Volume 28 Issue 1 | September 20 - November 8, 2022

Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.

Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.


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Virtuosa Project

Infusion Baroque

Leaf Music LM246 (leaf-music.ca)

! The piquant new

release by Virtuosa,

a period ensemble

form Quebec, is

part of their notable

Virtuosa Project, a

series of concerts,

lectures and web

videos dedicated

to women musicians

prior to the 20th century. In itself, this

is an impressive undertaking featuring 14

compositions, stylish interpretations and

tons of heartfelt energy. Almost all of the

female composers on this album remained in

the shadows of their male counterparts but

brought just as much knowledge, skill and

talent to the European courts and concert

stages. Many were courageous and imaginative

performers and composers who led

financially independent lives and acquired

noble reputations. This album features an

all-star list of powerful and talented women

composers, some of whom remain relatively

unknown to audiences today: Anna

Bon, Anna Amalia of Prussia, Wilhelmine von

Bayreuth, Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen,

Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre,

Leopoldine Blahetka, Teresa Milanollo,

Hélène Liebmann and the better-known

Clara Schumann.

Ensemble Virtuosa is daring in both

their programming and performance. The

beauty of structure and phrasing is emphasized

through a fantastic array of colours;

the ensemble and their guest artists perform

with a great sensitivity to each of the individual

compositional languages. The inclusion

of the contemporary piece Versailles written

for Baroque instruments by Canadian Linda

Catlin Smith is perhaps a surprising inclusion,

but it works well as it binds together

meditative and enigmatic feminine qualities,

resulting in uniquely beautiful textural layers.

Intuitive and reflective, Infusion Baroque

celebrates the vibrant creativity and lives of

these women.

Ivana Popovic

Lisztomania Vol.2

Hando Nahkur

HN Productions (handonahkur.com)

! Hando Nahkur

is a remarkable

American pianist

of Estonian origin.

Actually, he has

been enthusiastically

reviewed on

these pages in 2018

– his Lisztomania

Vol.1 – and with this Vol.2 I can only reiterate

and add to those accolades.

Nahkur’s credentials are too numerous to

mention. As soloist and accompanist he has

enchanted audiences, won competitions and

received international awards. Franz Liszt is

his favourite composer, and listening to this

recording he certainly does more than justice

to the repertoire. In fact since Estonians

and Hungarians (and the Finns) are related,

coming from the same roots, he must have

some Magyar blood in him as he has such

tremendous affinity and love for the great

Hungarian composer.

According to our pianist the key to understanding

Liszt is “from darkness to light”

and nowhere is this more apparent than in

his iconic Hungarian Rhapsodies inspired

by folk tunes he picked up during his many

visits to his homeland. Actually Rhapsody

as a musical genre was invented by Liszt and

later used by many composers. Generally

these start out slowly (Lassu’) in the lower

registers and gradually work toward sunlight

when the pace quickens and turns into some

frenetic Hungarian dance like the Csárdás

and becomes an extremely difficult virtuoso

piece with a spectacular ending. Hando does

two of these, No.10 and my favourite No.12,

played with gusto, total Romantic abandon

and astoundingly perfect technique. Typical

Liszt, those grace notes, rapid decorative

passages that are cascading up and down the

keyboard, paced perfectly evenly and light as

a feather. The Liebestraum No.3 is played with

loving tenderness and ardent passion and the

big guns come out at the end in the Spanish

Rhapsody that will lift you out of your seat.

Janos Gardonyi

Stravinsky – L’Oiseau de feu; Apollon


Luxemburg Philharmonic Orchestra;

Gustavo Gimeno

Harmonia Mundi HMM905303 (store.


! In June of 2019,

Gustavo Gimeno

conducted the

Toronto Symphony

Orchestra in a

powerful performance

of Stravinsky’s

1945 suite from The

Firebird. Last

May, he led them in an even more memorable

Firebird. This time, he took the podium

as music director of the orchestra. And the

version he chose was the less frequently

programmed original that Stravinsky wrote in

1910 for Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets Russes.

It’s more than twice the length of any of the

three concert suites Stravinsky later made.

But this performance left me with no doubt –

more was better.

On his standout new recording of The

Firebird with the Orchestre Philharmonique

du Luxembourg (where he is also music

director), Gimeno again opts for the original

full-length ballet score. Every moment speaks

persuasively. Stravinsky’s tapestry of evocative

Russian folk melodies, angular textures

and infectious rhythms becomes an edgeof-the-seat

experience. Colourful solos,

like the rhapsodic flute welcoming the 13

captive princesses, and the volcanic timpani

driving the frenzied dance of the evil sorcerer

What we're listening to this month:


When Dark Sounds Collide

Pathos Trio

Featuring five new commissions

that combine aesthetics of

contemporary classical music with

dark, heavy, dense sounds drawn

from other genres.

Dream Dancing

Melissa Stylianou

Melissa returns home for 2

Canadian shows with Ike Sturm

- bass, & Reg Schwager - guitar.

10/8 Jazz Bistro & 10/9 The Jazz


Shanties! LIVE

La Nef & Chor Leoni

Shanties! LIVE features Seán

Dagher, and the 50+ voices of

JUNO-nominated Chor Leoni in a

rollicking concert of sea shanties

haunting laments, and exhilarating

sea songs.

three corners

Hypnosis Negative

A loud, colourful and psychedelic

reimagining of traditional music

from Estonia, Appalachia, and

beyond for modern partner

dancing played on flute, fiddle, and


thewholenote.com September 20 - November 8, 2022 | 55

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