Archive pour April, 2015

Philip Glass’ Words Without Music

28 April 2015

Philip Glass just published a memoir, Words Without Music, in which he talks about his incredible journey. In an NPR interview for the launch of the book, he goes back to his first influences including Ravi Shankar.

“… the door to world music was opened for me by Ravi Shankar because I became his assistant, and I had to learn enough about the music so I could notate what he was playing. And that led to an interest in India. And so I was able to get a very deep connection with that music. I found that the encounters I made with indigenous musicians, whether they were from Mexico or from Australia or from China, from Tibet – those encounters were the most stimulating parts of my education.”  

He also talks about how rhythm plays an essential role in his music and how for him it can be conceived as a binary system.

“I realized this years later when I was notating this music, I found everything fell into patterns based on twos and threes, odds and evens. Basically, it’s a binary structure. It’s a binary language. And this is 1963, ’64. I didn’t even hear about binary music until – well, I mean, it could’ve been 35, 40 years later. In fact, that was the basis of Indian classical music for hundreds of years. And so I had – by the time I did “Einstein On The Beach,” that piece is completely written in a binary form.”

You can listen to this very interesting interview with Arun Rath here…

After it, you may want to listen and download Philip Glass- Portrait

André Laplante in Grieg’s Concerto

24 April 2015

The bad weather announced on Sunday will surely convince you to spend your afternoon in a warm and dry environment, like that of the Maison symphonique de Montréal, when André Laplante will perform Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, under Finnish conductor John Storgårds. You will also get to discover a rarely performed work by Sibelius, very evocative, Night Ride and Sunrise, as well as Sibelius’ Symphony No. 4, op. 29 (The Inextinguishable).

Written when Edvard Grieg was 25, the Piano Concerto is filled with lyrism and Scandinavian charm, even though his key and some gestures remind us of Schumann’s Concerto in the same key, written about 10 years prior. The concerto was a hit with audiences from the very start and would launch the young Norwegian composer’s career on the international stage. 

It also impressed Liszt. Grieg in a letter to his parents, stated:

“Winding and I really wondered if he would play my concerto unrehearsed from the score. I myself believed this was impossible. Liszt, however, obviously did not share my view. And so he began to play. After his accomplishment, I must add that further perfection is inconceivable; he played the Cadenza, which technically is exceedingly difficult, perfectly! Afterwards, he handed me the score and said: “Just stay your course. I tell you truly, you have the ability needed – let nothing frighten you!” I cannot express the importance of his words. It was as though he initiated me. Many times when disappointments or bitterness are about to overwhelm me, my thoughts return to what he told me then, and my remembrance of that moment enables me to keep up my courage.”  

Tchaïkovski also loved it:

“There prevails that fascinating melancholy which seems to reflect in itself all the beauty of Norwegian scenery, now grandiose and sublime in its vast expanse, now grey and dull, but always full of charm. … What warmth and passion in his melodic phrases, what teeming vitality in his harmony, what originality and beauty in the turn of his piquant and ingenious modulations and rhythms. … perfect simplicity, far from affectation and pretense. It is not surprising that everyone should delight in Grieg.”

To get tickets…


Art remembers: a vigil

21 April 2015

Tomorrow April 22, the day of the Ypres Battle, the Opéra de Montréal and Veterans Affairs Canada, in collaboration with Place des Arts, join forces. A vigil will be held at Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme inPlace des Arts from 5 to 6 p.m. It will feature singers from the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal in songs of war and peace, a representative of Veterans Affairs Canada and a historian.  

The event commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I and that of the premiere of the poem In Flanders Fields / Au Champ d’Honneur,  written in May 1915. The NFB film John McCrae’s War: In Flanders Fields will also be presented.

This cultural mediation activity is organised as a prelude to the premiere of American composer Kevin Putz’ Silent Night, Pultizer Prize in 2012, on May 16. Inspired by Christian Carion’s heart-wrenching movie Joyeux Noël, this plea for peace bowled audiences right from the start. Marianne Fiset, Phillip Addis, Joseph Kaiser and Daniel Okulitch will sing the leading roles.


Philip Glass wins the 2015 Glenn Gould Prize

16 April 2015


American composer and pianist Philip Glass has been named the Eleventh recipient of The Glenn Gould Prize – sometimes called the “Nobel prize of arts” – at a ceremony held two days ago at Toronto’s Koerner Hall. The Prize comes with a doubled cash prize of 100 000$.Glass will also receive a sculpture by Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy.

“It is for me a special honor as I am one of the many musicians who have been inspired by him,” Glass said in a statement. “Also I am aware that this award places me in the company of some of the most celebrated names in the broad spectrum of the music of our time,” he added.

Indeed, he stands with luminaries such as Robert Lepage (the previous recipient, in 2013), Leonard Cohen (2011), Dr José Antonio Abreu (2008), Pierre Boulez (2002), Yehudi Menuhin (1990) and R. Murray Schafer (1987).

Now certainly one of the most beloved contemporary composers, Philip Glass made his career by defying convention. In an interview with Talia Schlanger, he discusses his new memoir Words Without Music and his unflinching dedication to groundbreaking composition. Listen here…

Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà devoted an album to the composer’s music a few years back (the first of the essential Portrait series). You may want to listen to it once more here…

Angèle Dubeau on Classic FM in the UK

14 April 2015

Angèle Dubeau’s Ludovico Einaudi: Portrait album is featured on the home page of Classic FM, UK’s most popular classical radio station, this week. 

