2 years ago

Volume 26 Issue 2 - October 2020

  • Text
  • Classical
  • Artists
  • Choral
  • Concerts
  • Performances
  • Choir
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • Toronto
  • October
Following the Goldberg trail from Gould to Lang Lang; Measha Brueggergosman and Edwin Huizinga on face to face collaboration in strange times; diggings into dance as FFDN keeps live alive; "Classical unicorn?" - Luke Welch reflects on life as a Black classical pianist; Debashis Sinha's adventures in sound art; choral lessons from Skagit Valley; and the 21st annual WholeNote Blue Pages (part 1 of 3) in print and online. Here now. And, yes, still in print, with distribution starting Thursday October 1.

classical and jazz

classical and jazz worlds run the gamut from lead trumpeter, jazz improviser, orchestral soloist, bassist, arranger and composer. In the summer of 2018 Harnoy and Herriott took a vacation in St. John’s, where Herriott had spent his formative years. Evidently she fell in love with the place and people of Newfoundland, one of the few locations in the world her career had not previously taken her, and they decided to buy a house and settle there. After their first collaboration for Analekta, Back to Bach, was released in 2019 they embarked on a journey to explore the island and research its music. The result is this charming disc, a mixture of traditional and popular songs in instrumental and vocal renditions, all arranged by Herriott, with the participation of singers Alan Doyle, Amanda Cash, Kelly-Ann Evans, Heather Bambrick and Fergus O’Byrne. O’Byrne also adds guitar and banjo to the instrumental contingent of guests Maureen Ennis (guitar), Bob Hallett (accordion, mandolin and Irish flute) and Kendel Carson (fiddle). All of the other instruments, and there are many, are played by Herriott except the solo and ensemble cellos of Harnoy. The album begins with a haunting rendition of the traditional She’s Like the Swallow performed by Harnoy and Herriott, who are then joined by Amanda Cash in Wayne Chaulk’s story/ballad Saltwater Joys. In a nod to Harnoy’s classical background, and perhaps to their previous disc, Herriott’s arrangement of Ron Hynes’ St. John’s Waltz begins with a solo cello line cleverly modelled on the Prelude from Bach’s Suite for Solo Cello No.1 in G Major which later develops into an ensemble of cellos accompanying Great Big Sea founder Doyle on vocals. There’s an instrumental interlude where Ennis joins Harnoy to perform Cara’s Waltz which she penned with Doyle. Although much of the album is mellow and balladic, especially in the tunes that feature Herriott’s flugelhorn stylings, things really get cooking in Harbour Buffett Double, a quartet with cello, fiddle, accordion and bass (with Herriott doubling on spoons) and the following Mussels in the Corner. This mainstay of local dance music sees Hallett playing all three of his instruments along with Harnoy and Herriott, all to the accompaniment of a rowdy pub crowd. One interesting artistic choice is the mournful arrangement for 11 cellos of Stan Rogers’ rousing a cappella anthem Barrett’s Privateers, bringing an entirely new slant to the broken sailor’s lament. A further contribution to the sombre mood of the disc is Evans’ beautiful interpretation of Hynes’ Sonny’s Dream, another iconic tune by the unofficial poet laureate of Newfoundland. In his introductory notes Herriott suggests that this is just the beginning of their exploration of the music of his home province. As beautiful as this maiden voyage is, I hope that the next installment will include some of the roughhousing found in Newfoundland and Labrador’s traditional jigs and reels. The final selection is not a cello disc per se, but having spent a large part of last month’s column on Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Project I think I should mention at least in passing that his collective with Chris Thile (mandolin), Stuart Duncan (violin) and Edgar Meyer (bass) has released a second CD, Not Our First Goat Rodeo (Sony Music GR002 masterworks). The players are all top rank in their fields – bluegrass, country, jazz and of course, classical – and work wonderfully together. As with the 2011 album The Goat Rodeo Sessions – “Goat rodeo” is an aviation term for a situation in which 100 things need to go right to avoid disaster – we are presented with a wonderfully diverse album of original material which, while firmly rooted in American folk traditions, incorporates a wealth of influences. Once again the super stringband is joined by the lovely voice of Aoife O’Donovan for one tune, The Trappings, which you can check out here: STRINGS ATTACHED TERRY ROBBINS It’s been a simply terrific month for cello discs. Cellist Jonah Kim and pianist Sean Kennard were together as teenagers at the Curtis Institute and again at Juilliard. For Rachmaninoff and Barber Cello Sonatas, their first album on the Delos label, they have chosen Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata Op.19 and Samuel Barber’s Cello Sonata Op.6 (Delos DE 3574 search/de+3574). The composers were both in their 20s when writing the works, and heart-on-sleeve romanticism and expansive melodies are common to both sonatas. Despite the balanced writing in the Rachmaninoff, there’s a notoriously difficult piano part which Kennard handles superbly. There’s a deeply personal link to the Barber sonata here. Barber himself studied at the Curtis Institute and wrote his sonata there in 1932 with help from cellist and fellow student Orlando Cole, who premiered the work with Barber in 1933. Cole, who died in 2010 at 101, taught at Curtis for 75 years and counted Johan Kim among his students; Kim and Kennard received priceless coaching from Cole in their performance of the work. There’s an abundance of lovely playing here, with a beautiful cello tone and a rich and sonorous piano sound perfectly suited to the flowing melodic lines that are central to these strongly Romantic works. Kian Soltani is the soloist in the Dvořák Cello Concerto with Daniel Barenboim conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin in a performance recorded live in concert at the Berlin Philharmonie in October 2018 (Deutsche Grammophon 00028948360901 Barenboim has been general music director of the orchestra since 1992, and the lengthy but lovely orchestral start to the concerto is a reminder of just how much of a master he is on the podium. He also has a personal 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 De l’espace trouver la fin et le milieu Dan Barrett Lemaître's music is characterized by sensuality, melodic contour, and mosaic textures, and reflects the influence of the French lineage of modern composition, from Debussy and Ravel up through Murail and Grisey. Sí! Sonatas Leticia Gómez-Tagle Mexican pianist in her new Album "Sí! Sonatas" with Chopin Sonata, Liszt Sonata and Scarlatti Sonata in b minor. Recorded with ARS Produktion (Germany). 52 | October 2020

