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Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Performing
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Composer
In this issue: A prize that brings lustre to its laureates (and a laureate who brings lustre to the prize); Edwin Huizinga on the journey of Opera Atelier's "The Angel Speaks" from Versailles to the ROM; Danny Driver on playing piano in the moment; Remembering Neil Crory (a different kind of genius)' Year of the Boar, Indigeneity and Opera; all this and more in Volume 24 #5. Online in flip through, HERE and on the stands commencing Thursday Jan 31.

major are highly

major are highly enjoyable. Overall, the Quintetto in G Major is the most spirited of the six on the CD, whichever instrument is being played. For intensity and gravitas, however, the Adagietto of the E-flat Major is highly worthy of the music of this period. All in all, a spirited and successful attempt to restore Kreüsser to the ranks of 18th-century composers of note. Michael Schwartz Péchés – Rossini Salons & Horn Virtuosi Alessandro Denabian; Lucia Cirillo; Francesca Bacchetta Passacaille 1039 (naxosdirect.com) Luigi Legnani – Rossini Variations Marcello Fantoni (guitar) Naxos 8.573721 (naxos.com) !! If you were an educated musicloving dilettante living in Italy during the early 19th century, musical evenings might well have been a primary source of entertainment. And if you happened to know a horn player, a soprano and someone adept at the keyboard, the pieces on the delightful new disc titled Péchés d’Opéra on the Passacaille label might well have been the type you would have chosen for an evening’s program. It features natural horn player Alessandro Denabian, pianist Francesca Bacchetta (performing on an 1823 fortepiano) and mezzo-soprano Lucia Cirillo in an engaging program of duets and trios. Sins of Old Age was the name Rossini gave to numerous compositions for small ensembles he created long after he ceased writing operas. The charming and lyrical Prelude, Theme and Variations for horn and piano is one of them, which not surprisingly, has a very vocal quality about it. Denabian handles the virtuosic melodies with apparent ease, no mean feat on a natural (i.e. valveless) instrument. Less well-known composers include Antoine Clapisson and Frederic Duvernoy whose duets are performed with a particular bravado with Bacchetta providing a stylish and solid accompaniment. The group expands to include a soprano soloist in pieces such as Fuis, laisse-moi by Donizetti and the most familiar piece on the disc, Una furtiva lagrima from his opera L’elisir d’amore. Cirillo delivers a solid performance with well-balanced phrasing, subtly nuanced. My only quibble is that at times her voice tends to overshadow the other musicians, but in no way does this mar an otherwise fine performance. Remaining in the land of olive trees, a Naxos recording titled Rossini Variations presents music by Luigi Legnani, whose name is undoubtedly forgotten today. Nevertheless, during his lifetime, Legnani – an almost exact contemporary of Rossini – was famous as a virtuoso guitarist, composer and instrument maker. The disc features guitar transcriptions and variations on music from Rossini operas performed by guitarist Marcello Fantoni. To reduce full-scale orchestral works for a solo guitar would take considerable skill. Nevertheless, the enjoyment of this disc is twofold – not only are the compositions finely crafted, but they are also well performed. In Fantoni’s competent hands, the guitar becomes a complex and expressive instrument, whether in the familiar overture to William Tell or the more obscure Variations on O quanto lagrime from La Donna del lago. While he possesses a formidable technique, his performance is never mere virtuosity; rather, he lets the music speak for itself. Two fine discs with music from sunny Italy to cast away the winter darkness – both recommended. Richard