La Scena Musicale

Monday, 31 May 2010

Cette semaine à Montréal / This Week in Montreal May 31 - June 6

Photo : Gunther Gampe

9e Édition du concours musical international de montréal (CMIM)
Débutée le 25 mai avec les épreuves quart de finale et demi-finale, l’édition Violon 2010 du CMIM se poursuit les 1er et 2 juin au Théâtre Maisonneuve. L’Orchestre Métropolitain sera dirigé par Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Le programme de l’épreuve finale consiste à interpréter un concerto en entier tiré de la liste officielle du Concours. C’est à l’issue de cette épreuve que le président du jury proclamera les lauréats qui se partageront plus de 150 000 $, dont un Premier Prix de 30 000 $, un programme de développement de carrière d’une valeur de 20 000 $, un disque chez Analekta et un archet de l’Atelier Raffin. Le Concert gala aura lieu le 4 juin à la salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. 514 842-2112, info@concoursmontreal.ca
25 mai au 2 juin, au Théâtre Maisonneuve
Ensemble Chorem Presents Ragamalika
Composer Gabriel Dharmoo brings the sounds of India to the stage with Ensemble Chorum June 3 at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. The ensemble, co-directed by Charles-Antoine Fréchette and Raphaël Dubé, will perform works that Dharmoo discovered during his Carnatic music studies in India in 2008. Also on the program is a world premiere of Dharmoo’s Moondraal Moondru. Jean-Michel Malouf conducts. www.ensemblechorum.com
June 3, at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal
De la musique0 de salon à VivaVoce
Le concert Mélodrame et sentiments présenté par l’ensemble VivaVoce contient des joyaux peu connus de l’époque victorienne. On y entendra de délicieuses pages de différents compositeurs et la mise en musique de textes de Shakespeare. Samedi 5 juin à l’École de musique Schulich. 514-489-3739.
le 5 juin, à VivaVoce
Festival TransAmériques
Chaque printemps, cet événement international devient le point de convergence des amateurs de théâtre et de danse. Ce qu’on connaît déjà de la programmation de cette quatrième édition est alléchant : présentation du quatuor Le Sang des promesses de Wajdi Mouawad (Littoral, Incendies, Forêts en un seul spectacle, plus l’inédit Ciels); le théâtre Toneelgroep d’Amsterdam offrira ses Tragédies romaines, une relecture comtemporaine des Coriolan, Jules César et Antoine et Cléopâtre de Shakespeare.
du 27 mai au 12 juin, Festival TransAmériques

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Festival Trans-Amériques : Lundi 31 mai


Un piano, Chopin, une femme en bas nylon et un grand tissu noir… Le ton est donné! Ce soir, D.A.Hoskins et le Dietrich Group prendront l’Espace libre d’assault.

Les œuvres de D.A.Hoskins. puisent leur inspiration à la source de notre société et des commentaires qu’elle lui inspire. Le triptyque The Mortality Songs, une œuvre de jeunesse du chorégraphe ontarien, a d’ailleurs été le pivot d’une campagne de levée de fonds pour les victimes du VIH à Toronto. Le Dietrich Group, plate-forme d’échanges interactifs fondée par Hoskins en 2008, poursuit l’œuvre d’observation et créée ARTFAG,  un autre triptyque abordant la question de l’individualité et des stéréotypes sexuels.

Hoskins a souhaité, pour Portrait , placer l’individu et son potentiel créateur au cœur de la représentation, mettre en lumière l’origine même de l’acte de création. L’individu et son intégrité sont des thèmes de première importance dans l’œuvre du chorégraphe. Le spectacle est, selon son concepteur, en partie auto biographique et évoque certains épisodes difficiles de sa propre vie.

Darryl Hoskins est de plus un artiste visuel reconnu. Il souhaite conserver cette approche et ainsi inviter le public à regarder autrement la danse . La danse, croit le chorégraphe, ne devrait pas être réduite à sa simple expression récréative : danser est un geste politique. Portrait est à la fois une œuvre audacieuse et sans fioritures, le dialogue intimiste d’un artiste et de son œuvre. 

Darryl Hoskins rencontrera le public le 1er juin. Portrait est présenté à l’Espace Libre à 19h00 le 31 mai, 1er et 2 juin. Affaire à suivre!

