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Volume 28 Issue 1 | September 20 - November 8, 2022

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  • Thewholenotecom
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Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.

stunning recital that

stunning recital that simply crackles with electricity and intensity. The established works are the Ligeti Sonata for Solo Cello with a dazzling Capriccio second movement, Dutilleux’s Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher and a towering reading of the monumental Kodály Sonata for Solo Cello Op.8. A lesser-known work – which should surely be part of the standard repertoire – is Khachaturian’s terrific Sonata-Fantasie for Solo Cello Op.104 from 1974, and the CD’s title track is the 2021 commission Farewell-Fantasia by the Danish composer Bent Sørensen. Outstanding technique and musical intelligence combine for a superb start to Swensen’s recording career. Corazón (Heart) is the new CD from the American cellist John-Henry Crawford, accompanied for the most part by pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion and in three pieces by the South Korean guitarist JIJI (Jiyeon Kim) in a program that reflects the cellist’s love of Latin American music (Orchard Classics ORC100198 orchidclassics.com). The major work is the Sonata in G Minor by the Mexican composer Manuel Ponce, also represented by the well-known Estrellita and the title track Por ti mi corazón. There are short single pieces by Leo Brouwer, Carlos Guastavino and Egberto Gismonti, as well as three by Heitor Villa-Lobos and two by Astor Piazzolla, whose closing track Oblivion features Crawford on multiple-tracked cello. The guitar provides the accompaniment in Estrellita and the Brouwer and Gismonti pieces. Every track is a gem, with Crawford quite superb in music he says “pulls at the heartstrings and exudes romance and passion” – as does the playing on a captivatingly gorgeous disc. Longtime collaborators John Williams and Yo-Yo Ma reunite for A Gathering of Friends, their new CD with the New York Philharmonic featuring the premiere recording of the revised version of Williams’ Cello Concerto, originally written for Ma in 1994. Selections from three of Williams’ movie scores are also heard in new arrangements with solo cello (Sony Classical 886449741939 sonyclassical.com/releases). Don’t expect any Korngold-like movie material in the concerto – it’s an intense and highly compelling work very much in a modern style, with some lovely cello writing and a beautiful tonal final resolution. Three pieces from Schindler’s List – Theme, Kraków Ghetto Winter 41 and Remembrances – need little introduction. The other movie tracks are With Malice Toward None from Lincoln and A Prayer For Peace from Munich, the latter a duo for Ma and guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas. Ma is joined by harpist Jessica Zhou in A Gathering of Friends – Highwood’s Ghost, written in 2018 for the Bernstein Centenary at Tanglewood, where there is a legend of a ghost in the manor house. If you still believe that contemporary string quartets are always a tough listen then Robert Paterson String Quartets 1-3 in superb performances by the Indianapolis Quartet should change your mind (American Modern Recordings AMR1054 americanmodernrecordings.com). This is clearly music to be enjoyed. String Quartet No.1 includes a “swing” first movement, a country waltz with a middle section called “Andrew Lloyd Webber Disease” and an Energetic Polka. String Quartet No.2 features Rigor Mortis, portraying the barking dog from the comic strip of the same name. String Quartet No.3, commissioned by the Indianapolis Quartet explores “other voices,” including Tourette’s syndrome in Twist and Shout and an auctioneer and country fiddling in Auction Chant. It’s imaginative, hugely entertaining and quite brilliant writing, with Paterson always in total control of style and structure. Prism IV – Beethoven Mendelssohn Bach is the penultimate release by the Danish String Quartet in their Prism project, where a Bach fugue is connected to a late Beethoven quartet that is in turn connected to a quartet by a later master (ECM New Series ECM2564 ecmrecords.com/shop). Bach’s Fugue in G Minor from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier opens the disc, followed by an intense performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No.15 in A Minor Op.132, published in 1826. Crystal-clear definition, terrific ensemble, dynamics and tone all make for an outstanding reading. The standard never drops in Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No.2 in A Minor Op.13, begun in July 1827 just months after Beethoven’s death. Mendelssohn was fascinated by Beethoven’s late quartets, and his Op.13 continues their progress towards the new Romanticism. The 2CD set of Mozart String Quartets Vol.5 is the final volume in the series by the Armida Quartet (Avi 8553496 avimusic.de). The two earliest quartets are No.3 in G Major K156 and No.5 in F Major K158 from a group of six written in Milan in 1772. The quartets No.10 in C Major K170, No.11 in E-flat Major K171 and No.13 in D Minor K173 are from the six “Viennese” quartets written the following year after Mozart’s exposure to Haydn’s recently published string quartets. Finally, there are two works from the six “Haydn” quartets that followed the publication of Haydn’s own Op.33 set of six in 1783: No.15 in D Minor K421 and No.16 in E-flat Major K428. The Armida Quartet is working with the publisher G. Henle Verlag on a new Urtext Edition of the Mozart quartets, and their insight and attention to detail are evident throughout finely judged performances. There’s more top-notch quartet playing, this time from the Takács Quartet, on Haydn String Quartets Opp.42, 77 and 103 (Hyperion CDA68364 hyperion-records. co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA68364). The String Quartet in D Minor Op.42 was the first following the huge success of Haydn’s Op.33 set. The two Op.77 quartets – No.1 in G Major and No.2 in F Major – were the final two quartets that Haydn completed, the two middle movements of a quartet unfinished at his death and published as Op.103 completing the CD. The Takács Quartet has previously released CDs of Haydn’s Op.71 and Op.74 Quartets to great acclaim and it’s easy to hear why, with bright, clear playing, a lovely dynamic range and a resonant recording making for a delightful disc. The Brazilian guitarist Plínio Fernandes, now resident in London, makes his CD debut with Saudade (Nostalgia), a “virtuosic, soaring melodic set” combining his two passions – the popular songs of Brazil and the classical tradition of Villa-Lobos (Decca Gold 4857617 pliniofernandesmusic.com). It’s the familiar Five Preludes of Villa- Lobos that are at the centre of a very attractive recital, the other 13 tracks featuring songs by, among others, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Violeta Parra and Jacob do Bandolím, mostly in arrangements by Sergio Assad. Guest artists are cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, his violinist brother Braimah and 50 | September 20 - November 8, 2022 thewholenote.com

