Archive pour May, 2015

The end of an adventure

29 May 2015

Time flies when you’re having fun… Since the Analekta blogs went online (both the French and an English versions) on January 1, 2009, I wrote no less than 1885 posts. Of course, I tried to keep up with all the latest and upcoming launches, but what motivated me day in and day out was the passion I have for classical music since childhood. I joined you here, two or three times a week. Some blogs were more dense (when I dug more deeply in a work for example), others were without a doubt very light (I have always loved musical jokes and puns). We traveled together all over the world, through news events, books, videos, but mainly thanks to the magic of classical music, especially works performed by Analekta artists, always the pride and joy of the label.

The adventure ends here for me today, but social medias will take over. Please continue to follow enthusiastically Analekta on its  FacebookTwitter and YouTube platforms. Most importantly, continue to believe that classical music is as relevent today in our somewhat frazzled 21st century as when it was first written.

I leave you on a quote by Aldous Huxley:

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

Thank you, music, for changing my life!

Lucie Renaud

And the 12 semi-finalists are…

28 May 2015

Over the last few days, 23 singers from 9 countries took the stage at Bourgie Hall in a 25 to 30 minute-recital, featuring the most beautiful pages of the repertoire. The international jury has selected 12 semi-finalists to continue on to the next stage of the MIMC, including 3 Canadians and 5 Koreans. Starting tomorrow night, you can follow the competition on the Web at  http://concoursmontreal.ca/en/webcast

The order of performance is as followed.

FRIDAY, MAY 29
1st session 7:30 p.m.
Byeong-Min GIL, bass-baritone (South Korea)
Claire DE SÉVIGNÉ, soprano (Canada)
Break
Yauci YANES ORTEGA, tenor (Spain)
Takaoki ONISHI, baritone (Japan)

SATURDAY, MAY 30
2nd session 2 p.m.
Anaïs CONSTANS, soprano (France)
Keonwoo KIM, tenor (South Korea)
Break
Owen McCAUSLAND, tenor (Canada)
Hyekyung CHOI, soprano (South Korea)

3rd session 7:30 p.m.
Min Gue CHO, tenor (South Korea)
France BELLEMARE, soprano (Canada)
Break
Vasil GARVANLIEV, baritone (Macedonia)
Hyesang PARK, soprano (South Korea)

The MIMC starts today

25 May 2015

Were you one of the hundreds who sang The Sound of Music’s hits yesterday afternoon, Salle Bourgie? What an experience and what a way to kick off this year’s edition of the Montreal International Musical Competition, devoted this year to voice! You will be able to follow  the whole thing on the Web, starting tonight! Indeed, the semi-finals and finals, as well as the Gala Concert and masterclasses, will be broadcast live on the MIMC website at www.concoursmontreal.ca. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal will also broadcast the finals and the Gala concert (www.osm.ca). These recordings, in collaboration with Cybermediacom, are made possible thanks to the generosity of sponsors and partners of the MIMC.

The order of appearance of the 24 classical singers from 9 countries who participate in the quarter-final round was determined by random draw yesterday.

MONDAY, MAY 25

1st session / 7:30 p.m.
Seung Jick KIM, tenor (South Korea)
Cathy VAN ROY, soprano (Belgium)
– Break –
Byeong-Min GIL, bass-baritone (South Korea)
Claire DE SÉVIGNÉ, soprano (Canada)

TUESDAY, MAY 26

2nd session / 2:00 p.m.
Geoffrey SIRETT, baritone (Canada)
Jana MILLER, soprano (Canada)
Meghan LINDSAY, soprano (Canada)
– Break –
Hwan AN, baritone (South Korea)
Suzanne RIGDEN, soprano (Canada)
Yauci YANES ORTEGA, tenor (Spain

3rd session / 7:30 p.m.
Cairan RYAN, baritone (Canada / UK)
Takaoki ONISHI, baritone (Japan)
– Break –
Eric JURENAS, countertenor (United States)
Karine BOUCHER, soprano (Canada)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 27

4th session / 2:00 p.m.
Anaïs CONSTANS, soprano (France)
Marianne LAMBERT, soprano (Canada)
Keonwoo KIM, tenor (South Korea)
– Break –
Owen McCAUSLAND, tenor (Canada)
Hyekyung CHOI, soprano (South Korea)
Min Gue CHO, tenor (South Korea)

5th session : 7:30 p.m.
France BELLEMARE, soprano (Canada)
Vasil GARVANLIEV, baritone (Macedonia)
– Break –
Jongsoo YANG, bass (South Korea)
Hyesang PARK, soprano (South Korea)

The announcement of the semi-finalists will be made following the last Quarter-final session on Wednesday, May 27. Twelve singers will be chosen for the Semi-finals and six for the Finals. The announcement of the laureates will be made following the last final session on Wednesday, June 3.

