8 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 2 - October 2001

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ecital at the Thornhill

ecital at the Thornhill Presbyterian Church Violinist Edna on October 26 and the Leaside Concert Michell is a · Series on October 28. protege of the Larry Beckwith late Lord Alkan:' Symphony for Solo Piano Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano Hyperion CDA67218 (Full Price) French composer Charles­ Valentin Alkan is one of the great originals of the keyboard. In Canadian pianist Marc­ Andre Hamelin he has found an advocate who can handle every technical and spiritual challenge the music presents, inspiri!lg a reconsideration of this strange and compelling eccentric, who lived from 1813 to 1888, as one of the great late-romantic · composers. Alkan's ambition, to depict the human condition in music, was s~rious, and his ideas bizarre. But his music is witty, sardonic and even humorous, full of wonderful surprises. Yet, in spite of occasional advocates, it remains obscure. This stunning disc should go a long way to finding him a permanent place in the repertoire, as well as re-affirming Hamelin's reputation as one of the greatest virtuosi of our day. This is not Hamelin's first recording of i'\.lkan, but it best provides the full range of the composer's remarkably varied output. It features one large work, the Symphony for Piano, and a number of smaller works: The exuberant celebration of Alleluia reveals 'Hamelin's exquisite balance and phrasing. Salut, Cendre du Pauvre is tender, simple -and, for those wanting to try playing him, relatively manageable (the score is included in a selection of his works, prepared by Hamelin for Dover). Le Vent demands rapid chromatic scale passages of breathtaking speed and smoothness, with Hl!Jllelin always expressing the poignant voice behind 1 the dazzling virtuosic display. The recording is exemplary - the piano sound is full, rich but clear, with no surfeit of reverberation. Marc-Andre Hamelin is performing at the St. Lawrence Centre on Oct. 9, when he will include one of his own compositions in the program. Pamela Margles NEW RELEASES Compassion Edna Michell, violin, various ensembles and soloists Angel 7243 5 57179 2 4 (Full Price) · Yehudi Menuhin. She first studied with him in Israel at . the age of 12 and remained a close associate of his until his death in 1999. Five years ago . Lord Menuhin expressed to her his deep concern over events in SarajevO' and his fears that they were a harbinger of a global crisis. Michell proposed .that one possible antidote to the chaos uf our times might be ' achieved by commissioning a repertoire of contemporary works that might, in Menuhin's words, "bind and heal." It was their mutual intention that these compositions would involve a variety of instrumental ensembles and compositional approaches, with the violin assuming a central role. If the resulting recording, Compassion, falls short of accomplishing this noble aspiration, it is nevertheless a fascinating document, offering a generous so minutes worth of offerings from 15 very different composers. Certain artists in this collection, like Tavener, and to a lesser extent, Reich and Gla&s, write in ·a style so generally accessible that arty· emotion might well be ascribed to their work. Others - Rihm, X~riakis, Husa and Kurtag - provide terse, dissonant etudes in their usual idiosyncratic manner. There are• surprises, too, such as the unexpectedly heartfelt romapticism of the trio, Adagio, adagio by Henie and the programmatic collage of Betty Olivero's Ach6t Ketana. Several of the selections involve the hauntingly ethereai voice of soprano Patricia Rozario. The expert Czech ensembles are sensitively conducted by the veteran composer conductor Lukas Foss. 44 wholenote OaoB E~ 1, 2001 - N o v EMBER 7, 2001 Daniel Foley English Piano Concerti Jane Coop, piano · ' CBC Radio Orchestra, Mario Bemardi, conductor CBC Records SMCD5208 (Full Price) Here is a welcome disc - four works for piano and orche~>tra. written in Britain during the 1930's, and performed with style by Canadian pianist Jane Coop and the CBC Radio Orchestra. Benjamin Britteri's CQncerto for Piano and Orchestra, the best-known work on the disc, was recorded by the great Sviatoslav Richter, with Britten conducting. Coop holds her own and achieves just the right tone in the dynamic first movement Toccata and the poignant yet ironic second movement Waltz. The third movement Impromptu, a later emendation by Britten, opens with a gorgeous piano solo, and the final movement March displays the young composer's powers of shape and pulse. Coop's magnificent technique never overpowers the poetry of Alan Rawsthorne's Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, where melancholy wit is cloaked in brilliant piano writing and rich orchestrations. His individual voice and harmonic language make this well worth repeated hearings, making this, for me, the highlight of this disc. Legend for Piano and Orchestra by 'John Ireland, who was Britten's teacher, p~ovides a delicate and dreamy interlude. But the sentimental melodic lines and banal orchestration of Gerald Finzi's Eclogue for Piano and Strings, written as the second movement of an unfinished piano concerto, make an insipid contribution -c the least effective work on the disc. . Coop is totally convincing throughout, with an ear for beautiful phrasing and delicate texture amidst the vigorous bravura displays. Conductor Mario Bernardi provides a responsive partner, and encourages fine · input from the showcased soloist. Pamela Margles Suites Concertantes Arion:, Barthold Kuijken, director · ATMA ACD2 2257 (Full Price) Arion, one of Canada's bestknown Baroque ensembles, was founded as a quartet in 1981. In recent years they have expanded to become a Baroque ·orchestra, presenting 'a successful series in Montreal and inviting some of the Baroque world's "glitterati" to join them as guests. This disc is an aural memento of their collaboration with Barthold Kuijken which, judging by this recording, was a brilliant success. The disc features S\lites by Telemann, J.S. Bach, the lesser known Johann Bemhard Bach and Handel, exploring their treatment of this French form in · performances full of musical vigour and enthusiasm. Arian and Kuijken seem to have found a sort of 'Tao' of baroque music, managing to balance delicacy and tenderness of expression on the one hand with enthusiastic rhythmic vitality on ilie other.

Telemann'~ Suite in a minor for two recorders, two oboes, strings and continuo receives an elegant performance full of grace and rhythmic confidence. Johann Bernhard Bach's Suite in g minor for strings and concertante violin provides a provocative mix of ltalianate and French style. In J.S. Bach's Second Orchestral Suite it's a pleasure to hear a Baroque flute sound just as it should, taking centre stage in the_ solo s,ections but equally happy as an orchestral colour in the tutti sections. Handel's Rodrigo suite makes for a spirited closer to this well-designed program. From a technical standpoint, the sound is expertly recorded, warm and well balanced. I congratulate ATMA for not capitulating to the single-composer-CD ideal which has prevailed over the past decade and look forward to more such recordings of Arion and their guests. Puerta de Veluntad ALIA MVSICA Iberica HMI 987026 (Full Price) Alison Melville Alia Mvsica, formed in 1985, performs music from the Middle Ages while giving a special emphasis to th.e interpretation of the Spanish- Jewish reper- 1 toire. On this recording, they perform chants from Rosh Hashana and Y om K;ippur, with texts that originate from the poetic writings of two of the greatest Hispano-Jewish poets of the Mid~le Ages, Yehuda Halevi and Saloni6n aben Gabirol, as well as verses of · the Cantar de Ios Cantares (Stmg of Songs) ; JofKing Solomon. 1 ~ ·4 ~ i ~., i t JIJ J)j;,aMe!fla' eb~oneja •. a solo cantor . alternates with a two-part disciplined male 1 ' clioi~ singing a stately refrain in organum ' style. As this music originates before the , development of polyphony, the performances here never expand beyond two parts. Four unaccompanied selections, including a plaintive excerpt from the Song of Songs, feature the expressive solo voice of Carolina del Solar. Miguel Sanchez offers his husky folky voice to several extended unaccompanied solos. · In contrast, in Eleja Ado nay, a ."free" unmeasured improvised introduction is followed by a rhy.thmic instrumental section with the plucked strings of an ud, kemanya, kanun, andderbuka (drum), alternating with vocal solos. Az yasir Mose is a fascinating rhythmic chant, mostly note, and my favourite, regrettably the shortest on this remarkable recording, is Yesav haEI, in which a florid introduction by alternating cantors is followed by a brief chorus. A beautiful meditative program of early Hispano-Jewish sacred music. · Frank Nakashima . 0 Morning Breeze, Traditional Songs from Georgia Trio Kavkasia Na~os World 76014-2 (Budget Price) Music from Beyond the Black Sea Darbazi & Friends Independent (Full Price) These two beautifully sung CDs of Georgian vocal music provide a broad sample of the rich, diverse, and exhilarating repertoire of traditional songs from this relatively littleknown country. Situated on the Black Sea between Russia and Turkey, Georgia is quite unique - its languages are unrelated to any others, it is one of the world's oldest Christian countries, and the ancient tradition of partsinging contrasts markedly with the many monophonic music cultUres in that region. Its harmonic system is based on tuning by fifths (rather than octaves) and includes many "dissonant" intervals such as seconds, fourths and ninths. So, although some of the songs are' more than a thousand years old, they have quite an avant-garde feel about them. · On the CD 0 Morning Breeze, the trio, Kavkasia, presepts twenty-five songs recorded in a Benedictine Monastery in New York City in 1999. The three singers - Alan Gasser and Car! Linch, tenors, and Stuart Gelzer, bass-­ perform a variety of songs (chunir) . · Darbazi and Friends includes three sets of · musicians who perform in Vl!rious combi- nations- Darbazi, a Toronto-based group with some twenty members; Hereti, a sextet; and Anchiskhati a trio. The latter two both come from Georgia, though five members of Hereti have lived in Toronto as refugees since 1999. Traditionally, Georgian repertoire and performances are gender segregated but Darbazi is a mixed ensemble. Although most of the examples on this recording are from the male repertoire of songs related to life cycle and calendrical rituals, harvesting, horse riding, and even wrestling,'there are also two women's songs performed by Darbazi's female members. QJqe . ~usit atqamher 217.Danforth Ave. (416) 406-1641 New and Used Classical and Jazz COs Sheet Music, Reeds, Strings " '"l"" Gifts and Gift ,~:"* \t Certificates J.}-/ \~ . {,.- ~ Trade-ms ·Accepted for different occasions and~!~~~~~~~!!!!~!:=::=:=:=:::=:!:=::~::~ from distinct regions. These include, among others, liturgical music, hearty ritual toasting songs, work songs and poetic love songs. Although many songs are unaccompanied, there is also effective use of three indigenous stringed instrumentstwo long-necked lutes (panduri and chonguri) and a three-stringed viol We buy your classical LP collection (like Beethoven, Mozart, Stockhausen) we travel anywhere for good collection 314 CHURCHILL AVE. NORTH YORK, ONTARIO M2R 1E7 CANADA Fax No: (1) 416-224-2964 Phone No: (1) 416-224.:..1956 MIKROKOSMOS OCTOBER 1, 2001 - NOVEMBER 7, 2001 Wholenote 45

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