- Nathalie de Han

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Sunday, 30 May 2010

Austin Symphony Shines Again in Mahler

The 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death is in 2011, but conductors and orchestras are already programming his music at every opportunity - Symphony No. 2 with Jaap van Zweden in Dallas at the end of May, for example; and more recently, Symphony No. 1 with Peter Bay leading the Austin Symphony.
Mahler’s Long Lost Blumine Blossoms on its Own
Maestro Bay opened the evening’s programme with Blumine, which began its life as part of the Symphony No. 1 until Mahler decided it didn’t belong there after all.
At the first three performances of the Symphony No. 1 in the 19th century, Blumine was the second movement. After the performance in Weimar in 1894, Mahler deleted it from the score. In fact, the music had all but vanished into the dustbin of history when musicologist Donald Mitchell found it 72 years later (1966). Conductors then rushed to play and record the newly-discovered Mahler, most often putting it back in the Symphony No. 1.
While it is always interesting to hear the first thoughts of great composers, performers also have an obligation to take a composer’s last word as serious and authoritative. Mahler was quite clear about what he wanted to do with the Blumine movement and his intentions certainly didn’t involve putting it back into Symphony No. 1.
Blumine, which began life in 1884 as part of the incidental music Mahler wrote for Scheffel’s play Der Trompeter von Säckingen (The Trumpeter of Säckingen), is lovely and interesting music in its own right and deserves occasional performances as a separate piece. Not surprisingly, some of the most notable features of the piece are the extended trumpet solos. Blumine is the only piece of this incidental music that has survived .
It is not clear why Mahler took the Blumine movement out of Symphony No. 1. It is a songlike ABA piece of a vaguely pastoral character, but rather slight compared to the other movements. Perhaps he found it too lightweight in a symphonic context.
Blumine does, however, have curious symphonic connections - with Brahms rather than Mahler! The first six notes of the trumpet melody in Blumine are identical to those of the famous C major tune in the last movement of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1.
Even listeners familiar with both first symphonies can be forgiven for not noticing this connection, since Mahler’s melody has a different rhythm and metre. If I am not mistaken, the Blumine melody is the longest and most elaborate melody Mahler ever wrote for the trumpet – if you exclude the posthorn solo in the Third Symphony - and in this performance it was played beautifully by the Austin Symphony’s principal trumpet, Robert Cannon.
Peter Bay made a wise choice in programming Blumine as a separate piece, on the same programme with the Symphony No. 1.
You may well ask why the Blumine movement has a title, whereas the other movements of the symphony do not. In fact, in the original version of Symphony No. 1, Mahler did attach titles to all the movements, including Blumine – or “Flowers” – but later decided to remove them all and send the symphony out into the world purely as music.
Mozart’s Last Piano Concerto, No. 27
There are at least a dozen Mozart piano concertos among the greatest creations of the human mind. The musical content is sublime and the interplay between winds and strings is often deeply personal and affecting.
Mozart’s last piano concerto, No. 27 in B flat major K. 595, is a wonderful piece although it would not be my favorite Mozart piano concerto. Some others are melodically more memorable, harmonically richer and have more elaborate wind writing. But the winds are still important in No. 27, and conductor Bay and soloist Christopher O’Riley showed that they understood this very well by placing the wind players at the front of the stage where the cellos would normally sit. This meant that they could be heard more easily and could collaborate more effectively with the keyboard.
In several of the Mozart piano concertos, the keyboard part seems to be merely sketched rather than fully written out. That is the case with K. 595, especially in the slow movement. Mozart obviously didn’t need to write out all the notes since he was the soloist and would have added his own ornamentation during the performance. O’Riley followed the composer’s example in this respect and added a great deal of his own embellishment.
Austin Audience Warms to O’Riley’s Mozart
Christopher O’Riley is probably best known to music-lovers as the host of the NPR programme From the Top. It is a programme that introduces extraordinary young talent from all over the United States, and O’Riley has a gift for making these gifted kids feel at ease. He acts as accompanist for many of them as well, and has a busy life outside radio as a soloist in recital and concerto performances. O’Riley has made numerous recordings and on several of them he plays his own transcriptions of songs by the rock group Radiohead.
As soloist with the Austin Symphony in Mozart’s K. 595, O’Riley seemed a little nervous. He played all the notes, but seemed to want to vary the tempo more than one would expect in Mozart. It also struck me that the dynamic range of his interpretation was even more limited than the constraints we associate with Classical style. It’s fine to be aware of authentic performance practice, but why use a grand piano and a fairly big orchestra playing on modern instruments if one is going to require that they never be allowed to rise above mezzo forte? Fortunately, by the time they got to the last movement, both orchestra and soloist seemed to be better in sync and O’Riley was beginning to dig into the notes with a little more gusto.
Mahler More Than Big Sound With Bay and the ASO
Peter Bay demonstrated his affinity for Mahler with an excellent performance of the Resurrection symphony last season. The First Symphony is a much easier piece to play and to comprehend, but it is still far from a simple undertaking, and even celebrated conductors can be caught out of their comfort zone.
A case in point was Gustavo Dudamel in his inaugural concert last fall as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Some of his interpretative choices were questionable, to say the least. He made a big sound, but that is perhaps the least important requirement in a performance of Mahler One.
Maestro Bay in Austin had a much less formidable orchestra to work with than the LA Philharmonic, but his careful preparation and respect for the score, together with an enlarged Austin Symphony playing near the top of its game, produced a performance of rare commitment and distinction. Of course, there were a number of horn cacks – with eight of them playing fortissimo and in the highest register of the instrument, that is to be expected in even the best orchestras - but more importantly, there were numerous solos of exquisite beauty.
When the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra (SHFO) played in Austin this season, the double basses were placed on the left side of the stage in the Long Center, whereas the Austin Symphony basses are always positioned on the right side. I was curious to hear if the SHFO setup was an improvement. In fact, I could hardly hear the basses at all in that concert, whereas in the Bay/ASO Mahler First, the basses came through very well indeed. In theory I thought the opposite would be true; we learn something every day.
For Those Wanting More
Anyone interested in Mahler’s early years – the time of the First Symphony – will find a wealth of meticulously researched information in Henry-Louis de La Grange's Mahler (New York: Doubleday, 1973). Also very useful is Donald Mitchell’s Gustav Mahler: The Wunderhorn Years (London: Faber and Faber, 1975).
There have been dozens of recordings of Mahler’s First Symphony made over the years. Bruno Walter’s 1961 recording with the Columbia Symphony is especially important because Walter was a close friend and protégée of the composer.
Among the best of the DVD versions of Mahler’s First Symphony is Leonard Bernstein’s performance with the Vienna Philharmonic. It is Bernstein who is generally credited with starting the Mahler revival in the 1960s. This 1973 performance, however, strikes me today as slapdash. Bernstein rushes ahead for no apparent reason in many places and inexplicably slows the music to a crawl in others. And the Vienna Philharmonic? Remember the horn cacks I alluded to earlier? There are literally dozens of them in this very uneven performance.
If I had to choose one recording that combines insight, virtuosity and inspiration beyond nearly all others it would be a 1990 performance by Klaus Tennstedt and the Chicago Symphony, and released by EMI on DVD (EMI Classics 0946 3 67743 98).
Tennstedt toiled most of his life behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany. When he finally emerged, the wider world got to know him as one of the great interpreters of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler. But it was too late. He was struck down by one medical problem after another and ultimately he had to give up conducting altogether.
While he had the strength, Tennstedt enriched the lives of those who saw and heard him, not least of all those musicians who had the good fortune to play under him. The 1990 performance alluded to is also important as documentation of the Chicago Symphony in its prime. Two players in particular are by now legendary and deservedly so: principal trumpet Adolph Herseth and principal horn Dale Clevenger.
Photo by Marita

