Archive pour March, 2012

Louise Bessette’s 30th anniversary bash today

31 March 2012

Busy weekend for the Analekta artists. Jean-Philippe Tremblay, music director and founder of the Orchestre de la francophonie, was leading the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra last night in Utrecht in Messiaen, Ravel, Debussy and Saint-Saëns.

Today, in Montreal, it is Louise Bessette’s 30th anniversary extravaganza. It starts at 2 p.m. with a chamber music concert (that features four world premieres). The pianist will then play two mamooth solo works by Scelsi and Walter Boudreau at 4:30. At 7 p.m., fireworks are included with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen. It is only fitting that she would end this day with the composer she’s been most associated with.

As a teaser, a movement from the Scelsi Suite No. 9, “Ttai”.

Kent Nagano received medal of honour

30 March 2012

The Music Director of the OSM Kent Nagano received yesterday the  Medal of Honour of te National Assembly. The Medal of Honour is awarded by the President, or Speaker, to public figures from all walks of life who, through their career, their work or their social commitment, have earned the recognition of the Members of the National Assembly and the people of Québec. Congratulations, maestro!

It is a busy week for Mr. Nagano and the OSM, who unveiled their 12-13 season on Monday. You can find out more about it here…


Nathan Brock wins Heinz Unger Award

28 March 2012

Congratulations to Nathan Brock, currently assistant conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, who was awarded the Ontario Arts Council’s Heinz Unger Award.  The jury noted “Nathan is at an exciting stage in his career, and exhibits tremendous talent and promise. He has also demonstrated a lifelong interest in orchestral music. His strong commitment to growth and excellence in the art of conducting made him the ideal choice for the Heinz Unger Award.”  The award is presented every second year to an outstanding early- or mid-career Canadian conductor, and is administered by the Ontario Arts Council.

Boulez is 87 today

26 March 2012

Composer, conductor and pedagogue, founder of Paris IRCAM, Pierre Boulez is one of the great thinkers in 20th-century music  and an inspiration for many conductors, especially for his very particular way of barely moving but getting tremendous response from musicians. “We need to restore the spirit of irreverence in music,” he stated in 1972. To celebrate this birthday, here is what three of his contemporaries had to say about the man or the music.

“With Pierre, music has to do with ideas. His is a very literary point of view. He even speaks of parentheses. All of it has nothing to do with sound. Pierre has the mind of an expert. With that kind of mind you can only deal with the past. You can’t be an expert in the unknown. His work is understandable only in relation to the past.” — John Cage, 1970

“And then I like Boulez a great deal; he’s not a genius, but he has a lot of talent.” — Jean-Paul Sartre, “Self-Portrait at Seventy”

“[Boulez] reminds me a little of the character that Herbert Lom plays in the Pink Panther movies. He doesn’t have the ‘psychotic wink’, but he has some of that nervous quality about him, as if he might -given the proper excuse- start laughing uncontrollably. I went to lunch with him in Paris, prior to the Perfect Stranger recording. He ordered something called brebis du [fill in the blank]– I didn’t know what it was. It was some kind of meatlike material on weird lettuce with a translucent dressing. He looked like he was really enjoying it. He offered some to me. I asked him what it was. He said, “the sliced nose of the cow.” thanked him and went back to my pepper steak.” — Frank Zappa

Joel Quarrington in recital in Montreal

23 March 2012

The 12th edition of the Jazz en rafale festival just started in Montreal and the event this year is devoted to the bass. Numerous international bass and double-bass players are invited. The quirky Double Bass Orchestra (from France) opened the festivities and tomorrow, March 24, at Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur at 6 p.m., double bass master Joel Quarrington will give a recital centered around his album Garden Scene. He will be accompanied by pianist Jean Desmarais.

For information or purchase tickets…

To listen to the album Garden Scene

Don’t be Modest about it

21 March 2012

Two important composers share a birthday today: Johann Sebastian Bach, considered by many the father of classical music, born in 1685, and Modest Mussorgsky, born in 1839. If everyone is friend with the first one, this may not be the case of the latter.

Mussorgsky spent his childhood fostered by two complementary worlds: classical music (his mother, a musician herself, gave him his first piano lessons) and Russian folk tales (as told by his nanny). When he turned 20, he decided to become a composer. A few years later, he would form the Group of Five, with composers Mily Alexeievitch Balakirev, César Cui, Alexander Borodin and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The group would even open a music school in opposition with the official conservatory.

In 1868, Mussorgsky started to write his first full-lenght opera, Boris Godunov (a classic now of the repertoire). The composer just loved the human voice, even though he wrote several remarkable orchestral and instrumental works. He approached voice in a unique manner, for example choosing a delivery closer to prose than poetry. (You can hear Joseph Rouleau in a few melodies here…)

He also composed one of the most original piano works ever written, Pictures at an Exhibition, in ten movements, highlighting drawings and models by architect Victor Hartmann, all linked together by an easily recognisable theme, the Promenade.  (To listen to the work, performed by Alain Lefèvre…) Hartmann himself is even portrayed in “Catacombae.”

