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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.

too. Doubtful. His

too. Doubtful. His creative processes are apt, though mystifying; I feel like maybe I can hear what he says he did. You don’t need to know how it works for it to work, any more than a car you drive or a plane you fly in, or the microwave you use to heat your coffee. The two tracks are Predisposition, which removes an Ariana Grande song from its original frame and takes it for a ride round the galaxy; and Apophis, named for the (potentially) Earth-shattering asteroid on course to bring about a reckoning on Friday, April 13, 2029. Katy Perry’s lyrics pop in after the cataclysmic orgasmic moment of truth. Both are amazing and beautiful. Max Christie Gayle Young – As Trees Grow Xenia Pestova Bennett; Ed Bennett farpoint recordings fp084 (xeniapestovabennett.com) ! Composer Gayle Young has in the course of her career been a musician, builder of microtonal musical instruments and sound sculptor. She’s also made a significant contribution as an author and music journalist. For several decades she served as editor and publisher of Canada’s leading magazine “for curious ears” Musicworks and in 1989 her definitive biography of Canadian inventor Hugh Le Caine, The Sackbut Blues: Hugh Le Caine, Pioneer in Electronic Music, was published by the National Museum Of Science And Technology. Young’s fifth album, As Trees Grow, showcases three piano-centred compositions. The three-part Ice Creek, six-part Forest Ephemerals: Four Flowers and the 20-minute title work all reflect seasonal aspects of her Niagara-region home as well as her dedication to Deep Listening. Underscoring direct links to nature, field recordings of natural sounds infuse several sections of the works, privileging the voice of nature alongside that of the grand piano. Pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett, a specialist in contemporary concert music, renders the scores with sensitivity of imagination, listening and touch. She collaborated extensively with the composer in preparation for As Trees Grow, exploring the piano’s eight octave range. Another collaborator, Ed Bennett, subtly enhances the instrument’s resonance with live-electronic treatments in sections. In Ice Creek the recorded sounds of flowing water played through a series of tuned resonators are mixed with the piano’s sonics. This process not only selectively sustains the keyboard’s acoustic resonance, but also draws the listener’s awareness to the natural soundscape and to our often problematic engagement with it. Evoking Ontario spring wildflowers, Young’s Forest Ephemerals: Four Flowers builds on the chromatic harmonic language of the previous century, her aphoristic and rhythmically organic phrases blending with it to express a very singular musical voice, one which reaches for hope. Andrew Timar Pauline Oliveros – Half a Dove in New York Pauline Oliveros; Reynols (paulineoliverosreynols.bandcamp.com) ! Composer Pauline Oliveros wrote frequently about what it means to listen throughout her career, which spanned over half a century and encompassed electronic works, compositions for magnetic tape, improvisation and exercises in focus and reflection designed to deepen everyday engagement with sound. As a composer and accordionist, she significantly contributed to the development of electronic music, and the culmination of her life-long fascination with music and sound is what inspired the practice of Deep Listening, the art of listening and responding to environmental conditions. As the artist herself put it: “…If you are too narrow in your awareness of sounds, you are likely to be disconnected from your environment… Listening is a lifetime practice that depends on accumulated experiences with sound; it can be focused to detail or open to the entire field of sound.” Though Oliveros died in 2016, her music and her mentorship have inspired thousands of artists around the globe, and her Deep Listening Meditations practice continues to be shared among sound artists, healers and non-musicians alike. Oliveros was a leader in “listening outside the box” and has one of the most committed followings one can find in music. Recordings continue to surface of workshops and performances, and interest in her written work, as well as her performance practices, continues to grow. There is hardly an improvising musician anywhere who has not been in some way touched by Pauline Oliveros. As with most experiential music, the end results occasionally fall in the “you had to be there” category, and it is not unusual to find recordings that were inspiring to play but had a lesser focus on the product. Such is the case with The NetCast Improvisation with the group Reynols (Miguel Tomasin, drums; guitarist Roberto