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Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Listings
  • August
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Orchestra
PLANTING NOT PAVING! In this JUNE / JULY /AUGUST combined issue: Farewell interviews with TSO's Peter Oundjian and Stratford Summer Music's John Miller, along with "going places" chats with Luminato's Josephine Ridge, TD Jazz's Josh Grossman and Charm of Finches' Terry Lim. ) Plus a summer's worth of fruitful festival inquiry, in the city and on the road, in a feast of stories and our annual GREEN PAGES summer Directory.

very disparate sources,

very disparate sources, ranging from African instruments to Bach, Schumann and Yiddish folk song. Bittersweet melodies pervade the threemovement Viola Concerto, dedicated to and performed by superb violist Paul Neubauer, former principal of the New York Philharmonic. The 32-minute concerto is dominated by its third movement, A Song My Mother Taught Me, lasting nearly 20 minutes, in which Kernis elaborates on the Yiddish song Tumbalalaika and the Fughette from Schumann’s Klavierstücke Op.32. The 26-minute, two-movement Dreamsongs is dedicated to and performed by virtuoso cellist Joshua Roman. The first movement, Floating Dreamsongs, pits dreamily, plaintive melodies in the cello against orchestral textures featuring harp, marimba and vibraphone. Kora Song, the second movement, is more animated, cello pizzicati evoking the sound of the kora, a plucked gourd, with the orchestra augmented by a West African djembe drum. Echoes of Bach’s Brandenburgs inhabit the16-minute Concerto with Echoes, scored without soloist or violins. Its three movements encompass a vigorous Toccata, a poignant passacaglia (Slowly) and a nostalgic Aria that gently fades away. Many critics, myself included, have commented in the past that Kernis’ lyrical lines often lapse into sentimentality, as can be heard on this CD. I’m convinced, however, that this very sentimentality has actually been the basis of his music’s audience appeal and the key to the ongoing success of his compositional career. Michael Schulman Finn Mortensen – Symphony Op.5 Stavanger Symphony Orchestra; Peter Szilvay SSO Recordings 3917-2 (sso.no) !! Weighty Brucknerian moods and gestures imbue the darkhued, dramatic Symphony by the previously unknown to me Norwegian composer Finn Mortensen (1922-1983), enhancing a powerful and rewarding listening experience, so much so that I played and enjoyed it again immediately after my first hearing. A restless, long-lined chromatic melody in the lower strings launches the Allegro Moderato. A gentle English horn solo then creates a moment of calm before a storm of prolonged, repeated thunderbolts, followed by a return to the grumbling opening theme. Finally, a solo flute breaks through the gray clouds with a ray of sunlight and the movement ends in radiant glory. The Adagio continues the pervading noir-ness, a gripping musical counterpart to the popular, bleakly brooding Nordic detective novels. The scherzo, marked Allegro Vivace, alternates dancing, light strings and woodwinds with heavy, ponderous brass and percussion. In the final Allegro Moderato, an aggressive fugue leads to the English horn melody of the first movement, now transformed into a triumphant concluding brass chorale. This tempestuous, late-Romantic music receives a full-blooded performance from the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Szilvay, who first fell under the Symphony’s potent spell as a teenage violist performing it with a Norwegian youth orchestra. At only 37 minutes, this CD may seem less attractive than the two other CDs of the Symphony, both of which include additional Mortensen works; nonetheless, this