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Monday, 21 April 2014

This Week in Toronto (April 21 - May 4)

This Week in Toronto (April 21 - May 4)

My concert picks for a combined two-week period - Joseph So

Soprano Sondra Radvanvosky

A highly anticipated event in the Canadian Opera Company's spring season is the appearance of American-Canadian soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in her first ever Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux. The soprano last sang with the COC in Aida four years ago, and she's making a long awaited return. Hers is an absolutely top-class spinto, ideal in Verdi and all the bel canto operas. When I interviewed her around the time of her Aida, she mentioned her plan to sing the so-called Three Queens by Donizetti - Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux. Let's hope Torontonians will get to hear the other two with her in the future. Canadian baritone Russell Braun is Nottingham, and Roberto Devereux will be shared between American tenor Leonardo Capalbo and Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, who has had to withdraw from the earlier performances due to a family emergency as announced in a press release last week. Allyson McHardy is Sara and the conductor is Corrado Rovaris, an excellent maestro whom I had heard conduct in Santa Fe a few years ago. The production comes from Dallas Opera. http://www.coc.ca/Home.aspx



Sir Andrew Davis

Toronto Symphony Orchestra Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis returns once again to conduct his old band, this time in Mahler's transcendental Symphony No. 9, his last and arguably most profound work. Venerable conductors the likes of Klemperer and von Karajan had nothing but praise for this work, and Sir Andrew is sure to bring this masterpiece to life for us. Wednesday April 30 and Thursday May 1 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.  http://tso.ca/en-ca/Home.aspx


Conductor Uri Mayer

Conductor Uri Mayer conducted a brilliant run of Cunning Little Vixen recently at the RCM, one of the best things I've seen - among many 'best things' - at the Glenn Gould School. I remember his coming on stage to take his bow, and from a distance, he bears a startling resemblance to the late RCM maestro Mario Bernardi! Mayer's upcoming concert with the RCM Orchestra is also well worth attending. Tops for me is Adieu Robert Schumann, a piece for mezzo soprano and orchestra by Canadian R Murray Schafer. It premiered in 1976 - I recall vividly hearing the late Maureen Forrester sing this work so movingly.  The soloist (as Schumann's wife) reads passages from her diary describing the torment the composer went through as he struggled with depression. Schafer incorporates snippets from ten different Schumann compositions in this piece. Incidentally, Brian Macdonald later choreographed it for the Les Grand Ballet Canadiens.  The centerpiece of this concert is Brahms Symphony No. 1. Also on the program are works by Berlioz and Debussy. http://www.rcmusic.ca/

Robert Cooper, Artistic Director of Orpheus Choir Toronto

The Orpheus Choir of Toronto, under the artistic directorship of Robert Cooper, is bringing its season to an end with Dvorak Requiem in a gala concert on May 4th 3 pm at Koerner Hall. The fine quartet of soloists are soprano Johane Ansell, mezzo Lauren Segal, tenor Adam Luther, and baritone Giles Tomkins, backed by the 160 voices of the Orpheus Choir and Chorus Niagara. Cooper leads the Talisker Players Orchestra for the occasion.  http://www.orpheuschoirtoronto.com/


Canadian Brass

Mooredale Concerts is presenting the venerable Canadian Brass in a fun program that features "serious" classical works mixed in with popular contemporary pieces by Fats Waller and George Gershwin and others. This ensemble, in its 25th anniversary season, was among the first in Canada to do what we take for granted today as "cross-over" before the term became popular. April 27th 3:15 pm at the MacMillan Theatre, preceded by Music and Truffles (a Mooredale specialty) at 1:15 pm. http://mooredaleconcerts.com/


Pianist Leonard Gilbert

The very talented pianist Leonard Gilbert, winner of the Third Canadian Chopin Competition in 2010 and represented Canada at the 16th Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw (2011), is giving a noon hour recital at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on May 1.  The huge program includes several virtuoso pieces - Prelude in A minor from the English Suite No. 2 BWV 807 (Bach), Sonata No. 23 Op. 57 'Appassionata' (Beethoven), Ondine from Gaspard de la nuit (Ravel), Transcendental Etude No. 10 in F minor (Liszt), and Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise Op. 22 in E flat major (Chopin). Be sure to show up an hour ahead for a seat.  http://www.leonardgilbert.com/


