Archive pour June, 2009

Gargantua delights…

29 June 2009

Julian Haylock, in the latest edition of the prestigious string magazine The Strad, wrote a glowing review of Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà’s latest recording, featuring Jean Françaix’s Gargantua.

” […] Composed as recently as 1970, it sounds for all the world like a gently playful product of1920s Paris, with its knowing musical asides guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. Throughout, Françaix sustains an exquisite luminosity and impeccable ear for balance, which Angele Dubeau and her gifted ensemble of musicians play with such radiant warmth and sensitivity (ideally matched by the velvety engineering) that it is impossible to imagine the work better performed.”
[…] This issue’s impeccably high performing standards are fully maintained in the shorter pieces, with some truly melt-in-the-mouth textures and heavenly phrasing in the piano-and-strings L’heure du berger. The otherwise light-hearted Serenade B.E.A. ends with a haunting epilogue, acknowledging the fact that during work on the piece a certain Beatrice (after whom it is named)jilted the wealthy Hungarian who had commissioned the work for her as a present in the first place. A wonderful disc.

To listen to the recording…

André Laplante: a look at his career (3/3)

27 June 2009

This victory at the Tchaikovsky Competition catapulted him onto the international stage, and concerts in Canada, the US (at Carnegie Hall among other venues), in Europe, and Asia, including a lengthy tour at the invitation of the Chinese People’s Republic, followed. He was almost immediately dubbed a “Romantic pianist”, a label that stuck for several decades. “When you win the Tchaikovsky, there’s no going back,” he told me a few years back in an interview. “But I’d rather be known as simply a musician.”

Laplante soon felt that the ordinary musical career path wasn’t entirely to his liking. At this point he left Columbia Artists for personal management and decided to invest a good portion of his time working on previously neglected repertoire, for example Mozart. Invitations to perform didn’t come so frequently, but Laplante stuck to his new regime. This delicate balance between two poles, he achieved it and can now look at the path taken with pride: “In the end I found balance and incredible joy in playing. You can always learn, be happier, communicate better.” His latest recording, a Chopin recital, certainly stands as a vibrant example of this newly assumed maturity.

To listen to his recent Chopin recital…

André Laplante: a look at his career (2/3)

25 June 2009

André Laplante was born in the small Quebec town of Rimouski and later continued his studies in Montreal with Yvonne Hubert, before moving to New York (and having lessons with Sascha Gordnitzki) and Paris (with Yvonne Lefébure). As many young and ambitious musicians do, he enters international competitions. He made a good showing at the Jacques Thibaud Competition in 1973 and did the same in Sydney in 1977. The following year he won the silver medal at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky competition, competing with 91 pianists.
André Laplante’s powerful, controlled and dynamic performance of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto in the last round of competition had such tremendous success that a recording of it is still quite popular in Russia. Unfortunately for the American and European public, the CBC recording was only available for a short time so Analekta reissued it in 1999.

In an exclusive interview, André Laplante relived a few moments of the Moscow experience, a key moment of his career. “What I also came back with was a certain realization of my strengths and weaknesses, and of what impact my playing had on others,” he said, 20 years after the event.

He remembers that from the beginning of the first round, people reacted very warmly to his playing: “They were responding to what I was giving emotionally, which made me very happy. It was a public who wanted to be touched, moved. We have to remember how much the lives of Russians, at the time, was different from ours. I really think that the more they lacked freedom in their everyday life, the more important it was for them to be able to indulge in the music, and to be free to express their pleasure.”

After an explosive second round, exceptionally mature, audience applauded an empty stage for 15 minutes after his one and only allowed bow. “People came to see me later and it was not “Monsieur Laplante” any more, but simply “André.” They adopted me like a son.”
For the final round, he went for a big bang, performing Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, a work which still had a special resonance in Russia. “It was, for me, a concerto that was both musically and pianistically satisfying—there is an immense pleasure in having your fingers dig into the rich Rachmaninov texture. It was also a piece that I had worked on and played since I was 15 or 16 years old, and it had become “second nature” for me. It was a unique moment, one that I will never forget, because I felt that I had been able to express everything it was possible for me to express at that time of my life. I had a few weeks to reflect after the competition, and when the dust settled I realized more how big a responsibility it is to learn to express one’s own voice, and become a better artist in the process, through exploring new repertoire and gathering new musical perspectives, while surviving the hectic schedule brought on by the competition.”

