Archive pour February, 2015

The serenade

27 February 2015

Yes, of course, everyone knows Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, most certainly the most famous serenade of them all. But what exactly is a serenade? It is simply a musical composition generally performed in the evening, in someone’s honour.

In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, this type of work was written by a lover to play under the window of his lady. Think of Romeo under Juliet’s balcony, declaring his love for her.

During the Baroque period, the serenade was performed out of doors to entertain guests. Because it was played in the open air, they could use instruments such as trumpets, drums, and horns that would be too loud in a small room.

In the Classical period, when Mozart was composing, it would be known as a divertimento, a lighthearted work, intended to entertain. It would be scored for small ensembles of between ten to twenty instruments at most.

The serenade didn’t die in the Romantic era, far from it. One of the most poignant ones may be Tchaikovsky’s Serenade mélancolique, a piece for solo violin and orchestra. You can listen to it here, as performed by Angèle Dubeau.

A new album devoted to Einaudi

24 February 2015

Einaudi

Ludovico Einaudi is one of the most beloved contemporary composers in the world. An Internet sensation, he performs hundreds of times a year all over the world and his works are saluted by the specialised press but often awaited with much anticipation by his huge loyal audience. Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà’s latest installment in the Portrait series is devoted to the Italian composer. Here is what Angèle Dubeau has to say about this project.

Portrait is a string of recordings presenting contemporary composers with a unique musical signature. Ludovico Einaudi is one of them. This grand and prolifi c Italian composer creates works that dwell within us for a long time. A music which captivates the listener, a sonic landscape to discover. Starting from the original versions starring this composer and brilliant pianist, I wished to explore these works with my violin, surrounded by the wonderful musicians of my string orchestra La Pietà. This is a revisit of his music, changing its texture, rethinking its character while bringing a new sonic dimension. I am happy to share with you my latest musical highlight. Enjoy the music!”

The recording is offered exclusively on the Analekta website this week. Be the first to discover it!

 

Happy birthday Czerny

20 February 2015

Czerny

Yes, young pianists certainly know very well Carl Czerny (born on February 20, 1791, who died on July 15, 1857, in Vienna), but let’s just say that most of them don’t love him to pieces. It is in difficult to feel much warmth when you have spent countless hours fighting with some of the his studies, whether from his School of Virtuosity or other collections.

Nevertheless, Czerny plays an important role in music history as the link between Beethoven and Liszt. Indeed, Beethoven was Czerny’s teacher and Liszt, his student. 

Czerny’s output features 861 published opus numbers plus a great deal of unpublished material, including 4 symphonies (in addition to two published symphonies), 30 string quartets and innumerable religious works for voices and orchestra. 

Czerny himself divided his music into 4 categories: 1) Studies and exercises; 2) Easy pieces for students; 3) Brilliant pieces for concerts; and 4) Serious music. The Piano Sonatas certainly can be included in the latter category.

You can listen to two of them, as performed by Anton Kuerti, here…

Helen Callus and Luc Beauséjour’s latest album gets rave reviews

17 February 2015

Fathers and Sons: Music from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Circle in LeipzigKrebs, violist Helen Callus and harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour’s latest collaboration, featuring works by Bach, Abel and Krebs, continue to get rare reviews. It was recently on Ici Radio-Canada’s Médium large and Frédéric Lambert (himself a violist) was delighted by the album.

“Let’s talk for a little while about the works,” he explained. “We have those three sonatas for viola da gamba by Bach – of course transcriptions from viola da gamba to cello to viola. Krebs and Abel’s works are also transcriptions, made by none other than the performer. As such, they can be considered premieres. She is the one who did the arrangements and I find this process astounding. We must expand the repertoire of this period, when the viola was not well represented. As a solo instrument, it really begins much later. To tell you the truth, what I liked the best about this album was the Abel.

