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Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 2020

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  • Choir
  • Performing
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"COVID's Metamorphoses"? "There's Always Time (Until Suddenly There Isn't)"? "The Writing on the Wall"? It's hard to know WHAT to call this latest chapter in the extraordinary story we are all of a sudden characters in. By whatever name we call it, the MAY/JUNE combined issue of The WholeNote is now available, HERE in flip through format, in print commencing Wednesday May 6, and, in fully interactive form, online at thewholenote.com. Our 18th Annual Choral Canary Pages, scheduled for publication in print and flip through in September is already well underway with the first 50 choirs home to roost and more being added every week online. Community Voices, our cover story, brings to you the thoughts of 30 musical community members, all going through what we are going through (and with many more to come as the feature gets amplified online over the course of the coming months). And our regular writers bring their personal thoughts to the mix. Finally, a full-fledged DISCoveries review section offers cues and clues to recorded music for your solitary solace!

the most difficult

the most difficult challenge to the cellist in Krug’s arrangement and the one on which I have spent the most time and effort. That being said, Höricht’s interludes provide useful bridges between the selected songs and bring a contemporary sensibility without being particularly jarring. He has chosen seven songs from the first 19 of the cycle, but presents the final five in sequence ending, of course, with the Der Leiermann (The Hurdy-Gurdy man) in a suitably haunting performance. I say “of course” but in another transmogrification of Winterreise this was not the case. In January of this year Philippe Sly and the Chimera Project brought a live performance of their stunning Klezmer/Roma arrangement for baritone, violin, clarinet, trombone and accordion to Koerner Hall. In their rendition – fully staged and performed entirely from memory – the evening begins with a surprisingly peppy instrumental version of the opening song Gute Nacht before proceeding through the other 23 songs in order. After Der Leiermann with the singer accompanied by the quartet, instead of being the end of the performance, Sly, alone on the stage, then gave a chilling rendition of Gute Nacht accompanying himself on the hurdygurdy. It was unsettling and has stayed with me ever since. You can find Pamela Margles’ June 2019 review of the Chimera Project Analekta recording at thewholenote.com. Other than the music of Peter Sculthorpe, I’m not well versed in Australian culture or repertoire, but from the opening strains of Hilary Kleinig’s Great White Bird on the Zephyr Quartet’s new CD Epilogue (navonarecords.com) I knew I was listening to music from Down Under, with its drones, overtones and distinctive rhythms. Touted as Australia’s “leading genre-defying explorers of dynamic cross-artform, multi-focused collaborations,” Zephyr was founded in 1999 and has since garnered numerous awards and accolades. The members all compose, arrange and improvise and their latest release brings together works written by them between 2013 and 2019. Cellist Kleinig contributes three tuneful works, Cockatoos and Exquisite Peace in addition to the opening number. Violinist Belinda Gehlert is represented by the three-movement tribute to notorious women Femme Fatale and the concluding title track. Violinist Emily Tulloch and violist Jason Thomas each contribute a pair. Tulloch’s Blindfold Gift starts as a gentle pizzicato meditation which turns into a minimalist lilting jig of sorts. Much like the disc itself, Thomas’ Time’s Timeless Art, the longest selection, is one extended harmonious arch in which time indeed seems to stand still. A balm for these troubled times. Treasures from the New World (Somm Recordings SOMMCD 0609 naxosdirect.com) features piano quintets by Amy Beach (1867-1944) and Henrique Oswald (1852-1931) performed by Clélia Iruzun and the Coull Quartet. Beach’s Piano Quintet dates from 1908 and had more than 40 performances during her lifetime. She premiered it with the Kneisel Quartet, with whom she had previously performed the quintets of Schumann and Brahms. While exhibiting both a distinctive and mature voice, the work acknowledges the early influence of those two masters. Although Beach has been receiving well-deserved attention recently and recordings of her music are proliferating – there are currently 