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Festival Trans-Amériques : Le 30 mai


Bonjour, bonjour !

La compagnie montréalaise O Vertigo livrait vendredi soir sa dernière création, tout juste sortie des studios de la compagnie et la compagnie hollandaise Toneelgroep Amsterdam donnait les très attendues Tragédies Romaines  La première fin de semaine du Festival Trans-Amériques s’achève et ces deux spectacles offrent  une dernière représentation aujourd’hui (www.fta.qc.ca). 

À propos de … Onde de Choc..

Ginette Laurin poursuit avec Onde de choc sa réflexion sur les états de corps et leur potentiel métaphorique, scrutant cette fois le plus profond de l’humain à la lentille d’un microscope, écoutant les résonances du souffle et celles du rythme cardiaque au stéthoscope. L’entreprise est  couronnée de succès et la facture visuelle d’Onde de Choc irréprochable. Résolument inventive, la construction du spectacle est à la fois rigoureuse et poétique, la gestuelle des huit interprètes fluide, harmonieuse et agréablement narrative.

Les lumières de Martin Labrecque sont purement magiques. La musique du Britanique Michael Nyman ( il a composé la musique du film de Jane Capion La leçon de piano) et les compositions de l’électro acousticien Martin Messier parviennent à créer pour le spectacle une troublante dimension sonore: l’on croit que les sons nous parviennent d’en-dedans, comme le sang qui bat à nos tympans après une course folle. Véritable réussite, Onde de Choc emportera dans un même flot tous spectateurs, avertis ou novices.    

… Tragédies Romaines…

« Les spectateurs sont invités à aller s’asseoir sur la scène pendant le changement de décor… » Dans le brouhaha, une foule se lève. Une voix résonne dans les haut-parleurs : « Pas tous à la fois !! » Le scénario est sans doute le même lors de toutes les représentations : le metteur en scène Ivo van Hove donnant au  spectateur le droit d’aller voir sur la scène ce qui s’y passe réellement (et ce pendant la représentation!!), le dit spectateur se précipite sur la scène…

La compagnie hollandaise Toneelgroep Amsterdam a établi au Monument National les camps de Ciriolan, Jules César et Antoine. Les Tragédies Romaines de William Shakespeare, re-mixée par Ivo van Hove, s’y déroulent à merveille. Le spectacle intelligent mêle les codes de la représentation, du cinéma, de la télévision, et ce jeu autant que son seul principe, comble le spectateur d’aise.
Je vous invite à lire ce que Philippe Couture et Aurélie Olivier en ont écrit sur le site du journal Voir Parathéâtre.

Mon prochain rendez-vous avec le festival : The Dragon Fly of Chicoutimi. Claude Poissant revisite le texte de Larry Tremblay à l’espace Go les 30 et 31 mai ainsi  les 1er et 2 juin. (www.theatrepap.com)

À très bientôt ! 

- Nathalie de Han

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This Week in Toronto (May 31 - June 6)

Pianist Ingrid Fliter (Photo: Sussie Ahlburg)






The concert pick for me this week is the appearance of Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She is playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21. She won the Silver Medal in the 2000 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the same year that the Chinese pianist Yundi Li - now re-branded as Yundi - won the Gold Medal, the first time that prize was awarded for many years. Despite coming in second, Ms. Fliter has gone on to a highly respectable career. A glance at her 2010-11 season on her website at www.ingridfliter.com shows that she is very busy concertizing, with lots of U.S. dates, plus a tour of Japan and Australia. Her appearance this week with the TSO playing the Chopin piano concerto conducted by Peter Oundjian is certainly worth attending. Also on the program is Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D major "Titan." What makes this interesting is the including of Blumine, the second movement from this Symphony that Mahler subsequently discarded. It was thought lost until it showed up for auction at Sotheby's in the 1960's. This fragment received its first independent performance at the Aldeburgh Festival in July 1967, conducted by Benjamin Britten.

Now that the Canadian Opera Company is in hiatus, the Four Seasons Centre has been taken over by the National Ballet of Canada for its summer season. The centerpiece of this week's performance is Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite. With music by Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim drawn from the original Broadway score of West Side Story, this high energy work is sure to please. Sharing the spotlight is a world premiere, - Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo's Pur ti Miro. Rounding out the evening is Robbins' Opus 19/The Dreamer, set to Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major. Performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 pm, and Saturday at 2:00 pm. These performances are presented in conjunction with the Luminato Festival which begins next week. Go to http://www.national.ballet.ca/ for more information.

