La Scena Musicale

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Menuhin Competition Austin 2014: Junior Section Prize Winners Selected

by Paul E. Robinson

Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 Winners (Junior Division)
(Left to right) Ludwig Gudim (3rd Prize); Daniel Lozakovitj (2nd Prize); Rennosuke Fukuda (1st Prize);
Jaewon Wee (5th Prize); Alex Zhou (4th Prize)

Friday night at the Butler School of Music in Austin, TX, seven young violinists between the ages of 12 and 14, competed for prizes in the Junior Section of the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014. Among the countries represented were the United States, Korea, Japan, Sweden, and Norway.  In this final round the contestants chose one 10-minute piece from a list of four works by Sarasate, Saint-Saëns, Waxman and Wieniawski. Each of the pieces has enormous technical challenges.

In fact, the seven finalists chose only two works among them: Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen (chosen by two) and Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy (chosen by four).

By the end of the evening it was clear that we had heard violin playing of remarkable accomplishment. Technical problems didn’t seem to exist for these talented youngsters, and it was difficult to rank one competitor higher or lower than another. While the judges had their work cut out for them this evening, they had also had the experience of listening to these same competitors in earlier rounds; clearly, their final decision was not based solely on a performance of Zigeunerweisen or the Carmen Fantasy.

In my opinion, were I judging only what I heard on Friday night, I would have given the top prize to 15-year-old Ludwig Gudim from Norway. He had technique to burn in the fast passages but he also had a rare gift for getting to the very soul of the music in the soft passages. It was almost uncanny to watch him tease out a phrase and then make it softer and softer almost to the point of inaudibility. What is more, in so doing he forced the members of the orchestra to listen intently and to follow him into that softness. This was artistry of the first order. The judges obviously heard what I heard, but weighed it against what they had heard earlier in the competition and from other competitors. Ludwig Gudim was awarded Third Prize.

Another fine choice was the 12-year-old Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovitj, who played with a maturity and a stage presence way beyond his years. He fully deserved the Second Prize.

The First Prize was awarded to 14-year-old Japanese violinist Rennosuke Fukuda. In the finals he played the Carmen Fantasy better than anyone. His left hand flew up and down the fingerboard and he tossed off the thousands of notes as if it were child’s play. And perhaps it was, given his age.
The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra played superbly for each of the contestants. Conductor Gerhardt Zimmermann handled the tricky accompaniments with such calm assurance that the contestants needed only to concentrate on their own parts.

As First Prize Winner Rennosuke Fukuda is awarded US$7,000, a one-year loan of a fine old Italian violin by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins, and performances at the Long Center in Austin  with the Cleveland Orchestra at a Family Concert on Saturday and at the final Gala on Sunday night.

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Four Competitors Reach Seniors' Section Finals at Menuhin Competition Austin 2014

by Paul E. Robinson

Senior Finalists in Menuhin Competition Austin 2014
(Left to right): In Mo Yang (18, Korean); Stephen Kim (18, American); Stephen Waarts (17, American/Dutch); Christine Seohyun Lim (19, American/Korean)

The excitement is mounting as the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 heads towards the finish line. In the senior division (16-21 years old) nine young violinists competed yesterday in the semi-finals; each one performed brilliantly, but by late in the evening only four remained in the hunt for prizes.
In these semi-finals each performer was required to take the first violinist’s chair in the Miró Quartet and lead several movements of a Haydn quartet. Then followed an unaccompanied piece called “Black-eyed Suzy” written especially for the competition by Donald Grantham. Finally, in this 35-minute mini-recital, each violinist presented a showpiece with piano. It was a challenging test.

The string quartet segment, which was presumably intended to show how well the competitors could lead a small ensemble and interact with each of the other players, as well as a test of each player’s command of classical style, is an admirable contest and demonstrates that this competition is not just about technical virtuosity but about true musicianship.

The Grantham piece. “Black-eyed Suzy,” was, in the words of the composer, “inspired by a famous old fiddle tune played in Appalachia and the American south for the past 100 years.” While there is some country fiddling in the piece, Grantham also introduces more academic devices. For a competition taking place in the American south, this composition was an inspired addition. The country fiddling style was obviously "foreign" to many competitors who missed much of the fun of the piece as a result; others, however, got right to the heart of it and gave it a convincing rendition.

