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Volume 19 Issue 8 - May 2014

  • Text
  • Choir
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Concerts
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Choral
  • Singers
  • Festival
Includes the 2014 Canary Pages directory of choirs.

Rise Atone andBlack’s

Rise Atone andBlack’s San Miguelare imbued withluminous depths.The membersof the DavidRubel Quartet areall at the outsetof their careers. Products of Jazz Studiesat the University of Toronto, tenor saxophonistRubel, pianist Winston Matsushita,bassist Malcolm Connor and drummerRobin Claxton range in age from the early tomid-20s. On Into the Dark (davidrubelmusic.com), Rubel’s current emphases are a strongmelodic focus and repeated modal figures,delivered with a rich tenor sound over infectiousrhythms, including 5/4 and 7/4. It’sengaging, well-played music with a strongsense of mood, though at this stage that veryconsistency threatens at times to turn it intobackground music. The highlight is Matthew,with Rubel adding sudden, fluting, upperregister swirls to vary his approach.More On The Web!Visit thewholenote.com for somefresh reviews that missed themagazine including: Obara International(Jazz), Gershwin Porgy andBess (Vocal), Les Jardins de MonsieurRameau (Early music)Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedBRUCE SURTEESLeonard Bernstein had a long career asconductor, composer, pianist, lecturer andeducator. We witnessed his growth in everyaspect through his recordings, from 78s toCDs and SACDs and visually from Beta toVHS tapes to DVDs. The recordings began in1945 when RCA Victor initiated a series ofAmerican music played and conducted byBernstein. In 1953 American Decca issuedperformances of popular symphonies accompaniedBernstein’s spoken analysis and thencame the steady procession of his seeminglyboundless repertoire recorded by Columbiamostly with his own New York Philharmonicbut also with the London Symphony and theIsrael Philharmonic.He made his television debut onNovember 14, 1954 on CBS’ Omnibus with ananalysis of the first movement of Beethoven’sFifth Symphony with a grand copy of thefirst page from the score painted on the floor.The orchestra, members of Toscanini’s thenrecently dissolved NBC Symphony, playeddiscarded passages from Beethoven’s workbook.Fascinating, yes, but there were only sixmore of Bernstein’s inspired creations, passedbetween CBS and NBC and finishing at ABCin 1958.He expended a lot of time and energy onand took much pride in his memorable YoungPeople’s Concerts that ran on CBS-TV from1958 to 1972-73 with such subjects as “Whatdoes music mean?” “What is a Concerto?”“Humour in Music” and “Berlioz Takesa Trip.”In 1957 he was appointed music directorof the New York Philharmonic and in 1958began his tenure that lasted until 1969 whenhe resigned, declaring that it took up toomuch time and that he would never againtake on the role of music director of anyorchestra. He continued to conduct themfrom time to time and make further recordings.He was named conductor laureate.In 1972 DG recorded the Met productionof Bizet’s Carmen with Marilyn Horneand James McCracken. It was Bernstein’sfirst recording for DG and by the way, itwon a Grammy. Off to a good start. Fromthen on he recorded mainly for DG, occasionallyreturning to Sony and on one ortwo occasions appeared on Decca, EMI orPhilips. DG was there for his final concertin Tanglewood on August 19, 1990 whenhe conducted Britten’s Four Sea Interludesand the Beethoven Seventh with theBoston Symphony Orchestra. He died onOctober 14 and New Yorkers lined the streetsof Manhattan for the funeral procession andconstruction workers were seen to removetheir hats and call “Goodbye, Lennie.”The BernsteinCollection VolumeOne (DeutscheGrammophon 4791047) contains all hisaudio recordings forDG by composers Ato L. There are 59 CDsand one DVD, packagedin a sturdy LP sized box, two and ahalf inches deep. Each disc is individuallysleeved in a replica of the original art workbut without the liner notes on the back; theywould have been too small to read anyhow.Instead there are track listings with timingsand recording session data.Bernstein had made studio recordings of allthe Beethoven symphonies with the New YorkPhilharmonic (NYP) for Sony in the early 60sbut there is no question that the sweep andcontinuity of the live versions with the ViennaPhilharmonic (VPO) outclass them in everyway for many reasons. The orchestra has asignature sound that is passed on from playerto player, from one generation to the next. Thesonority of their string sound is nurtured andprotected. The aura of their winds, particularlythe oboe is specific to the VPO. Theburnished brass is legendary. Also Bernsteinhad certainly matured considerably as aconductor and a musician regardless of wherehe conducted. The differences are unmistakableinterpretively and most certainly in thequality and reality of the recorded sound.These evaluations apply equally to the fourBrahms symphonies. The DG years documentedBernstein’s finest music making bothat home and abroad.Although there is no mention of any newremastering, the sound on every disc thatI played is disarmingly real. I went straightto disc 58 to hear a recording of a longtimefavourite that I knew so well, Liszt’sFaust Symphony, the one with the BostonSymphony. I don’t recall the sound beingso compelling and real. It made me veryhappy to be in Symphony Hall where it wasrecorded.There’s lots of Bernstein conductingBernstein, Copland, Ives and Harris, Haydnand Hindemith and the Carmen mentionedabove, plus an interesting DVD of the makingof West Side Story with Te Kanawa, Carreraset al. Check the complete contents of thisLimited Edition set on the DG website,deutschegrammophon.com/us/. TheOmnibus programs and The Young People’sConcerts are available on two DVD sets fromkultur.com.In July 1957 EMIrecorded NathanMilstein playing theGoldmark ViolinConcerto No.1 withthe PhilharmoniaOrchestra conductedby Harry Blech.Milstein championedthis ravishing concerto when it was virtuallyunknown. This stereo recording was reissuedin 1995 by Testament in a faultless and satisfyingtransfer (SBT1047). The reel-to-reelstereo tapes from those sessions have passedinto the hands of Praga Digitals who haveprepared an SACD version coupled with theBrahms Violin Concerto conducted by AnatoleFistoulari (Praga PRD/DSD 350105). The DSDremastering of the original tapes has producedambient recordings of unsurpassed reality, asclear and present as one could wish.84 | May 1, 2014 – June 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

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