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Volume 26 Issue 6 - March and April 2021

  • Text
  • Contemporary
  • Orchestra
  • Album
  • Toronto
  • Quartet
  • Ensemble
  • Jazz
  • Composer
  • April
  • Musical
96 recordings (count’em) reviewed in this issue – the most ever – with 25 new titles added to the DISCoveries Online Listening Room (also a new high). And up front: Women From Space deliver a festival by holograph; Morgan Paige Melbourne’s one-take pianism; New Orleans’ Music Box Village as inspiration for musical playground building; the “from limbo to grey zone” inconsistencies of live arts lockdowns; all this and more here and in print commencing March 19 2021.

mix of Western

mix of Western and Eastern instruments: piano; violin; viola; cello; contrabass; flutes; clarinets; guitar; santoor; oud; tar; marimba; djembe; riq and dumbek. The title translates to “I arrived a stranger,” the opening line of Gute Nacht, the first song of the Winterreise cycle, and it embodies the spirit of the project as stated in the booklet, “…in view of the homelessness of so many refugees.” It is a haunting and evocative reinterpretation of a timeless classic, firmly rooting it in the troubled 21st century. A stunning addition to my Winterreise collection. Two Japanese piano concertos complete this month’s column, Dai Fujikura’s Piano Concerto No.4 “Akiko’s Piano” (daifujikura. com/#shop) and Toshio Hosokawa’s Lotus under the moonlight on Hosokawa / Mozart (ECM New Series 2624 ecmrecords.com/shop). Fujikura tells us that his ”special piano concerto was written for and dedicated to the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra’s Peace and Music Ambassador, Martha Argerich. […] In Hiroshima, there is a piano that survived the atomic bomb, the smashed glass window from the blast is still stuck to the piano’s body. This piano belonged to a 19-year-old girl, Akiko […] who was working as a mobilized student, when the atomic bomb was dropped. She walked and swam, as the bridge had been destroyed, to her home where her parents were that day. Then, the next day, she died [of radiation poisoning] in her parents’ arms.” In this recoding, two pianos are used; a grand piano for the body of the work, and then the cadenza at the end of the concerto is played on Akiko’s Piano, the piano that survived the bombing. Fujikura says “To express such a universal theme of ‘music for peace’ the piece should portray that most personal, smallest point of view. I think that is the most powerful way, and only music can achieve this.” I think he has done so admirably. The soloist is Mami Hagiwara and the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Tatsuya Shimono. Hosokawa’s concerto was commissioned by the Nordeutscher Rundfunk for the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. The composer was asked to select a favourite Mozart concerto and write a work for the same instrumentation. He chose the Concerto in A Major K488, and used the “beautiful slow movement” in F-sharp Minor as his point of departure. Hosokawa says “Of all flowers, the lotus blossom is the most highly valued in Buddhism. Many statues of the Buddha show him standing on a lotus blossom. […] In my concerto, the piano symbolizes the lotus flower (human) and the orchestra the surrounding water and universe. […] The work does not depict the lotus flower