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Volume 27 Issue 4 - February 2022

Gould's Wall -- Philip Akin's "breadcrumb trail; orchestras buying into hope; silver linings to the music theatre lockdown blues; Charlotte Siegel's watershed moments; Deep Wireless at 20; and guess who is Back in Focus. All this and more, now online for your reading pleasure.

written for bassoon,

written for bassoon, this collection highlights Jackson’s gift of masterful arrangement and features several rare and delightful pieces for contrabassoon, his specialty. Moving and uplifting, the smooth expressive playing of Jackson’s performance coupled with de Margerie’s elegant interpretation must have been a delightful and unique experience for their neighbours; and now for the rest of us too. Melissa Scott Metamorphosen Maiburg Ensemble Ars Produktion Ars 38 328 ( aktuelle-cd-news) ! Annette Maiburg, artistic director of the Maiburg Ensemble, aspired in this CD to engage in a “dialogue” in which the music of disparate cultural traditions fuse, so to speak, to produce a music which is new and which did not exist before. Maiburg, a highly accomplished classically trained flutist, is joined in the project by pianist Pascal Schweren and double bass player Matthias Hacker, both also classically trained but with strong educational backgrounds in jazz, and percussionist, Fethi Ak, a renowned German-Turkish darbuka player. Each musician makes great and unique contributions to the project. For example, Schweren’s solo, which brings Bartók’s Pê Loc to a surprise ending, is a delight; Ak has several wonderful solos in compositions as diverse as Bartók’s Mâruntel and Buciumeana and Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Hacker, to my ears anyway, brings the most convincingly idiomatic jazz contribution throughout, connects beautifully with Ak’s solo in Mâruntel and plays a very effective bowed passage in Mahler’s Adagietto. Maiburg not only plays the challenging flute part from Mendelssohn’s Scherzo flawlessly but also brings wonderful lyricism to her solos in Ravel’s Kaddisch and Bartók’s Buciumeana. The cultural fusion, however, just doesn’t seem to happen, despite the good intentions, until the last track on the CD, Hov Arek, an Armenian folk melody notated by the great Armenian composer and ethnomusicologist, Komitas. Here magic happens, musicians and music become one, and the dream becomes reality. Allan Pulker Hindemith – Mathis der Maler; Nusch- Nuschi-Tänze; Sancta Susanna Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien; Wiener Singakademie; Marin Alsop Naxos 8574283 ( search/8574283) ! The title work on this terrific all- Hindemith release, Symphony ‘Mathis der Maler’, gets a probing, gutsy performance from Marin Alsop and the superb ORF Vienna Radio Symphony. For 27 dramatic minutes, we’re swept into the harsh, visionary world depicted by the German Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald in his magnificent Isenheim altarpiece. This symphony is rightly one of Hindemith’s best-known works. Yet the related opera, Mathis der Maler – for me, his greatest work – is rarely done. Hindemith arranged Nusch-Nuschi-Tänze from an earlier opera, Das Nusch-Nuschi. But unlike Mathis der Maler, it’s no masterpiece. And the dance suite remains forgettable, despite Hindemith’s imaginative orchestrations and Alsop’s lively performance. Hindemith’s daring Sancta Susanna is the standout here. Alsop’s recording of this youthful one-act opera is so gripping, it belongs among the outstanding recordings of his works, along with Roxolana Roslak and Glenn Gould’s sublime Das Marienleben and Sviatoslav Richter’s wonder-filled Ludus Tonalis. The tension builds relentlessly – an organ pipe whistles, heavily scented lilac blossoms rustle, nightingales sing joyfully, a couple makes love right outside the church window, a giant spider leaps into Susanna’s hair. August Stramm’s expressionist libretto is truly shocking, especially when Susanna, finally unhinged, strips off her nun’s habit and embraces a sculpted image of Christ naked on the cross. Ausrine Stundyte conveys the devastating impact of Susanna’s defiance with ravishing expressiveness, while Renée Morloc’s Klementia sets the stage for the horrific ending with harrowing dramatic power. This is opera at its most explosive – and delectable. Pamela Margles MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Resonances Aiyun Huang Sideband Records 06 ( ! Virtuoso percussionist Aiyun Huang has recorded a selection of new works that challenge the performer in different ways. In each, the listener is immersed in varying intimate and unique sound worlds. In a piece titled Désastre, Inouk Demers produces a dreamy landscape that evokes slowly descending sonic blankets upon the watershed resonance of gongs and cymbals. This homogenous and enchanting piece creates a wondrous metallic stasis – fittingly so, as the work’s title suggests something falling from the stars. Chris Mercer’s Concerto Chamber places an acoustic guitar into the percussion setup and asks the percussionist to strike it with mallets, slides, rubber balls and a triangle beater. Mercer cleverly infuses his piece with these novel percussive guitar sounds amid a flurry of spellbinding auras that are highly impressive and otherworldly in their creative expanse. In Valerio Sannicandro’s Disentio (translated as “extension”), Huang exhibits her world-class command over the vibraphone in a piece full of expression and angular melodic leaps. Canadian composer Chris Paul Harman creates hypnotic intricacies in Verve – an evocative piece that spans the entire range and resonant capabilities of the marimba. The soloist must use their voice to execute percussive utterances that alternate with tambourine and drum punchiness. With each piece, Huang delivers a performance of the highest quality – a testament toward why she is among the leading percussion soloists of our time. Adam Scime Soaring Spirits UBC Symphony Orchestra & Choirs; Jonathan Girard Redshift Records TK492 ( ! Jonathan Girard conducts the UBC Symphony Orchestra and Choirs in a release of newly recorded orchestral music by three of Canada’s most visible composers. Stephen Chatman’s A Song of Joys alternates between boisterous pulsations and tender interludes throughout its seven 44 | February 2022

