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Volume 9 Issue 7 - April 2004

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VE RIES CD EDITOR'S

VE RIES CD EDITOR'S CORNER April is Opera month for WholeNote and a big month for Toronto opera aficionados as the COC begins its multi-year presentation of Wagner's "Ring Cycle" with Die Walkure, as well as a production of the ever-popular Rigoletto. In this month's DISCoveries Pamela Margles reviews a new disc of arias by Alan Opie who will sing the title role in the COC prod:uction of Verdi's opera and Phil~ensaft compares three classic recordings of "The Ring". Pamela also reviews a . new recording of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and we reprint her assessment of Vivaldi's La verita in cimento that was inadvertently truncated in the typesetting process last month. Alex Baran profiles the rising young tenor Joseph Calleja, Bruce Surtees takes a look at (literally) a DVD portrait of mezzo Waltraud Meier. The section also includes large vocal works by Darius Milhaud and Dave Brubeck from the Naxos/Milken Archive of American Jewish music. One opera that arrived too late for a full review is Elliott Carter's first venture into the genre. The senior statesman of American composition embarked on his maiden voyage around the time of his 90'" birthday, having finally found the right collaborators to tempt him into a field he had previously avoided. Commissioned by Daniel Barenboim for the Deutsche Staatsoper Berliri and first performed there in 1999, the one act What Next? tells the story of an auto accident and its aftermath through the words of music critic and novelist Paul Griffiths. This recording (ECM New Series 1817) documents a concert performance given at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra under Peter Eotvos' direction. The surprisingly lyrical, absurdist drama features an international cast of 'fO singers headed by Canadian soprano Valdine Anderson who first worked with Elliott Carter at Toronto's New Music Concerts. While unlikely to find a home in mainstream opera houses, What Next? is an important extension of Carter's vocal writing and a welcome addition to the repertoire. Speaking of welcome additions, "Wild Honey", the brilliant new CD from Duo Concertante (ATMA Classique ACD2 2335), contains four works commissioned for this dynamic Newfoundland-based ensemble (Nancy Dahn, violin and Timothy Steeves, piano). Kelly-Marie Murphy's Dance Me To Your Beauty With A Burning Violin, inspired by the poetry of Leonard Cohen, is a virtuosic and rambunctious rollercoaster ride. Chan Ka Nin's Cool Mountain Water is a contemplative and lyrical metaphor for "the affection of one person for another". Omar Daniel's work that provides the title for the disc begins and ends in contemplation with Lento passages book-ending an extended fast movement that culminates in an exhilarating "Presto barbaro". Jean Lesage'i; ('qrtrait of a Sentimental Musician in a Distorting Mirror draws on the widest palette of instrumental colour with the use of some extended violin techniques as the composer endeavours to "create a fertile exchange between present-timeness [ ... ] and the remoteness of previous art". Stepping back to the turn of the previous century for most of its repertoire, renowned Toronto flutist Susan Hoeppner's "Fantasie Fran9aise" (Marquis 81299) is a charming disc of morceaux de concours (competition pieces) written for the Paris Conservatoire. The generous program notes inform us that when Paul Taffanel became Professor of flute in 1893 he began commissioning works by respected contemporary composers for the concours. The disc includes such wellknown composers as Faure, Enesco and Chaminade, Taffanel's protege Philippe Gaubert, and several names that are less familiar, at least outside of flute circles. From the aptly titled Fantasie Brillante on themes from Bizet's Carmen by Fram;:o_is Borne that opens the disc, to Taffanel 's closing Andante Pastoral et Scherzettino, Hoeppner's luscious tone and crisp articulation is perfectly complemented by pianist Lydia Wong. I was worried that a whole disc of flute bonbons would prove "too much of a muchness", but I found myself coming back for more. As we celebrate 25 years of Tafelmusik here in Toronto, in Quebec they are marking the 20'h anniversary of Bernard Labadie's Les Violons du Roy. Dorian Recordings has just released "Celebration" (DOR- 90024), its twelfth disc featuring this period ensemble, to mark the occasion. This compilation draws on seven previous recordings with music of Vivaldi, Handel (with Karjna Gauvin and Russell Braun), Mozart ( choruses from the Requiem with La Chapelle du Quebec) and Bach (Labadie's own transcriptions from The Art of the Fugue and The Goldberg Variations and arias sung by Dorothea Roschmann). As a teaser there is also a Handel Concerto Grosso (No.5) from a soon-to-be-released recording of the complete Op.6 concerti. "Celebration" provides a good introduction to this marvelous group for the uninitiated, but as with many collections of excerpts. it is ultimately unsatisfying to listen to from start to finish. Rather than this "sampler", I'd suggest choosing any one of the excellent discs from which it WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM was compiled. And of course we fans eagerly await the promised Handel release. Concert Note: Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle de Quebec perform Bach's St. John Passion at Massey Hall on April 3. Older than both our period orchestras, vocal ensemble le Studio de musique ancienne de Montreal was founded more than 30 years ago by organist/harpsichordist Christopher Jackson. The SMAM's latest release, "Stabat Mater" (ATMA Classique ACD2 2310) is a departure for the choir, featuring as it does the music of a living composer, Arvo Part. On the other hand the match makes perfect sense and the choir seems quite at home in Part's neo­ Renaissance world. The disc also presents several of Part's instrumental works, including the seminal Fratres, performed on "period" instruments by the Quatuor Franz Joseph. Not Part's period though, but rather from the Age of Enlightenment, tuned at the baroque pitch of A = 415 Hz. The effect is striking. There is a cameo appearance by Daniel Taylor who sings "Es sang vor langen jahren" to the sparse accompa- . niment of violin and viola, but the centrepiece of this project is Part's half-hour long Stabat Mater. There is none of the exuberance of Pergolesi in this haunting setting of the Latin text to the accompaniment of violin and viols da gamba. Here the Mother stands truly sorrowing. It is devastating. Canadian composer Walter Buczynski turns 70 this month and I'd like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention a couple of discs that feature his music. "Persuasion" (CBC MVCD 1096) features accordionist Joseph Macerollo performing a variety of concerted and chamber works by Canadian and international composers. The most extended work on the disc is Buczynski 's charming and playful fourmovement Fantasy on Themes of the Past for Accordion and String Orchestra with Gary Kulesha CD DISCOVERIES CONTINUES ON PAGE 56 APRIL 1 - MAY 7 2004

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