quietly but rather tries to express the mysterious energy of the universe that flows into the blossoming of the flower.” For this purpose, Hosokawa has supplemented the orchestra with percussion instruments; dramatic bass drum explosions and the gentle tinkling of bells and chimes. He dedicated the work to Momo Kodama who premiered it in Hamburg in 2006. Her performance here is from the Japanese premiere, recorded later that same year, with Seiji Ozawa conducting his Mito Chamber Orchestra. As at the premiere, the recording pairs Lotus under the moonlight with Kodama’s performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major that inspired it. 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 STRINGS ATTACHED TERRY ROBBINS The Canadian duo of cellist Cameron Crozman and pianist Philip Chiu is in fine form on Tapeo, a delightful recital of popular Spanish pieces (ATMA Classique ACD2 2820 atmaclassique.com/en). Crozman says that he fell in love with Spain the moment he first stepped into the Tapeo tapas bar on his first day in Barcelona, and when the Canada Council awarded him the loan of the “El Tiburon” cello from around 1769 attributed to the Spanish maker Joannes Guillami he knew he had to make a recording honouring its Spanish origins. Crozman describes the resulting CD as his own “tapas party” of short, diverse Spanish pieces. Included are Cassadó’s Requiebros, de Falla’s Suite populaire espagnole, Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habañera and Alborada del Gracioso, Turina’s Polimnia-Nocturno, Granados’ Intermezzo from Goyescas, Albéniz’s Asturias (Leyenda), Ginastera’s Triste, Estrellita by the Mexican Manuel Ponce and Chants oubliés by the Chilean- Canadian Alberto Guerrero. The gentle warmth of the Guillami cello’s tone is perfect for this material, with both performers providing beautifully nuanced playing in a top-quality CD. Violinist Gidon Kremer continues his passionate promotion of the previously neglected music of Shostakovich’s close friend and compatriot with Mieczysław Weinberg Violin Concerto, a live performance of the Concerto in G Minor Op.67 recorded in Leipzig in February 2020 as part of a series of concerts marking the composer’s 2019 centenary; Daniele Gatti conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (Accentus Music ACC30518 accentus.com/discs/518). Weinberg completed the four-movement concerto in 1959 at the end of a particularly creative phase. Written six years after the death of Stalin, it’s essentially a warmly lyrical work with spikier moments that clearly shows his musical relationship with Shostakovich, albeit without the sense of tension and utter despair that often haunted the latter’s compositions in the Stalin era. Kremer is joined by Madara Petersone, the leader of his Kremerata Baltica ensemble, in a studio recording of the terrific three-movement Sonata for Two Violins Op.69, also from 1959. In October 2019 the Italian-American violinist Francesca Dego was given the honour of performing Paganini’s Concerto No.1 in Genoa on Paganini’s 1743 Guarneri del Gesù “il Cannone” violin, after which she was allowed to record with the instrument in Genoa Town Hall, where it is permanently housed and guarded by a six-person security detail. The result is Il Cannone: Francesca Dego plays Paganini’s Violin, where she is 30 | March and April 2021 thewholenote.com

