La Scena Musicale

Monday, 8 June 2015

MIMC Day 2: Korean Tenor Kim Wins 2015 MIMC

By Wah Keung Chan
Photo: Antoine Saito



The second night of the Finals of the 2015 Montreal International Musical Competition began with the anticipated Canadian soprano France Bellemare, whose semifinal performance of Dvorak's Song to the Moon reminded me of 2007 MIMC winner, Canadian soprano Marianne Fiset’s simple regal stature.

Unfortunately, Bellemare was plagued by strained high notes as she has a tendency of lifting her head and tilting it to the right to sing anything above a high F as she did in “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante” from Bizet’s Carmen and “Porgi amor” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. It would not be worth mentioning but the mannerism produced strident “old lady” high notes, which detracted from her musical line and characterization. In her middle range when she kept her head looking forward, she produced lovely round tones that she showed off in Mimi’s aria from Puccini’s La Boheme and Rachmaninov’s “Ne poy krasavitsa, pri mne.”

Japanese baritone Takaoki Onishi had me captivated in his opening Mahler Lieder eines farenden gesellen, at least in the first three songs. Unfortunately, he over sang in the dramatic third song (two phrases contained sustained high Gs), and his intensity faded in the fourth song. It went downhill from there. In the next aria from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, he came in early and he cracked towards the end. His aria “Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen” from Korngold’s Die tote Stadt was sustained with a lovely legato, but he cracked again at the high notes. Too bad, as I sensed a good musician here.

Korean tenor Keonwoo Kim showed that it’s how you finish that counts. In the semifinals, his first two pieces were forgettable, but he wowed the audience with strong performances in the operatic arias. Tonight, he began with an uninspired muted performance of “Comfort ye … Ev’ry valley” from Handel’s Messiah. He began the recitative of “Je crois entendre encore” from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers strongly but sang most of the aria tentatively as if worried about the final high note, much as a figure skater prepares for a “quad.” When he hit the sustained high C on the final “charmant,” you sensed that he found his confidence; the remaining three arias were going to be his playground. Kim showed that Rossini is right in his wheelhouse, making short work of “Principe piu non sei … Si, ritrovaria io guiro” from La Cenerentola climaxing with an excellent money note. He then made sweet music with “Ah, leve-toi soleil” from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet before concluding with “Favorita del re… Spirto gentil” from Donizetti’s La favorita. With the exception of the Messiah air, Kim’s performance has the musicality and polish found in a professional recording; his timbre reminds me a bit of Jussi Bjorling's.

The Winners: Hyesang Park, Keonwoo Kim, France Bellemare

Here are the final results:
  • First Prize: Keonwoo Kim, tenor, South Korea
  • Second Prize: Hyesang Park, soprano, South Korea
  • Third Prize: France Bellemare, soprano, Canada
  • Public Prize: Hyesang Park, soprano, South Korea
  • Best Recital: Anais Constans, soprano, France
  • Lieder & mélodie Prize: Anais Constans, soprano, France
  • Best Canadian: France Bellemare, soprano, Canada
  • Best Quebecer: France Bellemare, soprano, Canada


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Cette semaine à Montréal (du 8 au 14 juin)

Le baryton Hugo Laporte (Photo: Marc Robitaille)

Cette semaine à Montréal (du 8 au 14 juin)


