La Scena Musicale

Monday, 23 February 2015

Cette semaine à Montréal : du 23 février au 1er mars

 
Trio Fibonacci

Cette semaine à Montréal : du 23 février au 1er mars

Opéra da Camera dans Serse de Haendel
La compagnie montréalaise continue avec son premier opéra de la saison : Serse de Haendel. Dans une mise en scène originale d’Andrew Cuk, cette production fera appel à un ensemble orchestral, dirigé par Christopher Hossfeld, et une large distribution de chanteurs : Meagan Zantingh, Kathrin Welte, Danielle Vaillancourt, Nicola Ravarino Guagenti, Frédérique Drolet, Valérie Bélanger et Jean-Philippe Lupien. Théâtre Rialto., 28 février, 19 h 30. ­www.operadacamera.ca
- Justin Bernard

100e anniversaire d’Alexander Brott
Alexander Brott, dont nous célébrons le centenaire de naissance en 2015, était d’abord et avant tout un créateur. Il est considéré comme l’un des compositeurs les plus importants et les plus prolifiques du Canada, et ses œuvres ont reçu des éloges de la critique, des chefs d’orchestre et du public. L’Orchestre de chambre McGill célèbre le 100 anniversaire d’Alexander Brott. Les œuvres présentées comprennent Mini Minus et Sept for Seven. L’orchestre sera dirigé par Boris Brott. Le 24 février, salle Bourgie. www.ocm-mco.org

Trio Fibonacci – Le classicisme viennois
Au 18e siècle, l’orchestre de Mannheim fut considéré comme le meilleur de l’Europe. Avec La Fusée de Mannheim, les musiciens du Fibonacci, Julie-Anne Derome, violon, Wonny Song, pianiste et Gabriel Prynn, violoncelle, ont commencé à rechercher ce qui fait la qualité particulière du classicisme viennois. Cet idéal sera atteint dans les œuvres de Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven et Onslow. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, 25 février, 19 h 30. www.triofibonacci.com
- Renée Banville

L’Étoile d’Emmanuel Chabrier
Pour sa production annuelle de la saison 2014-2015, l’Atelier d’opéra de l’Université de Montréal, dirigé par Robin Wheeler, a choisi un opéra-bouffe, L’Étoile de Chabrier, dans une mise en scène de François Racine. Jean-François Rivest sera à la direction de l’Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal et du Chœur de l’Atelier d’opéra. Salle Claude-Champagne. 26, 27, 28 février, 19 h 30. www.calendrier.umontreal.ca
- Justin Bernard

À surveiller durant MNM
Du 26 février au 7 mars, la 7e édition du festival Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques présentera sous le thème "Environnements et nouvelles technologies" une trentaine de concerts dans 11 lieux différents. Quelques faits saillants.
À tout seigneur tout honneur, c'est la Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), productrice de l'évènement, qui ouvre les festivités avec cette touche de démesure qui caractérise la vision de son directeur artistique Walter Boudreau. Le programme compte une vidéo-musique (Yan Breuleux, Soizic Lebrat - 2012), une pièce pour piano préparé (John Cage - 1945), des extraits du film Ce soir on improvise (Raymond Gervais, Michel Di Torre - 1974) et une réorchestration, par Boudreau et René Bosc, de l'œuvre radiophonique "injouable" Atlantide (1985), de Michel-Georges Brégent (Salle Pierre-Mercure, 26 février - 19h).
Il faut aussi mentionner le concert de l'Orchestre symphonique de McGill interprétant la Turangalîla-Symphonie (1949) d'Olivier Messiaen sous la direction d'Alexis Hauser (Maison symphonique, 27 février - 19h) et souligner la présence de l'ensemble Musikfabrik, d'Allemagne, qui donnera la création nord-américaine d'une œuvre de Claude Vivier (Salle Pierre-Mercure, 28 février, 19h), de même que celle de l'ensemble Onix, du Mexique, pour un double concert multimédia (Agora Hydro-Québec, 4 mars, 21h et 23h).
N'oublions pas les événements gratuits: les 150 voix des Papes hurlants de l'ensemble Mruta Mertsi sous la direction d'André Pappathomas (Complexe Desjardins, 29 février - 23h) ou les 100 guitaristes de l'ensemble Instuments of Happiness Extreme, célébrant le 100e anniversaire de naissance du légendaire guitariste Les Paul sous la direction de Tim Brady (même endroit, 7 mars - 15h). www.festivalmnm.ca
- Réjean Beaucage

La Société d’art vocal et Martha Guth
Pour son troisième récital de la saison, la Société d’art vocal a fait appel à la soprano canadienne, Martha Guth, originaire de Vancouver. Accompagnée au piano par Hinrich Alpers, la chanteuse proposera un répertoire original, des mélodies composées sur des textes d’Emily Dickinson, poétesse américaine du XIXe siècle. Aaron Copland fait partie de ces compositeurs qui ont mis les poèmes de l’auteure en musique. Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique. 1er mars, 15 h. www.artvocal.ca
- Justin Bernard

