6 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016

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  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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INSIDE: The Canaries Are Here! 116 choirs to choose from, so take the plunge! The Nylons hit the road after one last SING! Fling. Jazz writer Steve Wallace wonders "Watts Goode" rather than "what's new?" Paul Ennis has the musical picks of the HotDocs crop. David Jaeger's CBC Radio continues golden for a little while yet. Douglas McNabney is Music's Child. Leipzig meets Damascus in Alison Mackay's fertile imagination. And "C" is for KRONOS in Wende Bartley's koverage of the third annual 21C Festival. All this and as usual much much more. Enjoy.

with Zepezauer and

with Zepezauer and Walter facing off for a rumble and Camatta’s recurrent beats setting up the confrontation. Although Zepezauer’s programs can create unattributable textures, he’s more interested in chameleon-like reverses. He replicates roller-ring organ tones on Mit Dir Am Hafen, spelled by back beat drums and reed tones that seem to be filtered through a sieve; matches cymbal scrapes and sax tongue stops with signal-processed buzzes on Austritt; plus the connected Brotwar Quadrata and Fifty Shades of I Don’t Give a Fuck. Lyricon-like whooshing produces a seemingly endless disco-dancelike rhythm cannily burlesqued by reed overblowing on some tracks. Zepezauer also layers the tracks with programming tropes. Recordings of German and English voices are introduced to many tracks, subsequently cut off, slowed down or sped up so they resemble cartoon chipmunk chatter. Flanged interruptions sound like magnetic tape running backwards, which on Den Hooran challenges Camatta’s stick whumps and cymbal clanks and Walter’s intermittent processed buzzes. The brief Thank You Mom melds pre-recorded marching band echoes with live beats pumping from the others. Insisting like a punk band that the CD be played loud, there’s enough distance and detail expressed here to distinguish Knu! from rock primitives. From the opposite side of the equation is Scenes From A Trialogue (Amirani Records AMRN 045 by Granularities consisting of soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo; valve and alphorn player Martin Mayes, both of whom are Italybased, and Lawrence Casserley’s signalprocessing instrument. One of the first students of electronic music at London’s Royal College of Music in the 1960s, Casserley subsequently taught at RCM while adapting software to transform the sound of his collaborators including Evan Parker. Although the tracks on Scenes From A Trialogue have subtitles like Overture, Entr’actes and Acts/Scenes it’s no academic treatise. Instead the CD shows how an undercurrent of warm machinesourced oscillations provides an appropriate frame – with auxiliary decorations if needed – for a sound canvas illustrated with painterly dabs of reed tone bursts and lonesome French horn echoes. Since Casserley’s granular synthesis layers timbres at varied speeds, volumes and densities, on Open Space for instance he regurgitates reed and brass sounds like those played by the horns, as additional staccato jabs upset the interface. In the same fashion, wind-like textures drone in the background of Entracte 1 as a solo valve horn exposition expands with polyphonic glissandi. Opaque drones create a sense of stoic inevitability, like ocean tides advancing and retreating, on the disc’s penultimate and concluding tracks. Concentrated granulation from Casserley’s machine cunningly joins Mayes’ muted slurs and Mimmo’s contralto trills, so that the sonic wedges unite with the logic of a baroque chamber piece. Earlier the connected Sacred What if you could listen in? Now you can! • Read the review • Click to listen • Click to buy Now more than 100 enhanced reviews in the Listening Room! For more information Thom McKercher at Site – Procession and Sacred Site – Dark