La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Soprano Desiree Till at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu

Soprano Desiree Till Launches new CD "Couleurs" with Mini Recital

- Joseph So

Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu / Nov. 18th 2013  7:15 pm

J. Strauss - Mein Herr Marquis / Die Fledermaus
J-M Damase - Rions, chantons o mes amis / Epigrammes et Madrigaux
J-M Damase - Quand vous meditez un projet / Epigrammes et Madrigaux
Faure - Apres un reve 
Duparc - Chanson triste  

Desiree Trio
Desiree Till, soprano
Coenraad Bloemendal, cello
Erica Goodman, harp 

It's well known in the Toronto musical circles that Rosemarie Umetsu is not only a couturiere extraordinaire,  but also a passionate lover of classical music.  Her shop, Atelier Roesmarie Umetsu has played host to many a music event.  I recalled attending a wonderful CD launch by Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear a couple of years ago.  On Monday evening, the Atelier hosted a CD launch of soprano Desiree Till. 
"Couleurs" CD Cover

Soprano Desiree Till 

Previous to this event, I had only heard Ms. Till once, as Zerbinetta in the Toronto Summer Music Festival's Ariadne auf Naxos in 2008.  She possesses a soubrette voice of modest size but well focused, flexible and very pretty. I recall her as a lovely Zerbinetta, very musical, with an excellent sense of pitch all the way up to the highest notes in the 11 minute-long and treacherous "Grossmachtige Princessin."  Well, there wasn't anything so formidable in her mini recital last evening, but it was enjoyable just the same. 

Soprano Desiree Till and cellist Coenraad Bloemendal 

She opened with Adele's Laughing Song, "Mein Herr Marquis."  She sang it with lively, buoyant tone, and she has among the best laughs of all the Adeles I've heard!  Wearing my critics hat, I find that occasionally a note would be pecked at and not fully projected (no, I don't mean the notes marked staccati), and the trills were rather sketchy. Her fortissimo high notes were spot on, however. But overall it was quite lovely. The next two pieces were by French composer Jean-Michel Damase, who passed away early this year. Till captured the joyous air of "Rions" beautifully, and it was a nice contrast to the second, more contemplative "Quand vous meditez..."  The last two pieces were very familiar songs -Faure's "Apres un reve" and Duparc's "Chanson triste," and the soprano did full justice to these two gems. 
The Duparc's Chanson triste, sung with soft, warm, ethereal tone, was particularly lovely.  Both cellist Coenraad Bloemendal and harpist Erica Goodman supplied wonderful support to the singer. Bloemendal's arrangement of the Duparc and Faure - gorgeous cello obligato in Apres un reve! - added just the right romantic atmosphere to the two pieces.

It was a nice end to the 15 minute mini-recital, and she was warmly applauded by the full house, an audience with many musical luminaries including former National Ballet of Canada ballerina Veronica Tennant. This concert was a launch of her new CD, Couleurs, which features some of these pieces in the recital. Next summer, Desiree Till will appear in the Muskoka Music Festival, where the soprano has previously appeared to audience acclaim.

Wayne and Rosemarie Umetsu with the Desiree Trio (Photo: Courtesy of Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu)

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Monday, 18 November 2013

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 18 au 24 novembre

par Renée Banville

La Compagnie Baroque Mont-Royal
Au XVIIIe siècle, le Tout-Londres se pressait dans les jardins de la ville pour y écouter de la musique présentée dans d’élégants kiosques. La Compagnie Baroque, dirigée du clavecin par Susan Toman, recrée cette ambiance en proposant un choix d’airs et de danses conçus pour le théâtre et tirés d’ouvrages célèbres de Purcell, de Haendel et d’autres compositeurs londoniens. La soprano Ellen Wieser et le flûtiste Vincent Lauzer se joindront à l’ensemble. Église Jean XXIII, 21 novembre, 10 h 30 / Maison de la culture Frontenac, 25 novembre, 20 h.

Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur – dans la foulée des réjouissances
Pour son 2e concert dans le cadre de sa résidence à la Chapelle, Transmission propose un voyage sur les routes américaines. Oeuvres de Reich, Ives, Adams, Lang, Carter et Feldman. 22 novembre, 20 h.

La Messe en si mineur de Bach
Fondé en 1992 par Rafik Matta, l’Ensemble Telemann est formé de choristes et de musiciens jouant sur des instruments d’époque et se spécialisant dans la musique baroque et classique. L’Ensemble présente l’œuvre célèbre de J.S. Bach avec les solistes Pascale Beaudin, soprano, Claudine Ledoux, mezzo-soprano, Philippe Gagné, ténor et Pierre-Étienne Bergeron, baryton/basse. Cathédrale Christ Church, 23 novembre, 20 h. 

Festival Bach Montréal - 23 novembre au 7 décembre
En concert d’ouverture, le Festival présente le Concerto Köln, l’un des principaux orchestres de chambre allemands, dans un programme varié : 4e et 5e Concertos brandebourgeois de J.-S. Bach, Concerto pour violoncelle de Vivaldi. Aussi au programme : des œuvres d’autres compositeurs italiens du 18e siècle. Salle Bourgie, 23 novembre.

Deux œuvres célèbres – deux chœurs polyphoniques 

Le Chœur Classique de Montréal cumule 25 années de chant polyphonique. En compagnie du Chœur polyphonique, sous la direction de Louis Lavigueur, directeur artistique des deux ensembles, il interprète des extraits de deux grandes œuvres du répertoire lyrique: La Création de Haydn et Le Messie de Haendel. Église St-Andrew & St-Paul, 24 novembre, 14 h 30.

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This Week in Montreal: November 18 to 24

By Renée Banville / Translation Emilie White

Baroque Mont-Royal
During the 18th Century, all of London would visit the city’s gardens to listen to music in elegant kiosks. The Compagnie Baroque, directed from the harpsichord by Susan Toman, recreates this atmosphere by proposing renowned works for theatre by Purcell, Handel and other London composers. Soprano Ellen Wieser and flutist Vincent Lauzer will join the ensemble. Church Jean XXIII, November 21, 10:30 and Maison de la culture Frontenac, November 25, 20 h.

Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur – In the Heart of the Celebration
For its second concert as ensemble in residence at the Chapelle, Transmission presents an American road trip: works by Reich, Ives, Adams, Lang, Carter and Feldman. November 22, 8pm.

Telemann Ensemble’s B Minor Mass
Founded in 1992 by Rafik Matta, the Telemann Ensemble is an instrumental and choral group specialised in baroque and classical music playing on instruments of the time. The Ensemble will present J.S. Bach’s masterpiece with soloists Pascale Beaudin, soprano, Claudine Ledoux, mezzo-soprano, Philippe Gagné, tenor and Pierre-Étienne Bergeron, baritone/bass. Christ Church Cathedral, November 23, 8 pm.

Two Famous Works, Two Polyphonic Choruses
The Chœur Classique de Montréal celebrates 25 years of polyphonic chant. With the Chœur polyphonique, under the direction of Louis Lavigueur, artistic director of both ensembles, he interprets excerpts of two great works of the lyrical repertoire: Haydn’s Creation and Handel’s Messiah. Church of St-Andrew & St-Paul, November 24, 2:30.

Montreal Bach Festival – November 23 to December 7
For its opening concert, the Festival will present Concerto Köln, one of the principal chamber orchestras from Germany, in a varied program: Bach’s Fourth and Fifth Brandenburg Concertos, Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto. Also part of the program: works from other Italian composers of the 18th Century. Salle Bourgie, November 23.

