La Scena Musicale

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Aleksandra Kurzak Sings Chopin Songs

Tomorrow (Oct. 17) marks the passing of the great Polish composer Frederic Chopin in 1849. He was of course known as a great composer for the piano, but his many songs with piano accompaniment are exquisite and allow the listener a glimpse into the soul of the Polish people.  To remember Chopin, here are three songs sung by Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, one of the loveliest of soprano voices  in front of the public today. Her timbre is very reminiscent of a young Teresa Zylis-Gara, a great Polish soprano of the previous generation.

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Sunday, 14 October 2012

This Week in Toronto (Oct. 15 - 21)

Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov returns to Toronto Symphony Orchestra 
(Photo: Simon Fowler)

A highly anticipated event this week is the return of the great Russian violinist Maxim Venerov to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, this time playing the ever-popular Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. Vengerov has been devoting more of his energies to conducting than playing the solo violin in the last few years, partly as a result of an injury he sustained.  So it's great to have him back healthy and as a soloist. In addition to the Tchaikovsky, Venergov will play the violin and conduct Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Shalom Bard, the young conductor recently appointed the RBC Resident Conductor of the TSO is making his debut with this concert. Saturday Oct. 20 8 pm, with a pre-concert chat in the north Lobby with Rick Philips at 7:15 pm. Also in town this week is the brilliant young pianist Lise de la Salle, for Ravel's virtuosic Piano Concerto in G Major. It's paired with Sibelius Symphony No. 2, under the baton of guest conductor Douglas Boyd. Two performances at the Roy Thomson Hall -  Wed. Oct. 17 at 8 pm and Thurs. Oct. 18 at 2 pm.  

Opera Atelier, Canada's baroque opera company, is venturing into unknown territory this fall. It's production of Weber's Der Freischutz represents the Company's first foray into the German Romantic repertoire.  This work has received a few concert performances over the years, including one featuring Canadian tenor Paul Frey way back in the 90's, but to my knowledge this is the first full staging.  Croatian tenor Kresimir Spicer returns as Max, and rising soprano Meghan Lindsay sings Agathe.  Carla Huhtanen is her companion Aanchen.  Another OA regular, baritone Vasil Garvanliev, is Kaspar. David Fallis leads the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in six performances at the Elgin Theatre Oct. 27 - Nov. 3 

The two productions of the Canadian Opera Company fall season continue this week, with Die Fledermaus on Oct. 17 and 20. The role of Adele is shared by two excellent sopranos in the Ensemble, Ambur Braid and Mireille Asselin.  Asselin is singing on Oct. 17 and Braid on Oct. 20. The rest of the excellent cast remains unchanged. Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra and Chorus. If Verdi is more your cup of tea, be sure to catch performances of Il Trovatore starring the fabulous Leonora of soprano Elza van den Heever and tenor Ramon Vargas on Oct. 19 and 21.  All performances at Four Seasons Centre with start time of 7:30 except for the Sunday matinee which begins at 2 pm. Four of the former COC Ensemble Studio singers currently in town to sing (or cover) the two productions are giving a noon-hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on Tuesday, Oct. 16.  Soprano Ileana Montalbetti, baritones Peter Barrett and James Westman, and bass Robert Gleadow will sing arias and duets, as well as reminisce about their times in the Ensemble.  This event is not to be missed, and be sure to show up early to get a seat.

Pianist Paul Lewis makes his Toronto debut on October 18

On the piano front, a very important event is the appearance of the wonderful British pianist Paul Lewis on October 18 in recital under the auspices of Women's Musical Club of Toronto. He is currently on a North American tour, with additional dates in Alice Tully Hall in New York, Portland Oregon and Vancouver. Lewis will play three Schubert Sonatas. Any pianophile should not miss this recital. Performance at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building of the University of Toronto.

The University of Toronto Faculty of Music (Opera Division) is presenting a free concert of opera scenes, Songs of Love and War, on Oct. 18 1 pm at the Music Room of Hart House. On the program are scene from the baroque repertoire conducted by Kevin Mallon and staged by Tim Albery.

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