“Only good news from the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club,” Constance Pathy, president of the venerable organization, said at the formal launch of the 2020-21 season.
The announcement came a day before some not-so-good news, as the LMMC was forced to cancel the March 15 appearance of the Pavel Haas Quartet with pianist Boris Giltburg, thus joining several Quebec organizations (and countless worldwide) affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
A recital on April 5 by the Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov is also cancelled. Premier François Legault’s ban on gatherings numbering more than 250, announced on March 12, was intended to remain in effect for 30 days.
Still, the 129th season looks quite in keeping with LMMC tradition. One might even construe no news as good news, since the series of 10 Sunday afternoon programs at Pollack Hall is offered at an unchanged subscription price of $300 ($80 for students 26 and under).
There are four LMMC debuts and a second debut, of the Talich Quartet, which on Oct. 25 makes its first appearance under the auspices of the society since 1964, the year of its founding by violinist Jan Talich. Jan Talich Jr. now leads this Czech ensemble.
One newcomer with considerable star power is Angelika Kirchschlager (Feb. 7), an Austrian mezzo-soprano noted for her performances of Mozart and Strauss, often at the Vienna State Opera. This holder of the national honour of Kammersängerin sings at the annual Schubertiade festival in Schwarzenberg. The LMMC does not announce programs in advance but Kirchschlager will be singing Schubert’s Winterreise in a few locations next season.
Rémi Geniet, a French pianist who in 2011 became, at 20, the youngest prizewinner of the Bonn International Beethoven Competition, makes his LMMC debut on Dec. 6 in a program that is likely to include Beethoven. It will not, however, be an all-Beethoven concert, even though it falls 10 days before the 250th birthday of this composer. “We don’t do all-Beethoven or all-anything,” Pathy said, affirming the longstanding LMMC preference for a variety of masters.
Another young Frenchman, cellist Victor Julien-Laferrière, plays on March 21, 2021, in a return engagement. “He comes from good stock,” Pathy said of this student of Roland Pidoux, a former LMMC frequent flier with the Trio Pennetier-Pasquier-Pidoux.
Javier Perianes, a Spaniard who makes his LMMC debut on April 11, 2021, counts Daniel Barenboim, Richard Goode and Alicia de Larrocha among his mentors. Completing the roster of debutants is the Danish String Quartet (Feb. 28), a group that impressed Pathy as “a special bunch” in Bourgie Hall in January. These players are noted for their Beethoven but are also accomplished practitioners of the quartets of their countryman Carl Nielsen (1865-1931).
Returning artists other than the Talich and Julien-Laferrière are the Calidore String Quartet (Sept. 13), a young American group that caught Pathy’s ear at the McGill String Quartet Academy; French pianist Lise de la Salle (Oct. 4); American violinist Rachel Barton Pine (Nov. 15); and the Jerusalem Quartet (May 2, 2021).
Both Pine and Julien-Laferrière will appear with piano accompanists, possibly Jonas Vitaud in the case of the latter. (Violinist James Ehnes will give a solo recital to conclude the present season on April 26.) The presence of four string quartets but no piano trio on the lineup reflects an international oversupply of fine foursomes and shortage of acceptable threesomes, according to a few members of the LMMC committee. Not many piano trios meet the standards of the Montrose Trio, which performed for the Ladies in December.