La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

“Journeys”



“Journeys”
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence Op. 70/Schönberg: Verklärte Nacht Op. 4
Emerson String Quartet
Paul Neubauer, viola II/Colin Carr, cello II
SONY 88725470602
*****

The Emerson String Quartet reigns supreme among string quartets but it has recently undergone some major changes. The original cellist, David Finckel, was recently replaced, and after years with Deutsche Grammophon the group has switched to Sony. This new CD is the Emerson’s first recording for the new label and one of its last recordings with Finckel still in the cello chair. The recordings were made in 2012.

I don’t recall these two works being coupled on a CD but the pairing makes perfect sense. They are both written for the same combination of six string players and they are both romantic masterpieces. The Tchaikovsky first saw the light of day in 1892 and the Schönberg ten years later. Violinist Eugene Druckner has aptly remarked that they represent “two extremely different definitions of romanticism.”

The performances are simply wonderful. I have always loved the Tchaikovsky, but I have never heard it played with such an ideal combination of exuberance, virtuosity and beauty. To my ears Tchaikovsky never wrote anything more beautiful than the opening of the slow movement, and Philip Setzer plays the violin solos with love and poetry.

The expressive intensity of Verklärte Nacht is also perfectly realized with playing of uncommon involvement and unanimity.

By Paul E. Robinson

Buy CD here

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Mahler: Symphony No. 6


Mahler: Symphony No. 6
Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden
DSO Live DSOL-5
*****
This is the latest release from the Dallas Symphony on its own label. It dates from March 2013 during a week of highly acclaimed live performances of the work at the Myerson Symphony Center. Shortly afterwards, van Zweden and the DSO embarked on a European tour; again the Mahler Sixth was prominently featured.

This recording documents the best of both orchestra and conductor. After several seasons as music director in Dallas, van Zweden has been able to add some first-class musicians to the band and to shape the ensemble to his way of making music. The results are extraordinary. It is no wonder that van Zweden’s contract was recently extended to 2019.

Van Zweden’s approach to Mahler is very much rooted in the score. Although Bernstein was an important influence on the Dutch conductor, van Zweden never personalizes Mahler the way Bernstein often did. There is emotion, but it is always controlled. Some listeners might prefer a slower tempo for the Andante moderato. Van Zweden moves it along just a little too much to bring out all the beauty of the opening melody. But the final Allegro moderato is devastating in its drive and power. Van Zweden opts for two and not three hammer blows in the last movement, and the engineers have captured those moments spectacularly well.



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Monday, 9 December 2013

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 9 au 15 décembre


par Renée Banville

Deux grands trios par le Fibonacci
Le Trio Fibonacci, qui fête son 15e anniversaire, a mis à son programme de son prochain concert deux des plus beaux trios du répertoire. Le Trio en la mineur de Tchaïkovski incarne le romantisme russe à son apogée. En indiquant sur la partition « à la mémoire d’un grand artiste » Tchaïkovski fait allusion à son grand ami Nikolaï Rubinstein, décédé depuis peu. Le Trio élégiaque no 1 de Rachmaninov est une des œuvres les plus saisissantes du compositeur. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, 10 décembre, 19h30. www.triofibonacci.com

Pierre et le loup sur film avec trame sonore en direct
Pour le temps des fêtes, voici une occasion en or d’entendre la célèbre musique de Prokofiev en visionnant un superbe film d’animation. Lauréat d’un Oscar en 2008 et du prix du public au Festival international d’Annecy, le film de Suzie Templeton sera accompagné d’une trame sonore interprétée en direct par l’Orchestre de chambre Appassionata, sous la direction de Daniel Myssyk. Salle Oscar-Peterson, 16 décembre, 19h. www.appassionata.ca

Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur – derniers concerts avant la relâche
Avant le congé des fêtes, la Chapelle présentera entre autres les pianistes Serhiy Salov (8 décembre, 15h30) et Stéphan Sylvestre (15 décembre, 15h30), les violonistes Silvia Mandolini et Marco Mandolini (12 décembre, 20h) et, dans la série Révélations, le baryton Philippe Sly avec Vincent Lauzer, flûte à bec et Jordan de Souza, clavecin et piano. 14 décembre, 14h.
Dans le cadre de sa résidence, le compositeur Maxime McKinley a invité les éminents musiciens contemporains israéliens Matan Porat, pianiste et Roy Amotz, flûtiste. 13 décembre, 20h. M. Porat donnera un récital à 20h le 14 décembre.
Le compositeur Simon Martin rend hommage à trois de nos plus grands peintres, Leduc, Borduas et Riopelle, dans des œuvres sensibles mises en relief par le Trio de guitares contemporain, le quatuor de saxo­phones Quasar et le Quatuor à cordes Bozzini. De courtes projections vidéo s’intercalent entre les pièces musicales. 11 décembre, 20h. www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/chapellebonpasteur

Noël en solo ou en chœur
Les noëls classiques ou jazzés se retrouvent chaque année dans les arrondissements.
Si les concerts intimes vous attirent, le Noël et ses délices de Christina Tannous est pour vous. Le pianiste Dominic Champagne accompagne la soprano dans un heureux mélange d’airs traditionnels, d’airs de compositeurs comme Poulenc et Fauré, de chansons américaines et de mélodies espagnoles. Maison de la culture Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, 12 décembre, 20h, Maison Brignon-dit-Lapierre (Montréal-Nord), 18 décembre, 19h.
Si le jazz vous convient mieux, le quatuor vocal Les Grelots Dingues vous séduira. Carole Therrien, soprano, Josée Lalonde, alto, Bernard Cayouette, ténor et Normand Richard, basse, chantent aussi au sein de chœurs professionnels et se produisent comme solistes. Ils feront un choix dans un répertoire classique, jazz et traditionnel. Maison de la culture Ahuntsic-Cartierville, 10 décembre, 14h.  www.accesculture.com

OM en tournée : le concerto sous toutes ses formes
Julian Kuerti, chef invité principal de l’Orchestre Métropolitain, dirigera le prochain concert de l’orchestre à la Maison symphonique le 13 décembre. Maestro Nézet-Séguin a mis au programme le Concerto pour orchestre de Bartók, œuvre qu’il aurait aimé diriger. Le Concerto pour violon de Beethoven sera interprété par le violoniste réputé Martin Beaver. Tournée dans les arrondissements : Saint-Laurent (17 décembre), Verdun (18 décembre), Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (19 décembre) et Pierrefonds (20 décembre). www.orchestremetropolitain.com

Une fête chorale à San Marco présentée par le SMAM
C’est à la basilique San Marco de Venise que fut inaugurée la musique à plusieurs chœurs, où les voix des solistes et chorales se mêlaient aux violons et saqueboutes. À l’approche de Noël, le Studio de musique ancienne vous offre, sous la direction de Christopher Jackson, quelques chefs-d’œuvre de Willaert, Gabrieli et Monteverdi. Salle Bourgie, 14 décembre, 20h et 15 décembre, 14h. www.smamontreal.ca

Intégrale des noëls pour orgue au Gesù
Fidèle à la tradition, l’organiste François Zeitouni présentera l’intégrale des Noëls pour orgue de Louis-Claude d’Aquin. Basées sur des cantiques populaires du XVIIIe siècle, ces célèbres pièces très virtuoses mettront en valeur les brillantes ressources du grand orgue Casavant/Guilbault-Thérien de cette église historique, dont M. Zeitouni est le titulaire depuis 2005. Église du Gesù, 15 décembre, 15h. www.legesu.com

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Sunday, 8 December 2013

This Week in Toronto (Dec. 9 - 15)

This Week in Toronto (Dec. 9 - 15) 

