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Volume 26 Issue 8 - July and August 2021

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Last print issue for Volume 26. Back mid-September with Vol 27 no 1. And what a sixteen-month year it's been. Thanks for sticking around. Inside: looking back at what we are hoping is behind us, and ahead to what the summer has to offer; also inside, DISCoveries: 100 reviews to read, and a bunch of new tracks uploaded to the listening room. On stands, commencing Wednesday June 30.

New Morse Code, cellist

New Morse Code, cellist Hannah Collins and percussionist Michael Compitello. Together they reinforce the deep sense of urgency driving this powerful work, shining some light on our fraught times. Pamela Margles CLASSICAL AND BEYOND New Baroque Sessions Luc Beauséjour Analekta AN 2 8919 (analekta.com/en) ! Solitary ways of existence brought on by the current pandemic have resulted in spurs of interesting solo projects around the world. Many performing artists have been contemplating the question of their artistic identity in the circumstances that extinguish the very nature of their art. A solo statement of a kind, New Baroque Sessions is an album that captures one artist’s way of retaining the essence of their creative expression while playing the music they love. This second volume of Baroque music played on piano (the first one was published in 2016) is a collection of Luc Beauséjour’s favourite pieces from the Baroque repertoire. The compositions, by Bach, Couperin (Armand-Louis and François), Scarlatti, Fischer, Sweelinck, Froberger and Balbastre, touch upon different corners of vast Baroque treasures. Some are well known, others explored less often. All are predominantly written for harpsichord but translate exceptionally well to piano, which was one of Beauséjour’s intentions with this album. A versatile performer, equally at home on harpsichord, organ and piano, Beauséjour has an elegance to his playing that is truly rare. Here is the performer that plays with colours and articulations; a performer of subtle gestures that amount to grand statements. The pieces themselves contain creative elements one does not necessarily expect – musical portraits, clever compositional techniques, tributes to Greek muses, or simple utterances of the resilience of their times. While honouring Baroque traditions, there is a touch of contemporaneity to Beauséjour’s interpretations, adding an incredible freshness to this album. Ivana Popovic Hidden Treasures – 17th-Century Music of Habsburg and Bohemia ¡Sacabuche! ATMA ACD2 2798 (atmaclassique.com/en) ! This is something new. We are aware of the talented and sometimes prodigious output of Austrian composers such as Haydn or Mozart but their predecessors are all but unknown. Enter ¡Sacabuche! For 15 years under the direction of Baroque trombonist Linda Pearse, this Canadian ensemble has rediscovered works from Habsburg and Bohemian sources. What is more, the range of instruments such as cornettos and theorbos is particularly diverse. Indeed, it is strident trombone playing that makes its presence immediately felt in O dulce nomen Jesu by the Viennese composer Giovanni Felice Sances. Massimiliano Neri’s Sonata quarta Op.2 is even more complex, demanding an intricate playing which makes the disappearance of these pieces from mainstream music all the more puzzling. On occasion the CD includes anonymous pieces; the eight-part Sinfonia is a vibrant full-blooded composition which any modern brass band would be proud to perform. Of course, this does not rule out vocal input as another anonymous composition Salve regina à 4 brings out the contralto contribution of Vicki St Pierre – holding her own even while outnumbered by ten instrumentalists! In fact, while most of the compositions on this CD are scored for several of these instrumentalists, St Pierre’s performance of O quam suavis (again anonymous) brings a virtuoso voice to the selection. When we consider our familiarity with the contemporary composers from say Venice, the absence of this CD’s composers is very surprising. We owe much to Linda Pearse and her fellow musicians in bringing us this anthology. Michael Schwartz Spira, Spera Emmanuel Despax Signum Classics SIGCD 665 (signumrecords.com/?s=Spira) ! In the liner notes to the terrific 2021 release Spira, Spera, the name taken from Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, French pianist Emmanuel Despax writes that studying and performing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is metaphysical in that “there is no chaos, just beauty.” Most certainly, during these trying times, humanity’s quest for beauty is, if nothing, unabated. As such, I would suggest (expanding on this point) that Bach’s music – particularly when played as beautifully as is captured on this wonderful recording – is an equivalently metaphysical journey for engaged listeners. Perhaps this sounds trite, but beauty is the antidote to ugliness. And sadly, there is tremendous ugliness in society and in the world at present. Beauty, and beautiful artifacts, such as the music of Bach as performed boldly and with nuance by Despax, hold out the possibility of something (a beauty ideal?) towards which we aspire. Although much of the music contained on this disc may be familiar, the arrangements and album concept (paying tribute to the legacy of pianists and composers – Liszt and Busoni among others – who both revered Bach’s music and transcribed it for the contemporary piano) is both unique and musically satisfying. The whole recording is sublime. Even on such workhorses as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Despax finds freshness in Dame Myra Hess’s transcription and brings to life beautiful musical subtleties that, of course, were always contained within, but needed the deftness of touch and recording sensitivity that Despax and this album offer, to reveal themselves anew. Andrew Scott In the Salon of Madame Brillon – Music and Friendship in Benjamin Franklin’s Paris The Raritan Players; Rebecca Cypess Acis APL40158 (acisproductions.com) ! This inspired new recording from the noted Raritan Players was conceived and directed by pianist and scholar Dr. Rebecca Cypess, and is the result of arduous research and performances. The project is focused on the pre-Revolutionary War Parisian hostess, patroness and composer, Anne-Louise Boyvan d’Hardancourt Brillon de Jouy (1744-1824), and on both her musical canon and the sparkling workings of her fabulous, fashionable and elite Parisian salon. Her luminous guests were drawn from the rarified worlds of music, art, philosophy and diplomacy – including her flirty pen pal Benjamin Franklin (then U.S. Ambassador to Paris). There are seven world-premiere recordings here, which include Brillon’s duet for harpsichord and square piano (performed on a rare 1780 English instrument by Johannes Zumpe). All selections have been performed on period instruments and feature not only Brillon’s work, but music preserved in her personal collection, including compositions 40 | July and August 2021 thewholenote.com