Festival de musique de chambre de Montréal 
Inaugurées le 12 mars, les célébrations du 20e anniversaire du FMCM se poursuivront jusqu'au 21 juin. On y entendra, entre autres, le pianiste Marc-André Hamelin en compagnie du Quatuor Dover (10 juin) et le lendemain en récital (11 juin). Le Quatuor Dover s'associera ensuite au clarinettiste israélien Alexander Fiterstein (12 juin). Rachel Barton Pine participera une fois de plus, en interprétant les 24 Caprices de Paganini (16). Elizabeth Wallfisch se produira avec des lauréats de la Banque d'instruments de musique du Conseil des arts du Canada (21 juin). www.festivalmontreal.org
Opéra de Britten avec l'ensemble BOP
Jeune compagnie dédiée à la présentation de ballets, d'opéras et de pantomimes, BOP présente Burning Fiery Furnace, second parabole for church performance (La fournaise ardente, seconde parabole d’église) de Benjamin Britten, une œuvre phare du répertoire opératique du 20e siècle, créée au Festival d'Aldeburgh en 1966 et à Montréal lors de l'Exposition universelle en 1967. Réunissant huit instrumentistes, six solistes vocaux et un chœur, cette production met en scène le troublant récit biblique des trois enfants dans la fournaise qui sera accompagné de timbres d’un ensemble instrumental inusité, sous la direction musicale de Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse. Mise en scène : Marc Béland. Une production de BOP, en collaboration avec la Fondation Arte Musica. Salle Bourgie, 11 juin, 20 h. www.sallebourgie.ca  www.mbam.qc.ca/quoi-faire/activite/burning-fiery-furnace-ensemble-bop
OSJM et Choeur Classique - Un Requiem allemand
L'Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Montréal et le Chœur Classique de Montréal présentent Un Requiem allemand de Brahms, une œuvre humaniste proche de la tradition luthérienne, que Brahms aurait volontiers appelée un « requiem humain ». Louis Lavigueur dirigera le chœur et les solistes Andréanne Brisson-Paquin, soprano, et Hugo Laporte, baryton. Maison symphonique, 11 juin, 20 h. choeurclassiquedemontreal.qc.ca/wpfr/
Musicien de l'OSM - Soir d'été

Schubert est le compositeur choisi pour la clôture de la série. On y entendra le Mouvement de quatuor ou «Quartettsatz» et le Quintette à cordes en do majeur, ultime œuvre de chambre de Schubert créée vingt ans après sa mort. Avec les violonistes Olivier Thouin et Marianne Dugal, l'altiste Lambert Chen et les violoncellistes Anna Burden, et Sylvain Murray. Salle Bourgie, 12 juin, 18 h 30. www.sallebourgie.ca
104 édition du Prix d'Europe
Les demi-finales et l'épreuve finale du Prix d'Europe se dérouleront du 7 au 12 juin à la Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, de 13 h à 22 h. Le concert gala et la remise des prix auront lieu à la salle Bourgie le 14 juin à 14 h 30, sous la présidence d'honneur de monsieur Edgar Fruitier. Invitées : Valérie Milot, harpiste, et Anne-Julie Caron, percussionniste. www.prixdeurope.ca

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This Week in Montreal (June 8 - 14)

 
Pianist Marc-André Hamelin (Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke)


This Week in Montreal (June 8 - 14)


Montreal Chamber Music Festival

Celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the MCMF were launched on March 12, and continue until June 21. They will include the pianist Marc-André Hamelin playing with the Dover Quartet (June 10) and giving a recital the following day (June 11). The Dover Quartet will then join the Israeli clarinettist Alexander Fiterstein (June 12). Rachel Barton Pine returns to the festival, playing the 24 Caprices by Paganini (16). Elizabeth Wallfisch will perform with the winners of the Canada Council for the Arts' Musical Instrument Bank (June 21). www.festivalmontreal.org
Britten Opera with the Ensemble BOP
A young company dedicated to the presentation of ballets, operas and pantomimes, BOP presents Burning Fiery Furnace, Second Parabole for Church Performance by Benjamin Britten, a monument of the 20th century operatic repertoire, created at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1966 and in Montreal during the World Expo in 1967. Bringing together eight instrumentalists, six vocal soloists and a choir, this production stages the disturbing biblical story of the three children in the furnace, accompanied by the sounds of an unusual instrumental ensemble, under the direction of Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse.  Staging: Marc Béland. A BOP production, in collaboration with Fondation Arte Musica. Salle Bourgie, 11 June, 8 pm. www.bourgiehall.ca
OSJM and Choeur Classique - A German Requiem
L'Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Montréal and the Chœur Classique de Montréal present Un Requiem allemand by Brahms, a humanist work in the Lutheran tradition, that Brahms would willingly have titled a "human requiem". Louis Lavigueur will conduct the choir and soloists Andréanne Brisson-Paquin, soprano, and Hugo Laporte, baritone. Maison symphonique, 11 June, 8 pm. http://choeurclassiquedemontreal.qc.ca/wpfr/
Musicians of the OSM - Soir d'été
Schubert will be the chosen composer for the closing of the series. The Mouvement de quatuor or"Quartettsatz" and the Quintette à cordes en do majeur, Schubert's last chamber work created 20 years after his death. With violinists Olivier Thouin and Marianne Dugal, violist Lambert Chen and cellists Anna Burden and Sylvain Murray. Salle Bourgie, 12 June, 6:30 pm. www.bourgiehall.ca  

