Archive pour February, 2009

Celebrating St. David

28 February 2009

The life-story and legends of St. David are largely based on his biography written by one Rhygyfarch in the late 11th century. He is generally accepted as having been the son of a lady of noble Irish birth living in Dyfed. However, her beauty brought her to the attention of Sandde, a prince of the adjoining Kingdom of Ceredigion, while he was travelling nearby. His advances were, of course, vehemently rejected but the Royal lord would not take no for an answer and forced his passions upon the unfortunate Non.

The poor girl fell pregnant with the future St. David: a man of such holiness that even from the womb he, apparently, performed miracles. He was eventually born in the middle of a violent storm at Caerfai, on the coast just south of Mynyw (St. Davids), where a ruined chapel still marks the very spot.

David was greatly attracted to the Welsh Church and, when he became a man, he was soon ordained a priest.
Our saint then began to travel the country, evangelising as he went. He is said to have founded twelve monasteries in Southern Wales, though many of these are erroneous later claimants. He performed various miracles, like when he spoke so eloquently before his peers that a hill miraculously raised up beneath him.

David died at Mynyw (St. Davids) on Tuesday 1st March AD 589 and was buried in his cathedral, where his relics are still venerated to this day. Legend has it that he was 100 at the time.

SHANNON MERCER, one of Canada’s most promising brilliant rising stars, and the SKYE CONSORT invite us to discover the Welsh folksong repertoire on their latest Analekta recording. The folksongs presented on this recording, a mix of familiar and not-so-familiar, date back to the 1800s. They transcend time and gender, melding themes of innocent youth and love, joy and sadness, birth and death and tell the journey of an honest and passionate people.

Shannon Mercer will be sing some of this repertoire in Ottawa on March 8.

What better way to celebrate than to listen to Dydd Gwyl Dewi (St. David’s Day)!

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi (St. Davids Day) – Shannon Mercer & Skye Consort

World’s Worst Orchestra

26 February 2009

Believe it or not, their CDs come with complimentary earplugs and their music is bereft of C sharps because it is a note that their principal bassoonist has never mastered! Alexander McCall Smith’s Really Terrible Orchestra has turned mediocrity into an art form. The orchestra’s co-founders say that the secret of its success is keeping performances short and giving away free wine to audiences.

Read more about it here…

Beethoven’s Seventh by Tafelmusik

24 February 2009

Among many attempts to attach symbolic and programmatic meaning to the Seventh Symphony, Wagner’s description of it as “the Apotheosis of the Dance” is often cited. Actual dance music it is not, but rhythm is the essence of its character, serving as a unifying element within each movement and the driving force for the entire work.

The Allegretto, maybe the most haunting movement of the symphony, is essentially a set of variations. After a plaintive chord in the winds, the low strings begin the dirge-like theme with its insistent rhythm. The variations build in complexity, culminating in a fugato, but are twice relieved by relatively tranquil interludes in A Major. Even these episodes do not escape the inexorable rhythm in the bass.

Filmed at Torontos George Weston Recital Hall on April 2, 2008 by Mercury Films, this footage features Bruno Weil conducting Canadas award-winning Tafelmusik Orchestra performing the 2nd movement, “Allegretto”, from Beethovens 7th Symphony in A Major, Op. 92.

Carlito Dalceggio

20 February 2009

He designed Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà’s last album cover but who is he?

Born in 1971, “with a pencil in his hand,” Carlito Dalceggio was introduced to art by his father, who was painting as a hobby. He started to paint more seriously at 18 and started to show his paintings in various industrial alternative spaces.

Though he holds a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from UQÀM, he spent half of his studies designing nightclubs in Europe and, at 19, founded the ORGANIC FRESH HEROES, his first art group with David Pelletier and made several happenings, parties, and exhibitions in Montreal and in Europe, completing the cycle by a giant happening at Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal.  He then started extended travels all over the world to learn art in the tradition of all cultures, from Mauritania, to Morocco, to Bali, Mexico and Thailand, creating on location hundreds of paintings and murals.

In 1999, he founded CIRCO DE BAKUZA, with which he created giant events for the Just for Laughs Festival, world premiere Galas for Cirque du Soleil and many more special events. He also collaborated in several sculpture projects with his father and on many films with different directors.  For 10 years, he created an independent distribution system for his paintings. Only in 2003 has he started to present his work in art galleries and art fairs, in order to reach a wider audience.

