7 years ago

Volume 18 Issue 5 - February 2013

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Soprano
  • Orchestra

tion with the score to

tion with the score to the film CrouchingTiger, Hidden Dragon. The Concerto, whichemploys material from Dun’s opera MarcoPolo, is especially effective in its extendedpercussion cadenzas and its blending ofvocalization with instrumental accents. Withnods to Stravinsky, Bartók and Lutosławskiwhile referencing his Asian heritage, thiswork is very effective.We welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments should besent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 Bathurst St.,Toronto ON, M5S 2R4. We also encourage youto visit our website whereyou can find added features including directlinks to performers, composers and recordlabels, and additional, expanded and archivalreviews.—David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comVOCALHandel – Giulio Cesare in EgittoMarie-Nicole Lemieux; Karina Gauvin;Romina Basso; Emoke Barath;Il Complesso Barocco; Alan CurtisNaïve OP30536!!Still rememberingthe brilliant pairingof soprano KarinaGauvin and contraltoMarie-Nicole Lemieuxwith “Il ComplessoBarocco” on the CD ofHandel duets Streamsof Pleasure, one isoverjoyed at the prospect of hearing themtogether as the main characters of a full (overthree hours) Handel opera. This is one ofHandel’s best and the performance is nothingshort of glorious! Lemieux is superb atportraying Julius Caesar’s commanding presenceas is Gauvin with Cleopatra’s seductivewit and bravado. The two handle the characters’romantic moments equally well. Forexample, Lemieux is a veritable cyclonespewing Caesar’s fierce vengeance in “Queltorrente,” but demonstrates such playful tendernessin “Se in fiorito,” where the composerprovides a delightful interplay between thesinger and the violin (as a little bird). Gauvincaptures Cleopatra’s sensual nature beautifullyin “Tutto puo donna” and “Venere bella”while her controlled and softly sustainedtones characterize a sense of resignation in“Piangerò.”There is some marvellous casting of thesecond leads, notably contralto RominaBasso who evokes the depth and regal bearingperfect for a noblewoman in mourningwho is, nonetheless, pursued by no fewerthan three suitors in her time of grief.Countertenor Filippo Mineccia displays animpishly evil tone in his portrayal of the murderousPtolemy. The orchestra has some greatmoments, with sinfonias enhancing the sensualityof Cleopatra’s staged appearance inAct II as well as the triumphal entrance duringthe finale.—Dianne WellsHaydn – The CreationAmanda Forsythe; Keith Jameson; KevinDeas; Boston Baroque; Martin PearlmanLinn Records CKD 401!!Although TheCreation was a greatsuccess when it wasfirst performed, itwas almost forgottenby the end of the19th century, outsideVienna at least. Thefirst recording datesfrom 1949; now there are about 70 recordingsavailable. They divide into two groups:those with modern instruments and symphonyorchestras and, on the other hand,performances with period instruments thatare attentive to late 18th-century performancestyle such as this CD. Tafelmusik recordedthe work in 1993. I like the soloists on thatrecording (especially the soprano, AnnMonoyios) but the conducting by Bruno Weilis unimaginative.By contrast, Martin Pearlman’s conductinghas the right momentum. The soloists arevery good. The tenor, Keith Jameson, hasthe right lyricism. The