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Volume 28 Issue 3 | December 2022 - January 2023

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  • Thewholenotecom
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Creative Collisions offer land-use hope for community and arts space; "Take Dec 10 for Example" -- Orchestral Explosion; Landmark novel finds music theatre form; Behind the scenes at Salute to Vienna; Collaborative serendipity on the joint-concert front; Amnesia and the alternative: QSYO's take on "Comfort and Joy". A bumber crop of record reviews (and not a Holiday compilation among them)! All this and more...

Beethoven’s Diabelli

Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and Mist, which uses “an evocative keyboard technique borrowed from Helmut Lachenmann “where the notes of a chord are released individually so that the decay is as important as the initial sounds.” It is a very effective technique, a kind of juxtaposition of positive and negative space, and it is further developed in Fade, a standalone piece for solo piano conceived as a postlude to the 18-minute Water Hollows Stone, performed here by Gibson. A very immersive disc. I began this article with a mention of John Beckwith’s Music Annals and I’d like to turn now to another book that documents an important moment in the cultural annals of Quebec. When Paul-Émile Borduas published his manifesto Refus Global in 1948 it was a harbinger of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution and the changes that would come in the following decades. The 16 signatories included artists, dancers and actors who were associated with the Automatiste movement, previously known as the Montreal Surrealists. Among them was the writer Claude Gauvreau (1925-1971) whose arcane and often invented language used “[s]craps of known abstract words, shaped into a bold unconscious jumble.” Toronto’s One Little Goat theatre company, in association with Nouvelles Éditions de Feu-Antonin, has just published the libretto of Gauvreau’s 1949 opera Le vampire et la nymphomane/The Vampire and the Nymphomaniac in a bilingual edition brilliantly translated by Automatiste scholar Ray Ellenwood (onelittlegoat.org/publications). Although Gauvreau originally planned to work with Pierre Mercure on the opera, that composer withdrew from the project and it was never realized during Gauvreau’s lifetime. The absurdist libretto – “A new concrete reality where music and meaning meet” – makes for difficult comprehension – “Gauvreau is marshalling his creative powers to explode the profundities of human consciousness…” – but simply put, in the words of the translator, it is “[a] love story. Star-crossed lovers kept apart by the forces of patriarchy: church, husband, police, psychiatry.” “Gauvreau’s opera opens the possibility of a renewed push towards the purely sonic dimension of language.” In his own words “This work is vocal, purely auditory. […] It’s an opera exclusively for the ear […] not conceived with anything else in mind but music.” It was only after Serge Provost became interested in Le vampire et la nymphomane two decades after Gauvreau’s death – he first composed L’adorable verrotière using fragments from it in 1992 – that the opera began to take shape. In 1996 Montreal’s Chantes Libres presented the first production with baritone Doug MacNaughton and soprano Pauline Vaillancourt in the title roles and a supporting cast that included, among others, mezzo Fides Krucker and actors Albert Millaire and Monique Mercure, under the stage direction of Lorraine Pintal. Provost’s score was performed by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne with founder Lorraine Vaillancourt at the helm. It is a striking production and thankfully it is available