Archive pour December, 2011


31 December 2011

What better to end the year than with Leonard Bernstein’s “Mambo” from West Side Story, as performed at the last Nuit blanche by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, under the direction of Nathan Brock. I dare you not to move!

La folia

29 December 2011

Ensemble Caprice performs La folia at a recent concert (from November). A light and fun way to start the day!

An angel passes

27 December 2011

Because the holiday season also reminds us of those loved ones who left us, Un ange passe, a piece Alain Lefèvre wrote after his father passed away.

Merry Christmas

25 December 2011

May this day be filled with love, laughter, tenderness and music. Best wishes to all!

A soothing classic, as performed by Valérie Milot and Antoine Bareil.

Beethoven’s Ninth… another way

23 December 2011

Of course, you know and love Beethoven’s Ninth (who doesn’t?) You may want to listen to it as performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal when they inaugurated the Maison symphonique de Montréal in September or could try something a little different, for example the project 9 Beet Stretch, the brainchild of artistLeif Inge. Here, a recording of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth doesn’t last a little over an hour but 24 hours, without pitch distortion. It gives the work a somewhat eerie quality at first but then a profond sensation of calmness emerges.

Click on Ludwig’s face to start your podcast of this new reading of the work.

The Music Director

21 December 2011

The title seems intimidating, but what does a music director really do? Is it true that he whips (metaphorically, of course) the musicians during rehearsals, that he throws constant tantrums and has an inflated ego? Of course not, but… Tony Cirone explains:

“With this control over the musical score, it’s easy to see how such power can be abused.  It’s one thing to address sections or the entire orchestra regarding changes in the score, however, when individuals are approached regarding rhythm, intonation, or sound issues, the tone of the conversation is telling.  It doesn’t take much for a musician to feel the conductor is not pleased with his or her contributions. And when this leads to being called into the office for a meeting or making an official request to re-seat a musician, it affects the entire orchestra because one never knows who may be next.”

You can read the rest of this revealing blog post here…

Books for the music lover

19 December 2011

Christmas is around the corner and you are wondering what you could give to that special person on your list who listens to music constantly but are afraid he may have that CD you really liked? Here are a few book suggestions for you…

This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science Of A Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levithin. In this captivating book, the author explores the connection between music (whether making it, writing it or just listening to it) and the human brain. Among others, he answers the question: “How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world?”

Another classic take on the matter is Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia: Tales Of Music And The Brain. What is it about music, what gives it such peculiar power over us, mostly positive? This book explores how diverse our experience of and with music can be.

And, last but not least, hot from the shelf, A Natural History Of The Piano: The Instrument, The Music, The Musicians–from Mozart To Modern Jazz And Everything In Between by Stuart Isacoff. If I had encountered this beautifully illustrated celebration of the piano before today, I certainly would have put it on my wish list. The author is also a pianist, a critic and a teacher. In this latest book, he celebrates the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann, and Debussy, analyzes the techniques of Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Arthur Rubinstein and Van Cliburn, lets Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, Menahem Pressler and Vladimir Horowitz discuss their approaches. He also talks about jazz through Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, and Bill Charlap. A definite keeper!

Ways to warm up… sung

16 December 2011

Use together Twitter and classical music? Really? Well, this is what the Calgary Philharmonic has done with its latest project, which juxtapose ways to keep warm in the cold Calgary winter – sent via Twitter – and Carmina burana’s “O fortuna” by Carl Orff. I certainly didn’t see it coming!

How did all this happen? Between November 21 and November 24, 2011 Tourism Calgary reached out to twitter users asking “How do you stay warm in #YYC?” The submitted tweets that used the hashtag #cpowarmup or replied to the @Calgary Twitter handle were compiled and turned into a twitter first (based on internet and social media searches) – a tweet compilation sung by a philharmonic chorus.

Timothy Shantz, Chorus Master of the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus, picked a few and pasted them in one new fun song. Talking about the project, he said, “We know that our music making has an impact. We see that regularly in the concert hall and in the community, and it’s exciting to take it outside of the box once in a while.” Indeed…

Serhiy Salov plays Liszt

14 December 2011

The Liszt year is almost over and it would be a shame not to atttend one last recital tomorrow night, at Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, especially when the pianist is  Serhiy Salov. Among others, he will perform the monumental B-Minor Sonata, the Six Paganini-Etudes and the explosive Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 and Mephisto Waltz. 

Ticket information can be found here…


12 December 2011

One may not make spontaneously associate double bass and lyrism, feeling perhaps that, even though the instrument can demonstrate some gutso in jazz, it remains a bit clumsy. If you feel this way, you haven’t heard how Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889) treats the instrument. He was a real star of his era and toured the world, mesmerizing everyone that heard his beautiful tone and bel canto style. His acrobatic movements up and down the fingerboard earned him the nickname of “the Paganini of the double bass.” One critic even wrote: ”How he bewildered us by playing all sorts of melodies in flute-like harmonics, as though he had a hundred nightingales caged in his double-bass!”.

You can listen here to his Elegy in D, one of his most popular work, superbly performed by Joel Quarrington on his album Garden Scene.