As i sit down to write this I have just read the shocking news of Jeanne Lamon’s announcement of her intention to retire as music director of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in 2014. After more than three decades at the helm of this flagship Canadian orchestra it is hard to imagine the organization without her. Although stepping down from the first chair (or stand as the case may be), she will evidently be staying on to help with the creation of the Tafelmusik International Baroque Academy. Of course the orchestra is such a well-oiled machine that there is no doubt it will continue to flourish, but the search is on for a new leader.

01-TafelmusikUnder Lamon’s direction a fledgling semi-professional ensemble grew to become one of the world’s great period instrument orchestras and we are blessed with a wealth of recordings documenting her tenure. Although many of the original Sony releases have been discontinued, a number of key titles are now available again on the orchestra’s own imprint Tafelmusik Media which was launched earlier this year. The bulk of the early TM releases have been reissues of such important classics as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but this month marked an important new phase with recent live recordings from Koerner Hall. You will find a review of the 2011 Handel Messiah in next month’s issue but in recent weeks I have been enjoying performances of Beethoven’s Eroica and Mendelssohn’s Italian symphonies recorded in May of this year under the direction of Bruno Weil (TMK1019CD). The glorious sound of both the orchestra and the concert hall are captured expertly by German tone-meisters Stephan Schellmann and Peter Laenger. While Beethoven is not unfamiliar territory for Tafelmusik — they have recorded all of the concertos for Sony’s Vivarte label and Symphonies Five through Eight for Analekta — I believe this is their first recording of the music of Mendelssohn. I will leave the question of whether a baroque orchestra has any business venturing into the 19th century for others to debate. For my ears these brilliant and lively performances are totally satisfying. On this occasion the orchestral forces were supplemented to include 7-6-4-4-3 players in the string section with double woodwinds and trumpets and four horns. These latter are particularly worthy of note: Scott Weavers, Ronald George, Stéphane Mooser and David Parker for their impeccable intonation on that most difficult to control instrument, but well-deserved kudos go to all involved.

02-MatsuevThere is a Koerner Hall connection to the next disc as well, Shostakovich & Shchedrin – Piano Concertos with Denis Matsuev and the Mariinsky Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev (Mariinsky SACD MAR0509). By the time this goes to print Valery Gergiev’s performance with the Stradivarius Ensemble will have come and gone, but we can look forward to Matsuev’s Koerner Hall debut in an all-Russian program on December 2. On that occasion the dynamic young pianist, winner of the 1998 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, will perform a solo recital of music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky. On the current recording he is featured as soloist in more recent Russian works, including the introspective Piano Concerto No.5 by Rodion Shchedrin (b.1932) which was written around the same time as Matsuev’s Tchaikovsky competition win. The disc opens with the familiar Piano Concerto No.1 which Shostakovich wrote in 1933, with its ebullient rhythms and obbligato trumpet, and continues with his Piano Concerto No.2 from 1957. As the extensive liner notes in four languages point out, these works reflect rare happy periods in the composer’s often troubled life. Their allegro and even allegro brio movements seem almost out of character to my ears which are more accustomed to the languor and angst of his later compositions (culminating in the final string quartet with its five adagio movements only broken up by the inclusion of an adagio molto Funeral March). Matsuev seems to enjoy this playful side of Shostakovich and embraces the jollity of these works in crisp and exuberant performances. The unfamiliar Shchedrin concerto is more pointillistic and subdued, with darker colours from both the piano and the orchestral accompaniment. It is an extended work — more than half an hour in duration — with a slow middle movement of touching lyricism and hints of gamelan melodies. The rousing finale uses modal scalar passages, but this time allegro assai, in a pianistic molto perpetuo, with orchestral interventions somewhat reminiscent of Messiaen, that builds and builds over a nine minute crescendo. The soloist’s playing is superb and Gergiev’s control of the orchestra outstanding. Like the virtuoso ensemble itself, the Mariinsky Theatre boasts wonderful sound and it is captured here in all its splendour. Concert goers at Matsuev’s upcoming Toronto performance can look forward to a similar sonic treat in the acoustic of Koerner Hall.

