La Scena Musicale

Monday, 29 February 2016

Cette semaine à Montréal (29 fév à 6 mars) / This Week in Montreal (February 29–March 6)


Le violoncelliste Yegor Dyachkov et le pianiste Jean Saulnier présentent un métissage de musique folklorique et « sérieuse » à l’époque romantique. Œuvres de Brahms, Dvořák et Janáček. Le 3 mars, 19 h 30.


Cellist Yegor Dyachkov and pianist Jean Saulnier will play a mix of folk and “serious” music from the Romantic era. Works by Brahms, Dvořák and Janáček. March 3, 7:30 pm.



Une occasion d’entendre des musiciens de l’OSM en formation intimiste. Avec Andrew Wan () et Olivier Thouin (violons), Neal Gripp (alto), Brian Manker (violoncelle) et Todd Cope (clarinette). Au programme : Trio en do mineur op. 9 no 3 de Beethoven et Quintette pour clarinette en la majeur de Mozart. Concert animé par Edgar Fruitier. Le 29 février, 20 h.


Here’s an opportunity to hear OSM musicians in small ensemble formation. Andrew Wan and Olivier Thouin, violins; Neal Gripp, viola; Brian Manker, cello; and Todd Cope, clarinet. On the program: Trio in C minor, Op. 9, No. 3 by Beethoven and Clarinet Quintet in A major by Mozart. Edgar Fruitier will host the concert. February 29, 8:00 pm.



La Société d’art vocal de Montréal s’associe à l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal dans la production d’un concert en hommage à Lionel Daunais, figure marquante de l’art lyrique d’ici. De 1930 ­jusqu’au milieu des années 1970, Lionel Daunais, compositeur, parolier, interprète, réalisateur, metteur en scène et administrateur, a exercé une grande influence sur la scène musicale québécoise. La Société d’art vocal fait la promotion de tous les répertoires de la musique vocale et l’Atelier lyrique, dirigé avec brio par Chantal Lambert, offre aux jeunes artistes canadiens des stages professionnels combinant formation et expérience scénique. Mise en scène par Marie-Lou Dion, la production Daunais dans tous les tons, accompagnée par le pianiste Marc Bourdeau, contribue à préserver et diffuser le patrimoine musical canadien. Salle de concert du Conservatoire, 6 mars, 15 h.


The Société d’Art Vocal de Montréal collaborates with Opéra de Montréal’s Atelier Lyrique in a concert dedicated to Lionel ­Daunais, a prominent figure in the city’s lyric art scene. As a composer, lyricist, performer, director, producer, and administrator, Daunais heavily influenced music in Québec from 1930 through the middle of the seventies. The Société d’Art Vocal promotes all vocal music repertoires and the Atelier Lyrique, lead with brio by Chantal Lambert, provides young Canadian artists with professional internships that combine training with stage experience. Staged by Marie-Lou Dion, the production Daunais dans Tous les Tons, accompanied by pianist Marc Bourdeau, preserves and diffuses Canada’s musical heritage. Conservatory concert hall, March 6, 3 pm.



Ayant commencé sa carrière de soliste dès l’âge de 5 ans, Maxim Vengerov a remporté de nombreux concours et a très vite atteint les sommets. En 2009, il délaisse l’archet au profit de la baguette de chef d’orchestre. Il reprend sa carrière de violoniste en 2011 et n’a cessé depuis d’accumuler les succès. Au programme : Brahms, Ysaÿe, Franck, Paganini. Avec Patrice Laré au piano. Une présentation de la Société de Musique de chambre de Montréal. Grand Théâtre de Québec, 3 mars, 20 h, Roy Thomson Hall, 11 mars, 20 h, Maison symphonique, concert gala-bénéfice, 13 mars, 20 h.


