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Volume 20 Issue 6 - March 2015

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again, after her

again, after her transformative recordings ofVivaldi and Handel, it was time to balancethe score. As the artist herself says: “Mozartallows me to regain my focus; he preservesthat miraculous balance that can so easily bedisturbed in the whirlwind of life.”Robert TomasChansons PerpétuellesMarie-Nicole Lemieux; Roger Vignoles;Quatuor PsophosNaïve V 5355!!Fin de siècle chansonsreflect the obsessionsof the age:decadence, degeneration,neurosisand ennui that wereexquisitely expressedin sublime melody,drawing the listener ever inward to explorepsyche’s secrets. A rich and rarified tapestrycreated by composers of the age is fertileground for a singer possessing an affinity forthe texts as well as great depth of expressionin vocal performance. Marie-NicoleLemieux has carefully studied, crafted anddelivered this to perfection, bringing to lifeall the dishevelled beauty this repertoireoffers. Guided by the deft hand of pianistRoger Vignoles, joined by Quatuor Psophos inthe Nocturne from Guillaume Lekeu’s TroisPoèmes and in Ernest Chausson’s ChansonPerpétuelle, she rides the instrumentalundercurrents with poetic charm and grace.Lemieux’s light touch and agile playfulnessin Fauré’s Mandoline contrasts nicely witha sorrowful Mein Liebster singt from Wolf’sItalianiensches Liederbuch and excerpts fromRachmaninoff’s Six Romances which highlightthe sheer drama of her rich contralto.The character of the CD is largely intimate –the final track around which she chose theprogram, Chanson Perpétuelle, is the mostoperatic of all the selections: Lemieux’sportrait of an abandoned woman’s angst skillfullyintertwined with the quartet’s mesmerizingperformance.Dianne WellsEARLY MUSIC AND PERIOD PERFORMANCELa Meglio GiuventùVesuvius EnsembleModica Music MM0014(!!With GiovanniKapsberger the onlynamed composeron just two of the13 tracks on thisCD, it is clear thatits performers wereseeking a selectionof popular Italian music, reflectingtheir dedication to the performance andpreservation of traditional folk music fromNaples and Southern Italy. Take O matrimoniodo Guarracino, a traditional piecefrom 18th-century Campania. FrancescoPellegrino’s voice is as Italian as his nameand not only are we transported to Campaniawith his vocals but the four accompanyinginstruments all have a strong Italian heritage:mandolin, baroque guitar, chitarra battenteand colascione. The third of these is playedwithout a plectrum and can be plucked,strummed or beaten, hence the term battente.And colascione? That is a long-neckedItalian lute. One of the Kapsberger piecesfully tests its capabilities with the demandingtechniques of the Italian baroque guitar.Those who yearn for something else equallyunknown can enjoy a hurdy-gurdy courtesyof Ben Grossman, who accompaniesPellegrino’s magnificent voice. Invocazionealla Madonna dell’Arco, for all its traditionalCampanian background, could havegraced any medieval court, enhanced by thehaunting sound of the hurdy-gurdy.A more conventional Kapsberger compositionis Sfessiana, a soothing and thoughtfulduet for theorbo (Lucas Harris) and baroquelute (Marco Cera). Another piece enjoying anormal setting is La morte de mariteto, wherePellegrino’s voice and Lucas Harris’ lively luteplaying show the enduring popularity of thiscombination throughout the Renaissance.After introducing us to four popularplucked instruments, La Meglio Giuventùconcludes with three percussion instrumentsand the ciaramella, a double reed conical boreinstrument which eventually became theoboe. It is raucous and passionate – like theVesuvius Ensemble.Michael SchwartzMarais – Suites for OboeChristopher Palameta; Eric Tinkerhess;Romain Falik; Lisa Goode CrawfordAudax Records ADX 13702(!!Fans of baroquemusic on periodinstruments willappreciate thisrecording, not only forits sheer beauty, butalso as a musicologicalproject. Baroqueoboist Christopher Palameta, a Montrealerwho did a four-year stint with Toronto’sTafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, currentlylives in Paris and is in demand with periodinstrument ensembles in Europe and NorthAmerica. This recording is a culmination ofseveral years of research into some of theneglected works of French composer MarinMarais (1656-1728; some might recall Maraisas the central figure in the 1991 movie Tousles Matins du Monde).All of the music here is drawn from Marais’Piéces de viole; published in five volumes,the six suites included are from the second(1701), third (1711) and fourth (1717) volumes.While written for the viol, Marais himselfinsisted that