Composer-conductor Eduard Kunneke (1885-1953)

Toronto Operetta Theatre presents a true rarity, the Canadian premiere of the 1921 operetta Der Vetter aus Dingsda, here translated as The Cousin from Nowhere, by German operetta composer Eduard Kunneke. The TOT website doesn't provide a whole lot of information, only the description "A mysterious young man makes romantic sparks fly under a silvery moon...thrilling melodies, jazz-age sizzle and dreams of a Batavian paradise will intrigue and entertain."  Well, that indicates it will be fun! Soloists are sopranos Lucia Cesaroni and Elizabeth Beeler and tenors Christopher Mayell and Stefan Fehr. TOT Artistic Director Guillermo Silva-Marin directs.  Four performances May 1 to 4 at the Jane Mallett Theatre. http://www.torontooperetta.com/mainprod.htm






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Cette semaine à Montréal : le 21 au 27 avril


FIN DE SAISON À LA CHAPELLE HISTORIQUE DU BON-PASTEUR
De passage à Montréal, le pianiste Christian Leotta donnera, en collaboration avec la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, deux récitals dans les maisons de la culture Ahuntsic-Cartierville (22 avril) et Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie (24 avril). On l'entendra ensuite à la Chapelle (26 avril). Reconnu pour ses affinités avec la musique de Beethoven, dont il sait exprimer la poésie, il interprétera les sonates 30, 31 et 32. 
www.accesculture.com
- Renée Banville

Denis Gougeon
PROGRAMMES DE LA SÉRIE HOMMAGE DE DENIS GOUGEON
MUTATION, UNE PIÈCE ÉCRITE POUR LE NEM PAR DENIS GOUGEON

Dans son effort pour préparer la relève musicale, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, sous la direction de Lorraine Vaillancourt, propose en tournée Les Chemins de traverse, incluant la pièce Mutation de Denis Gougeon. Avec Noam Bierstone (percussions) et les musiciens du NEM. Maison de la culture Frontenac (14 avril dans le cadre des Lundis d'Edgar), Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur (23 avril) et Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges (24 avril).
http://lenem.ca
- Renée Banville

FESTIVAL GUITARE MONTRÉAL
Cette année, l'événement « Festival et concours international de guitare classique de Montréal » rassemble deux concerts d'envergure, des ateliers, des cours de maître, un kiosque d'exposition et de vente d'instruments, sans oublier le concours international. Ne manquez pas le concert de gala d'ouverture le 25 avril, mettant en vedette la musique de Denis Gougeon, interprétée par Patrick Kearney, le fondateur du festival et virtuose réputé. L'Orchestre de guitares de Marguerite-De LaJemmerais, sous la direction de David Goudreau, est également de la partie (20 h, Auditorium DB Clarke, Université Concordia, prix des billets entre 12 et 27 $). Le 26 avril, le célèbre guitariste Adam Holzman fera sa première apparition à Montréal, à la salle Bourgie, avec des œuvres de Bach, Melli, Turina, Tamez, Ritter, Barrios et Guastavino.  L'Orchestre de guitare classique de la Société de guitare de Montréal, dirigé par Dave Pilon, se produira également à cette date (20 h, prix des billets entre 14 $ et 35 $). La finale du concours international de guitare classique (25 au 27 avril) a lieu à l'École de gestion John Molson de l'Université Concordia. Visitez le www.guitaremontreal.com.
- Rebecca Clark / Lina Scarpellini

I MEDICI DE MCGILL
Le 26e Concert-conférence sur la biologie de la musique, avec Martin Karlíček, pianiste, et l'orchestre I Medici di McGill sous le bâton de Iwan Edwards. Le samedi 26 avril, 16 h, à Salle Pollack de l'Université McGill. www.imedici.mcgill.ca

CONCERTS EN AVRIL AU LMMC
L'un des meilleurs violoncellistes de sa génération, Daniel Müller-Schott ravit le public avec ses interprétations brillantes et sensibles. En 1992, à l'âge de 15 ans, il a fait sensation sur la scène internationale en remportant le premier prix au Concours international Tchaïkovski. Il revient pour une deuxième fois au LMMC. (27 avril) Les concerts ont lieu à 15 h 30 à la salle Pollack.
www.lmmc.ca
- Renée Banville