dedicated to her by the iconic cellist Luigi Boccherini. Of particular beauty in this heady bouquet are Boccherini’s Sonata No.4 in D Major from Sei Sonate di Cembalo e Violino – particularly the Andante, which explores the gorgeous and unexpected, natural sonic symmetry of the violin and harpsichord. Brillon’s own Sonata No.4 in G Minor is a fresh-sounding and compelling work, and in the Andante con espressione, the square piano resonates with passion and urgency – engulfing the length of the keyboard. Henri-Joseph Rigel’s threemovement piece for piano and harpsichord, Duo No.2 in C Minor is a spine-tingling celebration of musical possibilities. Constrained by the societal restrictions of her day, Brillon, who nearly disappeared from history, manifested an international life of artistic and historical significance that still resonates today. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke Boccherini – Complete Flute Quintets Rafael Ruibérriz de Torres; Francisco de Goya String Quartet Brilliant Classics 96074 (naxosdirect.com/search/5028421960746) ! Virtuoso cellist and composer, Luigi Boccherini, born in 1743 in the city of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy, only 92 kilometres west of Florence, received his musical education in Lucca and subsequently in Rome. He spent some time in his mid-20s in Paris, which led to his moving to Madrid and his appointment as a musician in the household of the Infante Don Luis, brother of King Charles III. It was there in 1773 and 1774 that Boccherini composed the two sets of Six Flute Quintets Opp.17 and 19, recorded on the first two CDs of this three-CD set. The third CD is of the Flute Quintets Op.55, composed in 1797, either in Spain or in Berlin, where he was employed by King Frederick William II of Prussia. These 18 quintets, while far from Boccherini’s total output, reveal a very skilful and original composer, different from but not inferior to his much better-known colleagues, Haydn and Mozart. First and foremost is his gift for melodic invention, evident in everything on the CD, even in the third set, composed when he was in his mid-50s. The flute would, you might think, be a bit of a fifth wheel when added to a string quartet, but not for Boccherini. He sometimes uses the flute as a soloist, as in Op.19, No.3, which is almost a concerto, the flute even having a cadenza; sometimes as an orchestral colour to bring out a series of modulations, as in Op.17, No.1; and sometimes as a source of contrast, as in Op.19, No.4, where the flute and the cello alternate as soloists. The performers are the Spanish Francisco de Goya String Quartet and flutist, Rafael Ruibérriz de Torres. The quartet’s playing is technically flawless, and their sensitivity to each other and to the flute is exemplary. Ruibérriz de Torres always sounds as if he belongs, and his facility on the period instrument is astounding during the virtuoso passages. Bravissimi to the five for giving us this first complete recording of these hitherto neglected works. Allan Pulker Flute Passion: Mozart Nadia Labrie; Antoine Bareil; Isaac Chalk; Benoit Loiselle Analekta AN 2 8925 (analekta.com/en) ! Mozart’s dislike of the flute has long been a topic of controversy, and whatever truth there may be behind the theory, some of his most charming works were written for the instrument, albeit the result of commissions received between 1778 and 1787. Five of these compositions – the Quartets K285, 285a and 285b in addition to the Quartet K298 and the renowned Andante K315 (as arranged and adapted by François Vallières) are presented here on this delightful Analekta recording performed by flutist Nadia Labrie and her accomplished colleagues Antoine Bareil, violin, Isaac Chalk, viola and Benoit Loiselle, cello. First-prize winner from the Conservatoire de musique du Québec, Labrie holds a master’s degree from the Université de Montréal and has appeared as soloist with such ensembles as the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. This is her third in the Flute Passion series. These one-, two-, or three-movement works – never more than 17 minutes in length – may have only been written for the purpose of financial gain, but after 250 years they remain miniature gems – amiable chamber music where all parts are deemed equal. As a cohesive ensemble, this group of four succeeds admirably! From the beginning, the listener is struck with the wonderfully intimate sound these musicians produce. Labrie’s pure and sonorous tone is perfectly complemented by the underlying strings that provide a sensitive partnership. This is nowhere more evident than in the second movement of K285b, a theme and six variations. Here, the artists approach the graceful intertwined melodies with great finesse, achieving a delicate balance throughout. Félicitations à tous! This is a wonderful performance of engaging music played by four gifted musicians. Whatever feelings Mozart may have had for the flute, he would surely have approved! Richard Haskell What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Genealogy CODE Quartet The excellent musicianship of this quartet makes the four players sound full and complete – offering well-blended, tightly arranged and exploratory jazz with contemporary, wistful, modern jazz arrangements. Ain't Got Long Art of Time Ensemble Art of Time Ensemble's 6th studio album, it plays out like a Greatest Hits, with all songs arranged by longtime collaborator Jonathan Goldsmith. This Land Theo Bleckman & The Westerlies Songs of Resistance and Solace by Woody Guthrie, Bertolt Brecht, Joni Mitchell & more. The Music of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra In this album, hear music from one of classical music history's forgotten gems: an influential Black 18th-century baroque composer. thewholenote.com July and August 2021 | 41

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