The complete musical programme of each round is available at www.concoursmontreal.ca

Let the games begin!

Hack the orchestra: a first

22 May 2015

This weekend, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will host the world’s first orchestra hackathon, during which hackers from multiple disciplines will brainstorm and prototype ways to use technology to enhance the experience of a live orchestral concert – whether for the audience, the musicians, or the production crew. The hackathon takes the form of a 36-hour competition. C 

Teams will attend a “typical” KWS concert today and then work over the weekend to create technological solutions that improve or enhance the concert experience.

Speaking about the event, Steve McCartney, VP of Startup Services at Communitech (a key hackathon partner) says, “the genius of classical music and the power of the orchestra meet the disruptive world of the hacker; unfettered exploration, creation and fusion. The KWS, a regional treasure, will combine with the wonderful young minds of our tech community. I’m very excited to see what happens when these worlds meet up in this first-ever Hack the Orchestra event!”

On the morning of May 24 a panel of expert judges will select three winning solutions. Each will then be demonstrated at a series of three Beethoven piano concerto concerts on September 25 & 26, 2015. Cash prizes will also be awarded to the top 3 winners.

For more information and know the names of the winners on Sunday…

Cristofori and the fortepiano

19 May 2015

Bartolomeo Cristofori had probably been working on the prototypes in 1698, but the first mention is in an 1700 Medici inventory. Before the fortepiano (because the instrument could play loud – forte – and soft – piano), Cristofori had invented two keyboard instruments: the spinettone, a large, multi-choired spinet (a harpsichord in which the strings are slanted to save space) and a rather original oval spinet, a kind of virginal with the longest strings in the middle of the case.

The total number of pianos built by Cristofori is unknown. Only three survive today, all dating from the 1720s, one located in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the second in the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali in Rome and the third in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum of Leipzig University. 

The instrument evolved rapidly because composers and pianists required an increasingly powerful sound and a broad range of expressive possibilities. The octave range was expanded, from 5 octaves in Mozart’s day to 6 towards the end of Beethoven’s life and 7¼ today. This explains why there are no very low or very high notes in any of the composer’s works for piano.

Beethoven’s pianos were famous. Four of them were given to him by piano makers of the day. Because the frames of those instruments were made out of wood and not metal like today’s pianos, they were much lighter, but also more fragile. Their sound was both softer and brighter than that of modern pianos, and the notes could be sustained for longer.

When he began to lose his hearing, Beethoven would sometimes lie on the ground with a piece of wood between the base of the piano and the floor so that he could feel the vibrations in his body. Later, he is said to have cut off the legs of several of his pianos, so that the instruments would lay flat on the ground, which allowed him to feel the vibrations of the piano through the floor directly.

Festivals’ season is here

15 May 2015

The upcoming long weekend has always been considered a prelude to summer. If the weather apparently will only partly agree, why not take advantage of the weekend to plan your musical summer trips, now that all the Québécois festivals have announced their line-up? You might want to seize a long weekend – or consider playing hooky in the middle of the week – to get out of the city and listen to the Analekta artists on the Lanaudière, Orford and Domaine Forget’s schedule.

Lanaudière

Sunday July 5, I Musici de Montréal, led by Jean-Marie Zeitouni, will perform Bach, Tchaikovsky and Last Round by Osvaldo Golijov, an homage to Argentine tango. Les Violons du Roy, under Mathieu Lussier, will perform on July 12 an all-Mozart program.  The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), led by Kent Nagano, has two concerts in store, on July 31 and August 1. On the first night, pianist and Festival ambassador Alain Lefèvre will play Grieg’s Concerto in A minor (Brahms and Sibelius are also on the program). The second, the OSM and the Ensemble choral du Festival as well as four soloists, will perform Beethoven’s Missa solemnis.