After giving his first professional solo violin concert at the age of 5, Maxim Vengerov won numerous competitions and very quickly rose to the top. In 2009, he replaced his bow with a conductor’s baton. But in 2011 he took up his violin career again. Since then, he has continued to exemplify success. The Montreal Chamber Music Society presents Vengerov and pianist Patrice Laré performing Brahms, Ysaÿe, Franck, and Paganini. Grand Théâtre de Québec, March 3, 8 pm, Roy Thomson Hall, March 11, 8 pm, Maison Symphonique, benefit concert/gala, March 13, 8 pm.

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Lebrecht Album of the Week - Rudi Stephan, Albéric Magnard (accentus)

3/5 stars

These two composers are joined by tragic deaths on opposite sides of the First World War. Stephan, a Munich avant-gardist, was the only soldier in his German unit to die in a September 1915 battle with Russian troops for the Galician town of Stryi. Magnard, a French traditionalist, was either shot or burned to death defending his home from German troops in September 1914.

Only 28 at the time of his death, Stephan was little known outside German new music circles and not well liked within them. A young man of strong opinions and no tolerance for sycophancy, he had to pay for his performances and drew little encouragement from the few reviews. On the evidence of his Groteske for violin and piano, written in 1911, he was familiar with the frontier sounds of his times – Berg, Debussy, possibly Bartók – but the voice is entirely his own and the voice never less than urgent. There is every reason to believe he would have flowered into a major talent.

Magnard, more than 20 years older, was in mid-career, nearing 50, with four respectable symphonies in the bag – conservative works reminiscent more of Schumann and Brahms than of his French contemporaries and steeped in romantic naturalism. His 1901 sonata for violin and piano is charming and civilised with two deliciously languorous slow movements. This was not a man who set out to change, or challenge, the world. Many of his scores were consumed in the conflagration of his death.

Judith Ingolfsson and Vladimir Stoupel bring the tragic pair vividly to life in the transparent acoustic of Berlin’s Jesus-Christus-Kirche. There’s an irresistible lyricism to Ingolfsson’s violin lines and no concession to sentimentality. These are lovely accounts of two rare works that you’ll really want to hear. The one regret is that there are just 55 minutes of music on this disc, too little music for a whole album.

—Norman Lebrecht

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Sunday, 28 February 2016

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 29 - Mar. 6)

My Toronto Concert Previews for the Week of Feb. 29 to Mar. 6

~ Joseph So

Toronto Symphony Orchestra's New Creations Festival 2016

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting its annual New Creations Festival.  It's a cluster of concerts dedicated to new music, featuring both Canadian and international composers and performing artists.  As a classical music lover who has been attending live performances for over fifty years, I admit that I love my warhorses. But I totally recognize that for classical music to survive and thrive into the future, we need new works that reflect 21st century aesthetics and audience sensibilities. Just last season, I heard a striking work presented by the TSO New Creations Festival, the concert performance of  British composer George Benjamin's opera, Written On Skin.  This season from March 5 to 12, the TSO is putting on three performances of six premieres, co-curated by TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian and Australian composer Brett Dean. On Saturday March 5th 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall, we'll hear composer Anthony Pateras' Fragile Absolute, a work of wind instruments, percussion, electronics and celeste.  Also Brett Dean's Viola Concerto where the composer is the soloist. Canadian composer Kevin Lau's intriguing Concerto Grosso for Orchestra, String Quartet and Turntables (!) - the DJ is Skratch Bastid. The fourth item on the program is Gyorgy Kurtag's The Answered Unanswered Question. The only Kurtag I've heard is his interesting and very intense Kafka Fragments staged by Against the Grain two seasons ago. There will be pre-concert, intermission and post-concert chats.

If Baroque (and Classical) is more your thing, be sure to attend a concert of works by Vivaldi, Paganini, Rossini and Haydn, featuring TSO musicians, a nice counterbalance to a week of new music. TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian shares conducting duties with RBC Resident Conductor Earl Lee. Soloists are concertmaster/violinist Jonathan Crow. Teng Li (viola), Joseph Johnson (cello), James Gardiner (trumpet), Steven Woomert (trumpet), Michael Sweeney (bassoon) and Sarah Jeffrey (oboe).

