La Scena Musicale

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Nagano leads MSO in Thrilling Die Walkure Act I

By Wah Keung Chan

To close the Montreal Symphony’s 2014-15 season, maestro Kent Nagano led the orchestra in a thrilling performance of Act I of Wagner’s Die Walküre. From the opening phrases of the prelude, the Friday night concert felt special and I was only mildly disappointed. At the beginning of Die Walküre, the hero Siegmund is in flight from danger, and Wagner’s repetitive heart thumping strains put us right in the midst of the action, and Nagano took it at its necessary frenetic pace. The orchestra played with round tone and a tightness of ensemble.

When German tenor Torsten Kerl entered the stage (recreating Siegmund’s entrance to Hunding’s home), he at once displayed the timbre of the Heldentenor role, bright with German bite. Throughout, Kerl sang with the required Wagnerian phrasing and feeling, though the limitations of his technique revealed itself in the climaxes and fortissimos at the end when he was drown out by the orchestra. American soprano Heidi Melton fared better. Her voice was one size bigger than Kerl’s and she used it with feeling. However, on this night, her high notes were spread and unfocused, making a recovery at the end with her proclamation of “Siegmund, Siegmund.” If she could connect to her breath, her legato would become world class. The same problem could be said of Finnish bass Petri Lindroos in the role of Hunding. Lindroos was sufficiently menacing as the overbearing possessive husband reminiscent of the Hans Hotter recordings, but also with Hotter’s same nagging quick vibrato barking style.

The night belonged to Nagano, cementing his reputation as an opera conductor. His tempos were quick when necessary and tender in slower moments, capturing Wagner’s drama from the conversational first half to the more cantabile second part. I only wished he took the tenor’s aria “Wintersturme” slower. The orchestra followed perfectly with excellent individual solos and sectionals. A spontaneous applause greeted the conclusion, and Nagano rewarded the audience with a spirited encore of the Ride of the Valkyries.

The other disappointment: the sound from my seat in the middle of the Mezzanine seemed muted, and few in section stood compared to the rest of the hall. The Friday night hall was not entirely full, suggesting tickets are still be available for the final performance on Saturday, May 30, 2015. Highly recommended.

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

This Week in Montreal – May 25 to 31

Stéphane Tétreault (Photo: Caroline Bergeron)

This Week in Montreal – May 25 to 31

20th anniversary of the FMCM – March 12-June 21 2015
The celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Festival de musique de chamber de Montréal takes off this spring with the Celebrity Series, beginning in March with the Swingle Singers and continuing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (April 2) and the Emerson String Quartet (May 12). The Elegance Classique and JazzTD Series will take place from June 6-21. Soprano Marie-Josée Lord, spokeswoman for the festival, will perform her show Femmes, paying tribute to the great sopranos of the twentieth century. Developed by Denis Brott, the festival programming embodies a spirit of celebration, resilience and hope. This year’s festival will take place in various concert halls. RB

Montreal International Music Competiton 2015: Voice
May 25-June 5
The Montreal International Music Competition will present 24 candidates in the Voice edition, which will take place from May 25 to June 5.  A prize for lieder and French art song has been added this year.  The first round will take place May 25-27 in Bourgie Hall. The final round will take place on June 2 and 3, and the gala concert featuring the winners will take place on June 5 at the Maison Symphonique. RB

Nagano Conducts Die Walkure
In Europe, Kent Nagano is equally renowned as an opera conductor. Consequently, the concert version of Act I of Wagner’s Die Walkure, second of the four operas in the Ring Cycle and the OSM’s season closer, will surely be a highlight. Act I is arguably the most perfect part of the Ring, beginning with the thrilling overture reflecting the hero’s escape from his pursuers, and culminating with Siegmund’s serenade “Wintersturm” and Sieglinde’s “Du Bist der Lenz.” Acclaim soprano Heidi Melton takes on Sieglinde, tenor Torsten Kerl is Siegmund while bass Peter Lindroos is the menacing Hunding. May 27, 29, 30, Maison symphonique. WKC