03-Saariaho-TriosLast month I wrote about a disc of chamber music by Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg which featured cellist Annsi Karttunen on each of its tracks. Karttunen appears again this month on a disc of Trios by Kaija Saariaho (Ondine ODE 1189-2), once again in every piece with otherwise diverse instrumentation. In May 2011 the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presented the Canadian premiere of Saariaho’s Mirage for soprano Karita Mattila and cellist Karttunen with orchestra, a work written in 2007. Concurrently Saariaho produced a trio version of the haunting piece for soprano, cello and piano which was premiered in 2010 by, and dedicated to, the musicians who join Karttunen to reprise their performance on this disc, soprano Pia Freund and pianist Tuija Hakkila. The intimacy of this chamber version of Mirage is simply stunning. Another near-TSO connection occurs in the next piece, Cloud Trio, performed by the Zebra Trio which includes former TSO principal violist Steven Dann, Karttunen and violinist Ernst Kovacic. The eerie ethereal string timbres in this aptly named work have to be heard to be believed. Dann, Karttunen and Hakkila are featured in Je sens un deuxième coeur, a five movement work based on Saariaho’s 2003 opera Adriana Mater. It was originally intended to create musical portraits of four characters from the opera but when “she began to adapt the material for viola, cello and piano — a darker version of the traditional piano trio — the music began to distance itself from the opera.” It is certainly an effective chamber work not dependent on the programmatic inspiration for appreciation. The other offerings are Cendres for alto flute, cello and piano which involves extended techniques and vocalisms from the flutist (Mikael Hesasvuo), and Serenatas for percussion (Florent Jodelet), cello and piano. The latter once again draws on other Saariaho works as points of departure, in this case the cello concerto Notes on Light and, bringing the disc full circle, the opening piece Mirage. The simplicity of the title Trios notwithstanding, this recording presents a wealth of diverse textures and instruments with definitive performances by musicians who have collaborated extensively with Saariaho, one of the most distinctive voices in the music of our time.

04-Jaffa-RoadIn brief:Toronto’s premiere Middle Eastern-South Asian fusion band Jaffa Road have just released Where the Light Gets In (JR0002, a welcome follow-up to their 2009 release Sunplace. The distinctive vocals of Aviva Chernick, singing in English, Hebrew, French and Ladino, are complemented by multi-instrumentalists Aaron Lightstone, Chris Gartner, Jeff Wilson and Sundar Viswanathan playing a plethora of Western and Middle Eastern plucked, blown and struck acoustic and electric instruments. All share writing credits for the bulk of the material, although one notable exception is Through the Mist of Your Eyes by the group’s “friend and teacher Yair Dalal, a master Iraqi-Israeli musician who lives in Galilee.” The text is sung in Hebrew by Chernick and repeated in Arabic by guest artist Hazan Aaron Bensoussan. It is quite striking how different the same poem sounds in the two languages. All in all Jaffa Road’s creative blending of sacred and secular Jewish songs, classical Arabic and Indian influences with a variety of Western musical styles makes them an innovative force on the Toronto scene and Where the Light Gets In is a worthy testament to this.

05-Glenn-GouldAs noted in September’s issue, 2012 marks the 80th anniversary of Glenn Gould’s birth and the 30th of his untimely death. Sony seems determined to make every note that he ever recorded available to us on compact disc and the commemorative sets have begun arriving in volume. You’ll find Dianne Wells’ take on his Richard Strauss recordings further on in this section but one set that I reserved for myself is Glenn Gould plays Sonatas, Fantasies, Variations (88725413742), four CDs that include a lot of music that doesn’t necessarily come to mind when we think of Glenn Gould. Of particular interest to me are the Canadian composers included: Istvan Anhalt, Jacques Hétu, Oskar Morawetz and Barbara Pentland. The disc which includes these pieces also features Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata Op.1and Ernst Krenek’s Sonata for Piano No.3,providing an interesting mix of modern Romantics and some spikier fare. Another disc is devoted to Russians Alexander Scriabin and Sergei Prokofiev while Finland and Norway are represented on another with music of Sibelius and Edvard Grieg, a composer Gould claimed to be related to through his maternal great-grandfather. Perhaps most out of character is the inclusion of Robert Schumann’s Quartet for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello with members of the Juilliard String Quartet. Although Gould did record the complete Hindemith brass sonatas with members of the Philidelphia Brass Ensemble and the Bach gamba sonatas with cellist Leonard Rose, there really isn’t much in the way of chamber music in his discography, and as far as I know, no other music of Schumann. This final disc also includes another surprise — the Premiere Nocturne and Variations chromatiques de concert by Georges Bizet. While all of this material has been previously released over the years, it is an impressive list of rarities when collected together in a set like this, providing a timely reminder of Gould’s eclecticism and innate curiosity.

