Views
2 years ago

Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • August
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Concerts
  • Quartet
  • Arts
  • September
  • Volume
CBC Radio's Lost Horizon; Pinocchio as Po-Mo Operatic Poster Boy; Meet the Curators (Crow, Bernstein, Ridge); a Global Music Orchestra is born; and festivals, festivals, festivals in our 13th annual summer music Green Pages. All this and more in our three-month June-through August summer special issue, now available in flipthrough HERE and on the stands commencing Thursday June 1.

VOCAL Verdi – Un Ballo

VOCAL Verdi – Un Ballo in Maschera Soloists; Bayerisches Staatsorchester; Zubin Mehta Cmajor 739408 !! Munich has been at the cutting edge of bringing opera into the 21st century with highly original productions by the best directors and designers as well as streaming them live through the internet and onto your TV screen, worldwide and free of charge. A few of these have been released on DVD such as this Ballo from 2016, Johannes Erath’s “musically super-sensitive” gorgeous, highly acclaimed production many people travelled to Munich for. Verdi’s opera of illicit love, betrayal, conspiracy, revenge and murder has been a special favourite of mine, with its heavenly music throbbing with emotion and ecstasy, reminding me of Tristan. Erath created a dreamlike, surrealistic show in dominant blue and black with projections of shadows and in semi-darkness, suggesting the ever-present power of black magic and the subconscious. There is a single set throughout, a bedroom that with effective light changes can transform in one’s imagination into many different settings. The Staatsoper selected a dream cast as this opera requires the highest order of singers. Young Polish tenor Piotr Beczała, in love with his best friend’s wife but also guiltridden, is vocally and visually radiant in the role of Governor Riccardo. Amelia, the wife, tormented and in a conflict that threatens to tear her apart, is German soprano Anja Harteros, her dark-hued voice full of intensity. The wronged husband Renato, one of Verdi’s most inspired creations, is George Petean who perhaps lacks the expected aristocratic bearing but his strong, heroic and heartrending baritone completes this exemplary trio of principals. Even the lesser roles: Sofia Fomina (Oscar) and Okka von der Damerau (Ulrica) store wonderful surprises and, to top it all, Zubin Mehta’s masterly handling of the score makes this production truly memorable. Janos Gardonyi Revive Elīna Garanča; Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana; Roberto Abbado Deutsche Grammophon 479 5937 !! Elīna Garanča from Latvia is unquestionably the greatest mezzo of our time, already a legend. The mention of her name fills up opera houses and concert halls instantly worldwide. Her debut at the Met in Carmen was a world sensation, redefining the role and making us forget any Carmen heard before or ever after. Wherever she goes, she conquers. This is her fifth solo disc for DG, the previous four all award-winning runaway bestsellers and each showing different sides of her talent and development towards more and more complex roles. “Strong women in moments of weakness” is how she defines this new release, and that means conflicting strong emotions but also a breakaway from her earlier bel canto repertoire into French and Italian verismo and, of course, Verdi. The point of departure is the role of Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (her next project) with the gut-wrenching aria Voi lo sapete, o Mamma of human misery and despair, with Garanča rising to the occasion in a voice of tremendous range of vocal colour, intensity, passion and, above all, power. Challenging and beautiful arias by Cilea, Massenet, Thomas and Saint-Saëns