splendid recording of this splendid symphony is well worth your consideration. Michael Schulman Kenneth Newby – Chambers: Emergence Trilogy Volume 1 Flicker String Quartet; Flicker Ensemble MP3-320 digital edition, CD Baby, Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music (flickerartcollaboratory.org) !! A member of the Computational Poetics research group, British Columbia composerperformer, media artist and senior researcher at UBC’s Centre for Culture and Technology, Kenneth Newby’s music is not well known among the general audience on this side of the country. Newby’s music uses computational techniques in combination with acoustic ones, marked by his training in classical and improvised musics, as well as his extensive music studies in Bali and Java during the 1980s. His current work involves interdisciplinary collaborations in the creation of audiovisual installation works that represent complex images of multicultural identity. The composer writes that his Emergence Trilogy is “the culmination of a five-year research-creation process that involved the formulation of a personal theory of music which guided the development of a set of generative processes for music composition...” Consisting of 23 primarily aphoristic tracks, Chambers is the first album of Newby’s Emergence Trilogy, the other albums being Elegeia, and Spectral (Golden) Lyric, also available for download. The works are performed with precision and panache by the Flicker String Quartet and Flicker Ensemble. For Mingus is Newby’s longest composition at just under ten minutes. It is also the most varied texturally and timbrally. It prominently features the double bass – as one might expect given the title – the prepared piano, a lacey battery of bells, bowed cymbals and other metal percussion, plus an inventive use of winds. The pointillistic texture is revealed over time via a motoric rhythm, lending the colourfully orchestrated work an attractive forward momentum. For Mingus exhibits several facets of Newby’s advanced transcultural musical aesthetic where echoes of gamelan mingle successfully with Edgard Varèse and John Cage. It certainly deserves to be more widely heard and performed. Andrew Timar Seán Mac Erlaine – Music for Empty Ears Seán Mac Erlaine; Jan Bang; Eivind Aarset; Sadhbh Ní Dhálaigh ergodos ER28 (ergodos.ie) ! ! Music for Empty Ears gives the perfect hint to what you are about to hear on this new release by Dublinbased woodwind instrumentalist, composer and producer Seán Mac Erlaine. It comes as no surprise that he was noted as one of the most progressive musicians of his generation in Ireland – his music is truly unique. On this album, Mac Erlaine collaborated with two Norwegian artists, live sampling pioneer Jan Bang and guitarist Eivind Aarset. Together, they have created a sonic story that will play with your perceptions of time and space, and make your ears beat with pleasure. I was immediately taken by the first track on this album, Winter Flat Map. The music ushered me into the post-apocalyptic space of pulsating sound waves, enriched with ethereal clarinet lines. This tune was followed by The Melting Song, featuring tranquil vocals (the fantastic Sadhbh Ní Dhálaigh) and gentle minimalism. And so the journey begins into the world of Mac Erlaine. Although sparse at times, the music is so richly textured that one truly needs to start listening with empty ears or, rather, without any preconceived notion or expectations. Layers upon layers are laid down with a variety of woodwind instruments, electronics, guitar, keyboards and vocals, creating a world of wonders, surprises, haunted melodies and melancholic impressions. This album is a gem. Ivana Popovic 82 | June | July | August 2018 thewholenote.com

