8 years ago

Volume 9 Issue 1 - September 2003

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • September
  • Festival
  • Sept
  • October
  • Theatre
  • Musical
  • Arts
  • Instruments

D/SCoveries features a

D/SCoveries features a mixture of new and recent recordings provided by the record producers and·distributors along with inte- · resting gems unearthed by our eclectic team of reviewers. Examples of this latter category include Bruce Surtees' contribution of "American Orchestral Compositions ( 1890-1916)" from the American Musical Heritage Society, Jim Galloway's ''Ralph Sutton and Ruby Braff in Concert" on an obscure Australian label distributed by the local jazz stalwarts at Sackville Records, and Merlin Williams' · "Smiles and Chuckles" with the Royal City Saxophdne Quartet. As always, tiny independents are featured alongside industry giants, with particular attention paid to Canadian labels. We endeavour to tie in reviews with upcoming performances (as in the "Shiraz" and "Gems with an Edge" review), but sometimes release dates.and availability do not coincide with our production schedules. This month we spotlight several missed opportunities, with. reviews of the fabulous B.ang on a Can All-Stars, a group featured at the Open Ears festival in Kitchener last May, Alain Trudel' s outstanding le Kiosque a Musique which played at the Town Band festival ·in Orono this summer and the Schubert Octet pe.rformed by the core musicians of the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. I, would also draw your attention to Pauline Vaillancourt's operatic interpretation of the life of artist Frida Kahlo, Yo soy la Desintegracion, and Judy Loman's exploration of recent Canadian harp compositions Illuminations, each of which seems to have deeply affected our reviewers. Of course I think y0u'll find that all 26 of the recordings covered this month have something special to offer. We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. Catalogues, review copies of CDs and comments should be sent to: The Whole­ Note, 503 - 720 Bathurst St. Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also welcome your input via our website, David Olds Editor, DISCoveries EARLY MUSIC on the concert stage and in the recording studio for the last 20 years. Editor's Note: Larry Beckwith 's His versatile voice is at its best in newly formed ·Toronto Masque Henry Purcell: 0 Solitude nearly two-dozen recordings with his Theatre will perform Purcell's The Gerard Lesne; II Seminario ensemble II Seminario Musicale. His Fairy Queen on November 27 and Musicale new recording of Purcell songs is a 28 at the Jane Mallett Theatre. Naive E8882 welcome addition to the still relatively small catalogue of r,ecordings of this repertoire. i;tie program concentrates on the longer Purcell songs, with Ladders to Heaven several sections: poetic scenes that Colin Tilney, Harpsichord Baroque Sirena Recorder Quartet cry out for energy, dramatic tensfon Dorian Recordings DOR-93253 Dan Laurin and shadings that Lesne doesn't The name Gerard Lesne may be unfamiliar to Toronto music-lovers, as Colin Tilney made his dazzling debut I first learned of Sirena from their Some 16 years have passed since BIS CD-1234 · always deliver. In the 1695 version of "If music be the food of love", he rarely makes concert appearances on the Dorian label in this repertoire first CD, "Sitting Ducks", a brave for instance, the words and musi~ in North Ameri~a, but the celebrated (Scarlatti Sonatas, DOR-90103). and wonderful disc of new music take us through a whirlwind of French counter-tenor has been active This new release, recorded in 2000 . by Nordic compo~ers. For this emotion and moods, yet there is a 52 Se ptember 1 - October 7 2003 Henry Purcell: Songs and Airs Nancy Argenta Virgin Veritas 2CD 7243 5 61866 2 0 certain sameness to Lesne's performance that takes away from the song. This isn't always the case, however. Highlights of the disc; ·include a heart stopping rendering of the rarely heard '.'If pray'rs and tears" (Purcell's gripping lament on the death of Charles II), a rowdy "Bachus is a pow'r divine" and a charming and .bittersweet "Ask me to love no more". Lesne is ably supported by his instrumental colleagues, most especially the remarkable Bruno Cocset, whose delightful basse de violon playing is free and fanCiful, taking risks at every turn. EMI has recently re-released two brilliant CDs of Purcell songs that the Canadian-born soprano Nancy Argenta recorded in the early 1990s. The first, also entitled "O Solitude", is a sumptuous collection of the great English composer's brilliant setting , of the English language. Here, the extended songs are treated almost operatically, with Argenta's wide palette of vocal colours and dynamic range infusing the songs with life and passion. The simpler theatre songs like "Hark, the echoing air ... " and "Fairest Isle" are offered with joy and grace. And the title song "O Solitude" is offered twice, once sensitively accompanied by Nigel North's lute, and later wondrously accompanied in the lyra style by gambist Richard Boothby. The second disc, "Halcyon Days", features a larger instrumental group, including trumpet, oboe and strings and largely concentrates on the theatre music gems. Included is "Dido's Lament''., "Nymphs and Shepherds", "Music for a while" and several excerpts from "The Fairy Queen". Still, Argenta includes heavier fare, such as the exquisite hymn "Lord, what Is man?", one of Purcell's most profound songs. It's wonderful to have these important CDs available again. They should be in everyone's collection! Larry Beckwith though only now seeing the light of day, is a very welcome addition of 16 late keyboard sonatas selected from the hoard of 555 such examples composed by DomeniCo Scarlatti (1685-1757). The title of the album, Ladders to Heaven, is evidently intended as a metaphor for the many passages in Scarlatti's sonatas that rise triumphantly through the registers of the instrument. Indeed, Scarlatti's profoundly idiomatic understanding of the instrument celebrates the primacy of melody-rising,· falling, tumbling in impetuous straight lines . or floating in graceful arches - memorably summarized by Scarlatti himself as "an ingenious Jesting with Art". Whether the intent is purely musical (as in the four opening C major sonatas) or implicitly prbgranimatic (the military ech0es in the Sonata K454 or the theatrical modulations of K518), Tilney adroitly brings these dazzling little masterpieces vividly to life. John Phillips, the esteemed builder of the wonderfully responsive 1993 Florentine harpsichord heard here, also provides the liner notes, tuning and production for this delightful al bum. The recorded sound is admirably lucid, though one may find that the incisive pecking of even the finest harpsichord is best appreciated in small doses. Daniel Foley