his compositions could be playedon a wide range of instruments, includingthe oboe; as Palameta explains, for technicalreasons some pieces are better suitedto a high wind instrument than others,particularly those written for the viol’s topstring – my understanding is that these arethe movements selected and transcribed forthis project.Each of the suites is comprised of five toseven movements: beginning with a prélude.Typical dance movements follow, whichmight include a courante, sarabande, menuet,gavotte, gigue, and sometimes a rondeauchampêtre, passacaille, or fantaisie for variety.My personal favourites include the muzettesin the Suite in G Minor, and the short butunusual La Biscayenne (referring to theBasque country of northern Spain) whichconcludes the recording.Palameta plays with the highest degreeof refinement and musical sensitivitythroughout, displaying a velvety warm toneand fluid ornamentation. He is accompaniedby Eric Tinkerhess (viola da gamba),Romain Falik (theorbo) and Lisa GoodeCrawford (harpsichord). To learn more, AgesMaurice Greene – OverturesBaroque Band; Garry ClarkeCedille CDR 90000 152! ! Aficionados ofEnglish classical musicendured decades ofthe taunt “Who wasthe greatest Englishcomposer betweenPurcell and Elgar?Handel!” Dr. Arne’smasque Alfred(including Rule Britannia) and WilliamBoyce’s eight symphonies (“as English as acountry garden”) somehow weren’t up toscratch. William Boyce’s tutor was MauriceGreene, who is forgotten even among baroqueenthusiasts. Enter Chicago-based GarryClarke and the Baroque Band. Their interpretationof Greene’s Overture for St. Cecilia’sDay is lively and effervescent – how appropriatefor the patroness of music!This spirited approach continues with theallegro assai, andante and vivace of Greene’sfirst overture (D major). The other overturestoo, delight the listener: note the chirping firstallegro of the fourth overture or the prestoof the fifth, just two of what the sleeve-notesdescribe as “whistleable melodies.” And whatelse does the Baroque Band cram into thiswonderful introduction to Maurice Greene?Well, Greene composed a pastoral operaPhoebe. The allegro to its overture must haveconveyed a tremendous sense of expectationto the audience.There’s even more. David Schrader is66 | March 1 - April 7, 2015

soloist in Greene’s Collection of Lessonsfor the Harpsichord. As an example, thepieces in C minor are demanding but stillbring home the liveliness of English baroquemusic. Greene deserves much more recognition,not least as he was organist of St. Paul’sand of the Chapel Royal, Master of the King’sMusic and Professor of Music at Cambridge.Garry Clarke is, I hope, the pioneer of a longoverduerevival.Michael SchwartzBach – Well-Tempered Clavier Book IILuc BeauséjourNaxos 8.570564-65!!In the CDs of Bach’sWell-Tempered Claviersome performersuse a modern piano,while other performancesare on instrumentsthat Bach wasfamiliar with: theclavichord, the organand (most often) the harpsichord. I am notabout to launch into a diatribe on the unsuitabilityof the modern piano. It is true that Ihave never liked Glenn Gould’s Bach (sacrilege!)but I have listened with pleasure toRosalyn Tureck, to Keith Jarrett and especially,to Angela Hewitt.Beauséjour is a French-Canadian musician,who studied in Montreal with Mireille andBernard Lagacé and subsequently in Europewith Ton Koopman and Kenneth Gilbert.He won First Prize in the 1985 Erwin BodkyInternational Harpsichord Competition inBoston. He has recorded a substantial numberof works by Bach, including Book I of TheWell-Tempered Clavier (also on Naxos).For the sake of comparison I have beenlistening to two other performances on theharpsichord: those by Masaaki Suzuki (onBIS) and those by Christophe Rousset (onHarmonia Mundi). I felt that Beauséjourwas holding his own, although of the three Iliked the Rousset best since he found a poeticquality that was not always there in the othertwo. I have to add though, that when I wantto listen to these Preludes and Fugues, it isthe Angela Hewitt recording (on Hyperion)that I shall play most often. That goes to showthat, for me at any rate, a stupendous technique,clarity of voicing, a wonderful sense ofphrasing, a subtle sense of rubato and a thoroughgrasp of baroque performance practicematter more than whether these pieces areplayed on the “correct” instrument.Hans de GrootBach – Krebs – AbelHelen Callus; Luc BeauséjourAnalekta AN 2 9879!!Though Bach’s longest and most majorcareer posting, in Leipzig, kept him morethan busy writing and preparing musicfor the church, he managed to find time tocontinue composingextraordinarychamber music as thedirector of the town’sCollegium Musicum.This ensemble