Festival Classica

May 27-31,
St. Lambert’s Classica Festival celebrates its 5th edition this year with a packed line-up of concerts featuring chamber, early, Spanish, and traditional music, among other genres. The festival opens on May 27 with the North American premier of Christophe Colomb, featuring soloists Pascale Beaudin, Antonio Figueroa, and Marc Boucher along with over 70 musicians. Alexandre Da Costa, Lise Beauchamp, and Wonny Song perform the music of Keith Jarrett on May 30. Later, at 10:30 pm, Art Crush presents a multidisciplinary event fusing dance, painting, and chamber music at the Centre multifonctionnel de Saint-Lambert. Don’t miss German Romanticism with Stéphane Tétreault (May 29), Raoul Sosa’s concert Iberia (May 30), or Ensemble Caprice’s 21-musician performance of the integral Brandenburg Concertos (May 30). Closing the festival, Étienne Dupuis celebrates vocal music from opera to chanson in Brel, Félix et moi (May 31).

May 27-31,
This five-day digital and electronic festival emphasizes live performance and cutting-edge music and audiovisual works, with performances at the Musée d'Art Contemporain and Métropolis, among other venues. While electronic music is the main focus, the festival has a broad view with many classically-trained artists featured, including Icelandic KIASMOS, comprised of classical composer Ólafur Arnalds and electronic musician Janus Rasmussen, and the UK’s Rival Consoles. Jazz improvisation fans can catch Canadian/German trio Cobblestone Jazz.

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Cette semaine à Montréal du 25 au 31 mai

Kent Nagano (Photo : Benjamin Ealovega)

Cette semaine à Montréal du 25 au 31 mai

20e anniversaire du FMCM – 12 mars au 21 juin 2015
Les célébrations du Festival de musique de chambre de Montréal sont lancées dès le printemps avec la série Célébrité qui commençait en mars avec les Swingle Singers et se poursuit avec le Preservation Hall Jazz Band (2 avril) et l’Emerson String Quartet (12 mai). Les séries Élégance classique et JazzTD se dérouleront du 6 au 21 juin. Porte-parole pour le festival, la soprano Marie-Josée Lord a conçu le spectacle Femmes qui rend hommage à de grandes sopranos du 20e siècle. Élaborée par Denis Brott, la programmation reflète l'esprit de la fête, mais exprime aussi la résilience et l'espoir. Le festival se déploie cette année dans diverses salles de concert. RB

L'édition chant 2015 au CMIM – 25 mai au 5 juin
Le Concours musical international de Montréal présentera 24 candidats dans l'édition chant qui aura lieu du 25 mai au 5 juin. Un Prix du lied et de la mélodie française a été ajouté cette année. Les premières épreuves auront lieu du 25 au 27 mai à la salle Bourgie. L’épreuve finale aura lieu les 2 et 3 juin, et le concert gala des lauréats le 5 juin à la Maison symphonique. RB

Nagano dirige Die Walküre
En Europe, Kent Nagano est également reconnu comme chef d’orchestre d’opéra. Par conséquent, la version concert de l’acte I de Die Walküre de Wagner, deuxième des quatre opéras de l’Anneau du Nibelung et dernière représentation de la saison de l’OSM, sera certainement un temps fort. L’acte I est sûrement la meilleure partie de l’Anneau, commençant par une ouverture palpitante reflétant la fuite du héros devant ses poursuivants et culminant avec la sérénade Wintersturm de Siegmund et le Du Bist der Lenz de Sieglinde. L’acclamée soprano Heidi Melton interprète Sieglinde, le ténor Torsten Kerl est Siegmund, alors que la basse Peter Lindroos est Hunding. Les 27, 29 et 30 mai à la Maison symphonique. WKC