It is a very beautiful disc, which grants us the chance to know important works. It also deals with the relationships between Bach and the two other composers, which he influenced a lot. The two other are less known, but it truly is a beautiful album…”

You can listen to the broadcast (in French) here…

Celebrate love

13 February 2015

As far back as you can go back, lovers have inspired artists, whether star-crossed or not. “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, /And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind,” wrote Shakespeare in A Midsummer’s Night Dream, one of his plays most infused with love. In numerous ancient cultures, love had to be sung for the other to be convinced of the depth of the feelings. It is then not surprising that several composers wrote again and again about this ever so evanescent notion. After all, as Platon had stated, “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” 

Here are a few suggestions of albums that could make your Valentine’s Day celebrations even more memorable:

L’heure rose: French melodies written by women, performed by Hélène Guilmette and Martin Dubé

Love’s Minstrels: an incursion into English repertoire from the beginning of the 20th century, with Philippe Sly and Michael McMahon

Serata d’amore: difficult to find anything more romantic than Italian classics, sung by Gino Quilico

Trobairitz: something else completely, poems from troubadour women

Amoroso: amorous chamber music works filled with depth, performed by the Cecilia String Quartet

Dvořák the master

10 February 2015

Antonín Dvořák was born in a small village in Bohemia (then part of the Austrian Empire), the eldest in a family of eight children. His father, an innkeeper, was an amateur musician; he played the zither, and Dvořák’s two uncles played the violin and the trumpet. From the age of five, Antonín played the violin in the family’s inn and was also a member of the village orchestra. In 1859, Dvořák joined the orchestra of Karel Komzák as a violist. To supplement his income, he gave music lessons and began to dedicate himself more fully to composition, essentially teaching himself his craft.

In 1875, he was awarded an Austrian state grant for “young, talented, and poor artists” on the strength of his Third Symphony. Word of Dvořák’s talents reached Johannes Brahms, who recommended the young composer to his editor. It marked the beginning of an international success that continued unabated and a loyal friendship between the two composers that only ended with Brahms’ death.  

Dvořák’s major works, which were often infused with Czech folk idioms, include nine symphonies (including his “New World”); operas (such as Rusalka); choral, profane, and sacred works; chamber music; and concertos.

You can hear and download his Thirtheenth String Quartet, one of his most achieved works, composed in just a few short weeks, as performed by the Cecilia String Quartet here…

Fathers and Sons

5 February 2015

Krebs

It is when you take a good look at the relationships between musicians and composers that you discover when and how classical music has made its way towards us. Fathers and Sons, violist Helen Callus and harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour‘s latest project, takes a very close look at those close ties.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s influence is undeniable, whether on his sons or on the members of his inner circle, which included Karl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787) and Johann Tobias Krebs (1690-1762). They were students of the master, but also friends and associates. The works featured here, adapted for viola by Helen Callus, certainly demonstrate how Bach had established a close relationship with both of them.

Indeed, it seems that it was for composer and gamba virtuoso Karl Friedrich Abel that Bach wrote his 3 sonatas for viola di gamba.  They are presented here on the viola by Helen Callus. Also from Abel, you can listen to his Sonata No. 2 in E minor, written at the end of his career to impress Prussia’s crown prince. You can also discover Johann Tobias Kreb’s Trio in C minor for two keyboards and bass. His gifts as organist were saluted time and again by Bach. The filiation with the Cantor of Leipzig is easily understood here as well.

Hailed as “one of the world’s greatest violists” (American Record Guide), and “one of the foremost violists of her generation” (Fanfare magazine), Helen Callus continues to captivate audiences with her lyrical tone, technical command, and profound artistry. She is brilliantly accompanied here by virtuoso Luc Beauséjour.

To listen and download the album…

 

Analekta artists honored at the Prix Opus Gala

2 February 2015

Despite polar weather, there was certainly heat, sunshine and dance at the 18th edition of the Prix Opus Gala, held yesterday at the Salle Bourgie du Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. The event was hosted by Stanley Péan from ICI Musique and musicologist Pierre Vachon. Several people performed throughout the afternoon, including Quartom, the Consort Laurentia, Fandango, OSM organist in residence Jean-Willy Kunz, equilibrist Geneviève Drolet and dancers under Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière’s direction.

Les Violons du Roy left with the Prix Opus Concert of the year – Québec for Solomon, Ensemble Caprice with Concert of the year – medieval, Renaissance, baroque, classical repertoire for its performance of Vivaldi’s Juditha triumphans. Pianist Louise Bessette was named Performer of the Year. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal won two awards: International achievements and Musical event of the year, jointly with  the Palais Montcalm for the concerts presented for the opening of the new Casavant organs.

On the contemporary music side, the Premiere of the year award went to Pierre Michaud’s opera Le rêve de Grégoire and Samy Moussa becomes composer of the year, in part for the premiere of  A Globe Itself Infolding, a piece for organ an orchestra. Young conductor Andrei Feher has been awarded the Discovery of the year award.

You can access the complete list of winners here.