Last Friday, I attended a screening of Rufus Wainwright: Prima Donna, a documentary on the singer/songwriter and the making of his first opera, Prima Donna that is coming to the Luminato Festival. I have to say until a few months ago, I had not heard a note of his music, and barely knew of his existence. The first time his name came into my consciousness was the news that he was commissioned by Peter Gelb and the Met to write an opera, about three years ago. The next thing I heard was a year or so later, when it was announced that due to artistic differences, he and the Met had parted company. Prima Donna had its world premiere in July 2009, not at the Met but in Manchester, UK, by Opera North. This intelligent, well crafted and entertaining documentary tells the story of Rufus Wainwright, his attraction to opera, and the creative process of tackling something as monumental as an opera from someone who is grounded in the pop music world. Wainwright's motivation to compose this was the late Maria Callas. Indeed the central figure of Prima Donna - sung in the opera by Scottish soprano Janis Kelly - is modeled after Callas. The opera from what I have read - and look forward to seeing - is evocative of a film made several years ago by Franco Zeffirelli starring Fanny Ardant in the role of Callas, although there is no reference to this in the documentary. In any case I find it enormously absorbing and totally fascinating. The music is very accessible and emotionally charged. The documentary has footage of soprano Renee Fleming singing the praises of Wainwright. Janis Kelly has a beautiful lyric soprano voice and from the little we hear of her singing and acting in the film, she's ideal in this. Now I am really looking forward to attending the show at the Elgin (June 14, 16, 18, 19), which will be its North American premiere! Whether Prima Donna is opera in the traditional sense is open to question. Certainly there are major differences in the creative process. For example, Wainwright hired an assistant to help him with orchestration, which was done using computer software, a very different creative process from the traditional operatic orchestration! In the final analysis, perhaps it no longer matters as the primary goal of a work is to have something to say, to communicate, and to engage the audience, all of these I believe Prima Donna has done. I will have more to talk about this and the Luminato Festival next week.

Speaking of festivals, now that we are into June, various summer music festivals are gearing up. One of them, Music at Sharon, is having an early start, with a concert on Sunday June 6 3 pm, given by rising mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta. Program detail is not available except that the songs of Schumann will be featured. I recall her Dorabella at the Glenn Gould School of the RCM really wowed me last year. Since then she has joined the COC Ensemble, and appeared as a very engaging Cherubino for Opera Atelier. She is definitely a singer to watch. If you have never been to the Sharon Temple just north of Toronto, it is definitely worth a visit. Go to their website at http://www.sharontemple.ca/ for more information on the concert and the venue.





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Friday, 28 May 2010

Jour 1 FTA


Le Festival Trans-Amériques donnait hier soir le coup d’envoi de sa quatrième édition avec la Merce Cunningham Dance Company. La compagnie new-yorkaise présente en effet, pour deux soirs seulement, en exclusivité canadienne, Nearly 90² au théâtre Maisonneuve. Il s’agit de l’ultime spectacle de Merce Cunningham, mort en juillet 2009 à l’âge de 90 ans.

Une foule se pressait à l’entrée de la salle. Fébrilité, impatience.. Les spectateurs ont toutes les raisons d’être agités: le nom de Merce Cunningham évoque à lui seul  un large pan de l’histoire de la danse contemporaine. Beaucoup sont au rendez-vous, curieux de relever l’ultime témoignage de ce géant de la danse. Après cette tournée post-mortem et selon la volonté du chorégraphe,  la Merce Cunningham Dance Company mettra en effet la clef sous la porte. (www.merce.org) 

Nearly 90², version « légère » conçue pour la tournée de Nearly Ninety, une œuvre créée par Merce Cunningham le jour de son anniversaire, est une leçon de danse et de chorégraphie. Le soin apporté à la composition de chaque image et de chaque séquence, qui évoque le travail d’un photographe ou d’un cinéaste de génie, réjouit l’œil et l’esprit.

Sur la toile de la scène, les 13 interprètes sont pleins de leurs mouvements d’une élégante précision. Le chorégraphe a sculpté leurs corps athlétiques, les dépliant à son gré dans les tableaux de lumière de Christine Shallenberg. Les musiciens John King et Takehisa Kosugi accompagnent en direct d’une musique minimaliste la performance des danseurs.

J’ai entendu hier soir certains spectateurs qualifier le spectacle de « dépassé » Je vais laisser  l’extrait de cet article de François Dufort répondre :

Un de mes collègues européens a fait la remarque, à juste titre, que la pièce semblait un peu poussiéreuse, tout simplement parce que les innovations de Cunningham ont été depuis longtemps récupérées par de nombreux chorégraphes… Un air de déjà-vu donc, et ce, même si l’œuvre a à peine un an. (www.dfdanse.com)  

Ce soir, le FTA présente les très attendues Tragédies Romaines de la compagnie hollandaise Toneelgroep Amsterdam.

La compagnie Vertigo ouvre pour sa part ce soir avec Ondes de Choc à l’Usine C. J’y serai !

À demain !

- Nathalie de Han 

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Festival Trans-Amériques


Bonjour !

J’aurais le plaisir d’animer ce blogg pour la durée du Festival Trans-Amériques 27 mai au12 juin . 

Le Festival Trans-Amériques me tient à cœur depuis plusieurs années et j’espère réussir à partager avec vous tout l’intérêt qu’il suscite.

Au plaisir de vous rencontrer sur ces pages !

- Nathalie de Han

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Monday, 24 May 2010

Conspirare and Craig Hella Johnson Give Voice to Passions From Bach to Lang!

Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is one of the great masterpieces of Christian music; its music is sublime and inspiring, and its structure is one of its great strengths. Crowd reaction to Christ’s suffering is built into the telling of the story, and chorales in which the congregation is expected to participate, are also integral to the piece.
A few years ago, American composer David Lang appropriated this structure as the inspiration for a work of his own, The Little Match Girl Passion, based on the well-known story by Hans Christian Andersen. Conspirare’s superb Company of Voices recently gave the Austin premiere of this remarkable piece at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church.
As we have come to expect, Conspirare’s artistic director Craig Hella Johnson surrounded The Little Match Girl with music and words which complemented this major work.
The concert began with an excerpt from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion to clarify David Lang’s point of departure, and continued with a Requiem by the Sixteenth Century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria. This work by Victoria, while emotionally comforting in the face of death, also served to prepare us for the suffering and death of the poor little match girl.
After intermission we were transported to a world of suffering and hope through the imagination of Hans Christian Andersen and David Lang. Finally, as we tried to digest the sad fate of the little match girl and ponder its meaning, Conspirare send us into the night with a truly inspired choice of music, Carissimi's Plorate, filii Israel (Weep, you children of Israel). This beautiful music manages to be both a lamentation and a celebration, enabling us to smile through our tears.
To be absolutely clear, David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion is not simply a setting of Andersen’s story. As Bach did in his Passions, Lang adds commentary in both words and music, using all manner of contemporary techniques. On the whole, the effect was extremely powerful; however, it must be said that even with a professional choir as strong as the Company of Voices, it was often difficult to follow the words - even with the text in front of us – as many of the words are broken up into constituent syllables, others are repeated many times, and there is frequent overlapping of text.
If Bach was the inspiration for what Lang is doing he was obviously not the model. In the Bach Passions, it is always perfectly clear what is going on because the Evangelist tells us in recitative-style that is very close to spoken word. In addition, the chorales were already familiar to the audience and so they could readily join in. The audience is not invited to join in Lang’s piece and would not have a clue what to do if it were.
Personally, I find a work such as Golijov's La Pasión según San Marcos to be a much more vibrant and successful contemporary rethinking of Bach; nonetheless, Lang’s piece is serious, thoughtful and moving and deserves its success. It won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2008.
For Conspirare’s 21-member Company of Voices, I have nothing but the greatest admiration. Each and every member made a distinguished contribution during the course of the evening, and the ensemble’s intonation and expressive control was exemplary.



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Sunday, 23 May 2010

This Week in Toronto (May 24 - 30)

Photo: Igor Stravinsky








There are a number of high profile concerts this week. For voice fans, the disappointment is the postponement of Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja's Roy Thomson Hall Vocal Series recital to November 19th. Originally scheduled for mid November 2009, it was postponed once already, to this coming Friday. A few days ago, I got word that Mr. Calleja decided to postpone the Toronto recital yet again, due to a "minor surgical procedure" he was going to undertake on his nose. For singers, anything to do with the face - especially the nose - is not to be taken lightly, and he needs a certain down time to recover before his next engagement, as Gabriele Adorno in the Covent Garden Simon Boccanegra in late June. The good news for voice fans is the announcement of next year's vocal series, with four sopranos, headed by Romanian diva Angela Gheorghiu in concert with orchestra, her Toronto debut. Also appearing next season are sopranos Measha Brueggergosman, Sumi Jo, and Nicole Cabell, all returnees to Roy Thomson Hall.

The Canadian Opera Company's spring season comes to an end this week, with performances of Maria Stuarda (May 26, 28, 30) and Idomeneo (May 25, 27, 29). The COC is selling rush tickets for $20 before the show, subject to availability. At this super-bargain price, it is a great opportunity to catch the shows if you have not already done so. On Tuesday May 25, those members of the COC Ensemble Studio who are ending their tenure will be giving a farewell noon hour recital, Les Adieux, at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. The concert is free, and as usual, you'll need to show up 45 minutes ahead of time to ensure a seat. At noon on Thursday, also at the Amphitheatre, pianist and Glenn Gould School alum Stephane Sylvestre plays the fourth and last of Albeniz' Iberia, B47, Book 4. Also on the program is Six Pieces, Op. 118 by Brahms.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents an eclectic mixed program this week - Stravinsky's Petrouchka (1947 version) with Falla's Suite No. 2 from The Three-Corner Hat. Also featured is Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The ever-electric Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, a frequent visitor to Roy Thomson Hall, is the solo violinist. Robert Spano, conductor of the Atlanta Symphony, makes his TSO debut. The show is on Wednesday 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall, and repeated the following evening (May 27). On Saturday May 29 at 7:30 pm (repeated on May 30 3 pm), the TSO celebrates Spain with Espana! in its Light Classics Series - a mixed program of Chabrier, Copland, and de Falla's Nights in the Garden of Spain for Piano and Orchestra, with pianist Cecile Licad, an infrequent visitor to Toronto. Carlos Miguel Prieto conducts. [Note: In a press release received from the TSO an hour ago, it was announced that conductor Robert Spano has withdrawn due to a slipped disc. Carlos Miguel Prieto, who is arriving for the Saturday evening performance of an all-Spanish program, will now do double duty by taking over the two performances on Stravinsky.]

If baroque is more your thing, Tafelmusik presents Handel's Israel in Egypt on Saturday May 29, with soprano Teri Dunn, countertenor Matthew White, tenor Lawrence Wiliford, and baritone Sumner Thompson. Ivars Taurins leads the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir. Please note that this takes place NOT in its usual Trinity St. Paul Centre but in the new Koerner Hall. This concert is repeated on Sunday May 30 at 2 pm.

The chamber group, Via Salzburg, presents a concert of Britten, Elgar and Michael Oesterle, in a show that combines sound and image. Award-winning animator Christopher Hinton provides a visual interpretation of the music of Canadian composer Michael Oesterle. This takes place on Thursday May 27 and Friday May 28, at 8 pm at the Glenn Gould Studio.

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale presents And Still we Sing - Steel Singin', a program spanning classical to calypso.The concert takes place on Wednesday May 26, 8 pm at the Glenn Gould Studio, and repeated on Saturday May 29 at 8 pm.

