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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

Haydn’s music is

Haydn’s music is surprisingly satisfying on the accordion, and the subtleties that Petric evokes from his instrument complement the fortepiano versions while being delightfully unique. The final track is Sintering, a 27-minute mashup of Haydn and digital electronics by Peter Lutek. This medley makes use of the previous harpsichord and accordion performances to create something new and old all at once, a perfect way to summarize the contents of this engaging and ingenious foray into Haydn, as well as the way we look at, listen to and think about music. Matthew Whitfield MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY Lumières Nordiques Vincent Boilard; Quatuor Molinari ATMA ACD2 2859 ( ! Lumières Nordiques is the first solo album released by Vincent Boilard, associate principal oboe of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Featuring contemporary pieces for oboe and strings, Boilard is joined by the award-winning Molinari Quartet in his passion project to help elevate previously unrecorded Canadian works. These compositions are varied soundscapes using the full range of tonal colours and technical flourishes this group of instruments has to offer. Beginning with solo oboe, which is then joined by string quartet, Stewart Grant’s Serenata da Camera morphs into a set of variations that showcase each instrument, inspired by Musaeus, the original group (with Grant himself on oboe) – composed for their Belarusian tour in 1991. Boilard’s beautiful, soft tone is masterfully blended with the brilliance of the strings. Originally a ballet, Elizabeth Raum’s Searching for Sophia was adapted to this three-movement piece for oboe and string quartet. The movements draw on sounds and harmonies from the composer’s childhood when her Syrian grandmother would sing to make her dance; a poem written by the composer about what she wishes to express in music; and traditional melodies that her mother sang to her as a child. Laced predominantly with a Middle Eastern colour, this piece uses all of the instruments equally, allowing the full range of the strings and the oboe to bring out the different characters of each movement. Michael Parker’s Requiem Parentibus, Op.34 was written as a tribute to his father after his sudden death, exploring the emotions of incomprehension, sadness, anger and melancholy. These complex emotions are represented on the oboe with high shrieks followed by soulful lyrical playing while the strings are used mainly as an atmospheric colour. Lastly, Brian Cherney’s In the Stillness of the Summer Wind was commissioned by his brother, oboist Lawrence Cherney, and the Hungarian String Quartet. Sounding as if inspired by summers spent in the countryside, this piece draws the listener in with various depictions of nature through the different tonal colours used by the strings as well as the four glass chimes used at the end to create the sound of a gentle, rustling breeze. Boilard’s virtuosity and supple tone is beautifully paired with the inspired playing of the Molinari Quartet throughout this album. Hopefully Boilard will continue this project of recording new works so that they are brought to life and appreciated. Melissa Scott Sounds of Time & Distance Alfredo Santa Ana Independent ( ! Born in Mexico City and working in Vancouver since 2003, composer/ guitarist Alfredo Santa Ana draws on his experiences composing for television, film, dance, instrumentalists and orchestras in his self-described “hybrid” nine-track album for guitar, electronics and flute combinations. Santa Ana does everything here with successful finesse, from performing, composing, recording, mixing, mastering and producing. Opening track Under an Orange Sky (2017), originally commissioned for 18 musicians, is a guitar duet here, performed with Michael Ibsen. Santa Ana’s musical depiction of the horrific BC fires and subsequent long periods of orange skies opens with exciting fast lines and accented single notes, followed by suspenseful longer lowerpitch held tones and occasional dissonances, and repeated midsection minimalistic lines with slower quieter sounds adding a reflective touch. More virtuosic well-thoughtout guitar performances by Made in Canada Duo as Ibsen & Nathan Bredeson play Santa Ana’s interesting Foundation Visit High Scatter (2022) uninterrupted changing sound environments from slow strums to pitch slides to punchy rhythmic sections. Wave Remote (2022), performed by McGregor- Verdejo Duo, has flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor and guitarist Adrian Verdejo use loopers and electric guitar pedal technology to at times play above themselves