5 years ago

Volume 8 Issue 9 - June 2003

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Masterful Czech pianist

Masterful Czech pianist Radoslav K vapil colours the varied moods and characters of Ullmann' s final piano sonatas with detailed articulation and spirited expressiveness. Pamela Margles Future Concert note: On December 6 and 7 the Royal Conservatory of Music is presenting Music Reborn: Celebrating Jewish Composers of the Nazi Era, which will include lectures, concerts by the Artists of the Royal Conservatory and students of the Glenn Gould School, as well .as a screening of the BBC documentary The Music ofTerez{n. · Mahler: .Symphony No.5; Ades: Asyla Berlin Philharmonic; Simon Rattle EMI DVD 72434 9032699 (Recorded live in the Philharmonie, September 7-10, 2002. 125 minutes, stereo or 5: I surround sound. Includes a second disc, a DVD-A of the Mahler.) This programme chosen by Rattle for his opening concerts as Berlin Music Director is quite logical. The · Mahler comes from the very start' of the last century, 190 I , and the Ades from the close, 1997. Think of all that went on between those two works. Asyla, for those who have forgotten their Latin, is the plural of asylum. Is this the asylum of a Bedlam or a sanctuary? Take your pick. I hear the former leading to the latter. The enigmatic work is in five movements tr"nsparently scored for large orchestra with six percussionists who have lots of unconventional objects to strike. Rattle's Mahler is inspired and intense without the overt hand wringing of, say, a Leonard Bernstein. The famous Adagietto is not lingered over, proceeding with fragile delica-· cy for only nine and a half minutes leading, without pause, into the final movement. As for the personnel of the Philharmonic, this is a younger orchestra than the Berlin of recent decades. This is as good as it gets: here is the music, ending with Mahler's last optimistic outburst, the images of the orchestra and their evident enthusiasm and confidence in their new conductor, and a grand sense of occasion. The dynamic sound is exemplary. If Karajan had left the production of his videos entirely to others they might be this good. This is thrilling music making, beautifully documented. It presages well for all conc~rned. I will be watching this DVD a lot. Bruce Surtees Pierre Boulez - notations; figures-doubles-prismes; rituel Orchestre National de Lyon; David Robertson Montaigne Naive MO 782163 Pascal Dusapin - Concertos Sonia Wieder-Atherton; Juliette Hurel; Alain Trudel Orchestre National de Montpellier; Pascal Rophe Montaigne Naive MO 782153 On this recent recording, conductor David Robertson demonstrates why I hoped he would have received more serious consideration' for a North American conducting post .. . i.e. the TSO. From his extended tenure as leader of one of the world's best new music chamber orchestras (the Ensemble InterCohtemporain), and conducting traditional symphony orchestras worldwide, his knowledge is broad and current. As a former dancer, his skill and energy on the podium is clearly evident, as is some of the influence of this CD's featured composer, Pierre Boulez. With neaf-impeccable intonation, Robertson leads the Orchestre National de Lyon through Boulez's Rituel in memoriamMadema (1974-75), five selections from Notations ( 1945, revised and orchestrated 1980-98), and Figures-Doubles-Prismes ( 1963- 68). Rituel, for orchestra in 8 groups is actually' individualized chamber music, 25 minutes of relentless, serialized unpulsed percussion ostinati hyphenating a smoothly orchestrated, seemingly isorhythmic melody. Reminiscent ofBerio's surface lines, they shift between flourish, sustain, flourish, sustain, and filigree. The more diverse Notations (the orchestrarproliferation of an earlier piano piece) maintains the linear gestural foundation, with less restraint. Like Rituel, Figures ... works with spatial distrihution of orchestral instruments, displacing them into subgroups underscoring structural principles of the work. Between themelodic motifs and infrequent timepoint rhythms, Figures is in part the synthesis of the preceding two works. While the Boulez CD confirms his clear aesthetic perspective and serves to further document his work, Pascal Dusapin's CD of 3 concerti (one each for trombone, flute, and cello) partially thwarts some compositional concerns gathered from listening to his previous compositions. He's extremely prolific, oft-performed, and obviously skilled, yet his music has seemed hurriedly written, or - more generously - automatic. At the same time, it's often orchestrationally overcoiffed, with attention to surface detail perhaps better spent on structural considerations. It's colourful, clearly and confidently pitch-oriented, yet frequently subject to peculiar, oddly or awkwardly placed musical gestures. Whiie these qualities may be the residual style effects from his teacher-consultants Xenakis and Donatoni, others have become elements ofhis gradually distinguishing personal voice. Watt (1994), for trombone and orchestra, is wonderfully performed by Canadian virtuoso Alain Trudel, and strikes me as Dusapin's best piece to date. Inspired by the Beckett novel of the same name, Watt is colourful and fluid, yet unpredictable, containing subsections of significant beauty, particularly the.duet with piccolo. The other two works (Galim and Celo) also succeed, almost well enough to make one forget the inflated grandeur of the liner notes. Paul Steenhuisen WORTH REPEATING: Jim Hall Live! Jim Hall, Don Thompson,. Terry Clarke Verve 440 065 428-2 My college class recently held its 40th i anniversary reunion, and .an amazingly large number of those fine people turned up, well and nealthy, and looking pretty much the way I remembered them. A grand time was had by all. Well, Jim Hall Live! turned up almost 28 years after we last saw it, and I've been having a grand time with it, too. That I was in the audience when it was recorded probably