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This Week in Montreal: February 23 to March 1

Trio Fibonacci

This Week in Montreal: February 23 to March 1

Opéra da Camera in Haendel’s Serse
The Montreal company continues its first opera of the season: Serse. In an original production from Andrew Cuk, the concert will feature an Orchestra directed by Christopher Hossfeld and a large group of singers: Meagan Zantingh, Kathrin Welte, Danielle Vaillancourt, Nicola Ravarino Guagenti, Frédérique Drolet, Valérie Bélanger et Jean-Philippe Lupien. Théâtre Rialto. Feb. 28, 7 :30 pm. www.operadacamera.ca
- Justin Bernard

Alexander Brott’s 100th Anniversary
Alexander Brott, whose centenary we are celebrating in 2015, was first and foremost a creator. He stands as one of Canada’s most significant and prolific composers, and his works have received accolades from critics, conductors and audiences. McGill Chamber Orchestra celebrates Alexander Brott's 100th Anniversary, with works including Mini Minus and Sept for Seven. Boris Brott conducts. February 24 at Bourgie Hall.
www.ocm-mco.org.

Trio Fibonacci – Viennese classicism 
Mannheim Orchestra was seen as one of Europe’s best in the 18th century. With La Fusée de Mannheim, Fibonacci’s musicians, Julie-Anne Derome (violin), Wonny Song (piano) and Gabriel Prynn (cello), started to search for the outstanding quality of Viennese classicism. This ideal is reached with compositions by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Onslow. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, February 25, 7:30 pm. www.triofibonacci.com
- Renée Banville

L’Étoile by Emmanuel Chabrier
For its annual production, the Atelier d’opéra de l’Université de Montréal conducted by Robin Wheeler chose an opera-bouffe: L’étoile by Chabrier, in a François Racine production. Jean-François Rivest will conduct the Université de Montréal Orchestra and the Atelier d’opéra chorus. Salle Claude-Champagne. Feb. 26, 27, 28, 7:30 pm. www.calendrier.umontreal.ca
- Justin Bernard

MNM Highlights
From 26 February to 7 March, the 7th edition of the Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques festival will present some 30 concerts in 11 venues on the theme: “Environments and new technologies”. A few highlights:
To give credit where credit is due, the producer of the event, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), will open the festivities with the extravagance characteristic of its artistic director, Walter Boudreau. The program includes a music video (Yan Breleux, Soizic Lebrat – 2012), a prepared piece for the piano (John Cage – 1945), extracts from the film Ce soir on improvise (Raymond Gervais, Michel Di Torre – 1974) and a reorchestrization by Boudreau and René Bosc of the “unplayable” radio work, Atlantide (1985), by Michel Georges Brégent (Salle Pierre-Mercure, 26 February – 7 pm).
Mention must also be made of the McGill Symphony Orchestra’s concert performance of la Turangalila – Symphony (1949), by Olivier Messiaen under the direction of Alexis Hauser (Maison Symphonique, 27 February – 7 pm), as well as the presence of the Musikfabrik ensemble from Germany, which will perform the North American premiere of a work by Claude Vivier (Salle Pierre Mercure, 28 February, 7 pm), as well as the double multimedia concert by the Onix ensemble from Mexico (Agora Hydro-Québec, 4 March, 9 pm and 11 pm).
Let’s not forget free events: the 500 voices of Les Papes Hurlants of the Mruta Mertsi ensemble, under the direction of André Pappathomas (Compexe Desjardins, 29 February – 11 pm), or the 100 guitarists of the Instruments of Happiness Extreme ensemble, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the legendary guitarist Les Paul, under the direction of Tim Brady (same place, 7 March – 3 pm). www.festivalmnm.ca
- Réjean Beaucage (Translation Christine Lacroix)

La Société d’art vocal and Martha Guth
For its third concert of the season, the Société d’art vocal teamed with Canadian soprano Martah Guth from Vancouver. With pianist Hinrich Alpers, the singer will perform an original repertoire with melodies based on the writing of American 19th century poet Emily Dickinson. Aaron Copland is one of those composers whom translated the poems into music. Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique. March 1st, 3 pm. www.artvocal.ca
- Justin Bernard

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 23 - Mar. 1)

Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of February 23 to March 1

- Joseph So

Even with the Canadian Opera Company's winter season consigned to history, there are still plenty of worthwhile events for voice fans.  Soprano Barbara Hannigan returns to Toronto for several concerts this week and next. The Nova Scotia born, Amsterdam-based Hannigan studied voice with Mary Morrison at University of Toronto and went on to become the queen of contemporary music. A number of composers have created works with Hannigan in mind. She is in town for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's annual New Creations Festival, which is showcasing the works of composer George Benjamin, among others. The event kicks off with A Mind of Winter, a program featuring Benjamin's setting of The Snowman, a poem by Wallace Stevens, with Hannigan as soloist. Also on the program is a new Violin Concerto by Vivian Fung, commissioned by the TSO for Concertmaster Jonathan Crow.  Rounding out the program are works by Japanese composer Dai Fujikura and French composer Henri Dutilleux.  Peter Oundjian shared conducting duties with George Benjamin. Performance on Saturday Feb. 28 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. Given these pieces will be unfamiliar, it would be wise to attend the pre-curtain, intermission, and post-performance events the TSO has scheduled.  http://tso.ca/en-ca/new-creations-festival/pre-and-post-concert-events.aspx
Soprano Barbara Hannigan (Photo: Raphael Brand)

Fans of Hannigan and New Music can hear her earlier this week in a chamber recital on Tuesday Feb. 24 5:30 to 6:30 pm at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. TSO chamber soloists Jonathan Crow (violinist and concertmaster), Peter Seminovs (violin), Teng Li (viola) and Joe Johnson (cello) and COC Ensemble Studio head Liz Upchurch (piano) will join Hannigan in Rapture, a recital featuring Chausson's Chanson perpetuelle, and Schoenberg's String Quartet No. 2 in F-sharp minor.  Full program details at http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert150224.pdf  

Pianist Gerold Huber ad baritone Christian Gerhaher 

Lieder fans should be out in force to welcome back German baritone Christian Gerhaher to Toronto, this time in Schubert's greatest song cycle, Winterreise.  With him is collaborative pianist Gerold Huber. In an interview for the New York Times, Gerhaher talks about his philosophy of lieder singing, best described as a "less is more" approach/ He does not believe in emotional excesses, trendy stage directions, props, use of projections and other devices that have become popular in recent years in recitals. Gerhaher feels everything an audience needs is already in the music and the text. Here is that very interesting article - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/arts/music/christian-gerhaher-sings-winterreise-without-all-the-frills.html?_r=0  Performance at Koerner Hall on Thursday Feb. 26 at 8 pm. https://performance.rcmusic.ca/event/gerhaher_huber



Pianist Marc Andre Hamelin 

The great Quebec pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin returns to Toronto in a recital of Schubert, Debussy, John Field, as well as Hamelin's own composition, Pavane Variee. Sunday March 1st 3 pm at Koerner Hall. https://performance.rcmusic.ca/event/hamelin2015

A very intriguing event this week is the Canadian premiere of David Lang's The Whisper Opera, presented by Soundstreams, from Feb. 26 to Mar. 1 at The Theatre Centre on 1115 Queen Street West.  The concept of this project is so unusual that the best way to explain it is by quoting verbatim the material on Soundstreams' website - 

Using a libretto compiled from search-engine responses to such prompts as “When I think of you, I think of…,” Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang explores the tension between our private and online selves in a work that demands the most intimate live performance possible. Reprising their successes at Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, soprano Tony Arnold and New York’s International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)—hailed by The New York Times as “one of the most adventurous and accomplished groups in new music”—make their Canadian debuts in an opera so quiet, so delicate, that it can be experienced by just 52 people at a time. 

On the Soundstreams website is a video clip where David Lang talks about the concept of  this work - http://www.soundstreams.ca/The-Whisper-Opera  See website for performance times.  The audience capacity is limited to 52 per show, and an important component of the presentation is the post-performance chat.

The Gryphon Trio ( violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, cellist Roman Borys, pianist James Parker)

Music Toronto is presenting The Gryphon Trio on Feb. 26 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre. The program consists of works by Haydn. Schubert, Dinuk Wijeratne, and works from the Young Composer Project at the Claude Watson Arts program at the Earl Haig Secondary School. The ensemble is celebrating their 20th season. http://music-toronto.com/quartets/Gryphon_2.htm

The Toronto City Opera's Un ballo in maschera continues this week at the Bickford Centre on Feb. 27 and Mar. 1. It's paired with Don Giovanni, which can be seen on Feb. 25 and 28. Singers are a mix of professionals and amateurs, and all shows have piano accompaniment. http://www.torontocityopera.com/

Opera by Request is presenting a work that's rarely staged, Boito's Mefistofele on Feb. 27th 7:30 pm at the College Street United Church.  http://operabyrequest.ca/wordpress/

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Monday, 16 February 2015

This Week in Montreal: February 16 to 22


Lakmé (Andréanne Brisson Paquin) & Gérald (Sylvain Paré)
credit: Christian Quezada


This Week in Montreal: February 16 to 22
LakméUne histoire d’amour
(Abridged version for two singers from Lakmé  by Léo Delibes)
1 opéra / 1 heure, as its name suggests, proposes abridged versions of popular operas creating an intimate moment full of lyricism.
Its first project, LakméUne histoire d’amour, gathers moments from Léo Delibes’ Masterpiece. Oeffering only the most action-filled moments, the show focus on the relationship between the young Indian Lakmé and the English soldier Gérald. Costumes, accessories and stage design make this performance more than a simple concert.

