Archive pour December, 2009

Merry Christmas!

25 December 2009

You want to celebrate Christmas in style but want to stay away from the mainstream? We have a few suggestions for you!

Jazz for Chrismas (Lorraine Desmarais and Jean-Pierre Zanella). For those who like to enjoy the holiday season with an unusual, fresh, jazzy approach, this is the album for you. Listen to the album…

Looking for an original and musical way to wish a Merry Christmas to your friends and family! The Merry Chrismas card + CD from Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà do it for you!  Listen here…

How about avoyage with multicultural overtones, having as a backdrop the wonderful feast of Christmas-this is what Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal invite you to. Listen here…

Looking for something really off the beaten tracks? Listen to Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols here…

And of course, don’t forget to download Alain Lefèvre’s Petit Noël, absolutely free of charge, here…

A very Merry Christmas to all and may your holidays be brightened by music! I’ll see you all in 2010.

Joy to the world

23 December 2009

Tradition has it that King George II of England was so overwhelmed when he first heard this chorus at its London premiere in 1743 that he immediately rose to his feet. Audiences the world over still follow this tradition. What is that piece of music? But the “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah, of course!

In July 1741, Händel became discouraged by the lack of interest in his two most recent operas and decided to focus his energies instead on oratorios. Händel’s friend Charles Jennens suggested a new libretto, based on the King James Version of the Bible. Händel was enthusiastic about the project—so inspired, in fact, that he finished the work in three weeks. Messiah has three parts, covering the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Händel’s talent as a composer of opera enabled him to capture the dramatic quality of each text in his music. As he composed the “Hallelujah Chorus”, he is reported to have said: “I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God Himself.” A magnificent vision, judging by the splendour of this music!

Händel gave the work its first public performance in Dublin, Ireland, on April 12, 1742. The concert was held to raise money for the city’s prison and two of its hospitals. The event was highly publicized by the newspapers of the time, and 700 people crammed the hall on the night of the concert. The announcement asked ladies to come without their hooped petticoats and the gentlemen without their swords, so that more people could squeeze into the hall. The evening was a brilliant success. Since then, Messiah has never lost its popularity, and it has become one of the most famous choral works in the world.

You can listen to the “Hallelujah” on the Luciano Pavarotti Christmas at Notre-Dame DVD. The details here…

Ginger Stripe Award

21 December 2009

As the year is coming to a close, some journalists are sharing lists of favourite moments. Jessica Duchen, from the British magazine Standpoint , goes all the way with a somewhat goofy collection of 2009 hits. Roll out the cyber carpet and click her to learn more…

Christmas music… live

19 December 2009

You feel like going out tonight and hearing some Christmas music? Here are a few suggestions!

  • Enjoy a Christmas concert with Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà at Salle André-Prévost in St-Jérôme at 8 p.m.
  • Join the Lorraine Desmarais Trio & Jean-Pierre Zanella at Upstairs in Montreal for some jazzy Christmas cheer.
  • If you’re in Toronto, go listen to Shannon Mercer singing Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony at Roy Thomson Hall.

More details in the Analekta Website’s events section…

The details of the Chopin Year unveiled

17 December 2009

It is yesterday in Poland that was held the press conference “The Year 2010: Launch of the Chopin Route – Investing in Young People’s Cultural Education – Great Artistic Events”. What are some of the headlines revealed?

We learned that the Folle journée de Nantes would of course be devoted to the Polish composer. Concerts will be held in Bilbao, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and, of course, Warsaw, from June 10 to 13 juin 2010. The working title for this event, la Folle Journée – Chopin Open. In total, 1500 concerts are scheduled.

Marking the bicentenary of Fryderyk Chopin’s birth, at the turn of January and February 2010, the Norwegian town of Tromsø will resound with the composer’s music during the Arctic Frontiers Conference and the Northern Lights Festival, that will include no less than seven Chopin concerts.

Between February 22 and March 1, 2010, i.e. the two hypothetical dates of the composer’s birth, Warsaw will be hosting a splendid array of the world’s pianism, with performances by Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Piotr Anderszewski, Leif Ove Andsnes, Rafał Blechacz, who will open the celebrations, Dang Thai Son, Evgeny Kissin, Garrick Ohlsson, Janusz Olejniczak, Murray Perahia, Ivo Pogorelich and Yundi Li.

A series of open-air concerts modelled on the Chopin recitals held in the Royal Lazienki Park in Warsaw will also be taking place from 20th June through to 27th July 2010 in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.

