La Scena Musicale

Friday, 21 February 2014

A New Nagano Generation: The Artistry Continues

A New Nagano Generation: The Artistry Continues
Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 12 in A major K. 414 & No. 13 in C major K. 415
Karin Kei Nagano, piano
Cecilia String Quartet
Analekta AN2 8765  (51 m)

Is it in the genes? No, but genes play a major role in the creation of musical talent, especially so in the case of 15-year-old Karin Kei Nagano. Her father, Kent Nagano, has been the music director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since 2006 and has recently renewed his contract until 2020. Karin’s mother, Mari Kodama, is herself a fine pianist with an international reputation. Against this background, it certainly is not entirely surprising that the daughter of this gifted couple would show some exceptional musical talent.

And so she has. Karin won first prize at the Anton Rubinstein International Competition, the Paris International Scriabin Competition and the Berlin International Competition. She has performed extensively in Europe to rave reviews.

Now comes her first commercial recording. In her choice of repertoire she has been well-advised. These two early Mozart piano concertos allow her to demonstrate superior technical skill and consummate musicianship. But the big surprise is the maturity of her playing. Her Mozart is light and playful as befits her age, but it is also subtle and sophisticated in its phrasing. Karin Kei Nagano is not only a gifted daughter of world-class musicians; she is also a fine artist in her own right.

These two Mozart concertos were composed for keyboard solo with a small orchestra of strings and winds. But Mozart also approved alternative versions with just a string quartet, and that is the way they are played here. As collaborators, Analekta has chosen the fine young Cecilia String Quartet. //They took first prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2010, and are now the BMO Ensemble in Residence at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. The quartet plays with style and enthusiasm, although the engineers might have given them a little more weight and presence to balance Ms. Nagano’s concert grand.

Speaking of style, I question why the Cecilia String Quartet plays in an historically informed manner – lots of open strings, no vibrato on long notes, and so on. – but the keyboard is not a period instrument. To my ears this is a mixture of styles that makes no sense.

Paul E. Robinson

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Sunday, 16 February 2014

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 17 - 23)

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 17 - 23)

- Joseph So

Conductor Thomas Dausgaard (Photo: Ulla-Carin Ekblom)

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is very busy with week with several programs. Conductor Thomas Dausgaard is making one of his welcomed returns to Toronto, this time for Beethoven violin concerto with TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow as soloist. Also on the program is the Nielsen Symphony No. 3.  Performances on Wednesday Feb. 19 and Thursday Feb. 20 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.  Jonathan Crow repeats the Beethoven on Friday Feb. 21 under the baton of conductor Rob Kapilow in a shortened program designed for new audiences, under the title What Makes it Great?  Curtain is 7:30 pm.  On Saturday Feb. 22 1:30 and 3:30 pm are two "family friendly" performances. Appropriately called Orchestra Games, it is in celebration of Canadians in the Sochi Winter Olympics. Dirk Meyer conducts. For details go to

Violinist Jonathan Crow on the cover of a 2009 La Scena Musicale

Once again, we have Collaborations, the annual joint concert of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio and the Atelier lyrique of Opera de Montreal.  By my count this is the fourth year of this joint noon hour recital that features exciting voices of tomorrow. Given that so many of the COC Ensemble Studio artists have Quebec ties, this promises to be extra exciting. Participating artists are sopranos Aviva Fortunata, Claire de Sevigne, Emma Char, Florie Valiquette, mezzo Rachele Tremblay,  tenor Andrew Haji, baritone Cairan Ryan, and bass baritone Gordon Bintner. COC Ensemble Studio pianist/coach Michael Shannon is at the keyboard. Concert at Thursday Feb. 20 at noon, Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre . Program details at This will be a very popular event so show up an hour early for a seat. 

There is another interesting noon hour concert, celebrating women composers, appropriately called Women in the Powerhouse. American pianist Kara Huber plays works by Alexina Louie, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Joan Tower, plus the world premiere of a piece by composer Natalie Draper. Complete program at

Meanwhile, this is the last week of the COC mainstage production of Cosi fan tutte (Feb. 18 & 12) Un ballo in maschera (Feb. 20 & 22). All shows at Four Seasons Centre at 7:30 pm except Feb. 22 which is at 4:30 pm.