Violinist Vilde Frang and pianist Michail Lifits

I remember my disappointment when Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang cancelled her TSO dates last season, although she was brilliantly replaced by Jonathan Crow.  Hopefully this time she's going to show up for a recital with pianist Michail Lifits at Koerner Hall on Wednesday March 2nd 8 p.m. On the program are works by Schubert, Faure, and Witold Lutoslawski.

Scottish pianist Steven Osborne (Photo: Eric Richmond)

Music Toronto brought Scottish pianist Steven Osborne to Toronto for his debut back in 2007. He's back once again for a recital on March 1st 8 p.m. at the Jane Mallett Theatre. He is playing Schubert, Debussy and Rachmaninoff on this occasion.

Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo

Another interesting chamber recital at Koerner Hall features Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo, with cellist Christian Poltera and pianist Juho Pohjonen on Friday March 4th 8 p.m.  They are playing Haydn's Piano Trio in E Major, plus works by Janacek and Dvorak. Go to this link for details -

Pianist/composer Adam Sherkin

Canadian pianist and composer Adam Sherkin is giving a noon hour recital on March 3rd at the Lower Bluma Lobby of the St. Lawrence Centre. The recital is called Preludes of the North, in which Sherkin plays excerpts of Rachmaninoff's Preludes Op. 32, plus his own composition, Postludes from Adlivun (2014).

Tenor Benjamin Butterfield

Canadian tenor Benjamin Butterfield is making a rare recital appearance in Toronto on Monday Feb. 29th 7:30 p.m. at Walter Hall on the campus of the University of Toronto. He is singing the great Schubert song cycle Die schone Mullerin, with collaborative pianist Steven Philcox. Butterfield teaches voice at the University of Victoria. It's been ages since I last heard the lyric tenor - I think the last time was in Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen at the COC over ten years ago.  I look forward to hearing him.

Soprano Mireille Asselin (Photo: Matthew Fried)

An interesting recital for voice fans is Le travail de peintre, a concert that's part of the Royal Conservatory of Music Glenn Gould School's Mazzoleni Masters Series. It features soprano Mireille Asselin, baritone Brett Polegato, and pianists Peter Tiefenbach and Rachel Andrist. On the program are works by Poulenc, Debussy, Faure, Wolf and others, centered around the theme of music inspired by paintings and painters. This recital series is curated by GGS faculty soprano Monica Whicher and pianist Rachel Andrist. Concert takes place on Sunday March 6th 2 p.m. at the Mazzoleni Hall, Royal Conservatory of Music.

On March 1st and 2nd  8 p.m. at the Trinity St. Paul's Centre, Talisker Players is presenting Spirit Dreaming, a program that features the music of 20th century composers inspired by native cultures around the world.  Works sampled include those by Ravel, Somers, Beckwith, Villa-Lobos and others. Soloists are soprano Ilana Zarankin and mezzo Laura McAlpine, as well as actor/director Andrew Moodie who will be reading tales of creation myths from various indigenous cultures. For details, go to

Daedalus Quartet

The 119th season of the Women's Musical Club of Toronto continues with the Daedalus Quartet on March 3rd 1:30 p.m. at Walter Hall. I am told that there's going to be an announcement of the 2016-17 season before the start of the concert!  I'm looking forward to finding out what delights WMCT is bringing to its loyal audiences. The Daedalus Quartet is made up of violinists Min-Young Kim and Matilda Kaul, violist Jessica Thompson, and cellist Thomas Kraines. They will be playing a program of Jean Sibelius, Johannes Brahms and James MacMillan.  More details at their website -

Very intriguing is this concert by the Orpheus Choir on Sunday March 6th 4:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan United Church.  Bach's B Minor Mass is paired with The Sound of Eternity, the Canadian premiere of a film by Bastian Cleve that interprets the Bach's work. According to Orpheus Choir's website, "Cleve's 27 short episodes move from Alpine mountains to glaciers to peaceful valleys and pulsating metropolitan cities.....this breathtaking choral and cinematic tour-de-force offers a powerful meditation on the circle of life."  Soloists are soprano Jennifer Krabbe, mezzo Anita Krause, tenor Charles Sy and baritone Geoff Sirett. Orpheus Choir is joined by Chorus Niagara and the Talisker Players.