in its two-hour entirety on the Chants Libres website (chantslibres.org/en/videos). It is a perfect complement to this important new testament to the creative powers of Gauvreau, his unique voice in both the cultural history of Quebec and Canadian literature. [Quotations are taken from the informative essays by Ray Ellenwood, Adam Seelig and Thierry Bissonnette which provide useful contextual information for Gauvreau’s opera in the One Little Goat publication.] We invite submissions. CDs, DVDs and comments should be sent to: DISCoveries, WholeNote Media Inc., The Centre for Social Innovation, 503 – 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4. David Olds, DISCoveries Editor discoveries@thewholenote.com STRINGS ATTACHED TERRY ROBBINS Violinist Hilary Hahn was planning to record the Dvořák Violin Concerto in A Minor Op.53 with Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, pairing it with Alberto Ginastera’s Violin Concerto Op.30, which she had yet to learn, and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, which she loved but had never played, when the COVID outbreak put plans on hold. In the booklet notes to Eclipse, the resulting album, Hahn discusses the emotional journey through lockdowns and personal doubts that finally bore fruit (Deutsche Grammophon 486 2383 deutschegrammophon.com/en/ artists/hilaryhahn/hilary-hahn-eclipse-2225). The Dvořák concerto was live streamed from the orchestra’s hall at the radio station in March 2021, with no audience. It’s a beautifully expansive and committed performance; “Our playing,” says Hahn ”was vivid and palpably redemptive.” The June concert at the Alte Oper hall’s reopening also marked Orozco-Estrada’s farewell as music director as well as Hahn’s personal premiere of the other two works. The challenging Ginastera concerto, which Hahn calls “nearly unplayable” is a fascinating and unusually structured work that draws an exceptional performance from all involved; the Carmen Fantasy is played with suitable brilliance. A new CD of music by Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann presents a quite outstanding performance of the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor Op.102 featuring violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and cellist Pablo Ferrández in a live January 2022 Prague concert recording with the Czech Philharmonic under Manfred Honeck. It’s paired with a studio recording of Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G Minor Op.17, where Lambert Orkis is the pianist (Sony Classical 196587411022 sonyclassical.com/news/news-details/ anne-sophie-mutter-and-pablo-ferrandez-1). Mutter’s playing in the Brahms is a revelation, her tone, phrasing and dynamics in the opening movement in particular all contributing to one of the most beautiful renditions I’ve heard. Ferrández, who incidentally plays two Stradivarius cellos on the disc is an equal partner throughout. Orkis adds his own special talents to a captivating performance of the Schumann trio to round out a superb CD. Concert note: Anne- Sophie Mutter and the Mutter Virtuosi perform on Tuesday, February 7 at Roy Thomson Hall. Pianist Yuja Wang is joined by cellist Gautier Capuçon and clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer on a CD of Works by Sergei Rachmaninoff & Johannes Brahms (Deutsche Grammophon 486 2388 deutschegrammophon.com/en/artists/yujawang). Wang and Capuçon have been playing together since the 2013 Verbier Festival, and Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata in G Minor Op.19 was part of that debut recital. The quality of their playing and ensemble work here is of the highest order. There are two works by Brahms. Capuçon brings a warm, deep tone 48 | December 2022 - January 2023 thewholenote.com