Ritual reveal an analogous concordance but with sharper edges, like a dagger compared to a butter knife. It’s the electronics which splinter the horns’ near-impressionistic mellowness with a mallet-like scrape across unyielding surfaces and dynamic whooshes. Ultimately Mayes’ mahogany-tinged tones and Mimmo’s wheezy reed trills unite with Casserley’s burbling densities for a harmonized climax. Going mano-a-mano, French clarinetist/ saxophonist Jean-Luc Petit and electronics manipulator Jean-Marc Foussat create a selfcontained sound world on …D’où Vient La Lumière! (Fou Records FR-CD 13 Oddly enough the program is initially more rustic than urban with buzzing bee oscillations and ring-modulator created aviary chirps heard on the first track, plus rooster-like crowing and cicada-suggesting chirrups which emanate from the electronics on the second and title track. At points, Petit fishes out deeply embedded notes from within his bass clarinet as if they were tadpoles caught in murky algae. A climax is reached on the penultimate Premières curiosités as Foussat’s multi-channel wave forms become louder and more clamorous until they form an impermeable mass. In response, Petit’s quick yelps and circular breathing confirm the acoustic qualities of his sopranino saxophone. Although each player’s timbres are initially isolated like pinpointed colour on an otherwise all-white painting, the textures eventually blend to such an extent that at points it’s impossible to distinguish a specific source. Intensifying his attack to atonal echoes and kazoo-like squeezes as he shifts to alto saxophone on Un animal qui me plaît, Petit presages the perfect finale. With reed multiphonics splayed in front of undulating drones, the ending is as spiritually appropriate as if reflecting a soloist testifying in front of a mass choir. Unlike Foussat and Petit, whose approach is based on unifying impulses from unique instruments, the Uliben Duo’s CD Shared Memory (Creative Sources CS 327 CD more accurately describes the performance of French bassist Benoit Cancoin facing the live processing of German Ulrich Phillipp. In other circumstances Phillipp also plays bass, so his electronic impulses are informed by that knowledge. Throughout he stretches the processing function so that it not only accompanies, but also enhances the double bass’ tonal qualities. More than replicating Cancoin’s initial sounds, Phillipp’s often tandem, frequently wriggling, textures extend the bull fiddle’s range, directing acoustically sourced sounds to unforeseen places. While there are instances of skyrocketing sound eruptions and multiplied string drones on the tracks surrounding Joint Repository, this over- 40-minute improv gives the players ample space to define and perfect their hook-up. Like stars floating in a night sky that illuminate at junctures, different sequences are prominent in stages. Languidly expressed, bowed resonations and bottle-top-like pops from the higher-pitched strings solidify into an electric shaver-like buzz via Phillipp’s electronics, with Cancoin interjecting sporadic mandolinlike plucks. By mid-point however, a euphonious bassoon-tempered tone predominates, until split into separate streams of sprawling, spiccato thrusts from the bass and an assembly line of crackles and drones from the electronics. Before individual improvisations dribble away into irreconcilable solipsism, the program speeds up to sound like two double basses, courtesy of Phillipp’s machine-processed memory. As brief interludes where graininess reveals one tone’s electronic origins and Cancoin’s acoustic pulls, the “humanness” of the other strands finally unite. The finale finds the two fading into a single sonic source like the fused profiles at the climaxes of the film Persona. Used judiciously with respect from both sides of the acoustic-electric divide, processing can create memorable discs of unanticipated sophistication like these sets. 76 | May 1, 2016 - June 7, 2016

Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-Released BRUCE SURTEES Surely, with a few exceptions, there cannot be unanimity on the very best recording of an instrumental score. Some listen for wrong notes or slurred passages, most for interpretation and some for quality of the recorded sound. We may have our preferred individual performance or performances but there is no finish-line tape to chest. However, in Pollini & Abbado, The Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon (DG 4821358, 8 CDs) listeners should hear no wrong notes nor slurred passages or anything less than vibrant recorded sound, regardless of the venue. The first three discs of their collaboration contain live performances of the five Beethoven piano concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic in the Philharmonie in December 1992 and January 1993, together with the Choral Fantasy Op.80 for piano, soloists, chorus and orchestra, with the Vienna Philharmonic in the Musikverein in 1986. These are all exuberant, festive performances that should excite even the most blasé listener. The body of sound is astounding. The same qualities apply in spades to the two Brahms concertos, live with the BPO (Philharmonie, 1997 and 1995) and an added earlier Brahms Second with the VPO (Musikverein, 1976). Disc seven contains the Schumann Piano Concerto (1989) and the Schoenberg Piano Concerto (1988) both in the Philharmonie. The final CD has their brilliantly articulate versions of Bartók’s first and second piano concertos with the Chicago Symphony in Orchestra Hall in 1977 followed by Luigi Nono’s Como una ola de fuerza y luz (like a wave of force and light) for piano and orchestra, soprano and magnetic tape. Recorded in the Herkulessaal, Munich with the Bavarian Rundfunks Orchestra in October, 1973, this work was written for them by Nono, their friend. “In this piece we find aspects typical of Nono’s maturity, dense accumulations of sound material, explosions and suspended silences, amid violent sounds and clear, enchanted lyricism.” Summing up, it’s pretty unlikely that a seasoned listener would not be captivated and drawn to listen to every note of the above collection. These recordings belong on the shelf of everyone who has a CD player – unless you irreversibly hate the repertoire. Another collection from DG will be of value to those who are interested in the artistry of noted figures on concert platforms a generation or two ago. The Mono Era 1948-1957 (4795516, 51 CDs) is a well-chosen selection that best represents their artists in their established repertoire or to which they aspired. In 1951, three years after American Columbia originated the long-playing discs pressed on vinylite (RCA had issued several 33 1/3 recordings by Leopold Stokowski in the mid-1930s but they quickly wore out in use) Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft produced the first long playing discs in Germany and confirmed their reputation for excellence. The first few were derived from 78 rpm discs (as were most initial releases by all the majors) and then from tape machines, the newest recording medium developed in wartime Germany. Looking through the list of singers, instrumentalists, ensembles and conductors, I see only one named artist who is still with us. The enclosed 140-page booklet contains, in addition to complete data of each recording, an interesting and informative history of the company’s growth over the years and full-page photographs of each artist at the time. I assume that I am not alone, when faced with a collection of this magnitude and significance, in sampling works or artists of personal interest. The first out of the box were the two Wagner discs, one with selected scenes from The Ring with Astrid Varnay’s Brunnhilde and Wolfgang Windgassen’s Siegfried winding down with the Immolation Scene conducted by Hermann Weigert, Varnay’s husband. In the 1950s the Swedish-born Varnay was at the very height of her powers and was in demand worldwide. As was Windgassen, a leading heldentenor of the 1950s and 60s. The other Wagner disc is devoted to Windgassen in notable arias from eight operas. Soprano Rita Streich’s disc is a treasure, a potpourri of arias from Mozart to Verdi concluding with Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock. Paul Hindemith conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in the Jesus Christus Kirche in 1955 playing Symphony Mathis der Maler, The Four Temperaments and the Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Weber. For many, these remain preferred versions. The 40-year-old, already world famous Ferenc Fricsay conducts the effervescent La Boutique Fantasque and Scheherazade with the RIAS Orchestra in 1955, 1956. The unique artistry of soprano Tiana Lemnitz (Marshallin), the soprano Elfrida Trötschel (Sophie) and mezzo Georgine von Milinkovic (Octavian) are heard in scenes from Der Rosenkavalier from Stuttgart conducted by Ferdinand Leitner. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was a young 24 in September 1949 when he made his debut recording for DGG singing Brahms’ Four Serious Songs, then excerpts from Hugo Wolf’s Italian Song Book in 1950/51 and Schumann’s Dichterliebe in 1957. I spoke today to a friend who regrets not hearing Polish pianist Halina Czerny-Stefanska live. She can be heard playing Chopin in 1956 (CD6). Also Monique Haas plays Ravel’s G Major Concerto, Le Tombeau de Couperin and Stravinsky’s Capriccio (CD14). Clara Haskil plays two Mozart concertos with Ferenc Fricsay conducting (CD16). Elly Ney plays four Beethoven sonatas, Pathétique, Moonlight, Appassionata and Op.110 (CD40). Other pianists who have their own CD are Stefan Askenase, Shura Cherkassky, Andor Foldes, Conrad Hansen, Wilhelm Kempff and Sviatoslav Richter. Other instrumentalists include David and Igor Oistrakh, Johanna Martzy, Bronislav Gimpel and others. Some mighty conductors recorded for DGG: Eugen Jochum, Karel Ančerl, Ferenc Fricsay, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Paul van Kempen, Ferdinand Leitner, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Hans Rosbaud and Kurt Sanderling. Strong quartets include the Amadeus, Koeckert and Loewenguth. A few readers may remember the Don Cossack Choir, 20 of whose energetic performances ring out on CD7. The Mono Era 1948-1957 is collectively an historic document, a discerning choice of repertoire and performers recorded during the last decade of monaural before the stereo disc. DGGs mono recordings are models of clarity and reality. View the complete details of every track at The concerts given by George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra were always memorable events, thanks to Szell who honed his orchestra to near perfection, the equal of the greatest conductor/orchestras in the world, notably Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic and Mravinsky/Leningrad Philharmonic. On many weekends in the 1960s we made our regular pilgrimage to Cleveland’s Severance Hall. I was not there on Wednesday July 13, 1966 to hear Isaac Stern, Leonard Rose and Eugene Istomin join the orchestra for the Beethoven Triple Concerto and Brahms Double Concerto. Doremi has resurrected a copy of the broadcast tapes of that concert and issued the concertos on a single CD (DHR8047). To hear these lauded musicians, soloists, conductor and orchestra live in these high voltage performances is illuminating, preferable in many ways to their recorded performances of the same repertoire recorded two years earlier with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I trust that there is more to come from Cleveland via Doremi. May 1, 2016 - June 7, 2016 | 77

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