1 year ago

Volume 27 Issue 5 | March 4 - April 15, 2022

"Hard to watch and impossible to ignore"--on the Russian invasion of Ukraine; Tafelmusik goes live again in a tribute to Jeanne Lamon; TSO MD reunion as Centennial Countdown kicks off; PASS=Performing Arts Sunday Series at the Hamilton Conservatory of the Arts ...; crosstown to the TRANZAC, Matthew Fava on the move; all this and more ....

his reputation has never

his reputation has never been higher. His symphonies are a step-by-step progression towards an ultimate goal and the last three are works of a genius. Due to the COVID pandemic all concert activities were stopped so Christian Thielemann, onetime assistant to Karajan, famous as general music director of the Bayreuth Festival and principal conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle, decided to record all nine of Bruckner’s symphonies in a leisurely manner with plenty of time now being available. The Vienna Philharmonic was the obvious choice, since it was they who had premiered those works, and in the Musikvereinssaal with its legendary acoustics. This recording is part of that series. After the turbulent, sturm und drang First Symphony, the Second is entirely different. It is notable as the first time Bruckner opens with a tremolo on the high strings pianissimo, which has been described as a “primeval mist” that Thielemann renders nearly inaudibly. From this tremolo a sinuous cello theme emerges which returns in many guises throughout as a leitmotiv. Another new idea is the so-called “Bruckner rhythm” of two beats followed by three that appears here for the first time. Thielemann takes a relaxed approach, a slower tempo than some, so all the details come out beautifully and the climaxes are shattering. Janos Gardonyi Debussy Orchestrated Pascal Rophé; Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire BIS BIS-2622 ( bis-2622) ! Who better than a French orchestra – in this case, the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire conducted by Pascal Rophé – to pay homage to the music of Claude Debussy in this delightful recording on the BIS label? Two of the works here – the Petite Suite and the Children’s Corner Suite were originally composed for piano and later orchestrated by Henri Büsser while the ballet scenario La Boîte à joujoux (The Toy- Box) existed only in a piano version at the time of Debussy’s death in 1918, but was later orchestrated by his friend André Caplet. The four-movement Petite Suite from 1899 was inspired by the “fêtes galantes” paintings of Watteau and Fragonard as portrayed in poems by Paul Verlaine. The suite may have originated from a request for music that would appeal to skilled amateurs, and its simplistic and affable style stands in contrast to the more progressive music Debussy was creating at the time. Debussy adored his young daughter “Chou-Chou” and she was undoubtedly the inspiration for the ballet-scenario La Boîte à joujoux devised by writer André Hellé. The plot in this highly descriptive six-movement score revolves around three principle characters, and in the end, love triumphs over adversity. It was for Chou-Chou that Debussy composed the Children’s Corner Suite in 1908. More than 100 years later, the music continues to charm, with movements such as Serenade for the Doll, Jimbo’s Lullaby and The Snow is Dancing, a poignant and wistful glimpse of childhood in a more innocent age. Throughout, the ONPL delivers a polished and elegant performance, at all times thoughtfully nuanced. This is a fine recording of some familiar (and less-than-familiar) repertoire. Debussy – and quite probably Chou-Chou as well – would have heartily approved! Richard Haskell Popov – Schulhoff Quartet Berlin-Tokyo QBT Collection QBT 001 ( ! Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khachaturian – in 1948, the USSR’s three leading composers were denounced as “formalists” by the Communist Party’s Central Committee, removed from official positions, many of their works banned. Now almost forgotten is that along with unspecified “others,” three less-celebrated composers were also named in the condemnation – Nikolai Myaskovsky, Vissarion Shebalin and Gavriil Popov. In the following years, the fearful composers tended to employ the folkflavoured, patriotic or “optimistic” styles demanded by the authorities. Popov’s whopping, 57-minute String Quartet in C Minor, Op.61, subtitled “Quartet-Symphony,” premiered in 1951 and here receives its first recording. There’s no evident folk music but, following the Party line, it’s unremittingly cheerful. In the first movement, lasting nearly 25 minutes, muscular buoyancy frames extended sweet violin melodies bordering on sentimentality. The six-minute scherzo, propelled by cello pizzicati, dances lightheartedly. A dreamy violin solo over slow pulsations begins the 15-minute Adagio cantabile colla dolcezza poetico. As the other instruments join in, the music becomes more animated and festive, then subsides with an eloquent cello melody. The 11-minute Allegro giocoso opens with graceful pizzicati before repetitions of the five notes of “bin-de-en wie-der” from the Ode to Joy slowly build to the quartet’s own joyful conclusion. Included on this CD is Erwin Schulhoff’s tuneful, heavily rhythmic, 14-minute Five Pieces for String Quartet (1923). Each of these playful, satiric miniatures would make a superb concert encore piece. Superb, too, is the playing of the multi-award-winning Quartet Berlin-Tokyo. Bravi! Michael Schulman Uncovered Volume 2 – Florence B. Price Catalyst Quartet Azica ( ! It is a proverbial travesty that we are “discovering” the work of an important Black composer – such as Florence B. Price – almost a hundred years after her career began. And that too, even as the music continuum has now been propelled into the 21st century. After all, it’s no secret that over three hundred years ago the it was a celebrated Black English violinist, George Bridgetower who, in 1803, performed Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No.9 in A Minor (Op.47) much to the composer’s delight. Happily, Azica Records has taken action again with the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet’s Uncovered Vol.2, featuring Price’s stellar chamber works. A measure of how remarkable a recording this is is heard not only on Price’s re-invention of Negro Spirituals – such as Go Down Moses – in her elegant chamber works, Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint and Negro Folksongs for String Quartet. Even more remarkable is that five of these works are world premieres on this album that includes the Quartets and Quintets for Piano and Strings, which carry the heft of this recording. The Catalyst penetrates the skins of these melodies and harmonies with deep passion and uncommon eloquence. The nobility of this music is quite beyond reproach. Each piece seems to speak to the musicians like a secret revealed from the heart. The Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint are bittersweet and often even exhilarating. This is a delicate, perfectly weighted performance by the Catalyst; a recording to die for. Raul da Gama Prokofiev – Piano Sonatas Vol.1 David Jalbert ATMA ACD2 2461 ( ! Sergei Prokofiev began his career as a concert pianist, so perhaps it’s not surprising that music for piano would comprise such an important part of his output. Undoubtedly his finest keyboard writing is to be found in the 46 | March 4 – April 15, 2022