Renowned stage director Alain Gauthier leads two singers: the brilliant soprano Andréanne Brisson Paquin as Lakmé and tenor Sylvain Paré as the passionate Gérald. Talented pianist Michel-Alexandre Broekaert will play pieces adapted for single piano between sung arias, offering a different way to listen to Lakmé!

Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique. Feb. 19, 7 :30 pm. www.conservatoire.gouv.qc.ca
 - Pascal Blanchet

Bach, Mozart and Fauré for voice and organ
Quebec soprano Marianne Fiset accompanied by organist Isabelle Demers will perform a varied repertoire, mixing styles from Bach to Schumann, Mozart to Fauré, including Reger, MacMillan, Barié and Daveluy. This will be an opportubity to hear (or hear again) the Casavant organ, also called Grand-Orgue-Pierre-Béique, in soloist music pieces. Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate and Fauré’s « Pie Jesu » (a Requiem extract) will be performed. Maison symphonique, Feb. 21, 8 pm. www.osm.ca
- Justin Bernard

Opéra da Camera in Haendel’s Serse
The Montreal Company presents its first opera of the season: Serse. In an original production from Andrew Cuk, the concert will feature an Orchestra directed by Christopher Hossfeld and a large group of singers: Meagan Zantingh, Kathrin Welte, Danielle Vaillancourt, Nicola Ravarino Guagenti, Frédérique Drolet, Valérie Bélanger et Jean-Philippe Lupien. Théâtre Rialto. Feb. 19, 21, 28, 7 :30 pm. www.operadacamera.ca
- Justin Bernard

Ensemble caprice and Bach’s cantatas
The Arte Musica Foundation continues with its concert series with Ensemble Caprice under the direction of Matthias Maute. Guest soloists will be soprano Monika Mauch, mezzo-soprano Maude Brunet, tenor Hermann Oswald and baritone Clayton Kennedy. Profondeur et consolation will feature two funeral cantatas by Bach (BWV 106 and 198). Bourgie Hall, Musée des beaux-arts. Feb. 22, 2 pm. www.sallebourgie.ca
- Justin Bernard

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Cette semaine à Montréal : le 16 au 22 février


Lakmé (Andréanne Brisson Paquin) & Gérald (Sylvain Paré)
crédit photo: Christian Quezada

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 16 au 22 février

LakméUne histoire d’amour
(Version abrégée pour deux chanteurs d’après Lakmé de Léo Delibes)
1opéra/1heure propose, comme son nom le suggère, des versions abrégées d’opéras connus, pour un moment plein de lyrisme intimiste… Comme premier projet, Lakmé – Une histoire d’amour, rassemble les plus beaux moments du chef-d’œuvre de Léo Delibes. Conçu pour n’offrir que les moments essentiels de l’action, le spectacle se concentre sur la relation tourmentée entre la jeune hindoue Lakmé et le soldat anglais Gérald. Des costumes, des accessoires ainsi qu’une mise en espace feront de ce spectacle plus qu’un simple concert.
Le réputé metteur en scène Alain Gauthier dirige deux interprètes : la brillante jeune soprano Andréanne Brisson Paquin en Lakmé, face au Gérald passionné du ténor Sylvain Paré. Ils sont accompagnés par l’excellent pianiste Michel-Alexandre Broekaert, qui intercale entre les airs chantés quelques passages de la partition arrangés pour piano seul, offrant ainsi une façon différente d’écouter Lakmé !
Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique. 19 février, 19 h 30. www.conservatoire.gouv.qc.ca
- Pascal Blanchet

Bach, Mozart et Fauré pour voix et orgue
La soprano québécoise Marianne Fiset sera accompagnée à l’orgue par Isabelle Demers dans un répertoire varié, mêlant les styles musicaux de Bach à Schumann, de Mozart à Fauré en passant par Reger, MacMillan, Barié et Daveluy. Ce sera l’occasion d’entendre ou de réentendre l’orgue Casavant, nommé Grand-Orgue-Pierre-Béique, dans des pièces pour soliste. Parmi les œuvres pour orgue et voix, mentionnons le motet Exsultate, jubilate de Mozart et le « Pie Jesu », extrait du Requiem de Fauré. Maison symphonique. 21 février, 20 h. www.osm.ca
- Justin Bernard

 Opéra da Camera dans Serse de Haendel
La compagnie montréalaise présente son premier opéra de la saison : Serse de Haendel. Dans une mise en scène originale d’Andrew Cuk, cette production fera appel à un ensemble orchestral, dirigé par Christopher Hossfeld, et une large distribution de chanteurs : Meagan Zantingh, Kathrin Welte, Danielle Vaillancourt, Nicola Ravarino Guagenti, Frédérique Drolet, Valérie Bélanger et Jean-Philippe Lupien. Théâtre Rialto. 19, 21, 28 février, 19 h 30. ­www.operadacamera.ca
- Justin Bernard

