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Volume 18 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2013

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drunken soldier), his

drunken soldier), his voice perfectly suited forRossini’s difficult tessituras. No less successfulis Canadian baritone Gino Quilico (Figaro)who proves to be a worthy son of his famousfather, with a velvety, resilient and acrobaticlyrical baritone. A wonderful bonus in thebasso department is the eminent, now regrettablylate Robert Lloyd, incomparable as DonBasilio, but Carlos Feller certainly doesn’tdisappoint as the hilarious though pitiful Dr.Bartolo either.—Janos GardonyiEARLY MUSIC & PERIOD PERFORMANCEJanitsch – Sonate da camera Volume 3Notturna; Christopher PalametaATMA ACD2 2626!!Johann GottliebJanitsch (1708–1763)was a court musicianfor Frederick theGreat. As a composer,he embraced thecontrapuntal style ofthe day in his intricatechamber music.Here Notturna, under the leadership of oboistChristopher Palameta, performs five of hisquadro sonatas.The works are complex as the counterpointweaves between the voices with challengingprogressions. The ensemble performs with aclear balance between the instruments and adriving group rhythm. Each member of theensemble is a “star” as the works demand adetailed focus on each note and a sense ofthe longer line. This is especially evident inQuadro in B-Flat Major, Op.3, No.1. In thisworld premiere recording, a rapid changein harmonies in the first five measures foreshadowsa fascinating and technically difficultwork that seems to embrace the composer’sself-imposed challenge to expand hismusical boundaries. In contrast, Op.1, No.5in C Major is a slightly lighter work, and isthe only quartet to use an obbligato cello. Theopening dancelike Larghetto alla Sicilianais convincing with its deliberate pizzicatocontinuo articulation. The second movementFugue from Op.7, No.5 in C Minor for oboe,violin, viola and continuo is an aural treat. Atjust over two minutes in duration, Palameta’soboe performance is especially colourful in itsdetail and ability to cement the parts together.The balanced performances make thisNotturna release one to be enjoyed time andtime again.—Tiina KiikCouperin – Concerts RoyauxClavecin en Concert;Luc BeauséjourAnalekta AN 2 9993!!Louis XIV summoned Couperin to playfor him nearly every Sunday; the worksperformed in 1714–1715 were titled ConcertsRoyaux and werepublished in 1722.Couperin left theinstrumentation ofthe concerts to themusicians’ discretion,a traditionalRenaissance practice,even if the movementstake the form of the traditional Frenchbaroque suite, no doubt under the Sun King’sinfluence.From the First concert, the flute, oboeand bassoon lend a different quality to whatwould otherwise have been strings-dominatedpieces. The woodwind instruments areprominent in the prélude and sarabande,where they impart a melancholy quality, andin the gavotte and gigue where the result is amore rustic feel.In the Second concert, the strings makethemselves felt much more, notably in thegentle quality of the air tendre. The last movement,échos, restores the balance in favour ofthe woodwind, in a dignified baroque style.The Third and Fourth concerts royauxcombine some lively performances foroboe, bassoon and flute, most notably in theMusette of the Third. The name Allemandefor the second movement of the Thirdbelies its liveliness, even if sarabande graveis an entirely appropriate name for thefourth movement.And then the Fourth, with yet anotherAllemande not living up to its sombre reputation.In fact, both the Courantes whichimmediately follow, and the Rigaudon andforlane en roundeau make this the mostexuberant of the concerts royaux.All in all, an enjoyable collection ofCouperin’s music for his royal master.—Michael SchwartzCLASSICAL & BEYONDHaydn – Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 11Marc-André Hamelin; Les Violons du Roy;Bernard LabadieHyperion CDA67925!!This new offeringfrom Hyperionfeatures Haydn’s three“indubitably genuine”concertos for keyboardand orchestra (HOBXVIII: 3, 4 and 11), anda delightful offeringit is. Performed onmodern piano, strings and winds rather thanon their historical counterparts, the discopens with the popular D Major Concerto,written for “harpsichord or fortepiano” sometimebetween 1779 and 1783. The latest andmost dramatic of the three concertos, itmakes a bold and energetic opening statement.The F Major and G Major concertos,originally written for harpsichord in the1760s, are slightly less effusive works but inthese performances they sparkle with refinedgalanterie.Hamelin’s performance as the pianosoloist is expressive, well considered and fullof humour, tenderness or bravado as befitsthe musical moment at hand. His talent forpaying infinite attention to detail without everlosing sight of the bigger musical picture istruly impressive, exceptionally so in the slowmovements. As we’d expect from Les Violonsdu Roy under the baton of Bernard Labadie,the ensemble playing is detailed, focused andmusical — lots of light when they are in theforefront, and fine shadowing of Hamelinwhen the limelight is his. The teamworkbetween orchestra and soloist is well balancedand amiable. And finally, my kudos to all forthe beautiful distinctions made between thevarious vivaces, allegros and prestos!