PASCALE BEAUDIN ET PIERRE-ÉTIENNE BERGERON À LA CHAPELLE HISTORIQUE
Anciens membres de l'Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal, la soprano Pascale Beaudin et le baryton Pierre-Étienne Bergeron reviennent à la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur pour un récital à deux. Ils se partageront la scène dans un programme de mélodies françaises du début du XXe siècle. Accompagnés par la pianiste Marie-Ève Scarfone, ils interpréteront plusieurs œuvres de Maurice Ravel (notamment Schérazade et Don Quichotte à Dulcinée) et de Francis Poulenc (Le Bestiaire et Miroirs brûlants, entre autres). La Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, 27 avril. www.lavitrine.com
- Justin Bernard

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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Guardian Editor Rusbridger Plays Chopin


See video here.

The power of music is undeniable. So many millions have been inspired by it, consumed by it, consoled by it, etc. Many more have marched off to war to the sound of it, been called into battle by the fanfares of a bugle, or played to eternal rest by the mournful sound of that same bugle.

If one has been introduced to music at an early age it often remains a joy and a wonder one's whole life, no matter what else has transpired. Alan Rusbridger is a typical case. He is a man who studied piano and clarinet when he was young but settled on a career as a journalist. In fact, he rose through the ranks to become the editor of the Guardian, one of the world's great newspapers. And yet the love of music never left him. More than that, he suddenly realized in his mid-50's that not only did he want to play again but that he wanted to play well. He found a teacher and set as his goal mastering Chopin's notoriously difficult Ballade in g minor Op. 23.

Rusbridger himself tells the story of his late-life quest to master Chopin in his wonderful book Play It Again. It is a unique and brilliant book that gets inside the art of music in ways that no other book has quite managed. Rusbridger may be an "amateur" but his insights are on the highest professional level. His analysis of the Ballade Op. 23 is the best of its kind, as Rusbridger supplements his own perceptions with those of professionals on the order of Murray Perahia, Alfred Brendel, Stephen Hough and Emmanuel Ax.

But don't stop at reading the book. There is much more to be enjoyed at Rusbridger's website www.alanrusbridger.com. It includes the score (with annotations) of the Ballade Op. 23, video and audio interviews with some of the illustrious pianists Rusbridger consulted on his artistic journey, and much more.

For more on Rusbridger's book read Robert Winter's excellent review in the New York Review of Books. (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/apr/24/alan-rusbridger-he-dove-and-did-it/)

I came away from total immersion in Rusbridger and Chopin inspired by what an inquiring mind can do, and encouraged also by the idea that music is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure. And yes, of course, let's not forget Chopin. Rusbridger's story is about himself, and about achieving goals he has set for himself. But what makes his journey worthwhile is the quality of the music he is trying so hard to master. On his journey Rusbridger learns a lot about himself but he learns even more about Op. 23. And to learn to play Op. 23 if not perfectly at least pretty well is to come much closer to understanding the music and the composer than even well-informed listening can do.


Paul E. Robinson

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Friday, 18 April 2014

L’Orchestre symphonique de l’Agora


Par Marc-Olivier Laramée

Chacune des grandes écoles de musique de Montréal a son orchestre symphonique. Par contre, rarement peut-on voir des collaborations entres ces formations. L’Orchestre symphonique de l’Agora est l’exception. Récemment créé, il regroupe des musiciens de l’Université de Montréal (UdM) ainsi que de l’Université McGill. Offrant aux jeunes musiciens la possibilité d’interpréter des œuvres du répertoire symphonique, sa vocation unique le distingue de tous les autres orchestres : soutenir les causes sociales et environnementales. Cette toute première saison se terminait avec un concert au profit de la fondation de l’Hôpital de Montréal pour enfants. En première partie, quoi de mieux que le chœur de l’école des jeunes de l’UdM pour ouvrir le concert avec des extraits d’opéra. Puis, le très connu Concerto pour violoncelle de C. Saint Saëns avec Noémie Raymond-Fiset comme soliste. En deuxième partie, le compositeur impressionniste Claude Debussy.