To read the complete interview and listen to Laplante’s rendition of the Concerto…

André Laplante: a look at his career (1/3)

23 June 2009

“We must always remember that what is important is not what we can do with music but what music does to us—it is not the music that must open itself to us, but we who must open ourselves to music, and in order for this to happen, one needs a lot of formal and also emotional education. To me, this is absolutely fundamental.”

André Laplante

This Sunday, Alain Lefèvre will devote his Espace musique radio show to pianist André Laplante in a heartfelt homage to this remarkable Canadian pianist. In the next few days, we will take a look back at André Laplante’s journey, with a mandatory stop in 1978 when he won silver at the Tchaikovsky Competition.

Analekta artists at the Jazz Festival

22 June 2009

Starting next week, the Montreal Jazz Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary. Among the prestigious guests invited this year, the presence of quite a few Analekta artists must be mentionned.

On June 30, July 1 and 2 à 7:30 p.m. at the Cinquième Salle in Place des Arts, you will be able to listen to the enthralling music of Philip Glass as performed by Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà. A unique occasion to hear this remarkable CD live! (for tickets…)

Lorraine Desmarais and her Big Band will light up Théâtre Jean-Duceppe’s stage on July 9 at 8 p.m. with material from their recent album. (details here…)

For the Festival’s closing concert, on July 12, 7 p.m.,  the Montréal Variations project comes alive with a unique and faithful production of Philippe Dunnigan, artistic director and producer of the album. Oliver Jones, François Bourassa, James Gelfand, Jean-François Groulx, Alain Lefèvre, Guy Dubuc, Luc Beaugrand, Guy St-Onge and Lorraine Desmarais will then share center stage.(details here…)

Let the celebrations begin!

Have orchestras become inflexible?

20 June 2009

“I am very concerned about the future of the symphony orchestra.” These are the words of the National Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, Iwan Fischer, on tour in Asia these days. He goes on to declare that orchestras are too inflexible, the instrumentation having not fundamentally changed for 120 years. Is there a solution to this humdrum? Read about it here…

Stravinsky and Google

19 June 2009

To celebrate Stravinsky’s birthday two days ago, Google decided to incorporate his Firebird in the day’s logo. Not everybody was convinced and Michael Munroe of MMmusing even decided to try his hand at a new version of a Stravinsky Google logo. To compare attempts, it’s here…

To listen to Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne (as performed by cellist Yegor Dyachkov and pianist Jean Saulnier), follow this link instead…

Mozart’s letters (2/2)

17 June 2009

Mozart to Aloysia Weber, July 30th 1778

“In the aria “Non so d’onde viene”, which you prepared on your own, I found nothing to change or correct. You performed it with the same taste, artistry and expression as I had imagined it- therefore I have every reason to have full confidence in your artistry and instincts- basta- you are a genius…a great genius. I only recommend – and this is an urgent request – that you read my letters several times, and to do as I have advised, to be certain and convinced that, in all that I say or have said to you, I have never had any other intention than to give you my absolute best.  Dearest friend… my soul is not at peace, and it never shall be, until I have the comfort of knowing for certain that the justice that you deserve has been done to you. I shall, however, be truly happy only on that day, when I have the great delight of seeing you again and embracing you with all my heart, which I allow myself to both hope and desire.”

Mozart’s published dedication page of his Quartets dedicated to Haydn (Sept. 1, 1785)

To my dear friend Haydn,
A father who had resolved to send his children out into the great world took it to be his duty to confide them to the protection and guidance of a very celebrated Man, especially when the latter by good fortune was at the same time his best Friend. Here they are then, O great Man and dearest Friend, these six children of mine. They are, it is true, the fruit of a long and laborious endevour, yet the hope inspired in my by several Friends that it may be at least partly compensated encourages me, and I flatter myself that this offspring will serve to afford me solace one day. You, yourself, dearest friend, told me of your satisfaction with them during your last Visit to this Capital. It is this indulgence above all which urges me to commend them to you and encourages me to hope that they will not seem to you altogether unworthy of your favour. May it therefore please you to receive them kindly and to be their Father, Guide and Friend! From this moment I resign to you all my rights in them, begging you however to look indulgently upon the defects which the partiality of a Father’s eye may have concealed from me, and in spite of them to continue in your generous Friendship for him who so greatly values it, in expectation of which I am, with all of my Heart, my dearest Friend, your most Sincere Friend,

W. A. Mozart

Mozart to Konstanze, July 7th 1791

I can’t explain my feelings, there’s a certain emptiness- that hurts – a kind of longing that will never be satisfied and, so, never stops – growing from day to day – when I think of the childish fun we had together in Baden – and what sad, boring hours I spend here – my work brings me no joy, since I got used to taking breaks from time to time to talk to you, this pleasure is now an impossibility – if I go to the piano and sing something from the opera, I have to stop immediately – I’m overcome with emotion – Basta!