He has created large-scale pieces for international headquarters of companies such as Cirque du Soleil and L’Oréal Canada, as well as restaurants and clubs throughout the globe.

His artistic statement starts with the following few sentences:
“By the act of painting, I transcend my human state. I search for other ways. I seek for a universal pattern, the ultimate strokes of freedom. I reach a visionary state and totally leave reality to give shape to another world.
I breathe to paint, I paint to breathe.
Art does not try to reproduce nature, art is nature.”

To find out more about the artist and see projects, sketches, read excerpts from his diaries, click here…

A new recording for Marianne Fiset

18 February 2009

Soprano Marianne Fiset, one of this year’s Radio-Canada Musique “Révélations”, was recording her new disc under the Analekta label last week. The CD, devoted to Russian repertoire (Glinka, Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky) will be featuring two complementary sides: the first, with piano (with the collaboration of Marie-Eve Scarfone) and the second, with an orchestra made out of some of the best musicians in town, under the direction of Jean-Philippe Tremblay.

Untold stories abound behind the production of any recording. This time, glacial temperatures transformed the church chosen for the recording of the melodies by Glinka and Rachmaninov in a freezer, seriously compromising both the voice of the singer and the fingers of the pianist and forcing the second day of recording to be pushed back. The recording sessions with orchestra were held at the Saint-Mathieu Church in Beloeil. We share some photos, taken that day.

The CD, a joint venture with CBC, should be launched in little more than a month.



Mendelssohn at 200

16 February 2009

Felix Mendelssohn, whose two-hundredth birthday fell on February 3rd, was the most amazing child prodigy in musical history. “What about Mozart?” you may ask. Goethe, who heard the child Mozart in 1763 and the child Mendelssohn almost sixty years later, gave the palm to young Felix. Fabulous musician, gifted composer, brilliant conductor, Mendelssohn was also an inspired writer, a painter and had a knack for featuring “forgotten” works such as Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion.

Alex Ross, of the New Yorker, offers this extensive portrait of the prodigy turned master. To read, follow this link…

What better ways to really discover the composer than to listen to his music? You may consider listening to his Violin Concertos with Angèle Dubeau here or Symphony No. 4 there

Of love and music

13 February 2009

In case you haven’t noticed the heart-shaped chocolate boxes and the cute little Cupids in the stores, may I remind you that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (as in: it is tomorrow)? You want to celebrate but packed restaurants make you dizzy and you prefer the coziness of your own dining room? Inspiration for goodies to share with your loved one can be found here.

But a romantic evening wouldn’t be complete without carefully picked musical selections. No hesitation here, if you choose Of love and music, a match made in heaven between two endless themes. After all, love and music do not merely run parallel to one another, they also interact. Since the beginning of civilization, love has been one of music’s main sources of inspiration. As Shakespeare wrote in very first line of Twelfth Night, music is indeed “the food of love.”

Play on here…

John Adams vs Obama

12 February 2009

Composer John Adams – who will be conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal early March – talks about what Obama should and shouldn’t do to boost the arts in this interview for Newsweek. To read…

Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà launch Gargantua and Other Delights

11 February 2009

In the beginning, or thereabouts—I wasn’t there—in the beginning was the glass, the bottle.”

These are the first words of Jean Françaix’s new take on Rabelais’ timeless story about Gargantua, the good giant. Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà go to the very heart of the humour and acrobatics of composer Jean Françaix with their new album Gargantua and Other Delights, released yesterday. This musical adventure like no other is centered on Rabelais’ extravagant chronicles, brilliantly narrated by Albert Millaire. This inspiring text has been set to music by Jean Françaix, as are the other delights on this disc, L’heure du Berger (presented here for the first time on disc in its original version, for strings and piano) and Sérénade B E A, a portrait of love… not necessarily everlasting!

Gargantua and Other Delights will be presented at Place des Arts as part of the Montreal High Lights Festival on February 24 and afterwards on a tour of Quebec.

A well-kept secret that I’m willing to share. If you mention “La Pietà” when you purchase your tickets for the show, you’ll receive a 50 % rebate.

To listen, it’s here…

Classical music at the Grammys

9 February 2009

Dozen of prizes were awarded yesterday at the 51st Grammys celebration. To find out which classical artists won, follow this link.