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Volume 9 Issue 9 - June 2004

  • Text
  • Festival
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • Baroque
  • Orchestra
  • Symphony
  • Choir

The balance and blend

The balance and blend between Metropolitan United Church on Friguests, soloists and band is excellent day June 11at7:30. , throughout the recording. This is a fine recording of . t~ad!tional military fare, although I, On The Air - ~arrat!ve did find myself wishing that the band Elect~oacoust.1c Music would stretch out a bit and present Martm Gotfnt some longer, more ambitious Centrediscs 9904 works. Here's hoping that will follow on their next CD. ,Merlin Williams We Keep Singing Polokwane Choral Society Independent The Polokwane Choral Society is a not~for-profit, community-based cho1r from_ the province of Limpopo, South Afnca, who, when at home, volunteer at cultural days, women's days, AIDS days and church events. In addition, in order to channel the talents of South African disadvantaged youth, the choir has organized dra1!1a, dan~e groups, and a youth cho_1r. Offering selections sung in a v~nety of ~e 1 ~ official languages of South Afnca ranging in style from traditional tribal songs to spirituals, hymns and political freedom songs, the adult choir sings a capella selections with the kind of fiercely proud exuberance worthy of a statement their concert narrator Timothy Mabaso recently made. When asked what kept the people of South Africa going during the years of apartheid, Mabaso answered, "We kept singing". Conductor Matlakala Bopape's n:iandate to share the joyous expres­ ~1on o~ traditional South African singing shines through on this recording, as well as her skill as an award-winning conductor. Some of the selection~ are not simple call and response, but involve the intertwining of some very complex rhythms most conductors would find very challenging inc ?eed. One imagines from the uplifting enthusiasm apparent in this recording that seeing a live performance woul? be quite exciting. Happily, they will tour a number of Cana- In acousmatic electroacoustic music the phrase narrative is often used to describe the musical form, where associative sounds are constructed in such a. way as t6 act out a wordless drama using ~ension and release as primary formal devices. Even though the subtitle for the CD ?.Y Ma~tin Gotfrit uses the phrase narrative electroacoustic music" I believe the formal construction of the CD does not adhere to the narrative convention in electroacoustic music. The associative aspects 6f the sounds are there, and many of them have personal significance for him like the sounds of his children, hi~ parents, and even the many radio ~ounds on the CD. However, there 1s not that sense of a single line of ~vents following one-another many in many electroacoustic narrative works;· rather the pieces are constructed more as a textured whole that changes internally like in a monochromatic painting using several shades of the same colour. The more enjoyable works on the CD are the shorter works All the Knowing and The Mystery of His Will. 1:hey are compact and µave a strong singular focus. The longer works co~!~ have used more variance in my opinion, a common criticism for texture-based works. However, unlike a lot of texture-based instrumental and electroacoustic music that can be cold and mathematical, he imbues the subject of his pieces with warmth and compassion. Darren Copeland DISCS OF THE MONTH Handel: Saul dian cities this month. Argenta, Gritton, Scholl, Dianne Wells Padmore, Agnew, Davies C Gabr1·e11· Consort & Players oncert Note: The Polokwane Ch ·Paul McCreech, director oral Society will perform at D GG Archiv 474 510-2 52 . WWW• TH EWHO LENOTE.COM Handel's ever-popular oratorio Saul has been frequently put on disc, but McC_reesh's new recording is now the one to get, ·with its meticulous preparation, uncut presentation and superb performances. It features some of today's top Handel singers. Countertenor Andreas Scholl is unforgettable as David. Canadian sopr~no Nancy Argenta's touching Michal, mezzo-soprano Susan Gritton's incisive Merab, Mark Padmore's lyrical Jonathan, and Neil Davies' pathologically jealous Saulare all outstanding. Tenor Paul Agn~~, at one happy ·time a frequent v1s1tor to Toronto, is strikingly tender as the High Priest, a role that is frequently cut. McCreech's choir and orchestra create a thrilling dramatic intensity, but never at the cost of their beauti­ ~r soun~. They offer many highhghts, hke the three splendid baroque trombones in the rousing Hallelujah chorus at the end of How excellent thy name, Oh Lord, the shimmer~ng carillon in the triumphal process10n, the rhapsodic harp solo following Scholl's exquisite O Lord whose mercies, the distinctive and l?vely organ solos and improvisations, and the forlorn timpani in the heart-breaking Dead March, followed by the exquisite chorus Mourn, Israel, mourn. Even the detailed and well-illustrated booklet notes are stand-outs. Haendel: Siroe Hallenberg, Stojkovic Im Schmid, Noack ' ' Capella Coloniensis Andrea Spering, director Harmonia Mundi HMC 901826.27 Spering's new recording of Handel's neglected opera Siroe is warm engaging, and altogether delightfui. He '.avour~ light airy textures, an agile, delicate continua, and sustained lyrical ~ines,. resisting the exaggerated art1culat1ons currently in vogue aino~g young conductors, particularly in Europe. His singers are not as well-known as the casts assembled by McCreech and Christie. But t~ey make an exciting group. As S1roe, elder son of Cosroe, King of Persia, Ann Hallenberg presents a nchly stylish mezzo-soprano, Johanna Stojkovic's princess Emira, who I_oves Siroe, is poignantly expr_ess1ve. As Laodice, the king's mistress who also loves Siroe (don't ask!), Sunhae Im offers a distinctive, thrilling coloratura. Medarse, the younger son, is sensitively sung by countertenor Gunther Shmid. Sebastian Noack's King Cosroe evolves convincingly from the furious "you made me a tyrant" to the repentant "I realize that I was cruel". This opera contains one magnificent solo aria after another. But its lack of ensemble pieces does reduce the sparks between characters making the recitatives especially i~portant to push the drama forward and round out the characters. It's unfortunate that the recitatives have been cut down on this recording.· It is otherwise beautifully presented. Handel: Theodora Daneman, Galstian', Taylor, Croft, Berg Les Arts Florissants William Christie, director Erato 0927 43181-2 Altho~gh Theodora is Handel's only oratono based on a non~Biblica l subject, it is one of his most spiritually profound works. Sophie Daneman is thoroughly compelling as the youthfully vulnerable Theodora who chooses martyrdom over con~ version or rape by the 'heathen' Romans. Canadian counter-tenor Daniel Taylor is radiantly ardent while his fellow Canadian, bariton~ Nathan Berg, is full of deliciously florid Handelian swagger. Juliette Galstian is a l~vely , if slightly bland, Irene, and Richard Croft a touching Septimus. Christie, a leader in early music ) UN E 1 - )UL Y 7 2004