To listen to Mozart’s Haydn’s Quartets (Alcan Quartet)…
To listen to Operas for two (with Angèle Dubeau and Alain Marion)…

Mozart’s letters

15 June 2009

In his more than 1200 letters, Mozart saw the necessity to relate to others all that he saw and heard, and felt and thought. In his letters to his father when travelling, for once, he tells of the progress of the fine arts, especially in the theatres and in music. In others, we see the impulses of his own heart. These letters are manifestly the unconstrained, natural, and simple outpourings of his heart, delightfully recalling to our minds all the sweetness and pathos, the spirit and grace, which have a thousand times enchanted us in
the music of Mozart.

To his father, October 2, 1777 (Munich)

On the three days that I was at Count Salern’s I played a great many things extempore–two Cassations
[Divertimentos] for the Countess, and the finale and Rondo, and the latter by heart. You cannot imagine the delight this causes Count Salern. He understands music, for he was constantly saying Bravo! while other gentlemen were taking snuff, humming and hawing, and clearing their throats, or holding forth. I said to
him, “How I do wish the Elector were only here, that he might hear me play! He knows nothing of me-he does not know what I can do. How sad it is that these great gentlemen should believe what any one tells them, and do not choose to judge for themselves! But it is always so. Let him put me to the test. He may assemble all the composers in Munich, and also send in quest of some from Italy and France, Germany, and England and Spain, and I will undertake to write against them all.” I related to him all that had occurred to me in Italy, and begged him, if the conversation turned on me, to bring in these things. He said, “I have very
little influence, but the little that is in my power I will do with pleasure.”(…)

Baron Rumling lately paid me the following compliment: “The theatre is my delight-good actors and actresses, good singers, and a clever composer, such as yourself.” This is indeed only talk, and words are not of much value, but he never before spoke to me in this way. (…)

I beg you will excuse my horrid writing, but ink, haste, sleep, and dreams are all against me. I am now and forever amen, your dutiful son,


Mozart to his father, April 4th 1787

It’s most unpleasant for me that, because of Mlle. Storace’s stupidity, my letter has not come into your hands…I’ve just heard some news that I find most unsettling – now even more since I gathered from your last letter that you were, thank God, in very good health. But now I hear that you have taken ill?  I certainly don’t need to tell you how much I long for comforting news from you; and I do hope it comes – although I have made it a habit to always expect the worst.

To put it bluntly; since death is truly the ultimate goal of all our lives, I have gotten acquainted with this real best friend of mankind in the last few years to a point where His image is no longer frightening to me, but rather tranquil and comforting. I thank my God that he has granted me the good fortune and the opportunity (you understand me) to get to know it (death) as the KEY to our true happiness. I never go to bed without contemplating that I may (as young as I am) not witness the next day – and there’s not one person from all the ones who know me that would say that I am morose or sad – and for this enlightenment I thank my Creator daily and wish it for every other soul. In the letter Storace took with her, I had already referred to this…and explained my point of view…I hope that, while I write this, you are feeling better. But should you, against all expectation, be no better, I pray you won’t conceal it from me, but rather write me or have someone else write me the unvarnished truth.  So that I may fly as fast as humanly possible to your arms; I entreat you, by all that we both – hold sacred. Yet I hope soon to get a reassuring letter from you; and, in this happy expectation,

I with my wife and Carl, kiss your hands a thousand times, and remain ever
your most obedient son,

W.A. Mozart

To listen:
PianoTrios (Gryphon Trio)

Symphonies Nos. 40 and 41(Tafelmusik, Bruno Weil)

Mr. Rigoletto

12 June 2009

In a career spanning over 40 years, Louis Quilico was mostly renowned for the exceptional quality of his live performances and his interpretations of the Verdi repertoire. He has earned the title of Mr. Rigoletto after singing this role over 500 times. “I was graced by being in my comfort zone in the Verdi repertoire,” he explained matter-of-factly.

You can hear him once again here, with his wife pianist Christina Petrowska. A rare treat!