Through my association with New Music Concerts I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting the iconic American composer Elliott Carter on a number of occasions, most recently in May 2006 when we presented two concerts under the banner “Elliott Carter, Double Portrait.” It was therefore with personal sadness that I noted Mr. Carter’s death last month, just weeks before his 104th birthday. While of course his passing was inevitable, we had somehow come to think that he just might go on composing forever – he was active right up until the last month of his life.

01 WeilersteinI’m sure it was a coincidence, but nevertheless it came as some consolation to receive a new recording of Carter’s 2000 Cello Concerto just days after the sad news. Elgar, Carter: Cello Concertos marks the Decca debut for Alisa Weilerstein, recorded here with the Staatskapelle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim (B0017592-02). Weilerstein was one of the recipients of the so-called “Genius” award, worth $250,000 over five years, from the MacArthur Foundation in 2011, one of very few musicians to have ever been so honoured. The extensive liner notes by Helen Wallace draw on Weilerstein’s personal impressions of the pieces and her relationship with them, which in the case of the Elgar stretches back to the age of seven or eight when she first heard Jacqueline du Pré’s historic recording. Her performance is wonderfully robust and in some ways charmingly old-fashioned with an occasional swooping portamento and large romantic sound. Barenboim initiated this project and we can only wonder about his mixed feelings as we realize that this young woman may well have inherited the mantle of the late du Pré who was his wife for the last 20 years of her life.

Weilerstein’s approach to the Carter Concerto is thoroughly modern, with spot-on intonation and crisp attacks. Evidently she “played and discussed with the vivacious 104-(sic) year-old composer” and I believe it shows in her interpretation. The piece was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony for cellist Yo-Yo Ma who premiered the work in 2001 but has yet to record it. There is one previous recording featuring frequent Carter collaborator Fred Sherry on the Bridge label (9184) but it is great to have this new performance in a more mainstream context that will bring the work much well-deserved attention. Carter shows his brilliance as an orchestrator throughout with a transparency that never overshadows the cello, dynamic tutti interjections notwithstanding. Of particular note are passages with the bass clarinet and (contra?) bassoon accompanying the cello in its singing upper register. In a day and age when some composers request the soloist be amplified to better hold their own against the forces of the modern symphony orchestra, Carter shows there is no need for this when the balance is skilfully managed. The disc is rounded out by a very moving performance of Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei.

02 Gryphon MessiaenIn recent months I have mentioned a number of recordings of music by Elliott Carter’s coeval Olivier Messiaen (born one day before Carter on December 10, 1908) and I’m pleased to say there is a new local release that is a welcome addition to the catalogue. For the End of Time (Analekta AN 2 9861) features the Gryphon Trio and clarinettist James Campbell performing, as might be expected, Messiaen’s famous Quatuor pour la fin du temps. What is surprising is the context in which it is presented. The disc opens with Echoes of Time, a ten-minute work by Alexina Louie inspired by the Messiaen which she calls “the greatest piece for chamber ensemble that’s possibly ever been written.” It is intended as an introduction to an evening’s entertainment that will include a 40-minute play about Messiaen’s creation of the work as a German prisoner of war (it was first performed in a prison camp in Silesia in 1941) by London-based playwright Mieczysława Wazacz with incidental music by Louie and will culminate with a performance of the Quatuor. Evidently the production will eventually become part of the trio’s touring repertoire. I hope that Toronto audiences will have an opportunity to experience what promises to be an enlightening and moving performance in the near future.

But back to the recording at hand. Louie’s piece does indeed include echoes from its progenitor, but not in an imitative way. There are textures and timbres that are reminiscent of the original, but Louie has obviously absorbed the music thoroughly and it re-emerges in her own voice. Here and throughout the Messiaen, from the quietest entries to the ebullient birdcalls, Campbell’s clarinet melds seamlessly with Annalee Patipatanakoon’s sweet violin, Roman Borys’ rich cello and the tintinnabulations of Jamie Parker’s piano.

There is no shortage of great recordings of the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, including another fabulous local contender on the Naxos label (8.554824) featuring the Amici Ensemble and Scott St. John, but as far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier. To paraphrase Daniel Foley from his “Too Much Mahler?” article further on in these pages, there can never be enough Messiaen for me.

I have mixed feelings about the inclusion of the final selection on the disc however, Valentin Sylvestrov’s Fugitive Visions of Mozart. Commissioned by the Gryphon Trio in 2007, I can understand why they wanted to record it, but when I first heard it following directly on the Messiaen it just seemed like so much bomboniere. It is a lovely piece, and after repeated listenings I have come around and quite enjoy hearing it separately, but I still feel that the context is wrong. We don’t need dessert after such an exhausting main course. Thank goodness CD players are programmable.