Throughout the day I was struck by the high calibre of each of contestant’s performance. I was also struck by the fact that six of the nine competitors are students at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and eight of the nine are studying in the United States. Does this reflect the fact that the competition is being held in the United States? Surely not! This is an “international” competition - where are the students from schools in the U.K., France and Germany, not to mention Juilliard (New York), Jacobs School of Music (Indiana University) and the Shepherd School of Music (Rice University) in the United States? 

It is undoubtedly a coincidence that the chairman of the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 jury is Pamela Frank, also a teacher at the Curtis Institute. On the basis of this year’s competition, one might conclude that Curtis is the center of the world as far as the training of violinists is concerned.

It is interesting to note that many students from Asia or with Asian heritage take advanced violin training in the United States at schools like Curtis. This observation is borne out by the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 in which seven of the nine semi-finalists have Asian heritage.

The four competitors who made it through the semi-finals to the finals yesterday were Stephen Kim (American, Curtis student, age 18); Christine Seohyun Lim (American-Korean, Curtis student, age 19); Stephen Waarts (American-Dutch, Curtis student, age 17), and In Mo Yang (Korean, New England Conservatory student, age 18). Three of the four are Curtis students and three of the four are also Asian or of Asian heritage. These four Senior finalists will next appear in competition playing a concerto with the Austin Symphony at the Long Center on Saturday night. 

While each of these four Senior finalists played well in the semi-finals, in my opinion In Mo Yang and Christine Seohyun Lim stood out. In Mo Yang (Korea) sat in Daniel Ching’s first violin chair in the Miró Quartet and showed beyond any doubt that he deserved to be there. His execution of  the elaborate solos in the slow movement of Haydn’s Op. 76 No. 2 was remarkably mature and authoritative. He deserves the special prize for quartet performance. He probably also deserves the prize for best performance of the Grantham piece, which he instilled with a literally "toe-tapping" energy coupled with a convincing sense of its bluesy elements. In Ysaÿe’s Caprice d’après l’Étude en forme de Valse de Saint-Saens his virtuosity was jaw-dropping. 

As first chair in the Miró Quartet, Christine Seohyun Lim showed strong leadership and attentiveness to her colleagues. In Wieniawski’s Variations on an Original Theme Op. 15, she was simply dazzling. Ms. Lim’s stage presence was confident and graceful - important qualities for any young performer aspiring to a career as a performing artist. I look forward with great enthusiasm to performances by each of these extraordinary young violinists - In Mo Yang  playing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Christine Seohyun Lim playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto - with the Austin Symphony on Saturday. 

The Senior 1st prize winner will be announced after the concert on Saturday night, and then appear the following evening as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Long Center. The winner will also receive US$10,000, and the 1-year loan of a fine Italian violin, courtesy of Christophe Landon Rare Violins.

Anyone interested in following the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 should know that the current competitive rounds are available for live streaming at On the same site one can also access performances from earlier rounds via YouTube.

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A Monumental Verdi Requiem from Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony!

Verdi: Messa da Requiem
Hui He, soprano
Marianne Cornetti, mezzo-soprano
Giorgio Berrugi, tenor
Ain Anger, bass
Dallas Symphony Chorus and Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden

Meyerson Symphony Center
Dallas, Texas
Sunday, February 23, 2014

It wasn’t the first time that Jaap van Zweden had conducted Verdi’s Messa da Requiem in Dallas, it hopefully won’t be the last, and it was memorable in all the right ways. The climaxes were stupendous, the quiet moments were ethereal, and the entire work held together as a deeply-felt lament for the dead.

Giuseppe Verdi
The Verdi Requiem is a theatrical piece in the sense that Verdi was primarily an opera composer. He didn’t write any symphonies or concertos and concentrated his energies on writing for the operatic stage in his native Italy. The melodies and choruses in this work would fit very well into one of his operas; parts of the “Dies Irae," for example, could have been used for the “auto de fé" scene in Don Carlo. The dramatic approach works in the Requiem; after all, there is nothing more dramatic in anyone’s life than the leaving of it. Most people are fearful of death, wondering what, if anything, comes next and desperately seeking to come to terms with what they have made of their lives. Verdi has plumbed the depths of these anxieties in his Messa da Requiem, and it is one of his greatest works.

