La Scena Musicale

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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Monday, 15 February 2016

Lebrecht Album of the Week - Yevgeny Sudbin: Medtner/Rachmaninov (BIS)

Yevgeny Sudbin: Medtner & Rachmaninov (BIS)

4/5 stars

Most concert pianists are like modern tennis players. They know that only two or three men and women are ever going to win the major tournaments, which leaves all the rest working harder each day in vain pursuit of an inhuman perfection and an inexhaustible hope.

The Russian-born Yevgeny Sudbin is a circuit pianist who, living in London and teaching at the Royal Academy, has yet to break top ten rankings. He’s a tremendous player of exceptional flair who has made recording for the past decade on an esoteric Swedish label, covering mostly Russian music. The reception has been enthusiastic, the major breakthrough elusive.

Might this be it? Something clicks in the opening track of this album in a way this listener seldom experiences, in concert or on record. The music is the first published work by Nikolai Medtner (1880–1951, a mystic Russian sometimes dismissed as poor man’s Rachmaninov, and played in much the same muscular way.

It’s a mistake Yevgeny Sudbin never makes. From opus 1 to 39, he exposes an entirely personal, deeply thoughtful expressiveness in Medtner, lighthearted and never as dolorous as gloomy Sergei.

The biggest game in this recorded set is a 1920 sonata, sort of. Titled Sonata-Reminiscenza, it is one man’s take on post-revolutionary Russia, uncertain what to make of it but confident that music would somehow survive. When Rachmaninov called Medtner "the greatest composer of our time," he must have had music of this intensity in mind.

Sudbin’s concentration is phenomenal; one barely dares breathe for fear of missing an inflection. The focus does not flag in six Rachmaninov preludes, an exquisite selection if unduly economical. At exactly an hour, this release is short measure. It should have been filled out, and fulfilled, by a Medtner finale.

—Norman Lebrecht

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Sunday, 14 February 2016

This Week in Toronto (Feb. 15 - 21)

My Toronto Concert Picks for the Week of February 15 to 21

~ Joseph So

The big news for voice fans this week is the return of the great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky to Toronto in recital on Sunday, Feb. 21st 7 p.m. at Koerner Hall.  His public was stunned when it was announced last spring that Hvorostovsky was suffering from a brain tumour. The treatment turned out to be successful and he returned to performing in the fall.  He was in fine voice as Count di Luna at the Met in HD Il trovatore, although he did not sing the full slate of engagements originally contracted.  Hvorostovsky has had a long history of performing in Toronto - the first time was back around 1992 at Roy Thomson Hall.  He has since returned with regularity to sold out houses. This time is no exception - in fact I heard they are adding stage seating to meet the demand for tickets. His pianist is Ivari Ilya but other than that, no program details on the Koerner Hall website.  This is a recital not to be missed.

Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky

The headliners at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra concerts this week are Latvian violinist Baiba Skride and French conductor/Orchestre symphonique de Quebec Music Director Fabien Gabel. Skride is the soloists in the Brahms Violin Concerto. Also on the program is Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor. The opener is Simon Bertrand's Rideaux et Fanfares. Feb. 17 and 18, 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.

Latvian violinist Baiba Skride

Meanwhile at the Four Seasons Centre, The Marriage of Figaro, the second production of the Canadian Opera Company's winter season continues with performances on Feb. 17, 19, 21. Claus Guth's take on the Mozart is idiosyncratic to be sure, but musically this production is impeccable, with a great cast featuring Josef Wagner, Russell Braun, Erin Wall, Jane Archibald and Emily Fons. Johannes Debus conducts. I intend to catch it one more time, on Feb. 22 for the special Ensemble Studio performance.

Russian born pianist Pavel Kolesnikov

The brilliant Honens Laureate, pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, is the soloist in Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, in a mixed program that also features works by Mozart, Berlioz, Debussy and Bizet. RBC Resident Conductor Earl Lee conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, for two performances, Saturday Feb. 20th and Sunday 21st at Roy Thomson Hall.

St. Lawrence Quartet

One of the premiere chamber group in Canada, the St. Lawrence Quartet is giving a recital at the Jane Mallett Theatre under the auspices of Music Toronto on Thursday, Feb. 18 8 p.m. The program features works by Schumann, Haydn and Samuel Adams.

Philip Addis and Emily Hamper in CASP's The Pilgrim Soul

Who says the classical song recital is dead or at best moribund? The Canadian Art Song Project was founded by tenor Lawrence Wiliford and pianist Steven Philcox a few years ago to preserve and promote existing Canadian art songs and to encourage the creation of new ones. On Feb. 19 7:30 p.m. at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse (106 Trinity Street near Parliament and King in downtown Toronto), baritone Philip Addis and pianist Emily Hamper will perform works by Canadian composers Chester Duncan, Larysa Kuzmenko, Imant Raminsh, as well as Gustav Mahler and Dominick Argento.
Baritone-Guitarist Doug MacNaughton (

Few classical singers can match the eclecticism of baritone Doug MacNaughton, who is not only a fine singer of opera and oratorio, but also a songwriter and guitarist of note. On Tuesday Feb. 16 in a noon hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, MacNaughton is presenting Light and Shadow, a program that includes John Rutter's song cycle, Shadows, and the singer's own arrangements of songs from the folk, jazz, and classical repertoires, including a new work by Canadian composer Dean Burry. Here is the full program -  You may want to check out the artist's website -

Soprano Allison Arends

Soprano Allison Arends is presenting Forget Your Winter Blues, an afternoon of selections from opera and musical theatre. She is joined by soprano Michelle Righetti, tenor Patrick Jang, and pianist Rachael Kerr. The concert is on Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. The venue is Heliconian Club, 35 Hazelton Ave. in Yorkville.

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