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Monday, 17 May 2010

Cette semaine à Montréal / This Week in Montreal 17-23 mai


THEATRE



photo_piece_Et Vian! dans la gueule
Photo: Jean Francois Gratton / Une communication orangetango Pierre Lebeau
Et Vian ! dans la gueule
Une version modifiée d’un spectacle – à l’origine signé par le Groupe Audubon – dont on avait apprécié l’humour et la virtuosité en 1995. Le metteur en scène Carl Béchard y reprend donc sa plongée ludique dans l’univers fantaisiste de Boris Vian avec un collage de textes et de chansons parodiant l’institution militaire. Ils seront servis ici par des interprètes de première force, tels Pierre Lebeau, Sylvie Drapeau et Pascale Montpetit.
Du 27 avril au 22 mai, au Théâtre du Nouveau Monde

Buffet chinois

Depuis 20 ans, d’Œstrus à Mycologie, la compagnie en marge Momentum a le don de surprendre avec des spectacles toujours différents. Dirigé par le fondateur Jean-Frédéric Messier, son nouvel objet théâtral met en vedette une famille qui attend la fin du monde sur une plage... Notons que le texte de Nathalie Boisvert a raflé le convoité prix Gratien-Gélinas en 2007.
Du 4 au 22 mai, à l’Espace Go

Félicité
Une reprise à ne pas manquer. Dans une forme originale, empruntant au chœur grec, Olivier Choinière a écrit un rituel aussi drôle que tragique. Son incursion dans les fantasmes d’une maniaque de Céline Dion épingle avec une intelligence caustique les lacunes existentielles et identitaires d’une société où l’on vit par procuration. Avec les savoureux Isabelle Roy, Muriel Dutil, Roger La Rue et Maxime Denommée.
Du 20 avril au 2 juin, à l’Espace Go
DANCE

Mémoires Mile End

Du 18 au 30 mai, au Studio 303

Dave St-Pierre
Du 17 au 30 mai, au Studio 303

MUSIC

Mardi 18 Tuesday

Mozart: Don Giovanni, Herbert von Karajan, chef; Samuel Ramey, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Julia Varady, Gösta Winbergh, Kathleen Battle.
9h. Université de Montréal, campus Laval, 2572 boul. Daniel-Johnson, 2e étage, Laval. 11$. Les Matinées d’Opéramania (projection d’opéras; commentaires sur chaque scène; Michel Veilleux, animateur). (1ère de 2) 343-6427, 450-686-4777 (f25)

L’art de dire dans la chanson française, André Lemay Roy, coordonnateur de la SMAT.
18h30. CAV. 5-7$. SMAT, Amicales de la Phonothèque. 397-0068

Dept of Music, Student Concert, Clayton Kennedy, bass-baritone.
19h. ConcU Loyola Chapel. 0-5$. 848-2424

Série classique. Dvorák: Romance, op.11; Bagatelles, op.47; Danses slaves; Quintette pour piano #2, op.81, Quatuor à cordes Afiara; Iryna Krechkovsky, violon; Kevin Loucks, piano, harmonium; Stephen Prutsman, piano. 20h. SJUC. 10-35$. FMCM. 489-7444, 842-2112

Mercredi 19 Wednesday

Les Matinées d’Opéramania (projection d’opéras; commentaires sur chaque scène; Michel Veilleux, animateur). Chostakovitch: Lady Macbeth de Mtsensk, James Conlon, chef; Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, Vladimir Vaneev, Vsevolod Grivnov, Sergej Kunaev, Nanà Miriani. (1ère de 2) 13h30. UdM-Longueuil. 11$. 343-6427 (f26)

McGill TSH. FA. Mas-R, Aline Théry, trumpet. 17h. 398-4547

McGill POL. FA. ArtDR, Yu-Ting Stevia Gong, piano. 19h. 398-4547

Vous avez dit klezmer? Musique klezmer, perse et ancienne, Constantinople; Frank London, trompettes; Lorin Sklamberg, chant, accordéon. 20h. CPP SPM. 15-27$. 987-6919, 790-1245


McGill TSH. FA. MasR, Mireille Boily, jazz voice. 20h. 398-4547

FMCM. Série Afiara; L’Art du quatuor. Haydn: Quatuor à cordes “Largo”, op.76 #5; Berg: Suite lyrique, Quatuor à cordes Afiara. 20h. SJUC. 10-35$. 489-7444, 842-2112


UdM-MUS Salle Claude-Champagne. 25$. Concert bénéfice. Schumann, Wagner, etc. O.S. des Jeunes de Montréal; Louis Lavigueur, etc. chefs. 20h. 645-0311

Jeudi 20 Thursday

McGill POL. FA. MasR, Larry Grant, piano. 16h. 398-4547

CAV. SMAT, projection de vidéos d’opéras. Faust. 5-7$ 18h30. 397-0068 (h15)


Les Apéros de l’OSM, O.S. de Montréal; Stéphane Laforest, chef; Michel Rivard, voix; André Robitaille, animateur. 18h30. PdA TM. 40-50$. 842-2112, 842-9951

Marc David, chef; Choeur des Oliviers, Choeur. 19h30. Église Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, 750 1ère Rue, Richelieu. 25-60$.O.S. de Longueuil; 450-658-7608, 450-658-1157 x238


Éric Champagne, Frédéric Chiasson, Benoît Côté, Maxime Goulet, Pierre-Olivier Roy: Bungalopolis, Codes d’accès; Quintette à vents Prana; Daniel Àñez, piano; Cristian Gort, chef; Marc-Antoine D’Aragon, Gaétan Sauvageau, Philippe Bolduc, Anik St-Louis. 20h. Cabaret Le Lion d’Or, 1676 Ontario Est. 10-20$. 879-9676

