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Volume 7 Issue 3 - November 2001

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • November
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • December
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Quartet
  • Wholenote
  • Glenn

I nJC'f1~1amm that

I nJC'f1~1amm that depict different styles from around the LJ /uu IJ Six of the twelve were given explicit titles Iberian Peni~sula. Villanessca implies an ancient • ... song of rustic character. Randalia aragonesa •----•.-... . contmued from page 4 ' uses the dance rhythm of the Jota, one of the most popular dance forms, while another evokes 67 Quartet that · the Zombra, a kind of nocturnal fiesta . Aruialuza, follows is a Valencia and Asturiana indicate the various ar- ~prawling .work eas of Spain where the featured folksong or dance m four mov~- originated. , ments which is De Larrocha's recent RCA recording, considerably which also includes Granados' Valse Poeticos lighter in tone written in 1887, is perceptive with spontaneity thai:1 the earnest of feeling and full of colour. Qumtet. Here You can hear this master musician in reagain Brahms cital at the Toronto Centre for the Arts on Noemphasizes his vember 16. preference for the lower registers of the ensemble, with much of the thematic material of the Veronica Materi final two movements assigned to the viola, gorgeously played here by Honggang Li. The ensemble is very closely recorded. The inhalations of the players are often distractingly audible, and there is little sense of the natural Stephen. ambience of the hall in which it was recorded. Kovacevich is At times the portentous accents and super-glued legato the ensemble favours lend more bombast than drama to Brahms' already weighty score. Nevertheless, this is an accomplished reading a pianist who can make the unassuming sound meaningful, and that will certainly appeal to those who like their Brahms well-bearded. The Shanghai Quartet performs music of Barber, Dvorak and Schubert at the Toronto Centre for the Arts on November 18. Mooredale Concerts will present performances of Brahms' later String Quintet in G Major Op.Ill on November 10 and II. the complex Daniel Foley Granados - Spanish Dances Alicia de Larrocha RCA Victor 09026-68184-2 (Full Price) Alicia de Larrocha, Spain's most comprehensive and important pianist remains tlie authoritative interpreter of Granados' piano works. Close to her heart and Spanish temperament, this music finds a deep love and understanding in her hands. She is blessed with one of the most kinetic rhythmic senses and is naturally attuned to the aromatic elements 9f Spanish song and dance. De Larrocha's playing has an extraordinary power of evocation. One always hears the click of heels, the guitar, the castanets, every inflection filled with poetic meaning. Granados, best known for his piano suite Goyescas, composed Danzas Espanolas between 1892-1900. A collection of twelve pieces, these dances are a kind of Spanish counterpart to Grieg's Lyric Pieces. The highly Romantic imagery and sonorous quality is indebted to the music not only of Grieg, but Chopin, Schumann and Liszt as well. · 46 Wholenote NOVEMBER 1, 2001 - DECEMBER 7, 200"1 Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Op.26, 27 & 49. Stephen Kovacevich, piano EMI 5 57131 2 (Full Price) shimmer with transparency. He is an ideal Beet- · hoven interpreter, and on this disc of five sonatas he reveals his ability to explore the full technical and expressive range of this repertoire. The three major works on this recording, dating from Beethoven's middle period, are among his most daring and gorgeous. Sonata No .12 in A flat is dominated by the magnificent funeral march "on the death of a hero". Kovacevich presses through with gramatic flourish while sustaining the poignancy. Particularly enjoyable is his resourceful handling ofBeethoven's sometimes confounding accent markings - not just with sudden loudness, but also with sudden softness, a slight hesitation, or even an anticipation of the beat, without sounding mannered .. · ·· .Beethoven called the two sonatas of Opus 27 "sonata quasi una fantasia" and the element of fantasy pervades both the fluid structure and t1).e dreamlike mood. Kovacevich shines in dramatic transitions, as in the contrast in No.13 in E flat between the jolting syncopations of the allegro and the operatic melody of the adagio. In Sonata No.14 in C# minor, known as The Moonlight, Kovacevich builds up the intensity ·with relentlessly exciting momentum as eac!i movement gets progressively more agitated. The two sonatas of Opus 49 are slighter works, but Kovacevich turns them into beautifully molded icons of sonata form with his clear voicing, restrained use of pedal and lyrical phrasing. Stephen Kovacevich will give a re'cital of Beethoven and Schubert on Monday, Nov. 5 at the St. Lawrence Centre for Music Toronto. Pamela Marg/es Haydn String Quartets Op. 77 Nos. 1 & 2 Kodaly Quartet Naxos 8.553146 (Budget Price) The string quartets of Franz Joseph Haydn do not, at first glance, look like the most difficult or complex pieces in the chamber literature. Yet because of their ~--~~~----~ apparent simplicity these seminal works demand more, rather than less, from performers. Unfortunately, the Kodaly Quartet failed to come to terms with this fact on their disc of Haydn Quartets Op. 77 Nos. 1 and 2. Throughout most of this recording, the playing is technically impressive, but uninspired in interpretation. From a rather pedestrian opening of the Quartet No. 1, we find generally undifferentiated playing that is, at best, pleasantly perky - especially in the two finales - but which never plumbs the depths of these late Haydn works. Particularly disappointing is the slow movement of the Quartet No. 2, a b!!autifully moving piece in which opportunities for expressivity are passed over by the Kodaly in almost every measure. To the quartet's credit, there is a strong , sense of ensemble in these performances, which are well balanced, transparent and rhythmically unified. Intonation, moreover, is accurate to a fault - every note is skewered dead centre, witfi a bright, vibrato-deprived tone, resonating in the churchy acoustic. Some might find a detached "classicism" in this disc, or perhaps even some kind of "authenticity." If that is the case, I'll take romanticism and inauthenticity any day. The quartet will perform Haydn's Op.77/1 along with music of Beethoven and their namesake, Zoltan Kodaly, on Novemb~r 22 at Music Toronto. Colin Eatock Strong and Free True North Brass Opening Day ODR 9320 (Full Price) Like their ancestors, The Canadian Brass, the True North Brass displays a high degree of virtuosity and superb sense of ensemble. They also share a penchant for shtick and hi-jinks that might charitably be described as infectious. Strong arui Free, the second release from this Toronto-based ensemble; is a sort of sonic train ride through the Canadian cultural landscape, with a few inexplicable detours to the Deep South (True North Blues) and the Far

