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Volume 19 Issue 9 - June/July/August 2014

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Radford’s Infolding

Radford’s Infolding proposes “a conceptwhere sound and energy move inwards,converge […] where intensity is created asevents fold inwards wave upon wave…”Thework is scored for soprano saxophone, violin,piano, percussion, live signal processing andeight-channel sound. Another work withelevated inspiration, Schultz’s Ikos – kun tu‘bar ba uses texts created by the composer,meditations on light based on Orthodoxliturgy and Tibetan religious philosophy. Theextended composition is scored for soprano(recitation of the texts, often buried in theoverall textures), tenor saxophone, percussion,harp, piano and processed audio. Tan’sUnRavel, like Eagle’s Resound, uses just oneinstrument and electronic processing, in thisinstance a virtuosic violin line performedby David Seidle. As in many of Tan’s worksthe computer is used to extend the rangeand textures of the instrumental line bothVOCALBel Raggio – Rossini AriasAleksandra Kurzak; Sinfonia Varsovia; PierGiorgio MorandiDecca 478 3553Now here is a discthat once and forall will put a stopto people moaningthat the “golden ageof singing is over.”Those lucky enoughto have attendedL’Elisir d’Amore inDecember 2012 at London’s Covent Gardenwith Aleksandra Kurzak (and Roberto Alagna)or even before, in 2008, at Kurzak’s sensationaldebut there in Rossini’s Matilda diShabran will certainly protest vehemently.The young Polish coloratura non-plus-ultrais following the footsteps of the great JoanSutherland with her opening number BelRaggio lusinghier here, the phenomenal ariafrom Semiramide – and to put it mildly ifshe (Dame Joan) were still alive, she’d betterwatch out for her job. Without a doubt “hervoice is stupendous, firm, crystal clear incoloratura, beautifully rich in legato” – as TheTimes of London raves.This is indeed a stunning recording, onethat you’d want never to end and to listento over and over again. There are nine ariasof immense difficulty, emotional scope anda vocal range extending from strong deepnotes into the stratosphere of shattering highnotes, which unfortunately I cannot identify(not having perfect pitch). The hair-raisingRossini fioraturas she sails through lightly asa feather and she refers to these “as the easypart.” Kurzak comes from a musical family;her mother was an opera singer and herfather a horn player and she is also ravishinglybeautiful with a lovely stage presence.Splendid accompaniment too by SinfoniaVarsovia conducted with great flair by Piermicro- and macroscopically.Even the purely acoustic works on the CDtend to expand the sonic palette throughunusual combinations of instruments –Perron’s Cycle 4 using four saxophones (oneplayer), piano and percussion; Nova Pon’sWayfaring for tenor saxophone and harp;and even Shelley Marwood’s Merge, whichalthough ostensibly written for the standard“Pierrot” ensemble includes the addition ofsoprano saxophone giving some unexpectedtimbres to the mix. All of the composersrepresented have strong ties to the PrairieProvinces, although a number of them hailfrom elsewhere and have made Alberta (Eagleand Radford) or Saskatchewan (Perron) theirhome. Marwood is a native of Alberta but iscurrently pursuing postgraduate studies atthe University of Toronto and Canadian-bornChinese-Malaysian composer Tan currentlyresides in Germany.Giorgio Morandi. This is her second release forDecca and it’s a winner.Janos GardonyiWagner – Wesendonck Lieder; (excerptsfrom) Tannhäuser; Tristan und IsoldeAnne Schwanewilms; ORF Vienna RSO;Cornelius MeisterCapriccio C5174Named Singer ofthe Year by Opernweltmagazine, highlyacclaimed Germandramatic sopranoAnne Schwanewilmssteps proudly intothe league of suchlegends as LotteLehmann, Kirsten Flagstad and Birgit Nilsson,and is equally at home on the opera stageand as a lieder recitalist. Her discography isalready impressive, but this new release willserve as a good introduction to her as a true“sound painter.”As befits the composer’s bicentennial, thisissue is more dedicated to Wagner than to thesinger, so the orchestra plays a big part. Tobegin, a rousing performance in sonic splendourof Tannhäuser Overture and VenusbergMusic, the Paris version that was his post-Tristan effort and therefore harmonically farmore adventurous than the original. TristanPrelude follows later where the famousTristan chord’s break-up into two is manifest,eloquently performed.The soprano enters with the Hallenariafrom Tannhäuser full of the joyful anticipation(and some shattering high notes)of Elizabeth expecting her long-awaitedlover’s return. In the Wesendonck LiederSchwanewilms’ interpretive skills and hertones as a