Le choix du chœur d’enfant pour ouvrir le concert était très approprié. Le chant était d’une justesse surprenante pour des enfants de cet âge. La pièce de résistance suivit, le concerto pour violoncelle. Finissante à la maîtrise, Noémie vient tout juste d’avoir la chance d’interpréter ce concerto à un cours de maître de nul autre que Yo-Yo Ma. L’auditoire a pu remarquer le travail fait à la suite de cette rencontre avec M. Ma. Ce dernier lui avait dit : « Lorsqu’on joue sur scène, il faut entrer en contact avec la musique et surtout le public. Il faut écouter l’orchestre ou le piano et laisser cours à la musique. » Ce fut le cas samedi soir. Dans le deuxième mouvement, à un certain point, le chef d’orchestre cessa même de diriger et laissa cours à la musicalité des instrumentistes et de la soliste. Ce fut un beau moment !

Debussy reçut un bel hommage. Le jeune chef Nicolas Ellis laissa paraître une connaissance approfondie de l’œuvre du compositeur français. Le Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune fut le clou du concert. En concert, les orchestres semi-professionnels peinent souvent à rendre justice à l’œuvre interprétée. Le nombre restreint de répétitions y est pour beaucoup. Dans le cas présent, les musiciens semblaient transportés. Le lien si important devant unir un chef et son orchestre était bien établi. La section des vents s’est démarquée par la solidité des solos : hautbois, basson, clarinette et, tout particulièrement, la flûte traversière. On pourrait qualifier cette interprétation de quasi parfaite. Pour terminer le concert, La Mer ! Une pièce qui mit Dutoit et l’OSM sur la carte des grands orchestres. L’Orchestre de l’Agora l’a bien exécutée malgré un manque d’unité dans certains passages. Le finale a confirmé la solidité des cuivres et des cordes. Jeune, mais solide. L’Orchestre de l’Agora est unique de par sa vocation, mais l’est tout autant de par ses qualités musicales.

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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Electifying Korngold and Bach with Gil Shaham/Austin Symphony




Liszt: Les Préludes
Korngold: Violin Concerto
Dvořák: Symphony No. 7 in d Minor Op. 70

Gil Shaham, violin
Austin Symphony/Peter Bay

Austin, Texas

When the still boyish Gil Shaham comes bounding on stage, violin in hand, with a huge smile on his face, you know you are in for a special kind of music-making. Shaham, now 43, still seems the charming prodigy he was when he first came to international attention. Before playing so much as a note, he has the audience in the palm of his hand. This is clearly a young man who loves music and can’t wait to share it with everyone he meets. He shook concertmaster Jessica Mathaes’ hand so long and so hard I was afraid she might have to claim disability. Maestro Peter Bay also got the full Shaham treatment - before, during and after the performance. At one point during the performance, Shaham got so close to the podium, I thought a referee might have to be summoned to call a penalty for soloist interference.

There are soloists who take the stage with the measured pace we associate with royalty, and give the audience the merest nod of the head to acknowledge their applause. Such self-important folks are seldom seen to crack a smile; for example, Jascha Heifetz, one of the greatest violinists of his era, totally deserved his nickname, “The Great Stone Face”.

Soloist Gil Shaham
Shaham will have none of that. He knows as well as anyone that “serious music” is a serious business, and doing justice to Bach, Brahms and Beethoven and all the rest requires blood, sweat and tears; that said, he clearly subscribes to the notion that even “serious music” performers, are entertainers. Some – and he appears to fall into this category - even want to gift the audience with more than superb musicianship!

Standing Ovation/ Exquisite Bach
On this occasion, Gil Shaham played the Violin Concerto by Erich Korngold. The piece was written in 1945 for the afore-mentioned Heifetz but it is only in the last ten years or so that it has become truly popular; today, virtually all the leading soloists play the piece, with good reason. In addition to good tunes, many of them recalling scores that Korngold wrote for Hollywood films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk and Deception, this concerto also has moments so funny that one could be forgiven for laughing out loud. It also supplies a virtuoso violinist with many opportunities to “strut” his stuff.

A recording of the Korngold Concerto 20 years ago featuring Shaham, Andre Previn and the London Symphony, remains one of the best readings on record of the piece. Shaham obviously still loves to play it - only last month he performed it in New York with Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic.