Conlazo, guitarist Anla Courtis) plus Monique Buzzarté, trombone and Kevin McCoy, computer processing. Comprising two 20-minute-plus tracks recorded in 1999, they stand as one of Oliveros’ earliest collaborations via the Internet. Not an easy listen, but a relevant part of the Oliveros archive, and a reminder to check in with the Deep Listening practice during these troubled times. Cheryl Ockrant Roger Reynolds – Violin Works Gabriela Díaz; Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Gil Rose BMOP Sound 1086 (bmop.org) ! The Boston Modern Orchestra Project and soloist Gabriela Díaz release a disc representing Roger Reynolds’ violin works written over a 15-year period. Throughout Personae, for violin and orchestra, four characters are personified as indicated by the four movements’ respective titles: The Conjurer, The Dancer, The Meditator and The Advocate. In this music, Reynolds makes sparse and delicate use of the orchestra, brilliantly supporting the varying expressions of character in the violin part. Intriguing echo motifs and electronic pulsations evoke atmospheres of striking originality. In the composer’s own words, “the violin has a multifaceted voice” – a sonic attribute that is certainly achieved in this work. Kokoro, a work for solo violin in 12 short movements, is a substantial contribution to the repertoire. Like Personae, it was written in consultation with dedicatee Irvine Arditti. This Zen-inspired work demands not only a world-class technical prowess, but also requires that the performer enter several challenging psychological dispositions in order to convey the poetic intention of the music. In her performance, BMOP violinist Díaz projects newfound dimensions of expression and colour. Each movement is delivered with a breathtaking and deeply personal musicality. Last on the recording is Aspirations, a sixmovement work for violin and orchestra that is a deep gesture representing the composer’s longtime collaborative relationship with Díaz. It is decidedly thicker in scoring as compared to its companion heard earlier on the disc. Where Personae makes use of character manifestation, Aspirations utilizes a myriad of textures and colours as the primary mode of expression. Perhaps the most challenging of all the works on the recording, Díaz’s extraordinary virtuosity is unforgettable throughout this work. Gil Rose produces a highly impressive amount of precision and definition from the BMOP ensemble and is quite at home in Reynolds’ soundworlds. Adam Scime 52 | July 1 - September 20, 2022 thewholenote.com

FIVE MINUTES for Earth Yolanda Kondonassis Azica (yolandaharp.com/earth-at-heart) ! With its tremendous range, dynamic possibility and immediately identifiable sonic thumbprint, the solo harp has the potential to be among the most expressive and emotive instruments in music. This is most certainly the case when this ancient instrument finds itself in the capable and eminently musical hands of multiple-Grammy Award-nominee Yolanda Kondonassis. Recording here for the Azica Records label, FIVE MINUTES for Earth is an ambitious project that combines Kondonassis’ considerable and obvious musical talent with her love for planet Earth. Like so many, Kondonassis acknowledges that the pandemic and lockdown provided space and time to think deeply about what one finds most meaningful in life. And it was in this thoughtful place that inspiration for this project first hit. “It seemed like a perfect way to combine a number of missions – most importantly, the opportunity to draw attention to Earth conservation and climate change through the language of music.” Tapping 16 celebrated composers representing a wide range of ages, backgrounds and intersectionality yet united in their connection to environmentalism, this fine new recording was captured in the resonant and acoustically beautiful Sauder Concert Hall. FIVE MINUTES should go a long way to further solidify Kondonassis’ reputation of being among the world’s preeminent solo harpists, while giving listeners opportunity to experience a musical “metaphor for the urgent and compressed timeframe that remains for our global community to embrace and implement solutions to our fast-growing environmental crisis.” Andrew Scott Across Time – Guitar solos & songs by Frederic Hand Frederic Hand; Lesley Hand ReEntrant REN02 (newfocusrecordings.com) ! After dazzling us with his earlier release Baroque and on the Street (Sony), and his work with his fusion band Jazzantiqua, Frederic Hand returns with Across Time and a series of original works that have been written in various styles, sweeping across continents, from Elizabethan England to 20th-century Argentina and Brazil, to utterly contemporary music. This repertoire is remarkable for its range as well as for the refinement of form and performance. Hand