Canadian Soundscapes Resonate In Any Country

I’m always surprised at how little Canadian classical music is known in this country. American labels have released music from Central and South American composers.
But it seems only Canadian labels record Canadian classical music. I don’t understand why, given the scope and quality of that music.

Rosemary Thomson and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra present a program of three Canadian composers. The orchestra is based in British Columbia, where two of the three composers live.

The album has three concertos, each one showing a fresh interpretation of the genre.

R Murray Shafer was one of Canada’s most iconic and influential composers. He achieved international recognition for his work on environment and sound. Shafer’s “The Falcon’s Trumpet” is from 1995.

He writes that it represents a trumpet as it “plays across a lake at dawn or sunset, causing the whole forest to echo and vibrate.” It’s atmospheric and evocative. The trumpet’s interplay with the soprano is especially beautiful.

Imnant Raminsh completed his Violin Concerto in 1997. This work also includes a soprano voice, this time in support of the solo instrument. Raminsh’s intent was to create work for orchestra with violin obbligato (rather than as a showpiece). It’s well-crafted and succeeds in its goal.

Ernst Schneider emigrated to Canada in 1958. His “Romantic” Concerto of 1980 is the first of his two piano concertos. The work is rich in emotion and beautifully expressive. Schneider’s language is tonal, though modern. So there are more modal harmonies than thickly stacked thirds. (That’s not a complaint.)

The soloists for these performances all perform admirably. The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra is a regional orchestra. They deliver committed performances. But there were times when the ensemble wasn’t as tight as it needed to be, and there were a few intonation problems. But those are minor quibbles

This is a strong program, with good performances. And it’s a fine example of the great classical music being created to the north of us. Give this release a listen, and discover what we’ve all been missing.

Canadian Soundscapes
Schafer, Raminsh, Scheider
Guy Few, trumpet; Carmen Harris, soprano;
Melissa Williams, violin; Eeva-Maria Kopp, soprano;
Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, piano
Okanagan Symphony Orchestra; Rosemary Thomson, music director
Centrediscs CMCCD29722

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