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Volume 28 Issue 4 | February - March 2023

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Volume 28 no.4, covering Feb, March and into early April '23! David Olds remembers composer John Beckwith; Andrew Timar reflects on the life and times of artistic polymath Michael Snow; Mezzo Emily Fons, in town for Figaro, on trouser roles, the life of a mezzo-soprano on the road and more; Colin Story on the Soft-Seat beat; tracks from 22 new recordings added to our Listening Room. All this and more.

studying with Ravel in

studying with Ravel in Paris; his String Quartet No.1 in G Minor from 1909 showed a resulting greater textual clarity, although it remained unpublished until a revised version appeared in 1922. The viola, Vaughan Williams’ own instrument, is prominent in the String Quartet No.2 in A Minor from 1942-43; the work is dedicated to Jean Stewart, violist in the Menges Quartet that gave the first performance in 1944. The beautiful Romance second movement, in particular, is Vaughan Williams at his most characteristic. Holst wrote his Phantasy Quartet on British Folksongs Op.36 in 1916, but eventually withdrew it, feeling it to be “insufficient.” His daughter Imogen published a string orchestra version some years after his death. The viola is again prominent in this charming quartet edition by Roderick Swanston. There’s more Vaughan Williams on Boyle, Moeran, Ireland, Vaughan Williams, his Household Music – Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes from 1940-41 opening the new CD from the Piatti Quartet (Rubicon RCD1098 piatti-quartet-boyle-vaughan-williamsmoeran-ireland). The main work here though is the premiere recording of the lovely String Quartet in E Minor from 1934 by the unjustly neglected Irish composer Ina Boyle (1889-1967), who, apart from travelling to London for lessons with Vaughan Williams, from 1923 spent virtually her entire life in the family home in County Wicklow. This attractive work remained in manuscript until a new performing edition was made in 2011. John Ireland’s brief The Holy Boy is his 1941 arrangement of a 1913 piano solo. The disc ends with E.J. Moeran’s undated two-movement String Quartet No.2 in E-flat Major, discovered in his papers after his death in 1950. The Novello edition felt it to be “clearly an early work,” but while the first movement may support this view the Irish folksong nature of the second movement suggests a strong post-war influence of the songs he collected in County Kerry, some of which he published in 1948. On Beethoven Shostakovich Schubert String Quartets the four Russian musicians of the David Oistrakh Quartet, all soloists in their own right, “embrace the fury of these three works” with full-blooded playing (Praga Digitals PRD250426 products/9408438--beethoven-schubertshostakovich-string-quartets). Beethoven’s String Quartet No.4 in C Minor, Op.18, if a little rushed at times, certainly shows passion, which works particularly well in the Allegro prestissimo fourth movement. Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.3 in F Major, Op.73 from 1946, is the heart of the disc, both physically and emotionally. It became known as his “war quartet” after the composer renamed the movements in the manner of a war story to avoid being accused of “formalism” or “elitism.” Blythe ignorance of the future cataclysm, Rumblings of unrest and anticipation, Forces of war unleashed, In memory of the dead and The eternal question: why? and wherefore? give a clear indication of the music‘s soundscape. Schubert’s String Quartet No.12 in C Minor, D703 “Quartettsatz” from 1820 is the brief first movement from an unfinished quartet. The final track, not mentioned in the booklet notes, is the quartet’s violist Fedor Belugin’s dazzling arrangement of Paganini’s Caprice Op.1 No.24 in A Minor. On Beautiful Passing the title track is the single-movement violin concerto written by the American composer Steven Mackey in 2008 and inspired by the death of his mother. Anthony Marwood is the soloist, with David Robertson conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Canary Classics CC-22 Consisting of two halves separated by a cadenza, it’s a tough, uncompromising work that has passages of real beauty above and amid the sometimes-brutal orchestral texture, with a demanding and finely woven violin line brilliantly played by Marwood. It’s a work that invites and will surely reward further listening. The remainder of the CD consists of Mackey’s Mnemosyne’s Pool from 2014, a five-movement symphonic saga dealing with aspects of remembering, Mnemosyne being the Greek goddess of memory. Described by Musical America as “the first great American symphony of the 21st century” it’s a hugely impressive orchestral canvas that receives an outstanding performance. Mieczysław Weinberg Complete Works for Violin and Piano, Volume Four completes the series of music by the Polish-born Soviet composer and close friend of Shostakovich that began in September 2010. Yuri Kalnits is the excellent violinist and Michael Csányi- Wills the equally fine pianist (Toccata TOCC 0188 This final release covers music from Weinberg’s teenage years – the Three Pieces from 1934-35 – to the 1959 Sonata for Two Violins Op.69, in which Kalnits is joined by What we're listening to this month: Vagues et ombres collectif9 Juno-nominated string nonet collectif9 creates a world of nuance with music of Debussy (including his iconic La Mer) and Luna Pearl Woolf. Portrait: Alex Baranowski Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà Several key works including three previously unreleased pieces - wonderfully expressive, sensitive writing for violin. The 6th album in her series dedicated to contemporary composers. Nagamo Andrew Balfour & musica intima Ground-breaking collaboration with composer & curator of Cree descent, Andrew Balfour, reshapes Elizabethan masterworks with Ojibway and Cree perspectives. Tu me voyais Christina Haldane Tu me voyais is anchored around Gionet’s new arrangements of “Twelve Acadian Folk Songs”, tailored for Haldane’s voice, and evolves the songs of Acadie. 50 | February & March, 2023