On this occasion, Shaham and his “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius (c.1699) gave us a passionate and authoritative Korngold Concerto with Peter Bay and the Austin Symphony supplying fastidious support. Balances were, for the most part, ideal and ensemble precision was excellent. Three “in-and-out” standing ovations brought Shaham back for an encore: unaccompanied Bach with beauty of tone, joyous rhythms and vivid ornamentation.

Antonín Leopold Dvořák
Melodies from Singing Winds 
Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 also got careful treatment from Maestro Bay. This approach paid dividends in the many pages of touching lyricism in the symphony. The Austin Symphony winds took turns making the most of their many opportunities to “sing” Dvořák’s inspired melodies. The symphony, however, also has moments of raw power and intensity, and these passages were often underplayed in this performance. A case in point is the great climax toward the end of the first movement, in which Dvořák builds the excitement bar by bar into a ferocious fortissimo for the full orchestra. The key to building the climax here is increasing the tempo at exactly the right moments. For whatever reason, Maestro Bay appeared to totally ignore Dvořák’s marking “poco a poco accelerando,” and failed to summon anything close to the volume that building the climax bar by bar to its shattering conclusion requires.

The same could be said of the closing bars of the last movement, except that here the conductor needs to hold back the tempo to fully realize the spirit of Dvořák’s “Molto maestoso” marking.

The last ten bars of the symphony have another problem that each conductor must solve for him/herself. As written, the melody is given to the second violins and doubled by oboes, clarinets and bassoons. With the rest of the orchestra playing mostly fortissimo long notes, the melody can scarcely be heard. One solution is to have the louder instruments – trumpets, trombones and timpani - back off in volume to let the melody come through; this solution, however, drains most of the excitement out of these closing bars. Maestro George Szell, an authoritative interpreter of the music of Dvořák, solved the problem by having the trumpets play the melody along with second violins, etc. - a very effective solution, which many conductors have adopted. Maestro  Bay chose a middle course - horns doubling the melody - which worked rather well.

On this occasion, Peter Bay and the Austin Symphony gave us a Dvořák Seventh that was carefully prepared, but to my taste, much too polite for the essence of the piece.

For something more…
While on exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, Gil Shaham recorded most of the major violin concertos in the repertoire. Today, nearly everything has changed in the record business and few artists are under either exclusive or long-term contracts.

Shaham now records mostly for Canary Classics. His latest release has the unusual title “Music to Drive Away Loiterers,” a title which refers to the recent discovery that if classical music is played in subway stations or shopping malls, people don’t hang around (i.e. “loiter”) and so there is less crime in such places. The CD includes some of the most beautiful music ever written.

For more about Erich Korngold visit www.korngold-society.org; this website keeps close track of performances and recordings of Korngold’s music.

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.”

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 14 au 20 avril

PROGRAMMES DE LA SÉRIE HOMMAGE DE DENIS GOUGEON :
MUTATION, UNE PIÈCE ÉCRITE POUR LE NEM PAR DENIS GOUGEON
Dans son effort pour préparer la relève musicale, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, sous la direction de Lorraine Vaillancourt, propose en tournée Les Chemins de traverse, incluant la pièce Mutation de Denis Gougeon. Avec Noam Bierstone (percussions) et les musiciens du NEM. Maison de la culture Frontenac (14 avril dans le cadre des Lundis d'Edgar), Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur (23 avril) et Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges (24 avril).
www.lenem.ca 
SMCQ – SIX THÈMES SOLAIRES
La Société de musique contemporaine du Québec réunit sur scène de grands solistes pour interpréter les dix mouvements du célèbre cycle des planètes de Gougeon. Une immersion cosmique proposée par Walter Boudreau et animée par Yannick Villedieu. Aussi au programme : Simon Bertrand, Pierre Michaud et une création d’Analia Llugdar. salle Pierre-Mercure, 17 avril, 19 h. www.smcq.qc.ca
- Renée Banville

Miklós Takács
GRAND CONCERT DU VENDREDI SAINT
Miklós Takács dirigera le chœur d’UQÀM et celui de l’école Jean-François Perreault avec l’orchestre de la Société Philarmonique. Quatre cents chanteurs et musiciens réunis le 18 avril 2014, à 20 h 00, à l’église Saint-Jean Baptiste pour le traditionnel concert du Vendredi Saint. Au programme, le Requiem de Verdi. lestjeanbaptiste.com

