La Scena Musicale

Monday, 14 March 2016

Phillip Jang's Favourite Art Song / La mélodie préférée de Phillip Jang

La Scena Musicale is celebrating the Art Song in 2015-16 with the worldwide survey, What is your favourite art song? Submit your vote at Pianist Phillip Jang shares his three choices below.

Notre sondage ‘La prochaine grande mélodie’ se poursuit! Votez au Le pianiste Phillip Jang nous partage ses trois choix ci-dessous.

3. Schubert - Winterreise (Wilhelm Müller)

2. Richard Strauss - Wiegenlied (Richard Fedor Leopold Dehmel)

"Dream, dream, my sweet life,
of the heaven that brings flowers. 
Shimmering there are blossoms that [live on] 
the song that your mother is singing. 

 Dream, dream, bud of my worries, 
of the day the flower bloomed; 
of the bright morning of blossoming, 
when your little soul opened up to the world. 

Dream, dream, blossom of my love, 
of the quiet, of the holy night 
when the flower of his love 
made this world a heaven for me."

« Rêve, rêve, toi ma douce vie
Du ciel qui apporte les fleurs. 
Ici resplendissent les fleurs qui existent 
De la chanson que chante ta mère. 

Rêve, rêve, bourgeon de mes peines 
Des jours où la fleur apparut, 
Du clair matin fleuri 
Où ta petite âme se révéla au monde. 

Rêve, rêve, fleur de mon amour 
De la silencieuse et sainte nuit, 
Où la fleur de son amour 
A transformé pour moi le monde en ciel. »

1. Brahms - Alto Rhapsody

Jang: "One of the greatest statements of abandonment in music. This piece is a window into Brahms's soul, and about his feelings for life, love and the world."

"Une des plus grandes déclarations d'abandon dans la musique. Cette pièce est une fenêtre sur l'âme de Brahms et ses sentiments envers la vie, l'amour et le monde."

"But who is that apart?
In the underbrush his path loses itself. 
Behind him 
The shrubs clap together, 
The grass stands up again, 
The wasteland engulfs him. 

Ah, who heals the pains 
Of him, for whom balsam became poison? 
Who drank hatred of Man 
Out of the fullness of love? 
First despised, now a despiser, 
He furtively consumes 
His own merit 
In unsatisfying egotism. 

If there is in Thy Psalter, 
Father of love, one note 
To his ear audible, 
Then refresh his heart! 
Open his clouded gaze 
To the thousand springs 
Next to the thirsting one 
In the desert!"

« À l'écart qui va là?
L'exilé suit seul son chemin. 
Sur ses pas, 
les buissons se referment; 
pour lui la terre est dûre, 
partout la solitude. 

Ah, qui peut guérir l'âme 
que la haine a blessée 
et qui boit le fiel dans le calice de l'amour? 
Désemparée pleine de rage, 
elle se nourrit 
de son propre orgueil 
en de vaines délices. 

S'il est sur tes cordes, 
Dieu de la lyre, un chant 
qui le puisse émouvoir, 
O, ranime ce coeur! 
Guide ce regard voilé 
vers les sources limpides 
que cherche en vain sa lèvre altérée! »

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Cette semaine à Montréal (14 à 20 mars) / This Week in Montreal (March 14–20)

Opera McGill – Rodelinda

Avec l’Orchestre baroque de McGill, sous la direction de Hank Knox, Opera McGill présente Rodelinda de Haendel dans une mise en scène de Patrick Hansen. Rodelinda est l’une des trois œuvres reconnues parmi les meilleures du compositeur. Salle Pollack, du 17 au 19 mars.

McGill Baroque orchestra presents Handel’s Rodelinda, conducted by Hank Knox and ­directed by Patrick Hansen. This opera is recognized as one of Handel’s best. Salle Pollack, March 17-19.

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Lebrecht Weekly - British Clarinet Concertos 2 (Chandos)

3/5 stars

An unknown work by Benjamin Britten sets the pulse racing. It turns out to be fragments of a concerto he started writing for Benny Goodman in 194. What with Pearl Harbour and Peter Grimes, it got pushed to the back of the desk. Before Britten sailed home to England in March 1942, the only finished movement was seized by US Customs was seized on suspicion that it contained espionage codes.

The movement did not see light of day until 1989 when it was retrieved and orchestrated by Colin Matthews, Britten’s composing assistant, and premiered by the clarinet virtuoso Michael Collins. The movement went down so well that Matthews filled out the work with Britten sketches for a full premiere by Collins in 2008. It would be too much to expect the disparate parts of the piece to make a convincing whole but Collins’ eloquence and advocacy are forceful and the ear warms to his unflappable English tone. Impossible to imagine what Benny Goodman might have made of it.

The Britten ‘concerto’ on this album is followed by five Bagatelles by Gerlad Finzi, representing all that Britten loathed in English music – nostalgic, antediluvian pastorality, unwilling to admit a sniff of dissonance. Detractors called it ‘cowpat music’; it has not worn well.

The rest of the album, proficiently performed by the BBC Symphony, is filled with a pair of authentic concertos by minor composers – the Yorkshireman Arnold Cooke (1906-2005) and the Welshman William Mathias (1934-92). Cooke sounds like a cheerful chappie who would have been in his element scoring comedy series for the BBC. Mathias, more morose and attuned to modernity, reminds me of a country bus shelter in the rain, a timeless passage of time, not at all unpleasant. Both he and Cooke are strong on atmosphere, an element rare nowadays. Switch off the sound on your television and play this to accompany Downton Abbey.