vocalist Maria Rita. “An entrancing collection,” says the publicity blurb. And rightly so. Forestare, the Montreal ensemble of 12 guitars and a double bass celebrates its close ties with France on Douze Guitares à Paris, an album dedicated to works by Debussy and Ravel and compositions by contemporary French guitarists Roland Dyens and Arnaud Dumond (ATMA Classique ACD2 2835 atmaclassique.com/en). A dozen guitars sounds like a lot of separate voices, but the arrangements here are all in four parts with three players assigned to each, a system essentially ensuring a strong, even tone with no loss of dynamic range. Hamsa by Dyens (1955-2016) is followed by Debussy’s Suite bergamasque. An effective transcription of Ravel’s Ma mère l’Oye comes between the two impressive works by Dumond (born 1956): the terrific Allegro barbaro for ten guitars, double bass and two soloists, and his Lumières sur le Saint-Laurent for solo electric guitar and classical guitar ensemble. There’s another 2CD set of Beethoven Complete Music for Piano and Cello, this time by Robert deMaine, the principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and pianist Peter Takács (Leaf Music LM233 leaf-music.ca). The five sonatas – Op.5 Nos.1 & 2, Op.69 and Op.102 Nos.1 & 2 – are joined by the three sets of variations: the 12 Variations in G Major on Handel`s “See the conqu’ring hero comes,” the 12 Variations in F Major on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” and the Seven Variations in E-flat Major on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen”, both from Mozart`s Die Zauberflöte. DeMaine plays with a quite dark and rich tone, but tends to sound a bit muffled or indistinct at times, as if set too far back in the balance. There’s fine playing and ensemble work here though, particularly in the really tricky Allegro vivace movements. Debut is the first recording by the Brazilian- Canadian Amorim-Rufino Duo of violinist Vladimir Rufino and violist Fabiola Amorim in a recital of somewhat uneven musical and technical quality (Azul AMDA1755 azulmusic.com.br). The 1789 Sonata No.1 by Paul Wranitzky and the 1788 Duo in C Major Op.19 No.4 by Franz Anton Hoffmeister open the disc, the latter the stronger piece with some particularly good viola work. The Villa-Lobos Duo from 1946 is followed by the world-premiere recording of Two Hearts in Concert, the short 2021 work written for the duo by Canadian composer Frank Horvat. The best work in the recital, Bohuslav Martinů’s Three Madrigals H.313, closes the disc. There’s competent playing of challenging works here, although the recorded sound could be better balanced and warmer. VOCAL Canadian Art Song Project: Jeffrey Ryan – Found Frozen Danika Lorèn; Krisztina Szabó; Dion Mazerolle; Steven Philcox Centrediscs CMCCD 30222 (cmccanada. org/shop/cd-cmccd-30222) ! Canadian Art Song Project (CASP) – a national treasure of an organization that perennially commissions, performs and records the art song canon of our country – has just released a consummate record of Jeffrey Ryan’s music. Ryan has come to be regarded as an important compositional voice in Canada and here, his unassuming, sensitive lyricism and narrative panache make for a first-rate audio survey of songs. This new album casts a cyclic triptych featuring eminent voices framed by the superlative pianism of Steven Philcox: the urgent, theatrical soprano of Danika Lorèn; the silken, magnetic mezzo of Krisztina Szabó and the lush, brazen baritone of Dion Mazerolle (whose sensual performance of Ryan’s earliest cycle is amorously candid). The two youthful cycles on this disc – Of Passion’s Tide and Found Frozen – date from 1991 and 1997, respectively. Here we note Ryan’s vernal approach to the genre, flattering both singer and pianist alike with full-blooded melody and neo-Romantic gesture. (The marked song style of American composer Ned Rorem comes to mind.) There is a quality in Ryan’s musical language that feels familiar, shaped – perhaps involuntarily – by folk traditions: a Canadian lingua franca, earnestly cultivated and sung from the heart. A departure from the early essays, Miss Carr in Seven Scenes (2017) employs austere accompaniments and dark, wistful lines. Conversational and at times monodic, Ryan’s new set is expertly realized by Szabo, whose refined acting and characterful musicality blazons on full display. Adam Sherkin What we're listening to this month: thewholenote.com/listening Douze guitares à Paris Forestare, Pascal Germain- Berardi Forestare guitar ensemble pays tribute to French music and impressionist masters. An album as unique as the ensemble’s boundary-pushing vision. Beethoven: Complete Music for Piano and Cello Robert deMaine and Peter Takacs This stunning collection showcases Beethoven’s unprecedented textures and formal innovations found in his sonatas for cello and piano. Virtuosa Infusion Baroque Virtuosa encompasses more than 30 tracks that were either composed or performed by women and was recorded on historical instruments. Lisztomania Vol. 2 Hando Nahkur A native of Estonia, internationally acclaimed pianist presents a new approach to Liszt. Nahkur has six solo CDs to his credit, demonstrating his virtuosity in diverse styles and genres. thewholenote.com September 20 - November 8, 2022 | 51

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