to the Cello Sonata in E Minor Op.38, with Wang’s empathetic accompaniment a real joy. Ottensamer, the principal clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic joins for the Clarinet Trio in A Minor Op.114 – not as frequently heard as the Clarinet Quintet Op.115, perhaps, but a real gem. The Vivaldi Edition, the ongoing project to record some 450 works by Vivaldi in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Turin, reaches its 69th volume with Vivaldi Concerti per violino X ‘Intorno a Pisendel’, with Julien Chauvin as soloist and director of Le Concert de la Loge (Naive OP 7546 bfan.link/vivaldi-concerti-per-violino-xintorno-a-pisendel) The six works here are all linked to the virtuoso violinist Johann Georg Pisendel (1687-1755), a major figure at the Dresden court who met Vivaldi in Venice on a court visit in 1716-17 and became a friend and pupil. Pisendel copied many of Vivaldi’s works and also received several dedicated manuscripts. Three of the concertos – RV237 in D Minor, RV314 in G Major and RV340 in A Major – are from the dedicated manuscripts, and three – RV225 in D Major, RV226 in D Major and RV369 in B-flat Major – are from Pisendel’s hand-written copies. All are three-movement works with Allegro outer movements and Largo or Andante middle movements. Chauvin is outstanding, his bright, clear tone, faultless intonation and virtuosic agility perfectly backed by the resonance and effective dynamics of the orchestra, all beautifully recorded. And yes, a lot sounds like The Four Seasons, but there’s a continual freshness to the music that makes each concerto a real delight. In 1997 violinist Rachel Barton Pine recorded four Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries with conductor Daniel Hege and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Encore Chamber Orchestra. To mark the 25th anniversary of its release Cedille has reissued three of the original recordings on Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries (Cedille CDR 9000 214 cedillerecords.org). Included are the Violin Concerto in A Major Op.5 No.2 (c.1775) by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the Violin Concerto in F-sharp Minor (1864) by George Enescu’s teacher José White Lafitte (1836-1918) and the 1899 Romance in G Major by Samuel Coleridge- Taylor, whose violin concerto wouldn’t fit on the original album. The original fourth work has been replaced by a new recording of Florence Price’s 1952 Violin Concerto No.2, with Jonathon Heyward conducting What we're listening to this month: the Royal National Scottish Orchestra. The Saint-Georges is an absolute gem with a glorious slow movement, the Lafitte a standard mid-19th century virtuosic Romantic concerto very much in the Max Bruch Germanic mould, but nonethe-less effective for that. The Coleridge-Taylor is a lush melodic piece, again very much of its time. Price’s music has been getting a great deal of attention recently. The concerto here is a rather uneven single-movement work with a truly lovely recurring hymn-tune melody but contrasting material that occasionally approaches the banal. Her orchestration can seem somewhat amateurish at times, probably more reflective of a personal sound and style than any lack of craft. Performances throughout are top notch. The UK-based Jubilee Quartet is in superb form on Schubert String Quartets, with outstanding performances of quartets from each end of the composer’s career (Rubicon Classics RCD1082 rubiconclassics.com). The String Quartet in E-flat Major D87 was written when Schubert was only 16, but was already his tenth quartet. It’s light and joyful, with an all-to-be-expected song-like quality, beautifully captured here. The String Quartet in G Major D887 from 1826, Schubert’s 15th and final quartet is a large-scale, groundbreaking masterpiece, the equal of the late Beethoven quartets. Words used in the booklet notes to describe its extreme emotions include dramatic, violent, painful, menacing, introverted and innocent. There’s a terrific range of dynamics and of touch and sensitivity in a quite remarkable performance of a quite remarkable work. A warm, crystal-clear recorded sound captures every nuance. Another really impressive quartet disc is Reflections, on which the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam presents works by Dmitri Shostakovich and Grażyna Bacewicz, two composers who often masked their true feelings in their music (Rubicon Classics RCD1099 rubiconclassics.com). Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.5 in B-flat Major, Op.92 was written in 1952, four years after the composer’s second denunciation in the infamous 1948 Zhdanov decree; it’s given a deeply perceptive and emotional reading here. Five of his 24 Preludes Op.34 for piano from 1933 are heard in really effective arrangements for string quartet. The String Quartet No.4 by Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz was written in 1951, with the booklet notes suggesting the influence of the oppression of the Polish people by the Soviet regime in the late 1940s; thewholenote.com/listening BEETHOVEN : Intégrales de Sonates et Variations pour violoncelle et piano Yegor Dyachkov, Jean Saulnier A cornerstone of the repertoire, this complete set of Sonatas and Variations is unique within Beethoven’s oeuvre and covers the composer’s three creative periods Maestrino Mozart Marie-Ève Munger, Les Boréades de Montréal Quebec soprano Marie-Ève Munger revisits the little-known yet surprisingly rich repertoire of young Mozart A Woman's Voice Alice Ho "A Woman's Voice" is an album written for female voices and piano and seeks to explore the female spirit and it's role throughout history. Spectrum Mark Abel Celebrated singers Isabel Bayrakdarian, Hila Plitmann and Kindra Scharich join a crack group of players in presenting Abel's emotive and powerful collection. thewholenote.com December 2022 - January 2023 | 49

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