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Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019

  • Text
  • Performing
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Concerts
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Choir
  • October
  • Toronto
Long promised, Vivian Fellegi takes a look at Relaxed Performance practice and how it is bringing concert-going barriers down across the spectrum; Andrew Timar looks at curatorial changes afoot at the Music Gallery; David Jaeger investigates the trumpets of October; the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution (and the 20th Anniversary of our October Blue Pages Presenter profiles) in our Editor's Opener; the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir at 125; Tapestry at 40 and Against the Grain at 10; ringing in the changing season across our features and columns; all this and more, now available in Flip Through format here, and on the stands commencing this coming Friday September 27, 2019. Enjoy.

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cheeky sprightliness. By contrast, the second work on the disc is anything but a fairy tale. It is a story of seduction and violence, and a supernatural character who is impervious to the latter as long as he resists the former. Where the music of the earlier work is folkinfused and tuneful, the latter is a glimpse of the modernist Bartók. As a suite, The Miraculous Mandarin clocks in at barely 20 minutes. The Wooden Prince is presented in its entirety, lasting just under an hour. The wonderful Helsinki Philharmonic under Susanna Mälkki explores the score with flair and finesse. For my money, the more interesting piece is the darker later work, and not only because of the iconic clarinet duets that depict the three seduction scenes, although these are brilliantly performed. For those unsure they can bear the mysteries of Bartók, the first offering is an excellent warmup. Max Christie Havergal Brian – Symphonies 7 and 16 New Russia State Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Walker Naxos 8.573959 (naxosdirect.com) !! This CD, part of Naxos’s ongoing traversal of Havergal Brian’s 32 symphonies, begins with the brightly coloured, perky overture, The Tinker’s Wedding, based on the comedy of that name by John Millington Synge. The upbeat mood continues with the fanfare for trumpets and percussion that opens Brian’s 38-minute, four-movement Symphony No.7, also from 1948. The first movement’s jaunty character, with processional echoes of Brian’s much-admired Elgar, is sustained into the second movement, during which raucous dissonances mark the shift in the symphony’s emotional trajectory from light to dark. In the third and longest movement, an adagio filled with skittish, elusive melodies and sonorities brackets an angry, violent scherzo. The final Epilogue, a grim, almost relentless march, resolves harmoniously, but only after two savage climaxes. The Seventh was the last of Brian’s largescale symphonies. The remaining 25, all composed during the final two decades of Brian’s long life (1876-1972), are far more concise. The single movement of the Symphony No.16 (1960) by the 84-year-old Brian lasts only 15 minutes, but its orchestration is anything but miniaturized: quadruple woodwinds, six horns, ten (!) percussionists. Brian wrote that while composing it, he was reading about the Battle of Thermopylae, and the music is martially explosive, prevented from disintegrating by continuous, forwardmarching pulsations, even during brief lulls in the mayhem. Brian could create beauty within discord, and a startling sequence of blaring, dissonant chords brings this symphony to a beautiful conclusion. Michael Schulman The New York Concert Evgeny Kissin; Emerson String Quartet Deutsche Grammophon 483 6574 (deutschegrammophon.com) !! The coming together of the inimitable Evgeny Kissin with the Emerson String Quartet represents the high watermark of the 2018 edition of Carnegie Hall’s annual programming, reminiscent of the great performances by Martha Argerich with