Jaap van Zweden brings to every score he conducts an enormous respect for the composer, and a commitment to bringing that music to life. While his integrity will not allow him to exaggerate for greater effect, this approach never results in a scholarly or dull performance; what van Zweden achieves is an intensity which imbues every note in a score with life and meaning - and so it was with this performance of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem. The opening bars might have been a little softer than they needed to be, but in straining to hear those muted cello notes we were drawn into the mystery of death right from the beginning. When the music modulates to F major and Verdi indicates a slightly faster tempo for this choral section, Maestro van Zweden’s beat was markedly faster - again, a convincing tempo change because it was done with conviction, and further on, with the most beautiful phrasing and tapering of dynamics. Masterful.

Mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti a Casting Coup
Verdi has given the soloists in this work the most commanding entries imaginable. Tenor, bass and soprano each have four bars in which to assert themselves as major players in the drama. From these few, but telling, bars we learn early on whether or not our soloists have what it takes to carry Verdi’s message; unfortunately, on this afternoon the soloists seemed not quite ready for the task at hand, either because they had not warmed up sufficiently before the performance or because they had been miscast. 

Soprano Hui He was more in command later in the work - especially in the final movement, the “Libera me.” Tenor Giorgio Berrugi also improved as he went along, and was especially successful in the more lyric passages. From the bass in this work, I prefer a heavier and darker sound than Ain Anger was able to provide. He was especially weak in the chilling “Mors stupebit” section.

The vocal range of the mezzo-soprano role is all too easily covered by Verdi’s chorus and orchestra in this work; Marianne Cornetti (photo:right) whose voice is much bigger than that of the other three soloists, used this strength to good effect.

Special kudos to the members of the all-volunteer Dallas Symphony Chorus. Named Director of the chorus in 2010, Joshua Habermann has shown that he can successfully maintain the high standard set by former director David R. Davidson. Jaap van Zweden needed only to look in the direction of sopranos or tenors to elicit the most remarkable results; each member of the chorus seemed supremely attentive to every move the conductor made. The results were glorious.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with Maestro van Zweden on the podium, is a world-class orchestra. Here, the strings phrased with unanimity and myriad colors, and the wind soloists made even short phrases a wonder to hear. The “Dies Irae" and “Tuba mirum" provide a field day for the brass and the DSO musicians played their hearts out. Verdi requires four trumpets in the orchestra and four more ‘somewhere else.’ On this occasion the second four were stationed in a small balcony above the chorus on the right-hand side of the stage. The solution was a good one and the effect was thrilling.

Thundrous "Dies Irae" (Day of Wrath) Shakes the Rafters!
The key element in the “Dies Irae" is the bass drum, a master stroke on Verdi’s part. After ten powerful opening bars in 4/4 time, Verdi repeats the pattern, this time with the bass drum contributing tremendous fortissimo thwacks on the second and fourth beats. Principal percussionist Doug Howard recently showed what he could do with the famous hammer blows in the Mahler Sixth and he outdid himself in the Verdi. I have never heard these bass drum notes carried off with such power and depth. Very likely the acoustics of the Meyerson contributed to that effect as well. Whatever the explanation I suspect that Verdi would have loved the sound.

In addition to the “Dies Irae" and the “Tuba mirum,” there is another passage in the Messa da Requiem that brass players look forward to with either keen anticipation or dread, depending on their competence. This is the passage featuring rapid, fortissimo chromatic ascending and descending scales at the end of the “Sanctus.” To say that the “Sanctus” was electrifying in this performance would be an understatement.

The overall impression left by this performance was of a profoundly moving journey taken through the mysteries of both life and death. Jaap van Zweden last conducted the Messa da Requiem in Dallas in 2008. Let’s hope Dallas music-lovers won’t have to wait another six years for a repeat experience.

