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Volume 27 Issue 8 | July 1 - September 20, 2022

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  • Thewholenotecom
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Final print issue of Volume 27 (259th, count 'em!). You'll see us in print again mid-September. Inside: A seat at one table at April's "Mayors Lunch" TAF Awards; RCM's 6th edition "Celebration Series" of piano music -- more than ODWGs; Classical and beyond at two festivals; two lakeshore venues reborn; our summer "Green Pages" festival directory; record reviews, listening room and more. On stands Tuesday July 5 2022.

Op.14 in 1785. The

Op.14 in 1785. The quartets in the current set, written in 1777 and published without opus number in 1779, are all short works of only two movements each. The string quartet form in France was in the early stages of development at the time, the four-movement form being developed by Haydn having little influence. Still, as the booklet notes remark, while small in scale these quartets are exceptionally rewarding, amply demonstrating Saint-Georges’ rich lyrical gifts and natural ability to delight performers and audiences alike. Lovely playing makes for an absolutely delightful CD. The French violinist Gérard Poulet, who turns 84 later this year, is no stranger to the Beethoven violin sonatas, having released a 4CD box set in 2001 in addition to a few single releases, all with different pianists. His latest recording is Beethoven Sonates pour violon et piano nos. 3, 5 et 7, with pianist Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden (Le Palais des Dégustateurs PDD026 lepalaisdesdegustateurs.com). The sonata keys and opus numbers aren’t identified, but they are No.3 in E-flat Major Op.12, No.5 in F Major Op.24 “Spring” and No.7 in C Minor Op.30 No.2. Poulet has a lovely sound – warm, sweet and never forced or over-stressed. These are simply lovely readings, with the “Spring” sonata (which also features in all the above-mentioned recordings) at the heart of a delightful recital. Chinoiserie – Building New Musical Bridges is the fascinating debut CD from the Duo Chinoiserie of classical guitarist Bin Hu and Jing Xia on guzheng, the Chinese plucked string instrument similar to a zither. Described as a true melding of Eastern and Western cultures, it features arrangements of works by Granados, de Falla and Debussy as well as contemporary compositions (Navona NV6417 navonarecords.com/ catalog/nv6417). Newly commissioned works by Sérgio Assad and Mathias Duplessy, along with Yusuke Nakanishi’s Inari open and close the disc. All other titles are transcriptions by the Duo Chinoiserie, including Stephen Goss’ Cantigas de Santiago, three excerpts from El amor brujo, the Granados Oriental and Debussy’s Girl with the Flaxen Hair and Golliwog’s Cakewalk. The guzheng’s clear, distinctive sound obviously tends to dominate, especially if it’s taking the melodic line, but it combines perfectly with the guitar to produce a quite unique musical experience. Consolations – Liszt Six Consolations and other reflective pieces for violin and piano, featuring violinist Maya Magub and pianist Hsin-I Huang is another lockdown project, started when Nathan Milstein’s transcription of the third of Six Consolations for Solo Piano inspired Magub to transcribe the remaining five for violin and piano herself (CRD Records CRD3540 crdrecords.com). The big difference here was the decision to record the tracks independently and then combine them in the studio, although having to decide which to record first possibly contributed to a sense of treading carefully and a general absence of risk-taking. Accompanying the Liszt are 12 short pieces, with evergreen favourites by Schumann, Massenet, Rachmaninoff, Kreisler, Bach/Gounod, Dushkin/Paradis, Handel, Chopin and Mendelssohn. Magub’s violin sound is clear and warm and quite distinctive – a slow vibrato (if any at all) and occasional portamento. Both instruments are clearly recorded. The Armenian-American Aznavoorian sisters Ani, cello, and Marta, piano, make their duo recording debut with Aznavoorian Duo: Gems from Armenia, a CD that explores their musical heritage (Cedille Records CDR 90000 209 cedillerecords.org). The disc opens with five ancient folk songs arranged by the Western-trained orthodox priest, composer and musicologist Komitas Vartabed (1869- 1935), a seminal figure in Armenian classical music. Four Soviet-era composers are represented: Aram Khachaturian with two brief pieces; Arno Babajanian (1921-83) with the lovely Elegy for solo piano and the Aria & Dance; Alexander Arutiunian (1920-2012) with the lively Impromptu; and Avet Terterian (1929-94) with the really impressive three-movement Sonata for cello and piano from 1956. Contemporary Armenian composers are represented by single short pieces by Serouj Kradjian (b.1973), well known in Toronto as the pianist in Amici, and Vache Sharafyan (b.1966), plus the worldpremiere recording of Mount Ararat, commissioned from Peter Boyer (b.1970) for this recording project. There’s some really lovely music here, all beautifully played and recorded. The Tcherepnin family of composers is celebrated on Three Generations: Chamber Music by Ivan, Alexander and Nikolai Tcherepnin. Violinist Quan Yuan and pianist David Witten are the duo for almost the entire CD (Toccata Next TOCN 0012 toccataclassics.com). Works by Alexander Tcherepnin (1899- 1977) open the disc, his Romance WoO from 1922, his Élégie Op.43 from 1927 and Arabesque Op.11 No.5 from 1921 all being first recordings. The major work here is his three-movement Sonata in F Major Op.14. The most attractive music on the disc is by the composer most active in the Russian late-Romantic era, Nikolai Tcherepnin (1873-1945). His Poème Lyrique Op.9 from 1900 is a simply lovely work that draws particularly fine playing from Quan, and his Andante and Finale Op. posth. from 1943 (another first recording) is also a gem, the dazzling folk-influenced Finale having more than a hint of Stravinsky’s Petrushka. Two flute works by Ivan Tcherepnin (1943-98), Pensamiento and Cadenzas in Transition are played here by his wife, Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin. She is joined by pianist Donald Berman and clarinetist Ian Greitzer for the premiere recording of the latter. thewholenote.com/listening Fantasias Mélisande McNabney Including works by Bach, Mozart, Koželuch, and improvisations by McNabney herself, Fantasias was recorded on a fortepiano replica from the 18th-century. Slavic Heart Anna Petrova Bulgarian pianist, Anna Petrova, presents a paean to Slavic music with works exploring six cultural tropes: Nature, Songfulness, Romance, Bells, The Tragic and Wit. 44 | July 1 - September 20, 2022 thewholenote.com

