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Volume 17 Issue 7 - April 2012

  • Text
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Chorus
  • Singers
  • Choir
  • Vocal
  • Musical

The opening of the

The opening of the Trombone Quintetwhich dates from 1999 is suggestive of adistorted Renaissance consort of viols whosemicrotonal chord drones could be mistakenfor an accordion over top of which the longtone melody of the trombone soars. Thesecond movement has the strings in a dancelikeaccompaniment as Berkman sings intohis muted trombone. A contemplative andlyrical third movement is followed by an extendedfourth which begins percussively butgradually gives way to stillness which bringsthe disc to a close. QuatuorBozzini has an obvious affinitywith this music and Underhill isvery well served by this disc.Concert Note: Quatuor Bozziniperforms music of Stravinsky,Oesterle and Britten in MusicToronto’s Quartet Series at JaneMallett Theatre on April 5.I was pleasantly surprised toreceive a new disc by theSpanish Trio Arbós and findthat it contained an extendedwork by Canadian composerMarjan Mozetich. Scales of Joyand Sorrow was commissionedby the Ottawa Chamber MusicFestival and Roger D. Moore forthe Gryphon Trio who premieredit in 2007. The three-movement20 minute work has obviouslygone on to have an internationallife of its own and listening tothis rollicking performance it iseasy to see why. The Non ProfitMusic release (NPM 1012 www.nonprofitmusic.org) is entitledPlay it Again and it is full of attractiveand approachable contemporaryworks for piano trio. Not quite “bonbons”but certainly designed as crowd pleasers,this repertoire — including works byKenji Bunch, Jorge Grundman, ElenaKats-Chernin, Paul Schoenfield and ChickCorea — is enthusiastically embraced andebulliently played by Trio Arbós.Concert Note: The Penderecki StringQuartet will perform Marjan Mozetich’sJUNO award winning Lament in a TrampledGarden along with works of Beethoven forthe Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber MusicSociety on April 18.ATMA Classique of Montreal continues toput out excellent discs at a prodigious rate.One of the more recent releases is particularlyappropriate to the Easter season thismonth, Bach’s St. John Passion (ACD2 2611).Featuring Les Voix Baroques and ArionOrchestre Baroque under the direction ofAlexander Weimann, international soloistsinclude tenor Jan Kobow as the Evangelistand three basses, Stephan MacLeod as Jesus,Joshua Hopkins as Peter and NathanielWatson as Pilate. All are in great formhere, with particular kudos to choristersoprano Shannon Mercer who shines in thearia “Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigenSchritten.” From the motoric opening “Herr,unser Herrscher” through the recitatives,arias and choruses of the “Betrayal andArrest,” “Denial of Peter,” “Interrogationand Scourging,” “Condemnation andCrucifixion,” “Death of Jesus” and “Burial”of Christ to the peaceful final chorale “AchHerr, lass dein leib Engelein” (Ah Lord, letthine own angels dear…) almost two hourslater, our attention is held without flaggingin this glorious performance. The comprehensivebooklet includes thorough programnotes and texts in three languages.Concert Note: Although I wasunable to find any local performancesof the St. John Passionthis month, Bach’s St. MatthewPassion will be presented bythe Grand Philharmonic Choirat the Centre in the Square inKitchener on April 6.And a final local concert note.On April 11 Toronto audiencescan experience the pure tonesof the predominantly medievalgroup