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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!

Pianists Perform the

Pianists Perform the Great New York Songs (Roven Records RR99999) is a celebration of the Big Apple’s music by its own musicians. As an added treat, the liner notes have the pianists writing about each other. Glen Roven writes about Dick Hyman, Hyman about Frank Owens, Billy Stritch about Paul Shaffer and so on. It’s a wonderful gathering of performers who admire each other’s contribution to the New York keyboard scene. A few highlights from the playlist include Axel Tosca playing Take the “A” Train with a strong Latin feel that works surprisingly well, Dick Hyman playing 42nd Street, and Frank Owens performing Lullaby of Broadway with a distinctly Gershwinesque feel. There’s also Glen Roven playing 55th Street Bop in a trio for piano, violin and cello. The bonus track on this disc has pianist, conductor and teacher Leon Fleisher performing Earl Wild’s arrangement of Gershwin’s The Man I Love. He plays it entirely with the left hand, a reminder of the rare condition he suffered, causing him the loss of his right hand for performance. Pianist Ian Gindes is a commissioned officer in the US National Guard. His pride in the distinctive language of American music is evident throughout the tracks of American Visions (Centaur CRC 3476). More than half the disc is music by Aaron Copland whose Four Piano Blues No.3 opens the program with a tender and haunting tribute to pianist William Kapell. Gindes establishes his credible interpretive abilities in this quiet and muted piece. He next explodes into Copland’s Rodeo where Buckaroo Holiday and Hoe-down are crisp, powerful and highly energized. Saturday Night Waltz is often played more pensively but Gindes’ approach is entirely consistent with the rest of the suite and works well. Our Town is Copland’s music to Wilder’s play. It’s less idiomatic than Rodeo and Gindes’ approach reflects the composer’s focus on the atmospheric, emotional narrative. Gone here is the big Copland piano sound of Rodeo. In its place is a deeply quiet introspection delivered by sparse writing and measured playing. Gindes proves to be a superb Copland interpreter. A couple of fun tracks follow. Études by Earl Wild on Gershwin’s Fascinatin’ Rhythm and Embraceable You are demonstrably virtuosic. Stephen Hough’s equally brilliant arrangements of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things and Carousel Waltz give Gindes another chance to show his mastery of the keyboard. The final track is a live recording of Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever for two pianos, eight hands in which Gindes is joined by Tatiana Shustova, Jiafang Yan and Jing Hao. Rousing from start to finish! Irish-born John Field (1782-1837) was a composer of a modest body of works. Despite their relative neglect, they are exquisitely crafted for any pianist who makes the effort to understand their composer. Benjamin Frith in John Field – Piano Concerto No.7; Irish Concerto with the Northern Sinfonia; David Haslam (Naxos 8.573262), shows Field’s language to have many elements that are antecedents of phrasings and figures we hear in the music of Chopin and Liszt, who both attended the 1832 Paris premiere of the Concerto No.7. It makes for curious listening as Beethoven- and Schubertlike elements also occur. Still, there’s no doubt Field evolved his own voice. He rejected the current trend for virtuosic exhibition, instead favouring nuance and subtlety in his writing and playing. Frith captures these hallmarks of Field’s music. He is generous with his pauses and capably exploits every opportunity to create contrast and interest in Field’s ideas. Frith is especially engaging in the Irish Concerto, where his gentle touch matches the beauty of Field’s numerous and ornate melodies. This is lovely material and Frith lets not a single note escape his affectionate attention. The Piano Sonata No.4 in B Major has a frequent early Classical feel and Frith plays it with balanced Mozartian sensibility. Here too there is an ever present lightness to Field’s music that uses none of the turmoil or bombast of some of his contemporaries. This Naxos disc brings together recordings from 1996, 2013 and 2014. Production values have remained wonderfully consistent over the years and the spread in performance dates is not evident without reading the notes. Here’s a terrific video production of a concert featuring familiar and impressive names: Chung, Argerich, Angelich: Live at the Theatre Antique d’Orange, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, BelAir Classics (BAC132). The first-century Roman amphitheatre is packed with an eager audience. Myung-Whun Chung conducts one of Europe’s finest orchestras. And a statue of Caesar looks down on them all as they open the concert with Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture. The pianistic treat on the program is Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D Minor. Martha Argerich and Nicholas Angelich are at their respective Steinways. The whole thing is impeccably played and presented. Clever production offers occasional split screen views of both keyboards in action. Chung conducts the entire evening without a score. He joins the two pianists at a single keyboard to play Rachmaninoff’s Romance for Six Hands in A Major. It’s a bit harmonically thick at times but it’s Rachmaninoff and everyone’s having so much fun. Also on the DVD is Saint-Saëns’ Organ Concerto and a blowout encore that brings the audience to its feet. Schubert’s string quartet Death and the Maiden has seen a couple of larger reworkings. Mahler set it for string orchestra and John Foulds for full symphony orchestra. In Franz Schubert, The Unauthorized Piano Duos, vol. 3 (Divine Art dda 25125) duo pianists Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow give us the recording premiere of this 1878 arrangement by Robert Franz. Franz has arranged the quartet beautifully with part distribution balanced across the keyboard. He uses the added advantage of adding inner harmonies not available to the original four string instruments. Goldstone and Clemmow play fully pianistically using everything the piano can offer. It gives the feeling of the quartet being a rather large duo piano sonata and is completely believable. The second movement theme and variations on the title Lied is wonderfully played. The third movement theme gets added punch from the piano’s powerful bass register. Goldstone and Clemmow play an impressive final movement never showing the strain that Schubert’s relentless tempo imposes. This disc also offers the Unfinished Symphony in an arrangement by Hüttenbrenner, to which Goldstone has added his completed version of the Scherzo and Trio, using Schubert’s sketches. Goldstone also adapts a fourth movement finale using the Entr’acte from Rosamunde D.797. 62 | October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 thewholenote.com