Haskell Dvořák – Piano Trios 3 & 4 Christian Tetzlaff; Tanja Tetzlaff; Lars Vogt Ondine ODE 1316-2 (naxosdirect.com) !! Violinist Christian Tetzlaff, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff (his sister) and pianist Lars Vogt are three of the most eminent and sought-after performers in classical music, gracing the world’s most prestigious stages, both as soloists and chamber musicians. They are the crème de la crème. With their 2015 release of the Brahms piano trios having garnered a Grammy nomination, the Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt (T-T-V) Trio once again dazzles in their new recording of two Dvořák piano trios: No. 3 in F Minor and No. 4 in E Minor. The latter, also known as the “Dumky Trio,” consists of six movements, each one a “dumka,” a musical term taken from the Slavic folk tradition. Under Dvořák’s treatment, each movement comprises alternating, strongly contrasting passages, from moody and melancholic to rhythmically exuberant. These two Dvořák masterpieces are brought to extraordinary life by the consummate musicianship of Tetzlaff, Tetzlaff and Vogt. Their virtuosic playing is muscular, raw, dramatic, intensely expressive – ideal for the sweeping, rhapsodic and near-symphonic – Brahmsian – F Minor trio. Written a few months after the death of Dvořák’s mother, the heart-achingly beautiful third movement is exquisitely executed by the T-T-V Trio. As for the “Dumky,” with so many recordings of this beloved trio available, one might think that nothing new could possibly be brought into the recording studio. But one would be seriously mistaken. In the impeccable hands of the T-T-V Trio the “Dumky” is revelatory: fresh and exhilarating, reflective, tender and radiant. This CD is a must! Sharna Searle Concert note: While the Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt Trio does not have any scheduled Toronto performances in 2019 – as far as I can tell, the closest they get is Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall on May 3 – violinist Christian Tetzlaff will be guest soloist with the TSO on April 10, 12 and 13; on April 12 only, he’ll join the TSO Chamber Soloists in a pre-concert performance of Beethoven’s Sextet for Horns and String Quartet. Bruckner – Quintet in F Major; Ouverture in G Minor (Large Orchestra versions) Prague RSO; Gerd Schaller Profil Edition Hanssler PH16036 (haensslerprofil.de) ! ! Featuring conductor Gerd Schaller’s new arrangement – the first for large orchestra – of Anton Bruckner’s String Quintet in F Major (1878), this disc counts as a major success. Already Schaller has recorded the Bruckner symphony cycle; here he adds the composer’s major chamber work, in orchestral garb. The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra’s immaculate performance is wellpaced, the musicians rising to the technical and interpretive challenges of this premiere; they produce excellent tone quality at all dynamic levels. The string quintet was composed following Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony revision. Schaller’s well-informed arrangement really sounds like a Bruckner orchestral work of that era. The pastoral first movement sets out the orchestral palette, with comforting strings followed by more varied winds, leading to brass climaxes at pivotal points. Then the Scherzo-Trio adds witty contrasts – pauses and harmonic surprises. The acclaimed Adagio makes a profound centrepiece, the organ-like orchestration reminding me that Bruckner’s genius in improvisation was legendary. Next comes Schaller’s interpolation of a shortened version of the Intermezzo that Bruckner originally composed as a simple alternative to the Scherzo-Trio. Although I don’t see the interpolation as necessary, it does serve as a transition in emotional terms from the Adagio to the Finale, whose charming opening alternates with knotty wide-ranging passages. In closing, the 74 | February 2019 thewholenote.com

