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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!

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performed together for the first time. Koh admits to possibly being more patient in the concerto after all these years, and there is certainly never any sense of rushing in what is a carefully measured and highly lyrical performance. There aren’t quite the fireworks that you’ll find in some recordings, perhaps, but that doesn’t in any way diminish the interpretation here – it’s a thoughtful, personal statement from a player with impeccable technique. Tchaikovsky’s works for violin and orchestra all date from the years 1875-78. The Sérénade melancolique in B Minor Op.26 from 1875 and the Valse-Scherzo in C Major Op.34 from 1877 open the disc, with the 1878 concerto as the central work; the Glazunov orchestration of the three-piece Souvenir d’un lieu cher Op.42, also from 1878, completes a highly satisfying CD. Another outstanding American musician, cellist Zuill Bailey, features on two new CDs. On Arpeggione (Azica ACD-71306) he teams with guitarist and composer David Leisner in a recital that includes Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor (Arpeggione) D821, de Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españolas and the world premiere recording of Leisner’s own Twilight Streams. Short pieces by Gluck, Saint-Saëns and Villa-Lobos fill out a CD that ends with an astonishing transcription of a virtuosic violin piece by Paganini – the Variations on One String on a Theme from Rossini’s Moses. Terrific technique and warm tone from both players make this a charming disc. All of the arrangements other than the Villa-Lobos are by Leisner. On Reimagined: Schumann & Beethoven for Cello Quintet (Sono Luminus DSL-92204) Zuill Bailey joins the Ying Quartet in arrangements of the Schumann Cello Concerto in A Minor Op.129 and Beethoven’s Sonata No.9 for Violin and Piano Op.47 “Kreutzer.” The Schumann arrangement is by the performers; the Beethoven is an anonymous arrangement from 1832. The Schumann works well, but the revelation here is the “Kreutzer” Sonata. The absence of a piano makes for a completely different opening, for starters, but the entire work comes across not just as a transcription or arrangement but as a new Beethoven string quintet – and a stunning one at that. It makes you realize and appreciate the sheer depth and strength of the original sonata. The playing is outstanding throughout a quite fascinating and thought-provoking CD. Having first recorded the Brahms Violin Sonatas in a 2002 live performance, violinist Christian Tetzlaff and his regular collaborator pianist Lars Vogt have revisited them after 14 years as they feel that their growth as a duo has resulted in their having more to say (Ondine ODE 1284-2). I’ve never heard the 2002 CD, but this latest issue provides ample proof that the duo does indeed have a great deal to say in these immensely popular works. The opening of the Sonata No.1 in G Major Op.78 is simply lovely, and the beautiful playing that follows evokes all the usual Brahms descriptive terms – it’s warm, gentle, expansive and autumnal in feel. The Sonata No.2 in A Major Op.100 is equally lovely, and there is plenty of fire in the Sonata No.3 in D Minor Op.108. Brahms’ contribution to the F.A.E. Sonata, the Scherzo WoO 2 completes the disc. The playing from both performers throughout is rhapsodic, passionate and nuanced, with an excellent dynamic range and a simply lovely recorded sound. This is one revisit that is quite clearly well worth the trip. There’s more lovely duo playing on Prokofiev Music for Violin and Piano, the debut duo CD by violinist Jameson Cooper and pianist Ketevan Badridze issued on the Afinat Records label (AR1601) in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The Englishborn Cooper has long been active in the United States, and is the first violinist with the Euclid Quartet in residence at Indiana University South Bend, where Badridze is also on the faculty as a senior lecturer. It’s a CD that certainly makes a lovely birthday present, with outstanding playing of the three works on the program: the Five Melodies Op.35bis; the Violin Sonata No.1 in F Minor Op.80; and the Violin Sonata No.2 in D Major Op.94bis. Both performers are in great form, with their outstanding techniques allowing them to explore the emotional depths of the dark and intensely personal F Minor sonata in particular. Cooper and Badridze have some top competition in this field – I’ve reviewed similar CDs by Viktoria Mullova, Alina Ibragimova, Jonathan Crow and James Ehnes in the last few years – but this is a disc that can more than hold its own. Cooper’s insightful and perceptive booklet notes complete a terrific package. The 23-year-old American violinist Caroline Goulding teams with pianist Danae Dörken on her debut CD of music by Georges Enescu, Antonín Dvořák and Robert Schumann (Ars Produktion ARS 8536). The choice for the opening work on the disc, Enescu’s Impressions d’enfance Op.28, is a surprising but strikingly successful one. This simply astonishing suite that traces the course of a child’s day is not what you would expect on a debut disc, but it provides a wonderful palette for violinists to display their range of tone colour as well as their technique, and Goulding takes full advantage of it. There is something pleasingly old-fashioned about Goulding’s playing in some respects, with its big warm tone and vibrato and her judicial use of portamento. The Dvořák Romantische Stücke Op.75 benefits greatly from this in a lovely performance, and there is more nice playing from both performers in Schumann’s Violin Sonata No.2 in D Minor Op.121. All in all, an excellent debut CD from a definite talent. Maximilian Hornung is the soloist in the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra by the American composer Samuel Adler (b.1928) on the CD José Serebrier conducts Samuel Adler (Linn CKD545); Serebrier also conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Adler’s Symphony No.6. The concerto is a strong four-movement work written for the Cleveland Orchestra and its principal cellist Stephen Geber almost 30 years ago, when Adler was a professor at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. The movements strike a lovely balance between slow, lyrical writing for the cello and rhythmically strong up-tempo passages that show a fair bit of jazz influence. The symphony is perhaps the more significant recording here. It was written in 1984-85 for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and their conductor David Zinman, but Zinman left the orchestra before the work could be scheduled. This recording is the premiere performance of the symphony as well as the first recording. It’s a powerful three-movement work with a simply explosive start and a slow, expressive middle movement between two fast outer movements. The orchestration has a distinctively American feel, with more than the occasional hint of Leonard Bernstein, especially in the handling of the percussion and the rhythmic writing. The short orchestral tone poem Drifting On Winds And Currents concludes an impressive CD. 60 | October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 thewholenote.com