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 18 - 24)

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 18 - 24)

- Joseph So

An extraordinarily busy week with many presentations by organizations large and small, the top choice for me would be the appearance of cellist Yo Yo Ma at Roy Thomson Hall on Friday Nov. 22 8 pm. Appearing with him is pianist Kathryn Stott. Ma has a special connection to Toronto and his appearances here are invariably sold out. The program is a mix of old and (relatively) new: Manuel de Falla's Seven Canciones Populares Espanolas, Messiaen's Louange a l'Eternite de Jesus, Brahms Sonata No. 3 in D minor, plus works by Astor Piazzola and Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Cellist Yo Yo Ma (Photo: Stephen Danelian)

Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis is making his annual return to Toronto this week, in works of Beethoven and his beloved Strauss, with Berg thrown in for good measure. Alban Berg is of course best known for his 12-tone compositions, but early in his career, his musical idiom was decidedly Straussian.  A good example of that is his Sieben fruhe Lieder or Seven Early Songs. The third song, Die Nachtigall, is so melodically inspired that it rivals anything by Strauss. Here to sing it is American-Canadian soprano Erin Wall, who is fabulous in Strauss. Also on the program is Beethoven Symphony No. 4 and Merry Pranks from Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel. Wednesday Nov. 20 and Saturday Nov. 23 at 8 pm.

Sir Andrew Davis

The venerable Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is celebrating the centenary of Benjamin Britten with a concert of two of his religious pieces - The Company of Heaven and St. Nicolas. The first cantata was one of his earlier works, dated to 1937. It is scored for speaker, soprano, tenor, and choir. TMC's Noel Edison is at the helm, with soloists soprano Lesley Bouza, tenor Colin Ainsworth, and speaker Diego Matamoros, Toronto Children's Chorus and the Festival Orchestra.  St. Nicolas was composed in 1948 to text by Eric Crozier. The piece follows the legendary life of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. Performance on Nov. 20 at 7:30pm, at the spacious Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Festival Orchestra

New Brunswick soprano Nathalie Paulin is a resident of Toronto and sings frequently in North America and Europe. For some reason, we rarely get to hear her in her adopted hometown of Toronto. The last time I recall hearing her locally was at the Toronto Summer Music in 2012. Paulin is also on the voice faculty of University of Toronto.  Together with fellow faculty member and collaborative pianist Steven Philcox, Paulin is giving a recital of songs by Canadian and American composers Hetu, Couthard, Nimmons, Schwantner, Brady and Crumb.  Her recital on Monday Nov. 18 7 pm at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building.

Soprano Nathalie Paulin

Pianist pedagogue Menachem Pressler (Photo: Indiana University)

The legendary Menachem Pressler turns 90 this year, and to celebrate, he is joining the New Orford String Quartet in an afternoon of music-making, at Koerner Hall. The program includes Beethoven's String Quartet No. 6 in B-flat Major, Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, plus Canadian composer R. Murray Schafter's String Quartet No. 1, in celebration of Schafer's 80th birthday. (Incidentally, Schafer is the cover story in the current issue of La Scena Musicale, the flash version of which you can access here -

Voicebox (Opera in Concert) is presenting Benjamin Britten's Gloriana on Sunday Nov. 24 2:30 pm at its usual venue, the Jane Mallett Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre on Front Street. The opera tells the story of the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex, and it premiered in celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  It was not well received by audience and critics for its less than fully favourable portrayal of the Queen. In recent years, this opera has undergone a revival, and the Royal Opera Covent Garden chose this work just this past June to celebrate the Centenary of Britten's birth, as well as the 60th anniversary of the premiere of this opera. I saw this work quite a few years ago with dramatic soprano Christine Brewer as QE (perfect role for her) and a young Brandon Jovanovich, in his pre-Wagner/Strauss days as Essex. For OIC, Betty Wayne Allison takes on the role of Elizabeth, Adam Luther is Essex (also known as Roberto Devereux) and Dion Mazerolle sings Cecil.   Peter Tiefenbach is the music director and pianist. The chorus is extremely important in this work and expect the OIC chorus to get a full workout. In the spring, the COC is presenting Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, which is of course based on the same historical characters. This is likely your only chance to see the Britten work in Canada, albeit with piano.

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