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is presenting Handel's Saul at Koerner Hall for a run of three performances Feb. 21 to 23. Soloists are sopranos Joanne Lunn and Sherezade Panthaki, countertenor Daniel Taylor, tenor Rufus Muller, and baritone Peter Harvey. Ivars Taurins leads the Tafelmusik forces.

Countertenor Daniel Taylor

Tenor and classical guitarist Bud Roach is the artistic director of Capella Intima. This group and the Toronto Continuo Collective (co-directors Lucas Harris and Borys Medicky) are presenting La Dafne (1608), a work by Italian baroque composer Marco da Galiano. Feb, 22 at McNeill Baptist Church in Hamilton, and Feb. 23 at Trinity St. Paul's in Toronto. Details at 

tenor Bud Roach

Toronto City Opera's presentations of Carmen (Feb. 19, 22) and Cosi fan tutte (Feb. 21, 23) continue this week at the Bickford Centre. The productions are fully staged with sets and costumes, and piano accompaniment. Mezzo Beatrice Carpino is the stage director. She will give a brief talk about the work 15 minutes prior to curtain. details at!showtimes/c3ra

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Cette semaine à Montréal : le 17 au 23 février

Avant son départ de la Maison de la musique, Guy Soucie a préparé une impressionnante programmation qui compte plusieurs artistes de renom qu’il a encouragés à leurs débuts et qui lui sont demeurés fidèles. Notons en février:
- Les dimanches 16 et 23, on entendra Les Variations Goldberg de Bach. Elles seront d’abord interprétées au clavecin par Luc Beauséjour et, la semaine suivante, au piano par David Jalbert.
 - Renée Banville

Pour ses « 5 à 7 en musique », la Fondation Arte Musica accueillera quatre musiciens de l’Orchestre Métropolitain lors d’un concert intitulé «Les cordes romantiques», le 20 février. Le premier violon Yukari Cousineau, l’altiste Brian Bacon et le violoncelliste Christopher Best se joindront au pianiste Matthieu Gaudet pour interpréter le Quatuor pour piano et cordes en do mineur de Richard Strauss et le Trio avec piano en sol majeur de Beethoven. Salle Bourgie, 20 février.
 - Justin Bernard

Concerts de grande qualité au menu de Montréal en lumière (20 février-2 mars). L’OSM et la Société des arts technologiques (SAT) présentent, à plusieurs reprises, Harmonielehre de John Adams sous la direction de Kent Nagano. À noter, entre autres, le spectacle de la soprano Barbara Hendricks avec Love Derwinger au piano (21 février) à la Maison symphonique. Et à ne pas rater, le concert de la star mondiale du violon Joshua Bell qui interprète Tartini, Beethoven et Stravinsky en compagnie du pianiste Frederic Chiu (25 février). Autres ravissements de cette 15e édition, la prestation de Katia et Marielle Labèque autour de la suite West Side Story avec la participation de Raphaël Seguinier et Gonzalo Grau (22 fevrier), ou encore Consolation of the heart, les merveilleuses Cantates de Bach, interprétées par Daniel Taylor (25 février) à la Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.
- Hassan Lahchaga

Opera da Camera, in partnership with the Rialto Theatre, is launching the Bel Canto Festival, a week of performances devoted to the vocal arts including opera, operetta, Broadway, jazz and contemporary opera for a total of seven programs and 11 performances. Central to the festival is ODC’s new production of Massenet’s Cendrillon, given in four performances. Theatre Rialto, Feb. 21 to 28.
Wah Keung Chan

Un habitué des plus grandes scènes internationales, le Quatuor à cordes Ébène a enregistré des œuvres de divers compositeurs ainsi qu’un album dédié au jazz et aux musiques du monde. Pour son deuxième engagement au LMMC, le quatuor a mis au programme Haydn, Bartók et Schumann. Salle Pollack, 23 février, 15 h 30.
 - Renée Banville

La série Dominica a lieu le dimanche à 15 h 30 à la salle Bourgie. On y entendra la pianiste Marika Bournaki le 23 février et la harpiste Valérie Milot le 7 mars.
 - Renée Banville

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