ofstudents and youngprofessionals wouldgive weekly performancesat Zimmerman’s coffee house. It isthought that Bach wrote the three sonatas forviola da gamba and harpsichord (BWV1027-1029) for performances by members of thisSchola Cantorum. They are a combinationof new compositions and arrangements ofexisting music written for other forces.These three extraordinary pieces formthe centrepiece of this fine recording byviolist Helen Callus and harpsichordist LucBeauséjour. Also included are a gamba sonataby Carl Friedrich Abel and Callus’ arrangementof a movement from a trio by JohannLudwig Krebbs. Both Krebbs and Abel hadclose family connections to Bach.From the opening plaintive notes of thisbeautiful recording, violist Callus’ rich andgorgeous tone announces that these will beperformances of a high standard. Though theyshare a range, there are major differences intimbre and intensity of sound between theviola and the gamba which take getting usedto, but the clarity and sensitivity of Callus’playing is so compelling that one is drawnpast the instrument directly to the music. Asalways, Luc Beauséjour’s playing is elegantand stylish. Highly recommended.Larry BeckwithBeethoven, PeriodMatt Haimovitz; Christopher O’RileyPentatone PTC 5186 475!!Beethoven’s interestin the cello appearsto have begun earlyon. His first set of twocello sonatas Op.5were written in 1796 inhis 26th year, his last,Op.102, dates from1815, by which timethe composer was experiencing the trauma ofincreasing deafness. In between came anothersonata and three sets of variations, all of thempresented here in this two-disc Pentatone/Oxingale recording featuring cellist MattHaimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley,the first in a series titled Beethoven, Period.Most cellists choose to perform on earlyinstruments, and Haimovitz is no exception– his cello of choice is a Goffriller, crafted inVenice in 1710. But rather than overpowerthe cello with a modern concert grand as issometimes the case with cello/piano pairings,O’Riley proves to be the perfect musicalpartner in his use of an 1823 Broadwoodpianoforte, both instruments tuned slightlybelow the standard A440. The result is awonderfully authentic sound, very close towhat Beethoven would have heard in theearly 19th centuryThe first CD contains the earliest twosonatas and the 12 Variations on See theConquering Hero Comes of Handel. From theopening hesitant measures of the Sonata inF Major, we sense the two artists are in fullcommand of the repertoire. Their playingis stylish and precise while the interactionof the two period instruments allows for acompelling degree of transparency.In disc two, we move into a new period inBeethoven’s style – the Sonatas Op.69 andOp.102 show evidence of a more maturestyle, somewhat darker and more dramatic,while the seven variations on Bei Männern...from Mozart’s The Magic Flute aptly demonstrateBeethoven’s facility at extemporizingon a popular theme. The “magic moment”for me on this disc came in the second movementAdagio con moto sentimento d’affettoof the Sonata Op.102, No.2. Here Haimovitz’slyrical tone and the sensitive interpretation byO’Riley evoke a wonderful sense of mysterybefore the start of the jubilant Allegrettofugato, bringing both the sonata and the setto a most satisfying conclusion.Bravo to both artists in this exemplarypairing; the “great mogul” himself would havebeen pleased.Richard HaskellBeyond the River GodAssi KarttunenDivine Art dds 25120(! ! This intriguingprogram of musicfor solo harpsichordmakes unexpected butsuccessful partners ofBaroque France’s greatFrançois Couperin,who died in 1733, andthe gifted Englishcomposer Graham Lynch, who is still verymuch alive. Couperin’s music here, a préludefrom his L’Art de toucher le claveçin andfour other pieces from various of his Ordres,makes up just over one-third of the substantialtrack list, and Finnish harpsichordist AssiKarttunen’s supple interpretation of L’Exquisefrom Ordre XXVII is particularly beautiful.That said, where Karttunen really shines isin Lynch’s music for her instrument, whichreflects both a panoply of stylistic influencesand a well-nuanced understandingof how to compose for the harpsichord.Karttunen’s playing is deftly mercurial inthe second Rondeau of the five-movementBeyond the River God, and she’s introspectiveyet always welcoming in the many meditativemovements of this and other works. Aparticular small delight is the short, standaloneAy!, which to me sounds a little likewhat Edgar Allen Poe might have improvisedover a French ground bass. The four movementsof Lynch’s Petenera make perhaps March 1 - April 7, 2015 | 67

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