Archive pour March, 2011

Portraits at L’Astral tonight

30 March 2011

Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà will be at L’Astral tonight in a program featuring excerpts from the three albums of the Portrait series, dedicated to Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and John Adams. You will be able to hear sections of Shaker LoopsJohn’s Alleged Books of Dances and Road Movies, a very original, deconstructed, sonate for violin and piano, in which Angèle Dubeau plays with Louise Bessette. Also on the program is the overture to Glass’ La Belle et la Bête, Mishima and the popular suite fom The Hours, as well as Arvo Pärt’s Summa and Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten.

The spot is ideal, miles away from the usual concert hall, very friendly, and I will be there.

To listen to Portrait: John Adams album…

The Gryphon Trio wins a Juno

28 March 2011

Last night,  the 40th annual Juno ceremony  was held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (broadcast on CTV). In fact, a very small number of prizes was awarded live yesterday, the rest having been given out at a gala dinner previously.

In the “Classical Album of the Year: solo or chamber ensemble,” the Gryphon Trio won the prestigious statuette for its album of Beethoven Piano Trios, the last in its series devoted to the complete piano trios of the composer. This was their 13th album on the Analekta label. You can listen to it here…

Let’s also mention that the classical composition of the year is R. Murray Schafer’s Wild Bird. Written in 1997 for Jacques Israelievitch’s 50th birthday, this appealing duet celebrates the remarkable versatility of the violinist, acclaimed for his gifts as a chamber musician, soloist and concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1988 to 2008. The title refers to Israelievitch’s hair, which Schafer recalls he had dyed a “rather vivid orange” at the time. You can listen to a version for violin and harp of the work on Valérie Milot’s latest album, V, launched just last week. You can discover it here

Congratulations as well to Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà and Ensemble Caprice, also nominated for a Juno.

Victor Bouchard passes away

25 March 2011

Pianist Victor Bouchard, half of the Bouchard & Morisset Duo with wife Renée Morisset (who died in 2009) passed away Tuesday in Quebec, a few short weeks before his 85th birthday. The two musicians shared the stage for the first time in 1952, in the first of a very long series of concerts that would run for more than half a century and includ numerous international tours. Mr Bouchard led a parallel career as head of the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec, artistic director of the Orford Arts Centre and president of the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada.

The duet had paved the way for numerous Canadian duettists, through concerts and masterclasses. I remember hearing them on several occasions as a child and I was lucky enough to share some of their unvaluable experience in a masterclass organised by UQAM. Our sincerest sympathies to the family.

Budget 2011 a missed opportunity for arts and culture

23 March 2011

For once, maybe you’ll allow me to join my voice to members from the Canadian Arts Coalition, which just issued a press release commenting the 2011 Budget of the Harper government, announced  and rejected by  opposition parties yesterday.

“Budget 2011 was clearly focused on strengthening the economy and re-building Canada’s international presence,” noted Canadian Arts Coalition spokesperson Shannon Litzenberger.  “Given these priorities, we believe that the Government of Canada missed the opportunity to build on the strengths of the arts sector to boost job creation, the vitality of communities across the country, and Canada’s international reputation through strategic arts investment.”

You can visit the Canadian Arts Coalition website here…

Classical music: big in Japan

21 March 2011

The tragedy in Japan seems to have touched almost everyone lately. Concern is high for safety of course, but mainly one bleeds for this country once again struck by fatality. The NHK Orchestra was nevertheless in town Friday night, under André Previn, with special guest Kiri te Kanawa, in a Prokofiev, Strauss and Takemitsu program. Arthur Kaptainis from The Gazette took the opportunity to ponder on the state of classical music in Japan (the country is a top consumer of the genre) and how the disaster will touch the industry.

To read…

Classical music well represented at the FIFA

18 March 2011

he 29th edition of the International Festival of Films on Arts started yesterday and, as usual, the selection is more than interesting. Classical music lovers will surely appreciate this year’s offerings. Indeed, they will be able to see Alain Lefèvre signe André Mathieu (Sunday March 20) or The Debussy Film, one of Ken Russell’s finest films (on the 20th as well). Of interest as well is a documentary about Darius Milhaud, in a double bill with a portrait of conductor Carlo Kleiber (March 20 and 25). Pianists will flock to see the film on legendary Arthur Rubinstein (March 25 and 26) and opera fans will without a doubt put down the March 27 date in ink in their agenda, when two of the greatest divas, both passed away last year, will be featured: Joan Sutherland and Maureen Forrester.

Times and details are accessible here…

Riccardo Muti wins the Birgit Nilsson Prize

16 March 2011

A little earlier today, the jury of the Birgit Nilsson Prize announced it was rewarding Riccardo Muti “for his extraordinary contributions in opera and concert, as well as his enormous influence in the music world both on and off the stage”.

Initiated by the Swedish singer in 2005, the one million dollars prize is awarded every two to three years. In 2009, Spanish tenor Placido Domingo became its first-ever recipient and chose to invest the money towards deserving young singers by using it to fund a Wagner category in his annual Operalia competition. Will Riccardo Muti be tempted to share some of the amount with musical organisations less fortunate? Time will tell…

The prize will be officially given to Riccardo Muti on October 13, in presence of the King of Sweden. Jury this year included the president of the Vienna Philharmonic, Clemens Hellsberg, as well as Richard Wagner’s great-grand-daughter, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, codirector of the Bayreuth Festival.

You can check out the press conference video of the announcement here…

A recipee for learning contemporary music

14 March 2011

It is true that, often enough, contemporary music can be a challenge to decipher, especially when you are premiering a work. Soprano and pianist Eileen Huang may have just the recipee for performers on the verge of loosing it while staring at the score. It’s too good not to be shared.

  1. Combine 2/3 cup unusual intervals with 1/2 cup challenging rhythms.
  2. Sprinkle liberally with accidentals. (Double-sharps and double-flats optional.)
  3. Add sprightly tempo marking.
  4. Bake until your brain is melted with a golden brown crust.

Angèle Dubeau talks to Rick Philips

11 March 2011

Angèle Dubeau recently recorded a podcast with Rick Philips, in which she talks about the Portrait series, featuring up until now composers Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and, very recently John Adams. “The music of these three composers does speak to me,” she explains in the interview. She talks about how she chooses the repertoire and why these composers appeal to her and to the audience.

You can listen to the full podcast here…

To listen to the Adams album, the latest in the series…

Hommage to Joseph Rouleau: in concert tonight

9 March 2011

Tonight, salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, the OSM presents an hommage concert that celebrates the career of bass JOSEPH ROULEAU and the 60th anniversary of the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, as part of its series « Les Grands Québécois ».  Violonists Alexandre Da Costa and OSM concertmaster Andrew Wan will perform, as well as Joseph Rouleau himself and past winners from the Montreal International Musical Competition: soprano Marianne Fiset,  bass Burak Bilgili and pianist Serhiy Salov in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal will also be on stage.  This hommage concert is placed under the direction of Jean-Philippe Tremblay.

I had the great pleasure to talk with Mr. Rouleau when I got to write program notes for the 3-CD boxset that features some of his best loved work over the years. His enthousiasm is so contagious that I’m sure several singers half his age would kill to get his recipee to his success. And that voice, still… unforgettable!

You can listen to the compilation here.