8 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 1 - September 2001

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  • September
  • Toronto
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  • October
  • Quartet
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  • Orchestra

initial listenings began

initial listenings began which version we preferred, and why. It may come as no surprise that sometimes our fondest memories of cherished recordings were in grievous error. As this is not a foot race where only one recording can be in first place, there is often more than one "preferred" version of any piece. After all, this is an interpreter's medium. In the early sixties we were thrilled with the LP of this Sibelius Second. The faultless playing and the overall arch of Szell's reading leading to an almost overwhelming peroration were all evidenced in this sonorous recording. We were in Sibelius heaven. Later came the Beethoven Fifth. Once again, orchestral perfection. One of the most telling aspects of this almost white-hot reading is the way the brass cuts through in the tuttis, much as Szell balanced his Cleveland Orchestra in the same repertoire. Here though the whole panorama is richer and deeper, no doubt a reflection of the Concertgebouw itself. That's what we thought then. This time the memories were correct. These two great performances, now on one mid-priced disc, are even better than before thanks to Philips' "24/96" technology. Who would have guessed, over 30 years ago, that we'd be turning cartwheels over the re-issue? Bruce Surtees INDIE LIST Independent and small label releases Retrospectives Vol. 1 Antonin Kubalek, piano Echiquier ECD 003 (Full Price) These are brilliant, commanding performances marred only by the manner of their presentation. Remastered from LP recordings originally issued by the CBC in the 1970s, Retrospectives Vol. 1 is compiled solely from repertoire of Czech origin. This rather contrived theme is unfortunate as it perpetuates the stereotyping of a masterful artist whose musicality extends beyond national borders. The familiar Four Polkas by Smetana open this album, in stylish and beguiling performances. Milan Kimlicka's singular exercise in total serial ism, Four Pieces for Piano (1969) receives an incisive interpretation from Kubalek but is poorly served by being shoe-horned between Smetana's dances and the equally pleasant though ephemeral early 19'h century Impromptu No.5 by Jan Hugo Vorisek. Dating from the same year as Kimlicka's Four Pieces, Oskar Morawetz's Suite for Piano is couched in a more conventional, late Romantic style. Improvisatory, introspective and propulsive by turns, it receives a sympathetic and poetic interpretation. The highlight of this recording is a captivating performance of Leos Janacek's brilliant Concertino for piano and six instruments. Cast in the Baroque "concerto grosso" format that was undergoing something of a revival at the time, the attractive melodic profile of this 1925 composition is always richly folkloristic without stooping to parody. Echiquier's very sketchy program notes promise a second volume of non-Czech repertoire will follow. Daniel F oley American Dreaming Marc Couroux, piano Xuotavip Records (Mid-Price) Since emerging from his Montreal practice lair some years back, Marc Couroux has been a confounding and necessary presence in Canadian new music. While remaining sought-after as a performer of some of the most intricate new piano music written, his 38 Wholenote SEPTEMBER 1, 2001 -OCTOBER 7, 2001

estlessness and perpetual redefinition have heightened initial comparison to a young Glenn Gould. Each new work he tackles spawns numerous writings, discussions, and analyses, in which he seeks the core of the music and each layer to it (see http://pages. This dedicated process of research and expression, new readings and studies take him mining elsewhere, into visual arts, film, cultural anthropology, and increasingly toward improvisation, where with his brilliant technique he can explore the cracks, fissures, and unpredictabilities of human experience. American Dreaming is a Jive recording of Couroux improvising after the study of filmmaker John Cassavetes. Herein, Couroux demonstrates his fascination with "areas in a seeming halfway-point between complete development and total underdevelopment ... halfway states." To borrow Raymond Carney's description of Cassavetes work and re-apply it to Couroux, he "offers us concatenated knowing in place of consolidating knowing. Rather than rushing to a portable meaning, the [listener] is forced to live through a changing course of events. It lives in endless, energetic substitutions of one interest and focus for another, in continuous shifts of tone, in fluxional slides of relationship". American Dreaming is a fantastically unkempt truckload of ideas careening down a sometimes-frustrating thoroughfare, all revealed through Couroux's inimitable keyboard "touch". Despite his artistic preference of the process of becoming over the final result, I'm grateful that he chose to document this July 4'h night and make it available on CD. Paul Steenhuisen WOW! 8,000 Sheet Music Titles! Canada's largest selection of sheet music titles for strings. convenient mail-o As a full-service string shop we offer the following: + Violins • Violas • Cellos + Instrument Rentals + Strings Accessories, 26 Cumbcrland, 2nd Floor. Tch I-416-960·8494 SEPTEMBER 1' 2001 -OCTOBER 7, 2001

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