Browsing: Chamber Music

To catch all the members of the Borodin Quartet off stage is almost impossible. Formed in 1945, the legendary Russian ensemble, rarely, if ever, gives interviews – especially when they are on tour abroad. I conducted this interview after their spectacular opening Pollack Hall concert on August 14 at the McGill International String Quartet Academy (MISQA), where they gave masterclasses to quartets from all over the world. Speaking in Russian, first violinist Ruben Aharonian, second Sergey Limovsky, violist Igor Naidin, and cellist Vladimir Balshin covered a range of subjects at the four-star Omni Hotel in downtown Montreal. Nuné Melik: The…

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Banff — The 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition’s international jury gave first prize Sunday evening to the Canadian quartet that takes its name from the man who had an enormous part in nurturing the competition from the outset 36 years ago. The Rolston Quartet, now based at Rice University, was named for Tom Rolston, who with his wife, Isobel, ran the Banff Centre’s classical music programs for more than 40 years. The first violinist of the group plays Tom’s violin. The Rolston Quartet chose to play Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2 for…

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Banff — The BISQC finalists were named close to two hours after the Rolston Quartet left the stage Saturday. The Rolston (Canadian), Tesla (multinational) and Castalian (UK) will compete for the lucrative first prize on Sunday. The finalists were never a certainty in this competition. Some would say they never are, but a few choices will likely be controversial come Sunday morning when those who didn’t wait up for the results wake up to the news. The final Ad Lib put the Castalian in contention. The British ensemble performed a very smart program of three parts of Thomas Adès’s Four…

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Banff — Thursday was the new, Canadian-commission round at BISQC, featuring an eight-and-a-half-minute jagged-edged piece by McGill-trained composer Zosha di Castri entitled Quartet No. 1. The 10 competing quartets presented their readings of a piece that in most renderings eschewed melody entirely and sought a relationship between the aggressively abrasive, the abruptly explosive and, at the end, the amorphously ethereal, delivered in   faint, stratospherically pitched harmonics. The Eric Harvie was about half full for the afternoon performance of back-to-back attacks on the notions of music many listeners at this competition, I presume, have little patience for. I haven’t met one…

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Banff — Two rounds are over at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC 2016), and unlike last time, there is no clear front-runner, in my view. The 10 competing quartets, including one formed in Banff and named after Tom Rolston, long-time music director at the Centre, have played a prescribed Hayden and a 20th-century work. Practically all of them chose to play Bartòk four, five or six, even though there were numerous other composers and pieces to choose from. Two groups each chose one of Janàček’s string quartets. Except for the Bartòk fanatics in the crowd, many were happy…

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Age may be but a number, but its influence is broad. For celebrated Canadian violinist James Ehnes, turning 40 earlier this year has led to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour his homeland in a series celebrating family, community, and (of course) great music. Though he is no doubt still fielding quips about being over the hill, Ehnes’s bustling performance schedule certainly erases any doubts about him slowing down any time soon. Ehnes, a Brandon, Manitoba native, began playing the violin at the age of 4 and studied with renowned violinist and pedagogue Francis Chaplin at 9. From 1993 to 1997…

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Alfred Schnittke is a name we often shy away from on this side of the Atlantic. His style of unabashed dissonance is not solely reliant on serialism, but rather an understanding of the latent dramatic potential of atonality, an understanding that is made possible by his awareness and appreciation of the music that preceded him. Instead of breaking with the past, Schnittke aimed to show the connections between past and present in his so-called “polystylism”; this is no more evident than in his chamber output for the violin. The two-CD set opens with the late Third Sonata (1994), darkly opulent…

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His final work for strings, Schubert’s Quintet in C Major (1828) is unusual for its doubling of the cello voice rather than the viola, Mozart’s quintet model. With unmatched lyricism and finesse, Quatuor Ebène tackles this behemoth of Romantic chamber repertoire, which was only completed two months before the composer’s untimely death. Gautier Capuçon makes a fine fifth wheel, adding a dark intensity without disrupting the balance of the upper strings. This is perhaps the most evident in the exquisite second movement, Adagio, a nocturne that is so unusually slow for Schubert, and given a keenly sensitive treatment by Quatuor…

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As always, the new season in Montreal offers a rich array of concerts as well as new and contemporary musical experiences. Whether you love digital art or sound installations, instrumental or mixed music, the creative community has concerts and festivals to satisfy everyone. Have your calendars ready! This year the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) celebrates its 50th season with the kind of programming that has been its hallmark since its foundation. The 2016-17 season begins with a free concert on September 30. Entitled Broadway Boogie-Woogie, it’s a tribute to the Mondrian painting of the same name, which…

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Joliette, August 8, 2016 – For its 39th season, le Festival de Lanaudière invited music lovers to discover some of the works that its founder, Father Fernand Lindsay, liked to hear and teach. Between July 9 and August 7, 2016, fourteen concerts were presented at the Amphithéâtre Fernand-Lindsay, eight in churches throughout the region, and two at the Musée d’art de Joliette. In addition, there were four cinema evenings and five morning yoga sessions held outdoors. Nearly 53,000 people attended Festival events – a significant increase over the figure for 2015. The piano takes center stage This year, the…

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