Soprano Anne Marie Ramos 

The COC winter season may be over, but there are still plenty of operas in town, albeit smaller in scale. Opera York is presenting Don Pasquale on March 3rd and 5th 7:30 p.m. at the Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre. Michael Robert Broder sings the title role. Anne Marie Ramos is Norina, Dion Mazerolle is Dr. Malatesta, and Jonathan MacArthur sings Ernesto. Geoffrey Butler conducts and Renee Salewski is the stage director.

Toronto City Opera's two productions that opened last week continue this week. L'Elisir d'amore is on March 3 & 5 7:30 p.m., and Die Fledermaus on March 6 at 2 p.m. at the Bickford Centre.

Opera By Request is presenting La traviata on March 4th 7:30 p.m. with three well known soloists - soprano Allison Arends is Violetta, Ryan Harper sings Alfredo and Andrew Tees is Germont, plus soloists and chorus of the University of Toronto Scarborough Concert Choir, Lenard Whiting, director. William Shookhoff, music director of OBR, is at the piano. The concert takes place at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in York Mills, 2737 Bayview Avenue. Phone 416 455-2365 for reservations and information.

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Monday, 22 February 2016

Cette semaine à Montréal (22 à 28 février) / This Week in Montreal (February 22–28)


Animé par Éric Champagne, compositeur en résidence à la Chapelle, un concert unique célébrant l’apport exceptionnel du mécène Paul Sacher à la musique classique sera présenté avec l’Ensemble Arkea dirigé par Dina Gilbert. Œuvres de Bartók, Ginastera, Dutilleux et Britten. Le 25 février, 19 h 30.

Éric Champagne

Éric Champagne, composer-in-residence at the Chapelle, will host a unique concert celebrating philanthropist Paul Sacher’s extraordinary contribution to classical music. The Ensemble Arkea, conducted by Dina Gilbert, will play works by Bartók, Ginastera, Dutilleux and Britten. February 25, 7:30 pm.



Le 28 février, on entendra le Calidore String Quartet, lauréat de nombreux concours prestigieux. Formé en 2010 de jeunes musiciens du Colburn Conservatory of Music de Los Angeles, il est maintenant établi à Manhattan. En 2013, après la participation du Calidore à l’Académie internationale de McGill, le critique Claude Gingras avait parlé de révélation et titré son article « Le Calidore, sommet absolu ». Au programme : Haydn, Mendelssohn et Debussy. Salle Pollack, 15 h 30.

Calidore String Quartet

On February 28, the spotlight passes to the Calidore String Quartet, winners of numerous prestigious competitions. The quartet was created in 2010 by young musicians at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, and has now settled in Manhattan. In 2013 it took part in McGill’s International Academy, prompting critic Claude Gingras to speak of a revelation and entitling his article “The Calidore, the absolute summit”. On the program: Haydn, Mendelssohn and Debussy. Pollack Hall, 3:30 pm.



Pour les soirées Arte Musica, Bernard Labadie propose ses propres transcriptions d’œuvres majeures de Bach. Salle Bourgie, 26 février, 19 h 30.

For the Arte Musica evenings, Bernard Labadie is offering his own transcriptions of major works by Bach. Bourgie Hall, February 26, 7:30 pm.



En coproduction avec l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, Trilogie de la séduction comprendra des ­extraits d’opéra de Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro et Così fan tutte, dans une mise en scène d’Alain Gauthier. Dans le cadre du festival Montréal en Lumière. Le 23 février, 
19 h 30.

In collaboration with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, Trilogy of Seduction will include opera excerpts from Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Così fan tutte, all staged by Alain Gauthier. This event is part of Montréal en lumière. February 23, 7:30 pm.



