Archive pour April, 2013

Outdoor pianos to be back on Le Plateau

29 April 2013

Last year’s program “Pianos des villes, pianos des champs” on Le Plateau Mt-Royal was so popular that the mayor of the burrough Luc Ferrandez announced last week that it would come back this year. “We were suprised last year to find out how many pianists of talent were hiding in their basemant. When they are out on the street, magic happens.” Other burroughts, including Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, are strongly considering to join the movement.

The pianos of Le Plateau will be

From June 4 to August 4

  • At the corner of Mont-Royal  and Henri-Julien
  • At the corner of  Marie-Anne and Saint-Denis
  • At the corner of  Prince-Arthur and Saint-Laurent
  • In front of the Mile-End Library

From August 6 to September 29

  • At the corner of  Saint-Denis and Laurier
  • At the corner of  Saint-Denis and Duluth
  • At the corner of  Mont-Royal and Papineau
  • At the corner of  Saint-Laurent and Rachel

Happy 122nd!

25 April 2013

Born on April 27, 1891, Sergei Prokofiev got his first piano lessons from his mother, an amateur pianist. Very precocious, he was already composing short pieces at six and, by nine, had written an opera for kids, The Giant.

In 1904, he entered the St. Petersburgh Conservatory, where he studied orchestration with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (composer of Sheherazade and the famous Flight of the Bumble Bee) and piano with Anna Essipova. It is with his very own Concerto for piano No. 1 that he graduated from the Conservatory in 1914.

In 1918, after the October Revolution, Prokofiev left Russia for the USA. He then lived in Paris and travelled all around the world, with multiple tours in Germany, the USA, Canada, Cuba and Italy. In 1933, he finally goes back to the USSR.

Besides Peter and the Wolf, an instant hit since its premiere in 1936, Prokofiev has composed the operas The Love of the Three Oranges (1921) and War and Peace (1942), seven symphonies, nine concertos, the ballets Romeo and Juliet (1938) and Cinderella (1944) as well as music for the cinema.

You can reconnect with him here in his violin sonatas, as performed by Benjamin Beilman, winner of the First Grand Prize of the MIMC in 2010. (This year’s edition is once again devoted to the violin.)


Behind the scenes: the Adagio recording

22 April 2013

The Ensemble Caprice was in studio – well, actually in a church as you can see – for their upcoming album, Adagio, to be released next Fall. (Yes, we’ll have to be patient about this!) The recording session went wonderfully well and all were really excited when it concluded. Matthias Maute went so far as to say that they were “on fire.”

Here are some photos of that recording session, just for you. 

De Analekta
De Analekta
De Analekta

Dorothy Taubman dies

18 April 2013

Her name may not be one that music lovers  but several pianists have at one point or another attended a Taubman Technique seminar or at least read about the technique, developed by Dorothy Taubman in the early 1950s to help pianists strengthen their techniques and avoid repetitive strain injuries

Musicians often suffer repetitive strain injuries from long hours of practice and must then turn to physical therapy, ice packs, massage, acupuncture or surgery for relief. Ms. Taubman thought prevention was better than cure and that most problems could be avoided with a more ergonomic approach, that would in turn bring greater artistry to the performer’s playing, once he feels “liberated” from physical worries. “The body is capable of fulfilling all pianistic demands without a violation of its nature if the most efficient ways are used; pain, insecurity, and lack of technical control are symptoms of incoordination rather than a lack of practice, intelligence, or talent,” Ms. Taubman once said.

Some of the advocates of the technique include Edna Golandsky, a former student who runs the Golandsky Institute, and Yoheved Kaplinsky, chairman of the piano department at Juilliard.

Ms. Taubman died on April 3 in Brooklyn. She was 95.

You may read an article about her in The New York Times.

Stradivarius trees: Searching for perfect musical wood

15 April 2013

BBC News has published a most interesting article over the weekend about Stradivarius trees. No, they have not quite found the secret to the perfect wood or the recipee of the mysterious varnish. Nevertheless, here is a fascinating portrait of a man who fosters trees like others children, Lorenzo Pellegrini. This man has been working in or tending a forest since he was nine. Now 83, he still climbs trees and weeds out the beech trees that would smother his precious spruces. “For the trees to grow slowly and regularly, you have to let them grow close together like the hair on your head,” he says.