Festival Classica

27-31 mai,

Le festival Classica de Saint-Lambert célèbre sa 5e édition avec un programme bien rempli mettant à l’honneur la musique ancienne, espagnole et traditionnelle, de même que la musique de chambre. Le festival débute le 27 mai avec la première américaine de Christophe Colomb, mettant en vedette les solistes Pascale Beaudin, Antonio Figueroa et Marc Boucher, accompagnés par plus de 70 autres musiciens. Alexandre Da Costa, Lise Beauchamp et Wonny Song interpréteront des œuvres de Keith Jarrett le 30 mai. Plus tard dans la journée (à 22 h 30), Art Crush présentera un concert multidisciplinaire entremêlant danse, peinture et musique de chambre. Le concert aura lieu au Centre multifonctionnel de Saint-Lambert. À ne pas manquer : Le romantisme allemand avec Stéphane Tétreault (29 mai), Raoul Sosa et son concert Iberia (30 mai), et le concert de l’Ensemble Caprice, l’intégrale des Concertos brandebourgeois, réunissant 21 musiciens (30 mai). En concert de clôture, Étienne Dupuis célébrera la musique vocale de l’opéra à la chanson française avec Brel, Félix et moi (31 mai). 

27-31 mai,
Ce festival de musique numérique et électronique de cinq jours met l’accent sur les performances en direct, la musique avant-gardiste et les œuvres audiovisuelles. Les concerts auront principalement lieu au Musée d’art contemporain et au Métropolis. Alors que la programmation du festival vise principalement la musique électronique, la musique classique n’est pas en reste puisque sont présents plusieurs artistes de formation classique tels que le groupe britannique Rival Consoles et le groupe islandais KIASMOS, composé du compositeur classique Ólafur Arnalds et du musicien électronique Janus Rasmussen. Les fans d’improvisation jazz pourront aussi apercevoir le trio canado-allemand Cobblestone Jazz.


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Sunday, 24 May 2015

This Week in Toronto (May 25 - 31)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of May 25 to 31)

~ Joseph So

Sir Andrew Davis

Music lovers can look forward to performances this week of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, who is in town to conduct a series of performance to mark the 40th anniversary of his association with the TSO.  Just last week, he led the TSO in a series of transcendent performances of the Verdi Requiem. It was music-making at its finest, but sadly attendance wasn't what the shows deserved. Anywhere in Europe and UK, the three performances would be jammed to the rafters. I hope more TO music lovers will show up to the Mussorgsky. The great Canadian pianist Louis Lortie is the soloist in Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1, Also on the program is Berlioz' Le corsaire, and Davis' own composition, La serenissima.  Performances on Wednesday May 27 and Thursday May 28 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.

Pianist Louis Lortie (Photo: Elias/Handout Image)

It's the great good fortune of Toronto music lovers that the mega-star cellist Yo Yo Ma comes to our fair city for music-making on a regular basis. He is back this week to play the Elgar cello concerto, my desert island piece.  He played it here a few years ago, and I am really looking forward to hearing it again. On the program is Holst's The Planets, a Sir Andrew's specialty!  The concert opens with a TSO commission and world premiere, The Stolen Child for orchestra and children's chorus, by Ed Frazier Davis, presumably no relationship to Sir Andrew?  This is an important concert not to be missed.

Cellist Yo Yo Ma (Photo: Stephen Danelian)

A very unusual work this week (May 26 to 29) is the world premiere of M'dea Undone, put on by Tapestry Opera in co-production with Scottish Opera, with music by John Harris and libretto by Marjorie Chan. Principals are mezzo Lauren Segal (M'dea), baritone Peter Barrett (Jason), tenor James McLean (President), and Jacqueline Woodley (Dahlia). Tim Albery directs and Jordan de Souza conducts. The unorthodox venue is Evergreen Brickworks at 550 Bayview Avenue.  There will be a shuttle bus made available for attendees.  Go to their website for details about the opera and other information.

Mezzo Lauren Segal 

This week marks SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival (May 27 to 31). There are all sorts of concerts - not exactly classical in the traditional sense. One that caught my eye is the kick-off concert featuring the Nathaniel Dett Chorale on May 27 8 pm at Koerner Hall.  It is billed as And Still We Sing, a tribute to the music of Billy Strayhorn.

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