- Joseph So

When it was reported in Le Figaro in early 2012 that French diva Natalie Dessay said she would give up singing opera, there was incredulity and sadness among her opera fans. At 48, she is at an age when many opera singers are still in vocal prime.  As a high coloratura, she has been doing her vocal high-wire act for some two decades, and undeniably the voice has become less reliable in recent years. She had a widely reported vocal rest in 2003, and after vocal cord surgery she made a comeback (see an interview she gave to La Scena Musicale in 2005    http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm10-8/Natalie-Dessay.htm ) Given the taboo subject of a vocal crisis, singers are loathe to talk about it. But not Dessay. She even made a video documentary of her vocal crisis and surgery - must be a first in the history of classical singers!  An extremely courageous thing to do for which she deserves applause. I heard her quite a few times over the years, as a coloratura (Koenigin der Nacht, Lucia, Sonnambula, Violetta, Manon) and a lyric soprano (Pamina) as well as in recitals,  and she always gave 100% on stage. In a more recent interview in Le Figaro two months ago, she announced that her Manon in Theatre du Capitole (Toulouse) on October 15 would be her operatic farewell. Since she started in Toulouse, her career has come full circle. Now she is going to devote her energies to the song repertoire (pop and classical) as well as acting. Right now she is on a tour with French songwriter legend Michel Legrand, and she has dates in Montreal and Toronto. This will be her TO debut - an event not to be missed. Sunday Dec. 15 7 pm at Koerner Hallhttp://www.rcmusic.ca/

Soprano Natalie Dessay (Photo: Simon Fowler)


Given this is December, there'll be many presentations of Messiah big and small. One of the first ones off the block is Against the Grain Theatre's re-imagining of this Handel oratorio. As a cutting-edge company, AtG never does anything conventionally and it has built up a loyal following in a short few years. According to information from the AtG website, there are no cuts to the music ("the score remains intact..."). Notice that it's advertised as AtG's Messiah rather than Handel's. Joel Ivany directs, and Jennifer Nichols is the choreographer. Based on the production photos on the website, it is going to be semi-staged.  Soloists are soprano Jacqueline Woodley, mezzo Krisztina Szabo, tenor Isaiah Bell and baritone Geoffrey Sirett. AtG music director Christopher Mokrzewski conducts the AtG orchestra and chorus.  Venue is the Opera House at 735 Queen Street East. This is billed as "a 19+ event" so be prepared for some nudity.  Tickets apparently are going fast so call first! http://www.againstthegraintheatre.com/shows/messiah

Against the Grain's Messiah (Photo: www.againstthegraintheatre.com)

Canadian heldentenor and CBC's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera host Ben Heppner is making a comparatively rare appearance in Toronto, with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in a Festival of Carols.  Noel Edison leads the venerable TMC. It is at the Yorkminster Park Baptist Church on 1585 Yonge Street on December 11 7:30 pm. 

Tenor Ben Heppner at his CBC controls 

Speaking of tenors - I don't ever remember two of Canada's best known tenors, Ben Heppner and Richard Margison, appearing in Toronto in the same week.  Well, it is happening! Margison is joining Marco Parisotto of the Ontario Philharmonic in Nessun Dorma, an evening of opera and song, featuring the works of Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Ponchielli, Cilea, Leoncavallo and di Capua. Since for years 'Nessun dorma' is Margison's calling card, he is ending the concert with this aria. December 10 8 pm at Koerner Hall.  http://www.ontariophil.ca/index.php?ID=1#subscript


Tenor Richard Margison

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting its annual Christmas Pops concert, led by Seven Reineke with soprano Ashley Brown as soloist. On the program are all the popular pieces from Jingle Bell Rock to O Holy Night - it'll put you in the Christmas spirit! Three performances in Roy Thomson Hall, Dec. 10 at 8 pm, and Dec. 11 2 and 8 pm. http://tso.ca/en-ca/Home.aspx

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