Archive pour April, 2009

Krystian Zimerman causes quite a stir in Los Angeles

29 April 2009

Krystian Zimerman, the great Polish concert pianist, is usually one of these artists you barely hear about between rare concert tours. He doesn’t share his every thought with the press and doesn’t seem to care much that he appears to be an excentric for travelling to every city with his own Steinway grand piano. He doesn’t give encores, he never talks to the audience. Music is enough.

So he caused quite a commotion when, before he performed the last work on his Disney Hall recital program on Sunday night, he paused for a moment and then announced that he would no longer perform in the United States in protest against Washington’s military policies. “Get your hands off my country,” he said bluntly.

Andrew Gumbel from The Guardian tells all here.

Steve Reich wins the Pulitzer

27 April 2009

New York-based composer Steve Reich has won the Pulitzer Prize for music with his piece Double Sextet on April 20. Reich composed the work for two identical sextets of instruments, each made up of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone and piano. The work can either be performed by 12 players or by 6, playing against a taped performance of themselves. This is how the work was premiered last year. You can hear an excerpt here…

An article that explains Reich’s minimalism can be found here.

Perfect pitch?

24 April 2009

So you believe you have perfect pitch – or, to be asolutely percise, absolute pitch? Then, take this survey and find out. The goal of the study is to determine whether absolute pitch differs systematically for different timbres. The test is divided into 4 blocks of 24 trials. Each block consists of 24 pitches (A3 to Gb5) presented in random order. Each block has a different timbre or instrumental sound.

The experimenters are Patricia Vanzella (Professor of Music, University of Brasilia) and Glenn Schellenberg (Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto).

Interested? It’s here…

An interview with Kent Nagano and Unsuk Chin

23 April 2009

Kent Nagano and Unsuk Chin talk about their working relationship and the two works featured on the Analekta CD, with violonist Viviane Hagner. To hear the Violin Concerto and Rocaná, it’s here.

YouTube Symphony

22 April 2009

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” A very old musician’s joke indeed but, this time, Michael Tilson Thomas added a new twist: “Upload, upload, upload.” This is how the conductor introduced the YouTube Symphony last Wednesday night to a packed house in Carnegie Hall. There was nothing standard about this orchestra, indeed. Talk about postmodernism!

All the musicians were selected through online auditions and 3 000 hopefuls sent in their video applications. The jury then picked 200 and the viewers did the rest, choosing who they considered to be good enough to grace the prestigious hall with their presence. The last 96 to stand – including two Canadians, Gaël Chabot, vibraphonist and Stéphane Tétreault, a 15-year cellist – represented more than 30 countries. All were not professional musicians. In the ranks, a surgeon, a mechanic, a professional poker player and an administrative assistant. In your face for those who believe classical music is just for an elite!

Cell phones and video cameras were more than permitted, they were strongly recommanded for audience members, many of which never attended a classical concert in their life before that night. All throughout the concert, they sent clips to friends, posted excerpts online, twittered about it and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Some were reported weeping, stand-up ovations were given after most works and Tan Dun’s Internet Symphony No. 1 Eroica’s premiere was no exception. Described by Tan Dun as being like “an ancient arranged marriage – arranged by Google and YouTube”, the evening certainly will remained etched in all the participants’ memories. Is this the end of blind auditions?

The videos of the event are available on the YouTube Symphony channel, here…

The OSM on tour

19 April 2009

From April 15 to 29, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is on its European tour. Thirteen concerts in six countries, one hundred or so musicians, one music director (Kent Nagano), several travel companions and hundreds of boxes of material. You can follow their every move (or almost) on their special blog, The OSM Day to Day. It’s here…

Happy birthday Handel!

16 April 2009

On April 14, Handel’s 250th anniversary of death was celebrated the world over. Some interesting articles to better understand the man: Handel Time by Alex Ross and an extensive piece by Dennis Mahoney in the Morning News.

To hear his music:

Concerti Virtuosi by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Excerpts from Agrippina and Alcina with Karina Gauvin and Tafelmusik

The Complete Organ Concertos with Geneviève Soly as soloist

Marianne Fiset and Russian song

15 April 2009

Some moments remain etched in our memories in indelible ink, and soprano Marianne Fiset can testify to this. With an emotion that remains intact, she relives that May 2007 evening when the Montreal International Musical Competition winners were announced, changing her life forever. Although she didn’t realize it at that time, nothing would ever be the same. Besides the coveted prize, she also received the People’s Choice Award, the Poulenc French Song, the Joseph Rouleau and the Jean A. Chalmers Awards. She has since received an Opus Prize for “Young Artist of the Year” (season 2007-2008), was named Young Soloist 2008 by the Public Francophone Radios and one of Radio-Canada Musique 2008-2009 “Revelations”. Yesterday, she released her second recording, on the Analekta label, devoted to melodies by Glinka, Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky. (more…)

Boulez on Mahler

13 April 2009

As a composer, Pierre Boulez is the doyen of the avant garde; as a conductor, he is a wonderful advocate for the great innovators of classical music history.He will give a a series of concerts devoted to Mahler with the Staatskapelle Berlin at the Musikverein later this month. Just before, he granted this very interesting interview to Walter Weidringer, music critic with the Austrian national daily newspaper Presse. To read…

To listen to Mahler’s Rückert Lieder No. 3, from the Music Teacher’s soundtrack (with baritone José van Dam), it’s here…

Liturgy and music

10 April 2009

Bach read and annotated all of Luther’s writings, so it is no accident that among his huge output, his 300 cantatas (of which over 200 survive) and over 200 organ chorales hold a place of central importance. While in Leipzig, Bach wrote five cantata cycles for the entire liturgical year, which comprises 60 events.

While the Lutheran service has two main parts—one that is text-based (reaching its high point with the sermon), and the other Eucharistic—both are supported by music. The cantata was generally performed between the gospel reading and the sermon, unless it was a substantial piece, in which case, its two sections would frame the sermon. The musical part of the service was always related to and commented on the day’s readings; hence a cantata always corresponded to a specific Sunday in the liturgical year and the reading of a particular biblical passage. Perhaps more than any other composer, Bach was especially dedicated to exploring the liturgical year, and so there is nothing fortuitous about such correspondences.

To accompany upcoming Easter’s celebrations, you may want to listen to excerpts from Bach and the Liturgical year featuring Shannon Mercer and Luc Beauséjour or some organ chorales from the hailed Bach integral by Bernard Lagacé.

Happy Easter!