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Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016

  • Text
  • October
  • Toronto
  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Concerts
  • Arts
  • November
  • Musical
In this issue: David Jaeger and Alex Pauk’s most memorable R. Murray Schafer collabs, in this month’s installment of Jaeger’s CBC Radio Two: The Living Legacy; an interview with flutist Claire Chase, who brings new music and mindset to Toronto this month; an investigation into the strange coincidence of three simultaneous Mendelssohn Elijahs this Nov 5; and of course, our annual Blue Pages, a who’s who of southern Ontario’s live music scene- a community as prolific and multifaceted as ever. These and more, as we move full-force into the 2016/17 concert season- all aboard!

The disc ends with the

The disc ends with the earliest composition on offer, Timbres, espace, mouvement (ou “La nuit étoilée”) from 1977, inspired by van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. Drawing on the full orchestral palette in the first and third movements – Nébuleuse and Constellations – the intervening Interlude begins in the growly depths of the contrabass section and only gradually ascends into the firmament. Concert note: “Henri Dutilleux – A Portrait from the Piano” presents another side of this iconic French composer performed by Katherine Dowling at Gallery 345 on October 28. The weathered stone (ER26 ergodos.ie) is a mostly meditative suite by Irish composer Benedict Schlepper-Connolly. Its gentle, pointillist minimalism is something like the music of Morton Feldman or perhaps Linda Catlin Smith, but in double time. The overall sensibility and careful placement of notes is familiar but in this case there is a repetitive trance-like effect that gives the impression of very slow development while the notes are actually moving quite quickly. The press release describes it aptly as a “many-hued musical statement that is at once minimal and teeming with matter.” It is said to be “inspired by the secret histories of landscapes, old maps and memory” and it is certainly filled with a haunting beauty. The eponymous extended first movement is scored for piano, violin and cello, although quite a bit of time passes before we become aware of the cello in the texture, which is dominated by slow-yet-ebullient piano and sparse violin repeating a two-note theme. As it develops over its 20-minute duration, roles are reversed with the rolling strings punctuated by gentle but persistent piano interpolations which in turn are replaced by placid clouds of sound from all three. There is eventually a percussive pizzicato section, but this soon passes back into a calm arpeggiated progression cleverly passed between the three musicians. The second movement, A View from Above, features the Robinson Panoramic Quartet – one each of violin, viola, cello and bass – and opens with an extended pizzicato introduction which eventually gives way to a rollicking, wave-like arco barcarolle. This is gradually replaced by sparse solo melodies replete with harmonics in the high strings which continue to the piece’s end. Beekeepers is a gentle – that word keeps coming up throughout this journey – song featuring the soft and vulnerable voice of the composer. The instrumentation includes Saskia Lankhoorn’s piano, chalumeau – a rarely heard precursor of the clarinet played by Seán Mac Erlaine – and the quartet, which in this instance creates a texture reminiscent of a harmonium drone. Schlepper-Connolly is (barely) heard on synthesizer in the last track, Field, on which piano and quartet return while Mac Erlaine switches to bass clarinet. While this closer does build to mezzo-forte with a brief dance interlude, the overall feel of the track, and the suite, is gentle (again!) beauty spun gracefully over its 45-minute development. A wonderful experience for anyone in a quiet mood. Another disc perfect for a quiet mood is Teresa Suen’s debut CD Longing (teresasuen.com). Suen has the distinction of being the first Chinese harpist to obtain a Doctor of Music degree, which she acquired after studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois with Elizabeth Cifani. The Hong Kong-born harpist has recently made Toronto her home after a three-year appointment at Carleton University in Ottawa. Longing was recorded in 2010 and features turn-of-the- and mid-20th-century works for solo harp. While the music is more or less modern – including works by Paul Hindemith and John Cage – it is surprising how mellow the overall feel of the disc is. It begins and ends with Préludes intimes by the important pioneer of harp technique and development, Carlos Salzedo. The subtitles tenderly emoted and profoundly peaceful are apt descriptions, but his Chanson dans la nuit includes a variety of moods. Hindemith, in his quest to write “music for use,” composed solo sonatas for every instrument. The Sonata for Harp was written in 1939 in Switzerland just before he emigrated to America. The threemovement work is inherently melodic with moments of playfulness and exuberance, although its finale is moody and slow. Cage’s In a Landscape is the most recent work on the disc, dating from 1948. Originally a piano piece, it is often played by harpists, its slow and mournful arpeggios being well-suited to the instrument. Other works included are by Saint-Saëns, Pierné and Granados. Suen has chosen a well-balanced program focusing on calmness and warmth, beautifully played. She will be a welcome addition to the local music scene. Concert note: Toronto’s reigning harp diva Judy Loman is celebrated on October 30 in “Mazzoleni Masters: Judy Loman 80th Birthday Celebration,” where she will perform works by Salzedo among others, at Mazzoleni Hall. The concert celebrates her illustrious career and the launch of Ariadne’s Legacy, the complete works for harp by R. Murray Schafer which is being released on the Centrediscs label and will soon be reviewed in these pages. And just couple of quick jazz notes lest you think I have joined the Lotus-eaters and spent the last month in a state of mellow musical bliss… Guitarist Eric St-Laurent and his quartet will launch Planet (ericst-laurent.com) at Hugh’s Room on October 6. This jazz/funk offering features Jordan O’Connor on bass, Attila Fias on piano and the Latin-nuanced percussion of Michel DeQuevedo in a set of five St-Laurent originals and intriguing arrangements of Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee, Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe and in a moment of relaxation, the second movement theme from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.8 convincingly rendered on acoustic guitar with double bass in unison. The driving rhythms and clever interactions of the quartet were just the wake-up call I needed after my extended immersion in the discs mentioned above. After a busy summer in Toronto, trumpeter and flugelhornist Andrew McAnsh has returned to his studies at the Berklee School in Boston. Although there are no local performances on the immediate horizon, McAnsh has left us with Illustrations (andrewmcansh. bandcamp.com) on which he is joined by Jeff Larochelle (tenor sax), PJ Andersson (trombone), Geoff Young (guitar), Wes Allen and Soren Nissen (bass), Chris Pruden (piano) and Ian Wright (drums). Wordless vocals by Mjaa Danielson and Mara Nesrallah (who also provides compelling narration on Confabulation) in unison with horn lines add to a very intriguing big band texture. All the tracks were composed by McAnsh with the exception of the opening Utopia Suite which was co-written with the trombonist. Of particular note are McAnsh’s arrangements which convey the impression of a large brass section using only three horns. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to hear him live again next summer. We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. CDs and comments should be sent to: DISCoveries, WholeNote Media Inc., The Centre for Social Innovation, 503 – 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also encourage you to visit our website thewholenote.com where you can find added features including direct links to performers, composers and record labels, “buy buttons” for online shopping and additional, expanded and archival reviews. David Olds, DISCoveries Editor discoveries@thewholenote.com 58 | October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 thewholenote.com