For something more…
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has just announced details of its 2014-2015 season. There are some very positive developments. It was a mistake to cut back the number of weeks devoted to classical music performances, and that mistake will be rectified next season. The “classical favorites” policy for the current season has also been modified. There will be a number of new works by Rihm, Rouse, Bates and Dallas composer Chase Dobson. Van Zweden will conduct two major Mahler symphonies, the Third and the Ninth, as well as the Bruckner Fourth, the Bernstein Third, and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

There will likely also be a new work from 19-year old Conrad Tao (photo:right) who has been named Artist-in-Residence for the 2014-15 season. Tao’s duties have not been explained in detail but they will include appearing as piano soloist in Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Another major personnel addition is the appointment of Karina Canellakis, a former Berlin Philharmonic violinist with a master’s degree in conducting from Juilliard, as assistant conductor. Her mentors have included Simon Rattle, Alan Gilbert and Bernard Haitink.

The DSO also announced the inaugural “Soluna: International Music and Arts Festival” which will conclude the season in May, 2015. This is planned as an international multi-disciplinary festival involving other arts groups in Dallas. Not many details yet, but the theme of the first festival is “Destination: America” honoring and celebrating artists who came to America over the years. Presumably, composers so celebrated would include Schoenberg, Weill and Stravinsky, among others. One of the concerts initially listed as part of this festival is an all-Bernstein program. As far as I know, Bernstein was American-born and educated. Not clear at this point how he and his music relate to this theme, and I have never heard Bernstein described as an “American impresario,” in the words of the DSO season brochure.

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La 123e saison du Ladies' Morning Musical Club

par Renée Banville

La doyenne des sociétés culturelles du Canada présentait hier sa programmation pour la saison 2014-2015. Fidèle à sa réputation, le LMMC nous offre encore cette année une série de dix concerts d'une qualité exceptionnelle.

  • Aussi à l'aise comme concertiste que chambriste, récitaliste et compositeur, le jeune pianiste canadien Stewart Goodyear (9 novembre) avait ébloui le monde musical lors de l’exécution de l’intégrale des 32 sonates de Beethoven sans interruption, le 9 juin 2012.
  • Le pianiste italien Benedetto Lupo (8 février) a déjà derrière lui une brillante carrière internationale.
  • Élu « Artiste de l'Année » par les lecteurs du Diapason, le violoncelliste Jean-Guihen Gueyras (22 mars) a aussi été déclaré « Meilleur soliste instrumental » aux Victoires de la Musique Classique en 2008.
  • Le Montrose Trio (30 novembre) réunit trois solistes et chambristes accomplis. D'abord membres du Tokyo String Quartet qui a cessé ses activités, le violoniste Martin Beaver et le violoncelliste Clive Greensmith ont joint leurs forces au pianiste John Kimura Parker pour offrir un nouveau trio captivant.
  • Fondé en 1993, le Jerusalem Quartet (1er mars) interprète en tournée l'intégrale des quatuors de Chostakovitch.
Cinq d'entre eux y sont présentés pour la première fois :

Les habitués du LMMC entendront de nouveau avec plaisir le violoniste James Ehnes (7 septembre), l'un des interprètes de musique classique les plus dynamiques, le Trio Pasquier (19 octobre), le Borodin Quartet (3 mai) , la mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn (12 avril) et le Takacs Quartet (28 septembre) qui revient pour la 9e fois. « Que voulez-vous, on l'aime! » a dit la présidente, madame Constance Pathy.

Les concerts ont lieu le dimanche à 15 h 30 à la salle Pollack.

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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Menuhin Competition Austin 2014: Jury Members Dazzle in Performance!

by Paul E. Robinson

Mozart: Sonata for Piano and Violin in G major K. 301
Kreisler: La Gitane/Londonderry Air/Tambourin Chinois
Joji Hattori, violin/Gordon Back, piano

Piazzola: Historie du Tango and Café 
Joji Hattori, violin/Adam Holzman, guitar

Gang Chen: Sunshine in Tasikuergan
Saint-Saëns: Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 75
Lu Siqing, violin/Anton Nel, piano

Bates Recital Hall/Butler School of Music
University of Texas
Austin, Texas
Monday, February 24, 2014

One of the many benefits of having a major music competition in town is the opportunity to hear performances by some of the jury members. In the case of the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014, these included Joji Hattori and Lu Siqing, surely two of the finest violinists to be found in the world today; both gave outstanding performances in this evening’s chamber music concert.

© Jeff Mangione
Joji Hattori (photo:right), originally from Japan, has lived in Vienna for much of his life. He won the Menuhin Competition in 1989. With Gordon Back at the piano – Mr. Back is the artistic director of the Menuhin Competition - he led off with an elegant performance of Mozart’s Sonata K. 301. While the Mozart was lovely, Hattori really came into his own with three short pieces by Fritz Kreisler. In Round One in the Senior Division of the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014, each of the competitors must play one of a number of delightful encore pieces composed by Kreisler for his own use. Some of these are technically very difficult and all of them require an ability to play with charm and finesse. What we heard last night from Mr. Hattori was a veritable master class on how to play this music. He delighted the audience with a performance that was not only technically superb, but also sensitive and beautiful.

With guitarist Adam Holzman, a faculty member at the Butler School of Music, Mr. Hattori next turned to a tango-inspired piece by Piazzola; although not one of the Argentinian composer’s most ambitious works, it too had charm.

After intermission, we heard Chinese violinist Lu Siqing (photo:right), who studied with Dorothy Delay at Juilliard and in 1987 became the first Asian violinist to win lst prize at the Paganini Competition. Lu’s recording of the famous Butterfly Lovers concerto has sold over a million copies; in fact, the first piece he played on this evening’s program was by Gang Chen, one of the composers who collaborated on Butterfly Lovers. Gang Chen’s Sunshine in Tasikuergan is a virtuoso showpiece that could easily be mistaken for gypsy music because of its harmonies, rhythms and the way in which it alternates slow and fast sections. Lu Siqing played it with tremendous panache.

Finally, we heard a performance of the Saint-Saëns Violin Sonata that was outstanding in every way. Lu played the big tunes with a full range of tone colors and in the virtuoso passages his mastery of the instrument was astonishing. The last movement of this piece is practically a perpetuum mobile; Lu Siqing and pianist Anton Nel threw caution to the winds as they hurtled to the finish at top speed. 

Special kudos to Anton Nel (photo:right) on piano. A Professor of Piano and Chamber Music Studies at the Butler School of Music, he is also a member of the jury for the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014. Having heard him in concert quite often here and elsewhere, I am familiar with Nel’s technical prowess and breadth of repertoire, but he surpassed himself in this superb performance of the Saint-Saëns, with playing every bit as thrilling as that of his partner. Perhaps the two of them should take this one on the road!

As the competition continues, the original list of 22 competitors in the senior division (16 to 21 years of age), has now been reduced to 9, and the performances in the junior division (under 16 years of age) are underway.

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Monday, 24 February 2014

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 24 - Mar. 2)

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 24 - Mar. 2)

- Joseph So

Yefim Bronfman (Photo: Dario Acosta)

It's now a tradition - early March at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is a time for new music. This time, the festival opens with the great Yefim Bronfman, in town already for Beethoven earlier in the week playing Piano Concerto No. 2 and 4 (Feb. 26 6:30 pm), does double duty playing the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Magnus Lindberg (Saturday Mar. 1), a piece composed for the pianist and this performance marks its Canadian premiere. This year the Festival features the works of John Adams. On the program is his Doctor Atomic Symphony, from his hugely successful opera a few years ago.  Canadian Kevin Lau, the RBC Affiliate Composer at the TSO, is premiering an as yet untitled new piece - at least on the the TSO website. Peter Oundjian conducts both performances. 

Composer John Adams

The fast rising Canadian mezzo Wallis Giunta is giving a recital at the Visual and Performing Arts Newmarket, a venue new to me. The recital is on March 2 2 pm. Unfortunately I cannot find any details of the program at either the singer's website nor the venue's website. Steven Philcox is the collaborative pianist.

Mezzo Wallis Giunta

Pianist Stephen Hough at Koerner Hall
The wonderful British pianist Stephen Hough is in town this week for a recital at Koerner Hall - and congratulations to Mr. Hough for being awarded the CBE recently! He is giving a mixed program of interesting piano pieces not often heard, including pieces by Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. Also Arnold Schonberg, Bruckner, Brahms and Chopin.

Violinist Leonidas Kavakos (photo:

Greek violin virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos and Italian pianist Enrico Pace are giving an all-Beethoven program (Violin Sonatas No. 1, 5, 7) at Koerner Hall on Friday Feb. 28 8 pm.

