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Volume 24 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2019

  • Text
  • Orchestra
  • Listings
  • Concerts
  • Quartet
  • Musical
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  • August
  • Toronto
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In this issue: The Toronto Brazilian bateria beat goes on; TD Jazz in Yorkville is three years young; Murray Schafer's earliest Wilderness forays revisited; cellist/composer Cris Derksen's Maada'ookkii Songlines to close Luminato (and it's free!); our 15th annual Green Pages summer music guide; all this and more in our combined June/July/August issue now available in flipthrough format here and on stands starting Thursday May 30.

Piano Concerto in G

Piano Concerto in G Major closes the recital and provides astonishing musical and technical contrast to the earlier work. Between these two, Wang plays two of Bolcom’s 12 New Etudes, Bartók’s Out of Doors, and Fantasia, a required contemporary piece by a Spanish composer, Josué Bonnín de Góngora. There’s an edge-of-the-seat excitement that builds throughout this recital. Stakes are high, as are the audience expectations, and the pressure is palpable. Chun Wang delivers with confidence and flawless playing. A winner. Roberto Loreggian has released a three-disc set of Bach Violin Sonatas & Partitas, Cello Suites – Transcribed for harpsichord by Gustav Leonhardt (Brilliant Classics 95757, naxosdirect.com). Among the items are many that are as familiar for Bach’s own keyboard transcriptions of them as they are for their original solo forms. Bach himself realized keyboard versions of his numerous solo instrumental compositions and freely cross-pollinated his works with borrowed ideas. The documented instances of this practice led Leonhardt to devote a decade to writing his transcriptions for harpsichord based on considerable research and study. His obvious grasp of Bach’s keyboard language, harmony and counterpoint informed his approach to transcribing this repertoire. The project may, at first hearing, seem tidy and academic, but encountering the familiar in a new voice has a subtle, arresting effect and compels fresh thinking about new discoveries. Harpsichordist Roberto Loreggian plays a modern Italian copy of an early 17th-century Flemish instrument. Craig Swanson presents a persuasive argument for an imaginative experiment in his new recording The French Suite Kit (thefrenchsuitekit.com). Citing others like Glenn Gould, who have mused about the role of the listener and the how technology affects the way listeners participate in music, Swanson has recorded a “Kit” from which listeners can build their own performance through a mix-and-match process. Most of the movements in the Bach French Suite No.4 in E-flat Major BWV815 appear in three or four different versions. Speed is the most obvious variable, but Swanson also alters the amount of ornamentation, shifts between two major published editions, and observes some repeats while omitting others. The objective is to offer a collection of component parts for a listener to custom build a performance that suits the preference of the moment. Moreover, Swanson’s experiment posits that there cannot ever be a definitive performance of anything. Too many things can change in the performer’s mind and the listener’s perception to make any music universally right forever. Swanson’s intriguing ideas offer a lot to play with both musically and intellectually. VOCAL Schubert – Winterreise Philippe Sly; Le Chimera Project Analekta AN 2 9138 (analekta.com/en) !! In the course of Schubert’s Winterreise (Winter Journey), a stranger wanders out of a hostile town in nasty weather. His heart has been broken, and he’s desperately miserable. While this landmark song cycle represents the spirit of Romanticism, it does feel achingly modern. These 24 songs have long inspired various arrangements. But why a klezmer Winterreise? Both Wilhelm Müller’s poems and Schubert’s music, like klezmer, have roots in folk song. And the cultural connections between Schubert’s wanderer and the wanderer of Eastern European Jewish- Romani traditions run deep. Though Le Chimera Project’s adaption is far tamer than, say, Hans Zender’s radical revision, it goes further than Normand Forget’s sensitive transcription. The voice part remains untouched, but the piano accompaniment, now arranged for a typical klezmer ensemble – clarinet, violin, trombone and accordion – takes a step outside the classical tradition. The spirited musicians of Le Chimera Project pull off the plaintive tremolos and trills, jazzy syncopations and bent notes, and stylish interpolations, with seamless vitality. Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly is enthralling, right through to the harrowing final song, Der Leiermann (The Hurdygurdy Man), when the wanderer, with Sly accompanying himself on a hurdy-gurdy, contemplates going off to join an itinerant hurdy-gurdy player. When Schubert’s opening song Gute Nacht (Good Night) is revisited at the very end of this daring – and rewarding (even without texts and translations being included) – recording, it gains new meaning here, especially with the shattering impact of Sly’s now hollowed-out, desperate voice. Pamela Margles Puccini – Tosca Harteros; Antonenko; Tézier; Mastroni; Staatskapelle Dresden; Christian Thielemann Cmajor 748308 (naxosdirect.com) !! In addition to considering voices, now with video versions available, we may, and usually do, evaluate the sets and the general stage business. Sometimes the staging pleases, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it amuses. I remember a video of a CBC black and white production of the second act with Renata Tebaldi and Louis Quilico. It was credible until Tosca snatches an untapered, roundnosed kitchen knife to do the deed. It was patently obvious to all of us that this knife certainly was not made to penetrate anything. That was the part we each remembered. This new production is different from all the others that I have seen in some significant ways, all without modifying or interfering with the existing texts, spoken or sung. But actions, it seems, speak louder than words! In the second act as the beautifully performed scene closes and Tosca has left the room, we see Scarpia, who should be lying dead, stir and drag himself across the floor. In the third act we see a group of teenage boys awakening and dressing and then, instead of a military firing squad, five of these blue-shirted boys shoot Cavaradossi with revolvers. More stage business and when Tosca would traditionally run and jump, the wounded, lurching Scarpia arrives with his men; Tosca shoots him and he, now dying, shoots her dead. The lead singers are perfectly matched. Soprano Anja Harteros is an impressive Tosca with her glorious voice and glowing characterization. She is matched in every respect by Aleksandrs Antonenko as Cavaradossi. Ludovic Tézier is suaver than the usual merciless Scarpia making him even more dangerous. Under Thielemann, the orchestra is right there supporting the singers and heightening the action. The costume and set designers for this 2018 Salzburg Easter Festival performance deserve a lot of credit for putting the cast in the right place. Kudos down the line for the other cast members of this selfrecommending performance. Bruce Surtees 90 | June | July | August 2019 thewholenote.com

