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

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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.

that have been lovingly

that have been lovingly interpreted by international artists, including Canadian Sharon Azrieli. The arrangements and orchestrations on this fine collection were created by pianist Tamir Hendelman and Azrieli, who also co-produced the disc with David Merrill. First up is If There Were No Dreams (with lyrics by Neil Diamond). Azrieli brings her well-seasoned, classically trained and sibilant voice to this gentle, lilting and rarely performed ballad, while Lori Bell’s elegant flute and Alex Frank’s sinuous bass lines intertwine with an unaffected loveliness. Another delight is Secret Places – with snappy lyrics from master wordsmith, Alan Jay Lerner, the well-chosen title track displays the irrepressible joy of Legrand’s musical sensibility with a stunner of a piano solo by Hendelman and fine bass work by Frank. Arguably, Legrand’s most constant collaborators were luminous lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman, bringing us many memorable compositions written for an array of fine films, including Les Moulins de Mon Coeur (better known as The Windmills of Your Mind) from 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair. Azrieli renders this excellent interpretation in English, and also in flawless French, expertly capturing the romance and passion of the cinematic plot. Also with the Bergmans, in What Are You Doing For the Rest of Your Life? Azrieli evokes an aura of deep emotion and mystery here – just as Legrand intended. Two additional stunners include Watch What Happens and I Will Wait For You – with English lyrics by Norman Gimbel. Both of these gorgeous songs appeared in the equally gorgeous 1964 film, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and feature fine soloing from Ricky Woodard on sax and Dean Koba on drums with Frank on bass. A superlative tribute to an eternal international artist. Lesley Mitchell-Clarke CLASSICAL AND BEYOND Opera in Music – Carlo Monza Quartets Europa Galante; Fabio Biondi Naïve v 7541 (bfan.link/opera-in-musicacarlo-monza-quartets) ! This is a worldpremiere recording for these six quartets, an amazing fact because the sheer dramatic quality of these works means they deserved much earlier appreciation. In addition, recognition of Carlo Monza should surely have been forthcoming as a certain Mozart had been a 14-year-old in Monza’s native Milan looking out for local composers in order to make his own technique more locally acceptable. From the initial Quartetto in C Major “Gli amanti rivali” there is a spirited, operatic character to Monza’s compositions, as if the instruments are singing their own private arias, sometimes almost arguing with each other. The same quartet brings us the haunting, slow, subdued strings of the largo L’amante favorito muore. The more one explores this collection, the more one wonders why Monza’s music was lost for so long. There is a stateliness to the adagio from Il giuocatore reminiscent of Pachelbel’s famous canon; the following allegro is worthy of Mozart or any of his contemporaries, while the same suite’s ravveduto appears to draw on the pastoral movements of the early Baroque. Finally, there is the La caccia suite, unmistakable for the boisterousness of its opening movement, conjuring up the sounds of the hunt from which it is inspired. Monza saves perhaps his most intricate movement for last; Rondò de’ pastori frattanto che i cacciatori cenano creates the images of a hunt concluding in a quiet, satisfied atmosphere. Fabio Bondi devoted much time to finding Monza’s manuscript. A private library refused to lend it; kudos then to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France for lending its copy. And to Bondi for his perseverance in finding it. Michael Schwartz Fantasias Mélisande McNabney ATMA ACD2 2812 (atmaclassique.com/en) ! The fantasia is an old and welltraversed musical form that reached its peak in the 18th and 19th centuries, combining improvisational flourishes, compositional skill and virtuosic panache into a single work. Many of music’s greatest minds have written fantasias for a range of keyboard instruments, including J.S. Bach’s works for harpsichord and organ, Mozart’s pianoforte fantasias and Liszt’s immense organ fantasias. This disc focuses on music written by three Baroque and classical-era luminaries: Johann Sebastian Bach; his son, Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach; and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed on the fortepiano by Montreal-based keyboardist Mélisande McNabney. The decision to begin a fortepiano-centred recording with J.S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV903 is an interesting one, as Bach almost certainly composed this work with the harpsichord in mind. (The fortepiano was invented in 1698, while J.S. Bach died in 1750; it’s not implausible to think that Bach was acquainted with early models of the fortepiano, but there is no evidence that he composed anything specifically for that instrument.) For those familiar with BWV903 performed on rhythmically percussive, reverb-rich harpsichord recordings, McNabney’s choice of instrument provides a drier and less aggressive approach, with more room for flexibility and rubato. The remainder of the disc is comprised of smaller works by C.P.E. Bach and Mozart, as well as the large-scale Fantasia in C Minor, K475. This is, perhaps, the most successful combination of composition and instrument, as the moody affect combines with the fortepiano’s unique timbre and ability to produce contrasting dynamics with great success. Fantasias leaves little doubt that McNabney is a master keyboardist and skillful interpreter; this, combined with the charming and dramatic music itself, makes for a highly recommended recording, especially for those with a particular interest in early instruments. Matthew Whitfield Haydn; Schubert Boris Berman Le Palais des Degustateurs PDD025 (lepalaisdesdegustateurs.com) ! Boris Berman has had a long and distinguished career as a concert pianist, teacher and author. Many will remember his impeccable performances with orchestras around the globe, as well as his recordings of numerous solo piano works. He is most certainly a performer who projects a technical prowess within the gentle curves of the heart and, as such, late music by Haydn and Schubert suits him very well. Perhaps it is only fitting for a performer of that calibre to revisit, at some point in their career, the music that seems simple in structure and expression yet complex in nature. The pairing of late sonatas by Haydn (E-flat Major No.62 and D Major No.61) and Schubert (the “grand” Sonata in A Major D959) is simply wonderful. These two composers shared a similar structural architecture, rarely wrote flamboyant music and often left plenty of interpretative choices to the performers. Berman takes full advantage of it and is very successful in finding and bringing out commonalities, especially the splendid elegance of the phrases. On the other hand, he is equally brilliant in underlining the emotional restraint of Haydn versus the deep emotions of Schubert, without losing sight of the form and intentions of the composers. To me Berman’s playing feels like a 46 | July 1 - September 20, 2022 thewholenote.com

