7 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017

  • Text
  • December
  • Toronto
  • Arts
  • January
  • Symphony
  • February
  • Jazz
  • Performing
  • Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Volume
In this issue: a conversation with pianist Stewart Goodyear, in advance of his upcoming show at Koerner Hall; a preview of the annual New Year’s phenomenon that is Bravissimo!/Salute to Vienna; an inside look at music performance in Toronto’s health-care centres; and a reflection on the incredible life and lasting influence of the late Pauline Oliveros. These and more, in a special December/January combined issue!

in Leaving the Table who

in Leaving the Table who play between them drums, bass, nylonstring guitar, guitar, mellotron, celeste, keys, piano, electric and pedal steel guitars. One very effective juxtaposition is Treaty – “I wish there was a treaty we could sign; It’s over now, the water and the wine; We were broken then, but now we’re borderline; I wish there was a treaty; I wish there was a treaty; Between your love and mine” – with the final track, which is a revisiting entitled String Reprise/Treaty. This features an extended string prelude by Patrick Leonard which is somewhat reminiscent of another contextual anomaly, producer Jack Nitzsche’s String Quartet from Whiskey Boot Hill on Neil Young’s eponymous album back in 1968. On the credits page of the booklet, Cohen includes an extended tribute to his son, saying, in part “I want to acknowledge, with deep gratitude, the role my son Adam Cohen played in the making of You Want it Darker. Without his contribution there would be no record. At a certain point, after over a year of intense labour…the project was abandoned. Adam took over…and brought these unfinished songs to completion, preserving of course, many of Pat [Leonard]’s haunting musical themes. It is because of my son’s loving encouragement and skillful administration, that these songs exist in their present form. I cannot thank him enough.” We should all be thankful for this moving memento mori. 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 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 The outstanding Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili is back with simply ravishing performances of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius Concertos with Daniel Barenboim leading the Staatskapelle Berlin (Deutsche Grammophon 479 6038). The recordings are the direct result of the artists’ collaboration in the final open-air free concert of the annual State Opera for All concert series in Berlin, initiated by Barenboim in 2006. For the past four years Batiashvili has been the guest artist, playing the Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos – indeed, it was her televised performance of the latter with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra that prompted Barenboim to make the initial contact. The Berlin studio recordings here were made within days of the 2015 and 2016 Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concert performances, and they are simply stunning. Batiashvili has a rich, clear tone with wonderful depth and a brilliant top, and Barenboim supplies a perfectly judged accompaniment with an unerring instinct for when to hold back and linger awhile and when to forge ahead. It all makes for sensitive, thrilling and passionate interpretations that grab you from the opening bars and never let go. Add a simply outstanding orchestral and recording quality and these are performances that can hold their own with any on record. !! The English violinist Tamsin Waley- Cohen is the soloist in the Violin Concertos by American composers Roy Harris and John Adams on a new Signum Classics CD with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Litton (SIGCD468). The Harris concerto was written in 1949 on a commission from the Cleveland Orchestra for its concertmaster Joseph Gingold, but the premiere was cancelled when numerous discrepancies between the score and the orchestral parts couldn’t be corrected in time for the concert. It was 35 years before Gregory Fulkerson and the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra gave the first performance in 1984, with Fulkerson’s recording the following year making the concerto available to a wider audience. It’s a work that is very much of its time, optimistic with a strong nostalgic feel and an American Western country folk feel throughout. Waley-Cohen consulted the manuscript source in the Library of Congress in Washington and was apparently enchanted by the rhapsodic solo writing. It certainly shows in her terrific performance here. TERRY ROBBINS The Adams concerto was completed in 1993, and while in the traditional three-movement form is described by the composer as having no sense of traditional competition between orchestra and soloist, the violin instead making its way unimpeded through the body of the orchestra, which remains below or behind it. There’s a tranquil Chaconne middle movement, and a Toccare finale that is right out of the same drawer as Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Outstanding performances make this a significant addition to the 20th-century violin concerto discography. !! If you like your Bach bright, clean and with an abundance of energy, then you will really enjoy BACH, the new CD from the Serbian violinist Nemanja Radulović (Deutsche Grammophon 479 5933). It’s described as being in a way the continuation of his exploration of the Baroque repertory following his Vivaldi project, The Five Seasons, but it’s just as clearly a return to his roots and his earliest musical studies. His former fellow student Tijana Milošević joins him in a performance of the Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor BWV1043 in which the outer Vivace and Allegro movements are just about as fast as you’re likely to hear them. There is lovely clean playing throughout, though. The string ensemble Double Sens provides a crystal clear accompaniment. The Concerto in A Minor BWV1041 receives similar treatment, with a particularly lovely slow movement; Radulović really does have a beautiful tone. The other J. S. Bach works on the CD are a mixture. The short Gavotte from the Partita No.3 BWV1006, the only solo piece on the disc, is clean and bright. The remaining three works are all presented in arrangements for violin and strings by Aleksander Sedlar: the Toccata & Fugue in D Minor BWV565 (where Les Trilles du Diable provide the accompaniment); the Air in D Major from the Orchestral Suite No.3 BWV1068; and the Chaconne in D Minor from the Partita No.2 BWV1004. There is more than a hint of the old Leopold Stokowski transcriptions here. Radulović also learned the viola in his native Belgrade and studied the Viola Concerto in C Minor that was long thought to be by Johann Christian Bach but is now described as being “reconstructed” by Henri Casadesus. It is included here as a nod to his student days. !! Chora Brazil is the debut CD from the Toronto ensemble Tio Chorinho (, the only ensemble in Canada dedicated L/R 74 | December 1, 2016 - February 7, 2017