Although it was apparently released in 2020 I only recently received the CD of Brahms Trio Op.114 and Sonatas Op.120 in the composer’s own viola arrangements of three of the four late chamber works inspired by his friendship with clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, but I’m including it because it features some of the loveliest viola playing I’ve heard in a long time (Le Palais des Dégustateurs PDD023 lepalaisdesdegustateurs.com). Ettore Causa is the outstanding violist, ably supported by pianist Boris Berman throughout and by cellist Clive Greensmith in the Trio. The Steinway D piano adds depth and body to beautifully judged performances of Brahms at his most autumnal. VOCAL Canzone di Notte Marianne Lambert; Valerie Milot Fidelio FACD052 (mariannelambert.com) ! The grand conception of this disc, intended to be in praise of bel canto, is instantly discernible. Why would it not be? Quebec soprano Marianne Lambert inhabits this repertoire, sliding into it as if into a second skin; musical secrets revealed from the tablet of her heart. The singer’s lustrous voice soars in melismatic and arpeggiated leaps, sometimes with sly, but glorious coloratura. She is an eminently graceful singer who can generate genuine pathos, as superbly captured on Vivaldi’s Sposa, son disprezzata or Rossini’s Giusto Ciel, in tal periglio!; conjure great hope as in Mozart’s Ridente la calma and Rossini’s La promessa; and unfettered joy on Donaudy’s Vaghissima sembianza. Lambert is an artist of the first order. She makes key phrases in these arias come alive and spring in balletic arcs, cutting through the still air of this room. She digs into the meaning of words and phrases and infuses their poetry with a sense of nostalgia and melancholy, painting the song’s fluid melodies with poignant candour. With radiant chromaticisms and splendid sonorities the harpist Valérie Milot complements the plaintive soundworld of the characters played by the singer. Her notes are ideally weighed and measured, and fit perfectly onto Lambert’s vocals as if punctuating these songs with wistful and melancholy accents. Together Lambert and Milot create a grand edifice of song through this well-chosen repertoire. Raul da Gama Brian Field – Choral and Orchestral Works Budapest Symphonic Orchestra and Choir; Lviv Philharmonic Society and Chorus; Composers’ Choir; Heelan Chorale RMN Classical RMN70709 (brianfield.com) ! I grew up in the Anglican tradition: high mass, chant choir in front, choir and organ in the loft behind, masses by Healey Willan, smells and bells, the lot. All this to say, “I get how American composer Brian Field can sound so English. His music is shamelessly ear-friendly, his instrumental writing idiomatic and choirs seem to revel in the beautiful sonorities he elicits from them.” I’m back as a bored altar boy dozing off amidst incense and anthems. Snapping awake to assure you this is a very enjoyable recording, I take issue with one reviewer’s pronouncement that Field “stretches tonality to and beyond its limits.” He seems quite content within tonality’s limits, whatever those are. Choral excellence from a variety of groups sets a standard not met by the instrumentalists of the Budapest Symphonic Orchestra. While the ensemble’s standards of rhythm and phrasing are acceptable, they seem casual regarding intonation; “stretched tonality” might have masked this, but Field’s tonal palette deserves more care. Carping aside, Shiva Tandava is a compelling concerto grosso and makes a nice change from the very fine choral writing. Perhaps more generous liner notes would explain how the Hindu god of destruction gets along with the reputedly benign Christian version, or at least what the title references. I’d appreciate knowing too, which choirs sing which of the various sacred (Christian) texts. His lovely setting of the Christina Rosetti poem In the Bleak Midwinter adds just a few pounds of tonal stretch to Gustav Holst’s version. Max Christie Secret Places – A Tribute to Michel Legrand Sharon Azrieli; Tamir Hendelman LML Music (sharonazrieli.com) ! The brilliant composer and pianist Michel Legrand died in 2019, and yet his work continues to resonate – not only in the films in which his compositions were heard, but in the many fine versions of his body of work What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Fables Philip Chiu Canadian pianist Chiu pairs two piano transcriptions by Ravel with Mnidoonskaa (A Multitude of Insects), a 2021 work by Anishinaabekwe composer Barbara" Richard Strauss Arvo Part I Musici de Montréal First I Musici album on ATMA Classique label, first album with conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni and first album in 10 years for the orchestra. Port of Call: Buenos Aires Louise Besette Travel musically to Buenos Aires with Astor Piazzolla's tango performed by renowned pianist Louise Bessette and her trio. Transfiguration Stéphane Tétreault, Valérie Milot An album and concert experience featuring harpist Valérie Milot and cellist Stéphane Tétreault performing works by contemporary composers in a spellbinding cinematic digital environment. thewholenote.com July 1 - September 20, 2022 | 45

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