movements. The text is based on fragments of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and Chatman intended the work to be a companion piece to Beethoven’s monumental ninth symphony. The last movement builds to a resounding climax using the full power of the orchestra and choir. In Dorothy Chang’s Flight, the listener is introduced to a delicate and mysterious dream world amid darkened melodic enchantment produced by the solo flutist and supporting strings. The piece quickly takes a turn for the dramatic with raucous jabs and swirling gestures. Chang’s brilliant writing for the flute (performed by Paolo Bortolussi) and command over novel orchestral colours produces a deep artistic statement and significant contribution to the Canadian orchestral repertoire. Keith Hamel’s Overdrive is a ten-minute ride of intense orchestral fireworks. Enduring piano trajectories reinforce accented cross play and shimmering fissures throughout. Hamel creates a sense of temporal multiplicity that could easily be extended in a work of considerably increased length. The orchestra performs the demanding passages with a confident musicality – bringing to life what is clearly a gifted compositional voice. Under Girard’s baton the university orchestra delivers a recording of rather challenging repertoire with impressive musicality and a professional level of performance prowess. Adam Scime Light Through Dark Bill Gilliam; Bill McBirnie; Eugene Martynec Independent (gilliammcbirniemartynec. ! It’s clear from the first of the seven tracks of Light Through Dark that the Toronto trio of pianist Bill Gilliam, flutist Bill McBirnie and Eugene Martynec on electroacoustics possesses big ears and hearts. Each, however, has different roots. One of the city’s top jazz and Latin flute specialists, McBirnie is renowned for his outstanding technique as much as for exceptional improvising chops in bebop, swing and Latin idioms. Gilliam has been active in town since the 1980s as a composer and pianist exploring in his words the “boundaries between new music, improvisation, electroacoustic music and contemporary jazz.” Martynec on the other hand has been on the scene as guitarist and record producer for even longer. He’s mostly focused today on performing live interactive electroacoustic music with other improvisers. Both Gilliam and Martynec are core members of the Toronto Improvisers Orchestra. The moody and languid opener Time Floats – Japanese Suite, Part 1 centres on McBirnie’s low metal alto flute melodies in which he tastefully introduces shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) nuances into its warm breathy vibrato. Martynec chooses harp, koto and mbira-sounding timbres to weave around the flute throughline, while Gilliam complements with seamlessly effective keyboard work. The other two parts of the Japanese Suite, Icy Still and Crane Flight, continue the shakuhachi theme and sonic imagery. Collectively the trio’s music is inventive, technically adroit and elegant at the same time. Most of all, we can hear their “mutual fascination with the mystery of creating entirely spontaneous music,” as aptly stated in the liner notes. Andrew Timar Saman Shahi – Microlocking Various Artists People Places Records ( ! Microlocking, a new release by the award-winning, Iranian-Canadian composer Saman Shahi, delves deeply into the world of microtonality. By locking in and interconnecting pitches, colours and layers of sound, he creates dialogues and open-ended statements that require an alert ear but inevitably include elements of beauty, even in the sometimes chaotic landscape. Shahi keeps making surprising turns in his compositional career. His musical trajectory is firmly based in classical music but has included explorations of world music, rock and electronics, all featured on this album. The compositions are vibrant and compelling, especially in the way Shahi treats the solo instruments. Microlocking I, II and III have a distinct character, progressing from spacious to denser textures. Microlocking I, written for six digital pianos (three of which are tuned a quarter-tone sharp) mesmerizes with the constant ripples of ostinato sounds. The colours resulting from uneven pitches bring in the sense of the past, nostalgia. Microlocking II, on the other hand, is very much rooted in the present immediacy of the sound. Written for solo electric guitar, it is a dreamland of techniques and effects, and soloist Andrew Noseworthy pulls it off with flair. Microlocking III for solo accordion (Matti Pulkki) and electronics (Shahi) pushes the boundaries of the sound even further, as if imagining the sound of the future. The surprising but fitting conclusion comes in the form of a remix of Microlocking I by electronic music producer Behrooz Zandi, binding together the aspects of Shahi’s music – the expressiveness and probing sonority, wrapped up in minimalism. Ivana Popovic What we're listening to this month: Equanimity: A Futuristic Jazz Tale ViO Viktor Haraszti is a Hungarianborn, Holland-based saxophonist, composer and producer. Futuristic style, deep melodies, sonic elements and rhythmic fusion reflect an experimental electronic approach. ... and then there's this Artifacts The ensemble's previous album honored vanguard AACM composers; this largely original session continues along the same adventurous path with a more cohesive, collaborative sensibility. Libre Jesse Cooke The new studio album from Jesse Cook featuring Libre, Oran and Updraft. Named album of the year by the American syndicated show JazzTrax. Uprooted Matt Sellick In his fourth instrumental solo album, Northwestern Ontario flamenco guitarist and composer Matt Sellick puts down roots in Toronto to explore new collaborations February 2022 | 45

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