At least 25 different orchestrations of the work exist, including those by Ravel (the most often performed, completed in 1922), Leopold Stokowski, Vladimir Ashkenazy and SergeiGorchakov. There are as well some rock (including one by Keith Emerson) and electronic (Tomita) versions, as well as arrangments for guitar (Yamashita), brass quintet and string quartet.

A new Graupner album

19 March 2012

One of our readers, seemingly taken by Graupner’s music, was inquiring about this a few weeks ago. Yes, it is now official. A new release devoted to  Bach’s contemporary is now available. This time, we are talking about the first recreation in the world of the composer’s Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross.  It would seem that this music was never heard again until Les Idées heureuses performed it in March 2005 in Montreal.

“We hope that listeners will approach it with a sensitive ear, in the spirit of discovery,” says Ms. Soly. “In order to enjoy it and appreciate its rightful value, we must first relinquish the expectation that we are about to hear something resembling one of Bach’s Passions. Graupner’s cantata cycles are a series of dis¬crete meditations on themes evoked by the last words spoken by the crucified Christ.”

She explains that the musical worlds of those two masters should be perceived as distinct entities:

“Bach marks the culmination of the baroque style, while Graupner is already engaged, at 60 years of age, on the path which leads to Empfindsamkeit, the ‘sensitive style’ of the late 18th century. So we must not expect monumental archi-tectural structures, but rather lend an ear to an extremely original, spontaneous and subtle language.”

To listen to this new and inspiring album…

La Campanella

17 March 2012

If you missed the premiere of Sudden Flashes of Light featuring pianist Serhiy Salov last night at the FIFA, you may be interested to watch this live performance of Liszt’s La Campanella, by the same film maker Santiago RuizTorres. As delightful as filled with virtuosity!

LISZT-SALOV CAMPANELLA from Santiago RuizTorres on Vimeo.

Music at the FIFA

14 March 2012

The 30th edition of the International Festival of Films on Arts starts tomorrow. Until March 25, several really interesting classical music related films are presented. Here they are.

Friday March 16  8:30 p.m. , at Cinéma ONF: Sudden Flashes of Light (featuring pianist Serhiy Salov in an extraordinary reading for piano solo of  “Fêtes”, from Debussy’s Nocturnes) and About Canto Over Canto, about  Simeon ten Holt’s hypnotic four-pianos work Canto Ostinao.

Saturday, March 17, 11 a.m., Musée des Beaux-Arts: The Carnival of the Animals, the ever-so popular work.

Saturday March 17, 3:30 p.m., Cinquième Salle,  Place des Arts: Gustave Mahler, autopsie d’un génie (Gustav Mahler, autopsy of a genius)

Sunday March 18, 1 p.m., Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts: Facing Agrippina followed by Kathleen Ferrier, two films in the official competition.

Sunday March 18, 8:30 p.m. at the Goethe-Institut: György Ligeti followed by Ich bin dein Labyrinth, about Wolfgang Rihm’s opera Diynisos.

Sunday March 18, 6 p.m.,  Cinémathèque québécoise: Hozhro, cantate scénique, a work by Michel Gonneville.

Sunday March 18, 3:30  p.m.,  Cinquième Salle de la Place des Arts: Making  Marika, about Montrealer and prodigy Marika Bournaki.

Tuesday March 20, 6: p.m. at Cinéma ONF: La Orquesta de las mariposas

Friday March 23, 8:30 p.m., Cinéma ONF: Extasy Extase (about conductor Reinbert de Leeuw) and La Spira (an orchestra of 40 young musicians who work without a conductor, without fees and outside the traditional music circuit)

Saturday March 24, 3:30 p.m., Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts: two conductors Muhai Tang- In the Ocean of Music and Esa-Pekka Salonen, anti-maestro.

All details here…

Louise Bessette celebrates a 30-year career

12 March 2012

Recognized internationally as one of today’s pre-eminent interpreters of the music of our time, pianist Louise Bessette celebrates her  30-year career. On March 31, starting at 2 p.m., she will do so with a multi-faceted and ambitious three-part concert. The program will feature four world premieres in addition to music by her signature composer, Olivier Messiaen, as well as Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps with British pianist Peter Hill and Walter Boudreau’s Les Planètes.

In a recent interview, she explained:

“I really appreciate working with composers. The performer’s work is very rich and we put a lot of ourselves into it. We can share with the composer, it’s a real treat. Does the performer not take part in the emotion? All composers come with their questions, their fears, their joys and their own world. It is always very rewarding to talk with them. All there is left to do is to integrate what the composers have brought into the work.”

You can read the complete article on page 14 of La Scena Musicale‘s current issue.