FIN DE SAISON À LA CHAPELLE HISTORIQUE DU BON-PASTEUR
Jean Marchand reviendra avec la comédienne Françoise Faucher pour le traditionnel concert du Vendredi saint Via Crucis de Liszt. Le 18 avril, 20 h.
www.accesculture.com
- Renée Banville

LA PASSION SELON YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN
L’Orchestre Métropolitain, sous la direction de Maestro Nézet-Séguin, présentera en avril un autre grand oratorio de Bach. Après l’Oratorio de Noël en 2012 à l’église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, l’OM interprétera La Passion selon saint Matthieu à la Maison symphonique. Plusieurs solistes de renommée internationale sont à l’affiche, notamment la soprano Hélène Guilmette, la mezzo Julie Boulianne et le baryton-basse Philippe Sly. Les ténors Lawrence Wiliford et Isaiah Bell ainsi que le baryton Alexander Dobson complètent cette distribution prestigieuse. Ils seront accompagnés par le Chœur de l’Orchestre Métropolitain. Maison symphonique, 19 avril. www.orchestremetropolitain.com
- Justin Bernard

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

This Week in Toronto (Apr. 14 - 20)

This Week in Toronto (Apr. 14 - 20)

My concert picks this week - Joseph So

Pianist Helene Grimaud (Photo: Robert Schultze/Mat Hennek/DG)


Toronto Symphony Orchestra  The charismatic French pianist Helene Grimaud makes a welcomed return to Toronto, as soloist in the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1. Also on the program are two works to do with Easter - Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture, and Messiaen's L'Ascension.  Andrey Boreyko returns to the TSO to conduct. Performances on April 17 and 19 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. http://tso.ca/en-ca/Home.aspx



Director Peter Sellars

Canadian Opera Company's Hercules continues this week.  I saw this show twice - the dress rehearsal and opening night, and I must say Peter Sellars' re-imagining of this baroque piece works well. It is one of the most successful examples of Regieoper attempts undertaken by the COC.  The five principals are first rate, as is the orchestra under the inspired direction of Harry Bicket. Hercules is bass-baritone Eric Owens; mezzo Alice Coote sings Dejanira; countertenor David Daniels is Lichas; tenor Richard Croft sings Hyllus, and soprano Lucy Crowe is Iole. This show is an auspicious start to the COC spring season. Performances this week on April 15 and 19 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre. There are also two noon hour concerts of note at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre - a piano recital by Philip Chiu on April 15. Billed as Music in the Time of War, it includes two pieces, by Bach and Pavel Haas, arranged by the pianist, plus  Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7, known as the Stalingrad, and Le Tombeau de Couperin by Ravel. Details at http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert140415.pdf  The other event features well known violinist Jacques Israelievitch and pianist Valentina Sadovski in a program of exquisite Russian violin gems, thus the concert title of Violin Caviar. http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert140417.pdf and
http://coc.ca/Home.aspx

This being Easter week, there is a plethora of concerts celebrating this important religious holiday. Several caught my eye. One is Toronto Mendelssohn Choir's pairing of Durufle's Requiem with Vierne's Messe Solennelle on Good Friday 7:30 pm at St. Paul's Basilica on Power Street. There is something to be said about experiencing great church music - in a great church! Here's a clip of the Durufle with the Mendelssohn Choir under the direction of Noel Edison - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1fl-sI44ZI Quite a different kettle of fish - and very intriguing - is a "jazz-infused homage to Bach's St. Matthew Passion" put on by Soundstreams. On Good Friday at the Trinity St. Paul Centre.  http://www.soundstreams.ca/passion The Music at Metropolitan series of the Metropolitan United Church is presenting Bach's St. John Passion, with soloists Lesley Bouza, Daniel Taylor, Christopher Mayell, James Baldwin, Charles Davidson, and Clarence Frazer. Metropolitan Festival Choir and Orchestra conducted by Dr. Patricia Wright. 

Pianist Andre Laplante

If religious programming isn't your thing, you may want to try a piano concerto. Well known Canadian pianist Andre Laplante is playing Beethoven's Emperor Concerto No. 5 with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra under the baton of its music director Kristian Alexander. The concert takes places also on Good Friday April 18 8 pm, at the Markham Theatre north of the city. http://www.ksorchestra.ca/
Alternately, Opera Belcanto is presenting the ever popular Carmen. Performances on April 17 and 19 7:30 pm at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.  Their website seems to be undergoing renovation - http://operabelcantoofyork.com/



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Friday, 11 April 2014

Théâtre du Nouveau Monde/saison 2014-2015 - Shakespeare, Beckett, Wilde et… Catherine Frot !

