La Scena Musicale

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. ( 

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. (  

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.