Quintet’s material is wonderful in both the chamber work and this orchestral arrangement; Bruckner’s early Ouverture in G Minor (1863) merely adds to the disc’s attractions. Roger Knox Gustav Mahler – Symphony No.9 Essener Philharmoniker; Tomáš Netopil Oehms Classics ODC 1890 (naxosdirect.com) !! The city of Essen is located at the heart of the industrial Ruhr area of Germany. Its rise to prominence is intimately tied to the fortunes of the Krupp family dynasty, who settled in this coalrich region some 400 years ago and began building steel foundries mainly dedicated to the manufacture of heavy artillery. Gustav Mahler conducted the premiere of his sixth symphony there in 1906, prompting the Viennese critic Hans Liebstöckl to acerbically observe, “Krupp makes only cannons, Mahler only symphonies.” Throughout the 20th century the orchestra maintained a low profile labouring under a series of provincial kappelmeisters. Judging by the present performance under their current director, the Czech conductor Tomáš Netopil, this highly capable orchestra makes a compelling case for greater international renown. Recorded in Essen’s Alfried Krupp Hall in April 2018 (from what I assume are edits of live performances), for the most part this rendition of Mahler’s Symphony No.9 is quite a revelation. Only the interpretation of the droll second movement Ländler shows a few interpretive seams, as Netopil sentimentalizes the structural ritardandos by consistently beginning them far earlier than indicated in the score. By contrast, the vehement pacing of the accelerandos towards the end of the subsequent daemonic Scherzo are electrifying. The cataclysmic first movement receives an immensely powerful performance, while the finale achieves a Zen-like transcendence superbly conveyed through the carefully modulated tone of the dark-hued Essen string section. Too much is made in the liner notes of the allegedly “fateful” nature of this work, begun in 1909, two years before Mahler’s demise. Death, with few exceptions, was always a leitmotif in his works. It is not death, but life and love that make this work so exceptional. Daniel Foley No Time for Chamber Music collectif9 Independent (collectif9.ca) !! The title of this disc by collectif9, one of the most exciting string contemporary ensembles today, comes by way of that musical omnivore, Luciano Berio, whose Sinfonia uses texts from Le cru et le cuit (The Raw and the Cooked) by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. The sardonic cue from the title is given sharper angularity with the interpretation of Mahler’s profound music, which almost always expressed the composer’s innermost thoughts. These peremptory readings of Mahler’s portentous music are gaunt and shard-like. Together with the oblique Fantaisie à la manière de Callot by Phillipe Hersant, contrabassist Thibault Bertin-Maghit’s imaginative arrangements create a new excitement around Mahler, a composer who received due recognition after many decades of proselytizing by conductors such as Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Mengelberg and later, Leonard Bernstein. Although what we have here are vignettes of symphonies from Mahler, collectif9 has masterfully recreated the composer’s soundworld infusing much into the music. These suggest – even conjure – every Mahlerlike spectacle from Marche funèbre from Symphony No.5 to the vast images of nature especially in Comme un bruit de la nature from Symphony No.1. There is also the extraordinary lyricism of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen that unfolds in J’ai un couteau à la lame brûlante and the eloquently wistful performance of L’adieu from Das Lied von der Erde. All of this repertoire by collectif9 is highly charged and intensely dynamic, making for a uniquely impactful disc. Raul da Gama Franz Schreker – The Birthday of the Infanta Suite Berlin RSO; JoAnn Falletta Naxos 8.573821 (naxosdirect.com) !! Almost forgotten after the Nazis banned them in the 1930s, Franz Schreker’s feverish, hyperromantic-expressionist operas have, in recent years, received welcome new stage productions and recordings. For anyone unfamiliar with Schreker’s gripping sound-world, there’s no better introduction than the first work on this CD, Prelude to a Drama, Schreker’s 18-minute elaboration of the Prelude to Die Gezeichneten (1914), incorporating themes from his operatic masterpiece. JoAnn Falletta, known locally as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, leads the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in a radiant performance of this gorgeous, numinous music. The other works on this disc, from Schreker’s earlier years, present him in What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening True Stories Mike Field Mike Field, the award-winning trumpeter, music producer, vocalist & composer, presents his newest album, True Stories. Now available on all major streaming sites and www.mikefieldjazz.com No Codes Benjamin Deschamps Up-and-coming Montreal-based saxophonist Benjamin Deschamps, named Révélation Radio-Canada Jazz 2017-2018, launches his third album featuring new original music. Les vents orfèvres / Les entrailles de la montagne Jean-François Bélanger Over the years, the composer and multi-instrumentalist has refined his own personal and poetic vision of traditional music. His recent diptych is dedicated to the influences of Scandinavian music. Bushes and Bombshelters Ivana Popovich A fusion of classical, gypsy and Eastern European folk, Ivana's music is cinematic and haunting. These compositions are intimate stories about journeys and crossroads. thewholenote.com February 2019 | 75

Volumes 21-24 (2015-2018)

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

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