Pour sa participation à Montréal en Lumière, I Musici propose l’avant-dernière symphonie de Chostakovitch qui enchaîne des poèmes évoquant la fin dernière. Pour passer à la lumière, on entendra ensuite la brillante symphonie no 45 de Haydn « Les Adieux », à la fin de laquelle les musiciens quittent la scène en éteignant les chandelles qui les auront éclairés pour ne laisser que l’obscurité. Avec Jean-Marie Zeitouni à la direction et les solistes Andrew Foster-Williams, baryton-basse et Dominique Labelle, soprano. Salle Bourgie, 25 février, 20 h.

I Musici will take part in the Montréal en lumière festival, playing Shostakovich’s penultimate symphony and leading up to poems narrating the final days. To get to the light, we’ll hear Haydn’s bright Symphony No.  45 (“Farewell Symphony”). At the end of this work, musicians will leave the stage and blow out their candles. Only darkness will remain. Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, Andrew Foster-Williams, bass-baritone, and Dominique Labelle, soprano. Bourgie Hall, February 25, 8:00 pm.



L’intégrale des cantates de Bach se poursuit à la salle Bourgie, cette fois avec le chœur et l’orchestre du SMAM, sous la direction d’Andrew McAnerny. On y entendra les cantates BWV 22, 97 et 150. Solistes : Marie Magistry, soprano, Maude Brunet, mezzo-soprano, Nils Brown, ténor et Normand Richard, basse. Salle Bourgie, 27 février, 14 h.

The complete set of Bach’s cantatas continues at Bourgie Hall. This time, we’ll hear the SMAM choir and orchestra conducted by Andrew McAnerny. Cantatas BWV 22, 97, and 150 are programmed. The soloists are soprano Marie Magistry, mezzo-soprano Maude Brunet, tenor Nils Brown, and bass Normand Richard. Bourgie Hall, February 27, 2:00 pm.



En l’honneur de l’identité hébraïque, l’Orchestre Métropolitain présentera, sous la direction d’Airat Ichmouratov, des œuvres de Prokofiev, Bruch, Bloch et H. Oppenheim, avec l’ensemble Magillah et le talentueux violoncelliste Yegor Dyachkov. Maison symphonique, 28 février, 15 h. En tournée dans deux arrondissements les 25 et 26 février.

In celebration of Hebrew identity, the Orchestre Métropolitain presents works by Prokofiev, Bruch, Bloch, and H. Oppenheim with the Magillah ensemble and the talented cellist Yegor Dyachkov. Airat Ichmouratov, conductor. Maison symphonique, February 28, 3:00 pm. This concert will be presented in two boroughs on February 25 and 26.



La pianiste Louise Bessette nous offre une soirée tout en délicatesse et virtuosité sillonnant quatre cycles pour piano aux influences ­multiples. Parmi les œuvres au programme : Las Meninas de John Rea, une commande de la SMCQ, variations sur les Scènes d’enfant de Schumann et Monodias Espanolas de José Evangelista. Salle de concert du Conservatoire, 28 février, 15 h.

Pianist Louise Bessette will prepare a light, dazzling evening with four piano cycles and multiple influences. John Rea’s Las Meninas, commissioned by the SMCQ, variations on Kinderszenen by Schumann, and Monodias Españolas by José Evangelista are some of many works on the program. Conservatoire concert hall, February 28, 3:00 pm.



Du 25 au 28 février, l’Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal, sous la direction de Jean-François Rivest, et l’Atelier d’opéra de l’UdeM, sous la direction de Robin Wheeler, présentent Le Nozze di Figaro de Mozart. Cet opéra-bouffe de Mozart est « plus qu’une œuvre de commedia dell’arte », nous dit Jean-François Rivest. On peut vivre cette Folle Journée de Beaumarchais, mise en scène par François Racine, à la salle Claude-Champagne, du 25 au 28 février, 19 h 30. ­

The orchestra of Université de Montréal, conducted by Jean-François Rivest and the opera workshop of UdeM, directed by Robin Wheeler, present Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. This opera-bouffa is “more than a work of commedia dell’arte,” says Rivest. One can experience this Crazy Day of Beaumarchais, staged by François Racine at salle Claude-Champagne, February 25-28, at 7:30 pm.