narration of the story, and this narrator knows all the secrets behind the scenes. Ivana Popovic Schubert – Relics Mathieu Gaudet Analekta AN 2 9186 (analekta.com/en) ! When Schubert’s unfinished Sonata in C Major D840 was published in 1861, the publisher gave it the title Reliquie (Relic), a name which shall forever remain a mystery. The title was deemed worthy enough to be given to this Analekta recording featuring this and the Sonata in A Major D664 with pianist Mathieu Gaudet, the sixth volume in an ongoing series presenting Schubert’s complete piano sonatas and major piano works. Despite its incomplete state, the Sonata D840 is monumental in size and there were opinions that it may even have been intended as a piano version of a large-scale symphony. Indeed, the majestic opening movement – all 16 minutes of it – is truly symphonic in spirit with large block chords and much unison writing which Gaudet handles with a solid assurance. The minuet and trio – which never progressed beyond the recapitulation – is more “scherzo” than “minuet” while the sprightly Rondo Finale is halted at middevelopment. (The recording uses an alternate ending by pianist Paul Badura-Skoda.) The Sonata D664 was composed during the summer of 1819 and is now known as the Little A Major Sonata to differentiate it from the much lengthier work (D959) in the same key from 1828. This is placid and lyrical music, with Gaudet offering up a fine legato, a fluid sense of rhythm and a keen sense of phrasing. The well-known Finale-Allegro is particularly joyful where Gaudet’s hands breathe new life into this familiar repertoire. An added bonus is the brief Danse Allemande et Ecossaise D643, an appealing interlude between the two sonatas. For lovers of Schubert – or Romantic period piano music – this is another welcome addition to the series and we can look forward to more. Richard Haskell My Life In Music Ruth Slenczynska Decca B0035175-02 (deccaclassics.com/en) ! Like it or not, success in the world of recorded music (classical, pop, jazz or otherwise) no longer, if it ever did, results exclusively from musical excellence. Rather, what is required is the coalescing of good music and a compelling backstory in order to command listener and record label attention. Though not a simple binary, examples abound, of course, of music more heavily weighted in one area, and not the other. There is the classic “style-over-substance” designation. Conversely, examples are many of truly great playing that has no extra musical narrative to help push its reception towards broader recognition. As music lovers, I am sure that we can all think of examples that reside in either of these two categories. Rarely, do both imperatives come together. But, thankfully such is the case on Ruth Slenczynska’s My Life In Music, new from Decca Records. The music: Samuel Barber, Debussy, Grieg, Bach and, of course, Chopin (Slenczynska had earned a reputation as among the most celebrated of Chopin interpreters while still a child prodigy) is, given the considerable time spent working on this repertoire, predictably amazingly played, recorded, interpreted and executed. But it is the extra musical bits, most notably the fact that this 2022 album was recorded when Slenczynska was 97-years old, representing a return to the Decca label after an absence of nearly 60 years, that makes this recording both a satisfying musical statement and a punctuation note on a fascinating life in music that I knew little about prior to the record’s release, the ensuing press and the considerable interest in this remarkable story. Andrew Scott Chopin Polonaises Peter Schaaf Schaaf Records SC 104 (peterschaaf.com) ! Let me introduce you to an exceptionally talented artist, Peter Schaaf. Not only he is having a brilliant career as a concert pianist and accompanist but he is also a remarkable portrait photographer with such clients as Seiji Ozawa, André Laplante, Janina Fialkowska and Peter Schickele. Due to the COVID epidemic his photographic career came to a halt, so for the past two years he has focused on the piano, practising more than ever, learning new pieces and expanding his repertoire. During this time he created and issued four CD recordings: 1) Chopin Polonaises, 2) Chopin Waltzes 3) Albeniz Iberia and 4) a miscellaneous waltz album from a few different composers like Schubert, Brahms, Ravel and Dvořák. And imagine, the four albums are available on his website for free download! I wouldn’t mind having any of them in my collection. The Polonaise is a genuinely Polish, elegant dance especially suited to festive occasions. The couples line up one behind the other and move forward gracefully in a unique 3/4 time rhythm. It’s beautiful to watch and is sometimes even included in symphonies, concertos and operas. Chopin wrote eight of them (and my fondest wish was to be able to What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Across Time Frederic Hand An album of original compositions composed over several decades that draws its inspiration from diverse traditions and musical languages. Nebraska Impromptu Marti Epstein This recording highlights instrumentations that include clarinet, and also shines light on Epstein’s penchant for expansive textures that are shaped by the Great Plains. Venez donc chez moi Laura Anglade & Sam Kirmayer Vocalist Laura Anglade’s homage to her beloved France features jazz versions of classic French standards made famous by Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf and others. Avery Raquel Alternative Soul artist Avery Raquel's 4th solo self-titled album, a fun mix of RnB/Soul and Pop with a flavour of her Jazz & Blues experiences. thewholenote.com July 1 - September 20, 2022 | 47

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