nine piano sonatas composed between 1907 and 1953, four of which are presented on this ATMA recording with pianist David Jalbert. A graduate of the Conservatoire de musique du Québec, the Glenn Gould School and the Juilliard School, Jalbert is currently head of the piano department at the University of Ottawa. The brief Sonata Op.1 in F Minor from 1907 went through numerous revisions and is very much steeped in the late-Romantic tradition. From the outset, Jalbert demonstrates keen understanding of this daunting repertoire tempered by a flawless technique. While the first sonata has roots in the 19th century, the second from 1914 is clearly a product of the 20th, with its biting dissonance and angular melodies. Very much the music of a young composer finding his own voice, the work embodies a spirit of buoyant enthusiasm. The single-movement Sonata No.3 completed in 1917 contains a variety of contrasting moods all within a seven-minute timeframe. Jalbert admits his partiality towards the Fourth Sonata, Op.29, also finished in 1917. Again, the work is a study in contrasts, from the restrained and darkly introspective first movement to the exuberant finale, which Jalbert performs with great panache. An added bonus is the inclusion of four miniatures, the Marche, the Gavotte and the Prelude from the set Op.12 and the Suggestion diabolique from Op.4, which further enhance an already satisfying program. This is a stellar performance of engaging repertoire and we look forward to future additions in this series. Richard Haskell MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Memory in Motion; Percussion in Surround (Xenakis; Mâche; lanza; Tan) Percussion Ensemble; Aiyun Huang Mode Records mode325 DVD ( ! Renowned percussion virtuoso Aiyun Huang and the Memory in Motion Ensemble release a recording project representing Huang’s recent research into how percussionists memorize musical actions within ensembles. The album begins with François-Bernard Mâche’s goosebump-inducing Aera. This work undulates with a welcomed anxiousness that brings warmth and beauty amid its numerous menacing arrivals. Glacial sonic behemoths envelop and serrated swarms cascade upward – all working harmoniously toward Promethean attempts at an apogee. alcides lanza’s sensor VI is an excited wild ride with an unrelenting hornet’s nest of activity. Here, the performers are able to place their incredible virtuosity on display. Sorites, one of two commissions for the project (and meant as a companion piece to Xenakis’ Persephassa – a work that appears later on the album), is a dusty scratchy expanse composed by Zihua Tan. Emerging from the haze is the occasional clarity of ringing bells – much like ephemeral shimmering grains flickering in brilliance but for a moment in a sunbeam strewn across a room. Next, lanza’s mnais mnemes is the murmuration of starlings beyond which storm clouds signal their approach: the endeepening of rumbling light in the distance. Lastly, the Ensemble’s interpretation of Xenakis’ Persephassa – a masterpiece of percussion repertoire – is outstanding and worth the price of admission alone. It is always a question for performers how to phrase contemporary music outside of what is taught when performing works of the common practice. The Ensemble brings a staggering interpretive quality that will surely propel this recording of Xenakis’ well-known work into definitive territory. The culmination of breathtaking musicianship and powerful performance mastery makes this album a must listen. Adam Scime Marimba Collage – Open Score Works by Jordan Nobles Nicholas Papador; University of Windsor Percussion Ensemble Redshift Records TK 512 ( ! The music of Jordan Nobles draws you in from the first note – one immediately feels invited into an expanse that is gentle in its complexity. This Redshift recording represents the culmination of a longstanding collaboration between Nobles, percussionist Nicholas Papador and the University of Windsor School of Creative Arts where the composer’s Open Score Works for marimbas have been regularly programmed. As with many projects in the pandemic, this recording was achieved through each musician capturing their performance remotely, later to be multitracked for the finished album. Nobles’ Open Score Works are indeterminate in their structure leaving many performance attributes – such as number of musicians, combinations of instruments, pitch, and duration – to be determined by the performers themselves. The result is a series of haunting intermixtures where the What we're listening to this month: Love for Connoisseurs Angela Verbrugge Something new for vocal jazz connoisseurs… Angela’s playful, original lyrics for catchy melodies written by modern-day jazz artists in the style of classic jazz. LOGUSLABUSMUZIKUS JAZZLAB ORCHESTRA JAZZLAB ORCHESTRA based in Montreal is a multigenerational ensemble composed of 8 leaders - their new album LOGUSLABUSMUZIKUS - It's beautiful, it's big, it's wonderful. Home Suite Home Fraser Jackson & Monique de Margerie Short, beautiful pieces for bassoon and piano inspired by front porch concerts given during the Covid lockdown. Includes contrabassoon, even a bit of violin, cello and clarinet. Dai Fujikura: Koto Concerto LEO Koto Concerto - Dai Fujikura's new work for Japanese traditional instrument and orchestra March 4 – April 15, 2022 | 47

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)