soprano, AmandaForsythe, sings with lightness; yet her voiceis full and warm. The bass-baritone, KevinDeas, sings with a great deal of vibrato in amanner that might seem more appropriatefor Porgy and Bess or the Brahms Requiem,both of which are in his repertoire, but that isless important than the power and the sonoritythat he brings to the part. Just listen to hisaccount of the dangerous creeping worm inPart II, a premonition of what will destroy thebliss achieved at the end of the work. If youare looking for a historically informed performancewith period instruments which alsoshows passion and drama, I would recommendthis version.—Hans de GrootFind Hans de Groot’stake on Leonardo Vinci’sArtaserse with a fivecountertenor cast DreamsPhilippe Sly; Michael McMahonAnalekta AN 2 9836!!This is bass-baritonePhilippe Sly’sfirst recording forAnalekta. It’s a wellchosenprogram andpresents him withseveral stylistic challengesthat he handlesimpressively.Every young singer needs to conquer therepertoire standards, so it’s no surprise tofind Sly singing the Schumann Dichterliebe,Op.48. Here Sly captures the essence ofHeine’s poems so well that we understandwhy they inspired Schumann and othersto song writing. Wonderfully supported byaccompanist Michael McMahon, Sly is free toengage his vocal line with the piano to createthe kind of partnership the composerintended. The happy product of this is whatevery lieder performing duo seeks — thosemoments of indescribable oneness where separateparts cease to exist. Sly and McMahonachieve this many times throughout this16-song cycle, but no more convincingly thanin “Allnächtlich in Traume.”The Guy Ropartz settings of six Heinepoems call for a very different approachreflecting almost a century of art song evolution.Sly is very comfortable moving fromSchumann into the more modern Frenchstyle and honours the same poet’s muse witha new musical and textual language. Neverdemanding much of the chesty operatic voice,the Ropartz songs show the lighter, trulylovely mid and upper range of Sly’s voice.The disc’s most interesting tracks are theThree Tennyson Songs by British composerJonathan Dove. Written for Sly after their firstmeeting in Banff in 2009, Dove’s songs seemperfectly suited for Sly’s voice, which soundsmore at home in these contemporary worksthan anywhere else on the disc. They are,among other things, a reminder of how wonderfullysuitable the English language can befor art song.—Alex BaranStrauss – ArabellaEmily Magee; Genia Kuhmeier;Tomasz Konieczny; Michael Schade;Vienna State Opera; Franz Welser-MostElectric Picture EPC03DVD!!The creative sparkbetween a composerand a librettistcan result in masterpiecesand lastingand memorable collaborations.Da Ponteand Mozart, Piaveand Verdi, Gilbertand Sullivan; and, ofcourse, Hofmannsthaland Strauss. The twohit it off after Strausssaw Hofmannsthal’s Electra in 1906. “Yourstyle is so very similar to mine!” enthused thecomposer. “We were born for each other.”There were magical projects for the twomen, who corresponded frequently untilHofmannsthal’s death. The obvious one is DerRosenkavalier, easily the duo’s best operaand their most lasting legacy. In Arabella, thesomewhat familiar device of a young, beautifularistocrat trying to marry the right manto prop up the family’s sagging fortunes getscomplicated by a bit of “Shakespearean”cross-dressing and lover-swapping. This par-54 February 1 – March 7, 2013