Very, very rarely does a review copy CD have such an effect on me that I simply want to keep playing it instead of listening to the rest of the month’s selections, but that’s exactly what happened with the absolutely stunning CD Janoska Style, featuring the Janoska Ensemble in a dazzling selection of their own distinctive arrangements (Deutsche Grammophon 481 2524). The ensemble features the three Czech brothers Ondrej and Roman Janoska on violin and František Janoska at the piano, with their Hungarian brother-in-law Julius Darvas on double bass. All four musicians had significant independent careers in Vienna before deciding to concentrate on their own music with the Janoska Ensemble in 2013. They combine salon style, gypsy music, jazz and improvisation and bravura cadenzas in virtuosic arrangements that leave you short of breath and scrambling for words to describe them. From the opening Die Fledermaus Overture à la Janoska, which morphs into a frenetic gypsy version of Those Were the Days, through reworkings of Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie, Massenet’s Thaïs Meditation, Paganini’s Caprice No.24 to Piazzolla’s Adiós Nonino, this is musical imagination, vision and virtuosity of the highest order. We’re never asked to choose a CD of the Year, but if we were then this would undoubtedly be mine. Overtures to Bach is the latest CD from the cellist Matt Haimovitz on the Pentatone Oxingale Series label (PTC 5186 561). It’s yet another tour-de-force solo recital of Bach and Bach-inspired contemporary works from this outstanding performer. Haimovitz’s continuing relationship with the Bach Cello Suites stretches back over a period of more than 30 years, and in this latest venture – which he calls a culminating moment in the relationship – he has commissioned six new overtures that reflect on and anticipate the six individual suites and, by expanding on the cross-cultural and vernacular references in Bach’s music, reach both forward and backward in time. Each new piece is followed by the Prelude to the relevant Suite. The new works, in Suite order, are: Overture by Philip Glass; The Veronica, by Du Yun; Run, by Vijay Iyer; La memoria, by Roberto Sierra; Es War, by David Sanford; and Lili’uokalani for solo cello piccolo by TERRY ROBBINS Luna Pearl Woolf. Haimovitz is superb in the wide range of technical challenges presented by the new works, and is as thoughtful and inquisitive as ever in the Bach Preludes. It’s a simply outstanding CD. When I saw the title of the new 2-CD set from the Chiara String Quartet – Bartók by Heart (Azica ACD-71310) I couldn’t believe my eyes. Surely it didn’t mean that they were performing all six of the Bartók quartets from memory? Well, yes it did, and yes they were. I don’t think you necessarily have to be a string player to be able to appreciate the simply staggering nature of such a challenge, but anyone who has ever played in a string quartet will know exactly what is involved here – you don’t simply have to remember your own part, but also everybody else’s part to a large extent so that the complete picture is always present in your mind. And these are six works of huge complexity and technical difficulty. It’s important, though, to move beyond the astonishing magnitude of the feat itself to the musical and emotional result, and the level of the performances here more than repays the effort involved. Interestingly, the quartet members feel that memorizing the music made the more difficult passages easier to play, and that the process took the music back to the aural tradition from which Bartók drew his initial influences. One thing is certain: in a fiercely competitive field there isn’t another Bartók set quite like this one. The outstanding American violinist Jennifer Koh, who has produced a string of terrific CDs for the Cedille label featuring contemporary compositions, returns to the standard repertoire for her latest release, Tchaikovsky Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra, with Alexander Vedernikov conducting the Odense Symphony Orchestra (CDR 90000 166). The trademark Koh intelligence and sensitivity in programming is still there, however: Vedernikov was the conductor when the 15-year-old Koh played the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major Op.35 in the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in 1992, the same year in which she first played with the Odense Symphony, and in 2011 all three Reviews of discs below this line are enhanced in our online Listening Room at thewholenote.com/listening. The Far West Winner of the 2016 Choral Canada award for “Outstanding Choral Composition” CD’s for sale in Canada at www.luminousvoices.ca Countermeasure - Made to Measure. Award-winning Toronto based a cappella ensemble offers powerful originals, and genre-defying versions of jazz and pop favourites Sibelius / Glazunov Violin Concertos “…a simply stunning debut” The WholeNote. See Esther at Roy Thomson Hall Oct. 8th and 9th. Love Story: Piano Themes from Cinema’s Golden Age Love Story features the iconic music from cinema’s Golden Era, scored for piano and orchestra. thewholenote.com October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 | 59

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