8 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 1 - September 2001

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  • September
  • Toronto
  • Sept
  • Theatre
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  • October
  • Quartet
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34 wholenote SEPTEMBER

34 wholenote SEPTEMBER 1, 2001 - OcTOBER 7, 2001 playing that creates the desire for further listening. (For more music by Franz Liszt check out WholeNote's "Further Afield" listings for the City of Hamilton/American Liszt Society/ McMaster University School of the Arts Great Romantics Festival October 4-7) Veronica Materi Violons d'Enferllnfernal Violins Angele Du beau & La Pieta · Analekta AN 2 8718 (Full Price) Since its founding in 1997, La Pieta, led by Quebec's phenomenal virtuoso Angele Dubeau- has dazzled. This is the group's 4th CD and the program is full of music inspired through t he ages by the Devil. Don't be the least bit scared: however, as this is a fun CD and that is both its strong point and its biggest drawback. With skillfurarrangeme~ t s of · music by Tartini, Saint-Saens and Liszt, the recording is designed to illustrate the various ways in which the Devil and the violin have been linked in the Western Classical tradition. The playing is first-rate, as is to be expected. Dubeau leads the way with her warm tone and elegant phrasing and the rest of the group responds with precision and verve. There is, however, an annoyingly "easy-listening" atmosphere that pervades the p(frformances. This isn't helped by the addition of short superficial pieces by Franco is Dompierre, Ennio Morricone and even The ·Rolling Stones. La Pieta's pianist Louise-Andree Baril contributes some fine playing, and she's also the arranger of most of the substantial music on the disc. Her take on Liszt's first Mephisto wqr ~usir Q!f1amher 217 Danforth Ave. (416) 406-1641 New and Used Classical and JazzCDs Sheet Music, Reeds, Strings ,, 1 .,:...,.. tr''(rf', -... Gifts and Gift r~~ ~ Certificates J}' ~) (,. . Trade-ins ' - Accepted Waltz generously shares virtuosic licks with the solo violin and her re-orchestration of a Devil-inspired Sinfonia by Boccherini is a definite highlight. It's a great idea for a program, but it's almost as if the recording was designed for mindless "background" listening while sipping wine and enjoying life. Wait a minute, maybe the Prince of Darkness is at work here. Larry Beckwith Don Giovanni: Leporello's Revenge Dmitri Hvorostovsky Canadian Opera Company Orchestra Richard Bradshaw, conductor Rhombus Media Film Soundtrack, CBC Records SMCD 5205 (Full Price) Last October Canadian producers Rhombus Media launched a one-hour film, Don Giovanni: Leporello 's Revenge, at a gala party at Roy Thomson Hall, with performances by the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra. Directed by Barbara Willis Sweete, the film turned Mozart's opera inside out, by shooting it as if it were about 1930s Hollywood actors watching the screening of their own performance of the opera. Combined with the double-casting of internationally acclaimed Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky as both the seducer Don Giovanni and his wily servant Leporello, the device allowed for the utmost milking of the opera's themes of deceit and concealed identity, while emphasizing the essentially similar natures of Don Giovanni and his servant. The film soundtrack has now been released, and - except for the double casting of . Hvorostovsky - it's a surprisingly straight-up presentation of excerpts from the opera: just over an hour of music, in the usual order. Of course, in his double role, Hvorostovsky spends quite a bit of time singing dialogue with himself. It surprises me that the engineers didn't use the possibilities of stereo recording to channel the "two" voices through separate speakers, but Hvorostovsky's voice is more than rich and expressive enough to carry off the one-man double bill. Besides the hard-working · Hvorostovsky, the CD features a roster of names that will be familiar to Toronto opera goers, including Gary Relyea, Dominique Labelle, Liesel Fedkenlieuer, Krisztina Szab6, Alain Coulombe and Michael Colvin. . Sarah B. Hood Musique du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance Constantinople, Kiya Tabassian ATMA ACD2 2269 (Full Price) Named after ,the legendary city of Constantinople which was once the cultural centre of the world, this ensemble recreates the music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance with strong consideration for the location of this city and the surrounding influences, namely classical Persian art music and th.e early music of Europe. Bearing this in mind, the immediate musical impression is that of a Middle Eastern quality. This irist~umental recording features the talents of Kiya Tabassian (setar), Mike Cole (lute), Isabelle Marchand (viola da gamba), Matthew Jennejohn (recorders), Ziya Tabassian (percussion), all of whom seem equally comfortable with integrating the free improvisatory nature of the Eastern style with tht; more structured European music. ·This assortment of instruments can create several tonal textures, but the small, longnecked plucked-string instrument, the setar (not to be confused with the sitar), is the one which is not often associated with the early music of Europe, although it has tonal similarities to the gittern (sometimes associated with the mandora, a plucked-string instrument with a rounded back) or cittern. Those of you who are reasonably familiar with early music have probably heard several of these tunes before-Pazzo'e Mezzo, Salterello, Mignonne allons, La tricotea, Danza Alta, Rodrigo Martinez, Fata la parte___:but I doubfthat you have heard them played with as much verve and flair as they are played on this recording. Frank T. Nakashima

