La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Gordon Bintner remporte le Concours OSM

Par Caroline Rodgers  

Le baryton-basse originaire de la Saskatchewan Gordon Bintner a remporté le Grand Prix au Concours OSM Standard Life la semaine dernière. On pourra l’entendre le jeune chanteur de 23 ans le 6 décembre prochain à la Maison Symphonique, dont il partagera la scène avec l’OSM dans le cadre d’un concert dirigé par Arild Remmereit. De plus, il se voit remettre une bourse de 10 000$, le Prix Espace-musique (un enregistrement professionnel à l’un des studios de Radio-Canada et la diffusion en direct du concert avec l’OSM sur les ondes d’Espace musique), un récital au Centre national des arts, une tournée du Chili à l’été 2012, et d’autres récitals dans les provinces canadiennes.  

Pour cette 72e édition, le Concours OSM faisait place à des concurrents des catégories chant, bois et cuivres. Dans la catégorie cuivres, la lauréate est Vanessa Fralick, 25 ans, de l’Ontario, en trombone. Dans la catégorie bois, le lauréat est Eric Abramovitz, 18 ans, du Québec, en clarinette. Les deuxièmes prix reviennent à Geoffrey Sirett, 27 ans, du Québec, baryton, et à Vincent Boilard, 23 ans, du Québec, en hautbois.   

Le Concours OSM Standard Life, commandité depuis 20 ans par la Standard Life, est ouvert uniquement aux candidats canadiens. Il a offert cette année plus de 100 000$ en prix et bourses.


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Monday, 28 November 2011

Bay and Austin Symphony Celebrate Virtuosity!

By Paul E. Robinson

Ginastera: Variaciones concertantes Op. 23Franck: Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra M. 46Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major S.125
Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber
Anton Nel: pianoAustin Symphony Orchestra (ASO): Peter Bay, conductor
Michael and Susan Dell Hall
Long Center for the Performing Arts
Austin. Texas
Saturday, November 19, 2011

Boulez: Mémoriale
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major Op. 19
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E flat major
Timothy Hutchins, flute
Till Fellner, piano
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM): Kent Nagano, conductor

La Maison symphonique

Place des Arts
Saturday, October 15, 2011
It is an indication of how far the Austin Symphony has come with Peter Bay in his fourteen seasons as music director and conductor, that the ASO could carry off a programme as demanding as this one; both the Ginastera and Hindemith works are veritable concertos for orchestra in the sense that they feature so many players in solo roles. Add another extraordinary artist in the person of pianist Anton Nel to play showy pieces by Franck and Liszt and you have an entire evening of virtuosity.
The Ginastera Variaciones concertantes is a chamber orchestra piece that manages to get some real excitement going in the final dance movement. Elsewhere, the composer shows a preference for soulful and melancholic variations, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to play - far from it. From the opening cello solo, played superbly by Douglas Harvey, there was never any question about the quality of this performance. Each of the featured soloists handled his or her challenge with authority. Special recognition must be given David Neubert who played the difficult double bass solo with remarkable accuracy and beauty of tone.
Hindemith’s set of variations on obscure pieces by Weber has been a crowd-pleaser since its premiere in 1944. The composer has a reputation for being turgid and academic at times in his music, but theSymphonic Metamorphosis is rich in orchestral colour and abounds with good humour. The fugue manages to be both an astonishing feat of contrapuntal mastery and great fun.
Speaking of mastery, Peter Bay was in complete control of this piece. Judging by the performance, all the difficult sections were thoroughly rehearsed. Balances and tempi were close to ideal. An excellent performance.
Anton Nel heads the Division of Keyboard Studies at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas. He is also a busy performer with a vast repertoire, ostensibly able to play anything written for his instrument. On this occasion, he concentrated on two warhorses from the Nineteenth Century romantic repertoire and played them as if they posed no technical challenges whatever.
We all, however, have likes and dislikes and I must confess that the Franck and the Liszt are not among my favourite pieces. I find their themes trite and their variations uninteresting. Although I have heard them played with more intensity and individuality by others, I can hardly fault Anton Nel for his approach. He played beautifully and the audience loved his performance. He rewarded them with an encore - a noble reading of the Liszt transcription of Schumann’s song Widmung.
For Something More…
Anton Nel is in charge of the Division of Keyboard Studies at the University of Texas; he is not, however, the only stellar performer on staff. Two nights earlier I heard Colette Valentine, one of Nel’s UT colleagues, play brilliantly with the Miró Quartet in music by Schubert (Trout Quintet) and Dvorák.

Paul E. 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."
Photo by: Marita

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This Week in Toronto (Nov. 28 - Dec. 4)

Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka (Photo: Andreas Klingberg)

The reigning Canadian prima donna, Adrianne Pieczonka is back home in Toronto, after having been away the last few months singing in Vienna, Tokyo, Hamburg and Berlin. She is giving a recital under the auspices of the Women's Musical Club of Toronto on Thursday Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m. at Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. On the program are songs by Duparc and Canadian composer John Greer. Pieczonka is also singing Tatiana's Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, as well as two Verdi arias - Ritorna vincitor from Aida and Ernani, involami from Ernani.

