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Volume 26 Issue 7 - May and June 2021

  • Text
  • Musical
  • Quartet
  • Composer
  • Recording
  • Toronto
  • Musicians
  • Album
  • Jazz
  • Classical
  • Recordings
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Meet some makers (of musical things) - a live filmed operatic premiere of a Handel oratorio?; 20 years of Summer Music in the Garden, short documentary film A Concerto is a Conversation; choirs Zooming in to keep connection live; a watershed moment for bridging the opera/musical theatre divide; and more than 100 recordings listened to and reviewed since the last time.

all four reach

all four reach screeching concordance. With Trzaska, Mazur and the tubist creating a continuum, double saxophone flutters can turn into barely there tongue slaps and whistles as flatulent brass quakes and sliding bass string crackles intersect to propel the narrative. Meanwhile, the Brötzmann, Guy and Kaučič meeting can be contrasted with the Gustafsson, Mazur and Nilssen-Love trio. The German saxist’s distinctive nephritic cry is met by the drummer’s calculated splashes and shatters as the bassist keeps the program chromatic. Each time the saxophonist spears unexpected split tones from his horn, Guy produces connective stops while adding further grainy character along with Kaučič’s cymbal rubs. But when Guy’s subsequently powerful string pulls threaten to unbalance the exposition and push it to dissonance, it’s Brötzmann’s unexpected elaboration of a snatch of Sentimental Journey that launches the three into a near-swinging finale. There’s no comparable respite with the other trio whose combination of reed glossolalia, sluicing string runs from Mazur and thumping drumming suggest heavy metal as much as free jazz. When Nilssen- Love repeatedly pummels his kit and the bassist strums rhythmic ambulation, Gustafsson’s timbral screeches and basso honks rest comfortably among the vibrations below. The set is appropriately concluded with a brief finale with all the musicians expressing group excitement from, and appreciation of, the proceedings as they spill out an organized free-for-all that humorously and abruptly ends. However the standout performance is a four-part dialogue among Fernández, Guy, Mazur and Kaučič. Creating a kinetic yet horizontal pulse, the bass work moors the exposition as the drummer decorates it with cymbal colours and drum pops while the pianist tinkles out a floating canter with sharper theme variations. The storytelling is further enshrined as kinetic piano lines join wide bass string pulses to slow down the allegro narrative to a cumulative responsive finale. Some innovating musicians need and deserve more than a single disc with which to express their far-ranging talents. These box sets show this can be effectively done. Old Wine, New Bottles Fine Old Recordings Re-Released BRUCE SURTEES Louis Kentner Plays Louis Kentner Profil/Hänssler PH20085 10 CDs (naxosdirect.com/search/ph2008) ! Pianist Louis Kentner was born on July 19, 1905 in Karwin, then a part of Austrian Silesia, now Karvina in the Czech Republic. His parents were of Hungarian origin and named their son Lajos. Having later settled in London, in most modern biographies he appears as a British pianist and composer. Kentner was highly gifted musically and from 1911/12 he studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest where he first came to attention with a concert performance of Chopin. At the Academy he studied piano with Arnold Székely, chamber music with Leo Weiner and composition with Hans Koessler and Zoltán Kodály. He made his official debut in 1915 and began concert tours in European cities attracting attention with his interpretations of Chopin and Liszt. He won the Chopin Prize in Warsaw and the Liszt Prize in Budapest. In 1933 he gave the first Hungarian performance of the Bartók Second Piano Concerto (with Otto Klemperer) and in 1946 the first performance in Europe of the Third Concerto under Sir Adrian Boult. Kentner had settled in London in 1935 and was given British citizenship in 1946. Audiences were unstinting in their appreciation of his Mozart and he also gave radio performances of complete cycles of Beethoven and Schubert sonatas. He had a keen interest in Baroque music, especially Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Looking through Kentner’s repertoire on these ten discs poses the usual question, what to play first? Here are the composers: Brahms, Bartók, Walton, Balakirev, Dvořák, Liszt, Bach, Mozart, Ravel, Beethoven, Hubay and Chausson. Assisting artists are Yehudi Menuhin, Gaspar Cassadó, the Pascal Quartet, the Philharmonia and BBC Symphony Orchestras, Adrian Boult and Harry Blech. As Kentner enjoyed a reputation for his Liszt, there is of course the B Minor Sonata recorded in 1937. Wagner found this work to be “beautiful beyond all conception,” and Kentner takes this to heart in the last two pensive and reflective sections of this one-movement masterpiece. There is also a disc of 15 short Liszt delights including Un Sospiro, La Campanella and Gnomerneigen. Yehudi Menuhin is heard in Bach’s Six Violin Sonatas BWV1014/1019. Also with Menuhin is the Walton Violin Sonata recorded in 1950. The Bartók Third Concerto is here with Boult and the BBC Symphony. The rest are not all the usual suspects found in such collections and this one is certainly worth investigating. Kentner had a recognizable sound that identifies his playing throughout this unique collection. Ivan Moravec Edition Ivan Moravec; Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields Hänssler CLASSIC HC 20084 4 CDs (naxosdirect.com/search/hc20084) ! It was only recently that we raved about an 11CD Ivan Moravec set, Portrait, published by Supraphon, of incomparable performances from their and others’ archives of solos and concertos. Every performance on those discs remains a treasure. This new 4CD set from Hänssler is headlined by four Mozart concertos in collaboration with Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. It begins with No.20 in D Minor K466 which is meltingly beautiful in every respect, both performance and recording. This is followed by No.23 in A Major K488, and on disc two Nos.24 in C Minor K491 and 25 in C Major K503.The recordings were made in the Henry Wood Hall in 1997 and 1995. CD three contains sonatas by Haydn and Janáček, Chopin’s Preludes 17 to 24 and a couple of (presumably) encores by Debussy and Chopin, all recorded at the 2000 Prague Festival. The fourth CD finds Moravec in the Academy of Arts and Letters in NYC playing the Chopin Funeral March Sonata and half a dozen Chopin favourites rising to a triumphant Polonaise No.7 Op.61. Another stellar collection from the Moravec vaults. 52 | May and June 2021 thewholenote.com