CONCERT PREP Specific connections to current events Michael J. Baker: Music from Big Pictures Barbara Hannigan, Arraymusic Artifact ART 018 (Full Price) When Arraymusic artistic director Michael J. Baker died of leukemia last year Toronto lost a well-loved musical personage. On September 16 Arraymusic and the Music Gallery will mark the anniversary of Baker's passing · with a memorial concert. Under his direction Arraymusic developed strong ties with Toronto's dance community, so it is only fitting that the concert will include several of Baker's dance scores and excerpts from the multi-disciplinary work Big Pictures. Arraymusic premiered Big Pictures, a theatrical work by Baker, choreographer Bill James and painter Dan Solomon, in 1992. Of course the CD presents only "music from" the production, but the selections go along way towards capturing the haunting essence of the work, a non-linear minimalist presentation utilizing texts by the painter Paul Klee. Scored for soprano, clarinet(s), trumpet, violin, piano, double bass and two percussionists in various combinations, Big Pictures serves as a marvellous introduction to the music of Michael J. Baker and to the possibilities inherent in the less than standard instrumentation of the Arraymusic ensemble. Highlights for me i,nclude the ensemble pieces Red Brick and Red Brick Reprise, Girl in Mourning and o'ne Day (the first solo recordings of rising star soprano Barbara Hannigan) and Gate of the Deserted Garden, an extended duet featuring violinist Marc Sabat and pianist Henry Kucharzyk. The September 16'h event will also mark the release of a new Artifact CD of Baker's music for dance, In Paradisum: The Music of Michael J. Baker. David Olds Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time Amici Ensemble Naxos 8.554824 (Budget Price) It is rare in the world of contemporary music that an ensemble has the opportunity to record a work a second time, even when dealing with such a "c1assic" as Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Congratulations are due to both Toronto's Amici and to the Naxos label for recognizi'ng merits of this project ·regardless of the fact that Amici's earlier Summit recording of the work is still available. Messiaen composed the Quatuor in a German POW camp in 1941 for the only instruments av,ailable: clarinet, violin, cello and piano. Each of the instruments (with the exception of the accompanying piano provided most admirably here by Patricia Parr) is given an extended solo movement. Joaquin Valdepeiias is exemplary in The Abyss of the Birds, his clarinet arising from silence so seamlessly that it's hard to know when the note actually begins. Cellist David Hetherington's rendering of the Praise for the Eternity of Jesus, although markedly faster than on the earlier recording, somehow manages to capture the Messiaen's seemingly conflicting performance instructions: "infinitely slow" and "ecstatic". The core members of Amici are joined for this recording by violinist Scott St. John, who shines in the Praise for the Immortality of Jesus where his warmth of tone and brilliant control in the final passage convince us that we are, in Messiaen's words, hearing "the ascension of man towards God". Scott St. John joins Amici for their first concerts of the season: September 28 at Glenn Gould Studio and October 1 at W~lter Hall. R. Murray Schafer: Patria The Schafer Ensemble Opening Day ODR 9307 (Full Price) David Olds WhatR. Murray Schafer has been working on for the last three decades under the banner ?atria is the creation of a series of events designed to meet a live audience in the fullness of its senses and, it seems, at the height of its intellect. As love propels the principle characters (two halves of a soul questing for unity and the homeland), they journey through ancient, medieval and aboriginal cultures in various incarnations, allowing Sch11fer to investigate mystical themes in mythological worlds. Music, asserts Schafer, is at the centre of his monumental project and the album ?atria provides examples from four of the works. The sounds range from the eerie to the whimsical, as one guesses the soul's progress must. Excerpts from Ra depict the final judgment of a departed Egyptian king whose famous heart is weighed against the feathef' of truth. The haunting repetition in the·score sung by sopranos Wendy Humphreys and · Tannis Scott is ominous. ' The tale of Theseus, Ariadne, the Miriotaur and the Labyrinth, is told in The Crown of Ariadne, a dance drama featuring Judy Loman on harp and percussion. Its sixth movement, Dance of the Night Insects, is a spacious and delightful abstraction. But the sounds of real forest creatures were captured in And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon and The Princess s Aria, both recorded in the wilds around Lake Muskoka. Like installations, the performances are site-specific. The next spectacular, the wor)d premier of The Palace of the Cinnabar · Phoenix, will take place in the Wolverton • Hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine September 13-16. ' Deborah Rosen Alban Berg: Violin Concerto Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James Deutsche Grarpmmophon 437 093-2 (Fulf Price) Alban Berg's Violin Concerto stands grandly in the tradition of the romantic virtuosb concerto, despite his use of the twelve-tone harmonic language and rigorous formal techniques of his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg. It is lyrical, nostalgic, and deeply moving. It eve~ tells a story. Not surprisingly, there are a number of terrific recordings, most notably, in recent years, 'by ltzhak Perlman and Gidon Kremer, but the ' outstanding performance on CD is by Anne­ Sophie Mutter. Mutter may push the boundaries of Berg's score in her quest for a compelling interprec tation, but she knows what the composer wants and she communicates it with passion and insight. The Chicago Symphony, under James Levine, provides a responsive, r! .C.b.!~ . co·loured partner. · .. · ·.: No detail in the score eludes Mutter, fr~m: the · poignant opening arpeggios, through the fo,lkdance motif, the turbulent cadenza, the .. : · plaintive Bach chorale It is, enough, Lord, to the heart-breaking return of the arpeggio figures at the close. Yet relentlessly she drives home the narrative of the life-and . . tragic death-of the 18-year-old girl to whom Berg dedicated this elegy. · This recording is available as a full-price single disc, coupled with Wolfgang Rihm's. Time Chant. It is also included in a well~ priced boxed set of twentieth century masterworks for violin and orchestra, aptly titled Anne-Sophie Mutter: Back to the Future (DG 463 790-2). SEPTEMBER 1, 2001 -OcTOBER 7, 2001 Continues page 36

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