In the churches, don’t miss the Violons du Roy concert on July 7, with soprano Mireille Asselin and mezzo-soprano Michèle Lozier in a Bach Cantata as well as meditative works by Arvo Pärt and Peteris Vasks sont également au programme.

Festival Orford: all around the world

The festival invites you to Spain, Argentina, Austria, Germany, Italy, Canada and more specifically Québec with music by composer of the year, the popular François Dompierre. He will be attending several concerts, including the premier of his own Par Quatre Chemins by the New Orford Quintet (July 11), an hommage to Jacques Languirand.

A first this year, the Orchestre de l’Académie internationale Orford founded by Jean-François Rivest joins forces with the Orchestre de la Francophonie founded by Jean-Philippe Tremblay. This new super orchestra will give its first concert for the Festival’s opening (June 27) in works by Beethoven, Mozart, Sibelius, Ravel and Mendelssohn, both conductors leading the orchestra.

Later on in July, the musicians will be associated with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA). Rivest will lead the first program with Schubert’s Symphony in C major and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with pianist Alain Lefèvre (July 18). Tremblay takes over for the second one, featuring pianist Serhiy Salov (July 31 ) in Ravel’s Concerto in G.

Two percussionnists from the OSM perform with pianists Richard Raymond and Jimmy Brière (August 14), in a concert in which rhythm plays an essential role, including Ravel’s Boléro and Bartok’s Sonata for two pianos and percussion. The guests of the festival also include cellist Stéphane Tétreault (July 24), baritone Hugo Laporte, winner of the OSM Standard Life Competition in 2014 (August 1), with oboist Louise Pellerin and organist Luc BeauséjourLes Violons du Roy will close the festival (August 15) in a tango and Argentinian music program with Borges’ poetry.

Domaine Forget

Concerts are offered starting early June in Domaine Forget. You may want to catch Les Violons du Roy in an all-Mozart program on June 20. I Musici de Montréal will take the stage on July 4 with Marie-Nicole Lemieux in a mostly French program which includes Berlioz’ Nuits d’étéL’Orchestre de la Francophonie will be there the day after (July 5) with soprano Measha Brueggergosman (who will sing Wagner). The Orchestre symphonique de Québec under Jacques Lacombe will treat you to a night at the cinema with film music on July 25. Stéphane Tétreault and Marie-Eve Scarfone will give a recital that includes Schubert’s Arpeggione (a piece found on their upcoming album) on July 31. The Violons du Roy closes as well this festival, on August 23, with pianist Stephen Kovacevich playing Bach.

Have a great festival season!

Suspense continues in Berlin

12 May 2015

Believe it or not, but after 11 hours of deliberation behind closed doors (phones and electronic devices were not permited on the premises), the 123 musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic didn’t come to an agreement yesterday and Simon Rattle’s successor was not announced. Discussions will resume later on this year. “I must unfortunately tell you that we did not come to a decision,” stated Peter Riegelbauer, one of the two delegates the orchestra assigned to share the news with the media, yesterday at 10 p.m., in front of the South-West Church in Berlin, where the musicians had been spending the last few hours.

Journalists had been going wild in the last couple of days, everyone sharing their “short lists.” On them, one could find Daniel Barenboïm (who denied being on the list) as well as Gustavo Dudamel, Christian Thielemann, Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons (a favourite), Riccardo Chailly, Riccardo Muti and… Québécois Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

In other orchestras, musicians are of course consulted. Here, they are the sole decision-makers. “We agree on the direction we want to take, but don’t agree on the means to get there,” stated the delegates last night. Musicians are bound to secrecy. At most, they admitted that discussions didn’t come to a halt because the prospective director declined the offer. (Who in their right mind would turn down an offer from the Berlin Philharmonic?)

Time is not really of the essence here, since Simon Rattle will be leaving only in 2018. Time enough to write another chapter of this story…

 

Let’s laugh a little

8 May 2015

It’s Friday, the sun is shining. Let’s be light and laugh (or at least smile) at a few musicians’ one-liners!

Q: How many conductors does it take to screw in a light bulb? 
A: No one knows, no one ever looks at him. 

