Archive pour December, 2014

Alain Lefèvre on Chopin’s Preludes

29 December 2014

The album was launched in the fall and has garnered positive reviews. Alain Lefèvre thought carefully about tempi, the way to use the pedal and how to give those beloved pieces a brand new take. Enjoy!

To listen to the complete album…

Merry Christmas

25 December 2014

In our era of technology, which keeps pushing back its limits, Christmas remains the most classic of celebration – the landscape all white with snow, sleigh bells ringing in the distance announcing the arrival of Santa Claus, the fire crackling in the fireplace, delightful aromas wafting throughout the house, relatives and friends closely united. Once a year everyone feels the need to stop awhile and rediscover a little of that too often forgotten magic. “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men…”   

To listen to other albums featuring the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal

The holidays’ spirit

22 December 2014

Here once again is the season of gift lists, shimmering lights, overloaded Christmas trees and fancy meals, but also of music associated with this great feast of love and sharing. Whether you prefer traditional canticles such as Silent Night, Deck the Halls, Trois anges sont venus ce soir or Minuit chrétiens, old carols such as The Holy Boy, the classical Nutcracker, the inspired lyricism of Gesù Bambino or the cheerfulness of Carol of the Bells, no matter what the time or circumstances, Analekta has the perfect album to accompany you while you are baking cookies, are dining with the in-laws or spending the evening cuddled up in your favourite blanket.

Take advantage of the holidays’ promotion on the following albums:

Adeste Fideles with the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal

Avec Maria with Daniel Taylor and the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal

Gloria – Vivaldi and his angels  by Ensemble Caprice

Noël à Darmstadt, music by Graupner as performed by Les Idées heureuses

You will also like Noël with Angèle Dubeau & La PietàAround Christmas with Valérie Milot and Antoine Bareil, Petit Noël with Alain Lefèvre and our Christmas album, exclusively for downloads…

If trees could play

19 December 2014

Yes, of course, you can tell a tree’s age – and even some of its “personal” story – by looking at its rings. This is one way specialists were able to assess that the wood used for Stradivarius violins was special and that the weather in those years might have played a decisive role on the density – and quality – of the wood. But what if trees could speak for themselves, tell their story? Am I trying to get you to read a fairy tale? Not quite…

Bartholomäus Traubeck has created a machine that more or less “translate’ tree rings into music when you put them on a turntable. Of course, you don’t use a regular diamond needle to so, but rather sensors that gather information about the wood’s color and texture. An algorithm them translates this information into piano notes, each tree having its own individualized tune as a result. He even produced an album (released on vinyle of course) featuring various essences:  spruce, ash, oak, maple, alder, walnut, and beech trees.  

How does it sound? Quite mesmerizing…

YEARS from Bartholomäus Traubeck on Vimeo.

An orchestra is essential to a city’s music scene

17 December 2014

We were quite saddened to learn last week that Orchestra London would be cancelling two mid-December concerts in response to an acute cash-flow crisis.  According to reports in the London Free Press, representatives from the orchestra are scheduled to report to London City Council later this week, in an effort to obtain short-term relief and save the remainder of the 2014-15 season, while a new business model and plan are developed.

Young cellist Fiona Robson, 17, wrote an essay on Orchestra London’s impact for the London Free Press earlier this week, a real cry from the heart.

“I’ve been taking cello lessons from an Orchestra London member for eight years, and her colleagues have coached me in chamber music and orchestra. Watching your teacher perform is different than seeing them demonstrate in the studio; it is truly inspiring.

So is listening to and learning from the amazing soloists who come to play with the orchestra: Shauna Rolston, Janina Fialkowska, Annette-Barbara Vogel, Jan Lisiecki, Tom Wiebe.

This orchestra is an invaluable part of music education, and music education is important. It teaches creativity, cognitive skills, teamwork, history, dedication. It teaches everything.

If the orchestra disappears, how can the musicians stay here? It’s a major part of their livelihood. If they leave, what do the students do? We need our teachers.

Simply put, if the orchestra goes, it will undermine London’s music community.”

To read the complete article…

International Tango Day

11 December 2014

December 11 is International Tango Day since, in 1977, the Decrete No. 3781 stated so.

Tango was born around 1880 in the popular neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Montevideo (Uruguay), but it is mostly in Buenos Aires that the tango really took flight. At the end of the 19th century, several immigrants arrived in Buenos Aires, mainly from Italy and Spain. Most were young men and the city’s population soon was made up of 70 % men. It was then most essential to be an excellent dancer if you wanted to get the girl.

Immigrants brought with them traditional songs and dances. Argentinian tango is in fact a mix of several dances: the habanera from Cuba, the contradanza from Spain, the Spanish tango, the German waltz, the African candombe and the Argentinian milonga.

A few milestones

1870                Several European immigrants arrive in Buenos Aires. They bring with them dances from their native countries.

1880                Birth of the tango

1900                Tango becomes more popular and is associated with street fairs and popular balls.

1910                Young Argentinians with money study in Paris and tango fever soon spreads to the French capital

1920                Tango is adopted by Parisians.

                        Carlos Gardel becomes an international star and the voice of tango.

1935-1950      Tango’s golden age.

1950                Tango becomes less and less popular, even in Argentina

Astor Piazzolla integrate classical music elements to the tango and calls it nuevo tango (new tango).