Music Toronto is presenting a recital with pianist Stephanie Chua on February 27 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre. She plays an eclectic mix of old and new - works by Haydn and Couperin together with Canadian composer/pianist Adam Sherkin and Gyorgy Kurtag - how's that for a program!

Pianist Stephanie Chua 

Belgium-based Canadian baritone Matthew Zadow is back in town for a concert with the Toronto Classical Singers, of Joseph Haydn's Mass in the Time of War, and Handel's Dettingen te deum. Other soloists are soprano Sheila Dietrich, mezzo Sandra Boyes, and tenor James McLennan. The Talisker Players Orchestra is conducted by Jurgen Petrenko. Sunday Mar. 2 4 pm at Christ Church Deer Park.

Composer Gioachino Rossini

Of the 39 operas composed by the prolific Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, the most popular is undoubedly Il baribiere di Siviglia. Based on statistics from the last five performing seasons (2008 to 2013), this opera is the 7th most popular in the world, out of a total of 2,415 works! Opera York is presenting this piece on Thursday Feb. 27 and March 1, at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, on Yonge Street north of Major Mackenzie. Quebec baritone Dion Mazerolle sings the title role and David Menzies is Count Almaviva. Geoffrey Butler conducts.

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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 Opens with UT Symphony Concert

Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture
Mendelssohn: Concerto for Piano and Violin in d minor
Ilya Gringolts, violin/Anton Nel, piano
Waxman: Carmen Fantasy
Kevin Zhu, violin
Schwantner: Someday Memories
Dutilleux: Sur le même accord
Olivier Charlier, violin
Stravinsky: Firebird Suite (1919)

The University of Texas (UT) Symphony Orchestra
Gerhardt Zimmermann, conductor
Long Center for the Performing Arts
Austin, Texas
Friday, February 21, 2014

I guess it’s fate that a mere conductor in a violin competition should have his name left off the program; sad to say, that was indeed the case for Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann at the Opening Concert of the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014. But it wasn’t quite as bad as all that. Although missing from the program insert, Zimmerman’s name, bio and photograph were all duly accounted for in the main program book. Well they should be; he did a magnificent job leading the UT Symphony Orchestra through a long and difficult concert. Neither orchestra nor conductor performs often at the Long Center – they do most of their work in the Butler School of Music on the UT campus – and it was a pleasure to see and hear them in such great form at the Long Center on the opening night of this internationally renowned competition.

As good as they were, however, this concert was primarily about violinists and we heard some phenomenal playing. Thirteen-year old Kevin Zhu played like a virtuoso in the Carmen Fantasy. Two years ago Zhu won first prize in the Junior Division at the last Menuhin Competition, held in Beijing. This youngster is a great talent and I look forward to hearing more from him. 

Two members of the Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 jury were also featured in this concert: Olivier Charlier from France made a very strong impression in Dutilleux’s Sur le même accord, written for Anne-Sophie Mutter. From his first ringing pizzicato notes. Charlier projected his sound and his personality to the back rows of this large hall.

Jury member Ilya Gringolts had the rather thankless task of playing the violin solo part in Mendelssohn’s early concerto for violin and piano. The piano gets all the fun stuff in this curious work and UT faculty member Anton Nel made the most of it. His role may have been more dominant than I liked, but then, that’s the way the piece is written.

On the whole, this was an evening of fine music-making. Bravo to Maestro Zimmermann for including a work by a contemporary American composer; Schwantner’s Someday Memories is dedicated to the conductor and it is remarkable for its rhythmic life and orchestral ingenuity.

The competitive rounds begin tomorrow. Forty-two young violinists from around the world will compete in junior and senior divisions. The senior and junior first prize winners get to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra at the closing concert on March 2.

I’ll be blogging every few days during the course of the festival. 

Paul 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.”