We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. CDs and comments should be sent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 Bathurst St., Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also encourage you to visit our website,, where you can find added features including direct links to performers, composers and record labels, and additional, expanded and archival reviews.  

— David Olds, DISCoveries Editor,

01-MessiaenLast month when mentioning a new recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Et exspecto ressurectionem mortuorum I lamented the fact that, although admittedly designed for very different purposes, the 1964 work lacked the exuberance of the earlier Turangalîla Symphony. I was very pleased to find in a recent shipment from Harmonia Mundi Canada, which distributes a number of distinguished European labels, a June 2011 recording of that seminal work. Juanjo Mena conducts the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra with Steven Osborne (piano) and Cynthia Millar (ondes Martenot) in a gloriously rambunctious performance of the Turangalîla on Hyperion (CDA67816). Commissioned by Serge Koussevitsky for his Boston Symphony immediately after the Second World War, Messiaen took several years to complete the ten movement work. Although unmistakably Messiaen, there are distinct hints of Gershwin in the music, perhaps reflecting the American nature of the commission. By the time of completion Koussevitsky was too frail to conduct the premiere and that duty fell to his flamboyant protégé Leonard Bernstein. The pianist for that December 2, 1949 performance was Messiaen’s own protégé Yvonne Loriod who would later become his second wife and the ondes Martenot was played by Ginette Martenot, sister of the inventor of that unique electronic instrument. Yvonne Loriod and her sister Jeanne would later be featured in an RCA recording of Turangalîla with the Toronto Symphony under the direction of Seiji Ozawa with the composer’s participation. Recorded in 1967, the TSO LP was the first commercial release of the symphony and to this day it is the benchmark against which all others must be measured. In 1994 it was re-issued on CD as part of the RCA NEW BEST 100 line, but only released in Japan. A decade later it finally became available in the rest of the world as RCA Victor Red Seal 59418 and a quick check of the site confirms it is still available. But back to the issue at hand. This new recording captures the energy and excitement of the score in all its nuances. My only reservation is the overly prominent placement of the ondes Martenot in the mix with its soaring (almost searing) textures just slightly over the top at times. It does add to the exuberance though. All in all, a welcome addition to the discography.

02-Vivian-FungLast month I also mentioned looking forward to the release of Vivian Fung’s Dreamscapes, the latest addition to the Naxos Canadian Classics line (8.573009), and I am pleased to report that the disc lives up to my expectations. I first encountered Fung’s music in the mid-1990s in a concert with Scott St. John and friends (including Marina Piccinini as I recall) and later through recordings by the Ying Quartet (Pizzicato) and Composers in the Loft (Miniatures for clarinet and string quartet). Although renowned for her writing for string quartet — her second quartet was commissioned by the Shanghai Quartet for its 25th anniversary season and it has just been announced that she will compose the required work for the 11th Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2013 — Fung’s oeuvre ranges from solo, chamber and vocal to works for full orchestra. This new recording presents a sort of middle ground, with violin and piano concertos written for the Metropolis Ensemble, a large chamber orchestra based in New York, and Glimpses, a set of three works for prepared piano. This latter, performed by Conor Hanick, dates from 2006 and is the earliest of the works presented here (the violin concerto was completed in 2011). It marks a turning point in Fung’s development as the Edmonton-born composer expands the exploration of her Asian roots to encompass the music of Indonesia. All three of the works presented here are based on gamelan motifs and melodies giving the disc a wonderful continuity. The most obvious connection to Bali is the sound of the prepared piano, John Cage’s invention that mimics the sounds of a percussion orchestra by placing a variety of objects between and upon the strings of the piano. But the melodies borrowed and developed in the Violin Concerto and the Piano Concerto, ”Dreamscapes” which open and close the disc respectively are evocative of the exotic culture that has been so attractive to Western composers since Debussy first heard a gamelan perform at the Paris Exposition of 1889, and more particularly since Canadian-born composer Colin McPhee brought his wealth of research and recordings of the music back to North America in the 1930s. Like a number of composers before her Fung has taken inspiration from her own travels to Indonesia and truly made this music her own.