adds to the enthusiasm I feel for this great music, spun by the influential Jim Hall on guitar, Don Thompson on bass and drummer Terry Clarke. They knew something speciai was happening during the engagement at Toronto's "Bourbon Street" jazz club, so Thompson brought in his four-track recorder to document the music. John Snyder, an American producer who heard the tapes, had them released on A&M's Horizon jazz label. Given the quality of the music, and how well it was received at the time, I find it astonishing that it has only just now made it onto CD. Working with standard material like Angel Eyes, The Way You Look Tonight and 'Round Midnight, the trio tap-dances on a tightrope, creating jazz of the highest lev~l: a three-way conversation between masters that never leaves the listener behind. I know Don Thompson has at least three hours more of unissued performances, maybe even better than what's here. Perhaps another call should be made to John Snyder .. . . Ted O'Reilly Tintner Memorial Edition Volume 1 Symphonies No. 31, 35 & 40 Symphony Nova Scotia; Georg Tintner Naxos 8.557233 For over a year now, rumours have been rife of Naxos' impending reissue of the back catalogue of the late Georg Tintner's recorded legacy. And here is Volume I, packed with 78 minutes ofW. A. Mozart's symphonic output. The three symphonies, familiar staples of the repertoire all, were much favoured by the Halifax audience. Symphony Nova Scotia rose from the ashes of the much larger regional orchestra which preceded it. One statement issued in those formative days concerned the low number of employed musicians, fewer than forty players. Those statements pointed to the small orchestra becoming a specialized eighteenth-century ensemble. This CD bears out the wisdom of those decisions, with an intimate quality of sound and wonderfully disciplined musicianship. However, this is nearly a sixty-piece orchestra as represented here. All players are listed in the well-designed liner notes. In keeping with historical correctness, the three works are in chronological order. Unfortunately the "Paris" symphony ends in the same key as the opening of the "Haffner" symphony that follows it. It might have been interesting to find the G minor No. 40 placed between the two earlier works. The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium adds subtle warmth to Mark Warren and Wayne Stay's live recording. The wonderfully silent audience reveals itself only to applaud Tintner and the orchestra. An excellent CD. John S. Gray INDIE LIST: Blue & Green Peter Smith Quartet (Independent) PMS 10103 In the '20s and '30s,jazz was a functional music played for dancers, and in the '40s the BeBoppers cranked up the excitement level with occasional Afro-Cuban influences, and turned it more into something for listeners. Coltrane and Ornette then took it to the far edges of the spectrum. By the mid-'60s the gentling of jazz by Bossa Nova musicians from Brazil brought melody back, but there was a softening of the seriousness jazz had fought for, and too often the real message was hidden. The new function? Background music for hip restaurants. That's not to suggest that bossa/latinjazz should be talked over, it's just that itis, too often. Peter Smith's Quartet deserves to be listened to, but Blue & Green may well turn up bistros around the world, given its pleasantness. But there's real jazz playing hidden in things like Monk's Bye-Ya, Sonny Rollins' Oleo (refurbished as Oleo), and the title selection. The leader is heard on flute, and soprano and tenor saxes, with Kevin Laliberte on acoustic guitar. The bassist is Drew Birston, and Marcus Chonsky is the percussionist, mostly playing things-you-hit-witha-hand. And therein lies a bit of a drawback: I feel a drum set would add a 11).0re aggressive jazz feel, the kind of thing that would take this beyond the restaurant. . Ted O'Reilly Balade imaginaire Guy Donis Trio Banyan BYN-2-002 (SRI) Was it the appeal of raspberry beer, chocolate or lace that beckoned N.A.T.O. and the European Union to choose Belgium as their home base? Then, who would want to leave a country whose capital is graced with motorcycle cops wearing black leather to venture to a land of inclement weather? Guy Donis, with a banjo on his knee, came to the true north strong and free, where, like his home country, two official languages there be. Balade imaginaire is a calling card not only for Mr. Donis' accomplished playing which easily compares to Bela Fleck's, but also a showcase for the remarkable Martin Roy (whose double bass can be as sensual as Gary Peacock's) and Francis Cavan on accordion, violinandmandolin. Cavan and Roy delight on a terse track called Twin Mandolins, in which they almost take flight. The "morning after" is recounted musically on an accordion with brain-reeling realismrelieved a few tracks later by an acoustic rendition of drinking coffee (supplying a much needed grip), to ready us for Latine, Mr. Cavan's composition, so continental in feel that one is shocked by what comes next: Le reel de deux lisa, Donis' homage to the traditional music of Quebec. The impact of the trio is somewhat obscured by the album's self-proclaimed aimlessness. Its impressions and moods, though pleasant, remind me of a tasty truffle that could nonetheless stand a stiff shot of whiskey at its centre. Deborah Rosen It's About Time ... Heather Bambrick Independent HBCD-001 There's something very honest and straightforward about Heather Bambrick' s debut CD, It's About Time, CONTINUES NEXT PAGE MIKROKOSMOS 314 Churchill Ave Toronto, Ontario M2R IE7 Canada Tel: (I) 416-224-1956 Fax: (I) 416-224-2964 We buy your classical LP collection (classical, such as Beethoven, Mozart, Stockhausen) we travel anywhere for good collection 55

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