Villa-Lobos: Bachianas brasileiras #9; Fantasia para saxofono; Revueltas: Ocho por radio; René Oréa-Sanchez: Psalme équinoxial pour saxophone et orchestre de chambre (cr), Ensemble instrumental Appassionata; Daniel Myssyk, chef; Marie-Chantal Leclair, saxophone. 20h. CMM SC. 15-35$. Escale à Rio: hommage à Villa-Lobos et Bach. Bach: Concerto brandebourgeois #3;(19h25 conférence) 790-1245, 388-5876



Série classique. Soirée Cinéma: Beethoven et Buster Keaton. Paul Schoenfield: Café Music; In Search of Beethoven (documentaire, 2009, UK; extraits sans son, musique en direct); Stephen Prutsman: Chopin Freddie / Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924, USA, 45 min. muet; musique de Stephen Prutsman en direct), Quatuor à cordes Afiara; Iryna Krechkovsky, violon; Adrian Fung, violoncelle; Kevin Loucks, piano; Stephen Prutsman, piano, présentation. 20h. SJUC. 10-35$. FMCM. 489-7444, 842-2112


Vendredi 21 Friday

Fondation Arte Musica (MBAM). Bach/Mozart: Prélude et fugue pour trio à cordes, K.404a; Schubert: Quintette pour piano et cordes “La Truite”, Myriam Pellerin, violon; Rémi Nakauchi Pelletier, alto; Karen Baskin, violoncelle; Eric Chappell, contrebasse; Olga Gross, piano. 18h30. MBAM SMiroirs. 13-25$ (17h visite commentée de la collection d’art européen du 19e siècle, RSVP). 285-2000 x5


Opéramania (projection de film; Michel Veilleux, conférencier). Donizetti: Don Gregorio, Giorgio Valerio, Livio Scarpellini, Elizaveta Martirosyan, Paolo Bordogna, Giorgio Trucco; Stefano Montanari, chef. 19h. UdM-MUS B-421. 8$. 343-6427


Série Vingtième et plus. Musique et nazisme. Hindemith: Quatuor #4; Schulhoff: Quatuor #1; Jacques Hétu: Quatuor #2; Brian Cherney: Quatuor #5, Quatuor Molinari. 20h. CMM SC. 10-25$. 527-5515

Festival Accès Asie. OrienTik/Portrait. Danse contemporaine; percussion japonaise; musique contemporaine occidentale, Alvin Erasga Tolentino, Andrea Nann, danse; Alison Nishihara, piano; Jordan Riley, tambour taiko, percussion. 20h. MC Frontenac, 2550 Ontario Est. LP. 872-7882


McGill POL. FA. MasR, Esteli Gomez, soprano. 20h. 398-4547


Série Jazz et Jeans, Trio Kurt Elling; Laurence Hobgood, chef. 20h. SJUC. 10-35$. FMCM. 489-7444, 842-2112

Samedi 22 Saturday

SMAT, projection de vidéos d’opéras. Wagner: Götterdämmerung, (Bayreuth, 1992). 12h30. CAV. 5-7$. 397-0068


Ciné-Met Encore Montréal. MetOp in HD, Encore. Armida. 13h. (h1)


Hôtel de Ville, Salle du conseil, 435 boul. Iberville, Repentigny. 50$. Série Grands Concerts. Musique des années 50, styles big band et ballroom, Sinfonia de Lanaudière; Stéphane Laforest, chef. (Concert-bénéfice pour le Concours de musique de Repentigny) 19h30. 450-582-6714


Imant Raminsh: Gloria; Morten Lauridsen: Lux aeterna; Henryk Gorecki: Totus tuus; Arvo Pärt: Magnificat, Ensemble vocal Polymnie de Longueuil; Louis Lavigueur, chef; membres de l’Ensemble Sinfonia de Montréal. 20h. Co-Cathédrale St-Antoine-de-Padoue, angle St-Charles et chemin Chambly, Longueuil. 20-25$. 450-449-0758


OPMM, CCVS. 20h. Église Ste-Rose-de-Lima, 300 boul. Perrot, L’Ile-Perrot. 20$. 808-2782 (h16)


Grand concert Mozart. Mozart Davidde penitente, KV 469, Choeur de la Montagne; Julien Proulx, chef; grand orchestre. 20h. Église St-Matthieu-de-Beloeil, 1014 Richelieu, Beloeil. 10-20$. 816-6577 (f23)


McGill POL. FA. ArtDR, Arminè Kassabian, mezzo. 20h. 398-4547


Opéra de Montréal. Massenet: Cendrillon, Orchestre Métropolitain; Jean-Yves Ossonce, chef; Julie Boulianne, Frédéric Antoun, Noëlla Huet, Gaétan Laperrière, Marianne Lambert. 20h. PdA SWP. 46-136$. 842-2112 (f26 29 31/5, 3/6)


FMCM. Série classique. Tour du Monde, Natalie Choquette, soprano; John Roney, piano; etc. 20h. SJUC. 10-35$. 489-7444, 842-2112

Dimanche 23 Sunday


Choeur de la Montagne. 14h30. Église St-Matthieu-de-Beloeil, 1014 Richelieu, Beloeil. 10-20$. 816-6577 (h22)


Rendez-vous du dimanche; musique du monde. Musique traditionnelle cubaine, Son Tres de Cuba. 15h. Centre culturel de Pointe-Claire Stewart Hall, 176 chemin du Bord-du-Lac, Pointe-Claire. LP. 630-1220