cellist Mischa Maisky, and her chamber-work performances with percussionists Peter Sadlo and Edgar Guggeis, and with pianists Nelson Freire or Nicolas Economou, all documented on Deutsche Grammophon. Kissin’s virtuosity and powerful key touch is without parallel. His dazzling skills are well matched by the electrifying Emerson String Quartet. And the musicians play here with palpable vigour and depth of emotion. Kissin appears to be an outstanding Mozartian, his commanding technique making for the spritely energy of his attack and the radiant manner in the Piano Quartet in G Minor K478. Meanwhile, the Emerson Quartet plays with zeal and focused sensitivity. Both Kissin and the Emerson also respond warmly and with imagination to Fauré’s Piano Quartet No.1 in C Minor, Op.15. The composer invested much in this music which is evident from the harmonic adventurousness and unexpected modulations. Kissin and the Emerson create an appropriate restlessness reflecting the elusive quality of this music. Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No.2 in A Minor, Op.81 is arguably his greatest chamber piece – which Kissin and the quartet play with virtuoso drive and urgency. Dimitri Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57 ends this double disc. It is approached with interpretive intelligence, and features gorgeous tone and expressive power. Raul da Gama Winged Creatures and other works for Flute, Clarinet and Orchestra Demarre & Anthony McGill; Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra; Allen Tinkham Cedille CDR 90000 187 (cedillerecords.org) !! Throughout the classical music world there are the superstars and those aspiring to become one. The latter group often find themselves playing together in youth orchestras, where the synergy of working with others at the top of their game is a fantastic way to accelerate one’s progress towards that goal. Winged Creatures brings successful alumni Demarre (flute) and Anthony (clarinet) McGill together with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. As one would expect, the standard of playing in a city with such a strong musical tradition is excellent; the brothers share a beautiful limpid tone quality to match their technical mastery. The title track, by Michael Abels, makes terrific use of the orchestral forces while highlighting the soloists’ strengths: phrasing of one mind, clear pitch and virtuostic ease. Behind them, the orchestra is led by Allen Tinkham, who might have had some help with the balance from the booth, but nevertheless manages the ensemble with utter aplomb. This is a professional band by another name, never mind the “youth” designation. For those who feel the late 18th century is still interesting there is a Sinfonia Concertante by Franz Danzi, a charming 20 minutes where the orchestra ably demonstrates proper period style; a much more fun Tarantelle from a young Camille Saint-Saëns follows with sassy vigour. Closing the disc is Concerto Duo, by Joel Puckett. Like the music of the title track, this piece was commissioned by the brothers McGill. It’s a slice of bold beautiful Americana. Excellent liner notes come with the disc. Max Christie MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Istvan Anhalt – …the timber of those times… SALT Festival Orchestra; Hungarian RSO; Ajtony Csaba Centrediscs CMCCD 26419 (musiccentre.ca) ! ! Right from the portentous opening chords to the ghostly final drumbeats, this recording of Istvan Anhalt’s monumental ...the timber of those times... (...a theogony...) works a spell. It’s is an adventurous, colourful work, depicting the gods who ruled the world of the ancient Greeks and continue to fascinate today. The terrific performance by the Hungarian RSO includes a fiery galvanizing violin cadenza from soloist Vilmos Oláh. Conductor Ajtony Csaba deftly sustains the momentum throughout. In Four Portraits from Memory, chantlike textures suffuse evocations of loved ones whose recent deaths Anhalt is grieving. I found it deeply beautiful, and profoundly 70 | October 2019 thewholenote.com

