8 years ago

Volume 8 Issue 6 - March 2003

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compactness, lowered

compactness, lowered budgets and the rest. Greg Runions' large group bursts forth frorn the opening track The New Cure, with immediate energy and tight discipline. Clearly much hard work has gone into the preparation of this. The New Cure is one of four pieces that make up the Sweet Home_ Suite. Runions, a Kingston Ontario-based composer, shows good-humoured quirkiness in his writing style throughout the CD, and this is sure to bring a smile. Several modal shifts through a number of apparent key signatures are some of the highlights of Oh Brother! which also has expressive solos from no fewer than five of.the players. Pianist Brian' DiCkinson's solo here is especially noteworthy. Two tunes round out the disc: Waltz for Lauren with masterful arrangements and even a solo on the vibraphone from composer Runions himself. The final track 4PM begins with a sonorous chorale~Iike episode, first for the brass instruments and then the reeds alone. The all-too brief notes hint at the glorious past of this eastern bntario ~ big band, with nods of thanks to former guest artists, Kenny Wheeler, Mike Murley and Don Thompson among, those mentioned. The cover photo, the only one provided in the CD, shows only the horn section and not the pianist, nor even the composer himself. John S. Gray A Beckett Miscellany Arcady; Ronald Beckett Phoenix Records PHX45372 Ronald Beckett is a well-know_n composer, keyboard player and impresario from Southwestern Ontario. He_ is the founder and director of the Arcady ensemble, .a c0llection of young instrumentalists and singers who perform early music - including an extensive tour of Handel's Messiah each year - and the compositions of Ronald Beckett himself. This CD features a sampling of nearly 25 years of Beckett's instrumental music and demonstrates his solid craftsmanship and pleasant nature as a composer. The recorded compositions ,fall into three main categories: works for solo keyboard, chamber music for wind instruments and instrumental interludes from Beckett's operas. · Of the works for keyboard, the Octatonic Suite, written in 2002,, is a stiiking st;:t of short, imitative dances with interesting counterpoint and a great deal of ingenuity, at times dining out on a cheeky, jazz-inspiied style. The pieces for winds all date from the ·late 1970s and early '80s and have a wide range of flavours, from Stravinskian neo-Classicism (Woodwind Quintet) to a spare, modal, Renaissance sound (Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Hom). I especil l­ ly enjoyed the challenging. angular harmonies of the Toccara for Oboe and Piano with its insistent, irregular rhythms. . . The excerpts from Beckett's recent trilogy of operas seem a little more utilitarian and lack some of the vigour of the other pieces, but all the performances are of a high standard and Mr. Beckett should be .commended for his creativity and obvious mastery at bringing people together to make music: a positive force. Larry Beckwirh Concert Note: Ronald Beckett's Arcady ( ensemble performs at Erskine Presbyterian Church in Hamilton March I, Central Presbyterian in Brantford March 8, and Knox Presbyterian in Milton on May 4. [See Further Afield listings for"more details.] 68 \

DISCS OF THE MONTH ":";:tdm:.1:;:i\ 5Jt"CQUl' Ordw ~ tro !·: ,;.•r.e U r;~on Bach: Orchestral Suites Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Analekta FL 2 3134 Though Bach composed but a smattering of orchestral works, those that have come down to us rank among the greatest works of musical history. Thus it is a bit of a mystery to me why a Tafelmusik recording of these works had not appeared quite some time ago. Be that as it may, all but the second of Bach's Four Orchestral Suites are now available in glorious performances by this distinguished ensemble. Surely the most familiar item of these Suites is the celebrated "Air", habitually rendered in a ponderous manner "on the G string", from the Third Suite. Tafelmusik is having none of that, thank you. Their approach is one clarity and grace, executed with elegance and performed in a manner consistent with the practices of Bach's own time. There is a compelling ardour to these sprightly performances, particularly so in the thrilling renditions of the joyous passages for trumpets, timpani and oboes that enervate the Third and Fourth Suites. The acoustics achieved at Toronto's Grace Church on the Hill are excellent, with an admirable balance of voices. This Canteloube - Chants d' Auvergne Karina Gauvin; Canadian Chamber Ensemble; Raffi Armenian CBC Records SMCD 5224 Joseph Canteloube' s Chants d 'Auvergne contain some of the most marvelous. and elaborate orchestral settings of folk songs. Home to his father, the mountainous Auvergne region, with its fiercely proud people, was dear to Canteloube's heart. The songs are a collection of pastoral vignettes, many of which follow the amorous adventures of shepherdesses with orchestrations that affect much humour or the longings of an endless, lonely night: The most soothing lullabies, robust dances, work songs, and texts that offer sage advice for country folk . Truly a collection that inspires us to "appreciate, understand and love nature, the earth and rural life", as Canteloube demanded as a prerequisite to fully understand the folksong . Karina Gauvin characterizes these texts deftly with a great deal of wit, eloquence and humour. This is her third recording on CBC records, and it is truly a world-class performance. The Canadian Chamber Ensemble, 16 principal musicians of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony directed by Raffi Armenian, provide an amazing array of luxuriant colour. Oboist James Mason is given lots of opportunity to shine in these scorings, particularly in the three is a recording to treasure. bourrees and the Bailero, haunting Daniel Foley in its beauty. Concert Notes: Bruno Weil conducts Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir in Haydn's The Seasons on March 7 and 8 at Massey Hall. The orchestra is joined by fortepianist Malcolm Bilson for an all-Mozart program March 20-23 at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre and March 25 at the George Weston Recital Hall. For those ofus who've had enough of a cold and colourless winter, this recording is a breath of spring, promising the vivid scenery, scents and colours of a mountain summer. Even the gorgeous outfit Ms. Gauvin has chosen for her cover photograph is enough to chase the blues away. Dianne Wells March 1 - April 7 2003

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