On the subject of voice, an important event this week is the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Competition. For the first time, the process of selecting new ensemble artists is open to the public, in the form of a competition. Ten finalists have already been chosen based on an earlier selection process. On Monday Nov. 28 5:30 p.m. at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre of the Four Seasons Centre, these ten young singers will strut their stuff in the hope of making the 2012-13 roster of the COC Ensemble Studio. There's also the not insignificant prize money of over $10,000. The ten finalists are Lindsay Barrett, Claire de Sevigne, Sasha Djihanian, Rachel Fenlon, David Gibbons, Danielle MacMillan, Owen McCausland, Laura McLean, Cameron McPhail, and Aviva-Fortunata Wilks. For more information, go to

The Against The Grain Theatre Company, known for its cutting edge take on works old and new, is bringing back its re-imagining of Puccini's warhorse, La boheme. It received very positive notices back in May when the production was first unveiled. Now with a different cast, ATG is giving three performances at the Tranzac Club on 292 Brunswick Avenue, in the heart of the Annex full of U of T students, not an inappropriate locale given Boheme is a story about Bohemian artists in 19th century Paris. Well, this Boheme has been time and place shifted to 2011 Toronto. Stage director Joel Ivany has rewritten the libretto to make it relevant to the Toronto audience. The singers are placed not on stage but interspersed among the audience. Soprano Miriam Khalil is the seamstress Mimi, tenor Ryan Harper is poet Rodolfo. Others in the cast are Justin Welch (Marcello) Lindsay Sutherland Boal (Musetta), Neil Craighead (Colline) and Keith Lam (Schaunard). Dec. 1 - 3 at 8 p.m. at the Tranzac Club.

This week, guest conductor Andrey Boreyko returns to conduct the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in two performances of Russian Gems, with violinist Leila Josefowicz playing Stravinsky's violin concerto. Also on the program is Prokofiev Symphony No. 5, and Lindov The Enchanted Lake. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 8 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall.

Tafelmusik presents Baroque Spendour: The Golden Age of Dresden on Dec. 1 and 2 8 p.m. at the Trinity-St. Paul's Centre. Oboe soloist Alfredo Bernardini is at the helm, conducting works by Zelenka, Fasch, Pisendel, Telemann and Vivaldi. On the Tafelmusik website you can access the concert program as well as an interview with Maestro Bernardini.

Royal Conservatory of Music's Koerner Hall has a number of exciting programs this week. British cellist Steven Isserlis gives a recital of works by Mendelssohn, Liszt, Franck and Thomas Ades on Dec. 2 8 p.m. Connie Shih is the collaborative pianist. Of course Koerner is now the venue of choice, but the old Mazzoleni Hall is still in business. This week, it hosts the RCM's student production of The Magic Flute, in abridged format. It features the voices of tomorrow - students from the Glenn Gould School. Performances on Friday Dec. 2 and Saturday Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. And let's not forget the free concert with the celebrated conductor Sir Roger Norrington, who according to RCM's publicity material studied violin at RCM in the 1940's (!), will be leading the RCM Orchestra in rehearsal of Brahms Symphony No. 1. This event takes place Friday Dec. 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Koerner Hall.

Meanwhile a few steps down Philosophers Walk is the University of Toronto Faculty of Music's fall showcase for it voice students - a Poulenc double-bill La Voix Humaine/Les Mamelles de Tiresias. I vividly recall a U of T opera program's production of Les Mamelles about 10 years ago and it was great fun. COC chorusmaster Sandra Horst, who is also on the faculty of the U of T Opera School, will conduct. Michael Albano and Erik Thor share the directing duties. Dec. 1 - 4, four performances nightly at 7:30 pm at the Macmillan Theatre.

Roy Thomson Hall's Canadian Voices Series continues this week with bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch giving a recital at Glenn Gould Studio. The program - all contemporary and relatively unfamiliar American song repertoire - is a challenging one. Okulitch is singing three cycles - Songs from the Underground by Glen Roven, Night Songs by Lowell Liebermann and Quiet Lives by Ricky Ian Gordon. All have text by many writers including Yeats, Wordsworth, Whitman, Graves, and Dorothy Parker. The song recital genre has become an increasingly hard sell, which is a real shame. Where can one hear such wonderful singers in such an intimate setting? Okulitch is an outstanding young talent, with rich and ringing baritone, exemplary musicality, not to mention a handsome stage presence. In the last few years, Okulitch has wowed audiences and critics in several high profile assignments such as the world premiere of The Fly, and the lead role in Dead Man Walking. He doesn't sing in Toronto very often and this is a great chance to hear him. Dec. 4 at 2 p.m.

Also at Glenn Gould Studio is pianist Eve Egoyan's recital on Friday Dec. 2 8 p.m. She is playing works by the late composer Ann Southam who composed these pieces with Egoyan in mind. The pianist has recorded the works in her recent CD. This performance will mark the world premiere of Southam's Returnings II: A Meditation.