1980                Tango once again becomes popular, thanks to shows and world tours of specialised groups. 

Today             Tango is now danced all over the world and several groups integrate it to their compositions.

A couple of albums to get into the tango mood…

Tango Dreams by Alexander Sevastian

Tango nuevo by the GryphonTrio

Silence on joue with Angèle Dubeau et La Pietà for Por una cabeza

An Analekta album showcased in Brussels

9 December 2014

I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Brussels last week and to visit the exceptional Museum of Musical Instruments, first item on my to-do list! In this wonderful space (an old department store), I was able to learn more about the history of the saxophone and other instruments associated with Adolphe Sax, to discover magnificent instruments from the past centuries, others from various parts of the world and other considered “mecanical” (mecanical piano, organ grinder, theremin, Ondes Martenot, etc.)

MIM, Brussels
Impossible for me to skip the visit to the museum’s boutique after the couple of hours I spent at the museum (a great system grants you the chance to listen to several of the instruments you can see in the museum). What a nice surprise to find in the featured CDs the Franck, Lekeu (both from Belgium) and Mathieu album from brothers Alain and David Lefèvre! Yet another proof that music travels well and that our Canadian artists are recognised abroad as much as here!
seen at the museum shop

Beethoven: a few biographical elements

5 December 2014

Beethoven is regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of music and was considered a genius during his lifetime. He was celebrated for his concertos, symphonies, and chamber music. In addition to those works, he also penned thirty-two piano sonatas.

Beethoven was born on December 16 or 17 in Bonn, Germany. He showed an interest in music at a very early age, and received his first piano lessons from his father. He composed his first piece at the age of twelve and, two years later, was appointed as organist of the court of the Prince Elector of Cologne, a town not far from Bonn.

In 1787, he paid his first visit to Vienna, Austria, to further his musical education under a thirty-one-year-old Mozart. However, due to his mother’s deteriorating health, he had to return home. Five years later, Beethoven met Joseph Haydn, another composer, who suggested he return to Vienna to study under him. Mozart had died in 1791, and Count Waldstein wrote him a letter, in which he said: “Dear Beethoven, you are going to Vienna to realize a long-desired wish: the genius of Mozart is still in mourning and weeps for the death of its disciple. In the inexhaustible Haydn, it has found a refuge, but no occupation. By incessant application, receive Mozart’s spirit from Haydn’s hands.”

In 1800, Beethoven wrote his First Symphony, which would be followed by eight others, which are still played today by orchestras around the world. Around this time, he would begin to lose his hearing, but it did not discourage him and he continued to compose music, even when he became profoundly deaf. He would hear the notes in his head and transcribe them onto paper.

On December 22, 1808, Viennese audiences had the chance to hear one of the most spectacular concerts ever, consisting exclusively of works by Beethoven. That night, they heard the premieres of the Fifth and Sixth symphonies, the Piano Concerto No. 4, and the Choral Fantasy, as well as assorted vocal works. It was a remarkable program of music!

Beethoven died on March 26, 1827 in Vienna. In a final tribute to the great composer, more than 10,000 people attended his funeral. At one point in the proceedings, his coffin had to be closed because too many people wanted to snip off a lock of his hair as a keepsake. It is, in fact, thanks to one of these preserved samples that, a few years ago, researchers were able to discover that a genetic inability to eliminate lead from his body had been to blame for his deafness and some of his illnesses.

The poet Franz Grillparzer wrote in his funeral oration: “He withdrew from mankind after he had given them his all and received nothing in return. He dwelt alone, because he found no second Self. But to the end his heart beat warm for all men.” 

You can listen to the complete Beethoven symphonies as performed by the OSM under Kent Nagano here…

Anton Webern

2 December 2014

Anton Webern was born on December 3, 1883 and died near Salzburg in 1945. The circumstances of his death are not known in details, but we know that on September 15, 1945 in the evening, he went out on the terrace of his home to smokie a cigar, forgetting the curfew. He was killed by mistake by an American sentry, Raymond Norwood Bell.

Webern studied composition with Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), one of the first composers to embrace atonal writing. The first published work of Webern, Passacaglia (1908), is also the piece he completed as his final assignment. With Schoenberg and Alban Berg (another student of Schoenberg), they form what was called the Second Viennese School (in opposition to the “First Viennese School”: composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert).

Also a conductor (in small provincial theaters), Anton Webern was considered a great interpreter of the works that were dear to him, including those of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler and, of course, those of Schoenberg, Berg and his.

When the Nazi party came to power in Austria in 1938, Webern’s music has been labeled “cultural Bolshevism”. Having trouble making a living, he became a writer and editor for home Universal, who published his works.

Although his music has been almost completely ignored in his lifetime, however, it has influenced the writing of Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. It is becoming increasingly popular today and occupies a privileged place in the twentieth century repertoire. Stravinsky had admirably summed it up: “Doomed to total failure in a deaf world of ignorance and indifference, he inexorably kept on cutting out his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds, of whose mines he had a perfect knowledge.”

I invite you to discover or rediscover his LangsamerSatz (slow movement), played by the Cecilia String Quartet, which was inspired by a mountain walk with the woman who would become his wife. Filled with love, he signed a work that beautifully conveys the upheavals of the soul, the fervent love eventually find a blessed relief.