“Supported by her excellent string orchestra, La Pietà, Dubeau recasts Einaudi’s music, giving the 13 tracks a lusher texture then we are used to, and endowing the melodies with a satisfying dramatic weight and, on the more atmospheric tracks, a heartfelt wistfulness.
This might be the album that convinces those who are not yet fans of Einaudi’s music that there is more to it than usually meets the ear.”

The album still stands very strong in the No. 2 position of the Top Classical Music Albums Charts of iTunes Canada. Two other Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà’s albums are still doing extremely well on the Top 100 chart: A Time for Us at No. 27 and Blanc at No. 48.

You can get the Deluxe edition of Ludovico Einaudi: Portrait on Analekta’s website here…


Walter Boudreau recipient of GG Lifetime Artistic Achievement

10 April 2015

SMCQ artistic director, composer  and conductor Walter Boudreau is one of the six recipients of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. This distinction recognizes artists for their outstanding body of work and enduring contribution to the performing arts in Canada. These national awards are presented in the categories of theatre, dance, classical music, broadcasting, popular music and film. “I am deeply moved, pleasantly surprised even, by this show of consideration and appreciation for the efforts I’ve deployed in the last 40 years, with the hopes that today’s music and composers be better-known, recognized and valued!”, stated Boudreau yesterday.

Walter Boudreau is undeniably an emblematic personnality of Québécois musical life. It is impossible to remain indifferent to the character and to his particular vision of contemporary repertoire. “It is more than time that this music – our music – takes its rightful place, just like contemporary works and artefacts by our choreographers, movie makers, directors, writers and poets of our time do!”, he concluded.

The composer and conductor was born in Montreal in 1947. He studied with Gilles Tremblay, Serge Garant, Mauricio Kagel, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis and Pierre Boulez. To this day, he wrote more than 60 works for orchestra, various ensembles and soloists, as well as two ballets and about 15 scores for film and theatre. He has been leading the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) for 27 years.

This award is not his first, of course. He has received several Opus prizes from Conseil québécois de la musique, including for “Event of the Year” in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2008. He also won the “Composer of the Yeaer” Award in 1998, the Molson Prize in 2003 and the Prix Denise Pelletier for performing arts in 2004. He is Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec and Member of the Order of Canada since 2013.

Mozart and Schumann: bound by literature

7 April 2015

Purists may hesitate to utter the names of Mozart and Schumann in the same breath. Representing completely different periods and two unique musical languages, these composers nonetheless shared two great passions: one for music, the other for the written word. If the number of works composed by Mozart seems astonishing (over 600), we too-often forget that he was also a fervent correspondent. Over the course of his short life, Mozart wrote more than a thousand letters to his parents, his wife and his friends, driven by an urgent need to to document his life without ever fully disclosing himself; his music would fulfill that rôle.

Reading Mozart’s letters — much as his great works — one may smile, giggle, or even laugh out loud. We delight in the gossip and stories about his contemporaries (certain critics were more than blunt!). We succumb in tenderness to the heartfelt letters to Constanze, we recognize ourselves in his fear of death, or in the perpetual struggle to gain acceptance from his father. “Dear Father, I cannot write in verse, for I am no poet. I cannot arrange parts of speech with such art as to produce effects of light and shade, for I am no painter. Even by signs and gestures I cannot express my thoughts and feelings, for I am no dancer. But I can do so by means of sounds, for I am a musician.”

 Schumann too had an almost visceral love of the written word. The son of an editor and a voracious reader, he briefly considered entering the world of literature over music. Ultimately he united his two passions through his work as a music critic and as the founder of a music journal, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (which remains in print to this day). His articles — many of which have since become classics of the music literature canon — were written with great finesse; analytical but never demagogic. This talent for writing also found expression in his letters, describing daily mundanities next to deep philosophical questions with the same finely honed expression, most notably in pleading his case to his future father-in-law Friedrich Wieck. Literature comes to the fore in a number of Schumann’s pieces, in which loved ones become musical characters, these personalities (Eusebius the dreamer, Florestan the passionate, Raro the wise) inhabiting the pages of music by turn.

 His personal diary (shared with Clara for a few years) is also particularly revealing. This entry, dated 1833 when Schumann was 23, is enough to inspire chills: “During the night of 17 to 18 October, I was suddenly struck by the most horrifying thought a man could have, and the most terrible punishment that Heaven could inflict: THE THOUGHT THAT I MIGHT LOSE MY MIND…” What an incredible prescience of that which would eventually come to pass…

 Always doubting himself, Schumann may not have guessed that his music would transcend the ages and changing fashions. Yet his music, like Mozart’s, remains pure, unalterable, essential, like life itself.

Music for Easter

3 April 2015

Some prefer to engage in private prayer on Good Friday, and then let the joy out at Easter (while eating much chocolate of course). Why not follow a musical journey, that will lead you from reflection and meditation to pure joy by the end of this Easter weekend?

You could start with Graupner’s The Seven Words of Christ on the Cross (with Geneviève Soly and Les Idées heureuses), then his contemporary Bach with the album Bach and the Liturgical Year (with Shannon Mercer and Luc Beauséjour). You may prefer a compilation of both sacred and profane music that will bring you back to Renaissance and baroque eras with Immortalislisten to a few Ave Maria (Daniel Taylor and Les petits chanteurs du Mont-Royal), all those albums being offered at a special discount price, or discover less-known works in The Heart’s Refuge (Theatre of Early Music-Schola Cantorum). Bach’s Magnificat and Vivaldi’s Gloria (Ensemble Caprice) could lead you in style to a most inspiring musical climax.

Happy Easter to you!