heart-wrenching, the serene atmosphere enriched by rhapsodic passages featuring pianist Tzenka Dianova. The SALT Festival orchestra brings a level of polish and precision which allows the lines to shimmer and breath, suggesting layers of sounds yet to be discovered. Anhalt, who was born in 1919, wrote some of his finest works at the very end of his career – he died in 2012. These are his last orchestral works, both from 2006. They differ in striking ways from each other, a testament to his remarkable versatility. But whether focusing inward to contemplate his own experiences, or reaching out to distant times to interpret those experiences, both works are deeply personal – and all the more moving for that. This significant recording makes a fitting way to honour the centenary of the birth of a matchless trailblazer in Canadian music. Pamela Margles Filigree – Music of Hannah Lash JACK Quartet New Focus Recordings FCR228 (newfocusrecordings.com) !! Experimental, electrifying, a wonderland of colours – Filigree is a laboratory of sounds, impermanent yet consistent. With this recording the JACK Quartet delivers select pieces by American composer and harpist Hannah Lash and does it with their typical commitment and conviction. Every note, every phrase, is placed and nuanced with clarity of musical expression and clear understanding of Lash’s compositional language. JACK plays with an abundant energy that is beaming with emotional fluency. Although encompassing a period of five years, chamber music pieces on this recording share a similar contemporary approach to multi-layered string technique(s) and a unique balance of intellectual and visceral elements. The album opens with Frayed, my favourite piece on this recording. The opening chords resemble a series of breaths, tense and unadorned, giving the impression of bringing out intimate mementos. That is, however, interrupted with a dynamic and powerfully unsettling section that slowly takes over, and it is the interlacing of different worlds that gives a tangible intensity to this piece. Suite: Remembered and Imagined, stands in contrast with its playfulness and showcases a variety of textures. The album concludes with Filigree in Textile for harp and string quartet, inspired by the tapestry arts of the Middle Ages. The lush mood of the first movement, titled Gold, is followed with the rhythmically uniform Silver. The harp threads brilliant lines and brings everyone together in Silk. This album is notable and well worth your attention. Ivana Popovic The Machine is Broken Terry Rusling (1931-1974) Spool Spurn 3 (spoolmusic.com) Shed Metal equivalent insecurity (dk & Dan Lander) Spool Spurn 1 (spoolmusic.com) Car Dew Treat Us (pages from Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise randomly selected) dk & the perfectly ordinary Spool Spurn 2 (spoolmusic.com) !! Uxbridge, Ontario-based label Spool’s new Spurn series is titled irreverent. The brainchild of musician Daniel Kernohan, there are currently three releases in this group of possibly difficult-to-classify, yet ear-opening, enjoyable music. Spool also has other series with numerous eclectic releases available. An intriguing cross section of electronic works by Canadian composer Terry Rusling (1931- 1974) are featured in the 2019 third Spurn release, The Machine is Broken. Rusling’s experience as an engineer for CBC understandably gave him the necessary technical grounding to create his unique sound. At composer Morris Surdin’s suggestion, Rusling worked at the University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio (UTEMS), which lead to further international studies/work, and tape collaborations with such artists as Earle Birney, Gwendolyn MacEwen and public tape performances at Yorkville’s Bohemian Embassy. Rusling’s short life resulted in an immense creative output that is only touched on here. Producers David Porter and Daniel Kernohan have selected 17 tracks, arranged in a listener-friendly order to maintain interest. The almost two minute opening Reel 1H sets the stage with sound effects, quiet spaces, and brief moments of tonalism. Creaky effects, crackling sounds, loud volumes, slides and glisses highlight Reel 2A’s early electro sound. The spoken male/female statements at the start of Title add a human dimension to the electronic effects. Rusling’s use of silent spaces between electronic sections in his works builds subsequent musical interest, such as Reel 2B where the silences set up such intense effects as the classic electronic sounds of that time, like washes, repeated notes, feedback and for lack of a better description, loud crashing about. Rusling’s early electronic music holds current sound appeal while also, at its very best, foreshadowing future sounds. The earlier two Spurn releases also feature contemporary sounds. Shed Metal stars Equivalent Insecurity in performance. Kernohan, (named dk on the sleeve), and colleague Dan Lander play 22 tracks on their self-described “instruments, toys, stuff, What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Alchemy Jupiter Quartet; Bernadette Harvey, piano Jupiter Quartet’s album Alchemy with pianist Bernadette Harvey features the world premiere recordings of works by Pierre Jalbert, Carl Vine, and Steven Stucky. Mirror Image Matt Herskowitz Brings together Matt’s classical and jazz sides, in a very organic way. The repertoire consists of original and cover material, all arranged by Matt. Fine State Heather Bambrick Fine State sees Heather Bambrick moving in some new musical directions, with a more Popinfluenced Jazz sound, featuring strong Canadian content, and original material. On Firm Ground / Tierra Firme Jen Bunnett & Maqueque Jane leads the new generation of young women jazz players and composers in her new band that in demand internationally at major Jazz festivals. thewholenote.com October 2019 | 71

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

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)