performance, demonstrates why he can be equalled (McCreech himself recently produced a beautiful recording of this oratorio) but never matched. The dramatically convincing recitatives and the splendid choruses, like the Christians' He saw the lovely youth, with its rousing close on "Rise, youth, He said", are worked into the fabric of the whole work with fluid pacing. Even at the slowest tempo and softest level, Christie keeps the dramatic tension high with his passionate intensity. Forgoing a driving edge, he sustains a musically sublime atmosphere of contemplative quietude. Pamela Margles Concert Notes: Nathan Berg performs Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Toronto Symphony on June 9, 10, and 12 at 8:00 in Roy Thomson Hall. Daniel Taylor performs with Emma Kirkby and the Theatre of Early Music at the Elora Festival in the Gambrel Barn on July 24 at 8:00. Triple Exposure Humphrey Lyttelton Calligraph Records CLG CD 041 (2 Discs) If you consider yourself a fan of mainstream jazz, you must have this release of late '50s music never before available in North America. Humphrey Lyttelton is one of Britain' s great jazz assets: trumpeter, composer, bandleader since 1948, author, cartoonist and articulate spokesman for the music on radio and television. More recently, he started his own label to release his current recordings (still going strong in his early 80s!) as well as earlier material. This import features four vinyl EMI Parlophone LP releases, documenting his band's post New Orleans style music. (In moving on, he had to absorb his former fans' opprobrium - the appearance of a saxophone in the lineup brought out banners: "You Dirty Boppers!") If Lyttelton's earlier gods were Louis and Jelly Roll, here he wor- ships Ellington and Basie. Humph is a solid player, flexible in the horn's mid-range, and a master of mutes, used to great effect on blues. Always willing to share the stage, he has written new notes for this release and gives deep credit to his arrangers and band members. Note the playing order on CD is not chronological. On Disc 1, the 1959 "Triple Exposure" features the three composer/ arrangers Harry South, Kenny Graham and Humph, and is decidedly "modern" compared to where he had been. With trumpet, trombone and three reeds plus rhythm, it's decidedly Ellington/swing music, with first rank players like Tony Coe channeling Johnny Hodges, tenorist Jimmy Skidmore, and Joe Temperley on baritone. "Kath Meets Humph" was a late '57 10" LP (remember them?) with the always interesting Kathy Stobart on tenor replacing a disabled Skidmore. She so impressed the leader that on and off, she played with various Lyttleton bands until retiring in the last year. Highlights: Gee, Baby ... and Kath Meets Humph. For Disc 2, "Humph In Perspective" a 1956 12" transitioner, trying to bring along the old-timers, he's playing the favourites in swingstyle: Weary Blues, Irish Black Bottom and Struttin' With Some Barbecue then throws in the new direction with the original In-Swinger and Ellington's 1945 tune Unbooted Character. These were the first recordings by the eight-piece band, and the way was set. The last session presented here is actually the earliest, from 1956 aptly called "Humph Swings Out". Mainstream it is, presenting in small-group form the sounds of the Swing Era, dominated by big bands: no longer Dixieland, not yet Bop. It isn't perverse at all that they recorded Glad Rag Doll and Christopher Columbus side by side. I think this is music that proves jazz' eternal call, and will be as listenable in another four or five decades as it is now. Long may Humphrey Lyttelton play! Ted O'Reilly Availability: This release is available by mail from Sackville Records, PO Box 1002, Station 0, Toronto ON, M4A 2N4. Phone/Fax 416.465.9093. Haydn Cello Concertos Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello Freiburger Barokorchester Petra Miillejans, conductor In November 2002, Jean-Guihen Queyras received from both Pierre Boulez and the Glenn Gould Foundation, the City ofToronto Glenn Gould Jnternational Protege Prize in Music. This recognition, from one of the greatest musicians of our time, is indicative of the exceptional musical talent Jean-Guihen embodies. De Lassus: II Canzoniere Huclgas Ensemble Paul Van Nevel, conductor 901828 It was in seeking to set to music the emotions they found in literary texts and poems - imitar le parole - that the madrigalists of the early sixteenth century rediscovered tbe poetry of Francesco Petrarca. The rich imagery of bis language provided the springboard for Orlande de Lassus, in particular, to show his mastery over a period of nearly forty years as one of the greatest composers of madrigals. El Arte de fantasia Andrew Lawrence-King The Harp Consort 907316 In this fascinating glimpse of the musical life at the court of Charles V, Andrew Lawrence-King and members of the Harp Consort recreate the intricate Spanish 'art of improvisation' documented by Luis Venegas de Henestrosa (c I 5 l0-1570) in his 'Libro de Cifra nueva' - a sophisticated collection of Spanish 'romances', French 'chansons', popular dances and polyphonic fantasia. ]UNE 1 - JULY7 2004

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