East (Purple Bamboo Melody) along the way. The typkally monochromatic palette of the brass quintet is enhanced in this recording by additional instruments including the comet, · flugelhom, euphonium, bass drum, harmonica, tin whistle and a chorus of cicadas. A rambling potpourri of folk songs arranged by Howard Cable and Sir Ernest MacMillan's well-known Two Sketches on French Canadian Airs are among the more conventional offerings. There are surprises as well: Joan Watson's jaunty rendition of the 1940s hit, Carioca, is proof positive that the French horn can swing, while trombonist Alastair Kay's effortless .rendition of Arthur Pryor's pyrotechnic Air Varie simply has to be heard to be believed. I was somewhat disappointed that the incisive opening of Jim McGrath's Three Miniatures did not evolve into anything more substantial than the kitschy habanera finale that concludes the work. The production by Anton Kwiatkowski is firsHate throughout. The True North Brass have a number of Toronto area performances this season, including a noon hour concert on November 19 at Roy Thoinson Hall, December 1 in Cobourg with pi- · anist Brian Finley and December 2 with the Amadeus Choir at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Gilles Tremblay:' Les Vepres de la Vierge Marie-Danielle Parent, soprano; Lise Daoust, solo flute; Societe de musique contemporaine du Quebec; Choer de chambre de l'OSM; Walter Boudreau, conductor Analekta FL 2 3102 (Full Price) Les Vepres de la Vierge' is a magnificent liturgical work by one of Canada's finest and most internationally respected composers, Gilles Tremblay. It was commissioned to commemorate the 8,50th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Sylvanes in France, and was premiered there in 1986. In his notes on the work, Tremblay explains how his writing was influenced by the exceptionally responsive wqe ~usit Qtqamher 217 Danforth Ave. (416) 406-1641 Newand Used Classical and Jazz CDs Thinking of recording? Uncover the possibilities at www.TheAudioGroup.ca NovEMBER 1, 2001 - D ECEMBER 7, 2001 wholenote ·47

Volume 26 (2020- )

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