in almost quasi rock and contemporary music improvisations. Steve Reich’s three track Electric Counterpoint (1987) receives a meticulous respectful performance by Santa Ana. The musical world of guitar explodes with unexpected new sounds, flavours and effects in this fantastic release. Tiina Kiik Tim Brady – Symphony in 18 Parts Tim Brady Starkland ST-237 ( ! One point that is often made about the electric guitar is that unlike the piano (Hanon Studies), the trumpet (Arban Method), or even its acoustic brethren (Complete Carcassi Classical Guitar Method), it does not have an established pedagogy of praxis. As such, and almost since its conception when Les Paul affixed a homemade tremolo and pickups to a pine log, the progenitors of blues, rock, jazz, funk, R & B etc. have thwarted the normative principles of the instrument in order to find a creative voice through bent strings, squelching feedback or one-hand legato fretboard tapping. Simply put, the pedagogy of the electric guitar is largely a performance practice of figuring things out on the instrument that were not intended for that instrument. And yet even within this instrumental history filled with novel approaches to the guitar, the adjective “ambitious” does not fully capture the eclectic range of creativity that, for over 35 years, has remained a hallmark of guitarist Tim Brady’s expansive output. Spanning genres, aggregation size and influence (from Norman Bethune to Charlie Christian!), Brady’s sprawling creativity is once again at the forefront on his most recent Symphony in 18 Parts for solo electric guitar. Take, for example, the album’s opening track, minor révolutions, as a stylistic explanation of Brady’s approach in miniature. Within this one three-minute tune, Brady alternates between “nails-on-a-chalkboard” distortion with a no less technologically mediated crystalline atmospheric timbre, putting these two sonically disparate approaches into conversation with one another while traversing rock, jazz, classic and “contemporary” music. Lots to like here for fans of “new” Canadian music, genrebending sounds and, of course, the electric guitar. Andrew Scott Christopher Butterfield – Souvenir Aventa Ensemble; Rick Sacks; Bill Linwood Redshift Records TK538 (redshiftrecords. org) ! “Forget the gold watch,” read the University of Victoria’s press release, “noted composer and longtime School of Music professor Christopher Butterfield is marking his UVic retirement with the release of his 64 | Summer 2023

latest album, Souvenir.” Each piece was commissioned by a different ensemble over a 20-year span. “It’s like I’m doing my own musicology here,” kibitzed the composer. The four Butterfield compositions on the album are spiritedly performed by BC’s Aventa Ensemble. Toronto percussion soloist Rick Sacks makes a virtuoso guest appearance. The works are as much permeated by the composer’s sure feel for classical musical architecture, 20th-century music idioms (turned sideways), colourful orchestration, quirky drama and textural variety, as they are by his off-centre, surrealistic sense of humour. For example, along with the 15-piece Aventa Ensemble, Souvenir also includes a “set of improvisations with undependable electronics,” while a field recording of Barbadian tree frogs chirps away in oblique counterpoint. Parc (2013) on the other hand, “tries hard to maintain some kind of organizational order but keeps falling off the rails.” In addition to the vibraphone solo, this percussion concerto also features a solo section for an unorthodox, organic instrument: pieces of wood. Referring to Victoria BC’s rich musical and cultural environment, Butterfield notes it has “a reputation for composers who are looked at as rather remarkable… and nobody’s quite sure why. Is it something in the water? Is it island life?” Perhaps, the answer can be partly found in Vancouver Island’s geographic isolation, where composers “have to make everything up ourselves,” as in the case of Butterfield’s own uniquely drole musical voice. Andrew Timar Sirventès – Iranian Female Composers Association Brian Thornton New Focus Recordings FCR367 ( ! Sirventès is a collection of new solo and ensemble works from Cleveland Orchestra cellist Brian Thornton and the Iranian Female Composters Association, founded in 2017 and dedicated to supporting female composers from Iran through programming, commissioning and mentorship. The album, beautiful, warm and compelling, focuses on composers telling their own stories in their own voices, providing a perfect showcase for the six featured women, each accomplished and successful in her own right. Beginning with a four-part work written for string quartet in 2017 by Tehran-born Mahdis Golzar Kashani, And the Moses Drowned