8 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 7 - April 2002

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Dl.\CO\ !·.RIES

Dl.\CO\ !·.RIES Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov (1869 and revised 1874 versions) Kirov Opera; Valery Gergiev Philips 2894622302 Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov (Ri'msky-Korsakov's second orchestration, 1904) Ezio Pinza; Metropolitan Opera; Ettore Panizza Naxos Historical 8.110044 NEWAND RECENT RELEASES Severn Meadows - Songs By Ivor Gurney Paul Agnew, tenor; Julius Drake, piano Hyperion CDA67243 Scottish tenor Paul Agnew's recent appearances in Toronto with the Toronto Consort; Tafelmusik and Les Arts Florissants have been unfor- If Boris Godunov is generally considered the gettable . Currently he is in great demand by greatest Russian opera, a big question remains leading conductors like Gardiner and Christie as to wj1ich of the multiple versions of Boris is for baroque music. But his most recent the greatest in question: the original 1869 version ' recordings include an irresistible set of rejected by the Imperial Theatre because it was Beethoven's folk-song arrangements, as well as too radical; the 1874 revision that added the love this collection of early twentieth century art interest and dances expected by Russian songs by one of Britain's most tragic composers, audiences; or one of the two Rimsky-Korsakov Ivor Gurney . re-orchestrations that "corrected" Mussorg- Gurney wrote over .three hundred songs before sky's path-breaking unorthodoxies? he was silenced by mental illness brought on by The Rimsky-Korsakov re-orchestration the effects of the shell shock and poison gas he ("gross distortion" is more appropriate) was received fighting in World War I. The first album dominant during the first half of the twentieth devoted entirely to his vocal works, this is an century, largely because it was performed by. important collection of exquisite songs . Chaliapin as he became the ultimate Boj:is . Tears inevitably invokes English renaissance During the second halfofthe century there was composer John Dowland's setting of the same a return to one ofi:he two original versions, with text. The way Agnew shapes long notes and a glaring exception: the Bolshoi Opera, which extended phrases on one syllable, adjusting his adhered to the now traditional Rimsky- tempos jn response to the text, reflects ~is Korsakov. Go figure. experience in early music. Agnew's ardour is Philips and Naxos present performances at so persuasive that Gurney's most .poignant opposite poles of the Boris Godunov spectrum. moments are shattering, such as the final line of The former is the mother of all recordings that By a Bierside, '~It is most grand to die," or the . return to the original Mussorgsky scores. Both plea to "Let me know some little joy" in Sleep . the 1869 and 1874 versions are presented in a 5- In contrast, I Will Go With My Father A­ . CD set which is generously sold for the price of Ploughing is a joyful ballad whose folk spirit 3 discs. Listeners can program the CDs to Agnew pulls off with charact~r. Julius Drake is combine elements of the two versions, parallel

Robinov:itch's mastery and admiration of folk music, jazz and popular music are evident throughout. Perhaps the most delightful instance is the counter pJay betwee!J Tango and Klezmer elements in the fourth movement of the title piece. Philip Ehrensaft Editor's Note: Robinovitch 's Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra is nominated for a JUNO Award in the . category Best Classical Composition. The award ceremony will be broadcast on CTV on April 14 at 8:00. DISCOVERIES Vivaldi Bassoon Concertos Michael McCraw; Seattle Baroque Ingrid Matthews, Music Director; Byron Schenkman, Artistic Director Centaur CRC 2538 We've all heard the old saw that Vivaldi didn't compose 600 concertos, he only composed one 600 times. The recent disc Bassoon Concertos from Seattle Baroque Orchestra and bassoonist Michael McCraw goes a long way in proving that his 70 works for bassoon are not mere cookie cutter compositions. , Seattle Baroque is a youthful orchestra that is not afraid of making bold interpretive choices. Dynamic markings and phrasing inspire sudden, dramatic effects: a "piano", for example, is not merely quiet but eerie. Such attentions highlight the variety within and among the concertos recorded here. In almost every instance, the players' risks pay off. Their accompaniments are sympathetic yet assertive, jockeying for equal status . with McCraw's bassoon in the back-and-forth of Vivaldi's concertos. The final ciaccona of their brief solo moment, the disc-opener Concerto in C Major RV114, feels mannered at times, but their choices surprise and delight with each bass repetition. McCraw, the former Tafelmusik bassoonist, attacks his concertos with the bravura of an Italian diva. In his hands, the bassoon is never a retiring instrument. It percolates, sings, meditates, and teases. McCraw's line. is malleable and beautifully shaped, sculpted with expert, often playful articulation. ' Several soloists share the spotlight with McCraw, including another former Tafelmusik member, oboist Washington McClain .. The interspersal of these other contributions among McCraw's three solo offerings (concertos in A miiior, the haunting D Minor, and F Major) creates a well-balanced, delightful disc. Brian McMillan Apri I 1 -- M ay 7 2002 49

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