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Volume 27 Issue 1 - September / October 2021

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Blue pages and orange shirts; R. Murray Schafer's complex legacy, stirrings of life on the live concert scene; and the Bookshelf is back. This and much more. Print to follow. Welcome back from endless summer, one and all.

Joe Coughlin – Debut:

Joe Coughlin – Debut: 40th Anniversary Edition Joe Coughlin Indie Pool (joecoughlin.ca) ! Originally released in 1981, jazz vocalist Joe Coughlin’s eponymous forgotten gem of a debut features a group teeming with topshelf Canadian talent. The lineup is highlighted by the likes of Ed Bickert on guitar, Bernie Senensky on keys, Terry Clarke on drums and Don Thompson on bass. The music itself covers quite a bit of ground, taking elements from straight-ahead swing, vintage synth-pop typical of the era, soul, gospel and even yacht rock (multiple tracks sound like they could belong on Steely Dan’s Gaucho). Quite a few of the flavours on this album can be attributed to the great Rick Wilkins, who was responsible for conducting and arranging all the tunes. His flair is particularly evident on 500 Miles High, which takes a Chick Corea classic and chooses to go the full distance with a Latin groove that was merely implied in the original. The result is a thrilling showcase for the band that hits a pinnacle during Senensky’s dynamic solo. Coughlin himself more than manages to keep up with the ensemble. It is his personality, effortlessness and elegance that give this album its identity. Coughlin’s astounding range is also on full display, whether it’s the fullness of his tone on What a Difference a Day Makes or his softer, borderline whisper on Here’s That Rainy Day. To complete the equation, Joe Coughlin by Joe Coughlin could not have been sequenced better. The moods blend together seamlessly, and the set list is positively spotless. Yoshi Maclear Wall Fixing the Fluctuating Ideas Evan Parker Electro Acoustic Ensemble with Sainkho Namtchylak Victo cd 133 (victo.qc.ca) ! This almost perfect division between vocal and instrumental affiliation with electronics, recorded at FIMAV 1996 in Quebec, comprises two 30+ minute tracks. The first, Fixing, centres around the vocal gymnastics of Tuvan singer Sainkho Namtchylak propelling her retches, yodels and gurgles, accompanied, synthesized and liveprocessed by Marco Vecchi and Walter Prati’s electronics, with obtuse, balanced and stretched interjections from violinist Philipp Wachsmann, bassist Barry Guy, percussionist Paul Lytton and saxophonist Evan Parker. Namtchylak sits out Fluctuating, the second track, which is only slightly shorter than the opener. This allows the electronic wizards to add to and highlight the studied, in-the-moment improvising by the fiddler, bassist, drummer and saxophonist. Accomplished veterans of free expression, Wachsmann, Lytton, Parker and Guy shatter and stretch the program as the electronics subtly project mirrored and scrambled variants of their outputs. This includes col legno slaps and swabbing strokes from the bassist, faux-formalist sweeps and pizzicato rasps from the violinist, crunching crinkles and reverberation from the percussionist and a penultimate sequence where Parker’s circular breathed doits, multiphonics and fluttering trills vibrate towards and then amongst a persuasive finale of staccato stopping from the strings. Earlier Namtchylak’s inimitable shaking cries, onomatopoeic asides and cracked warbling is multiplied by processing and backed by Guy’s bass string thumps and Wachsmann’s augmented string spiccato. When Parker enters at the halfway point, his reed trills and Namtchylak’s vocalizing sound nearly identical. No matter which player’s timbres are emphasized, a perfect mix is attained throughout. Ken Waxman New to the Listening Room Volume 26 no. 8 We Want All the Same Things Erin Propp & Larry Roy 48 Saskatchewan Suite Saskatchewan All Star Big Band 50 This Issue Aufs Lautenwerk Daniel Lippel 33 Drifting, Volume 3 of the New Lullaby Project Aaron Larget-Caplan 34 Twelve Sacred Choral Concerti Luminous Voices 35 Rasa Vitkauskaite plays Mozart & Beethoven Piano Concertos Rasa Vitkauskaite 36 Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel Inna Faliks 38 Quest Elisabeth Remy Johnson 39 Trinité Ofer Pelz 43 Burned into the Orange Peter Gilbert 43 À Claude Benedetto Boccuzzi 44 Blow The City of Tomorrow 44 Now Pronouncing: Caity Gyorgy Caity Gyorgy 45 John MacMurchy and Dan Ionescu LIVE John MacMurchy 46 L'Impact du Silence François Bourassa 46 Dressed in Borrowed Light Clara Engel 49 Read the reviews here, then visit thewholenote.com/listening 54 | September and October 2021 thewholenote.com