is “Dedicated to Aylan Kurdi and all innocent children fallen victim to the war.” This is a beautifully descriptive work, the plaintive opening reminiscent of Arvo Pärt but quickly intensifying in modes, metres and melody. Nina Barzegar’s solo cello work Vulnerable is a delicate balance, expressed by the composer as, “By being vulnerable, I do not mean being in a position where one can be hurt easily. Instead, I mean experiencing great human emotions: feeling shame, sorrow, gladness, love, belonging, empathy, and embracing who we truly are….” Nasim Khorassani’s Growth for string trio (2017) focuses on a cell constructed by B, C, D and E flat, a deeply concentrated emotional journey that both moves and stays stagnant, almost as if describing the constraints under which it was composed. Niloufar Iravani’s 2017 string quartet The Maze is in three parts depicting the struggle to navigate emotions. A favourite is the title track by Anahita Abbasi, featuring Toronto’s Amahl Arulanandam, cello and Nathan Petitpas, percussion. The writing for both instruments calls back and forth between pitched and unpitched, responding without leadership but more as balanced characters in a story. It is raw, spacious and expressive, a delicate duo between the cello and percussion but also a duet between time and space. Mina Arissian’s Suite for Cello closes the album and is beautifully played by Thornton, who never muscles in on the composers but remains committed to the most direct translations of these powerful works as possible. Some time with the enclosed information on each of these composers is well spent, getting to know just a few of the brilliant women in the Iranian Female Composers Association. Cheryl Ockrant Homage: Chamber Music for the African Continent & Diaspora Castle of Our Skins; Samantha Ege Lorelt LNT147 ( ! Boston-based Castle of Our Skins (COOS) was founded in 2013 “to address the lack of equity in composer representation on concert stages.” Happily, the past decade has seen dramatically increased attention to Black composers; this CD is an example. Safika: Three Tales of African Migration (2011) by South African Bongani Ndodana- Breen (b.1975) is performed by pianist Samantha Ege and COOD violinists Gabriela Diaz and Matthew Vera, violist Ashleigh Gordon and cellist Francesca McNeeley. Its three movements offer yearning string melodies and percussive piano “drumming” evoking traditional African song and dance, “memories of lives left behind,” says Ndodana-Breen. Pianist Ege solos in two works. Homage (1990) by Oklahoma-born Zenobia Powell Perry (1908-2004), based on the spiritual I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned, proceeds from childlike simplicity to searching, fragmented discord. Moorish Dance, Op.55 (1904) by Londoner Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875- 1912), like others of his supposedly Africaninspired compositions, sounds European, here emulating Liszt. Soweto (1987) for piano trio by Virginian Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) condemns apartheid in three terse movements featuring dissonant chaos, a melancholy cello solo and a spiritual-inspired dirge. At 23 minutes, Spiritual Fantasy No.12 (1988) for string quartet by Texas-born Frederick C. Tillis (1930-2020) is by far the CD’s longest and, for me, most rewarding work. In four movements, each based on a different spiritual, the music is wonderfully inventive and adventurous – harmonically, rhythmically, texturally and structurally. Where/why has it been hiding, and what of Tillis’ other Spiritual Fantasies? Michael Schulman Carlos Surinach – Acrobats of God; The Owl and the Pussycat Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Gil Rose BMOP Sound 1089 ( ! “My music, even the most serious pieces, all suggest, in some way, dance.” After emigrating to New York in 1951, Barcelona-born Carlos Surinach (1915-1997) was commissioned by Martha Graham to create three ballet scores, all presented on this CD. In the 16-minute Embattled Garden (1957), flamenco-style melodies, rhythms and costumes support a scenario involving Adam, Eve, Lilith and the Devil. Brash, brassy, percussive tuttis are offset by plaintive solos for clarinet, English horn and bassoon in music that’s appropriately steamy, erotic and savage. Graham called the 22-minute Acrobats of God (1960) “a lighthearted celebration of the art of dance and the discipline of the dancer’s world.” The circus-comedic Fanfare is followed by the first of four Interludes, three of them boisterously brusque, one satirically sentimental. The mock-Arabic Antique Dance spotlights three mandolins and a solo trumpet. Bolero is a halting, ponderous waltz. Summer 2023 | 65

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