VOCAL Schubert – Lieder: Nacht und Träume Ailish Tynan; Iain Burnside Delphian DCD34165 Duet Lucy Crowe; William Berger; Iain Burnside Delphian DCD34167 !! An accompanist (or, as we now prefer to write, a collaborative pianist) must be a technically accomplished player. That goes without saying. But he also needs to be more: he needs to be alert to a singer’s every nuance. The two discs reviewed here have one performer in common: the pianist Iain Burnside. He is splendid. Many of the songs on the Schubert disc are very familiar. Their inclusion came as something of a surprise to me, for Burnside, in a 2009 interview, complained that singers tend to play it safe. He himself felt that he had nothing new to say on the Schubert song cycles. But the record shows that, if singer and pianist are sufficiently committed to the works they perform, these works do not come across as merely routine. The disc includes Schubert’s Ave Maria and I cannot think of any music more familiar. Yet the way Ailish Tynan and Burnside perform it here makes one feel that one has never heard it before. Besides, not everything here is familiar fare; Ave Maria was one of three songs projected by Schubert as a setting of Scott’s The Lady of the Lake. This recording gives us all three songs. Tynan is an Irish soprano who won the Cardiff Singer of the World recital prize in 2003. She is a lyric soprano who has sung at several of the leading opera houses, including Covent Garden and La Scala. But her main strength would appear to be that of a recitalist. I look forward to hearing her live one day. I have not heard such a fine recital disc by a soprano since the days of Elly Ameling and the young Irmgard Seefried. Duet includes a few solo songs but most of the works here are indeed duets, by Schumann, Mendelssohn and Cornelius. In an accompanying note, Richard Stokes argues that the duet form has fallen out of favour because many artists as well as listeners feel that the form is beneath them. I doubt that is the real reason for the drop in popularity in the duet form. Two centuries ago, domestic music making was a central part of people’s experience and both the solo song and the duet must have played an important part in the rituals of courtship in upper- and middleclass society. Be that as it may, these songs, none of them now familiar, were well worth reviving. They are beautifully performed with the radiance of the soprano (Lucy Crowe) set against the gravity of the baritone (William Berger). Of particular interest is the concluding song, a setting of the poem Wiegenlied by Friedrich Hebbel. When Schumann set the poem, he changed the title to Wiegenlied - am Lager eines kranken Kindes. Stokes is, I am sure, right when he argues that the change in title shows an allusion to the illness and death of Schumann’s infant son Emil. Hans de Groot R. Nathaniel Dett – The Ordering of Moses May Festival Chorus; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; James Conlon Bridge Records 9462 (bridgerecords.com) !! Canadian-born R. Nathaniel Dett (1882- 1943) is without question one of the most L/R significant African/ North-American composers of the 20th century. In 1937, near the end of his life, Dett’s magnificent oratorio, The Ordering of Moses (which he described as a “Biblical Folk Scene”) had its world premiere in a performance by the May Festival Chorus and the Cincinnati Orchestra, which was broadcast live throughout the United States by NBC, and was the first network broadcast of a work by an African/ North-American composer. Throughout his life, Dett was a unifier of music, culture and individuals – and in light of the world’s current condition, his oratorio, linking the Israelite exodus from Egypt and slavery with the northern exodus (via the Underground Railroad and beyond) of the African-American peoples is as meaningful now as when it was composed. The orchestration and composition is lush, dynamic, thrilling and harmonically complex while still gracefully embracing American folk and negro spiritual motifs. The juxtaposition of the dynamic chorus with the rich, sonorous vocal instruments of the skilled soloists (soprano Latonia Moore, mezzo-soprano Ronnita Nicole Miller, tenor Roderick Dixon and baritone Donnie Ray Albert) is almost unbearably gorgeous. The exceptionally produced new recording, which once again features the May Festival Chorus (under the direction of Robert Porco) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (conducted by James Conlon), was performed in its entirety on May 9, 2014, as part of the Spring for Music Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This beautifully produced and performed recording of Dett’s magnum opus was facilitated and broadcast nationally by WQXR FM, New York City’s classical music radio station. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Reviews of discs below this line are enhanced in our online Listening Room at thewholenote.com/listening. Michael Gielen Edition, Vol. 1 (1967-2010) This release is the first of a tenvolume set of works conducted by legendary Michael Gielen, featuring the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden- Baden und Freiburg and more. Quatuor Bozzini Composer’s Kitchen 2017 Mentors: Linda C. Smith, Bryn Harrison April 2017 Canada November 2017 UK Workshop for composers Applications online this fall quatuorbozzini.ca Schmitt: Antoine et Cléopâtre Schmitt's compositional output was comprised of a potpourri of styles which included scores for theatre, ballet, stage plays, and this collection of incidental music. The Number 1 Jazz Beatles Album 13 Beatle greats by such jazz greats as Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock and more. How fab is that? thewholenote.com October 1, 2016 - November 7, 2016 | 63

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