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Volume 28 Issue 6 | Summer 2023

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Fast start to the summer and it just keeps going: Luminato walks with Little Amal; the Historical Organ Society comes to town; composer Carmen Braden is keeping busy; Phil Nimmons turns 100; TSM's metamorphosis; and check out live links in ads, listings and our easy surfing directory of summer festivals. See you August 30 for Volume 29 no.1

Milne, Myriam Rignol,

Milne, Myriam Rignol, Lucile Boulanger and Josh Cheatham (Alpha Classics ALPHA944 dowland-lachrimae-alpha-collection). Imbued with the sense of melancholy so typical of Tudor England, the music here is given added colour by the violists taking turns playing the leading voice line. Works of remembrance, memorialization and hopefulness are featured on Jonathan Leshnoff Elegy | Violin Concerto No.2 | Of Thee I Sing, the fifth in an ongoing series devoted to the music of the Baltimore-based composer who turns 50 this year. Noah Bendix-Balgley, the North Carolina-born first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic is the soloist in the concerto, with Alexander Mickelthwate leading the Oklahoma City Philharmonic (Naxos 8.559927 Leshnoff’s music features pulsating rhythms and unpredictable accents reminiscent of Philip Glass together with contrasting melodic lyricism and lush harmonies, the latter clearly in evidence in the 2022 Elegy, a work much in the style of Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The beautiful second movement, subtitled Chokhmah Yud and scored for strings and harp is the emotional core of the terrific 2017 four-movement Violin Concerto No.2, with Bendix-Balgley the outstanding soloist. The Canterbury Voices appear in the closing section of the lengthy and impressive Of Thee I Sing, written in 2020 for the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. VOCAL How Like a Golden Dream Duo Oriana Leaf Music LM264 ( ! The repertoire on How Like a Golden Dream traverses the sacred and the secular; 17th-century hymns and antiphons from the Office of Hours, sung at Vespers and Compline in monasteries and Irish folk songs influenced by Celtic missionaries. Throughout, the luminous soprano of Sinéad White illuminates the long shadows of dusk and night. Jonathan Stuchbery adds energizing precision. With both lute and theorbo he serves White with silvery gusts of harmonic colours. Familiar melodies such as ‘Tis now dead night by John Corprario, Come, Heavy Sleep by John Dowland and Never weatherbeaten sail by Thomas Campion are made to float weightlessly by White. Meanwhile Stuchbery weaves his instruments in and out turning poetic lines into a sort of diaphanous harmonic quilt that quiets the imaginary fears of the night. Louise Hung’s glorious textures on the organ are subtly, yet appropriately expressive when added to the music. The plaintive sound world of sacred and secular polyphony not only evokes a sense of wistful melancholy, but also lifts the listener from grief and sadness to unfettered joy and hope of salvation in the celestial realm. This is superbly evoked by two closing hymns by Francesca Cassini: Te lucis ante terminum and the deeply expressive Regina Caeli. Booklet notes with richly referential songby-song English and French commentary by Jill Rafuse and Pierre Igot deserve special mention as part of the excellence of this production. Raul da Gama Affetti Amorosi Bud Roach Musica Omnia MO0805 ( ! Whether known as a troubadour or a singer-songwriter, the concept of a solo singer providing their own accompaniment has been around for centuries, and tenor Bud Roach delves into 17th-century Italian “singer-songwriter” music with Affetti Amorosi, in which he accompanies himself on the theorbo. Performing music by seven composers, ranging from the well-known Claudio Monteverdi to the lesser-known Berti and Milanuzzi, this disc explores a range of solo vocal repertoire that demonstrates the lyrical beauty and musical inventiveness of the time. Perhaps the most interesting facet of this repertoire is the variety of interpretive choices presented to the performer. Reconciling the lost oral traditions and conventions of the 17th century with the notated score is an objectively impossible task for modern performers, and a high degree of informed subjectivity is required of the contemporary interpreter. Even with current scholarship and research, the quest for an “authentic reproduction” remains an unattainable oxymoron. The benefit of this historical ambiguity is that the listener gains greater insight into the uniqueness of an individual performer’s interpretations – no two recordings are alike. Roach’s approach is sustained and lyrical and utilizes both the modality of the music and the drama of the texts to great effect. By accompanying himself, Roach maximizes the potential for rhetorical invention and provides a convincing suggestion of how this music might have sounded on the streets of Venice almost 500 years ago. Matthew Whitfield Worship in a Time of Plague Capella Intima; Gallery Players of Niagara; Bud Roach Musica Omnia MO0804 ( ! In 1629, Heinrich Schütz published his Symphoniae Sacrae, a collection of vocal sacred music based on Latin texts. Influenced by his exposure to the Venetian school, Schütz set psalms and excerpts from the Song of Solomon for one to three voices, with various instruments and continuo. After a period of great productivity in Italy, Schütz returned to Dresden just before the plague outbreak which would kill one third of the population. Capella Intima’s Worship in a Time of Plague places its focus on Venice in 1629, highlighting a selection of music which Schütz would likely have heard, as well as several of Schütz’s own works. These were effectively some of the last scores published and disseminated before the plague led to the collapse of the music publishing industry, church choirs and the opportunity for large-scale musical performances, and they undoubtedly attained even greater meaning as the opportunities for producing and publishing new music were swiftly curtailed. Despite the dreary temporal background of these works, each of them, from Grandi’s florid O beate Benedicte to Schütz’s sublime Paratum cor meum is a vibrant essay in the art of 17th-century composition that radiates both contrapuntal mastery and expressive piety. Capella Intima and the Gallery Players of Niagara under Bud Roach’s direction give a wonderful performance, unearthing the subtleties of the scores and ensuring that both tuning and text are executed with precision. This is a magnificent recording for all to gain an understanding of Italian vocal music of the period, especially for those who appreciate the choral music of Heinrich Schütz. Matthew Whitfield 58 | Summer 2023