second recording they have chosen a program of Baroque "consort" music, with and without basso continua. The program consists of music by three of the Baroque's rnost prolific composers: J.B de Boismortier, G.P. Telemann and J.C. Schickhardt, whose name all recorder players will recognize although he's much less familiar to the rest of the world. Three of Schickhardt's concertos for four alto recorders and b.c. are featured here and they aFe givenspirited performances, with the beautifol sounds possible from recorders made by the late great Fred Morgan. Telemann is re pre· sented with transcriptions of two of his 4-violin concertos; this is not Telemann's best music but Sirena . brings much invention to it. The group's mentor Dan Laurin joins them for two 5-part concertos by Boismortier, originally for traversi Sirena's playing is excellent from the standpoint of technique, tuning and ensemble sense, and they exude a sheer love of the music for its own sake. Nevertheless, I sometimes found myself wishing that they had more colours in their musical paint box: Alison Melville CLASSICAL and CHORAL but pfayed here on five voice flutes. Franz Schubert: Octet, D 803 - The best music on the program is Trio, D 471 found jn two of Boismortier's Chamber Players of Canada Sonatas for four parts, op.34, and CBC MVCD 1159 there is greater flexibility in the playing here, specifically in terms of The Ottawa cellist Julian Armour - articulation and ornamentation. ·of the mover and ~haker behind the particular note is the beautiful successful Ottawa Chamber Music "adagio" of thee minor sonata. festival - is responsible for the coming together of some of Canada's finest instrumen~alists for this recording. Commissioned in an aristocratic amateur clarinettist, and patterned after Beethoven's Septet, Op.20, the Octet of Schubert is a hugely imaginative work that expertly combines strings, clarinet, horn and bassoon. It moves seamlessly between Classical symphonic formality and a strongly Romantic sense of sehnsucht. Every instrument gets moments in the sun, to shine and emote, and · the opportunities are taken with authority and humanity by the wonderful players on this disc. Violinists Andrew Dawes and Jonathan Crow combine their respective experience · and yo(Jthful vigour, trading off passages as if they'd been playing together for years. Armour, bassoonist Chistopher Millard and clarinetist Kimball Sykes add assured, stylish playing and I must mention the violist (Guylaine Lemaire) and bassist (Murielle Bruneau), for though their parts are less soloistic, they handle them exceptionally well. The rave review however is reserved for the playing of James Somerville. Though only mid-alreer, this phenomenal French horn player · - surely one of Canada's finest musicians - has held principal positions with a number of leading orchestras. His playing here is tremendous, as always. A bonus is Schubert's lovely Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello, which pales somewhat in close proximity to the towering Octet. Still, it is convincingly and elegantly performed. Larry Beckwith . SCHl'IHlRT · Sy111ph11nies Nt)~. 8~tJrit1ttb>htd~ il:rtd 9~T1w Gtt~tt' Tintner Memorial Edition No. 2 Sc,!hubert Symphonies: Nos. 8 'Unfinished' and 9 'The Great' Symphony Nova Scotia; Georg Tintner NAXOS 8.557234 Naxos does it again, with the release of this, the next in the Tintner CONTINUED QN PAGE 54

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