You can read about him and Jean-Michel Capt, who uses resonance wood to make guitars, here…

Innovations and orchestras

11 April 2013

Things are moving quickly in the world of orchestras and technology. For example, the Philharmonia Orchestra and its music director Esa-Pekka Salonen launched  The Orchestra, an application for iPad and other tablets. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to discover no less than three centuries of music, from Haydn to Salonen. You can listen to video performances, with multiple camera shots, but also read the score (surimposed on the screen) or just wander around the various sections of the orchestra. All this is ponctuated by insightful remarks by conductor and musicians.

After having released last fall the first ever orchestral ringtones for cellphones, the Brussels Philharmonic decided to say goodbye to the good old paper scores and now works exclusively with tablets. It may seem a tad paradoxal, but this bold – and ecological – move garnered  more press than a well-oiled international tour. What a way to turn a buzz in a bonus! Gunther Broucke, the Brussels Philharmonic intendant, stated: “You must play well, give good concerts, record good CDs, but that’s not enough. We want to be innovative.”

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal will tip its toe in the technological pool next Tuesday (the day of the release of its brand new Mahler album, already available at a special price for download). Its Maison symphonique de Montréal concert will be broadcast live on Considering that the symphonic audience doesn’t seem to be getting any younger, isn’t it a great idea to offer a great concert experience in the comfort of one’s home?


Two for the violin

8 April 2013

The concertmasters of Canada’s two leading symphony orchestra, also members of the new Orford Quartet, Jonathan Crow (current concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and former concertmaster of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal) and Andrew Wan (current concertmaster of the OSM) team up tonight at Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur in a concert featuring duos from the 20th and 21st centuries. The concert features Schnittke,Prokofiev, Bartok, Berio, Takemitsu, and the premiere of twho commissions from Quebec composers Michael Oesterle (Eulerian Dances( and Maxime McKinley (Sept proximités).

More info and tickets here…

RIP Jean Cousineau

5 April 2013

The violinist, composer (he wrote among other thins the score for the film Mon oncle Antoine) and teacher Jean Cousineau passed away yesterday. He was 75. In 1965, he founded  a music school for young violionists, after a method he invented himself, inspired by those of Schinichi  Suzuki. Ten years later, in 1974, he established Les Petits Violons, an ensemble for the more advanced, which has performed since then in numerous festivals. A professional ensemble bearing his name is also in residence at the school since 2010.

Mr Cousineau has shared his loved of music with his children, who all work as professional musicians today. Marie-Claire is artistic director and teacher at the École Les Petits Violons, Yukari, concertmaster at the Orchestre Métropolitain and Nicolas, cellist and teacher. Our deepest sympathy to family and friends. He also thaught numerous other professionnal artists, including Angèle Dubeau.

I met him in 2001 for an interview. I remember him as a passsionate man, who believed in the necessity to transmit his instrument to young musicians and music to all. You can read the interview here (in French)… 


2 April 2013

Guitar players and movie buffs may know him better than most people. Born on April 3, 1895, Mario Castenuovo-Tedesco is nevertheless a very prolific composer, who published no less than 210 opus numbers. With a palette that is mostly impressionist and neo-romantic, its music has its roots in the Italian, Jewish and Spanish traditions.

His numerous works for piano and guitar are often conceived as miniature symphonic poems. Quite a few are inspired by readings of great masters, join forces with poetry or were written for the stage. He of course wrote songs, but also program music (for ballet, theatre, opera, cinema, puppets…), on texts by William Shakespeare, Federico Garcia Lorca, John Keats, Walt Whitman, Juan Ramón Jiménez and many others. The last decades of his life were spent in the United States, where he wrote the music for more than 200 films, after he fled antisemit politics in Italy. He died on March 16, 1968, in Los Angeles.

He held strong ties to Spain, in part thanks to his encouter with Andrés Segovia in Venice in 1932. This led him to writing his first guitar concerto, to become his favourite instrument, for which he wrote about one hundred works, including this Cappricio diabolico, to be heard on an album by Rémi Boucher, here…