Browsing: Contemporary

Hadrian Anchors a Star-Studded Season that Explores the Many Facets of Love Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company’s 2018/2019 season presents the world premiere of Hadrian, a new opera from composer Rufus Wainwright and librettist Daniel MacIvor, which features the highly anticipated COC debuts of international opera stars Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila. The COC’s 68th season offers multi-faceted perspectives on love as a contested ground of the human condition. Being presented along with Hadrian in the 18/19 season is a new COC production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin; returning COC productions of Richard Strauss’ Elektra, Mozart’s Così fan tutte and…

Share:

Stravinsky: Chant funèbre &c (Decca) Beware the lost leavings of great composers. Time and again we get hyped up about a long-forsaken missing score, only to be cruelly awakened by the reality of its insignificance. In some case, the composer mislaid the score with good reason. In others, it adds nothing to the sum of our knowledge. Anyone care to remember a few bars of Beethoven’s 10th symphony? Or Schubert’s? The present premiere release is an exception to that ignominious rule. Here’s the back story. In 1908 Igor Stravinsky, unknown and in his mid-20s, wrote a funeral ode for his…

Share:

It just got a whole load tougher out there for young cellists. The first release batch of the New Year contains no fewer than four cello-piano recitals, all of them estimable. In a shrinking media environment, none will get the full-length attention they deserve. The best I can do here is short Schrift. A performance of the Brahms cello sonatas by Jean-Guihen Qeueyras and Alexandre Tharaud (Erato **) is rather too Aimez-vous Brahms for my liking. The French accent is extremely pronounced. The Swiss cellist Lionel Cottet, principal with Bavarian Radio SO, has what appears to be a debut album…

Share:

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Chandos) James Gilchrist, tenor; Anna Tilbrook, piano; Philip Dukes, viola At the turn of the 20th century, the world was wide open to young men of means. Ships were getting faster, trains more frequent and motor cars were appearing on the roads. Faced with these exciting possibilities, the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams decided to stay home, collecting the remains of a musical civilisation that was being trampled by the march of technology. Together with his pal Gustav Holst, Vaughan Williams recorded people singing in pubs and fields. Then he wrote Songs of Travel. The…

Share:

Shostakovich, Auerbach: Piano Trios Delta Piano Trio As the last releases of the year drop through the door, this is an instant ear grabber. Debate has raged for three decades as to whether Dmitri Shostakovich was a limp Soviet puppet or a secret resistant. The first view was advanced by US musicologists, who would not be satisfied until they had a signed document saying ‘I hate Stalin.’ Russian friends and fans of the composer heard his dissidence expressed in the music. Thankfully, the dispute is being resolved by a new generation of musicians who come fresh to the music. The…

Share:

BERLIN – Sending Achim Freyer after Hänsel und Gretel was both a mortifying and an intriguing concept. The German director is one of the stars of Regietheater and rarely lets an operatic story tell itself. While the opening on Dec. 8 of Engelbert Humperdinck’s seasonal charmer at the renovated Staatsoper Unter den Linden was generally family-friendly, it was also overwrought, self-consciously surreal and cussedly hard to get involved in at any basic emotional level. All of which criticisms this 83-year-old Brecht protégé might well take as compliments. Credited with direction, design and costuming, Fryer applied himself most extravagantly to the…

Share:

On the first anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death, November 7, 2017, Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain (MAC) opened a vast exposition devoted to Cohen, his work, and his work as interpreted by other artists. This expo, despite its occasional weaknesses, is certain to become the largest and most successful show in the museum’s 53-year history. It displays such a richness of Your Man to make it moving and deeply satisfying. Cohen, or rather Leonard, to use the affectionate case, spoke to a worldwide audience and was beloved on all continents, as few Montrealers have ever done. In his final years, reflecting…

Share:

Montreal’s second orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, got positive press for their concert at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall (Elbphilharmonie) last Friday (December 1, 2017). Joachim Mischke, Hamburg’s leading and most knowledgeable music critic, wrote a comprehensive and inspiring review about the event (Hamburg Abendblatt, December 4). Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin was described as a bundle of energy who got the ball rolling in Pierre Mercure’s Kaléidoscope, demonstrating in detail the orchestra’s collective articulation accuracy. “Berlioz’s orchestral songs cycle Les nuits d’été became the finest moment, as the orchestra conjured nuances and played enchantingly discreet. But above all, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux savored…

Share:

Originally published on November 15, 2007 in The Music Scene, Winter 2008 Hvorostovsky was a sex symbol in 1998 and he still makes women swoon today, as viewers of last February’s Met’s Live Telecast of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin would attest. As Anson reported, “Hvorostovsky is more than just another ‘barihunk.’ He is a serious artist struggling to balance artistic and commercial pressures at ‘a very difficult time for classical music’ he said, ‘when even excellent musicians are being dropped by record companies.’ ” At the time, Hvorostovsky was a Philips Classics artist. Seven years ago, for artistic reasons, he signed…

Share:

Originally published on June 1st, 1998 in La Scena Musicale, June 1998 Everyone’s first question about Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky: “Is he as handsome in person?” Yes, the Siberian tiger lives up to his billing as the world’s sexiest baritone. When he walked into the café of New York’s elegant Stanhope Hotel wearing dark glasses and a black leather jacket, he radiated movie star glamour. Call it charisma or animal magnetism, Hvorostovsky is one of nature’s physical aristocrats. Those sardonically sensual lips, that trademark mane of silver hair and those hooded Slavic eyes suggesting cruel Tartar ancestry – the…

Share:
1 2 3 29