Ensemble caprice et les cantates de Bach
La Fondation Arte Musica poursuit sa longue série de concerts avec la participation de l’Ensemble Caprice, sous la direction de Matthias Maute. Parmi les solistes invités, on retrouve la soprano Monika Mauch, la mezzo-soprano Maude Brunet, le ténor Hermann Oswald et le baryton Clayton Kennedy. Au programme de ce concert intitulé Profondeur et consolation, deux cantates funèbres de Jean-Sébastien Bach, BWV 106 et 198. Salle Bourgie du Musée des beaux-arts. 22 février, 14 h. www.sallebourgie.ca
- Justin Bernard

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This Week in Toronto (Feb. 16 - 22)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of Feb. 16 to 22

- Joseph So

We are faced with a period of intense cold here in Toronto, and the temptation is to stay home and "cocoon" rather than braving the elements for a concert.  That said, there're quite a few events well worthy venturing out for.  First of all, this week is your very last chance of seeing the Canadian Opera Company's winter presentations of Don Giovanni (Feb. 18 and 21)  and Die Walkure (Feb. 19 and 22) at the Four Seasons Centre.  Great singing in both but I am particularly fond of the Wagner, so the four hour forty-five minute Walkure goes by in a flash. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favour and go.  http://www.coc.ca/

Mezzo Janina Baechle

Also there are two free noon hour concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre this week that are very intriguing.  The COC Fricka, German mezzo Janina Baechle, whom I've heard multiple times in Munich and elsewhere is a fine recitalist. She will be giving a concert, Urlicht, on Tuesday Feb. 17. The title is taken from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn - she'll be singing three songs from this great cycle.  Also on the program are Brahms songs, really the bread and butter repertoire for the mezzo voice, plus songs by the lesser known composer Charles Loeffler.  Rachel Andrist is at the piano and Keith Hamm the violist.  http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert150217.pdf

On Thursday Feb. 19 at noon is the annual Collaborations, a joint recital involving the COC Ensemble Studio artists and those from the Atelier Lyrique of Opera de Montreal. This concert features the voices of France Bellemare, Aaron Sheppard, Josh Whelan, Gordon Bintner, Clarence Frazer, and Andrew Haji. Jennifer Szeto and Maxime Dube-Malenfant are the pianists. Complete program information can be found at  http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert150219.pdf

Conductor Steven Reineke

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is programming a "cross-over" show this week in From Bach to Bluegrass with Time for Three String Trio.  I have to admit I am quite ignorant when it comes to this genre. Based on the TSO website, this group has performed on Dancing With the Stars. On the program are Beatles tunes, Bach's Double Concerto, and the Charlie Daniels Band's The Devil Went Down to Georgia.  At the helm is TSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke. Three performances, on Tuesday Feb. 17 8 pm, and Wednesday Feb. 18 2 and 8 pm. http://tso.ca/

Pianist Lang Lang

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is once again celebrating the Chinese New Year, a tradition it started last year. This concert features prominent Chinese guest artists as well as Chinese members of the TSO.  Long Yu returns to conduct a program of Chinese and Western orchestral music. Lang Lang is the headliner of a line-up that also includes folk singer Lei Jia, pianists Johnson Li and Coco Ma, clarinetist Yao Guang Zhai, and violist Teng Li. Mark Rowswell "Dashan" is host and will narrate Saint-Saens' The Carnival of the Animals. Also on the program are Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Spring Festival Overture by Li Huanzhi.   Saturday Feb. 21 7:30 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. http://tso.ca/en-ca/concerts-and-tickets/2014-2015-Season/EventDetails/The-Year-of-the-Sheep-A-Chinese-New-Year-Celebration.aspx

Violinist Sarah Chang
Violinist Sarah Chang appears in recital with American pianist Julio Elizalde at Koerner Hall on Friday Feb. 20th 8 pm. The Koerner website is a little vague on the program, except to say it will include Brahms' Violin Sonata No. 3, Ravel's Tzigane, and Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok.   http://performance.rcmusic.ca/event/sarah_chang


Pianist Denes Varjon

Hungarian pianist Denes Varjon makes his Toronto debut on Tuesday Feb. 17 8 pm under the auspices of Music Toronto. On the program are works by Beethoven, Schumann, Ravel and Bartok. Recital takes place at the usual MT venue of Jane Mallett Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre. http://music-toronto.com/piano/Denes_Varjan.htm

Toronto City Opera (formerly Toronto Opera Repertoire) is presenting fully staged productions of Un ballo in maschera on Feb. 18 and 21, and Don Giovanni on Feb. 20 and 22, at the Bickford Centre near the Christie subway station. The two shows opens last week. TCO is under the joint direction of mezzo Beatrice Carpino and pianist Aldofo De Santis. The soloists are a combination professionals and amateurs, and all performances have piano accompaniment. http://www.torontocityopera.com/



