19 titles listed on Grigorian.com – Henrique Oswald is a new name to me. He was born in Brazil of Swiss and Italian parents and after early studies in São Paulo he travelled to Italy to study and remained in Florence for some 30 years. He returned to Brazil in 1902 where he accepted the post of director of the Instituto Nacional de Música in Rio de Janeiro. His influences were primarily the French Romantics and he was dubbed “the Brazilian Fauré” by his friend Arthur Rubinstein. Composed in 1895, toward the end of his sojourn in Florence, the Piano Quintet reflects not only his fondness of French idioms, its outer movements look back to the music of Robert Schumann, making a wonderful pairing with Beach’s quintet. The charming disc also includes a short work for piano and ensemble by Brazilian Marlos Nobre (b.1939) who says “I can say I am a contemporary composer still capable of writing a beautiful melody,” and Beach’s celebrated Romance for Violin and Piano with Iruzun and Roger Coull. The performances throughout are idiomatic and compelling. The final disc that caught my attention this month also features music from the New World, in this case mid-to-late century works by distinguished American composers. Aspects of America: Pulitzer Edition (PentaTone PTC 5186 763 pentatonemusic.com) features Pulitzer Prize-winning works by Walter Piston, Morton Gould and Howard Hanson performed by the Oregon Symphony under Carlos Kalmar. It was Hanson (1896-1981) that drew me to this disc, as he was the one to convince Canadian icon John Weinzweig to pursue a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY, where he studied under Bernard Rogers in the years before WW2. Although not a result of the formal teaching he received there, this period proved seminal in Weinzweig’s development by virtue of his exposure to 12-tone composition through the works of Alban Berg which he found in the school library. While he didn’t become a strict serialist, Weinzweig did incorporate dodecaphonic principles into his own compositions, seemingly the first Canadian to so, and later passed them on to his own students at the University of Toronto. Hanson, himself, was considered a neo-Romantic composer by his peers. He personally rejected the serial approach although he did incorporate some dissonance and bi-tonality in his work. He won the Pulitzer in 1944 for his Symphony No.4, Op.34 “Requiem.” This is one of seven symphonies and Hanson claimed it as his favourite. It’s in four movements, named for parts of the Catholic Mass for the Dead: Kyrie, Resquiescat, Dies irae and Lux aeterna. Although the earliest work here, it is placed last on the program, with its “eternal light” providing an uplifting and ethereal closing to the disc. There is no mention in the notes as to whether the symphony references the global war that was raging at the time of composition. Chronologically next, Piston’s Symphony No.7, is the first selection on the disc. Piston (1894-1976) studied in France with Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas after attending Harvard, where he later taught from 1926 until retiring in 1960. His illustrious students included the likes of Elliott Carter and Leonard Bernstein. His textbook, Harmony, was published in 1941 and is still in use today. The Pulitzer he won in 1961 for the Seventh Symphony was actually his second, the first being awarded for his Third Symphony in 1948. The Seventh starts ponderously but soon develops into a driving Con moto before receding quietly. This is followed by a meditative Andante pastorale movement; the symphony finishes with a boisterous Allegro festevole. The most recent work is Stringmusic by Morton Gould (1913- 1996) which won the Pulitzer in 1995. It was written for Mstislav Rostropovich and “showcases all the possible sounds and colours of a string orchestra,” although anyone familiar with Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima might disagree. It’s a lyrical five-movement work – Prelude, Tango, Dirge, Ballad and Strum (perpetual motion) – which serves as a fitting monument to the life of a man whose eclectic career spanned vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley to Broadway and concert halls around the world. This excellent disc is part of an ongoing tribute to American music from PentaTone and the Oregon Symphony. We invite submissions. CDs, DVDs and comments should be sent to: DISCoveries, WholeNote Media Inc., The Centre for Social Innovation, 503 – 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4. David Olds, DISCoveries Editor discoveries@thewholenote.com 36 | May and June 2020 thewholenote.com