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Lebrecht Album of the Week - Ivry Gitlis (SWR/Naxos Deutschland)


4/5 stars

Great violinists come in two forms: stars and legends. Think about it. Jascha Heifetz was a star, Nathan Milstein a legend. One was a household name, the other inspired a kind of spiritual reverence among musicians of all stripes, not just violinists.

Fritz Kreisler was a star, Jacques Thibaud a legend. The late Yehudi Menuhin was a star, as was Isaac Stern.

Ivry Gitlis, their close contemporary, lives on – and he’s a legend. A child prodigy from the port town of Haifa, Ivry came to London before the Second World War to study with Carl Flesch. Turned down by big agents, he settled in Paris and performed extensively without ever earning world fame. Among artists, however, he became a magnet – both for his unique musicianship and for a repository of human wisdom that cannot be replicated.

Today, Ivry carries the violin at all times but no longer plays. To sit with him is to share the secrets of music that can only be transmitted by a legend who received them intuitively, in another century. Ivry, at 92, is one of the last of the living legends.

In this compilation from the archives of Southwest German Radio, he plays like no-one else before or since. A 1972 Paganini concerto performance strays sometimes too close to the edge of the notes, but the D minor Brahms sonata exudes a warmth and wit that sound incontestably authentic. The opening phrases of the Debussy G-minor sonata tell you, in this reading, that the composer is about to die before he knows it himself. Ernest Bloch’s Nigun, a 1986 recording, is dark with post-Holocaust shadows.

The twin peaks – for which you will rush out to buy this album and thank me ever after – are the little-played Hindemith concerto of 1939 and the more familiar Bartok second concerto. In Hindemith, often dismissed as dry and uninspired, Ivry finds fluidity and fun, along with a nonchalant serenity that makes the piece feel all too short. In the Bartok, pathos is held in check as the soloist gives the impression that the concerto was written for him, and him alone, to play.

This is commanding artistry, not the kind that necessarily brings a crowd to its feet at the end of a performance but the kind that knows exactly why music exists and what it can do to our deepest seats of emotion. If you’ve never heard Ivry Gitlis before, you will not have glimpsed that secret in the raw.

—Norman Lebrecht

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Sunday, 21 February 2016

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 22 - 28)

My Toronto Concert Previews for the Week of Feb. 22 to 28

~ Joseph So

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a real "heart of the repertoire" program this week, opening with Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 2, followed by  Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin. The centerpiece is the Schumann Symphony No. 4, with French conductor Louis Langree at the helm. Performances on Thursday Feb. 25 and Saturday Feb. 27 8 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall.

Pianist Marc Andre Hamelin (Photo: Fran Kaufmann)

This is the final week of the Canadian Opera Company's winter season.  Siegfried has already been consigned to history, and only four performances of The Marriage of Figaro remaining. On Feb. 22 is the special COC Ensemble Studio Performance.  I attended a preview of it last week at noon at the RBA, and I can honestly say the audience is in for a treat!  The young singers are simply wonderful, with not a weak link.  Gordon Bintner (Count), Iain MacNeil (Figaro), Karine Boucher (Susanna), Aviva Fortunata (Countess), Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure (Basilio), Aaron Sheppard (Curzio) are joined by former Ensemble sopranos Sasha Djihanian (Barbarina) and Jacqueline Woodley (Cherubino) plus guest artist Megan Latham (Marcellina).  Johannes Debus conducts.

