5 years ago

Volume 9 Issue 7 - April 2004

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Romantic Pieces (Dvorak,

Romantic Pieces (Dvorak, Janacek, Smetana) James Ehnes; Eduard Laurel Analekta FL 2 3191 Beau Soir - French and Japanese melodies for flute and harp · Emmanuel Pahud; Mariko Anraku EMISS77402 . markomarHn With this recording, James ·Ehnes confirms that he is a most profound an_d gifted musician. For a young vi­ ?lin virtuoso, he possesses a disarming poise and maturity. He doesn't aim to dazzle or "blow us away" with his playing, though he could easily; rather, he draws us in and allows us to perceive not his talent, but the composer's ideas first and foremost. It's this "respectfulness" that I admire most about Ehnes' playing. While strong and assured, there is a refreshing and moving humility in his approach to performance. The disc opens with six rich melodic essays - two by Bedrich Smetana and the rest from Antonin Dvorak, including the familiar Sona~ tina, op. 100, inspired by Dvorak's travels to the· United States. It's an ~nderstated, lovely piece and the pers tormance here features a miraculous dialogue between violin and piano, with Amencan pianist Eduard Laurel contributing a highly nuanced and sensitive reading. The highlight of the disc for me is Leos Janacek's Sonata, which the composer apparently laboured over for some 40 years before its premiere 1~ 1922_! It's a hauntingly beautiful piece, full of challenging, complex structures and ideas. We have a treasure in James Ehnes. The combination of his thoughtful musicality, flawless technique and the rich and varied tone he pulls from his "Ex Marsick" Stradivarius is a wonder. Given that he's only 28, he seems headed to the very top of the music world ... for all the right reasons. Larry Beckwith Concert Note: James Ehnes and Louis Lortie perform an all­ Beethoven program at the George Weston Recital Hall on April 13. ~lutist Emmanuel Pahud and harpist Manko Anraku are hailed as two of the w?rld's most outstanding youn? artists, each holding numer­ ?us t1tle_s from several prestigious internat10nal competitions. Pahud ~on eight out of twelve prizes at the international competitions in Duino (1988), Kobe (1989), and Geneva (1992), and is currently Principal Flute of the Berlin Philharmonic_ a position to which he was appointed at the age of 22. Anraku holds titles fro~- several international harp.compet1t1ons including those in Japan Israel and the USA, and has bee~ Associate Principal Harpist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York since 1995 . . Beau Soi_r ?rings these two exceptional mus1c1ans together on disc for t~e firs~ time, with an interesting vanety of ~epertoi_re chosen to display both their techmcal and artistic merits. Through the soaring lyricism of Debussy, Faure and Massenet, the playful gestures of Ibert, Monti and Ravel: and ~he haunting atmosphere ofSat1e, Miyagi and Takemitsu, the duo creates a breathtaking landscape of French and Japanese melodies. Each piece is performed with deli­ ~ate _refinement and ~xquisite sophisucauon. The balance between the instruments is perfectly achieved and the p~rity of tone clearly capn:red, allowing for spine-chilling subtleties of dynamics and colour. This is a wonderful first-time collaboration between two brilliant young ~rtists; hopefully it ,is just the beginning of a fruitful partnership. Sa11yaE11g Historic Saxophone · Claude & Odile Delangle BIS-~D-1270 of romance, invention, and salon concerts ... Paris was very impressed with the saxophone (Sax invented numerous instruments), and composers such as Berlioz and Massenet embraced it immediately in their orchestrations. The solo contributions were primanly from other wind players (Demersseman, Singelee, Klose, and others represented on this disc), who w~r~ attracted to the saxophone's ag1hty and expression. Professor at the Paris Conserva­ ·tory, Claude Del angle is one of the most \mpressive musicians of our ~ime. A champion of new music, it is a pleasure to hear him revisit the saxophone's roots on this disc. The fluidity and musicality with which this husband-and-wife-team continues to impress are equally apparent in this music . . Delangle has so many colours to his sound, that excessive vibrato is never ne_cessary. His accurate pitch is most impressive given the saxophone's reputation for playing outof-tune, a problem that could have been augmented by Delangle's use of an alto saxophone from 1900 (made by the son of the inventor). Delangle plays the entire quartet of saxophones on this disc, but the remaining three are ' modern instru­ ~ents. Despite his beautifully pristine tone and virtuosic technique, one cannot help but wonder what this mu~ic would sound like on all original msti:iime?ts (including perhaps an Erard piano mstead of the Steinway). Wallace Halladay Liszt Piano Marko Martin (Honens Laureate) Arktos 200369 CD · Debussy Scriabin Chopin Piano Alessandra Maria Ammara (Honens Laureate) Arktos 200370 CD I many competitions are far too much like a circus where stuntsmanship can be the deciding factor . However one can think ofno better way for a ~ianist to move towards an international · stage than through prestigious contests. A relative newcomer in this field is the Esther Honens piano competition of Calgary. Being in search of a "complete artist", Honens is one of the least circus-like piano contests, ~here one requires not only fleet fingers but also true musicianship. Alberta recording label Arktos has embarked on a series of CDs to introduce the young talents discovered during the piano marathons of Calgary. Honens 2000 Laureate, Alessandra Amrnara has conquered some of the most important competitions with her high stylistic knowledge flavoured by ~outhful f~ntasies . Listening to her interpretation of Chopin's Preludes, gives a clear impression of div~rse moods the composer intende? for each miniature, without the · v1rt~oso pianist overpowering the music. In an attempt to add a touch ~f her ori?inality, Ammara pays httle attent10n to the evident Polish soul of Chopin's music however. The same goes for Debussy's first album of the Images, where the Florentine decides not to draw specific pictures re~ealed through composer's evoc- at1ve titles, bringing up the "images" more as " afterthoughts" of emotions expressed. Marko _Martin, Ammara's oppo- Should you check the booklet before nent dunng the competition and ct another laureate of the contest Historical performance is often associated with music of the Baroque, ~ci?ing upon a young emerging r~pr~sents a totally different type of p1amst, be careful not to get too car- pia_mst. The Estonian artist who but_ not so for the saxophone, invented in 1841 by Belgian Adolphe Sax. ateships of competitions. There are Ltrainded at the Guildhall School of ried away by' the number of laure, ?n on has been highly praised for So let us go back to the bohemian currently than 900 piano con- his profound interpretation of days of 19'h century Paris_ a time tests registered around the world and B h 6o- ~--~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~1wvv.Tiirn'HOiENon~iM"'---~~~~~~ ::~ ~ra~m:s~ a:n~d~L:is~z:t.~ T~h:e~A:r~kt~os WWW, THEWHOLENOTE.COM A PRIL 1 - M AY 7 2004