to performing Brazilian choro music, the primarily instrumental musical form which originated in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro in the late 19th century and provided the foundation for several modern Brazilian musical styles. The group members are Eric Stein (mandolin), Avital Zemer (sevenstring guitar), Maninho Costa (percussion), Carlos Cardozo (cavaquinho) and Andre Valerio (guitar and cavaquinho). The 12 tracks are mostly compositions by the masters of the genre, including six by the mandolin virtuoso Jacob do Bandolim, two by Waldir Azevedo and two by Pixinguinha. It’s just an absolute delight from start to finish, with some outstanding playing by the core members and occasional guest performers. Stein’s mandolin work is particularly impressive, often having the same sort of sound as the Portuguese guitar in fado music. Check out the videos of their performances on their website. It’s a terrific debut CD; play it on a grey day and your room will be filled with sunshine! !! Concertango Grosso is a new CD from the ATMA Classique label featuring the music of the Quebec composer François Dompierre (ACD22739). The 2015 title track was commissioned by and is dedicated to the pianist Louise Bessette and also features Denis Plante on bandoneon, Kerson Leong on violin, Richard Capolla on bass and the Orchestre de chambre Appassionata under Daniel Myssyk. It’s a highly enjoyable four-movement piece, clearly – and inevitably – influenced by Astor Piazzola, but always more than just simple imitation or pastiche. The bandoneon certainly imparts an air of complete authenticity. Bessette is also the soloist in the Concerto de Saint-Irénée for piano and string orchestra, a classically structured work that takes its inspiration from popular music of North and South America, including jazz in the opening movement and Latin music in the third. The terrific Kerson Leong was in fine form in the Concertango Grosso, so it’s no surprise to hear him join Bessette and do some great fiddling in Les Diableries. The five short movements were originally written (for violin and orchestra) as the required violin work in the 1979 Montreal International Music Competition, and the piece is heard here in a new arrangement for violin, piano and string orchestra. La Morte de Céleste, the final track on the disc, is a rich, romantic and simply lovely short piece for string orchestra. !! There’s more fine fiddling on Of Witches and Devils – works L/R by Paganini, Tartini and Locatelli played by violinist Luca Fanfoni and pianist Luca Ballerini on a new Dynamic CD (CDS 7749). Some strong playing in Fritz Kreisler’s version of Tartini’s Sonata in G Minor, known as the “Devil’s Trill,” opens the program, but things really get interesting with the first of three Paganini works – Introduction and variations in G Major MS44 on Nel cor più non mi sento (by Paisello). This was one of Paganini’s dazzling show pieces and features all the usual tricks: left-hand pizzicato; arpeggios and runs; multiple stops; runs in thirds, sixths, octaves and tenths. It no longer has us believing that the composer was in league with the devil, but it still has challenges that Fanfoni certainly does more than just surmount. The lyrical Adagio from the Concerto No.3 in E Major MS50 is next, followed by the Sonata a preghiera MS23, the work more commonly known as Variations on the G String on Moses’ Prayer from Rossini’s opera Mosé in Egitto. It’s noted here as the traditional version, by which they mean the one we’re used to hearing. More on that later. Locatelli’s Capriccio for solo violin (“Il Labirinto Armonico”) from L’Arte del violino Op.3 is a short but quite astonishing piece with a constant flurry of bowing interrupted by single notes ticking away. Then it’s back to Paganini for Le streghe, Variations on a theme by Franz Süssmayr MS19 followed by the fascinating final track. The Moses’ Prayer Variations, it turns out, are only the final part of the complete Sonata a preghiera. Not only is this the first recording of the unabridged original version, it is played on Paganini’s own violin and with the string tuned up a minor third, a trick that Paganini himself used to obtain an even higher sound. Fanfoni tends to favour speed over clarity, and the intonation seems a little less sure than in the traditional version, but it makes for a unique ending to a very interesting CD. !! Imagined Memories is a 2-CD issue featuring string quartets by Franz Schubert and Ralf Yusuf Gawlick in performances by Austrian ensemble the Hugo Wolf Quartett (musica omnia mo0704). Schubert’s String Quartet No.13 D804 (Rosamunde) has a lovely brooding and delicate start, and a sensitive performance throughout, recorded with a fair amount of resonance. It’s included here because the start of the quartet is quoted at the beginning and the end of the Gawlick quartet, which the composer describes as “an autobiographical work that probes into the realms of a relationship that never was, a bond with my biological mother, whom I never met.” The opening also quotes quartets by Smetana, Borodin and Shostakovich. L/R Like the review? Listen to some tracks from all the recordings in the ads below at The L/R Tchaikovsky String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3 The Heath Quartet make their Canadian debut January 22, 2017 3:15pm at Walter Hall (UofT). Tickets , under 30 - . Francois Dompierre - Concertango Grosso ATMA Classique proudly presents the world premier recording of Concertango grosso performed by pianist Louise Bessette, who commissioned the work from composer François Dompierre. Russian Piano Music vol. 12: Sergei Bortkiewicz Rachmaninov, Chopin and Scriabin’s sound worlds peppered with wonderful individualism produce the great Romantic music of Bortkiewicz. Alice Sara Ott / Wonderland Available at L’Atelier Grigorian, 70 Yorkville Ave., Toronto & December 1, 2016 - February 7, 2017 | 75

Copied successfully!

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)