BOOKSHELF Delving into the librettist’s art Salverson, Julie. Ed. When Words Sing: Seven Canadian Libretti. Playwrights Canada Press SOPHIE BISSON BERNARD CLARK When Words Sing: Seven Canadian Libretti, edited by Canadian author Julie Salverson, is the first publication to feature in-depth overviews of Canadian operas via their libretti. Each opera is given a section in which Salverson features Julie Salverson the libretto first and foremost while also providing unprecedented access to the artistic craft and creative processes of those most involved with the opera. Interviews with, and essays by, librettists, composers, directors, set, lighting and costume designers, provide the reader with a rich portrait of individual operas as well as a larger view of the Canadian operatic creation process. The librettists of When Words Sing, published in the same volume for the first time, are Robert Chafe (Ours / John Estacio), Anna Chatterton (Rocking Horse Winner / Gareth Williams), George Elliott Clarke (Beatrice Chancy / James Rolfe), Marie Clements, (Missing / Brian Current), Ann-Marie MacDonald (Nigredo Hotel / Nic Gotham), Julie Salverson (Shelter /Juliet Palmer), and Royce Vavrek (Dog Days / David T. Little). The title of the anthology is a nod to the late R. Murray Schafer’s 1970 book of the same name, and the contributors listed in the table of contents read as a who’s who of contemporary Canadian opera: a foreword by Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan, and an introduction by opera scholars Michael and Linda Hutcheon. With contributions from notable librettists, composers and creative team artists, the opening page of When Words Sing creates high expectations that Salverson and her collaborators thankfully meet. When Words Sing is exceptionally well crafted and generous in all aspects, with highlights that include a brief but solid history of the Canadian libretto (Michael and Linda Hutcheon); introspective essays on Dog Days by Royce Vavrek (“Writing Dog Days”) and David T. Little (“On the Origins of Dog Days and Little & Vavrek”); lighting designer Paul Mathiesen’s fascinating window into the mechanics of lighting that ultimately set the tone for a production (“Remembering Light and Shadow for Nigredo Hotel: Snapshots”); a most compelling read by director Baņuta Rubess (“The Alchemy of Nigredo Hotel”); and everything Beatrice Chancy. Equally significant is the section on Shelter with essays from Keith Turnbull (director), Wayne Strongman (director and conductor), Julie Salverson (the editor is the librettist of this opera), Juliet Palmer (composer) and Sue LePage (set and costume design). Beyond the opera itself, this section provides significant insight into the Canadian opera creation process: the somewhat artificial initial process that often precedes Canadian operatic collaborations (composer librettist laboratories are fairly common); the subsequent workshops; the hiring of actors that sound out the text; the tentative gathering of a creative team should the funding application for a commission be granted; and finally the casting, staging and premiere – all aspects are laid bare. Strongman’s words on this process are especially valuable: as the founding artistic director of Tapestry Opera and a trailblazer in the commissioning of new works, he was intimately familiar with the inner workings of Canadian operatic creation for over 30 years. For my part, I found myself particularly invested in the microcosm offered by When Words Sing: to a significant extent, the book’s elucidation of the themes and stories that matter to librettists, composers and opera producers also reflect Canadian preoccupations. The samples offered in When Words Sing reveal socially conscious individuals who write about historically based, spiritually charged and intellectually provocative subjects. Although the musical context of course always needs to be considered, it would be an exciting research avenue to study the libretti of Canadian operas for the stories they tell us about us in a repertoire which, from 1867 to today, already comprises more than 500 works. Dedicated to Wayne Strongman, When Words Sing is both a captivating journey into the world of contemporary Canadian opera creation and a welcome addition to the Canadian operatic literature. Sophie Bisson is an opera singer and a doctoral candidate in musicology at York University. She is the editor of the forthcoming online Encyclopedia of Canadian Opera. Wayne Strongman CYLLA VON TIEDEMANN thewholenote.com September and October 2021 | 55

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