Igor Yuzefovich. The Largo in F Major from 1944, only rediscovered in 2012, was originally part of the Sonata No.2 Op.15. The Two Songs without Words from 1947 and the Concertino in A Minor Op.42 from 1948, originally for violin and string orchestra, complete an excellent disc and series. Composer Alex Baranowski is the latest subject in the Portrait series that has been so successful for violinist Angèle Dubeau and her La Pietà string ensemble (Analekta AN 2 8750 The CD follows the usual format of short pieces and extracts arranged – in this case by the composer himself – for Dubeau’s group. This collaboration was clearly a joy for composer and artist alike, Dubeau calling Wiosna, the piece she commissioned, the heart of the album, while Baranowski calls it one of the most personal pieces he’s ever written. Most of the tracks reflect Baranowski’s work for screen and stage, with several extracts from the movies The Windermere Children and Nureyev, and the ballets Nineteen Eighty-Four and Kes. There’s not a great deal of variety, but the beautiful writing and top-notch performances will make this a sure-fire winner with Dubeau’s many fans. VOCAL Andrew Balfour – Nagamo Musica Intima vocal ensemble Redshift Records TK522 ( ! Often, in histories of rock music, one confronts the idea that the so-called “concept album” is the sole province of this genre. Friendships, I’m told, have been ruined as a result of heated debates as to whether Frank Zappa’s Freak Out!, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys can rightly lay claim to being the inaugural blending of music with an extra musical meaning in conceptual form. All of this is ridiculous, of course. Woody Guthrie was recording dust bowl ballads with a shared narrative theme through his recordings as early as 1940. Further, Frank Sinatra’s 1955 In the Wee Small Hours is most certainly united by way of the themes of melancholy and unrequited love, weaving a requisite and consistent thread through the tracks that, by all accounts, is a hallmark of the concept album. Regardless of the aforementioned problematic claims to historic ownership of the format, composer Andrew Balfour, a selfdescribed “former choir boy” and Sixties Scoop survivor, has waded into this conceptual format in an extraordinary and beautiful way with his 2023 release Nagamo. The title, like several of the album’s lyrics, is Cree (other texts featured here come from Ojibway, English, Latin and Gaelic sources) and the concept mines the fantastical question of what might have happened musically should Indigenous and European musics and cultural expressions come together in a manner collaborative and respectful, rather than divisive. The suggested result, as manifested on the beautiful album here, captures 12 crystalline skilled voices working their way through motets and Elizabethan choral music reimagined into Cree and Ojibway languages, alongside a duo of fine original pieces by Balfour with a Scottish Gaelic text. A beautifully recorded and interesting new release from the ensemble musical intima. Andrew Scott Concert note: Andrew Balfour and musica intima join the youth choir of the Toronto Children’s Chorus to present The Nagamo Project in Toronto at Eglinton St. George’s United Church on March 4. Nelligan Various artists ATMA ACD2 2814 ( ! The tragic life story of Émile Nelligan, one of the most renowned 19th-century Canadian poets, has been a subject of several contemporary artistic endeavours and inspires wonder and speculation in creators and audiences alike. Born in 1879, Nelligan joined the École littéraire du Montréal at 17 and produced a significant body of poetic works by the time he was 19, at which point he was committed to a psychiatric hospital by his parents, for reasons that are not entirely clear. He stayed there for another 40 years and never wrote a word of poetry again. Although characterized as a pop opera, Nelligan’s score is built on a classical foundation mixed with several musical genres, including pop and musical theatre. It is not surprising that the cast on this album is comprised of 15 stellar actors/singers, who brought to life both the emotional and circumstantial aspects of Nelligan’s story. Written by French Canadian icons, André What we're listening to this month: Jules Massenet Intégrale des mélodies pour voix et piano 333 songs, 17 singers, the groundbreaking 13 CD box set features a who’s who of Canadian operatic talent. Pachelbel Magnificat Fugues Space Time Continuo "Space Time Continuo performs with the abandon of folk musicians sitting around your living room, and the fun is infectious." - CBC Music Time Klaudia Kudelko Listen to this captivating debut recording by Polish pianist Klaudia Kudelko with pieces by Schumann, Chopin & Bacewicz Children's Corner Music for Solo Piano Melody Chan Originally a concert program for young audiences, the album is for music lovers of all ages - song, dance and story elements from the past and present February & March, 2023 | 51

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