Toronto's Tafelmusik blows the dust off of period-instrument performance with its multimedia "House of Dreams" project. Rudolf Buchbinder plays electrifying Schubert and the Warsaw Philharmonic introduces us to the neglected works of Stanislaw Moniuszko.
House of Dreams (CD & DVD)
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
The Canadian period instrument ensemble Tafelmusik has previously captured our attention with the Galileo Project, a unique multimedia project that wove together Baroque music with images from the Hubble telescope and writings by important scientific figures. The ensemble returns with another visually-driven project, built around five historic houses in five European cities – London, Paris, Delft, Venice and Leipzig – where the music of Bach, Handel, Purcell, Telemann, Vivaldi and others was played.
These houses contained a wealth of visual art, including paintings by Vermeer, Canaletto, and Watteau, and this is where the visual imagery comes in. The documentary film presents a guided trip through European art and architecture blended with an international assortment of music: two numbers from Handel’s Theodora, several movements from Vivaldi concertos, three instrumental pieces by Purcell, Marin Marais’s Suite from Alcyone, three Bach transcriptions and finally, the Overture to Telemann’s Wassermusik. All of the music was memorized for the DVD performance and there’s an audio CD as well.
Tafelmusik is to perform this program at Carnegie Hall on March 17, part of a farewell tour by the group’s music director and violinist, Jeanne Lamon. See an excerpt from the DVD at the bottom of this page.
Schubert Impromptus and Sonata, D. 960
Available at Arkivmusic.com
Rudolf Buchbinder’s latest Schubert album, released last September, features repertoire that he previously recorded in the studio. But this was recorded live at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna and the presence of an audience seems to have inspired this veteran Austrian pianist to more expressive freedom and rhetorical license. In the famous B-flat Sonata, D. 960 he plays with power and resonance but also takes time to linger over details and consider odd harmonic twists. The Four Impromptus Op. 90 are equally poetic but with a penchant for swagger when the mood calls for it. Given that Buchbinder doesn't have quite the name recognition in the U.S. that he has in Europe, this recording serves as a fine introduction to his music-making.
Stanislaw Moniuszko: Overtures
Warsaw Philharmonic, Antoni Wit, conductor
In Poland, Stanislaw Moniuszko (1819-1872), is a respected national composer, known for his vibrant use of color and Slavic folk sources. Yet most everywhere else, his music is largely forgotten. The Warsaw Philharmonic presents 10 of his overtures including that to his best-known work, the Overture to Halka (The Fairytale, which also happened to be the first important Polish opera). Many are quite zesty and full of charm, a reminder that there’s always new music to be discovered beyond the core Western canon.