OTHER FINE VINTAGES Three Quintets by Peter Müller Richards Wind Quintet Crystal Records CD252 (crystalrecords.com) ! This recording of Johann Peter Müller’s Wind Quintets has just been digitally remastered after its initial release back in 1976. Although a pastor by profession, Müller (Germany, 1791-1877) was also an avid composer, writing a substantial number of works including two operas, some organ preludes, string quintets and these three wind quintets. All three are beautiful and charming, showcasing the best of the classical style. Müller had a deep understanding of the strengths of each wind instrument as well as how they blend together, creating works that are both virtuosic and perfectly balanced. These works are performed expertly by the Richards Wind Quintet: Israel Borouchoff, flute; Daniel Stolper, oboe; Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, clarinet; Edgar Kirk, bassoon; and Douglas Campbell, horn. One of the first resident wind quintets in the United States, they toured around North America from 1948 to the late 1980s, proudly representing Michigan State University and the wind quintet form as a whole. Melissa Scott Sonatas for Horn and Piano Christopher Leuba; Kevin Aanerud Crystal Records CD372 (crystalrecords.com) ! Why resurrect a recording of horn and piano duets almost 50 years after it was first released? It is factual that the horn – the French horn as we know it today – is a mainstay in orchestral performance, woodwind quintets and chamber jazz settings, but true virtuosos are few and far between. The late Gunther Schuller comes to mind, as does John Clark, Vincent Chancey, Canada’s Jeff Nelsen, Sarah Willis who’s celebrated as being the first female brass player in the revered Berlin Philharmonic and of course Toronto’s own late, great Joan Watson, principal of the COC Orchestra and founder of True North Brass. But what bearing should any of this have on Sonatas for Horn and Piano, a 1977 recording by the late Christopher Leuba? Biographically speaking, Leuba was first horn in Fritz Reiner’s Chicago Symphony and appeared with the Philharmonica Hungarica under Antal Doráti. Leuba was also a noted pedagogue and his Study of Musical Intonation is considered Bach-like in its importance: “the definitive work mathematically describing true, or just, intonation, in comparison to the tempered scale.” Which brings us to this recording. Leuba truly practices what he once proverbially preached on these Sonatas for Horn and Piano by American composers John Verrall, Halsey Stevens and Paul Tufts. None of this music is considered – in our frame of reference – famous. But each is singularly eloquent; perhaps even a perfect example of how a French horn ought to sound when the spotlight is turned on it. Pianist Kevin Aanerud gently eggs Leuba on throughout, making for an utterly memorable performance. Raul da Gama 20 21 ALL TICKETS ! HANDEL THE RESURRECTION AN OPERATIC TOUR DE FORCE Canadian Film Premiere MAY 27, 2021 Purchase tickets until June 10, 2021 Production Underwriter Vivian Elizabeth Pilar BUY NOW OPERAATELIER.COM Season Presenting Sponsor Season Underwriter Season Supported by David Green & Daphne Wagner and Lita & Michael Green Radio Sponsor Media Partner Photo: Dominic Who by Bruce Zinger thewholenote.com May and June 2021 | 53

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