Anonymous 4 at KoernerHall. This a cappella femaleensemble has been charmingaudiences for 25 years andthe “Anthology 25” programwill highlight ancient, traditionaland modern works from theirrepertoire. The recent HarmoniaMundi release Secret Voices(HMU 807510) features chantand polyphony from the HuelgasCodex, c.1300 with selectionsdivided into “First Light,”“Morning,” “Mass,” “Evening”and “Night.” If you are not alreadyfamiliar with Anonymous4 this would be a great place to start.We welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments should besent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 BathurstSt., Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also encourageyou to visit our website www.thewholenote.comwhere you can find added featuresincluding direct links to performers, composersand record labels, “buy buttons” foron-line shopping and additional, expandedand archival reviews.—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comVOCALDowland in DublinMichael Slattery; La NefATMA ACD2 2650Was DowlandIrish or English? Wewill probably neverknow but it hasnot stopped tenorMichael Slatteryfrom working withLa Nef in givingsome of Dowland’s compositions “a simple,Celtic flavour.” Slattery in turn looked fora drone sound to accompany himself. Hefound it in the shruti box associated withIndian prayers …The contrasts in this selection emerge early;the second track, Now, O Now, a stalwartof Elizabethan farewells, is sung unchangedbut its musical accompaniment is composedby Slattery and La Nef! Behold a WonderHere is slightly altered — slowed down — butagain the accompaniment is far from thecourts of Europe.This is no conventional recital ofDowland. Some of his songs are performedas purely instrumental pieces — but effectively.Fine Knacks for Ladies is one such;its setting would grace any Elizabethanball. And then there are those thoughtful,introspective and melancholy songs forwhich Dowland is most often rememberedwhich are included despite the artists’ aimof “lightening up” his music. Come HeavySleep is performed by Slattery with thedignity its words deserve, equally respectfullyaccompanied by flute, lute, cittern andviol da gamba — there are some songs (HisGolden Locks is another) that can neverbe changed.Tenors are often the unsung heroes ofDowland’s music, overshadowed by bass,soprano or countertenor parts. Whether ornot listeners approve of the arrangementshere, Martin Slattery’s tenor voice excels.—Michael SchwartzDuettiPhilippe Jaroussky; Max Emanuel Cencic;Les Arts Florissants; William ChristieVirgin Classics 5099907094323Les ArtsFlorissants datefrom 1979. FounderWilliam Christiehas identified two ofthe finest youngercountertenors,Philippe Jarousskyand Max EmanuelCencic, and devoted a whole CD to 24 duettifrom the Italian Baroque. It is encouragingthat many of the composers included arebeing rediscovered. There is, for example,a magnificent stately quality to the openingpiece, Pietoso nume arcier, a duet byGiovanni Bononcini.Longest of the tracks is the eightminuteduet Quando veggo un’usignolo byFrancesco Bartolomeo Conti. Demonstratingthe countertenors’ skills at their most testing,its dialogue is a clever “echoing” of the twosets of lyrics, in turn accompanied by thebaroque ensemble at its most expressive.Two further composers, Nicola Porporaand Benedetto Marcello, supply five andeight more duets, respectively. While relativelyshort in duration, they combine cheerfulnessand interpretative difficulty and are,perhaps, a fine introduction to the Italian68 thewholenote.com April 1 – May 7, 2012

