Browsing: Contemporary

Any new recording of the Walton concerto will always be measured against Jascha Heifetz, who commissioned the work in 1935, edited the solo part and gave the first performances, throwing down a challenge to all others to do it better, or different. Ida Haendel and Yehudi Menuhin were able to soften the granitic contours but few others have suggested that there is more to the piece than the mighty Heifetz mined out of it. Now along comes Anthony Marwood and turns our ears around. From first utterance, he finds an expansive, Elgarian colour to the piece, a breadth of phrase…

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PREVIEW: Opera Saratoga’s new, full-out production of Marc Blitzstein’s 1937 musical masterpiece, The Cradle Will Rock; and INTERVIEWS: with director Lawrence Edelson and musical director John Mauceri. Though it’s remembered as a work of social protest and impassioned ideals, “nobody has experienced The Cradle Will Rock the way it was intended,” says celebrated musical director, educator and historian John Mauceri of composer/librettist Marc Blitzstein’s landmark 1937 opera. “It’s a piece that everybody knows, but nobody’s ever heard!” Point well taken. Ever since its famously unorthodox premiere, when an extraordinary concatenation of adversities forced a last-minute decision to present the work…

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Halifax, NS – Symphony Nova Scotia is proud to announce that Dr. Kelly-Marie Murphy is the inaugural winner of its new Maria Anna Mozart Award for Canadian women composers. Launched in 2016, the Maria Anna Mozart Award supports the work of Canadian women composers, providing funds for Symphony Nova Scotia to commission and perform a new symphonic work by a Canadian woman every three years. The award is the first of its kind in Canada, and was made possible through the generosity of Halifax resident and Symphony supporter Dr. Jane Gordon. “We received so many applications, full of incredibly good music – I am always amazed at the wealth…

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On Saturday, July 10 at 8:30 pm, the Centre des Arts Actuels Skol and Pronto Musica Chamber Orchestra will present the free concert Ideas of North. The multidisciplinary event brings together artists and researchers in a collaboration that celebrates the North and questions Canadian attitudes towards climate adaptation. With the arctic warming, what will the Canadian North look like in the coming years? How does our perspective of this issue change, when viewed from the lens of an Inuit, ecological, or Southern Canadian viewpoint? Ideas of North will use music to engage audience members on these questions. Vancouver-based environmental change…

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Never forget that Maurice Ravel was more Basque than French. His rhythms and harmonies belong to the borderlands. He is happiest with the smell of Rioja in his nostrils. There must be other pianists who have paired Ravel’s two piano concertos on record with De Falla’s Nights in the Garden of Spain, but I can’t call any recent releases to mind. Or maybe Steven Osborne’s account is just so thrilling that it has erased them from memory. There is never a moment in this performance when you doubt the absolute rightness of his choices. In the Ravel G major, Osborne…

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For Canada’s Sesquicentennial celebration, Ottawa’s 8th annual Music and Beyond Festival boasts a star-studded slate ­including Sarah Chang, Measha Brueggergosman, and Garrick Ohlsson, among other local and international favourites. From July 4 to 17, festivalgoers will enjoy a truly multi-disciplinary menu of classical music with artistic collaborations that include dance, visual art, poetry, comedy – even yoga for those who are feeling more adventurous. Of the 75 concerts and events scheduled, one of the most anticipated guests is surely the Kronos Quartet, who will perform at Dominion-Chalmers United Church on July 5. For over forty years, the string quartet has…

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Toquade Marina Thibeault, viola; Janelle Fung, piano ATMA 2017. ACD2 2759, 66 min 58 s. With the first recording of her career, violist Marina Thibeault strikes a balance ­between spirited and sentimental, tradition and innovation, accessibility and abstraction, leaving us with a clear and compelling understanding of the breadth of both the repertoire and the instrument itself. Thibeault has a sensitive but firm touch, painting long lines in which sounds become ideas. The disc opens with the Valse sentimentale from Tchaikovsky’s Six Pieces Op. 51. The transcription of the piece, originally written for piano, highlights the thematic binaries – the…

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Inner Landscapes Windermere String Quartet; Elizabeth Loewen Andrews, violin; Michelle Odorico, violin; Anthony Rapoport, viola; Laura Jones, cello Pipistrelle Music, PIP 1216, 71 min 22 s. With Inner Lanscapes, the Windermere String Quartet shows how far they’ve come since their 2012 debut The Golden Age of String Quartets, which featured the Classical masters: Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart. This disc features a commission by Canadian composer Robert Rival, Traces of a Silent Landscape, which was inspired by the Beethoven and Mendelssohn quartets on either side. The group plays on Classical period instruments, a bit lighter in tone perhaps, but no less…

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Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time David Krakauer, Akoka; Olivier Messiaen, Quatuor pour la fin du temps; Socalled, Meanwhile… David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano; Socalled, electronics Pentatone Oxingale Series 2017. PTC 5186 560. 63 min 45 s. “Recorded live, AKOKA drives home the gravity and impact of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and affirms its relevance in the 21st century. As the forces of fundamentalism, intolerance, and violence intensify in today’s world, Messiaen’s prophecy seems all the more timely,” says cellist Matt Haimovitz. Quartet for the End…

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Great recordings are easy to review. Likewise bad ones. About 99.5 percent of all releases fall somewhere in between. Of these, four in five quickly outlast their initial attraction. I had high hopes for Shostakovich’s first symphony from the Luxembourg Philharmonic and its Spanish music director, Gustavo Gimeno. The orchestra has announced a multi-record contract with the Dutch label, Pentatone, one of the last remaining labels that puts sound quality first. Gimeno, until lately principal percussionist with the Concertgebouw orchestra, has got plenty of wind in his sails. So what’s wrong with this release? Hard to isolate it. I ordered…

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