Ensemble Marriage of Figaro Cast (Photo: Chris Hutcheson)

In the meantime, there are three final performances of the regular cast Marriage of Figaro this week - Feb. 23, 25, and 27.  Josef Wagner sings the title role, with Jane Archibald (Susanna), Erin Wall (Countess), Russell Braun (Count), Emily Fons (Cherubino), Helene Schneiderman (Marcellina), Robert Pomakov (Bartolo), Sasha Djihanian (Barbarina) and Doug MacNaughton (Antonio). Uli Kirsch plays the silent role of the Cherubim. It took me awhile but I've warmed up to Claus Guth's vision. COC Assistant Conductor Jordan de Souza takes over for Feb. 23 and 25, with Johannes Debus wrapping up the run on Feb. 27.  

Soprano Jane Archibald

The brilliant violinist Christian Tetzlaff is joined by his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt in a chamber recital of Piano Trios of Schumann, Dvorak and Brahms on Feb. 26 8 p.m. at Koerner Hall.

Violinist Christian Tetzlaff (Photo: Giorgia Bertazzi)

As part of the Emerging Artists Concerts presented by Desjardins in partnership with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, French Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, Second Prize Winner of the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw last fall, is giving a recital of the Chopin Piano Sonata No. 3 on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd  noon at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre. This is a free concert, so be sure to show up an hour early to ensure a seat.

Pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin (Photo: Elizabeth Delage)

Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff is in town for a recital of the Final Piano Sonatas of Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert. Any performance by Sir Andras is an occasion. Toronto audiences obviously agree, as the recital on Feb. 28 3 p.m. at Koerner Hall is completely sold out. But it doesn't hurt to call the box office to see if there are returns.

Violinist Mira Glodeanu

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is presenting The Best of Mozart, in other words a program of warhorses!  Top on the list is Eine kleine Nachtmusik, a piece that even the most casual classical music fan would know, as well as Symphony No. 40 and Sinfonia concertante, with violinist Julia Wedman and violist Stefano Marcocchi . Romanian violinist Mira Glodeanu is the guest director. Four performances Feb. 25 to 28 at the Trinity St. Paul's Centre.

Toronto City Opera, formerly Toronto Opera Repertoire, is a community-based, largely non-professional opera company offering fully-staged productions of standard repertoire with piano accompaniment.  As TOR, it was under the directorship of its long-time founder Giuseppe Macina. After his retirement a few years ago, the group was taken over by mezzo Beatrice Carpino and pianist Adolfo De Santis as co-directors and the named changed to Toronto City Opera. The format and the venue remain essentially the same. This season, Toronto City Opera is presenting Die Fledermaus and L'Elisir d'amore at the Bickford Centre. Performances of the Strauss operetta on Feb. 25 and 27, and the Donizetti opera on Feb. 26 and 28.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Review: Mauro Peter - Schubert: Goethe Lieder

Schubert: Goethe Lieder
Schubert: Goethe Lieder
Mauro Peter, tenor
Helmut Deutsch, piano
Sony 88875083882 (53 min 20 s)

5/6 stars

Swiss tenor Mauro Peter is a rising star in the world of opera and song. He studied in Munich with Fenna Kügel-Seifried, and was a member of the Young Singers Program in Salzburg in 2012, taking classes from Thomas Hampson and Michael Schade. That same year, he won first prize at the Peter Schumann Competition, and is currently in the Ensemble of Opernhaus Zürich. Sony saw the potential and signed him to a contract – a rarity these days. This new disc follows his excellent first solo disc, Die schöne Müllerin on the Wigmore Hall label, recorded live in January 2014. This Goethe Lieder reaffirms the earlier impression that Peter is a very fine singer, with a beautiful instrument that’s at once lyrical and aristocratic, used with abundant musicality, and ideal in Lieder. From the first song, Ganymed, one is immediately drawn into his program. Most of these Goethe songs call for a youthful ardour and ecstatic impulse, which he is fully up to the task. Some of these songs are really chestnuts, like Heidenröslein, but his singing is fresh and engaging. If I were to nitpick, occasionally there’s a bit of unsteadiness especially in the slow songs, and a forte high note here and there can sound effortful. In the acid test that is Erlkönig, his vocal resources are noticeably stretched, and there isn’t enough differentiation of the four voices – the child, the father, the Erlkönig, and the narrator. But what he does have is sufficiently winning, and the interpretive excellence will likely come with maturity. Helmut Deutsch is certainly one of the very best in the business, offering the singer impeccable support. This is an important disc for Lieder fans, and for those interested in getting acquainted with a new voice. 

