Archive pour August, 2012

A portrait of Philippe Sly

30 August 2012

The last year has been filled with excitement for bass-baritone Philippe Sly, winner 2011 of the famous Met Auditions in New York, Révélation classique Radio-Canada 2011-2012, young soloist prize from the Radios francophones publiques and First Grand Prize (and audience prize) at the latest edition of the Montreal International Musical Competition.

He will launch his very first album on the Analekta label in the next few days, In Dreams, on which you’ll be able to hear his rendition of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, as well as works by Ravel, Ropartz and the world-premiere recording of prolific British composer Jonathan Dove’s Three Tennyson Songs.

You can read a profile of the young 23-year-old singer in the latest issue of La Scena Musicale. The article is on page 20 of the magazine…

Teaching singers

27 August 2012

Whether we are ready to admit to it yet or not, whether you try like me to ignore for just a day longer “back to school” ads everywhere, the regular music season is about to resume – and that is a good thing!

You always wondered what happens in a singing class? Why not ask countertenor Daniel Taylor to explain it a bit more precisely for us, not so much from the student’s point of view rather than from the teacher’s? You can read the article in La Scena Musicale‘s latest issue (on page 27).

“Within our practice, we discover endless possibilities.” This is certainly one good reason to get back into the studio and learn – whether you are a teacher or a student.



Music at the WFF

23 August 2012

The Montreal World Film Festival starts tonight and movie lovers have ben compiling feverlishly the program for a few days already. Music lovers have not been not forgotten though, since a few music documentaries are featured this year. Of particular interest, I jotted down Schumann at Pier 2, a German documentary featuring conductor Paavo Järvi and the Bremen Philharmonic (September 1st 4 p.m. and September 2, 1:50 p.m.), La manière Labèque, portrait of the French pianists and sisters (August 26, 12:30 p.m. and August 30, 9:40 p.m.) and Africa: The Beat, a musical journey to Tanzania, featuring Wagogo music (August 31, 2:40 p.m., September 1, 5:40 p.m. and September 3, 7 p.m.).

Lunch time will be busy as well on the Air Canada stage, with a series of lectures by Mathieu Lavoie on film music, featuring French, Asian, Bollywood music or themes such as “Music in Quentin Tarantino’s films.” Between 5 and 7, on the same stage, concerts are featured, with pianists, string quartets, duets and the Orchestre à vents de musiques de films.

All details are here…


Fifty Shades of Grey: a classical soundtrack

20 August 2012

For the past couple of months, everyone has been talking this blockbuster. More than 20 millions copies have been sold of the three tomes of Fifty Shades of Grey, a rather twisted love/lust story, whether in libraries or on the Internet (it is somewhat more discreet for reading it on the beach). After the chick lit, a new term was even coined to define the genre: mom porn (no kidding).

What was overseen is that classical music downloads would go up the roof, everyone wanted to hear the soundtrack of this peculiar affair. Because when the sombre Christian isn’t busy imagining twisted scenarios to be played out with sweet little Ann, he is an amateur pianist and loves classical music.

The author E. L. James (a pseudonym, obviously) knows her repertoire and goes off the beaten track with her suggestions, I have to grant her that. Of course, the (in)famous Pachelbel Canon is on her hitlist,  but also a Thomas Tallis motet, the aria from the  Goldberg Variations,  Debussy’s Fille aux cheveux de lin, a few Chopin classics and Rachmaninov’s slow movement from the Piano Concerto No. 2, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No.5, “In Paradisum” from Fauré’s Requiem and Canteloube’s « Baïlèro » (from Chants d’Auvergne).

I think I’ll stick with the soundtrack. Other (more interesting) books await me.


Happy birthday Gabriel

16 August 2012

Everyone knows Debussy, Ravel, Satie… but Gabriel Pierné? He was born in Metz on August 16, 1863 and died on July 17, 1937 in Ploujean. What else? He was born into a musical family: his mother was a piano teacher and his father a voice teacher. Impossible to escape destiny here! He will of course take lessons at the Conservatoire de Paris in piano, organ and composition under Albert Lavignac, Antoine François Marmontel, Émile Durand, César Franck (he will replace his teacher at the Sainte-Clothilde Church upon his passing) and Jules Massenet. This is also where he met Claude Debussy, who would remain a close friend.

He led a stellar career as a conductor. He was head of the Concerts Colonne from 1910 to1934 and championed contemporay works by Debussy, Ravel, Roussel, Stravinsky… He also premiered works for orchestra by Louis Vierne, Georges Enesco and Darius Milhaud.

He composed in all genres. His chamber music and piano repertoire are especially beautiful, but he also wrote numerous oratorios, comic operas and ballets.

You can listen to his Canzonetta  op. 19 for flute and piano here, as performed by Alain Marion and Louise-André Baril.