and more each give us a tantalizing glimpse into mezzo territory. And then comes Verdi: one huge role, Eboli in Don Carlo, which she hasn’t done yet and which everyone is waiting for. If this thrilling showstopper, Song of the Veil with its fiery Spanish rhythms and exuberance, is any indication, it will be another triumph. Roberto Abbado’s intense and passionate conducting adds to the success of this remarkable collection. Janos Gardonyi John Glover – Lucy Andrew Wilkowske; Christopher Zemliauskas; REDSHIFT Ensemble New Focus Recordings FCR 183 (newfocusrecordings.com) !! In 1964, Maurice and Jane Temerlin “adopted” the just-born Lucy as part of a series of crossfostering experiments in which chimpanzees were raised as if they were human, with mostly tragic outcomes for the chimps. Lucy lived with them until 1977, when they could no longer deal with her. She was finally set free in The Gambia, where her mutilated body was found in 1987. Kelley Rourke’s libretto (included in the booklet) imagines Maurice Temerlin learning of Lucy’s death and recalling episodes from their years together, drawn from his memoir, Lucy: Growing Up Human. John Glover’s hour-long opera (2014) features baritone Andrew Wilkowske (Temerlin), speaker Sarah Sokolovic (Researcher), pianist Christopher Zemliauskas and the four-member REDSHIFT Ensemble, with Glover conducting. The hearty-voiced Wilkowske sings with energy and expression, but his music is less engrossing than his words, recounting many humorous, sometimes frightening, scenes of his “daughter” Lucy running around with unrolled toilet paper, getting drunk, carrying a kitten on her back, learning American Sign Language, dialling a telephone, attacking and biting a visitor. Most of Lucy’s musical pleasures are provided by the varied colours and bubbling rhythms of the instrumental accompaniment. Bonus tracks include comments by Glover, Rourke, Wilkowske, stage director Erik Pearson and, most eloquently, Robert Ingersoll, who worked on the cross-fostering project but now advocates for chimps to be treated as chimps. “We stole their lives from them,” he laments. Lucy helps explain Ingersoll’s anguish. Michael Schulman John Joubert – Jane Eyre April Fredrick; David Stout; Gwion Thomas; Mark Milhofer; English Symphony Orchestra; Kenneth Woods SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 263-2 !! British composer John Joubert and his librettist (and former student) Kenneth Birkin worked on his opera Jane Eyre from 1987 through 1997. Incorporating cuts made for the world-premiere concert performance in October 2016 in Birmingham, this live recording is a tribute for the composer’s 90th birthday and an exceptional permanent record of a great work. Charlotte Brontë’s novel surprisingly suits this operatic venture. As Joubert explains in the detailed liner notes, the two acts of three scenes each are not an exact retelling of the lengthy story, but a selective take on Jane’s adult life. The libretto captures all the important storyline components while the composition is amazing. The music is so original, with touches of such influences as Wagner and Strauss surfacing throughout. The vocal music captures the story but it really is the brilliant orchestration that rules – it almost sounds like equal duets between the vocals and instruments. The Act One argument between Jane and Brocklehurst is driven by rhythmic orchestral shots, low-pitched mysterious crescendos and countermelodies in the strings. The closing joy in Jane and Rochester’s reunion is reinforced by the sweet string lines. The soloists perform with passion and expertise. The orchestra members play with astounding musical force, driving the operatic score to out of this world artistic heights. 80 | June 1, 2017 - September 7, 2017 thewholenote.com

