet,Edmonton SymphonyDoremi DHR-6011-3After manyyears of listeningto and reviewingclassical musicon record, therewas little chancethat I would beunexpectedly and sopleasantly surprisedby a collection of Carl Czerny (1791–1857).Czerny is well known to piano students asthe composer of routine practice studiesand technique development exercises. Andnothing beyond that. It has taken a centuryand a half since his death to find out thatCzerny was, in reality, a composer of thefirst rank who created nearly one thousandsignificant compositions.The discovery of the real Czerny startedsome ten years ago here in Canada, ledby the internationally celebrated pianistAnton Kuerti. Like many great discoveries,it was quite by chance that Kuerti cameupon the score of a Czerny piano sonata ina music store in Edmonton that was goingout of business. He was so impressed thathe had to find out if there were other suchmasterpieces by Czerny. Kuerti’s researchrevealed that there was “an overwhelmingbody of extraordinary work in a multitudeof genres by Czerny that was totally ignoredand forgotten and huge quantities that hadnever been published or heard.” Included aresymphonic compositions, concertos, vocal,chamber and instrumental works. Czerny’sstyle lies between Schubert and Mendelssohnand while there are overtones of Beethoven(his teacher) his style is original andhis own.The outcome of Kuerti’s discoveries wasThe World’s First Czerny Music Festival inEdmonton in 2002, during which symphonies,masses, string quartets and quintets,works for piano and strings, songs and miscellaneouschamber works were featured.Some works are astonishing in their complexitysuch as two Fugatos for string quintet.What a surprise to hear among the songsa setting of Goethe’s Der Erlkönig predatingSchubert’s famous version, in which Czernydepicts the terrifying excitement in quite adifferent manner.The festival was recorded by the CBC andmany of the performances are featured onthis Doremi release. The performers includeKuerti, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, theEdmonton Symphony Orchestra and manyother distinguished pianists and vocalists,all sounding fresh and into the engagingmusic, much of it receiving a first or secondperformance ever.The set of three CDs plays for almostfour hours and every second was a joy tohear. The sound is excellent and the 16 pagebooklet includes informative notes by Kuerti.One can only hope that more Czerny will beunearthed, performed and recorded.—Bruce SurteesBeethoven – Symphony No.9Erin Wall; Mihoko Fujimura; Simon O’Neill;Mikhail Petrenko; Choeur et Orchestresymphonique de Montréal; Kent NaganoAnalekta AN 2 9885Unashamedly andunapologeticallymodern. Intendeddeliberately for the21st century soul.There is nothing“authentic” aboutthis performance bythe Orchestre symphoniquede Montréal under Kent Nagano,not as we understand the established practiceof historically informed performances.Authentic, however, is the breath-takingemotional intensity channelled through thissymphonic colossus. This performanceleaves no doubt that Nagano has understoodevery nuance of Beethoven’s convictionsabout the world, indeed the universe aroundhim. Every lost hope, every anger, everydream and inspiration the composer ever hadseems embedded in the writing for Naganoto reveal with exquisite precision.Perhaps the joy of familiar works is discoveringnew inner voices brought forwardby fresh interpreters who uncover secretcountermelodies that have eluded others.Nagano does this repeatedly with oboes andlower string phrases, especially against thesolo vocal parts. The effect is astonishingand delightful.Numbering some 92 players, the orchestrais massive but always lithe, agile and fullycapable of every dynamic required by thescore. The 60-voice combined chorus of theOSM and Tafelmusik Chamber Choir underIvars Taurins sings beautifully with flawlessdiction. Every German word is there withclarity and intent.It would be hard to find higher productionvalues than those demonstrably evidenton this recording. I haven’t heard a Ninthso moving, so exciting, in very many years.Recorded during the inaugural concerts atthe OSM’s new home, the Maison symphoniquede Montréal, this testament certainlybodes well for the orchestra’s future.—Alex BaranSchubert – String Quintet; QuartettsatzTokyo String Quartet; David WatkinHarmonia Mundi HUM8074227Schubert died shortly after completing hisString Quintet in C Major and the quintetremained unnoticed until 1850, when thefamous Hellmesberger Quartet started topromote it threeyears before it waspublished for thefirst time. Thispiece is full ofvery powerful contrasts— light is followedby darkness,serenity is interruptedby drama, and the whole work seemsto be a wonderful yet unsettling interactionbetween two very different worlds. Schubertemphasized the contrasting sonorities by hisuse of the instruments–the first violin andfirst cello are often paired and playing inoctaves, inner voices tend to be restrictedto their lower registers and the second cellooften brings in the darker textures.Cellist David Watkin (of the EroicaQuartet) has a wonderful rapport with themembers of the Tokyo on this recording.There is a sense of effortless playing, aunity of ideas and the near perfect crispnessin bow attacks. Two cellos bring up a veryexpressive sound in the second theme of thefirst movement and in the third theme in thefourth movement. Throughout the secondmovement, possibly the most beautiful andcomplex slow movement of all Schubert’sworks, there are points of stillness and feelingsof being suspended in time that are sorewarding for the listener. Martin Beaver‘sviolin at times comes very close to the humanvoice. The third movement, with analmost overwhelming difference of characterbetween the Scherzo and Trio, allows theTokyo Quartet and David Watkin to displaya virtuosity and depth of emotion at the sametime. The fourth movement is played verystylishly; the dance-like quality is upliftingand the tempo, along with a feeling ofexuberance, accelerates at the end before itbrings the turbulence back in the last bar. Afluid and extremely satisfying performance!—Ivana PopovichAn expanded version of this reviewappears at www.thewholenote.com.Grieg; Liszt – Piano ConcertosStephen Hough; Bergen PhilharmonicOrchestra; Andrew LittonHyperion CDA67824Do we needanother Grieg orLiszt CD? Yes wedo, if it is StephenHough at the piano.Although the Griegis usually pairedwith the SchumannConcerto in AMinor I prefer this combination of the Lisztconcertos with the Grieg.These works are perennial warhorsesthat can sound dated and mannered butnot with Stephen Hough as soloist. Houghis a remarkable pianist with flawlesstechnique and innate musicality and theseFebruary – March 7, 2012thewholenote.com 61

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