03-Triple-ForteA triumvirate of Canadian soloists has recently joined forces under the banner Triple Forte to record some early 20th century gems from the piano trio literature. Ravel–Shostakovich–Ives: Piano Trios (ATMA ACD2 2633) features Jasper Wood (violin), Yegor Dyachkov (cello) and David Jalbert (piano), and what a team they make. Although Ravel’s Trio in A Minor, completed in 1914 after a prolonged gestation, has become a standard of the repertoire, the Shostakovich and Ives trios are rarely heard. Unlike the fully developed second trio from 1944 and the much later Seven Romances (after poems by Alexander Blok) for soprano, violin, cello and piano, Shostakovich’s brief Piano Trio No.1 in C Minor was written as a student in 1923. The one movement work was Shostakovich’s first foray into the world of chamber music. It is a poignant piece that reflects the loss of his father on the one hand and the splendour of first love on the other. Although Shostakovich performed the trio with two friends shortly after its completion, the score was actually left unfinished and it was his student Boris Tischenko who added the 22 missing bars of piano for the work’s posthumous publication. Like Ravel’s, Charles Ives’ Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano is a full length work that was a long time developing. Begun in 1904, the composer worked on it over a period of seven years. It bears all the hallmarks of Ives’ eclectic style with its interweaving of popular, patriotic and religious melodies. After the almost dirge-like moderato opening movement, the scherzo — entitled TSIAJ [This scherzo is a joke] — bursts forth in a rollicking combination of marches and joyous hymn tunes which occasionally give way to quiet strains of What a Friend We Have in Jesus. The final movement juxtaposes a quasi-Wagnerian melody that Ives had written in 1896 with Rock of Ages and then with Ives’ playful humour incorporates popular songs treated with syncopated ragtime rhythms. While the playing throughout this disc is exemplary, it is in the Ives, especially in the dense and often frenzied scherzo, that the skills of these fine musicians are put to the test. They pass with flying colours!

04-LindbergIn February 2008 Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg visited Toronto to participate in concerts with the TSO and New Music Concerts. In the latter, TSO assistant principal cellist David Hetherington performed a recent Lindberg composition Konzertstück with the composer at the piano. A new Ondine release simply entitled Chamber Works (ODE 1199-2) features this piece and three others which all prominently showcase the cello and Anssi Karttunen who has worked closely with Lindberg over the past three decades. They perform as a duo called Dos Coyotes which is also the name of a hauntingly lyrical work that is the earliest on this disc, dating from 1993 and revised in 2002. Karttunen also performs the 2001 Partia for solo cello, commissioned by the Turku Cello Competition. The notes tell us it is based on Bach’s partitas for solo violin rather than the cello suites in spite of its six movement form and indeed the dance rhythms of the traditional suite are missing in this more introspective work. Lindberg and Karttunen are joined by clarinettist Kari Kriikku for a three movement Trio. Although perhaps best known for his large orchestral canvasses, Lindberg has a strong penchant for chamber music, both as a composer and a performer, as this disc aptly demonstrates.

05-Iceberg-ProjectA few years back there was a local bass player named Eli Eisenberg who did some work at The WholeNote including a bit of jazz reviewing. I heard from him again recently when he let me know he’d just released a CD called The Iceberg Project ( featuring instrumental music he composed, arranged, played and programmed. I must say it’s a treat. Funky, bright and bluesy, it’s a feel good situation from start to finish. I understand the title to be a pun on his name, but I think the CD would be more aptly called “The Boat Drinks Project” because it certainly would go well with one (or more) of those drinks with the little umbrellas. Definitely more reminiscent of the tropics than the North Sea. The music is jazz inflected and mainly Latin in feel. The instrumentation is mostly bass and guitar with programmed orchestrations which would normally leave me cold. But I must say that synthesis, or I guess it’s more likely sampling in this day and age, has come a long way and there are some very sophisticated sounds here. Still, when Bill McBirnie plays the flute, as he does on a couple of tracks, the ear is still reminded that acoustic instruments really do sound best. Overall this is a disc that I’ve enjoyed immensely since it arrived, especially during those otherwise oh-so-dreary morning exercise sessions.

We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. CDs and comments should be sent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 Bathurst St., Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also encourage you to visit our website,, where you can find added features including direct links to performers, composers and record labels, and additional, expanded and archival reviews. 