There is so much musical detail here that only repeated listening can illuminate. Though at times musically too melodramatic, this is an opera that should stand the test of time. Tiina Kiik CLASSICAL AND BEYOND Henriette, The Princess of the Viol Maddalena Del Gobbo; Michele Carreca; Ewald Donhoffer; Christoph Prendl Deutsche Grammophon 481 4523 !! All too often reviews published in The WholeNote evaluate works by artists who die tragically young. Princess Anne Henriette de Bourbon was one such. Princess? If she had lived beyond 24, she might have become a queen: she was Louis XV of France’s second daughter. In this CD, Maddalena Del Gobbo evokes the legendary genius of Henriette’s viola da gamba playing. Del Gobbo – who is quite taken with her subject – includes music by Marin Marais, as might be expected, but also arrangements of country dance music which disprove the idea that the viola da gamba was some highly formal, sombre instrument, along with other music of the time for viola da gamba. Jean-Baptiste Forqueray became Henriette’s tutor. How fitting that two pieces by him feature on the CD. One is a slightly subdued composition, played compassionately by Del Gobbo. In contrast, the other is more lively and demanding, particularly with the divisions that conclude this piece with such a flourish. The dance pieces by Marin Marais from Suite in A Minor are indeed rustic and vigorous, even the Allemande, but special mention must be made of Del Gobbo’s performances of Muzettes throughout the CD. She brings out the original meaning of Muzette, namely bagpipes, and it is her expertise that brings home the drone effect of the bagpipe. Add to this Del Gobbo’s vigorous interpretations of movements by a contemporary of Henriette, Louis de Caix d’Hervelois, and you understand the versatility of both princess and modern performer. Michael Schwartz Johann Rosenmüller in Exile Jesse Blumberg; ACRONYM Olde Focus Recordings FCR909 (newfocusrecordings.com) !! I first heard the music of Johann Rosenmüller in a Tafelmusik concert some years ago. I knew the music of Schütz and Biber, and I was delighted to find that here was a third major 17th-century composer. In the early part of his career he worked in Leipzig and he was apparently assured that he would be the next Thomaskantor, a prestigious post that would later be held by J.S. Bach. Nothing came of this. Instead he became involved in a homosexual scandal and spent time in prison. He escaped and made his way to Venice. That would have been important for his musical evolution as he got to know Italian music, in particular the work of Carissimi. Eventually he was able to return to Germany by becoming the Kapellmeister at the Ducal court at Wolfenbüttel. This CD contains seven items: four Latin cantatas for solo voice and strings, and three five-part sonatas for strings. The singer is the baritone Jesse Blumberg. The works receive fine performances from singer and instrumentalists alike. An attractive recording of relatively unfamiliar material. Hans de Groot J.S. Bach – Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin Movses Pogossian New Focus Recordings FCR178 (newfocusrecordings.com) L/R !! On the back cover of the booklet inserted in the album sleeve is the handwritten note: “in memory of our common research of g minor. a minor sonata / Budapest 6.9.2015 / Márta-György Kurtág.” Before recording the Sonatas and Partitas Movses Pogossian journeyed from Los Angeles to Budapest to work with the 89-year-old Kurtág and his wife Márta. Pogossian had collaborated with the composer before, but on Kurtág’s music, notably the Kafka Fragments, which he performed with soprano Tony Arnold in Toronto this past March. It was then that I asked Movses about his “research” with the Kurtágs. He said that Kurtág was very particular about harmony, structure and tempo and had an allergy to anything that did not feel right. Capturing the character of the piece was the most important thing. For instance, Kurtág said the subject of the A Minor Fugue should be “without emotion,” suggesting the link between key and Affektenlehre. Their “research” resulted in transforming the Sonatas and Partitas into something in the nature of six Baroque altarpieces, where each movement is a panel depicting a tableau that illustrates some aspect of the key in question. Pogossian remains faithful to the affect of each set, even in the Double of the Corrente of the B Minor Partita, where he frames the torrential stream of notes within the penitential mood of that key. Phrasing is free, as though allowing singers to breathe and dancers to pause between phrases. Pogossian’s approach is far from those who treat this repertoire as though an extreme sport. The G Minor Adagio, dark timbre, grieving harmonies, each phrase rising from stillness, the fioriture parsed for motivic shapes, the last chord held 12 seconds a niente for a running time of nearly six minutes; the grave Fugue (Kurtág wished it slower); the lilting Siciliana danced with sad restraint; the grimly brilliant Presto. The desolate A Minor Sonata, the Andante, an aria of loss (compare Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben). Pogossian plays the D Minor Partita with noble restraint, and takes the cosmic Chaconne at a stately quarter = 46. He treats the Adagio of the C Major Sonata as though the Creator is breathing on the waters (eighth = 40), while the Olympian Fugue follows as the fully formed world. The pastoral Largo in F major is all smiles, and the final Allegro could be titled Tutto nel mondo è burla. The E Major Partita radiates uttermost joy. The three CDs are a panoply, but they give only a hint of when one sees Pogossian in person, for he enacts the affects of the Sonatas and Partitas with his whole body and breath. Such intense identification of body, mind and spirit with sound is a rare gift. I am also grateful for the notes by Paul Griffiths, who wrote virtually short poems on each of the types of movements. They end with words on the Ciacconia: “Finally the voices spiral into the keynote. This was the lesson that had to be taught and learned. How to end.” Austin Clarkson Johann Baptist Vanhal – Six Quartets, Op.6 Eybler Quartet Gallery Players of Niagara GPN 17003 (eyblerquartet.com) L/R !! Johann Baptist Vanhal was a Bohemian composer active in Vienna. In his autobiography the Irish tenor Michael Kelly (who sang in the first performance of The Marriage of Figaro) records that he attended a concert of a string quartet which consisted of Haydn, Mozart, Vanhal and Ditters von Dittersdorf. It is a quartet one would have liked to have heard! Vanhal was also a prolific and successful composer. The Eybler Quartet is an ensemble of distinguished Toronto musicians well-versed in 18th-century performance practice: Julia Wedman and Aisslinn Nosky, violin, Patrick Jordan, viola, and Margaret Gay, cello. It was founded in 2004 with the aim of exploring the first century and a half of string quartet repertoire. The quartet’s concerts have featured the work of Haydn and Mozart, but its main emphasis has been on bringing back thewholenote.com June 1, 2017 - September 7, 2017 | 81

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020
Volume 25 Issue 6 - March 2020
Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020
Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 3 - November 2019
Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)