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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Worthy Sibelius Tribute in Austin, Texas

Peter Bay and the Austin Symphony Orchestra (ASO) in the Long Center

Dukas: Fanfare for La Péri (1912)
Glazunov: Wedding March Op. 21 (1889)
Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 47 (1903)
Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor Op. 39 (1899)

Karen Gomyo, violin
Austin Symphony Orchestra (ASO)/Peter Bay
Long Center for the Performing Arts
Austin, Texas
February 7, 2015

Composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1857)
This is going to be a big year for Finnish composer Jean Sibelius; born in 1865, 2015 is the 150th anniversary of his birth. Orchestras everywhere will be playing his music and there will surely be a plethora of new recordings. Conductor Peter Bay and the Austin Symphony Orchestra are already off and running with a recent concert featuring two of Sibelius’ major works, Symphony No. 1 in E minor, and the Violin Concerto in D minor, with the brilliant young American violinist Karen Gomyo as soloist.

Peter Bay could easily have made this an all-Sibelius concert by opening with Finlandia, the Karelia Suite or Valse Triste and the audience would have been delighted. Instead, he chose to play two short works by Sibelius’ contemporaries. Bay also had the interesting idea of playing them without pause; in other words, the end of the Fanfare for La Péri led straight into the Glazunov march. Musically, this was effective not only because the fanfare is scored for brass only and the Glazunov begins with brass, but also because the Dukas is only three minutes long and is apt to sound inconsequential on its own.

The Glazunov, a lovely, understated piece, is rarely heard. Bay and the Austin Symphony gave it a fine performance.

Soloist Karen Gomyo
Karen Gomyo plays the “Aurora, ex-Foulis” Stradivarius (1703) and the sound produced by this soloist and her instrument was stunning, especially on the G-string - a big sound analogous to fine wine: robust, with hints of peach and almond. Gomyo took some time to establish her authority in the first movement of the concerto. Like its great predecessor, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, the Sibelius Violin Concerto is written that way; it takes its time to really get going. During the course of the performance, it became clear that Gomyo knew what she was doing and had the sound, technique and depth of expression to give this concerto a very fine performance. Peter Bay and the Austin Symphony provided ideal accompaniment; however softly Gomyo chose to play, Bay and the orchestra could play softer and in the big tutti passages there was ample fire and energy.

Gomyo’s bio in the programme book revealed that she was “deeply interested in the “Nuevo Tango” of Astor Piazzolla”, so it was not surprising that she played some unaccompanied Piazzolla as an encore. A delightful piece, the audience loved it.

Sibelius composed his First Symphony in 1899. Having already written the massive Kullervo Symphony for soloists, male chorus and orchestra, and the Four Legends - both works based on episodes from the Finnish epic poem the Kalevala – he was, by age 34, a very experienced composer.

During his formative years, Sibelius travelled to Europe to further his studies. He spent some time with Busoni in Leipzig in 1890. The following year he spent even more time in Vienna. He had a letter of introduction to Brahms but the Great Man, well-known for his crankiness, refused to see him. Sibelius studied instead with Robert Fuchs and Karl Goldmark.

By 1897 Sibelius was well established as a promising composer in his native Finland; in fact, he was so highly regarded that he was awarded an annual pension by the Finnish government. Sibelius received this income for the rest of his life. Together with increasing royalties from performances of his music, Sibelius was able to devote himself solely to composition without having to worry about how he would pay for his next meal.

One of the first fruits of this financial independence was the Symphony No. 1. Unlike the Kullervo Symphony, the work is pure music. It tells no story nor does it attempt to depict any events. It is all about the presentation and transformation of musical ideas. This is an important point when discussing the music of young composers. One must try to imagine how hard it was for Sibelius to do away with the crutch of program notes that would explain what the music was all about and give it a structure. Most of his early works had been in this programmatic style; now he was attempting to write a major piece in which the music speaks for itself.

Maestro Peter Bay
The Symphony No. 1 not only speaks for itself; it speaks in an original voice. There are occasional distant echoes of Borodin and Tchaikovsky, but for the most part listeners in 1899 were hearing something new. Its opening bars, with a darkly beautiful clarinet solo over a soft timpani roll, are unprecedented in the history of music. Throughout the piece one hears melodies, textures and rhythms that are highly original. All the elements of Sibelius’ mature style as a symphonist are to be found in this symphony. Each of his later symphonies has a different and often more concentrated structure, but “the voice” is instantly recognizable as being that of Sibelius.

Peter Bay gave us a well-prepared and heartfelt interpretation of the Symphony No. 1. There are no metronome markings in the symphony, so the conductor has to work out the tempi for himself Bay’s tempi for each of the four movements seemed just right. Balances were excellent with brass and percussion given their head in all the right places. Well, nearly all the right places. It seemed to me that the final climax was a little underpowered. My guess is that Bay was holding back the brass and timpani so as not to cover the strings. To my mind, however, the power of this last climax is more important than the secondary parts being played by the strings.