— David Olds, DISCoveries Editor

september editor 01September marks a milestone in the history of recorded classical music: 25 years since the establishment of the Naxos label. Originally regarded with disdain by the record business establishment, this “budget” line of CDs has gone on to become the largest manufacturer and distributor of classical CDs and digital downloads in the world. Later this month Naxos founder Klaus Heymann will be in Toronto for a media event celebrating the anniversary and the release of The Story of Naxos — The extraordinary story of the independent record label that changed classical recording for ever.

In the two months since the last issue we have received 21 CDs on the Naxos label and more than 80 on labels distributed by Naxos. And that is just the number that has physically crossed my desk; there were more than 200 separate titles listed on the August release sheets alone. For this month’s column I decided I would select a few of the discs that were of most interest to me personally from this wealth of material. This proved harder than I first imagined. Since my own area of expertise is music of the 20th century I decided to limit myself to this field and even so I ended up bringing ten discs home; a selection of works with which I was already familiar and a number which were new to my ears. Space precludes any in-depth analysis of the recordings, but suffice it to say that with minor hesitations as noted, none of the discs disappointed me and a number of them were very satisfying indeed.

02-ProkofievAlthough well versed in the chamber music and concertos of Sergei Prokofiev, I am less familiar with his other orchestral and particularly symphonic output (with the exception of the ever-popular “Classical” Symphony). I chose a recording of two works composed during the Second World War, the symphonic suite The Year 1941 and the Symphony No.5 in B-Flat Major, Op.100 performed by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop (8.573029). The first of these works is, perhaps understandably, bombastic with its patriotic movements “In the Struggle,” “In the Night”and “For the Brotherhood of Man,” but nevertheless well crafted and well performed. The symphony is more abstract in nature and although still noticeably nationalistic is not overtly jingoistic.

03-WeinbergThe next up on my unknown list was the Symphony No.6, Op.79 and the Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes,works dating from 1963 and 1949 respectively, by another Soviet composer, Mieczyslaw Weinberg (8.572779), performed by the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Lande. Weinberg fled to Russia to escape the Nazi invasion of Poland and his music is receiving quite a bit of attention and a plethora of recordings in recent years. I first became aware of his music about five years ago on a CD featuring the ARC (Artists of the Royal Conservatory) ensemble, here in Toronto. Weinberg was a protégé of Shostakovich and his music is often reminiscent of that master’s work.

04-Weinberg-celloWhile I enjoyed the Naxos CD I found the Weinberg Cello Concerto, Op.43 contained on a recent Chandos release (CHSA 5107) of more interest, likely to do with my own kinship with that low member of the violin family. Although composed in 1948, the concerto had to wait until 1957 for its first performance. Rostropovich gave that premiere and the work is eminently suited to the big sound of that late maestro. Claes Bunnarsson proves himself well equal to the task in this performance with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Thord Svedlund. The disc also includes the premiere recording (and perhaps first performance according to the detailed liner notes) of Weinberg’s Symphony No.20, Op.150 dating from 1988 (eight years before his death). I mention this recording here as Chandos is one of the many major labels now distributed by Naxos. I’m tempted to note that this is the first recording I’ve seen that includes a logo reflecting sponsorship from Volvo.

05-RautavaaraA second disc I was drawn to because of the prominence of the cello is on another label from Naxos’ distribution stable. Truls Mørk is the soloist in Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Towards the Horizon (Cello Concerto No.2) on a recent Ondine release (ODE 11782) which also includes the percussion concerto Incantations featuring Colin Currie, both dating from 2008, and the 1957 orchestral composition Modificata which was revised in 2003. All are performed with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgärds direction. My proclivity for the cello notwithstanding, it was the percussion concerto with its (mostly) subdued use of mallet instruments which I found most satisfying.

06-DanielpourOne of Naxos’ most prolific lines is the American Classics series. Richard Danielpour, a composer whose work I first came across in a recording of a cello concerto written for Yo-Yo Ma, is featured on a recent release with the Seattle Symphony and Chorale under Gerard Schwarz (8.559712). What drew me to the disc was the Symphony No.3 “Journey Without Distance” when I first conceived of this column, thinking it would focus on modern symphonies. While the symphony is a striking work featuring soprano Faith Esham as the “voice of as angel” in a transcendent text by Helen Schucman, it was The Awakened Heart, a purely instrumental work (in spite of literary references in the movement titles) which captured my attention. It dates from 1990 and is a dramatic and often exuberant work, at times reminiscent of the hybrid of symphonic and theatrical music in Leonard Bernstein’s oeuvre.