aroque countertenor. The informative notesdescribing the importance of each composerreinforce this.Sometimes the tracks feature one singeronly, but there is accompaniment in variouscombinations of violin, cello, lute, theorbo,harpsichord and organ. This is demonstratedclearly in Philippe Jaroussky’s performanceof Francesco Mancini’s Quanto mai sariapiu bello.Full credit to William Christie for researchingthe composers, realising the talentof both countertenors and selecting piecesthat so amply display their skills.—Michael SchwartzRememberGuelph Chamber Choir; Gerald NeufeldIndependent Gcc2011-6www.guelphchamberchoir.caIn this fifthrecording by theGuelph ChamberChoir, we are invitedto rememberloved ones and payhomage to our countryand the roots ofthose who built itthrough choral arrangements of favorite folksongs, spirituals and art songs. As directorGerald Neufeld writes in the informativeand well-researched liner notes, “Music isa potent medium for remembering our past,our joys and sorrows, and those we love.Songs marry poetry to music’s passion, thusconjuring a strong potion that takes us backin time to where we feel the thoughts of abygone era.”The title track is delivered by the choirwith all the heartfelt sentiment and sensitivityChristina Rossetti’s famous verseand Steven Chatman’s setting deserves.Similarly, Kurt Besner’s Prayer of theChildren is deeply moving in its portrayalof war’s innocent victims. A Canadian landscapeis evoked beautifully through EleanorDaly’s Paradise (Song of Georgian Bay)and we experience all the thrilling soundsof the railway in Jeff Smallman’s setting ofE. Pauline Johnson’s Prairie Greyhounds.Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds and JamesGordon’s Frobisher Bay work especially wellin choral arrangement.The men’s chorus demonstrates its acappella strength and range admirably inStan Rogers’ Northwest Passage. A nodto the underground railroad is given withthe inclusion of escape song Wade in theWater followed by Worthy to be Praisedwhich (though some of the syncopations andhemiolas could benefit from a more naturaldelivery) provides a rousing finale to a wellcraftedprogram.—Dianne WellsKarl Jenkins – The PeacemakersVarious ArtistsEMI Classics 0 84378 2While this discwas recorded in studio,it is of note thatover 300 musiciansand a full housegathered this pastJanuary at CarnegieHall to participate inthe live premiere ofThe Peacemakers by Karl Jenkins, offered aspart of Martin Luther King Day celebrations.The 17-movement work includes textsby Shelley, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, TerryWaite, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer,St. Francis of Assisi, Sir Thomas Malory,Rumi, Nelson Mandela, Bahá’u’lláh andAnne Frank. As witnessed in previousworks (Adiemus comes to mind), Jenkins hasalways proved masterful at enhancing thewestern orchestra/chorus with ethnic instrumentation.In many movements of this work,birthplaces of these messengers of peace areevoked by use of, for example, the bansuriand tabla for Gandhi, shakuhachi andtemple bells with the Dalai Lama, Africanpercussion in the Mandela and a jazzy bluesaccompaniment to Martin Luther King.Uilleann pipes and bodhrán drums complete“A Celtic prayer.”While a profound sense of devotion andmeditative reverence is felt throughout themusical settings, this is offset by momentsof playful lightness (somewhat like the “Inparadisum” movement of Jenkins’ Requiem).Jenkins’ music is full of hope, remindingand inspiring the listener to once again,against all odds, embrace the spirit of peace.—Dianne WellsConcert Note: On April 28 the OakhamHouse Choir of Ryerson University andToronto Sinfonietta present “Better Is PeaceThan Always War” which includes KarlJenkins’ The Armed Man – A Mass forPeace and works by Penderecki, Bacewicz,Zielinski and Zebrowski.classicAL & beyONDSomething Almost Being Said –Music of Bach and SchubertSimone DinnersteinSony Classical 88697998242For someone whosupposedly “brokeall the rules” whenit came to preparingfor a concertcareer, New Yorkbasedpianist SimoneDinnerstein hasbeen remarkablysuccessful. She dropped out of the JuilliardSchool at 18 (only to return later) and by30 she had neither management nor bookings.Nevertheless, her talents ultimatelytriumphed, and she has been able to achievewhat she calls “a normal life” with internationalappearances to great acclaim.Her latest recording, featuring the firsttwo partitas by Bach, and Schubert’s FourImpromptus Op.90, is titled SomethingAlmost Being Said, the name taken from apoem by Philip Larkin. Dinnerstein explainsin the notes that, in her opinion, the nonvocalmusic of both composers has a strongnarrative element to it, with a resultingeffect of “wordless voices singing textlessmelodies.” While her full command of themusic is evident from the opening of the cminor partita, this is decidedly Bach witha difference. Her approach is convincinglylyrical, proving that Bach need not be playedwith metronomic rigidity, as is sometimesthe case. Indeed, the melodic lines of suchmovements as the Sarabande in the secondpartita, or the Praeludium in the first, havea wonderful vocal-like quality to them fullyin keeping with the premise of the recording.This declamatory quality is further evidentin the four impromptus, coupled at timeswith a mood of quiet introspection. Bravurafor its own sake is refreshingly absent; instead,Dinnerstein chooses to let the musicspeak for itself.In all, this is a fine recording from someonewho manages a balanced life — andindeed, balance is a key issue here. Beautifulmusic elegantly played — we can hardly askfor more.—Richard HaskellHenri-Paul Sicsic en recital à ParisHenri-Paul SicsicIndependentwww.henripaulsicsic.comHenry-Paul Sicsic,Canadian pianist andprofessor at the U ofT Faculty of Music,is a remarkable artistwho “thrills audiencesacross NorthAmerica and Europewith his intense,passionate and imaginative performances.”He is not short of impressive credentialsand there is a thread that connects him tothe legendary Alfred Cortot via his teacherJuliette Audibert-Lambert who herself hadbeen a student of the master. Sicsic’s remarkableinternational concert career and thetop prizes he’s won are well documented onhis website but we must emphasize also hisachievements as a teacher and his uncannyability to inspire the younger generation.His second solo recording was done inthe aptly named Salon Cortot in Paris. Thisrecent disc has been issued to commemoratethe 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.About half of the program is devoted toChopin, short pieces of which the passionateNocturne in C Minor of brooding intensityfollowed by the sunny, brilliant and bravuraValse in A-Flat Major stand out. Thecentrepiece is the famous Piano Sonata No.2April 1 – May 7, 2012thewholenote.com 69

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