Browsing: Art Song

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…

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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…

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I will begin this short article on basses and baritones with eighty-eight-year-old Joseph Rouleau, our elder born in Matane, Quebec, in 1929. Joseph Rouleau left his mark on vocal arts through his great talent and artistic personality, as well as his dedication to classical music education, especially by training youth. This was evident in his 25 years at the helm of the Jeunesses Musicales Canada. Rouleau has had a distinguished international career. Of his accomplishments overseas, he was the leading bass at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden for more than twenty years. In addition, he toured the…

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Eva Gauthier spent the summers of 1922 and 1923 in Europe, studying voice with Anna Schoen-René in Berlin, renewing her acquaintance with composers and colleagues in Paris and London, and replenishing her library with new scores. When she prepared her annual New York recital for the fall of 1923, she chose an eclectic program which not only ran the gamut of styles from Purcell and Bellini to Schoenberg and Milhaud (with several first performances included), but also featured the first appearance of popular American songs in a recital program. To accompany her in this last group she engaged the 25-year-old…

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PARIS – Ever seen a conductor cry on stage? I mean, other than Leonard Bernstein? We can add to this exclusive list the name of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who was seen wiping his eyes discreetly on Sunday after Elgar’s Enigma Variations, a performance that marked the official conclusion of a six-city, seven-concert European tour by the Orchestre Métropolitain. There would be an encore: Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte, done in the supplest tones imaginable. We must resist the temptation to deem the last thing heard as the best. But goodness, what a sound. And what an ovation from the Parisians, who packed…

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HAMBURG – “Suche Karte.” Seeking ticket. This is always a good sign, quite literally, in German-speaking lands, where it is common to advertise your unhappy condition with two words writ large on a piece of cardboard. Sure enough, a visit to the box office of the Elbphilharmonie confirmed that the fifth installment  of the Orchestre Métropolitain’s tour of Europe was quite sold out. Eight thousand requests, 2,100 seats. Suche Karte. The huge demand cannot be reconciled with the usual explanations. Soloists Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Jean-Guihen Queyras are reputable enough, but hardly the stuff of a sellout. Yannick Nézet-Séguin is recognized everywhere.…

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If I look back on what they now call “the roaring Twenties”, it is like looking at a rich tapestry of almost blinding color. So much happened in those years which were marked by abundant prosperity in America and a cultural liveliness which was breathtaking. Music of our time all of a sudden became a matter of interest, and everybody felt like jumping on the bandwagon. So wrote Canadian mezzo-soprano Eva Gauthier, an artist ideally suited to a ­period that invariably attracted the ­sophisticated, the exotic, the adventurous and the new. She had already sung Satie’s music-hall tunes, was familiar…

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Born at Lac-Saint-Jean in northern Quebec, mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne has forged an acclaimed international opera career. This month she returns to her ­operatic “home”, Opéra de Montréal, for her first Quebec performances of a favourite role — the lead in Rossini’s Cinderella opera, La Cenerentola. Interviewed on the eve of the production’s first rehearsal, Boulianne is ­palpably buoyed by anticipation. “It’s very exciting,” she says. “It’s a role I’ve loved, and finally I get to do it at home. I think of it as a big gift.” The excitement also carries certain responsibilities. In February, Boulianne received an Opus Prize,…

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We cannot speak of our mezzo-sopranos and contraltos without starting with Maureen Forrester, considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest contraltos. Born in 1930 in Montreal and deceased in 2010 in Toronto, she starred on the world’s most famous stages. She was well known to the Canadian public, since there was once a time when our national radio and television paid attention to our classical artists. As the story goes, she first met Bruno Walter in 1956, launching between the lyrical artist and the conductor one of the century’s most famous relationships. Maureen Forrester’s voice was a rare…

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British-born Canadian mezzo Susan Platts has been delighting audiences around the world with her expertise in art song; her first solo album of songs by Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and ­Johannes Brahms earned her ­critical acclaim. Known for her Mahler interpretations, she’s been featured on recordings singing both the full and concert versions of Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. She’s sung Mahler with symphonies from San Diego to Baltimore, Toronto to Santa Barbara, and Philharmonics from Boston to New Mexico, to Calgary and Krakow as well as Orchestre Métropolitain, Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and Germany’s…

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