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Volume 18 Issue 6 - March 2013

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  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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Old Wine, New Bottles |

Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedBRUCE SURTEESAlthough Gramophone Magazinerecently determined that Amsterdam’sConcertgebouw Orchestra was the finestorchestra in the world, othersurveys have given that honourto the more highly esteemedVienna Philharmonic. Unlikethe Concertgebouw andother orchestras, the ViennaPhilharmonic does not engagea permanent conductor. Itdraws its members from theorchestra of the Vienna StateOpera and its home is Vienna’sillustrious Musikverein wheremost of its recordings aremade. TV viewers around theworld know the Musikvereinthanks to the annual telecast ofthe Philharmonic’s New Year’sDay concert.The Vienna PhilharmonicOrchestra is a democratic, selfgoverningbody founded in 1842by composer Otto Nicolai (TheMerry Wives of Windsor) andsince then the greatest conductorsof their time have stood beforethem, from Hans Richter, GustavMahler, Felix Weingartner andWilhelm Furtwangler to ArturoToscanini, Bruno Walter, Clemens Kraussand George Szell. The list goes on to includethe maestros who are heard in the WienerPhilharmoniker Symphony Edition fromDeutsche Grammophon (4790718, 50 CDs)containing 95 symphonies by 13 composers.In June 1984, James Levine recordedMozart symphonies 28, 29 and 30, initiatingwhat would become a complete cycle. Ayear later, in June 1985, he set down six more,with further sessions in December 1986,December 1987 and June 1989, with the finaltwo sessions in February and December 1990.Levine was George Szell’s apprentice inCleveland in 1964 and 1965 and assistant conductoruntil 1970. Levine absorbed Szell’scharacteristically crisp articulation and clarityof the melodic line, qualities that serveMozart well. Unavailable for many years,the return to active duty of this completecycle, occupying the first 11 discs, is morethan welcome.Discs 12 and 13 are devoted to Haydn’ssymphonies 88 to 92 and 105conducted by Karl Böhm whosetraditional Kapellmeister elegancewill charm those wholook for such music making(1972/73 recordings).Discs 14 to 18 find the nineBeethoven symphonies dividedup between Bernstein (1, 3 and9); Abbado (2 and 4); Kleiber(5 and 7) and Böhm (6 and 8); judiciouslyallocated, as demonstratedby the selection of Böhm’s perfectrealization of the “Pastoral”from 1971.Discs 19 and 20 containSchubert’s 3, 5, 8 and 9 withKleiber, Böhm and Gardinerwhile disc 21 has Gardiner againin Mendelssohn’s 4 and 5.Discs 22 and 23 have Bernstein’sfinal recorded interpretations ofSchumann from 1984/85 revealingan understanding and commitmentbeyond him ten years earlierin New York. Discs 24 to 26 findthe Brahms symphonies allocatedto Bernstein (1, 2), Giulini (3) andKleiber (4). No arguments here. Discs 27 to 32have six of Bruckner’s nine, with three givento Abbado (1, 4 and 5), Karajan’s swan song7 (1989) and 8 (1988), with the 9th underGiulini. Discs 33 to 35 have Karajan’s arguablyfinest performances of Tchaikovsky’s 4, 5 and6, all from 1984.Discs 36 and 37 offer only four of Dvořak’snine: unexpectedly by Myung-Whun Chung(6, 7) and Maazel (8, 9). Discs 38 to 47 offer analmost complete Mahler cycle: Abbado (2, 3,4 and 9), Bernstein (5, 8 and the Adagio from10) and Boulez gets the 6th.Discs 48 to 50 are given to LeonardBernstein conducting astoundingperformances of Sibelius 1, 2, 5 and 7 andfinally the 6th and 9th by Shostakovich.Both Sibelius and Shostakovich receiveperformances of a lifetime, no ifs, ands orbuts. A supercharged, over-the-top coda tothis exemplary, ridiculously inexpensivecollection.We know Menahem Pressler primarily asthe pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio, the groupthat he founded in 1955 which soon becameone of