Handel – Semele Soloists; NZ Opera; Peter Walls Opus Arte OA1362D ( CatalogueDetail/?id=OA1362D) ! Disguise is the elaborate subtext of Semele. Indeed, the same might be said of the work itself for it is an Italian opera masquerading as an English oratorio. Gone is Handel’s Biblical subject matter. In its place is the decidedly secular fable from Ovid’s Metamorphoses with a libretto by the dramatist William Congreve. The beautiful mortal, Semele, becomes the lover of the god Jupiter, which panders to her overweening vanity. Jupiter’s jealous wife, Juno, seeking revenge, appears to Semele in disguise and easily persuades her that she too could become immortal, and so Semele asks Jupiter to reveal himself to her in his full glory. Unfortunately, he does just that and Semele is destroyed by his burning brightness. End of story. The moral? “Be careful what you wish for.” This was exactly what happened to Handel, who anticipated – indeed expected – a glorious reception for Semele when it was premiered during the Lent of February 1744, in Covent Garden. The audience was unimpressed. In the memorable words of Winton Dean: “where they expected wholesome Lenten bread, they received a glittering stone dug from the ruins of Greek mythology.” Handel’s most secular opera, however, stayed alive thanks to Jupiter’s Act II aria, Where’re you walk. Emma Pearson (Semele), Amitai Pati (Jupiter/Apollo), Sarah Castle (Juno/Ino) and Paul Whelan (Cadmus/Somnus) brilliantly perform Handel’s opera around the iconic church altar marriage setting, propelling this New Zealand Opera production into the stratosphere where Semele rightfully belongs. Raul da Gama Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint- Georges – L’Amant Anonyme Haymarket Opera Company Cedille CDR 90000 217 ( ! With the recent release of the film Chevalier, the life of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint- Georges, one of the small number of biracial early composers whose works were celebrated in the 18th century, has been thrust into the spotlight. Before Chevalier was on theatre screens, however, Chicago’s Haymarket Opera Company issued their world-premiere recording of Bologne’s L’Amant Anonyme, the only one of his six operas to survive to the present day. Often called “the Black Mozart”, Bologne’s nickname has provided his music with relatively recent recognition through its celebratory comparison, but also obscured his own originality and influence. This recording clearly demonstrates that Bologne was an exceptionally gifted composer of his own accord, and that his works merit widespread rediscovery and respect, whether Mozart is nearby or not. (Bologne was highly respected and well-connected in his day – he and Mozart were neighbours in Paris, and he commissioned Haydn’s six Paris Symphonies.) Premiered in 1780, L’Amant Anonyme is a two-act opéra comique (it contains spoken dialogue instead of recitative) that is a striking combination of Baroque and classical forms, utilizing galant styles and earlier dance forms to create an aristocratic air that is always delightfully tuneful. Indeed, this melodic genius is even more impressive when one considers that Bologne wrote this opera before any of Mozart’s major operas, reversing the conventional understanding of which composer influenced who. No matter how perfect the composer’s intentions, music needs performers to make it come alive, and the Haymarket Opera Company does not disappoint. Both singers and orchestra are light, agile and transparent in tone, and the tempi are neither rushed nor tardy. This disc is highly recommended for all who love the early classical repertoire, and especially for those who watched Chevalier and are eager to learn more about this unsung hero. Matthew Whitfield Schubert Revisited – Lieder arranged for baritone and orchestra Matthias Goerne; Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen Deutsche Grammophon 483 9758 (store. p51-i0028948397587) ! The fact that Franz Schubert was not – like Beethoven or Mozart – a virtuoso musician seemed to overshadow (even diminish somewhat) his greatest achievements as a composer. His unfettered gift for melody and attachment to classical forms didn’t help his cause either. However, Schubert helped shape the art of lieder like no other composer of his day, or after. For all he did to give wing to the poetry of (especially) Goethe (but also others), Schubert himself might easily lay claim to being a true lieder poet, great in every way as the writers whose poetry he set to music. More than anything else Schubert’s songs live and die with the talents of their performers. Like the plays of Shakespeare, the songs respond to a variety of interpretations while always needing the singer who can What we're listening to this month: Sibelius 3 & 4 Yannick Nézet-Seguin & the Orchestre Métropolitain Recorded at Maison symphonique de Montréal, this is the newest addition to ATMA’s complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies, launched in 2019 with Symphony No. 1. Sounds of Time & Distance Alfredo Santa Ana An album of music for guitar, electronics, and flute. Sirventès Brian Thornton & Iranian Female Composers Association These 10 characterful new works for cello - solo and in ensemble - are a testament to the diverse enduring cultural fabric of the Iranian diaspora. Room to Breathe Joseph Swift NEW Bassoon CD of 5 World Premieres inspired by lived experiences through the onset of the pandemic in 2020 Summer 2023 | 59

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