On the whole, this was a worthy tribute to Sibelius. Perhaps there will be more to come from Bay and the Austin Symphony later in the season.


Paul Robinson is the author of Herbert von Karajan: the Maestro as Superstar, and Sir Georg Solti: His Life and Music. For friends: The Art of the Conductor podcast, “Classical Airs.”

Monday, 9 February 2015

This Week in Montreal: February 9 to 15


 
Joyce Yang

This Week in Montreal: February 9 to 15

Orchestre de chambre i musici de Montréal
The Orchestra presents Quatre temperaments on Feb. 12 at Bourgie Hall. Pianist Joyce Yang will join the team and Jean-Marie Zeitouni will conduct. Use promo code La Scena to get a 15% discount. www.imusici.com

Faculté de musique de l'Université de Montréal
On Wednesday Feb. 11, Le Cercle des étudiants compositeurs will present their compositions in CéCo II : L’aventure se continue. 7 :30 pm, salle Serge-Garant (B-484). Musique.umontreal.ca

Chapelle Bon-Pasteur
Composer in residence, Jimmie Leblanc presents Lignes d’ombre et autres paradoxes lumineux with Duo Rockeys, which includes Katelyn Clark (harpsichord) and Luciane Cardassi (piano and electronic). Feb. 11, 8 pm.
www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/chapellebonpasteur
- Renée Banville

Le Vivier
Jennifer Thiessen (baroque viola, viola d’amore) and Jean-Willy Kunz (harpsichord), perform Histoires d’amour on Feb. 12, 8 pm at Gesù. levivier.ca

L’orchestre lyrique de Montréal
For the second concert of its first season, the orchestra, under the direction of Simon Rivard and Ben Kepes, will perform Benjamin Britten’s Les illuminations. The orchestra will accompany soprano Éthel Guéret. The program also includes other pieces from the British composer as Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique. Feb. 12, 8pm. www.orchestrelyriquedemontreal.org   
- Justin Bernard

French school at Arion
The Virtuose des Lumières concert is dedicated to the founder of L’école française de violon, Jean-Marie Leclair. Conductor and soloist, violinist Mira Glodeanu will inspire all of those who love the musice of Leclair. With Claire Guimond (flute) and Jean Marchand as guest speaker. Feb 13, 14, 15 at Bourgie Hall. www.mbam.qc.ca/concerts/
- Renée Banville

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This Week in Toronto (Feb. 9 - 15)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of February 9 to 15

- Joseph So


For Toronto area opera and voice fans, the cup truly runneth over this week, with many fabulous opportunities to hear great singing.  First of all, there's Canadian Opera Company's Don Giovanni and Die Walkure continuing this week with performances on the Mozart on Feb. 12 and 14, and for Wagner on Feb. 10 and 13, all at the Four Seasons Centre. I caught another performance of Walkure last Saturday that marked the Canadian and role debut of American dramatic  tenor Issachah Savage. It was fantastic - here's my review of that performance - http://blog.scena.org/2015/02/dramatic-tenor-issachah-savage-makes.html  I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities to hear Mr. Savage - with a voice like that, he will go far.  In the meantime, I wish Mr. Clifton Forbis a speedy recovery.
http://www.coc.ca/

COC Ensemble Studio 2014-15

There are several exciting events this week at the opera house. The Christina and Louis Quilico Awards is happening on Monday Feb. 9 5:30 pm at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. This is in the form of a competition for the current members of the COC Ensemble Studio. The late Louis Quilico of course was a great Canadian baritone, and this competition is dedicated to his memory. This is a free event!  But you must show up at least an hour early to line for the possibility of a seat (or at least standing room) for the event.  Be prepared for a two hour duration. Here's the program details.  I can honestly say there are some great voices in the ensemble this year and this event is not to be missed! http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert150209.pdf

Canadian soprano Jane Archibald is currently singing her first Donna Anna at the COC. Her sparkling coloratura is well known to Toronto audiences, having sung here many times, in Semele and Die Zauberfloete. Now we get to hear her dramatic side as Anna. I attended opening night, and her coloratura in Non mi dir was to die for. She is giving a recital, Songs of Love and Longing, on Feb. 10 noon hour at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Liz Upchurch is at the piano. On the program is a Mozart concert aria and songs by Faure, Strauss, and Quilter. http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert150210.pdf
Canadian soprano Jane Archibald

After hearing Jane Archibald, take a break and then go to hear her Don Giovanni, Canadian baritone Russell Braun, singing the great Hugo Wolf song cycle, Italienisches Liederbuch, with soprano Monica Whicher. This takes place at Walter Hall at the University of Toronto's Edward Johnson Building at 7 pm.  Carolyn Maule and Steven Philcox are the collaborative pianists.  https://performance.rcmusic.ca/performance-all

Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki

This is a very big week for piano fans. On Wednesday Feb. 11 8 pm, the TSO presents Carnival of Animals. Pianists Emanuel Ax and Jan Lisiecki, join forces for Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos. Also on the program are a new piece by composer in residence Kevin Lau, and the Saint Saens Carinval of Animals.  Peter Oundjian conducts.

Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear

Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear joins Emanuel Ax and the piano duo Anagnoson and Kinton on Thursday Feb. 12 8 pm for The Orchestral Piano, They are playing Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis after themes of Carl Maria von Weber; Brahm's Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, and Ravel's La valse.  http://www.tso.ca/
Pianist Emauel Ax

As part of its outreach, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a Community Piano Event, with none other than the great pianist Emanuel Ax as performer and mentor!  Pianists from the GTA including RCM and Regent Park School of Music students will get to play on the TSO's new Steinway piano - I mean, how cool is that! It is also a free event.  Kudos to the TSO for doing something so wonderful. The event is on Valentine's Day no less!  Saturday Feb. 14 at 10 am. http://tso.ca/en-ca/concerts-and-tickets/2014-2015-Season/EventDetails/community-piano-event.aspx

Tafelmusik has a very intriguing event this week, called House of Dreams, a program that combines music with fine arts, conceived by Alison Mackay with stage direction by Marshall Pynkoski of Opera Atelier fame. Works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Marais played against a backdrop of paintings by Vermeer, Canaletto and Watteau. Five performances Feb. 11 to 15 at Trinity St. Paul's Centre.  http://www.tafelmusik.org/concert-calendar/concert/house-dreams

Toronto City Opera (formerly Toronto Opera Repertoire) under the direction of mezzo Beatrice Carpino and pianist Adolfo de Santis is presenting Don Giovanni and Un ballo in maschera this week and next. All performances at the Bickford Centre featuring local singers with piano accompaniment. The Mozart is presented on Feb. 11, 14, 20 and 22, while the Verdi on Feb. 13 and 15.  http://www.torontocityopera.com/

Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore is presented by Opera By Request, appropriately on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)!  Performance at College Street United Church at 7:30 pm. At the piano is William Shookhoff.  http://operabyrequest.ca/wordpress/



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Cette semaine à Montréal : du 9 au 15 février 2015


Joyce Yang

Cette semaine à Montréal : du 9 au 15 février 2015

Orchestre de chambre i musici de Montréal
L’orchestre présente Quatre tempéraments  le 12 février à la salle Bougie. La pianiste Joyce Yang se joindra à l’équipe et Jean-Marie Zeitouni dirigera l’orchestre. Mentionnez La Scena et obtenez 15% de rabais. www.imusici.com

Faculté de musique de l'Université de Montréal
Le mercredi 11 février, le Cercle des étudiants compositeurs présentera ses œuvres lors d’un concert intitulé CéCo II : L’aventure se continue. 19h30, salle Serge-Garant (B-484). Musique.umontreal.ca

La rentrée à Bon-Pasteur
Compositeur résident, Jimmie Leblanc présente Lignes d’ombre et autres paradoxes lumineux avec le Duo Rockeys, composé de Katelyn Clark, clavecin, et Luciane Cardassi, piano et électronique. 11 février, 20 h. www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/chapellebonpasteur
- Renée Banville

Le Vivier
Jennifer Thiessen (alto baroque, viole d’amour) et Jean-Willy Kunz (clavecin) présentent Histoires d’amour le 12 février 2015 à 20h au Gesù. Selon les musiciens, il s'agit d'un « programme qui met en évidence les relations entre les musiciens et leurs instruments, entre les compositeurs et les interprètes et entre les musiciens eux-mêmes. » levivier.ca
 
L’orchestre lyrique de Montréal
Pour le deuxième concert de sa première saison, l’Orchestre lyrique de Montréal, sous la direction conjointe de Simon Rivard et Ben Kepes, interprétera Les Illuminations de Benjamin Britten. Dans ce cycle de mélodies, l’ensemble accompagnera la soprano Éthel Guéret. Le programme comprendra également une autre œuvre du compositeur britannique, Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. Parmi les solistes, le chanteur Benjamin Butterfield et le corniste Louis-Pierre Bergeron. Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique. 12 février, 20 h. www.orchestrelyriquedemontreal.org   
- Justin Bernard

L’école française chez Arion
Le concert Virtuose des Lumières est dédié au fondateur de l’école française de violon, Jean-Marie Leclair. Chef et soliste, la violoniste Mira Glodeanu inspirera tous les amoureux de celui qui fut le violoniste le plus éminent de son temps. Avec Claire Guimond, flûte, et Jean Marchand, conférencier. 13, 14, 15 février, salle Bourgie. www.mbam.qc.ca/concerts/
- Renée Banville

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