the most respected chamber groupsin history. He also performed and recordedoutside the trio as a soloist and in concertedworks. The trio disbanded in 2008 butPressler continues to perform as soloist andaccompanist. DOREMI has issued a set of CDsfeaturing Pressler’s Chopin recorded c.1960(DHR-7989/90, 2 stereo CDs). Heard are threeworks with orchestra, the two concertos andthe Andante Spianato and Grande PolonaiseBrilliante, Op.22 together with three polonaisesand five mazurkas. Pressler wasevidently in top form on each occasion and wewitness his Chopin to be expressive and eloquentwith touches of refreshing originality.The sound is pleasantly warm and quiteconvincing due to the tube-based electronicsused for the meticulous transfers. I mustcomment that, as in the original LPs, thesound in the three concerted works (all withthe Vienna State Opera Orchestra) tends tofavour the piano. This is volume two in a seriesand I am informed that volumes threeand four contain Pressler’s entire Mozart,Prokofiev and Shostakovich recordingsincluding concertos.When Classical Barbra was issued in 1976a few “classical music lovers” expressedrighteousness indignation at the thought ofBarbra Streisand even attempting to perform“their” repertoire. Claus Ogerman made thearrangements and conducted the ColumbiaSymphony Orchestra. Ten tracks wereissued on the LP and then on a CD whichhas never left the catalogue. It is now exactly40 years since these songs were recordedand Columbia has taken the opportunityto remaster the ten originals and add twounreleased songs (Sony 92255-2).No one is claiming that any one of these isthe best version but Streisand fans will enjoy40 minutes of hearing her distinctive voice inunusual and attractive, evocative repertoireincluding chansons of Debussy, Cantaloubeand Fauré and lieder of Wolf, Schumann andSchubert among other offerings.SOMETHING IN THE AIR continued from previous pagereed techniques may be expected fromGustafsson, whose outstanding free improvisationsare on display in many jazz ensembles.However those who only know Stetson fromhis day job with the pop band Arcade Firemay be shocked and/or impressed.For other instances on how completesound pictures can be painted with two percussionsets, two electric guitars and eventwo soprano saxophones, see the continuationof this column at thewholenote.com.That is where Ken Waxman’s review of O’ TheEmotions’ CD, Attaca, may also be found.POT POURRIThis issue’s POT POURRI section includesLesley Mitchell-Clarke’s reviews ofMomento, Michael Ciufo’s “stirring andmemorable debut recording,” and CharlesDi Raimondo’s “delightful and expertly produced”debut CD, Passione. As well, AllanPulker reviews flutist Ron Korb’s 16th soloCD, Europa, where he finds “Korb’s affinityfor Celtic music particularly appealing.”Online at thewholenote.com.76 thewholenote.com March 1 – April 7, 2013

Centaur Recordshome to Steven StarykVolume 1 -Major Violin Concertiwith OrchestraCRC3186/3187Various composers,Violin GemsCRC3203Bach,Violin SonatasPartita ConcertiCRC3211Prokofiev,Concerto #1Sonatas 1 & 2CRC3222what the critics say!“An extraordinary musician who I can count among theliving on one hand”- American Record Guide“His playing was irreproachable – technically, tonally andmusically”- New York Times“Staryk mesmerizes from start to finish”- The Montreal Gazette“Listening to Staryk’s performance on this superb disc,one comes away with a feeling of awe and wonder at thesheer mastery. Here is the Violinistic wizardry”- Stereo Review USA“Staryk is among the great ones”- Gramophone“The man’s control is Demonic. His playing is reminiscent ofHeifetz” - Best of the Month – Hi Fi Stereo Review“The King of Concertmasters”- The StradNo Violinist makes a purer sound”- Chicago Daily NewsAvailable at L’Atelier Grigorian: 70 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto Ontario, M5R 1B9or

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