—Joseph So

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Cette semaine à Montréal (15 à 21 février) / This Week in Montreal (February 15–21)

Trio Fibonacci – Concert Mystique

Composé de la violoniste Julie-Anne Derome, du violoncelliste Gabriel Prynn et du pianiste Wonny Song, le Trio Fibonacci propose un voyage passionnant à travers les siècles, imprégné du mysticisme qui anime souvent les compositeurs. Œuvres de Sibelius, Mozart, Hildegard von Bingen, John Taverner et Arvo Pärt. Dans le cadre du festival Montréal en Lumière. Salle Bourgie, 20 février 19 h 30.

Trio Fibonacci is violinist Julie-Anne Derome, cellist Gabriel Prynn and pianist Wonny Song. Here, they embark on an enthralling journey through the centuries, imbued with the mysticism that often inspired the composers. Works by Sibelius, Mozart, Hildegard von Bingen, John Taverner and Arvo Pärt. As part of the Montreal High Lights Festival. Bourgie Hall, February 20, 7:30 pm.

Musiciens de aa relève à Pro Musica / Emerging Musicians with Pro Musica

La série Dominica présentée à la salle Bourgie vous fait découvrir de jeunes musiciens de la relève dont la carrière est déjà florissante. Première de la série, la pianiste allemande Annika Treutler a remporté de nombreux prix, dont la 3e place au Concours Musical International de Montréal en juin 2014. Au programme : Schumann, Prokofiev, Scriabine et Brahms. Le 21 février, 15 h 30.

The Dominica Series, presented at Bourgie Hall, will reveal young, emerging musicians with prosperous careers. German pianist Annika Treutler is first up in the series. She won several awards, including third place at the Montréal International Music Competition in June 2014. Works by Schumann, Prokofiev, Scriabin, and Brahms are programmed. February 21, 3:30 pm.

Compositeurs de génie à l’OSM / Masterpieces at Maison Symphonique

Après avoir gagné le cœur du public en 2013, l’Orchestre du Festival de Budapest et son directeur musical Iván Fischer sont de retour en compagnie du pianiste canadien Marc-André Hamelin qui interprétera le fougueux Premier concerto de Liszt. Le 16 février, 20 h.

After winning the city’s heart in 2013, the Budapest Festival orchestra and conductor Iván Fischer will return with Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin, who will perform Liszt’s tempestuous Piano Concerto No 1. February 16, 8:00 pm.

Les Opéras dans les Universités et au Conservatoire

Avec le Projet Pelléas, présenté par 1 Opéra 1 Heure, découvrez l’opéra mythique de Debussy mis en scène par Florence Blain dans une version intime d’une heure. Avec la soprano Andréanne Brisson Paquin, les barytons Laurent Deleuil et Pierre-Étienne Bergeron, le harpiste Antoine Malette-Chénier et la pianiste Justine Pelletier. Fondé en 2014, 1 Opéra 1 Heure présente au public les plus beaux moments des grandes œuvres du répertoire lyrique dans un format accessible et intime. Salle de concert du Conservatoire, les 15 et 16 février, 19 h 30.

Attend 1 Opéra 1 Heure’s Projet Pelléas and discover Debussy’s mythical opera directed by Florence Blain in an intimate, hour-long ­version. With Soprano Andréanne Brisson Paquin, baritones Laurent Deleuil and Pierre-Étienne Bergeron, harpist Antoine Malette-Chénier, and pianist Justine Pelletier. Conservatory concert hall, February 15 and 16, 7:30 pm.

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