03 RegehrAnother thing that I can’t seem to get enough of is good cello discs. Full Spectrum (CMCCD 18112) is one of a recent spate of new recordings on the Centrediscs label and it features cellist Vernon Regehr.The Winnipeg native did his undergraduate work in Toronto at the Royal Conservatory, went on to obtain masters and doctoral degrees at Stony Brook and now teaches at Memorial University. He has obviously cultivated an interest in contemporary and specifically Canadian repertoire and this solo disc is real gem. Beginning with Larysa Kuzmenko’s extended Fantasy for Solo Cello from 2009 we are immediately drawn in to a lush and emotionally charged landscape with soaring lines and rich bass passages. As the work unfolds over the next quarter hour we are transported through intense drama and moments of quiet introspection. The final movement bursts forth with toccata-like precision and keeps it up with only momentary respites along the way to a wonderfully executed bravura ending.

The delicate opening of Matthew Whittall’s From the Edge of Mist with its use of harmonics quickly heralds us into another kind of soundworld, with ethereal passages and drones. Different again is the angular and abrasive opening of Stigmata by Vincent Ho. This gradually gives way to more contemplative “moments of loneliness and desolation” but always with a hard edge. Clark Winslow Ross’ Lamentations lives up to its name and we hear the cantorial voice of the cello alternating with high wailing lines and wonderfully warm pizzicato passages. Interlude I by François-Hughes Leclair explores the deep and resonant range of the cello in its opening passage and then overlays a high melody upon the drone of the lower strings. Interlude II centres around an ostinato bass line with occasional melodic interruptions. Kati Agócs’ Versprechen, composed when she was studying with Milton Babbitt, applies 12-note techniques to Bach’s harmonization of the Lutheran chorale God is my shield and helper. What begins in the realm of academe gradually sheds its serial trappings and in the end we are left with a simple and beautiful rendition of Bach’s original.

As the title suggests, through his choice of repertoire Regehr presents us with a full spectrum of the cello’s natural sound capabilities. Admittedly there are no extra-musical extended techniques employed (bowing on the tail piece or scraping the body of the instrument for instance) and no microtonal playing involved, but within the traditional range of the instrument we are taken to its outer limits, with Regehr a very able guide.

04 Berio SequenzasThere is a Naxos recording that dates from 2006 that I’d like to mention. New Music Concerts’ first event back in January 1972 featured the music of Luciano Berio and for months in advance there were cryptic announcements in the press simply stating “Berio is coming.” Elsewhere in these pages you will find an article by Paula Citron about a marathon performance coming up in January at the Faculty of Music at U of T featuring the complete Sequenzas by that seminal Italian composer. This cycle of solo works spans more than four decades ofBerio’s output beginning in 1958 with Sequenza I for flute(to be performed by Robert Aitken) and ending in 2002, the year before the composer’s death, with Sequenza XIV for cello(to be performed by David Hetherington). The in-between works will be performed by a host of Toronto’s finest musicians including Joseph Petric (accordion), Guy Few (trumpet), Wallace Halladay (saxophone), Xin Wang (soprano), Sanya Eng (harp) and Adam Sherkin (piano). The Naxos recording (8.557661-63) features some of these same players (Petric, Few and Halladay) and other local notables (Nora Shulman, Erica Goodman, Steven Dann, Jasper Wood and Joaquin Valdepeñas to name a few). While all of these works were written for specific performers (Severino Gazzelloni, Cathy Berberian, Heinz Holliger, Rohan de Saram, etc.) and many have been recorded individually by the dedicatees, this is a comprehensive collection of all 14 (and includes variants of number seven and number nine as well) in very convincing performances. Listening to this set would be a good way to prepare for the upcoming marathon.

Editor’s Corner continues with more Elliott Carter on the website.

05 Carter 100Having declared my involvement with New Music Concerts (I have been its general manager for more than a decade), I hope you won’t mind if I draw your attention to our Naxos recording Elliott Carter – 100th Anniversary Release (8.559614). It features performances recorded at the two concerts mentioned above during Carter’s last visit to Toronto in 2006 and was released two years later on the occasion of his centenary. There are a variety of solo works spanning 1984 through 2001 performed by Robert Aitken, Fujiko Imajishi, David Hetherington, Max Christie and Carter’s associate Virgil Blackwell, and more recent concertante works featuring Erica Goodman, David Swan and the New Music Concerts Ensemble under Robert Aitken’s direction. The package includes a separate DVD of Carter in conversation with Aitken from the stage of Glenn Gould Studio and video of the performances of the concerted works Mosaic and Dialogues. It provides a welcome reminder of the musical genius and sparkling good humour of this wonderful human being. He will be sorely missed.

We welcome your feedback and invite submissions. CDs and comments should be sent to: The WholeNote, 503 – 720 Bathurst St. Toronto, ON M5S 2R4. 

David Olds, DISCoveries Editor

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

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