Mozart: Requiem, Solistes, Ensemble et Choeur Radio Ville-Marie; Simon Fournier, chef. 15h. ÉSt-L. 15-20$. 272-7455

McGill TSH. FA. MasR, Alexandre Côté, saxophone. 17h. 398-4547


McGill TSH. FA. MasR, Dominic Gobeil, guitar. 20h. 398-4547


McGill POL. FA. ArtDR, Sonia Coppey, violin. 20h. 398-4547

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This Week in Toronto (May 17 - 23)

Violinist James Ehnes at the Glenn Gould Studio
(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)






Canadian violinist James Ehnes is giving a joint recital with pianist Jamie Parker at the Glenn Gould Studio on Tuesday, May 18th at 7 pm. This is a fund-raising event for Jeunesses Musicales Ontario. On the program are works by Beethoven, Bach, Schumann and Brahms. Any chance to hear these two fine Canadian artists individually is not to be missed, and this recital represents the first time for them making music together.

The Flying Dutchman, the first of three productions that makes up the COC spring season, closes this week after two more performances. I saw the show again last Friday, and it was another fine performance. This time, I was sitting in the center of rear orchestra. The sightline is fine there, but because of the overhang, the orchestral sound is a bit diminished and boxy, lacking the expansive impact one gets with a seat more out in the open. The voices, however, are fine there. The two remaining performances are on Monday May 17 and Thursday May 20, 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre. Meanwhile, the two other productions are continuing, with Maria Stuarda on Saturday May 22 at 7:30pm. Tomorrow at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Italian soprano Serena Farnocchia gives a recital of Italian arias and songs. It represents a rare chance to hear this excellent singer, and all for free! Be sure to show up 45 minutes early to ensure a seat. A special performance Mozart's Idomeneo is on Wednesday, May 19 at 7:30 pm at the FSC. It stars present and former COC Ensemble members. Tenor Michael Colvin, Arbace in the regular performances, will be Idomeneo. Erin Fisher sings Idamante and Simone Osborne is Ilia. Soprano Ileana Montalbetti with her steely, powerful top is the Elletra. The tickets are at a very affordable $50 and $20. Regular performances of Idomeneo this week are on May 18 and 21 at 7:30 pm.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents Last Night of the Proms under the baton of Bramwell Tovey. On the program are the perennial favorite, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstances and Arne's Rule Britannia. Other works include Parry's Jerusalem. Performances on Tuesday May 18, 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall, with additional shows on the May 19 at 2 and 8 pm. On Saturday May 22 at 8 pm, the ever-popular violinist Itzhak Perlman returns to the TSO to play the beautiful Mendelssohn violin concerto in E minor. Other works featured in this all-Mendelssohn program is The Hebrides, Op. 26 and his Symphony No. 4, also known as the "Italian." Peter Oundjian conducts.

Finally, for those who missed the live transmission, Met in HD is presenting the encore performance of Armida starring Renee Fleming and five (!) tenors this coming Saturday at 1 pm in the selected theatres in the Cineplex chain. This is the last of this season's Met in HD offerings. For locations and ticket information, go to http://www.cineplex.com/Movies/MovieDetails/Armida-Rossini-Metropolitan-Opera-ENCORE-PRESENTATION.aspx?date=2010-5-22

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Friday, 14 May 2010

Strong COC cast shines in new Idomeneo

By L.H. Tiffany Hsieh

The best thing about Mozart's Idomeneo is that the action moves swiftly between the singers on stage and the orchestra in the pit. Add a bunch of naked Trojan prisoners and a dominating giant-donut Neptune on stage, the opera becomes irresistibly eye-catching.

That was the case for the Canadian Opera Company's new production of Idomeneo on May 12.

On stage under the direction of French director Francois de Carpentries, the stunning, contemporary set created by German designer Siegfried Mayer made a lasting impression as soon as the curtain went up. It's minimalistic but not bare; bold but not out of touch.

In the pit with British conductor Harry Bicket, the COC orchestra stirred up a mayhem in spite of frequent stops and starts in the score. The music, while not as glorious as the composer's later operas like Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi, and Magic Flute, is a diamond in the rough that only gets better each time you confront it.

The rest is a largely Canadian cast that is one of the strongest the COC has assembled this season. Isabel Bayrakdarian, one of Canada's hottest sopranos, sang the role of Trojan princess Ilia. Bayrakdarian is a moving singer who doesn't sacrifice good phrasings and articulations for cheap drama. There are three words that can best describe her singing overall: beautiful, beautiful, and beautiful.

Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó as Idamante, son of Idomeneo, was stately and passionate. She owned the role with confidence and refined techniques, all the while making it sound and look easy in this difficult pants role.

American soprano Tamara Wilson has a voice that can stop the traffic and she pretty much stole the show whenever possible as Elettra, the Greek princess who wants Idamante for herself and is jealous of Ilia for having scored his affection without trying. Her final aria in Act 3 was all the rage and wildly schizophrenic - an absolute highlight of the entire performance.

Making his COC debut is American tenor Paul Groves, who is one hell of a castaway Idomeneo struggling to spare his son from Neptune. With emotion, precision, and lots of talent, Groves gave himself to the role. His voice - powerful and clearly unforgettable - carried him above the orchestra like the mighty Neptune donut ring that overlooks the set.

Irish-Canadian tenor Michael Colvin as Arbace, Idomeneo's adviser, delivered a solid and outstanding performance, as did tenor Adam Luther of Newfoundland in the role of high priest of Neptune. The nicely choreographed COC chorus was mesmerizing to watch and even more so to listen to.

Idomeneo continues at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on May 15, 18, 21, 25, 27, and 29. A special COC Ensemble Studio performance of the same production takes place on May 19.

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