All the details here…

To listen to Chopin, performed par André Laplante, it’s there…

Music in fiction (2/2)

15 December 2009

If, like me, you always seem to be dancing an intimate pas de deux between music and literature, you probably read some of the (too rare) novels featuring musicians. Among the most memorable ones, Zsolt Harsanyi’s Immortal Franz: The Life and Love Affairs of Franz Liszt (between fiction and biography) and Anne Rice’s Cry to Heaven, on the fascinating world of castrati. Here are two more.

Ketil Bornstad, To Music. Oslo, end of the 1960s. Piano student Aksel Vinding falls head over heels in love with Anja Skoog, another pianist who will soon make her debut at the age of seventeen. For Aksel, his relationship with Anja appears to be part of his destiny. However, the enigmatic piano teacher Selma Lynge, has a great amount of influence on the young student, and Aksel feels that a catastrophe is drawing near. In this novel, the Danish pianist, composer, playwright and poet writes about an environment that has been a large part of his own life. The Independent describes it as “an enchanting tale of love and death, desire and loss, about how parents and mentors manipulate and ultimately fail the young people entrusted to them. Above all, it’s a story of music written by a master in the field. Bjornstad’s style is staccato, except when talking about music; then he’s in his element, with beautifully honed long sentences that flow and halt, soar and dip just like the classical pieces he is describing … ” (more…)

Music in fiction (1/2)

14 December 2009

You are already fully exhausted from your Christmas shopping sessions and still don’t know what you could get music lovers on your list? Of course, Analekta albums! But also? If this person likes to read, why not give her a novel in which music plays an important role? A few suggestions for you…

Vikhram Seth, An Equal Music. Novels that treat music or musicians with finesse are scarce and deserve to be shared. With An Equal Music, Vikram Seth (who came into the limelight a few years back with A Suitable Boy) writes what could be described as an addictive novel. Set in London, Vienna and Venice, three European musical capitals, the book tells the story of Michael, the second violin in a quartet. Written as a personal recollection, the narrator shares his love for music – and certain repertoire milestones along the way – but also some of the uneasiness any true artist faces one day or another. Love, friendship, family-life, unresolved relationships but mostly music, stand at the core of this journey of self-discovery. “Music, such music, is a sufficient gift. Why ask for happiness; why hope not to grieve? It is enough, it is to be blessed enough, to live from day to day and to hear such music – not too much, or the soul could not sustain it – from time to time.” (more…)

Little Christmas

11 December 2009

The snow has covered the city with its white blanket. The heart of the meanest grinches among us is slowly starting to melt away and nostalgia softly invades our mind. Memories of Christmas past, when everything seemed simpler, quaint…

In this time of rejoicing, Alain Lefèvre holds wide open the gates to his Jardin d’Images. This time he treats us to a “Petit Noël”, an exquisite reminiscence of yesterday’s Christmas.  Commissioned by Espace Classique Radio-Canada, in collaboration with Analekta, this new piece is a tender prologue to the holiday season.

Download it for free here…

Flashmob Chain of Hope

10 December 2009

Fifty dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet, including the four stars Marie-Agnès Gillot, Aurélie Dupont, Jérémie Bélingard and Mathias Heymann, astounded museum-goers on November 29th when they suddenly emerged from the crowd under the Louvre’s glass pyramid entrance and started dancing to the Blue Danube before being joined by 250 people who had earlier signed up to the “flashmob” performance, and jiving to the sounds of pop groups OutKast, Queen and Daft Punk.

After just three minutes the dancers melted back into the crowd after leaving behind them dozens of pairs of ballet shoes marked with the web address of the children’s charity for which the event was organized : The charity called La Chaine de l’Espoir (The chain of hope) provides medical care for poor children in developing countries.

Talk about the spirit of giving this holiday season…


8 December 2009

A very rich day today, when one looks at musical anniversaries. Indeed, two important composers were born on December 8: Jean Sibelius (in 1865) and Bohuslav Martinu (25 years later, in 1890). You can listen to works by both composers on Angèle Dubeau’s latest album, Virtuoso, here…

Also, a masterwork of the symphonic repertoire was premiered on this date, almost two centuries ago: Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. It was heard at a rather odd gala benefit concert for wounded soldiers on December 8, 1813 in the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. This was the same concert at which Beethoven’s patriotic Wellington’s Victory (or the “Battle” Symphony) was introduced, amidst wild excitement and special effects (cannonades, mechanical trumpets, etc.). The symphony was considered merely a “companion piece” to the real showstopper, yet in spite of the circusy atmosphere, the symphony was well received.  In fact, the second movement was encored, an unprecedented occasion for a “slow” movement.

The Dionysian energy that infuses the finale has caused many listeners, in the words of Klaus G. Roy, to “come away from a hearing of this symphony in a state of being punch-drunk. Yet it is an intoxication without a hangover, a dope-like exhilaration without decadence.”

To listen to the symphony, as performed by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra…