7 years ago

Volume 20 Issue 7 - April 2015

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Old Wine, New Bottles |

Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedBRUCE SURTEESPierre Boulezturns 90 thisyear and DGhonors the milestonein two limited editionsets, one of which isPierre Boulez – 20thCentury (DG 4794282,44 CDs). Packaged in the familiar cube, theset contains every recording that Boulez madewith DG of music composed during the lastcentury. There are 13 composers represented,some of them familiar and some that are notexactly household names.Born in Loire, France, Boulez early showedan aptitude for music and mathematics. Hestudied mathematics in Loire but music ledhim to the Paris Conservatoire and OlivierMessiaen whose analysis classes introducedhim to the 12-tone technique of composition.Today he is regarded by his peers ascomposer, conductor, teacher and essayist, inthat order. Simon Rattle stated that “There is awhole generation of us who were completelyeducated by Boulez.” As a composer, hisoutput remains strange to the ears of manymusic lovers but Boulez the teacher states thatto prepare a performance, an analysis of thescore must be the first step. “True spontaneitycomes only after analysis.” This works verywell for much of the music by 20th-centurycomposers, his performances being regardedas definitive and his recordings lauded farand wide. I recall having my high expectationsexceeded attendinf a concert on May 22,1969 in the Royal Festival Hall’s 20th CenturyConcerts with Boulez conducting the LondonSymphony Orchestra with soloist Isaac Stern.The depth of their Berg Violin Concerto stilllingers in my ears.The discs are sorted by composer startingwith Bartók through to Webern on disc 44.Bartók is well represented on eight discs withFour Orchestral Pieces, Op.12; the Concertofor Orchestra; the Dance Suite Op.10; theHungarian Sketches; Divertimento; TheMiraculous Mandarin; Music for Strings,Percussion and Celesta, the Cantata Profanaall played by The Chicago Symphony…and there’s more including The WoodenPrince; the three piano concertos (Chicago/Zimerman, Berlin/Andsnes, LSO/Grimaud)and finally Bluebeard’s Castle with JessyeNorman from Chicago. Bought singly a fewyears ago these eight CDs alone would havecost about the same as this 44-CD box.Berg has three works here: The ChamberConcerto, Lulu Suite and, on three CDs, acomplete Lulu with Teresa Stratas, YvonneMinton, and the orchestra of the ParisOpera. Harrison Birtwistle has three CDs;Boulez the composer has four including LeMarteau sans Maître and Debussy has threeall with the Cleveland Orchestra includinga longtime favourite, the Première rapsodiefor clarinet. Ligeti, who enjoyed a burst ofinterest after the film 2001 where his musicwas heard, has two discs as does Messiaen.Ravel has five and Schoenberg has fourincluding Pelleas und Melisande, PierrotLunaire and a complete Moses und Aron.Stravinsky’s five discs include all the bigballets and other works with the Clevelandand Chicago orchestras. A disc each forSzymanowski and Varèse and three forWebern conclude this most interesting andimportant set. One can only muse… whatif Boulez had not been interested in mathematicsbut architecture? Think about it.EuroArts has issued a Blu-Ray disc ofdifferent Boulez performances of threepieces included in the above compendium.In a concert on May 1, 2003 in the Mosteirodos Jerónimos, Lisbon, Boulez conducts theBerlin Philharmonic in their yearly specialconcert celebrating the orchestra’s foundingin May 1882. Fittingly, Maria João Pires is thesoloist in the Mozart Piano Concerto No.20that contrastsnicely with the20th-centuryworks: Ravel’sLe Tombeau deCouperin, Bartók’sConcerto forOrchestra and Fêtesfrom Debussy’sTrois Nocturnes(EuroArts 2053074).The very first image that strikes the viewer,long before the music starts is the monasteryitself and its Gothic Portuguese architecturethat “integrates architectural elements of thelate Gothic and Renaissance, with associatedroyal symbolism, Christological and naturalist.”Construction began in 1501 or 1502and was well-funded by trade with the East.As time passed and construction continuedit became a pantheon to the monarchy withno expense spared. It is almost beyond beliefand understandably Lisbon’s prime touristattraction.The orchestra does not employ the fullcomplement of players in the concerto buta reduced number to balance correctly forthe Mozart. Pires is always so poetic in thisrepertoire, a pleasure to watch and a pleasureto hear. As for the other three works, theorchestra knows them and Boulez knowsthem even better but they come off soundingfresh and eminently correct. The video andaudio are exceptional although recording themusic must have been a challenge becauseof the long decay time that can cause someproblems but hearing it a low level contributesto the sense of occasion and location.There is a bonus of a 19-minute tourists’ tourof Lisbon and environs including severalexamples of fado and some historical information.The ridiculously illegible cover designnotwithstanding, this disc is recommended –don’t judge the contents by the cover!“...there are many lovelymoments of musical anddramatic interchange, such asthe item in the Handel sectionwith the violinists...”-Hans de Groot, Feb 2015“... The performances by all thesingers are clear and colourful.Eileen Nash is especiallyoutstanding in her performanceand childlike vocal tuning of theten-year-old Rita...”-Tiina Kiik, Nov 2014Alain Lefèvre, one of the betterpianists around today, brillantlytackles this monumental workwith all of his virtuosity.-Robert Thomas, Nov 2014“... the works recorded hereare restored to life in a lavishlyillustrated edition, playedwith great sensitivity by IBarocchisti...”-Robert Thomas, Dec 201476 | April 1 - May 7, 2015

SEASON PRESENTING SPONSORSPRINGTIMEwith Your SymphonyFrom Swan Lake toFlight of the BumblebeeSAT, APRIL 18 AT 7:30pmSUN, APRIL 19 AT 3:00pmRossen Milanov, conductorJeffrey Beecher, double bassProgramme includes:Koussevitzky: Double Bass ConcertoTchaikovsky: Selections from Swan LakeMussorgsky: Night on Bald MountainRimsky-Korsakov: “Flight of the Bumblebee”from The Tale of Tsar SaltanShostakovich: Polka from The Golden AgeLatin Jazz:Hilario Durán TrioWED, APRIL 29 AT 6:30pmTHU, APRIL 30 AT 8:00pmRoberto Minczuk, conductorHilario Durán TrioTom Allen, host (APRIL 29)Hilario Durán: Concerto for Latin Jazz Trioand Orchestra, “Sinfonia Afrocubana”(WORLD PREMIÈRE/TSO COMMISSION)Bernstein: Symphonic Dances fromWest Side StoryVilla-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 8(APRIL 30 ONLY)Ginastera: Four Dances from Estancia(“MALAMBO” ONLY, APRIL 29)JEFFREY BEECHER,TSO PRINCIPAL DOUBLE BASSMendelssohn Violin ConcertoWED, MAY 6 AT 8:00pmPeter Oundjian, conductorAugustin Hadelich, violinKevin Lau * : TreeshipMendelssohn: Violin ConcertoBruckner: Symphony No. 7*RBC Affiliate ComposerROY THOMSON HALL | 416.593.4828 | TSO.CAOFFICIAL AIRLINE & APRIL 30 PERFORMANCE SPONSORMAY 6 PERFORMANCE SPONSOR

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