RASP (trumpet in 19 divisions of the octave) Stephen Altoft Microtonal Projects MPR008 (microtonalprojects.com) !! Stephen Altoft is an explorer who draws maps of musical terrain with his trumpet. The title track, his own composition Rasp, is a slow motion expansion from a breathy hiss to an intense broken buzz, like an angry housefly on a window pane. The logic of the progression is as stark as the material itself: a fearless opening statement and sensible at the same time, announcing to the listener “this is what I work with.” The following tracks (especially the tenth, Studie by Manfred Stahnke) demonstrate the microtonal potential of Altoft’s remarkable customized trumpet. An extra valve and tubing permit him to divide the scale into 19 pitches without the guesswork of constantly adjusting a tuning slide mid-phrase. The effect is both comforting and disconcerting: one hears unusual pitches securely nailed instead of groped for, and wonders if one is hearing the “normal” tuned notes or the “altered.” And that’s the point, I believe – to re-normalize the various tunings that equal temperament has hidden behind its bland reductiveness. I’d love to better understand the effects produced on many of the tracks. Electronics play a significant role in some, including the MalletKat, a digital marimba. Despite a promise on the jacket, I could unearth no information on the site about the 11 different composers or their pieces. Nevertheless, the succession of short pieces (none more than eight minutes, most five or less) provides a fascinating trip through this new (or forgotten) country. Max Christie On & Between – New Music for Pipa & Western Ensembles Lin Ma; Zhen Chen; Various Navona Records NM6146 (navonarecords.com) !! In On & Between, composer and pianist Zhen Chen weaves the musical tale of a Chinese immigrant newly arrived in America. Employing conservative tonal language and instrumentation (except for the pipa, the Chinese lute), the work deftly demonstrates Chen’s bicultural sensibility. In a recent China Daily.com.cn interview, pipa soloist Lin Ma outlined the work’s narrative. “The pipa is the main character [threading] through the whole album,” Ma explained. “It stands for a Chinese girl who just came to New York City. She wandered, struggled and went through phases of growth. After years, she finally gained a foothold in the new land.” It sounds quite cinematic, and the music would be effective at the movies. Several times in the suite Chen quotes the well-known English horn melody from Dvořák’s Symphony No.9 “From the New World” (1893), composed while Dvořák worked in the USA. In 1922 it was adapted for the song Goin’ Home by Dvořák pupil William Arms Fisher. For Chen it represents the “respect and sense of promise the United States [has] in the hearts of new immigrants.” It’s interesting to note that Chen’s setting of the melody owes as much to neo- Romantic 20th-century Chinese patriotic compositions for Western orchestra such as the Yellow River Piano Concerto, as much as it does to Fisher’s song with lyrics cast in dialect and Dvořák’s original setting. Then there’s my favourite track, Cocktails. It features just Ma’s cantabile pipa playing and Chen’s grand piano, effectively evoking a sophisticated, languid hybrid pipa-spikedlounge jazz-meets-Satie atmosphere. Andrew Timar JAZZ AND IMPROVISED No Fuss, No Muss Kollage G-THREE GT0012 (kollage.ca) !! If Norman Marshall Villeneuve’s bands from the 1980s and 90s earned him the title of Canada’s (or at least Toronto’s) Art Blakey, then drummer Archie Alleyne (1923-2015) would certainly have been this city’s Philly Joe Jones. Dependably swinging and, or at least it seemed, often employed, Alleyne had catholic tastes and could be heard accompanying singers, hard-hitting ensembles, musical veterans or new faces alike at an unending series of clubs, pubs, Ethiopian restaurants and pizza joints. He was a major force in Toronto’s jazz community. Full disclosure, I knew and admired Archie, having worked alongside him on a number of projects. He was equally fun both on and off the bandstand and, similar to the musicians he most admired, had sly turns of phrase. If a musician had gained a few pounds since their last meeting, Archie would coyly tell them they were looking prosperous. And when he gave musical direction, not that it happened very often, it was “No Fuss, No Muss,” meaning, swinging, joyful music delivered in an authentic and non-pretentious manner without unnecessary complications. No Fuss, No Muss is about as close to a mission statement as a jazz musician could have, and congratulations to producer/label owner Greg Gooding and the assembled cast of very fine musicians whom Archie either worked with in Kollage or supported as a mentor for their work here. This recording both continues and punctuates the hard bop legacy of Kollage begun by neighbourhood friends Alleyne and Doug(ie) Richardson. By the sound of things, their musical legacy is in good hands for many years to come. Andrew Scott Lattice James Hall Outside In Music OiM 1801 (jameshallmusic.com) ! ! Lattice, the sophomore release from New Yorkbased trombonist/ bandleader James Hall, is, as the title implies, an album whose themes are rooted in the productive promise of intersectionality. As a metaphor for improvised music, latticework – with its criss-cross construction, multiple points of intersection, and inherently open form – seems so apt that it is a wonder that the term has not seen wider use. Beyond Hall’s compositional skills (he wrote six of the album’s eight tracks) and trombone, the strands that constitute this particular Lattice are Jamie Baum (flute and alto flute), Deanna Witkowski (piano and Rhodes), Tom DiCarlo (bass) and Allan Mednard (drums), with the addition, on Black Narcissus and Brittle Stitch, of special guest Sharel Cassity (alto saxophone). Shoy, the album’s first track, begins with a beautiful melody, played by Hall and Baum. The combination of trombone and flute is another unusual but apposite element of Lattice: the direct, lower-register trombone and the breathy, higher-register flute create an unexpectedly compelling texture. The propulsive, swinging Brittle Stitch showcases the talents of Witkowski and Cassity, both of whom take memorable, concise solos, with the assistance of DiCarlo and Mednard, who are excellent here and throughout the album. Traveller, another Hall original, builds intensity slowly but surely, and features brief marvels from Witkowski and Mednard. Beyond its strong compositions and performances, Lattice also scores points for its high production quality: special mention to engineer Aaron Nevezie, mixing/mastering engineer Katsuhiko Naito, and to Ryan Keberle (who co-produced with Hall). Colin Story thewholenote.com June | July | August 2018 | 83

Volumes 21-24 (2015-2018)

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

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