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Sunday, 7 June 2015

This Week in Toronto (June 8 - 14)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of June 8 to 14

~ Joseph So

Soprano Erin Wall (Photo: Tara McMullen)

We've reached that time of year when there's a decided lull in classical music events. The spring season has more or less ended, and the summer programming hasn't yet started. But there are still a few interesting events like the TSO concerts going on this week, and Luminato Festival is starting next week. Mahler fans can look forward to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Mahler Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection") in two performances, on Wednesday June 10 8 pm and Friday June 12 7:30 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. It has two superb Canadian soloists in mezzo Susan Platts and soprano Erin Wall.  They are both wonderful singers in symphonic repertoire. Platts primarily is a concert/oratorio/recital singer, while Wall divides her time between operas and symphonic concerts. I heard contralto Maureen Forrester sang Mahler Second back in the 1970's and it was a magical experience. For whatever reason, the contralto voice is very rare today, and there are very few singers today with the kind of low notes that Forrester had. One possible exception is Marie Nicole Lemieux. Platts is wonderful also, but she is billed as a mezzo, and she has an upper extension (and a lively, fast vibrato) that allows her to take on mezzo repertoire with ease. Peter Oundjian conducts. I understand there's no intermission. http://tso.ca/en-ca/concerts-and-tickets/2014-2015-Season/EventDetails/Mahler-Resurrection-Symphony.aspx

RBC Resident Conductor Earl Lee (Photo: Fred Lum / Globe and Mail)

As a prelude to the soon to arrive Pan Am Games, the TSO is presenting Pan-American Rhythms, with an eclectic programs of works by Copland, Piazzolla, John Williams, Gary Kulesha and Miguel del Aguila. Conductor is TSO's RBC Resident Conductor Earl Lee. TSO Principal Cello Joseph Johnson is the soloist in  Miguel del Aguila's Concierto en Tango. June 13 at 7:30 pm and June 14 at 3 pm.  http://tso.ca/en-ca/concerts-and-tickets/2014-2015-Season/EventDetails/Pan-American-Rhythms.aspx


Tafelmusik Summer Festival Poster

Once again Tafelmusik is giving free concerts this year, as part of its Baroque Summer Festival. It started last week (June 5) with Delightfully Baroque, and continues this week with Musical Interlude, on Wednesday 12:30 pm June 10th at Walter Hall, given by the faculty members from the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. The concert is free and on a first come, first seated basis.  http://www.tafelmusik.org/concert-calendar/concert/tafelmusik-baroque-summer-festival-2015

Just because the COC season is over doesn't mean the Four Seasons Centre is dark.  It is humming with activity in fact, with the National Ballet of Canada season in full swing. This week is the perennial blockbuster, Sleeping Beauty set to the glorious score by Tchaikovsky. The choreography is by Rudolf Nureyev after Marius Petipa. First seen in 1972, it remains an audience favourite. Performances June 10 to 20. Opening night stars Greta Hodgkinson as Princess Aurora and Harrison James as Prince Florimund. Details at http://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2014-2015-Season/The-Sleeping-Beauty




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