Par Hassan Laghcha



11 500 abonnés dont 500 jeunes (-35 ans) lors de la saison 2013-2014. La directrice artistique et générale du  Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (TNM), Lorraine Pintal, s’est réjouie de ces « chiffres prometteurs » avant d’annoncer « une saison 2014-2015 vertigineuse » avec, au menu, du Shakespeare, du Beckett, du Wilde mais surtout la première visite de la vedette française : Catherine Frot.

La saison débutera avec la pièce Being at home with Claude de René Daniel Dubois, une intrigue policière créée il y a 30 ans par Fréderic Blanchette. Suivra en novembre l’œuvre d’Oscar Wilde L’importance d’être constant avec une mise en scène de Yves Desgagnés. En février, le TNM accueillera la star française Catherine Frot qui interprétera la pièce à succès retentissant Oh les beaux jours de Samuel Beckett, mise en scène par Marc Paquien.

Également à l’affiche, l’adaptation théâtrale du Journal d’Anne Frank par le romancier Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt avec une mise en scène de Lorraine Pintal. Le rôle principal sera assuré par la jeune comédienne Mylène St-Sauveur qui fait ainsi ses débuts sur les planches.  Parallèlement, une exposition  sur les souvenirs de l’Holocauste sera organisée par le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal en collaboration avec le musée de La Maison d'Anne Frank d'Amsterdam.

En mars, le TNM présentera Richard III  de Shakespeare dans une mise en scène de Brigitte Haentjens sur une traduction de Jean Marc Dalpé. Pour conclure la saison, la compagnie Théâtre Tout à Trac présentera une adaptation de l’œuvre de Jules Verne Le Tour du monde en 80 jours, mise en scène par Hugo Bélanger.

Signalons que Lorraine Pintal qui dirige le TNM depuis 22 ans rencontrera très prochainement les médias pour faire le point sur son avenir à la tête de cette institution. Cette grande dame du théâtre vient de vivre une brève expérience politico-électorale comme candidate du Parti Québécois à Montréal (Verdun).



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Monday, 7 April 2014

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 7 au 13 avril


FIN DE SAISON À LA CHAPELLE HISTORIQUE DU BON-PASTEUR
Une occasion d’entendre des musiciens de l'OSM en formation intimiste. Andrew Wan, violoniste, Neal Gripp, altiste et Anna Burden, violoncelliste dans le Trio opus 8 de Beethoven et la Sérénade en do majeur, opus 10 de Dohnányi. Le 10 avril, 20 h.
À la mémoire du pianiste Dale Bartlett, décédé récemment, Jean Marchand présentera un récital d'œuvres de Bach, Chopin, Marchand et Reger. Le 13 avril, 15 h 30. www.accesculture.com
- Renée Banville

LES AMOUREUX CÉLÈBRES AVEC L’ATELIER LYRIQUE DE L’OPÉRA DE MONTRÉAL
Les membres de l’Atelier lyrique offriront un récital où les couples d’opéra seront à l’honneur. À travers le répertoire lyrique, amants et amantes déclinent sur tous les tons toute la gamme des émois que suscite le sentiment amoureux. Sur des airs et duos d’opéras de Mozart, Gounod, Bizet, Donizetti et Massenet, nous pourrons entendre les jeunes artistes Florie Valiquette et France Bellemare, sopranos, Rachèle Tremblay, mezzo-soprano, Josh Whelan, baryton, et Jean-Michel Richer, ténor. Une mise en scène a été conçue par Marie-Lou Dion avec décors et costumes. L’accompagnement au piano est assuré par Jennifer Szeto. Maison de la culture Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, 13 avril. www.accesculture.com
- Justin Bernard

