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Daily album review 9: Vernon Regehr bows to Canadian voices to solo cello repertoire

By John Terauds on November 24, 2012

Unaided by other strings or a piano accompaniment, there is a particular nakedness to the sound of a cello played solo. Canadian Vernon Regehr clothes it in excellent Canadian content in a new Centredescs release.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

It is so interesting to hear how six different Canadian composers can take six very different musical approaches, yet end up with a similar aching, lamentation-like quality to the opening sections of their pieces for solo cello.

I guess the plaintive middle and lower registers of the instrument are far too potent a magnet for the imagination.

Of the six works, all written over the past decade, the most substantial is Larysa Kuzmenko’s four-movement Fantasy laid out in slow-fast-slow-fast form, ending with a nervously hyper toccata.

Matthew Whittall contributes From the Edge of the Mist, which contains some wonderful shimmery effects. Vincent Ho’s Stigmata and Clark Winslow Ross’s Lamentations are as emotionally deep as their titles suggest.

François-Hughes Leclair demands an interesting alternate tuning (scordatura) in the first of two Interludes, which is particularly hypnotic.

All the pieces offer quick, motoric breaks from their slow introductions later on.

My favourite piece is Kati Agócs Versprechen, which reimagines a Bach chorale using the sort of variations on note sequences loved by serialist composers. This is beautifully varied, highly textured writing that Regehr executes with elegant ease, as he does every other one of the very difficult pieces on this album.

Full Spectrum is a great document well performed. It is not a great listening programme, because there is too much broad-scale sameness to the way these composers treat the solo cello. But savoured one at a time, these pieces reward the careful listener.

For more details, click here.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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