reveals that he has, over time, developed a deep relationship with his instrument, the guitar, and he morphs into a myriad of styles while exploring various eras in the musical continuum. Across Time shows that Hand now has a voice all his own. He has developed an intimate relationship with melodic line. He also has the ability to create remarkable harmonic tensions with relatively spare ornamentation. And his rhythmic impulses have their own allure, the retardandos and accelerandos sounding entirely natural. All of this is reflected in all of the album’s music – especially The Poet’s Eye, with stunning vocals by (his wife) Lesley Hand, and on the apogee of the album, which is Trilogy. Drawing on plenty of variety in both dynamics and articulation, Hand foregrounds the tensions of his works with vivid contrasts and also with subtle and sensitive handling of the instrument that he has come to make an extension of his very body – living and breathing the music that comes from within. Raul da Gama Christopher Trapani – Horizontal Drift Amy Advocat; Marco Fusi; Maximilian Haft; Daniel Lippel; Marilyn Nonken New Focus Recordings FCR296 (newfocusrecordings.com) ! Other than his name and email, the only thing on multiple-awardwinning American/ Italian composer Christopher Trapani’s business card is, “Mandolins and Microtones.” Both interests are reflected in the outstanding album, Horizontal Drift, featuring six of his compositions. Trapani’s bespoke compositional approach taps the soundworlds of American, European, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, blending them into his own musical palette. Certainly ambitious in its cultural diversity, Turkish maqam and South Asian raga rub shoulders with Delta blues, Appalachian folk and 20th-century-influenced electronically mediated spectral effects and canons. Horizontal Drift also reflects Trapani’s preoccupation with melody couched in microtonality and just intonation. Timbral diversity derived from the use of unusual instruments, retuning and preparation are other compositional leitmotifs. Album opener Târgul (the name of a Romanian river) is scored for the Romanian horn-violin plus electronics. With a metal resonator and amplifying horn, it has a tinny, thin sound reminiscent of a 1900s cylinder violin recording. Trapani’s intriguing composition maps a modern musical vocabulary onto the instrument’s keening voice, his work interrogating its roots in the folk music of the Bihor region of Romania. The track Tesserae features the viola d’amore, a Baroque-era six- or sevenstringed bowed instrument sporting sympathetic strings. After exploring multi-tonally inflected modal melodies with gliding ornaments, well into the piece Trapani engineers the musical analogy of a coup de théâtre. In Marco Fusi’s skillful and sensitive hands the viola d’amore unexpectedly morphs into a very convincing Hindustani sarangi. This magical moment of musical metamorphosis was so satisfying I had to play it several times. Andrew Timar Marti Epstein – Nebraska Impromptu, Chamber Music for Clarinet Rane Moore; Winsor Music New Focus Recordings FCR324 (newfocusrecordings.com) ! Music that follows in the tradition of Morton Feldman is perhaps best suited to live performance, an experience to share among an audience; but alone by the stereo, in a room with the windows open for spring air is good too. The release this month of the music of Marti Epstein features fine performances by all participants, notably clarinetist Rane Moore, whose rich and brilliant sound is heard on each track. The works display the influence of Feldman and also Toru Takemitsu. They should be enjoyed in a spirit of contemplation and peace. These are calm explorations, invitations to dream, and journeys without goals. Three of the five pieces reference or respond to visual inspiration. Oil and Sugar, for clarinet, flute, violin and piano (2018), references a conceptual video of motor oil being poured over a mass of sugar cubes. Komorebi for clarinet, oboe and violin (2018), is the Japanese word for sunlight filtered through leaves. Nebraska Impromptu, for clarinet and piano (2013), was inspired by the landscape of Epstein’s childhood. A visual artist herself, she stretches her musical colours across great expanses of “canvas.” The debt to Takemitsu is especially apparent in Komorebi, but Epstein is an original artist within this aesthetic realm, and for those who enjoy contemplative naturalist art, the performances are delightfully in tune and in synch. She allows remarkably long silences to divide and set off the swatches of sound, like negative space in a painting, allowing the listener to savour the previous moment before hearing the next. Max Christie thewholenote.com July 1 - September 20, 2022 | 53

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