LE STUDIO DE MUSIQUE ANCIENNE DE MONTRÉAL FÊTE SES 40 ANS
En avril, le SMAM offrira un concert de chant choral au pays de Jean-Sébastien Bach. Les nombreux chorals et motets composés par le Cantor de Leipzig ont été une source d’inspiration pour plusieurs compositeurs allemands du XIXe siècle. Le concert soulignera cette grande tradition contrapuntique adaptée, un siècle plus tard, à l’esprit du romantisme. Au programme, des œuvres pour chœur et orgue de Bach, Brahms, Bruckner et Mendelssohn. Église Saint-Léon de Westmount, 13 avril. www.smamontreal.ca
- Justin Bernard

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

This Week in Toronto (Apr. 7 - 13)

This Week in Toronto (April 7 - 13)

My concert picks this week - Joseph So

Hercules with Alice Coote (Dejanira), Richard Croft (Hyllus) and Chorus (Photo: Michael Cooper)

Canadian Opera Company's spring season opened with a triumphant Handel's Hercules last Saturday. By re-imagining the work to the time of the Iraqi conflict, American stage director Peter Sellars' vision gives this baroque oratorio powerful contemporary resonance. He demonstrates that by focusing on the human toll of war, a piece from as long ago as 1744 can speak to modern day audiences, because the emotions of the characters transcend time and space.  The set by George Tsypin - and in particular the lighting by James Ingalls - is beautifully evocative, with extremely effective use of projections. The singing was first rate in every way. British mezzo Alice Coote's as Dejanira, the frustrated wife of Hercules, was a complete triumph.  American bass-baritone Eric Owens was a physically and vocally imposing Hercules.  Making a welcome return to the COC after 22 years, American tenor Richard Croft remains a model of vocal grace as Hyllus. Equally impressive was American countertenor David Daniels as the herald Lichas. Incidentally you can hear these two singers in their respective roles in the Archiv recording of Hercules with Anne Sofie von Otter in the title role. Making her COC debut was British soprano Lucy Crowe whose soaring soprano was an absolute delight. COC frequent guest Harry Bicket returns to lead a lyrical and deeply moving reading of the divine score. And I would be remiss in not mentioning the excellent COC chorus, so important in Handel. (A full review will appear in La Scena Musicale and at in a future print issue of Opera in London, UK.) This is a show not to be missed. Performance this week on Friday April 11 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre. http://www.coc.ca/Home.aspx

American pianist Richard Goode (Photo: Steve Riskind)

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting the ever-popular Ein Heldenleben. It's paired with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 K. 453 played by American pianist Richard Goode.  Also on the program is Aqua, a piece by Canadian composer Vivian Fung receiving its Canadian premiere here. Peter Oundjian conducts. Friday 7:30 pm and Saturday 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. http://tso.ca/en-ca/Home.aspx


Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian 

Tafelmusik is presenting this week The Rival Queens, a vocal concert of arias by Handel, Bononcini and Hasse, plus orchestral works by Handel, Zelenka, Vivaldi, and Telemann. Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is the soloist. Performances on April 9, 10, 12, and 13 at Koerner Hall. Details at http://www.tafelmusik.org/concert-calendar/concert/rival-queens-isabel-bayrakdarian

Parker Quartet (Photo: www.parkerquartet.com)

Music Toronto is presenting the Parker Quartet in a chamber music recital of works by Beethoven, Dvorak, and Thomas Ades.   Thursday April 10 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre.  http://music-toronto.com/

Lydia Adams of Amadeus Choir

Given Easter is just around the corner, the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto under the direction of Lydia Adams, in collaboration with the Elmer Iseler Singers, is presenting Bach's Mass in B Minor, with soloists soprano Meredith Hall, mezzo Catherine Wyn-Rogers, tenor Colin Ainsworth and bass-baritone Nathaniel Watson. Performance on Saturday April 12 7:30 pm at the Metropolitan United Church at the corner of Queen and Bond Streets.  http://www.amadeuschoir.com/

Art of Time Ensemble's poster for I Send You This Cadmium Red

The musically and artistically adventurous Art of Time Ensemble, under the directorship of Andrew Burashko, is presenting I Send You This Cadmium Red, with original music by Gavin Bryars at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto's Harbourfront. Under the direction of Daniel Brooks, the baton of Burashko, and the visual projections by Vancouver video artist Bruce Alcock, it is a "meditation on colour and sound" according to description on their website.  The show goes from April 9 to 12 at 8 pm at the Enwave Theatre.  For more information, go to their website at   http://artoftimeensemble.com/










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