—Alison MelvilleMozart – Piano Concertos 17 & 27Angela Hewitt; Orchestra da Camera diMantova; Hannu LintuHyperion CDA67919! ! There is a cutelittle story attachedto Mozart’s G MajorConcerto. Apparentlyhe acquired a littlebird, a starling whoquickly picked up therondo theme of thethird movement andsang it day in and day out, adding some of itsown bits to it which pleased Mozart, a birdlover, immensely. No doubt, this helped himcomposing.Canada’s own stellar pianist, AngelaHewitt, chose this and the last, the B-FlatMajor Concerto to follow-up on her previousMozart concerto issue on the distinguishedHyperion label and what a fine recordingthis is. In coupling the G Major, which comesfrom a very happy and successful period ofthe composer’s life with the B-Flat Major, hislast statement in this form, Hewitt traversesa cross section of emotions, from joyfulhappiness to sad resignation and premonitionof death.My own experience with Hewitt’s exceptionalpianism began with Bach and laterwith immense enjoyment of her beautifulset of Chopin Nocturnes (that were probablyeasier to interpret), so she came toMozart relatively late. It was worth the wait.She approaches Mozart like a scholar withexceptional intelligence and a thoroughlysympathetic heart. Her playing has gracefulelegance, impeccable technical prowess; theemotional content is deeply felt and compositionalstructure is fully understood. Theorchestra and the conductor Hannu Lintuare wonderfully compatible and in perfectbalance with the angelic tones of the Hewitt’scelebrated Fazioli piano. The recording issuperlative.—Janos Gardonyi84 | June 7 – September 7, 2013 thewholenote.com

Chopin – ÉtudesJan LisieckiDeutsche Grammophon 4791039!!Young male pianistsall too often trytheir audiences witha few years of brashplaying where speedand volume overshadowtheir muse.Although impressedwith divine keyboardtechnique, one nevertheless waits patientlyfor music to emerge — which it eventually andthankfully does.More rarely, however, comes a young manfor whom impeccable technique is merelya tool in the search for music’s kernel ofmeaning. This is Jan Lisiecki.Since his early public appearances fiveyears ago (in his mid-teens) this youngPolish-Canadian has somehow managed toavoid this testosterone trap. He is capable ofthe most ethereal pianissimos, a blazing andaccurate technique and breathtaking power atthe keyboard.The two dozen Études of Chopin’s Op.10and 25 seem the perfect repertoire for Lisieckiat this point in his career. His playing shiftsconvincingly from transparent lightness toearnest melancholy. His tempi and dynamicsfeel more understood than learned. His owncomments in the CD notes reveal a youngmind with a remarkably mature interpretivegrasp of Chopin’s music. He thinks withhis heart.As impressive as his playing is his recordingtechnique in which each of the Études wasrecorded as a complete “take.” Technologytoday offers performers digital perfectionwith undetectable manipulations ofspeed and other values, but Lisiecki wantedhis audience to have the real thing, start tofinish. He allowed no edits. This speaks to acommendable honesty in performance. Weshould anticipate many years of truly extraordinaryrecordings from this young man. Butwe might also hope that his gift finds expressionin teaching ... we need such mentors.