A really cool classical journey

13 August 2012

If you were in Place des Arts on Saturday, you probably got caught in a friendly human sea: people everywhere, some in transit, other marching with an intent. Some were waiting for the next concert, for friends. Others were hoping that an extra ticket would materialize somewhere (almost all 20 concerts were sold out). You could also spend a few – or several – minutes listening to one of the  free workshops/lectures given at Place Deschamps. I caught OSM Trumpet Solo Paul Merkelo explaining how his instrument worked, even coaxing a volunteer in “giving it a try.” There was also a luthier who was explaining the differences between various essences of wood. Several asked for pinwheels (and I’m not just talking about the under 12 crowd, far from it), quite a few were massed in front of the table where you could get t-shirts and CDs. Between two concerts, you could rush to get a bite (sometime at a rather untimely hour) and exchange impressions with fellow “journeyers.” While I was filling my water bottle in Complexe Desjardins, I overheard a lady telling her friend: “A full day of music is sooooo refreshing!” Indeed…

The Cool Classical Journey has certainly proven, 15 000 times over that, even in the middle of a very warm and humid summer, people still longed for some great music! A wonderful idea of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, that should be back next summer. You’ll just have to take your vacation at another time!

The Gazette was there as well. Here is what Arthur Kaptainis thought of the event…


Take the cool classical journey

9 August 2012

You thought you could just relax and sleep in on Saturday? Impossible! This would mean you’d be missing the Cool classical journey, a very inclusive event organised by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, to invest three venues of the Quartier des spectacles (Maison symphonique de Montréal, Cinquième Salle and Studio-Théâtre) from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Numerous international soloists and young and upcoming artists will be part of the 20 concerts (about 45 minutes long each), featuring best-loved works of the repertoire as well as a couple of very interesting less-performed pieces. Here are some concerts not to be missed.

To start the day off, at 11, Kent Nagano will lead the OSM in Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, “classical” and the popular Mendelssohn Violin Concerto as performed by Christian Tetzlaff. At 4:15, they’ll join cellist Tania Tetzlaff in Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. Gounod’s Petite Symphonie is also on the program. In the same hall, at 6, Jean-François Rivest leads the Orchestre de l’Académie Orford in Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, “Haffner” while Andrew Wan, concertmaster of the OSM performs “Fall” and “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Meanwhile, in the 5e Salle, the newly formed Chamber Chorus of the OSM will sing Monteverdi’s Madrigals of War and Love at 11:30 a.m. Pianist Marika Bournaki (spokesperson of the event) will launch festivities in Studio-Théâtre at noon.  Ssoprano Aline Kutan, clarinettist André Moisan (also spokesperson of the event) and pianist Louise-Andrée Baril will perform Schubert, Lachner and Spohr lieder at 1:30 p.m., young Québécois cellist Stéphane Tétreault will play Franck’s Sonata at 4:30, soprano Marianne Fiset sing Schumann and Puccini at 7 and pianist Serhiy Salov attacks Balakirev’s Islamey and Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition at 7:30 p.m.

The event will come to a spectacular close with a 9:15 concert at Maison symphonique with the OSM under Kent Nagano in Rossini’s overture to William Tell and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto (with Christian Tetzlaff, Tanja Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt).

Details here…


Classical music reaches orphans in Irak

6 August 2012

I just love inspiring stories… Following in the footsteps of Venezula’s El Sistema, the former conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra Karim Wasfi has launched a project to classically train orphans to become musicians.  Wasfi first distributed hats and T-shirts to the children to peak their interest and then introduced them to musical instruments.

“My concern from the beginning was how to deal with another segment of the society, a segment which is badly and unjustly treated by circumstances, namely the orphans. The main idea of this project was to attract orphans without using any media methods or political reasons or any sort of public relations methods. Thank God, we are away from all this. Simply I wanted to create an experience that is similar to that of Venezuela where the orchestra has expanded to comprise more than 340 male and female players,” he said.

Founded in 2007, Wasfi’s House of Music, a free program, offers classes on all western and oriental instruments, with special emphasis on ensemble playing.

“We offer them space, musical instruments, classes, lectures and accommodation at the center free of charge. They will be safe and protected and at the same time they will receive knowledge free of charge in order to give them a chance to add a new side to their lives, a practical and a professional one, which can benefit them in the future. And at the same time they are forming an orchestra, which can perform at the same places where they used to beg,” he said.

You can read the full article here…

OSM and André Laplante at Lanaudière

2 August 2012

The Festival de Lanaudière’s 35th edition is already coming to a close. This weekend, you will be able to hear the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under Kent Nagano’s diection not once but twice, in complementary programs, centered around cornerstones of the symphonic repertoire.

Pianist André Laplante will be the guest soloist tomorrow night in Mozart’s Concerto K. 467 “Elvira Madigan.” The OSM will then perform Brahms’ First Symphony. (Details here…) If you prefer Russian power and virtuosity, you’re in for a treat on Saturday with Mussorgsky’s lavish Pictures at an Exhibition (in the Ravel orchestration) and Stravinsky’s mythical Rite of Spring. (Details there…)

Until then, you may want to listen to André Laplante in Liszt’s Years of Pilgrimage  and to the OSM in another masterpiece that changed how we listen to music,  Beethoven’s Ninth