5 years ago

Volume 8 Issue 7 - April 2003

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  • April
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on April 9 with violin soloist James Ehnes. NEW RELEASES Beethoven: Piano Trios Op.1 Gryphon Trio Analekta FL 2 3170 Last month the Gryphon Trio celebrated its tenth anniversary with a Music Toronto performance that included the North American premiere of a reeently discovered trio by the Romanian composer George Enescu. That the Gryphons were chosen for this honour by the eminent Belgian musicologist Harry Halbreich is an indication of just how accomplished these young local musicians have become. The tenth anniversary concert lliso provided an occasion to launch the group's fourth CD for the Analekta label featuring two trios from Beethoven's Op. I. Recorded last September in the warm acoustic of Domaine Forget in Saint-Irenee Quebec, these lively performances testify to the group's ensemble skills. The repertoire gives plenty of room to explore dynamic range and dramatic contrast, in parti

now and then, entertaining - always. Scarlatti was a remarkable composer for the keyboard. You would think that after the first 2 or 3 hundred sonatas, there would be a limit to what a composer could do that was not a re-hash. It's like dim-sum for the harpsichprd. An incredible variety and even wlien you've tried them all , there are other cooks who can make it the same, but different. Luc Beausejour is a great cook, well, interpreter, when it comes to Scarlatti. He even has a kind of tongue-in-cheek grin with the Sonatas that are "serious". The raucous ones bounce along without a care in the world. What happy music! The wonderful keyboard technique is transparent. Yup, some bf these are a real workout, but they just fly from his fingers . ·Beausejour gets great sounds out of the Wm. P. Ross harpsichord, after Boffo, 1574. Rather an early design for Scarlatti, but quite successful for these sonatas. You would think that all this excitement would wear one out - nope. I hope that Luc goes on to record many more (maybe all 555!). He's certainly the man for it. Actus Tragicus Theatre of Early Music Daniel Taylor Atma ACD2 2288 Den Ciul This handsome disc features the brilliant Canadian counter-tenor Daniel Taylor's bold experiment called the "Theatre of Early Music". The group has some high ideals, including "bringing back the sacredness" to the "creative" process of making music. The irtstrumentalists hail from Montreal and the singers are soprano Suzie LeBlanc, Taylor, tenor Ian Honeyman and the renowned English bass Stephen Varcoe. With the Bach and Telemann cantatas recorded here an interesting question arises: does one need a conductor/leader to - if not explicitly conduct - at least synthesize and streamline the excellent musical ideas from all involved? I don't have a definite answer; but it's clear.from these recordings that while Taylor is the founder of the Theatre of Early Music, he's encouraging ·au of the musicians to expres's their own ideas and responses to the music. This works most of the time, but with the Actus Tragicus (BWV 106), one gets the sense from the outset that the performances are too self-indulgent. The tempo of the opening Sonatina is really too slow, though I readily admit that the harmonies and sonorities of the gambas and recorders are heartbreakingly beautiful. All of the vocalists sing beautifully, but it's only Varcoe who seems to bring a refreshing forward-motion to his singing. He knows where and when to relax to great effect, but most of the time he keeps things moving and takes the listener's breath away with his remarkable phrasing. I can't get enough of Daniel Taylor's singing - it's an absolute marvel - but I think he needs to take better control of this group. The raw material he has access to is extraordinary and the potential for memorable, profound music making is clearly there. Long live the Theatre of Early Music. The juggernaut that is the Marsalis family of New Orleans seems to dominate the 'official' jazz scene these days. Consider trumpeter Wynton's considerable activities with the Lincoln Center in New York and Ken Burns' Jazz on PBS; saxophonist Branford's performances and productions; and the younger Delfeayo, a trombonist and producer. The youngest is the drummer Jason, thought of by the other family members as probably the best of the lot. The paterfamilias is pianist Ellis Marsalis, until recently teaching at University of New Orleans, and always gigging. It was his retirement from that school that caused the clan to reassemble in the home town in the summer of 200 l for a concert taped for PBS, a DVD and this CD release. The bassist was Roland Guerin, and there are guest appearances by Harry Connick, Jr. and trombonist Lucien Barbarin, heard on the traditional Saint James Infirmary. (Connick also sits in at the piano with Ellis on another frack.) This release offers a nice wide range of easy-to-hear jazz, mostly in a middle-of-the-road contemporary style, with features for each of the players. Ellis himself sparkles on The Surrey With The Fringe On Top Larry Beckwith (featuring some tasty' drum work by Editor's Note: Taylor's earlier disc Jason), '.11:1d, contributes four original of Bach Cantatas with the Theatre of comp~s1t 10~: Early Music has been nominated for ,. Whil~ this I~ no~ the most ~hallen~a JUNO award. See "Discs of the mg Il'.us1c you II listen to this, 1t Month "for full details. certamly bea:s repeated hearmgs, and offers a mce range of styles and groupings, giving the earlier jazz A Jazz Celebration. sounds of Saint James and Struttin' The Marsalis Family With Some Barbecue the on-stage Rounder Records/Marsalis Music respect the music deserves. 1166133022 Ted O'Reilly WORTH REPEATING Beethoven: Symphony No.5; Schubert: Symphony No.8; Wagner: Die Meistersinger: selections; Debussy: Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune Leopold Stokowski; London Philharmonic/London Symphony EMI Classic Archive DVD-V 72434 928439-5 One of the first recordings I owned was the Schubert "Unfinished" with Leopold Stokowski ·and the Philadelphia Orchestra, recorded in April 1927 and a staple in the Victor catalogue for 20 years. No one could have known that 42 years later he would be conducting the same work for a medium not yet invented, television. The London Philharmonic concert was filmed at a public concert in the Fairfield Hall, Croydon on 8 September 1969. It came as no real surprise to hear two dynamic performances and to see baton-less Stokowski carving the music out of the air, often outlining or shaping rather than simply beating time and cuing in instruments. ·His mannerisms were unique and the gestures often quite extravagant but he got exactly what he wanted and we can now see how it was done. The video image is superb and the colour true. The two London Symphony pieces date from a concert of 14 June 1972 in London's Royal Festival Hall. The Wagner is suitably noble and the Debussy, always a Stokowski showpiece, shows that he had not lost his touch. As a "tasty bonus". the DVD 314 Churchill Ave Toronto, Ontario M2R 1 E7 Canada Tel: (1) 416-224-1956 Fax: (1) 416-224-2964 We buy your classical LP collection (classical, such as Beethoven. Mozart. Stockhausen) we travel anywhere for good collection 65

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