—Norman Lebrecht

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Sunday, 13 March 2016

BREAKING NEWS Canadian mezzo Emily D'Angelo Wins 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Finals Concert


Canadian Mezzo Soprano Emily D'Angelo One of Five Winners in 2016 Met Opera Auditions

~ Joseph So

March 13th 2016  7:30 p.m.

Canadian mezzo Emily D'Angelo

Congratulations to mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo, who is one of five winners in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Finals Concert held this afternoon on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House.

From Teresa Stratas back in the late 50's to Ben Heppner in the 80's, Isabel Bayrakdarian in the 90's and Simone Osborne and Elliot Madore in the 2000's, Canadians have consistently excelled at vocal competitions. D'Angelo won first prize and audience prize at 2015 Centre Stage, the COC Ensemble Studio Competition. She joins the COC Ensemble in the 2016-17 season. D'Angelo studies with Canadian soprano/voice teacher Elizabeth McDonald at the University of Toronto.

Metropolitan Opera Auditions Winners (l. to r.) Sol Kim, Yelena Dyachek, Jakuv Jozef Orlinski, Emily D'Angelo, Sean Michael Plumb (Photo: Ken Howard)

The Grand Finals Concert was held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera this afternoon. Nine finalists each sang two arias with the Met Orchestra under the baton of conductor Antony Walker. The other four winners are soprano Yelena Dyachek, countertenor Jakub Jozef Orlinski, baritone Sol Jin, and baritone Sean Michael Plumb. Each winner receives a prize of $15,000, plus the exposure that comes with winning such a prestigious competition. Our congratulations to all the winners.

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This Week in Toronto (March 14 to 20)

My Toronto Concert Previews for the Week of March 14 to 20

~ Joseph So

Given that this week is March Break, there are fewer musical happenings than usual. Typically the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is dark, perhaps to give the musicians some family time? The Canadian Opera Company is in rehearsals for its upcoming production of Carmen. That said, there are still a number of concerts well worth attending.

Pianist Paul Lewis (Photo Jack Liebeck)

High on my list is a recital by the British pianist Paul Lewis.  Currently on a North American tour, Lewis is playing in Atlanta and Philadelphia before coming to Koerner Hall in Toronto on Sunday March 20th 3 p.m. On the program are works by Brahms, Schubert, and Liszt. Lewis first played in TO under the auspices of the Women's Musical Club of Toronto back in 2012. It's great to have him back in town again. Incidentally I recall reading a strange bit of news last summer, when Mr. Lewis had to cancel a concert after falling and suffering a hand injury dodging an attacking seagull! That shows you artists are human and freak accidents do happen. I wish Mr. Lewis a safe and uneventful - if well applauded - engagement in Toronto.

Pianist Yundi (Photo: Chen Man)

Another high profile artist in town is Chinese pianist Yundi, previously known as Yundi Li. He won the Chopin International Piano Competition back in 2000 at the age of 18, the youngest laureate ever. He has enjoyed a fabulous career since, with high profiles recording contracts with DG and EMI. Without going into details, it should be said that he has received very mixed reviews for his performances in the last couple of seasons. Why not go and hear him and decide for yourself if the criticisms are justified? I have to say he has always been an audience favourite here in Toronto. The pianist is currently on tour to promote his new Chopin CD. Saturday March 19th 8 p.m at Roy Thomson Hall.  On the program are the 24 Preludes and Ballades No. 1 to 4.

Violinist Pinchas Zukerman

The Grammy Award winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is in town for a concert of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Ravel, plus the premiere of Meltzer's Vision Machine. The soloist in the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 is Pinchas Zukerman. Concert on Sunday March 20th 3 Roy Thomson Hall.

Georg Frideric Handel portrait by Balthazar Denner 

The annual spring opera production by the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music is Handel's Alcina. Quite a daunting piece for a school to be sure, but the Glenn Gould School has the voices to do it justice. Ivars Taurins conducts, and the stage director is the highly respected veteran Leon Major. Only two performances, on Wednesday March 16 and Friday March 18th 7:30 p.m. at Koerner Hall.

Music Toronto's poster of Quatuor Ebene

Music Toronto is bringing to Toronto the French string quartet Quatuor Ebene in recital on Thursday March 17th at the Jane Mallett Theatre. On the program are works by Mozart, Debussy and Beethoven. Unfamiliar with this group, I went straight to Youtube and found a wealth of videos! This is first-rate playing - go and experience this marvelous quartet playing Beethoven - For details of the show, go to

While the COC is dark this week, there are two interesting noon hour concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. On Tuesday March 15th at noon, soprano/educator Kyra Millan returns for another one of her Opera Interactive sessions. This show is designed for young people during March break, although it's suitable for all ages, featuring opera arias and sing-along choruses. Participating will be (as yet unspecified) members of the COC Ensemble, plus pianist Christina Faye.

On Thursday March 17th noon at the RBA is Choral Journeys: Then and Now.  It features the Cawthra Park Chamber Choir under the direction of conductor Bob Anderson. The show explores various choral traditions and styles from the Renaissance to the 21st century. COC Ensemble tenor Charles Sy reunites with his high school alma mater in this performance.  Both shows are free, so be sure to show up an hour ahead to ensure a spot.

John Edwards and Hallie Fishel (

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare, the Musicians in Ordinary  is presenting Shakespeare's Saints and Sinners, on March 19th 8 p.m. Heliconian Hall in Yorkville. Lutenist John Edwards and soprano Hallie Fishel will be presenting anthems, motets with strings by Gibbons, and songs by Campion and Dowland. There is going to be readings from Macbeth, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliette by Prof. David Klausner.

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