Q: What do call Bach? 
A: Dead. 

Q: What do you get when you drop a piano into a mine shaft? 
A: A Flat Miner 

Q: What’s the similarity between a drummer and a philosopher? 
A: They both perceive time as an abstract concept. 

Q: Why was the musician arrested? 
A: He was in treble 

Q: How do you get an oboist to play A flat? 
A: Take the batteries out of his electronic tuner. 

Q: What do you call a guitar player that only knows two chords? 
A: A music critic. 

Q: Why are harps like elderly parents? 
A: Both are unforgiving and hard to get into and out of cars. 

Q: Why are violist’s fingers like lightning? 
A: They rarely strike the same spot twice. 

Q: How many guitar players does it take to screw in a light bulb? 
A: 13 – one to do it, and twelve to stand around and say, “Phhhwt! I can do that!” 

A busy week for Angèle Dubeau and Alain Lefèvre

5 May 2015

Two of Analekta favourite artists have a very busy week. Indeed, Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà will be performing tomorrow night at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as part of a fundraising event. After a cocktail and a visit of the Canadian art work, the patrons will be treated to an exclusive concert, with music from Vivaldi to Brubeck, and then to a meet-and-greet the musicians dessert and coffee segment. More details here… The musicians will also be performing their La Pietà’s Spring pedagogical program several times from May 7 to 12 in various venues.  (The last concert of the run will be at Collège Maisonneuve, in collaboration with Dr Julien’s Foundation Le Garage à Musique.)

Pianist Alain Lefèvre will be the guest of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal tomorrow and Thursday (a total of three concerts). He will perform Ravel’s Concerto in G, filled with music from the Basque country and jazz influences, including references to Gershwin’s Concerto in F, especially in the first movement, with its blues notes and jazzy rhythms and harmonies. The program also includes Shostakovich’s powerful Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905”. On January 9, 1905 (January 22 in the new Gregorian calendar), a group of workers armed only with icons and portraits of their Tsar Nicholas II, assembled in front of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg for a peaceful demonstration to petition aid. Police opened fire and killed a large number (accounts vary widely as to the figure, ranging from over a hundred to several thousand). The repercussions of “Bloody Sunday” included widespread strikes, protest meetings and peasant revolts. The unrest was eventually dissipated, but it returned in even greater force with far-reaching results in 1917. You can get tickets here…

 

Marriage of Figaro’s premiere

1 May 2015

It was on this exact day, in 1786,  that Mozart’s popular opera The Marriage of Figaro was premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna. The opera’s libretto is based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro. Although it was at first banned in Vienna because of its licentiousness, Mozart’s librettist Da Ponte (who also acted as librettist for Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte) managed to get official approval.

Mozart himself directed the first two performances, conducting seated at the keyboard, the custom of the day. The audience reacted very positevely to the opera. On the first night five numbers got encored, seven a week later. Joseph Haydn loved the work so much that he wrote a friend he heard it in his dreams.

Lorenzo Da Ponte wrote a preface to the first published version of the libretto, in which he boldly claimed that he and Mozart had created a new form of music drama:

“In spite … of every effort … to be brief, the opera will not be one of the shortest to have appeared on our stage, for which we hope sufficient excuse will be found in the variety of threads from which the action of this play [i.e. Beaumarchais’s] is woven, the vastness and grandeur of the same, the multiplicity of the musical numbers that had to be made in order not to leave the actors too long unemployed, to diminish the vexation and monotony of long recitatives, and to express with varied colours the various emotions that occur, but above all in our desire to offer as it were a new kind of spectacle to a public of so refined a taste and understanding.”

Johannes Brahms said, “In my opinion, each number in Figaro is a miracle; it is totally beyond me how anyone could create anything so perfect; nothing like it was ever done again, not even by Beethoven.”

The famous overture to the opera was written two days before the premiere and, contrary to most, doesn’t include any reference to the arias to be sung. It now stands on its own and is often performed by orchestras. From the get go, it gives the listener the impression that he is about to encounter multiple unforeseen developments. Excerpts from it were used in the films Trading Places in 1983 and Last Action Hero in 1993.

You can listen to several arias of the opera, sung by Lyne Fortin, here…