Angèle Dubeau founded La Pietà in 1997, an all-female string ensemble featuring some of Canada’s best musicians. What she could not have known at the time was that this experiment, originally [...]
Violins of the World
They spoke about it
In a fascinating journey through space and time, strings and piano ensemble Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà welcome you into the realm of twelve such musicians, for the pleasure of celebrating the richness, the diversity, and especially the immense beauty of this great world of ours.
Srul Irving Glick: The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite
Written in 1998 by Canadian Srul Irving Glick and dedicated to his mother, The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite is meant both as a tribute to the Queen City—where Glick was born in 1934 and where he died in April 2002—and also as a voyage into the world of his childhood memories. The Suite is a journey in four parts, where we are transported from the bustling atmosphere of the “Kensington Market” to the inner turmoil experienced at “Roselawn Cemetery” by the young Glick when he discovered the grave of one of his brothers, who had died before his own birth. Then come reminiscences of happy encounters at the “United Baker’s Dairy Restaurant”, while in “The Rabbi’s Wedding at the Palmerston Shul”, after a moment evoking the solemn character of the service itself, the music celebrates the joy that takes over the newlyweds before spreading to the whole congregation that has gathered for a wedding in the synagogue.
Ennio Morricone: The Mission
After his musical training at the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome, city where he was born in 1928, Ennio Morricone enjoyed great popularity in the 1960’s following his collaboration with director Sergio Leone on films such as A Fistful of Dollars and Once Upon a Time in the West. Morricone’s unique ability to create highly evocative soundscapes is equally present in the music he wrote in 1986 for director Roland Joffé’s The Mission, being able to beautifully translate the great beauty of wilderness in 18th-century South America.
Frederic Chopin: Concerto for piano no 1 in E minor, “Larghetto”
“It consists (…) of a romance exuding calm and melancholy. It should give the impression of a tender gaze, deeply set into a scene that recalls many happy memories, much like a daydream in lovely springtime weather, but under a moonlit sky.”
Frederic Chopin used such words to describe the slow movement of his E minor Piano Concerto. Words that take on a new meaning when one realizes that this would be the last work Chopin would ever perform in his native Poland, on October 11, 1830. He would never return home once he left Warsaw shortly thereafter on a trip, for the purpose of musical development.
Gustav Holst: Seven Scottish Airs
Poor health and a need to relieve his asthma condition prompted Gustav Holst to become a trombone player after completing his studies at London’s Royal College of Music. First hired by the Carl Rosa Opera Company and later on by the Glasgow Scottish Orchestra, Holst rather quickly abandoned his career as an orchestra musician to dedicate himself to composition and teaching. He composed his Seven Scottish Airs, a work where Holst so aptly conveyed the vitality but also the great melancholy in the ancestral music of a people immersed in vistas of lochs and moors, indeed beautiful, but also ruthlessly cruel at times.
David Popper: Hungarian Rhapsody
A brilliant cellist and for a while a member of Vienna’s Hofoper orchestra, David Popper (1843-1913) was above all an exceptional teacher. This talent was recognized by Franz Liszt when he asked him to organize the chamber music and cello departments at the Budapest Royal Conservatory. Out of his 75-odd compositions, one cannot help hearing in the Hungarian Rhapsody a tribute to both his adopted country and to Franz Liszt.
François Dompierre: A Fairy Tale
Written for L’Odyssée d’Alice Tremblay, the latest movie by Denise Filiatrault, A Fairy Tale is a recent composition by François Dompierre, a musician whose name has now been closely associated with cinema in Quebec for some 40 years. Dompierre has penned some of the most memorable music in our cinematography. As was the case in his scores for movies like Mario (1984), Le Matou (1985) and Les Portes tournantes (1988), A Fairy Tale brings out the unique sensibility which has brought recognition to this composer, born in Ottawa in 1943.
Weiss/Thiele: What a Wonderful World
What a Wonderful World is a song Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) recorded in 1968 and for which he avowedly declared a unique affection. A moving testimony, given Armstrong’s life, scarred by a rather sordid childhood in the lowly neighbourhoods of New Orleans, adolescent years partly spent in a reformatory and a later evolution that was anything but easy. An additional proof that, on top of being an extraordinary musician, the man nicknamed The King of Jazz was first and foremost a human being in the noblest sense of the word, one of those people who actually make our world a better place.
Dave Brubeck: Regret (World Premiere Recording)
Although he wrote ballet scores, cantatas, and oratorios, Dave Brubeck gained his greater popularity when he founded the jazz quartet that was to sell more than a million records, in the 1950’s, with Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk. It was after meeting Angèle Dubeau at the Montreal Jazz Festival that the American composer and pianist (born in 1920) became interested in writing a piece for the Quebec violinist. Because Brubeck felt too much time had elapsed between the initial idea and the actual completion of the work, he simply entitled it Regret.
Dag Wirén: Serenade for Strings Op. 11, “Preludium” and “Marcia”
Swedish composer Dag Wirén (1905-1986) converted to neo-classicism after discovering the music of Prokofiev and Stravinsky while studying composition and orchestration in Paris. Back in his homeland, he pursued his writing in that spirit and, in 1937, he composed what has remained his most popular opus and the Swedish work most often performed around the world, his famous Serenade for Strings, Op. 11; a lively and exuberant piece, most likely conceived as an antidote to the somber mood which prevailed in the world at the time.
Fritz Kreisler: Tambourin Chinois
Vienna-born Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) was all of seven years old when he entered the Musikverein Konservatorium in his home town, thus becoming the youngest violinist ever admitted to this institution. Following studies in Paris, Kreisler would confidently embark on a stellar virtuoso career, earning the title of “greatest violinist of his time.” When he became an American citizen in 1943, Fritz Kreisler set out to write short compositions for the violin, in order to expand his repertoire. Works such as Tambourin Chinois convey both his immense virtuosity as an artist and the great personal charm he is said to have possessed.
Pablo de Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen
Many works were dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908) by renowned composers, including Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. A violin prodigy, Sarasate composed some fifty pieces which included the Zigeurneweisen of 1863, those legendary melodies that were probably inspired by this people without a homeland, the Gypsies.
© Daniel Turcotte, June 2002
Translation: Marc Hyland
A few words by Angèle Dubeau
What better way to travel than through music? Calling upon your imagination and your emotions, I invite you on a journey through different eras and musical styles: from klezmer to the Nordic tones of Scandinavia, while enjoying a taste of Scotland, Gypsy airs, and the grandiose Iguaçu falls… What a world! I hope the evocative power of this music brings back memories, images, and dreams.
Enjoy the journey!