sound painter are well tested. Thisis more difficult territory and there is a lot ofbeautiful shading and innigkeit in this mostSchopenhauerian poetry, written by Wagner’sbeloved, Mathilde Wesendonck. Tristan isThe Lethbridge Sessions is an eclecticcollection of intriguing works by composersranging from emerging to mid-career, all l withstrong and unique voices. Congratulations nsare due to both the Rubbing Stone Ensembleand Centrediscs for bringing them to ourattention.We welcome your feedback and invitesubmissions. CDs and comments shouldbe sent to: DISCoveries, WholeNote MediaInc., The Centre for Social Innovation, 503– 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4.We also encourage you to visit our websitethewholenote.com where you can find addedfeatures including direct links to performers,composers and record labels, “buy buttons”for on-line shopping and additional,expanded and archival reviews.David Olds, DISCoveries Editordiscoveries@thewholenote.comforeshadowed already in these songs, especiallyin No.3 (Im Treibhaus) and No.5(Träume). The final offering is suitably theLiebestod, sung ecstatically as it should be, aswe reluctantly bid farewell to this exquisiterecording.Janos GardonyiBritten: The Rape of Lucretia, Op.37Cast of the 2001 Aldeburgh Production;English National Opera Orchestra; PaulDanielOpus Arte OA 1123 DThe Rape of Lucretia isone of Britten’s most difficultsubjects. It is almost agraphic description of a rapeand although it should bea fit subject for opera, it isalmost unmanageable bothto observe and to stage.This production is a grippingand successful mounting of this harrowinglypainful illumination of the dark side ofhuman nature. Lucretia was the first of hischamber operas, which were succeeded byhis Church Parables Trilogy, all valued fortheir modest demands.Britten’s ritual structuring of this unusualpiece makes it possible to negotiate the morelurid aspects of this tragedy, and the productionstrips away the operatic stage, makeup,ritualizing and costuming devices thatwould have served to objectify the depictionof the rape. The opera makes it clear that thisviolation destroys Lucretia’s soul. Her relationshipwith her husband will be demolishedand, in her subjective context, the onlysolution is suicide. Yannis Thavoris’ set andcostumes, appropriate for the time and DavidMcVicar’s direction bring Ronald Duncan’slibretto to explicit realisation. The GreekChorus, whose classic role is only to commenton the proceedings, is brought as much aspossible into the dramatic space, frequentlyapproaching the protagonists but never74 | June 4, 2014 – Sept 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

engaging with them. Persuasively sung andacted with ardour by John Mark Ainsley andOrla Boylan.Contralto Sarah Connolly is a perfectLucretia, patrician in bearing and maternalin spirit, and baritone Christopher Maltmanis the Etruscan Tarquinius, supercilious inhis soldier’s tunic and cuirass, with legs bare,making a formidable sexual aggressor. CliveBayley is Collatinus, her husband and LeighMelrose sings Junius. Catherine Wyn-Rogersis Bianca and Mary Nelson is Lucia.Performed in the ambience of The Maltingsin Aldeburgh, Britten’s own theatre, by asuperlative cast on a starkly true set, thisproduction will probably never be equalled,let alone surpassed. The 2001 BBC documentationis faultless and the finished DVD putsus in the audience. A unique treasure.Bruce SurteesDear Theo – 3 Song Cycles by Ben MoorePaul Appleby; Susanna Phillips; BrettPolegato; Brian ZegerDelos DE 3437Ben Moore is anAmerican composer ofsong cycles, chambermusic and of late,opera, well-regardedin the MetropolitanOpera circles. Thatregard comes fromhis previous collaborationswith Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham,Isabel Leonard, Frederica von Stade, RobertWhite, Lawrence Brownlee, Nathan Gunn andthe darling of Broadway, Audra McDonald.His choice of texts is equally careful andaccomplished – John Keats, W.B. Yeats, AnnaWickham, Muriel Rukeyser, Vincent van Goghand Isaac Bashevis Singer.Lyrically set and accompanied by the greatBrian Zeger, the songs will seem instantlyfamiliar, because of Ben Moore’s homage toBenjamin Britten’s writing style. Paul Applebyrenders the dark letters of the increasinglysick painter with the right balance of anguishand raw energy, while Brett Polegato lendshis velvet-smooth voice to Keats’ lyricism tocreate an instant classic. The only voice thatdid not convince me in this recording is thatof Susanna Phillips. This young artist with arapidly growing popular appeal may be bettersuited to a different repertoire, but here hersoprano sounds glassy-fragile and slightlypushed. Regardless of that reservation,modern song lovers will find it