connection with Soltani, having worked on the concerto with the cellist in 2014 prior to Soltani’s first concert performance of the work. Soltani plays the London ex-Boccherini Stradivarius cello on loan, and what a tone he produces! It’s a simply superb performance in all respects. Five short Dvořák pieces arranged for solo cello and cello ensemble of six players – three of the arrangements by Soltani – complete the disc: Lasst mich allein (the song that has such emotional significance in the concerto); Goin’ Home (after the Largo from the New World Symphony); Songs My Mother Taught Me (from Gypsy Melodies Op.55); Allegro moderato (from Four Romantic Pieces Op.75); and Silent Woods (from From the Bohemian Forest Op.68). The live performance of the concerto has richness, immediacy, depth, emotional commitment and tension and a great sound. Stay for the ensemble arrangements, but buy this CD for the concerto. The outstanding cellist Alban Gerhardt is back with more stellar performances on Shostakovich Cello Concertos, with the WDR Sinfonieorchester under Jukka- Pekka Saraste (Hyperion CDA68340 Both works were written for the Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and despite Gerhardt’s admitted “utter adoration” for Rostropovich and an awareness of his relationship with the composer, he admits that he has ignored his interpretations, essentially because Shostakovich’s markings in both concertos were largely ignored by the Russian cellist. The Concerto No.1 in E-flat Major Op.107 from 1959 has four movements, the third being a towering solo cello cadenza almost six minutes in length that perfectly frames Gerhardt’s technical and interpretational abilities. The Concerto No.2 in G Major Op.126 from 1966 began as a memorial piece for the poetess Anna Akhmatova, who had died earlier in the year. An essentially reflective work, Rostropovich considered it the greatest of the numerous concertos written for him. Terrific performances of two of the great 20th-century cello concertos make for an outstanding CD. There’s a very clear message in the programing of Voice of Hope, the new CD from the Franco-Belgian cellist Camille Thomas with the Brussels Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon 00028948385645 Building a selection of songs, prayers and laments around the world premiere recording of the Cello Concerto “Never What we're listening to this month: Give Up” Op.73 by the Turkish composer Fazil Say, it pays tribute “to people’s ability to triumph over adversity, create harmony in place of chaos, and overcome hatred with love.” Say’s three-movement concerto, a vivid, emotional and quite unsettling but extremely effective response to terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Paris, was written for and premiered by Thomas. It is performed here on the 1730 Stradivarius cello once owned by Emanuel Feuermann, with the orchestra’s music director Stéphane Denève as conductor. The remaining tracks are conducted by Mathieu Herzog, who also made several of the numerous arrangements, only Bruch’s Kol Nidrei appearing in its original form. Also included are Ravel’s Kaddisch, Dvořák’s Songs My Mother Taught Me, John Williams’ Theme from Schindler’s List, Wagner’s Träume from the Wesendonck-Lieder, Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits and well-known arias from the operas Dido and Aeneas, L’elisir d’amore, Norma, Werther, Don Giovanni and Nabucco. Thomas says that she “wanted to choose works that represented this idea that beauty will save the world, quite simply.” Quite simply, there’s certainly beauty in her playing. The American harpist and organist Parker Ramsay has a master’s degree in harp performance from Juilliard, and is equally at home on modern and period instruments. Bach Goldberg Variations is his first solo harp recording, and it’s a remarkable accomplishment (King’s College Recordings Apparently the Goldberg Variations can only be played on the harp in G major, which luckily happens to be Bach’s key. A keyboard/harp comparison reveals interesting differences: difficult keyboard flourishes are often easier on the harp, while simple keyboard linear melodies are more difficult or even impossible, especially if rapid pedal changes are needed for chromatic passages. The modern pedal harp, though, offered Ramsay what he terms “the best of both worlds: it’s a plucked instrument like the harpsichord, but is sensitive to pressure, like the piano.” Listening to this CD the first thing that strikes you is the astonishing articulation – the accuracy, fluency and agility, especially in the ornamentation and in the faster, more florid variations. With the harp’s added resonance Ramsay stresses the opportunity to present the harmonic structures as well as the contrapuntal in what is a gentle and atmospheric sound world. In a recent New York Times article Ramsay says that he realized that “the way to hear this work – and most of Bach, for that matter – as I wanted would be to use my first instrument, the modern pedal harp.” On this remarkable and immensely intriguing and satisfying showing, it’s hard to disagree with him. Of Being Ning Yu A poignant collection of new works for solo piano, inspired by issues from species extinction to temporality, Yu's performance are pristine and expressive. Recoder François Houle 4 Clarinetist's new international project is rhythmically driven: Gordon Grdina's incendiary guitar is matched by Mark Helias's fluid bass lines and Gerry Hemingway's imaginative drumming. Honeywood Emilyn Stam and John David Williams Honeywood offers instrumental compositions inspired by traditional European dance music, combined with a fresh take on folk tunes from France, Germany and the Netherlands. 49th Parallel Neil Swainson Quintet Four-time Juno award winner jazz bassist Neil Swainson’s lost overlooked album, 49th Parallel is now back! Features jazz legends Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw. October 2020 | 53

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