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Cette semaine à Montréal : le 24 février au 2 mars

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:
- Lundi 24, on aura la visite du pianiste américain Frederic Chiu qui a joué dans les plus célèbres salles de concert depuis une vingtaine d’années et qui a déjà été invité par Charles Dutoit et l’OSM.
- Jeudi 27, ce sera au tour du remarquable pianiste français Alexandre Tharaud de nous offrir un concert festif en compagnie de ses amis musiciens de France, le pianiste Frédéric Vaysse-Knitter et le ténor Jean Delescluse et, du Québec, l’auteur-compositeur Pierre Lapointe, le pianiste Maxim Bernard et Frédéric Bednarz, violoniste, Frédéric Lambert, altiste et Pierre-Alain Bouvrette, violoncelliste.
- Dimanche 2 mars, signalons le retour à la Chapelle de l’immense pianiste Marc-André Hamelin.
 - Renée Banville

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

L’orchestre de chambre offrira un concert d’une grande intensité avec le virtuose Vincent Lauzer. Le Quatuor de flûtes Linos et un lauréat du Concours de musique du Canada 2013 se joindront à Appassionata. Au programme : la symphonie La Passion de Haydn et le festif Trittico Botticelliano de Respighi. Le flûtiste interprétera le Concerto pour flûte en do mineur de Vivaldi. Salle Pierre-Mercure, 26 février, 20 h.
 - Renée Banville

La série qui tire son nom du fameux cycle de lieder de Schubert donnera lieu à plusieurs concerts à la salle Bourgie. Le 27 février, le ténor belge Jan van Elsacker, accompagné au pianoforte par Tom Beghin, chantera le Winterreise, l’œuvre originale. Le 28 février, une version pour quintette à vent et accordéon en sera proposée par l’ensemble Pentaèdre qui accompagnera le baryton-basse Daniel Lichti. Le 2 mars, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, dirigé par Lorraine Vaillancourt, interprétera l’œuvre éponyme de Hans Zender, inspirée de celle de Schubert, aux côtés du ténor Rufus Müller. Salle Bourgie – 27, 28 février et 2 mars.
 - Justin Bernard

L’atelier d’opéra de l’Université de Montréal, sous la direction de Robin Wheeler, présentera deux opéras de Puccini: Gianni Schicchi et Suor Angelica. La mise en scène est de François Racine et c’est Jean-François Rivest qui dirigera l’Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal. De son côté, après avoir représenté A Midsummer Night’s Dream de Benjamin Britten fin janvier, Opera McGill proposera une production d’I Capuletti e I Montecchi, opéra de Bellini. La mise en scène a été confiée au directeur de l’atelier d’opéra, Patrick Hansen. Boris Brott accompagnera, quant à lui, les jeunes chanteurs lyriques avec l’Orchestre de chambre McGill. Salle Claude Champagne, 27, 28 février et 1er mars; Salle Pollack, 20 et 22 mars.
 - Justin Bernard

Under the direction of Iwan Edwards, I Medici di McGill presents a Benefit Concert to support Viva!Sistema, a music education program for underprivileged children in Point St. Charles. Featured works include Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” and his Cello Concerto in B minor with star cellist Stéphane Tétreault. I Medici di McGill Orchestra of the McGill Faculty of Medicine, now in its 25th season, is dedicated to bringing the healing power of music to the Montreal community. Viva!Sistema provides after-school music education free of charge to elementary school students. Without the proceeds of this benefit concert, the children would lose their music education. Saint Gabriel Church, February 28. LSM

En quatre concerts, les huit musiciens de l’Ensemble, sous la direction de Matthias Maute, présenteront 16 sonates de Bach, ce qui constitue l’intégralité de sa musique de chambre. Chaque concert sera précédé d’une conférence sous forme de dialogue entre le chef et un invité. Salle Bourgie, 1er mars. Concerts: 11h, 15h, 18h et 20h, Conférences: 14h30 et 17h.
 - Renée Banville

Directeur artistique de huit ensembles, Louis Lavigueur dirigera en mars quatre d’entre eux dans six lieux différents à Montréal et aux États-Unis : l’Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Montréal (OSJM) à Annapolis (1), à Baltimore (2) et à la salle Claude-Champagne (8), l’Orchestre à cordes du Conservatoire (CIMM) à la salle Jean-Eudes (22) et au Conservatoire (23), l’Orchestre et le Chœur du CMIM à l’église Saint-Jean-Baptiste (29 et 30). Un chef qui possède sans doute le don d’ubiquité. ;
 - Renée Banville

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