STRINGS ATTACHED TERRY ROBBINS English violinist Clare Howick garnered rave reviews for her previous five CDs of violin music by British composers, and it’s easy to hear why with her latest contribution to the genre, British Violin Sonatas with pianist Simon Callaghan (SOMM SOMMCD 0610 naxosdirect.com). The six composers represented were exact contemporaries: Gordon Jacob (1895- 1984); William Walton (1902-83); Lennox Berkeley (1903-89); Alan Rawsthorne (1905-71); William Alwyn (1905-85); and Kenneth Leighton (1929-88). Walton’s Sonata and Alwyn’s Sonatina are quite beautiful works which leave you wondering why they’re not heard more often; Leighton’s Sonata No.1 is another absolute gem. The three short but delightful Jacob pieces – Elegy, Caprice and Little Dancer – are premiere recordings. Three more short but lovely pieces – Rawsthorne’s Pierrette: Valse Caprice and Berkeley’s Elegy Op.33 No.2 and Toccata Op.33 No.3 – complete an enthralling recital. Howick plays with a gorgeous free-flowing rhapsodic strength and passion, matched by Callaghan in all respects. Superb recorded sound and balance, with a rich, deep and sonorous piano and full, warm violin add to a simply outstanding disc. My sheet of notes for Grieg - The Violin Sonatas, the stunning Super Audio CD by Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing and Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski (BIS- 2456 naxosdirect.com) has one word at the top – “Wow!!” – that could easily suffice as the entire review. It should come as no surprise that Hemsing has an innate affinity for the music of Norway’s favourite musical son, but the high level of her interpretation here is still a real ear-opener, with big, spacious and expansive playing in the Sonatas No.1 in F Major Op.8, No.2 in G Major Op.13 and No.3 in C Minor Op.45. Trpčeski is a fine partner, clearly at one with Heming in all respects. Heming’s own solo violin composition Homecoming – Variations on a folk tune from Valdres – showcases a tune her great-great-grandfather sang that found its way into Grieg’s solo piano Ballade Op.24. It’s a brief tour de force that provides a fitting end to an outstanding CD. Erich Wolfgang Korngold was an astonishingly precocious and gifted musical talent, considered in his early years in Austria to be the greatest composer prodigy since Mozart. Evidence of his youthful abilities is paired with the most popular work from his later years in Hollywood on Korngold Violin Concerto & String Sextet with violinist Andrew Haveron, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra under John Wilson, and the Sinfonia of London Chamber Ensemble (Chandos CHAN 20135 naxosdirect.com). Although fully revised in 1945, the concerto was actually drafted in 1937 before Korngold moved to America. Essentially reworking material from his 1930s Hollywood film scores, it’s an unashamedly romantic work in sweeping cinematic style, and given a terrific performance by Haveron, whose lustrous tone combines brilliance and warmth in an immensely satisfying recording. Haveron is also first violin in the Sextet, a remarkably impressive four-movement work written when Korngold was only 17. While there are shades of Brahms and hints of early Schoenberg, an eminent critic at the premiere wrote that Korngold’s signature was unmistakeable from the very first bar. Cellist-composer Giuseppe Clemente Dall’Abaco (1710-1805) was esteemed throughout the major European musical centres, but while his unaccompanied 11 Caprices have been published his 35 accompanied sonatas remain virtually unknown. Five of them – the Sonatas in A Major ABV30, C Minor ABV32, D Minor ABV35, VII in C Major ABV18 and VIII in G Major ABV19, the latter usually incorrectly attributed to Sammartini – are featured on Dall’Abaco Cello Sonatas, a delightful CD from the Montreal-based cellist Elinor Frey, accompanied by Mauro Valli (cello), Federica Bianchi (harpsichord) and Giangiacomo Pinardi (archlute) (Passacaille 1069 passacaille.be). The music is Italianate and full of sunlight and brilliance. In her excellent and extensive booklet notes, Frey comments on Dall’Abaco’s experimenting with newly fashionable qualities that we now associate with galant or pre-classical music, and on the many characteristics which we identify with better-known cello music from later decades by the likes of Boccherini or Haydn. It is indeed cello music that “remains fresh, audacious, alluring and often utterly beautiful,” and is a significant contribution to the early cello repertoire. Frey’s critical edition of the complete 35 cello sonatas of Dall’Abaco is due to be published by Edition Walhall this year. Imp in Impulse is the outstanding debut solo CD by the Czech violinist Barbora Kolářová. The title work was written for her by the American composer Pascal Le Boeuf and receives its premiere recording here, Jean Françaix’s Theme with 8 Variations for Solo Violin and Klement Slavický’s Partita for Solo Violin completing the disc (Furious Artisans FACD6822 furiousartisans.com). Kolářová says that she loves searching for pieces that are generally unknown and unrecorded, and that speak to her artistically and thewholenote.com/listening Nuits Blanches Karina Gauvin ; Pacific Baroque Orchestra ; Alexander Weimann White Night is a much anticipated new recording by soprano Karina Gauvin, who stylishly animates the opera heroines of the 18th century Russian court. Jacques Hétu : Concertos Jean-Philippe Sylvestre ; Alain Trudel ; Orchestre symphonique de Laval This album marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Canadian composer Jacques Hétu, featuring Piano Concerto No. 2 and Trombone Concerto. thewholenote.com May and June 2020 | 37

Volume 26 (2020- )

Volume 26 Issue 1 - September 2020

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
Volume 25 Issue 8 - May / June 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)