Archive pour February, 2014

Launch of the Blanc Album

27 February 2014
Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà at the launch of the Blanc album (Photo: Laurence Labat) 

It was Tuesday night, at Galerie Gora, that Blanc, Angèle Dubeau’s 38th album, was launched. After having had to retire from the musical scene to fight breast cancert, the violinist came back strong with a wish to share her story in music, but also to accompany other women facing cancer.

After having received hundreds of support messages, the idea of the album came alive. All the pieces were chosen because somehow they channell light and hope.

“BLANC like purity and serenity. BLANC for luminous music that can bring interior peace through its strength and powerful evocation. Fully charged emotions that reflect the strange solitude found in illness.

After months of battle against cancer, music has been my focal point, it has brought me comfort, tranquillity and sometimes, an escape. This music is of Brubeck, Dompierre, Golijov, Hisaishi, Morricone, Mozetich, Munsey, O’Connor, Phillips, Sakamoto, Schyman and Stevens. A music without artifice, real and filled with hope.

Mitsou, François Mario Labbé and Angèle Dubeau (Photo: Laurence Labat)

This album tells my story, the story of a woman like many others who had to fight against illness and, serenely, came out of it stronger.”

Angèle Dubeau and Mitsou (Photo: Laurence Labat) 

The album features 14 pieces and ends with a magnificent version (orchestrated by Mégo) of Shawn Philips’ classic Woman.

Mitsou, spokesperson for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, was present at the launch and saluted the violinist’s courage.

For each CD that is sold, 2 $ will be given to the Foundation.

You can listen and download the album here…


Ready for a Bach marathon?

24 February 2014

Some have already accepted that they won’t sleep next Saturday because of the Nuit Blanche in Montreal. You could also decide to spend the whole day with one composer, the father of them all, Bach! Why not join Ensemble Caprice for a Bach Marathon? It will feature all of Bach’s chamber music, in 4 concerts: 16 sonatas performed by 8 different musicians (each time 2 or 3 will perform):  violinists Olivier Brault and Jörg Michael Schwartz, flutists Sophie Larivière and Matthias Maute,  harpsichordists Jean-Willy Kunz (also OSM organist in residence), Mélisande McNabney and Dongsok Shin, as well as Susie Napper.

Each concert will be preceded by a lecture – or rather a dialogue between – Matthias Maute and a guest.

All the details here…



Intimate Mozart

20 February 2014

When one thinks of the word concerto, one instantly imagines an orchestra fighting – and sometimes playing with – the soloist. One doesn’t imagine the orchestral texture as something that can be warm, intimate even. Nevertheless, Mozart had no problem with the idea that some of his concertos could be performed as chamber music items, “a quattro”, the pianist having a conversation with just a few chosen musicians rather than 40 or 60. Under that light, the works shine differently and one can feel from within the tenderness and the care with which Mozart dealt with melodic lines. This is the angle taken with this new album featuring Mozart’s Concerto Nos. 13 and 14, the first on the Analekta label for 15-year-old pianist 

Mozart Karin Nagano

Karin Kei Nagano (daughter of maestro Kent Nagano and pianist Mari Kodama), who shares the limelight with the Cecilia String Quartet.

In a letter to his father in Salzburg, Mozart described these concertos from 1782 as “a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which the connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why.”

Already saluted on the international stage, Karin Kei Nagano has won the first prize and jury special prize at the Scriabin International Competition (2007), first prize and best performance of a work at the Berlin International Competition (2007), as well as first prize at the Anton Rubinstein International Competition (2009-2010).

To can download and listen to this new album here…

Classical violinist turned Olympian

17 February 2014

Classical music and sports? Really? Well, the two have joined paths more than once over the last few weeks. Soprano Renée Fleming sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl early February, and Russian-born diva Anna Netrebko performed the Olympic Anthem at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. Tomorrow, it will be a different story as British violinist Vanessa-Mae will ski in the women’s giant slalom tomorrow.