a fine disc.Robert TomasThe Rosenblatt Recitals – An OverviewNowadays amidst tightening budgets,cutbacks and a growing sense among thepublic that the golden age of singing is over,it must be very difficult and frustrating topursue a career as a singer. For preciselythis reason a British philanthropist, IanRosenblatt, under the aegis of the RoyalOpera House, Covent Garden set up a foundationin 2000 to support young singers bygiving recitals, enabling them to be discoveredby the public and furthering their career.Among the number of recordings receivedI’ve selected three artists who impressed methe most with their imagination and artistry,but I encourage the reader to investigate thecomplete series at opusarte.com for theirparticular interest:Britten – Michelangelo Sonnets; Liszt –Petrarch Sonnets; Francesco Meli (Opus ArteOA CD9019 D). YoungItalian tenor FrancescoMeli is celebrated for avoice of lyricism,purity of tone andwonderful bel cantothat has made him anideal Verdi tenor andhe sang a number ofroles in the Tutto Verdi series to worldacclaim. In this recording he tackles the twoabove-noted song-cycles, complemented withan exciting selection of French and Italianrepertoire, accompanied by Matteo Pais.Amore e Morte (Opus Arte OA CD9017D).Spectacular Russian spinto soprano EkaterinaSiurina, who hasalready made herdebut at La Scala andthe Met and is in greatdemand today all overthe world, is featuredin a most entertainingdisc of songs byBellini, Donizetti,Rossini and Verdi in a series of alternatelyflirtatious and grief-stricken ballads, with IainBurnside at the piano.Shining River (OA CD9016D) featuresSusan Chilcott, the great English lyricsoprano whose younglife tragically ended in2003 and who createdmany memorableheroines (e.g. Verdi,Janáček, Britten) onthe opera stage. TheShining River is ofcourse the Ohio,starting off a program of American traditionaland poetic songs by Aaron Copland andothers, where her supreme artistry, youthfulvitality and imagination is really a “shiningriver” surging through this very heartwarmingdisc. A great gift for young and oldalike. Once again Iain Burnside is theaccompanist.Janos GardonyiEARLY MUSIC AND PERIOD PERFORMANCECaccini – L’EuridiceSoloists; Concerto Italiano; RinaldoAlessandriniNaïve OP 30552In 1607 Carlo Magno wrote to his brotherthat there would soon be a performance of “apiece that will beunique because all theperformers speakmusically.” The piecewas Monteverdi’sOrfeo and the letterclearly shows that awork that was sungthroughout or, as wewould call it, an opera, was felt to be a newthing. The earliest opera was Jacopo Peri’sDafne (1597 or 1598) but, since the music forthat work has not survived, opera is generallythought to begin with the two Eurydiceoperas (written to the same libretto) by Periand Giulio Caccini, both of which date from1600. Musicologists have usually dismissedthe Caccini version. On the other hand, theprinted material that comes with an earlierrecording of the Caccini (conducted byNicholas Achten, on the Ricercar label) claimsthat Caccini, not Peri, was the true founder ofthe new genre.The musical language of Caccini’s opera,the stile rappresentativo, is based on theimpassioned speech of the solo voice. It ismore melodious than mere recitative but itnever develops into aria. Nor does it havethe musical inventiveness or instrumentalvariety that characterize Monteverdi’s operaonly a few years later. Whether or not theCaccini is inferior to Peri’s version, it has agreat deal of dramatic power and is certainlyworth listening to, especially when it issung and played as well as it is here. RinaldoAlessandrini and the Concerto Italiano havegiven us many fine recordings, particularly ofthe Monteverdi Madrigals, and this CD doesnot disappoint.Hans de GrootLeclair – Complete Sonatas for Two ViolinsGreg Ewer; Adam LamotteSono Luminus DSL-92176(sonoluminus.com)This two-CD setdoes indeed include all12 violin duos by theFrench violin virtuosoJean-Marie Leclair, sixeach in his Opp.3 and12 collections. Leclair’scompositional brillianceis in marryingItalian and French styles with endlessly interestingand entertaining results. A dancer inhis younger life, Leclair has an innate senseof dance rhythms and even the most ferociousof his allegro movements possessesgrace, elegance and warmth. His writing fortwo violins, in particular, makes full use ofthe sonic possibilities of each instrument.Each part has equal prominence and thereis an intricate relationship of soloistic andaccompaniament duty-sharing as one findsin the gamba duos of Marais from a generationbefore. Along with Leclair’s sonatasand concertos, these duos deserve widerthewholenote.com June 4, 2014 – Sept 7, 2014 | 75

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