Rossini – Le Comte Ory Talbot; Fuchs; Arquez; Hubeaux; Les éléments; Orchestre des Champs-Élysées; Louis Langrée Cmajor 747408 (naxosdirect.com) !! Rossini’s two-act Le Comte Ory was inspired by a medieval ballad in which knights end up seducing nuns. In the one-act version offered to Rossini by librettist Eugène Scribe, the knight dresses as a nun to seduce a countess. Rossini is known to have requested that another (first) act be added for which he composed delightful arias, ensembles and choruses, making his last comic opera an immense success. In this version of the opera, Denis Podalydès’ staging combines period settings with contemporary mise-en-scène. The DVD of the staging, directed by Vincent Massip, captures the ambitious production with great clarity and dramatic effect. The cinematography is highly evocative; in keeping with Rossini’s vaunted arias which are voiced with uncommon mastery by – among others – the tenor Philippe Talbot, playing the rakish Le Comte Ory, soprano Julie Fuchs (as La Comtesse), mezzo-soprano Gaëlle Arquez (as the count’s page Isolier), Jean-Sébastian Bou (as Raimbaud, the count’s friend). The lead singers generate a strong sense of ensemble with Talbot’s Le Comte and Fuchs’ La Comtesse making the most of their comic opportunities. It is Fuchs who charms with a heady coloratura, more honeyed tones and a dramatic weight, tempered by comic timing. The quality of the singing is matched in every way with the acting. The staging is enormously accomplished and the excellent production values show that nothing was spared in an effort to bring this elaborate production to fruition. Raul da Gama CLASSICAL AND BEYOND Vivaldi – Concerti per archi III; Concerti per viola d’amore Accademia Bizantina; Ottavio Dantone; Alessandro Tampieri Naïve OP 30570 (vivaldiedition.com) !! When the Italian National Library in Turin purchased the collection of autograph manuscripts by Antonio Vivaldi in 1930, they acquired nearly 450 works by the great Venetian composer. The creation of the Italian musicologist Alberto Basso, the Vivaldi Edition project, then set out to record the works in their entirety. This beautiful and touching recording is part of that rich project. It contains 13 concertos for string orchestra and five concertos for viola d’amore, relatively unexplored repertoire but one very much worth the attention. Vivaldi was a master of concertos for string orchestra without soloist and the ones on this recording are exciting and incredibly engaging miniatures. Each one contains a whole array of characters and emotions and is presented with flair and style. But the hidden gems are the viola d’amore concertos. Here we have the exuberant display of the full magnificence of this instrument – 12 strings, unusual timbres, resonant sound, chordal passages and tuning variations depending on the style and the key. Alessandro Tampieri is undeniably the master of his instrument. His playing is virtuosic, his sound heavenly and his execution perfectly precise. I have especially enjoyed the wild rustic cadenza of the third movement of Concerto RV 394 and the sublime Largo of the Concerto RV 393. Led by a fantastic harpsichordist, Ottavio Dantone, Accademia Bizantina’s performance is energetic and passionate, making this recording one of my favourites. Ivana Popovic Schubert – Early Symphonies and Stage Music Copenhagen Phil; Lawrence Foster Pentatone PTC 5186 655 (naxosdirect.com) ! ! In today’s busy society and fragmented music business, it is a true privilege to have the opportunity to listen through a two-disc set of large-scale ambitious symphonic work, particularly when it is performed, recorded and released as expertly and beautifully as has been done so by Pentatone Records on their recent Franz Schubert release: Early Symphonies and Stage Music. Comprised of some of Schubert’s lesser-known work, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, under the watchful direction of longtime Pentatone artist, conductor Lawrence Foster, wrings expressive beauty from Schubert’s masterful classical works, written when the Austrian composer was but a teenager. With the clear time, effort and degree of musical specificity that has gone into the performance and presentation of this music, this is truly a recording worth attention and will be time well spent when immersing yourself in these documented sounds. Symphonic work truly has the ability to inspire and, to paraphrase a well-known adage, to wash away the banality of everyday life and move the needle forward to something more otherworldly and profound. What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Sibelius 1 Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Orchestre Métropolitain ATMA Classique is proud to announce the release of the first album in a new series of recordings devoted to the symphonies of Sibelius. Dove Songs David Liptak A collection of chamber works, featuring the cycle, "Dove Songs," written for soprano Tony Arnold with pianist Alison D'Amato. Liptak writes music that is expressively rich and poignantly lyrical. Libre Amanda Martinez Amanda Martinez CD Launch "Libre" at Isabel Bader Theatre June 22 8pm presented by TD Jazz Festival 3 The Gloaming Although charged by the traditions of Ireland, what The Gloaming do with the structures of Irish music is anything but simple nostalgia. Haunting and emotional, it sounds ancient without being a mere reproduction. thewholenote.com June | July | August 2019 | 91

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2019)

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

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