ecording is a selection of works by the latter revealing many facets of the composer. Through a pleasant balance between astounding technique and expressive lyricism, Martin counterposes Liszt "the showman" in the transcription of Verdi's Rigoletto and "Abbe Liszt" in The Years of Pilgrimage. Martin's dramatic and wonderfully organized interpretation of Liszt's controversial Dante Sonata wraps up this short but descriptive portrait of a composer driven by both God and the devil. Michelle Assay Eshghpour track timings, but the sensitive listener will agree that these incomparable performances by the finest of pre-war orchestras are indisputable proof of Furtwangler's pre-eminence at the height of his powers. N axos 's processing is faultless. A footnote: The CD cover states that Naxos is restoring these performances to the catalogue. Not so. EMI who made and "owned" the recordings have had them steadily in print but not widely available nor at this bargain price. Bruce Surtees Tchaikovsky - Symphony No.6 "Pathetique" Wagner -Tristan und Isolde: Vorspiel und Liebestod Berlin Philharmonic Wilhelm Furtwangler Naxos 8.110865 Mathieu; Addinsell; Gershwin - Concertos · Alain Lefevre; OSQ; Yoav Talmi Analekta AN2 9814 In 1937 /38 Furtwangler - the German conductor of the time - made four recordings with his Berlin Phil- . harmonic for HMV and those performances and recordings remain hallmarks of the repertoire: the Tchaikovsky 6'h and the Beethoven 5'", the Prelude and Love Death from Tristan and Isolde, and the Prelude and Good Friday Music from Parsifal. If ever there were legendary recordings, these are they. In volume one of the Naxos Furtwangler series the "Pathetique" sounds slow by today's fashion but the aura of melancholy and resolution remains unique and, to these ears, communicates the absolute essence of Tchaikovsky's thoughts. In Furtwangler's Tristan the expectant mood of the Prelude seems to portend misfortunes to follow yet Isolde's Liebestod is an ecstatic paean ofundying love. Characteristic of both pieces are little nuances of phrasing, meaningful but barely noticed accents, and finely tuned pauses which are all organic and not imposed. The art that conceals the art is also heard in the orchestral balances, where almost every instrumental line is audible without spotlighting. Superficial auditors will concern themselves with If you are labouring under the misconception that a vibrant sonic experience in the piano concerto genre must come from Vienna or Berlin, think again. Here.'s a gem from Quebec! As soon as I saw the unassuming monochrome cover design, a premonition struck that there was great music within. Lefevre, Talmi and the OSQ do not disappoint us. Three piano concertos are presented, performed with understanding and vigour. The rarely heard Concerto de Quebec by youthful prodigy Andre Mathieu ( 1929-1968) leads off with a performance that must be the definitive rendition to date. Lefevre tells of spending a decade studying the six different scores of the work, using that research to prepare the performing edition. The diligence certainly paid off, with a concerto that is entrancing. . Also on the disc is Addinsell 's Warsaw Concerto and Gershwin's Concerto in F. There is more depth to this Warsaw than any that I've heard, including a recent live performance in Toronto. The Gershwin Concerto is among the best in my memory, right up there with Entremont, Grafmann and van Cliburn. With modem technology, instrumental balance and digital purity are superior, so.this is my preferred version. Notes are in two languages, with GUISEPPE VERDI SIMON BOCCANEGRA ORCV 302 2 CD Set This original 1857 version predates the revision by 24 years and represents Verdi's most extensive alterations to one of his operas, making this original version a must for all serious collectors of 19th century Italian opera. The 1976 broadcast presented the original version, almost certainly the first time it had been heard for over a hundred years. In recent times, for various Verdian celebrations, there have been concert performances but this is the first official appearance of the original version on disc. . Includes fully illustrated 200-page booklet! Classical CD of the Week - The· Guardian, Friday 9th January 2004 Editors Choice, Gramophone Magazine, March 2004 APRIL 1 - M AY 7 2004

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