The popular – and very rich – crossover artist has apparently long dreamed of a second life as an Olympic alpine skier and she will be able to achieve just that as one of the two athletes from Thailand to take part in the Sochi Olympics. Yes, her ranking is nothing extraordinary (try No. 2 253), but how many will go down those slopes on Tuesday? Exactly. She did take an hiatus from her performing schedule to make it to Russia. “I have no delusions about a podium or even being in the top 100 in the world,” she told Reuters last year. “Just to qualify for the Olympics in my hobby would be a dream come true for me.”

Wonder what she will be listening to just before she hits the giant slalom slope tomorrow…



Steve Reich wins big

13 February 2014

Steve Reich just became  the first American composer to be awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Contemporary Music category, a hefty cash prize of €400,000 (approx. $570,000). Seven other prizes recognizing achievements were as well awarded in the following categories: Basic Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics); Biomedicine; Ecology and Conservation Biology; Information and Communication Technologies; Economics, Finance and Management; Climate Change; and Development Cooperation. Previious recipients in the Contemporary Music category include Pierre Boulez, Salvatore Sciarrino, Helmut Lachenmann, and Cristóbal Halffter. The awarded were established in 2008.

The jury of peers noted how Reich “has carved out new paths, fostering a dialogue between popular and high culture and between western modernity and non-European traditions, and achieving a rich combination of complexity and transparency.” They also saluted his ability to attract the widest, most varied audiences “by engaging frontally with world issues, from the Israeli-Palestine conflict to the 9/11 attacks, as well as contemporary problems like the relations between faith and science and technology.”

The Moldau

10 February 2014

The groundhog told us last week that we still had (at least) six more weeks of winter. What better reason to escape somewhere, at least in spirit! We could for example follow the Vltava River, the longest with in the Czech Republic, best know under its German nickname, The Moldau, certainly Bedrich Smetana’s most famous work?

Smetana is regarded not only as the first Czech composer of international stature but as the musical personification of his country’s national spirit. Into a cycle of six symphonic poems, collectively known as Má Vlast (My Fatherland), Smetana shared with brio his patriotism, loyalty and love for his country. The works follows the course of this river from its modest beginnings as a brook, its journey through Bohemia’s valleys and woods as it passes by a hunting party (vigorous horns), and later wood and water nymphs playing in its sparkling waves at night, and still later fortresses and castles, flowing ever onwards towards Prague and its famous castle of Vyšehrad perched high on a rock, after which it eventually vanishes in the distance.

 Harpist Valérie Milot performs it here (as part of her Aquarelles album).

If Mozart had a Facebook account

6 February 2014

Yes, of course, even if he’s dead, you can “like” Mozart on Facebook. (By the way, if you do, it seems that it means you have a higher IQ. Not sure how this can be measured but, oh well…) But did you stop to think what would Mozart’s Facebook page have looked like? Like everyone else, he would have shared information about his wedding, the birth of his children, the premiere of an opera. He may have had exchanges on his wall with Haydn or even Beethoven. (Why would he have chosen not to respond to an invitation to meet up in Vienna? This escapes me…)

In those days when the social network celebrates its 10th anniversary and even designed “personal” down memory lane videos for all of its users (Big Brother is watching), Classic FM took it a step further and gave us a glimpse of what Mozart might have posted online. Mozart's FB



4 ways to hear more in music

3 February 2014

You love the music you love, but do you know why? What makes you tick? What prompts you to listen to it over and over again? If you listen even more intently, you may even love it even more, since the more you understand how composers manipulate material — rhythm, melody, harmony and colour — the better your experience will get.

This very insightful blog from Anastasia Tsioulcas offers a series of questions that could help you better understand how music works, for example:

About rythm

  • Does the music move quickly, or slowly, or somewhere in between?
  • Do certain rhythms pop up again and again? 


  • How big is the range of pitches you hear?
  • Is there a main melody that the composer returns to again and again or uses as a springboard, or are the ideas more diffused?


  • Do the lines move in the same direction as or away from each other (or some of both) — and when they come to rest, how does it sound? 


  • How does the composer partner up instruments?
  • Does she or he use very familiar combinations, like a string quartet or a much more unusual array?  

You can read all about it (with musical examples), here…