—Alex BaranL’Opera Concertante(Opera transcriptions by Ernest Alder)Trio HochelagaATMA ACD2 2652!!Transcribingarias from thepopular operas ofthe time was one ofthe favourite practicesof 19th-centurycomposers. Thosetranscriptions rangedfrom faithful reductionsto variations, fantasies and potpourris,and were usually done for one or two pianos,trios and quartets. The public enjoyed themore intimate, chamber setting of thesetranscriptions and took pleasure in the idea ofbringing the opera into their salons.Richard Ernest Alder (1853–1904) was aSwiss composer who studied at the ParisConservatory and spent most of his life inFrance. He wrote a number of pieces forpiano, as well as choral and orchestral works.He is being rediscovered today as a transcriberand arranger.This CD features seven of Alder’s trio transcriptionsof the beloved operas by CamilleSaint-Saëns (Samson et Dalila), AmbroiseThomas (Mignon), Daniel-François-EspritAuber (La Muette de Portici), GiacomoMeyerbeer (La Pardon de Ploërmel and LesHuguenots) and Jules Massenet (Le Cid andWerther). The transcriptions are skilfullydone and adopt the same formula consistingof a brief introduction, followed by alternatingsequences of fast and slow segmentsending in a dramatic climax. Even thoughthe composers are different, the music feelslike one cohesive piece. Alder brings out boththe sweetness and the drama in these transcriptions,combining virtuosic practices of19th-century writing with more serene andsonorous parts, while using the craftsmanshipfirmly rooted in the German Romantictradition.Trio Hochelaga (Anne Robert, violin; PaulMarleyn, cello; Stéphane Lemelin, piano) isa distinguished Canadian ensemble whoserepertoire places an emphasis on lesserknown works of French music. Their interpretationof Alder’s transcriptions is playful,sensitive and polished. The ensemble’s useof colours and textures truly captures theromantic essence of these operas.It is not necessary for the listener to knowthe operas that inspired Alder — one can justenjoy the wonderful chamber music on thisCD and, like the 19th-century audience, beentertained by it.—Ivana PopovicMy Lucky LifeChristopher Lee; Jacqueline Goring;Alexa WilksManor House Records MH2125christopherlee.ca!!In recordings offlute music, moreoften than not thefocus is on the technicalskills of theperformer. Torontoflutist ChristopherLee has no need toconcentrate on sucha display; it is evident in all of his work. ThisCD shines a different light. With a few exceptions,for this recording Lee has selectedwell-known arias from operas. I was immediatelyattracted to this CD because it containsa flute and harp rendition of my all-timefavourite operatic aria, “Mon coeur s’ouvre ata voix,” from Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson etDalila. In the opera Dalila seduces Samson sothat he may be captured. All of the emotionof this work is brought to us though thewarm and full-bodied tone of the artist’sflute enhanced by the beautiful counterpointof the harp (Jacqueline Goring). Throughoutthe many rubato passages these two are inperfect synchronism as if they were readingeach other’s emotions. While the violin(Alexa Wilks) plays a lesser role on this CD,it fulfills a significant role in the fabric of thearrangements.Much of the recording contains similarrenditions of familiar arias from the operasof Verdi, Puccini and Weber. The balancecontains incidental music for plays by Griegand Nielsen as well as the familiar serenade“Ständchen” from Schubert’s song cycleSchwanengesang. The disc leads off withGodard’s “Berceuse” from his opera Jocelyn.This is one of those enduring melodies whichhas stood the test of time long after the operaand composer have been forgotten.With the exception of the work by Nielsenall of the arrangements were crafted by Lee.The program notes on the music and theperformers are concise and informative.—Jack MacQuarrieConcert Note: Christopher Lee is one of myriadperformers featured at the Canadian FluteConvention being held in Oakville June 29 toJuly 1 (canadaflute.com/convention).D’Indy – Symphonie sur un Chantmontagnard français; Saugefleurie; MedéeLouis Lortie; Iceland Symphony Orchestra;Rumon GambaChandos CHAN 10760! ! At the time ofwriting, spring hasfinally arrived, so adisc which includesVincent d’Indy’sSymphonie sur unChant montagnardfrançais seems particularlyappropriatein celebration of the season. The disc inquestion is the fifth volume in a series onthe Chandos label presenting music by theParisian-born composer performed by theIceland Symphony under the direction ofRumon Gamba.Born in 1851, d’Indy was a controversialfigure during his lifetime, his strongright-wing political views frequently goingagainst the mainstream. Nevertheless, hewas regarded as a composer of considerablestature, and his eclectic and romanticstyle exerted considerable influence onlater composers, such as Eric Satie andAlbert Roussel.In addition to the Symphonie, withrenowned pianist Louis Lortie as the soloist,the disc also features Saugefleurie, Medée,and the Prélude to Act One of his operaFervaal. The Symphonie is surely one ofd’Indy’s most famous compositions, and istreated here with the joyous spirit it deserves.Based on a folk song from Tourtous, thethewholenote.com June 7 – September 7, 2013 | 85

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