Keyed In ALEX BARAN Using the piano as an orchestral percussion section, often brutally, is a requisite for performing Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Sivan Silver and Gil Garburg are unrestrained in conveying the savagery of the ballet’s storyline in their recording Igor Stravinsky – Petrouchka, Le Sacre du printemps (Berlin Classics 0300588BC). Stravinsky wrote this duet version of The Rite of Spring at the same time as the orchestral score. Curiously, the piano version was published a week before the stormy Paris premiere in May 1913, while the orchestral score remained unpublished for another eight years. The Silver-Garburg duo performs wonderfully throughout this work always using the well-placed quieter moments of repose as contrast against the wilder passages. They understand it completely and play with a commitment to making an emotional impact no less powerful than the larger orchestral score. Petrouchka also exists as a piano duet by Stravinsky. He finished it just as he began The Rite of Spring in 1911. The duo performs it beautifully. They play with exceptional unity and control especially through the long mystical pauses and speed changes of Petrouchka’s Room. Their crisp, energetic staccatos make Russian Dance a track worth hearing more than once. The disc’s closing track, The Mummers is a brilliant display of speed and technique, and a terrific ending to this recording of two of Stravinsky’s most admired compositions. Shortly after winning the 2013 Cincinnati World Piano Competition, Marianna Prjevalskaya recorded Marianna Prjevalskaya plays Rachmaninoff, Variations on Themes by Chopin and Corelli (Fanfare Cincinnati FC-008). The works are big and sit 30 years apart in Rachmaninoff’s oeuvre. The earlier set of variations on the theme of Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor Op.28 dates from 1902. Prjevalskaya plays these 22 pieces capturing all the references to Chopin’s language as well as the early hints of Rachmaninoff’s growing penchant for large-scale orchestral statements, even if only from a keyboard. There’s a lot of emotional variety in this set, with retrospective glances at the Baroque and Classical. But Prjevalskaya ensures that we never lose sight of the essential Russian-ness of the composition. The concluding variation, Maestoso, embodies this in its larger-than-life declaration of Chopin’s idea as towering chords of Russian pianism. Variations on a Theme of Corelli Op.42 shows us a different composer. Prjevalskaya knows this, and plays with a focus on Rachmaninoff’s more modern vocabulary. She uses his rhythmically irregular figures and unexpected harmonic shifts to present the mature composer writing his last solo piano work. Her approach is less academic than the earlier set and far more a full concert piece that asks to be considered as a whole. It’s for this reason that we hear more clearly the Rachmaninoff of the piano concertos, his melodic voice and rich harmonic palette. Imagine hearing the premiere performed by the composer in Montreal in 1931. L/R Film music is a reliable audience pleaser for orchestras, and people never seem to tire of the great themes that slumber in the soundtracks of so many half-forgotten films. Since its early role as accompaniment to films, the piano has receded into more of a concerto relationship with orchestral film music. Still, many a good theme falls to the keyboard, and Love Story, Piano Themes from Cinema’s Golden Age (Decca 4789454) collects some of film’s most beautiful music for this instrumental combination. The screen seems to require composers to write in a way that gives immediate access to emotion and drama. Valentina Lisitsa, whose controversial public stance on the turmoil in Ukraine compelled the Toronto Symphony to cancel her 2015 concerts, appears on this disc as the pianist. Her performance of these screen works with the BBC Concert Orchestra is superb. She brings all the requisite concert technique and expression to the service of the score. It’s all intensely Romantic and very lush, graphic music. You can almost smell the popcorn. There’s a surprisingly conservative Classic/Romantic tradition to these scores. Richard Adinsell’s Warsaw Concerto is the best example of this. Hubert Bath’s Cornish Rhapsody from Love Story (1944) sounds remarkably like Rachmaninoff, while Nino Rota reveals his own voice in The Legend of Glass Mountain (1949). A delightfully unusual track is Dave Grusin’s New Hampshire Hornpipe from On Golden Pond (1981). Here Lisitsa, without orchestra, creates the convincing atmosphere of an early New England folk dance. The title music from the 1985 TV series Pride and Prejudice, with its period feel, is an artful work by composer Carl Davis. Lisitsa takes her solo moments in this as though they were short solos in Mozart piano concertos. Pure delight. This unusual recording Keys to the City – The Great New York Reviews of discs below this line are enhanced in our online Listening Room at thewholenote.com/listening. HOLLOW TREES HUTCHINSON ANDREW TRIO featuring the Lily String Quartet R. Nathaniel Dett: The Ordering of Moses A thrilling 2014 concert of Dett’s magnum opus, performed by vocal soloists, the May Festival Chorus, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under James Conlon Hollow Trees Western Canada’s Hutchinson Andrew Trio reveal music with rich textures, beauty, power & drama. www.hatjazz.com Book of Intuition “One of the top jazz pianists in the world” (The Los Angeles Times) will be performing at Koerner Hall on October 29th. Let’s Do It! 60 Years of Verve Records 4 CDs – 47 selections – celebrating 60 years of the vim and vigour that is Verve. Billie, Diana, Oscar, Herbie, Ella, Louis & more, Let’s Do It is infused with the vim and vigor that is Verve Records. thewholenote.com October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 | 61

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