ticular staging is worth seeing not just for thefine singing, but also superb acting by theprincipals. Tomasz Konieczny as Mandryka isevery director’s dream of a singing actor andEmily Magee as Arabella successfully defiesstereotypes of youth and beauty — no suspensionof disbelief is needed. Genia Kuehmeieris particularly touching as the younger sisterZdenka, forced to appear dressed as aman. For the writing duo, with Arabella theViennese magic was back. As Strauss wrotein his condolences to Hofmannsthal’s widow,“No one will ever replace him for me or forthe world of music!”—Robert Tomas“Shivers of pleasure” says Janos Gardonyiof a DVD of the young Verdi’s fourth opera,I Lombardi. And “An early contender forbest of 2013” says Robert Tomas of thisTeatro Real Madrid Tchaikovsky – Iolanta/Stravinsky – Persephone DVD. Both reviewsare at & PERIOD PERFORMANCEAll in a Garden Green –A Renaissance CollectionToronto Consort; David FallisMarquis MAR 81515!!This CD comprisesa double re-release.Mariners andMilkmaids is a tributeto some of the stockcharacters of 17th centuryEnglish balladsand dances. Its breakdownof 11 anonymouspieces and eight from the seminal EnglishDancing Master by John and Henry Playfordbears this out.Toronto Consort is highly imaginativein its selection and very few of the tracksare those old favourites often encounteredin early music compilations. Come AshoreJolly Tar is a spirited interpretation whichwould grace any Celtic celebration with itsexuberant violin playing and percussion,as would The Sailor Laddie. More thoughtfulbut no less intense is Gilderoy: one singlesout Laura Pudwell’s solo mezzo-soprano.One also notes the confident way in whichToronto Consort’s artistic director David Fallisdefeats the Spanish Armada in In EightyEight — and Queen Anne’s enemies in theRecruiting Officer!The Toronto Consort finds time to showcaseits soloists. Katherine Hill (soprano)sings of being The Countrey Lasse, accom-panied only by Terry McKenna’s lute. AlisonMelville’s recorder and flute playing excel inAn Italian Rant and Waltham Abbey, whichreminds us of the complex techniques shedraws on for the virtuosic English Nightingaleby Jacob van Eyck.The latter is found on the second CD, OLusty May. This is more a celebration of renaissancemusic as a whole, dipping into thecontinental European repertoire, and lessdependent on anonymous popular pieces.There is a real sophistication to Allonsau Vert Boccage by Guillaume Costeley,each of the four singers enjoying their ownprominent part. The pure exuberance ofThoinot Arbeau’s Jouissance immediatelyfollows — could there have been a more appropriatetitle for this tune? The continentalpieces make their mark — Laura Pudwell inLa terre n’agueres glacée, Giovanni Bassano’sFrais et Gaillard with Alison Melville risingto the challenge of some intricate baroquerecorder fingering, and Meredith Hall’s soloQuand ce beau printemps je voy.William Byrd’s All in a Garden Green is themost courtly English piece, its divisions bearinglittle resemblance to the plaintive tune setto words for lovers and, later, English CivilWar activists. Meredith Hall breathes (bird)life into This Merry, Pleasant Spring, whilean animated quintet urges us to See, see theshepherds’ queen.Buy these CDs for anyone new to earlymusic — and for your own sheer delight!—Michael SchwartzConcert note: Toronto Consort presentsthe Canadian premiere of Francesco Cavalli’s1640 Italian opera The Loves of Apollo &Daphne February 15 and 16 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.Grounds for pleasure?Michael Schwartz alsoreviews Division-Musick —English duos for viol andlute at & BEYONDMedtner; Mussorgsky; ProkofievGeorgy!!Laureates of theHonens InternationalPiano Competition arefascinating to followas they begin to maketheir way in the world.The competition isa prestigious careerlauncher and offerswide public exposure as well as the promiseof a performance recording on which to builda growing discography.It’s easy to understand why Russian GeorgyTchaidze emerged victorious from the 2009crop of gifted competitors. On this, hisfirst major recording, he plays with articulateclarity and an enormously expressivetechnique, and considering his youth, hisinterpretive maturity is truly surprising.Recorded at the Banff Centre in May 2012,Tchaidze plays Prokofiev, Mussorgsky andthe somewhat lesser known Nicolai Medtner.The four Medtner Fairy Tales, Op.34 are adiverse and well-crafted collection of programmaticworks. They demand much oftheir performer, especially the final one ofthe set where Tchaidze succeeds in makingMedtner sound more of a modernist thaneven he may have realized.Moving from the poetry of Medtner tothe intellectual discipline of his contemporaryProkofiev, Tchaidze is fully at ease in theSonata No.4 in C Minor, Op.29. He seems,in some way, to understand the music betterthan the composer himself and to conveythis youthful confidence quite convincingly,never pushing this understated compositionbeyond credibility — even in the brief buthighly charged final movement.Mussorgsky’s Pictures are so well knownand frequently recorded that including themon a first CD is a courageous choice. Tchaidzetruly makes “Pictures” an exhibition.For a closer look at this amazing youngpianist, watch his several YouTube interviewsand performances.—Alex BaranMore to discover! Daniel Foley reviewsan Invencia Piano Duo recording of FlorentSchmitt’s Complete Original Works forPiano Duet and Duo 1; Roger Knox looksat two Naxos world premiere releases ofthe music of Alfredo Casella; and BruceSurtees has high praise for Schumann atPier 2 – The Symphonies for “finally anddecisively disproving the myth that hewas an inept orchestrator.” All online & CONTEMPORARYAmerican MavericksSan Francisco Symphony;Michael Tilson ThomasSFSMedia SFS 0056!!The lion’s share ofthis captivating discof American music isdevoted to two majorworks by the innovativeHenry Cowell(1897–1965), an earlyproponent of whatcame to be known asFebruary 1 – March 7, 2013 55

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)