accompanied by her regular recital partner Francesca Leonardi in a program of works that pay homage to the famous virtuoso (Chandos CHAN 20223 chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%2020223). Four of the works here are for solo violin: Kreisler’s Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice; John Corigliano’s The Red Violin Caprices; Carlo Boccadoro’s Come d’autunno; and Schnittke’s tough and quite abrasive A Paganini. The works with piano are Clochette (Kreisler’s arrangement of La Campanella), Rossini’s Un mot à Paganini, and two works, in particular, that showcase the instrument’s glorious singing quality: Boccadoro’s arrangement of Paganini’s Cantabile and Szymanowski’s Trois Caprices de Paganini. The sweeping melodic phrases, the sweetness and strength in the highest register and the crystal-clear harmonics in these settings of Caprices Nos. 20, 21 and 24 complete a dazzling CD. With Franz Schubert Music for Violin II violinist Ariadne Daskalakis and Paolo Giacometti, on fortepiano, complete their survey of Schubert’s music for violin using a historical approach aimed at understanding the framework of Schubert’s time (BIS- 2373 bis.se). The Rondo in B Minor Op.70 D895 “Rondeau brillant” from 1826 provides a strong opening to the disc, bringing appropriately bright and clear playing from Daskalakis, the full recorded resonance allowing the fortepiano to sound warm and not at all dry. Two of the three Sonatas Op.137 from 1816 (published by Diabelli in 1836 as Sonatinas) are here, No.1 in D Major D384 and No.2 in A Minor D385 drawing terrific playing from both performers, with lovely definition and dynamics in the former and very effective passages in the latter where Daskalakis uses no vibrato. The Duo Sonata in A Major Op.162 D574 from 1817 completes a fascinating CD, full of expansive, visceral music-making. The fortepiano is by Salvatore Lagrassa from around 1815, so exactly contemporary with the music here, and the violin is a 1754 Guadagnini with gut strings and a classical bridge. The instruments are tuned to 430 Hz. Two instruments from the Paris Musée de la musique provide a fascinating sound on Beethoven Cello Sonatas Op.5, with Raphaël Pidoux playing a 1734 cello by Pietro Guarneri of Venice and Tanguy de Williencourt playing an 1855 piano by Carl Gulius Gebauhr (Harmonia Mundi HMM 902410 store.harmoniamundi.com/ format/635912-beethoven-cello-sonatas-op-5). Both sonatas – No.1 in F Major and No.2 in G Minor – have no slow movement, the two-movement form in each being essentially Adagio – Allegro and Rondo – Allegro. Dedicated to Frederick William II, King of Prussia (himself an accomplished cellist), they were written in 1796 when Beethoven was in Berlin. Despite being published by Artaria in 1797 as sonatas for keyboard “with an obligato cello” they are the first duos to treat both instruments equally, the booklet essay noting their “brilliant writing, ambition and ample dimensions.” Two works inspired by Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte complete the disc: Beethoven’s 1801 Seven Variations on “Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen” WoO46 and the Nocturne “Souvenirs de la Flûte enchantée” from 1825 by pianist Camille Pleyel and cellist Charles- Nicolas Baudiot. The London Haydn Quartet reaches volume nine in its ongoing set of the complete string quartets of Joseph Haydn with Haydn String Quartets Op.76, a 2CD set priced as a single disc (Hyperion CDA 68335 hyperionrecords.co.uk/a.asp?a=A1711). The six quartets – No. 1 in G Major, No.2 in D Minor “Fifths,” No.3 in C Major “Emperor,” No.4 in B-flat Major “Sunrise,” No.5 in D Major “Largo” and No.6 in E-flat Major – date from 1797 when Haydn was at the height of his creative powers in his string quartet writing; “no set of 18th century string quartets,” notes the excellent booklet essay, “is so wide-ranging in expression, or so heedless of the structural norms of the time. Using the 1799 editions published by Longman, Clementi & Co. of London and Artaria of Vienna, the players show the same outstanding qualities – the faultless intonation on gut strings, the range of nuances and dynamics, the perfect ensemble feel – that have resulted in this series of quite superb period performances garnering rave reviews. The Haydn “Fifths” quartet also turns up on Haydn – Bartók – Mozart, the new CD from the Quatuor Modigliani that features three works that each bear witness to a turning point in the lives of their composers and the advent of new horizons (Mirare MIR506 en.modiglianiquartet.com). Haydn’s String Quartet in D Minor Op.76 No.2 was written when he was free from his service at the Esterházy estate and was the toast of Vienna after his two hugely successful trips to England. The opening tempo is markedly faster than on The London Haydn Quartet CD, but even with the accent more on lightness and clarity there’s no lack of What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Star Maker Fragments TAK ensemble & Taylor Brook TAK’s Star Maker Fragments is a winding interstellar journey through shifting consciousness, exploratory physics, and strangely familiar societies told through mesmerizing microtonal tableaus. Tapeo Cameron Crozman; Philip Chiu Spanish music is the focus of Tapeo, a new recording by cellist Cameron Crozman and pianist Philip Chiu. Michelangelo's Madrigal Kate Macoboy, soprano; Robert Meunier, lute ‘Michelangelo’s Madrigal’, Track 11, is the first known publication of his poetry, with a setting by Lucrezia Borgia’s musician, Tromboncino. Rising w/ The Crossing The Crossing The Philadelphia based contemporary vocal ensemble offers hope amidst a pandemic and a journey through the ensemble's projects over the last several years. thewholenote.com March and April 2021 | 31

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