07a-Maxwell-Davies-207b-Maxwell-Davies-3I was not previously familiar with the symphonic output of British composer Peter Maxwell Davies although certainly aware of his cycle of string quartets (commissioned by Naxos) and such modern classics as Eight Songs for a Mad King and Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise. I was a little surprised to learn that he has written nine symphonies and if recent releases are an indication I assume we will see all of them from Naxos in the coming months. I added Symphony No.2 (1980) (8.572349) and Symphony No.3 (1984) (8.572350), both performed by the BBC Philharmonic under the composer’s direction,to my carry home bag and have enjoyed both of these textural pieces. I would almost consider them concertos for orchestra rather than symphonies, not because of sectional virtuosity but because they seem to be more about the different sonic possibilities inherent in the ensemble than in thematic development. The caveats I mentioned earlier in this article have to do specifically with these two discs. Each of the symphonies is accompanied by what I would call an incidental piece. Although the premise of each — St. Thomas Wake (Foxtrot for orchestra on a pavan by John Bull) and Cross Lane Fair — is “serious” enough, with separate dance band and Northumbrian pipes and bodhran respectively, they come across as merely pastiche. This is not to suggest that they are not a worthy part of Maxwell Davies’ oeuvre, simply that I would prefer a so-called “separation of church and state” — discs of symphonic repertoire on the one hand and of the more theatrical music on another.

With my space rapidly running out I will just briefly mention my “old favourites” revisited in recent Naxos recordings.

08-PendereckiThe abrasive music of then young Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki was an important aspect of my introduction to the music of the 20th century. There have been a number of recent Naxos Penderecki releases, each of which combines his youthful output with more conservative works of his mature years. Fonogrammi/Horn Concerto/Partita (8.572482) includes Fonogrammi for flute and chamber orchestra, Anaklasis for string orchestra and percussion and De natura sonoris I for orchestra, all from the 1960s, with several works from the 70s and the much more recent Horn Concerto “Winterreise”(2009).With a variety of soloists the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Anthony Wit provide definitive performances.

09-MessiaenOlivier Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum (8.572714) is a devotional work from 1964. The Orchestre National de Lyon gives a strong performance under the direction of Jun Märki, but without ecstatic interludes such as those included in the earlier Turangalîla Symphony, to my ears the piece is a little “too much of a muchness.” The disc is redeemed however by the inclusion of two early orchestral works which provide welcome dramatic contrast: Le Tombeau resplendissant (1931) and Hymne (1932).

10-BartokSaving the best for last, Marin Alsop returns with a recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (1943) and Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936) (8.572486). In this instance she is conducting the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in performances that rival any I’ve heard of these two works which number among my very favourites.

Naxos is to be commended for its commitment to thoroughness, excellence and affordability. This small sampling of recent output only includes the art music of our time. It must be pointed out that the Naxos catalogue is just as extensive, one could say exhaustive, in classical repertoire from the Renaissance through the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras. And as Nicholas Soames, author of The Story of Naxos and director of Naxos AudioBooks would certainly point out, the Naxos catalogue extends far beyond the scope of classical music. There are two things I look forward to in the coming month: finding the time to read Soames’ story of this innovative company that has changed the history of recorded music in our time, and the newest addition to the Naxos Canadian Classics series, Dreamscapes, featuring orchestral music by Vivian Fung due out on September 23.

Of related interest: Jerry Fink, former CEO and President of Naxos of Canada Ltd., will present a ten-week class surveying the history of Western “classical” music from a Jewish viewpoint. Jewish involvement in the development of “classical” music from before the Byzantine Empire to the present day will be explored historically and examined musically. Examples from the presentation include: the Psalms and their use in Christian church music; Jewish troubadours of the Middle Ages; a Jewish national music school in pre-Soviet Russia. Thursday evenings beginning October 4 at Holy Blossom Temple. Tuition fee $235 (416-789-7400).

  We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. CDs and comments should be sent to: The WholeNote, 503–720 Bathurst St., Toronto ON M5S 2R4. We also encourage you to visit our website,, where you can find added features including direct links to performers, composers and record labels, and additional, expanded and archival reviews.  

— David Olds, DISCoveries Editor,

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