Browsing: Classical

PREVIEW: Of “Cycles of My Being,” Carnegie Hall, April 24, 2018 – the New York premiere of a new song cycle by composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terrance Hayes, performed by tenor Lawrence Brownlee; and REVIEW: Of the song cycle’s earlier world premiere at Opera Philadelphia, February 20, 2018. “Cycles of My Being” – a new art song cycle about the contemporary black male experience, is a compact, provocative, movingly confessional musical experience. Created specifically for, and in collaboration with, acclaimed operatic tenor Lawrence Brownlee, the work proves to be an eloquent and lyrical disburdening of pain and alienation –…

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Montreal International Guitar Festival and Competition Again this year, the Montreal International Guitar Festival and Competition promises to be an event to follow. The program involving artists François Fowler, Jesus Serrano Huitron, Emma Rush, Roberto Fabri, Samuel Coyle, Tariq Harb, Jeffrey McFadden and Dave Pilon guarantees a rare spectacle. The festival continues its youth competition in addition to offering many master classes. Concerts start at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The musical cocktail is a mix of musicians of different nationalities. May 25-27, D.B. Clarke Theater. www.guitaremontreal.com 21C Music Festival The 21C Music Festival celebrates its fifth anniversary with…

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“The vision I had of ECM + 30 years ago has remained virtually intact,” says Véronique Lacroix, artistic director of the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal. Lacroix directs the ensemble, which she founded in 1987 as a graduate of the Montreal Conservatoire, with the same ardour and the same philosophy. “Our mandate was clear: to present multidisciplinary creations, to introduce today’s Canadian composers to the general public and to develop a specialist ensemble in contemporary music. It is still done verbatim, year after year.” An admiration for the “total artwork” espoused by Wagner leads Véronique Lacroix towards multidisciplinarity as the guiding…

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Jean-Jacques Nattiez, author of four works on the master of Bayreuth, has just published The Hidden Stories of Richard Wagner: Poetic Art, Dream and Sexuality (Presses de l’Université de Montréal). Nattiez has volunteered to create a synthesis of his key ideas on the artwork at the centre of his life, without technical digressions and scholarly references. Here are excerpts from his book. Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is a central figure in the history of music and lyrical theatre by virtue of the 10 operas today considered part of the repertoire but also owing to texts which, in their French translation, fill…

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The Montreal Russian Seasons, a celebration of Slavic art and culture, takes place this year from May 10 to June 2. The organizers have put the accent on the Jewish and Yiddish influence in Slavic countries. The opening cocktail and gala concert on May 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Centre culturel Notre-Dame-de-Grâce features Ewa Sas, violin; Jean-Michel Dubé, piano; Johanne Patry, mezzo-soprano; and the Montreal Piano Duo, who will play piano four-hands repertoire. For its sixth edition, this festival hopes to introduce the richness of the Slavic culture to the Quebec and Canadian public by drawing attention to the…

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At the 21st Opus prize gala on Feb. 4, the Conseil québécois de la musique (CQM) awarded the Opus Hommage to Lorraine Vaillancourt for her significant contribution to contemporary music. Moved by this tribute in her honour, Vaillancourt admits that she rarely takes pause to reflect on her past. She lives from day to day, but with an eye to the future. It must be this anchorage in the present that has allowed her to dedicate her professional life to the music of her time. Unwavering Originally from Arvida, Saguenay, Vaillancourt chose the path of music at the age of…

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Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian created a sensation in 1997 by winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and, three years later, first prize at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia. Audiences and juries alike were captivated by her clear, warm soprano and innate personality. “Because I was the ‘outsider,’ the biomedical engineer, I was blissfully unaware of the pressures and the mind games that often sabotage a singer’s performance in competitions,” said Bayrakdarian. “I just loved to sing, and to express and live the words that I was singing was pure oxygen to me. I never compared myself to any other singer, which…

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World-renowned pianist Angela Hewitt says she is “on the mend” after having fallen down a set of stairs on Jan. 24 at a church in Oxford, England, 90 minutes before she was to perform Book 1 of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier for the first time in 10 years. Though the pain was “terrible,” she went on stage just the same, with the help of two strong men, ice and a wheelchair. She couldn’t use the left pedal or put any weight on her left foot, which she later learned was broken. “I don’t like to disappoint people,” Hewitt explained. By then, the crowd…

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The Mirror with Three Faces Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2. Lera Auerbach: Piano Trios No. 1 and No. 2. Delta Piano Trio. Odradek Records ODRCD350. Total Time: 63:40. The Delta Piano Trio call their new disc The Mirror with Three Faces. Their account of Shostakovich’s second piano trio, dated 1944, leaves no doubt as to the composer’s state of mind in the closing stages of World War II. Ostensibly a tribute to a late friend, Ivan Sollertinsky, the work ripples with anger and frustration at pointless deaths and ruined lives – the appalling legacy of the Stalin-Hitler era. The last…

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Stravinsky: Chant Funèbre, Fireworks, Scherzo fantastique, Le Faune et la Bergère, The Rite of Spring. Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Riccardo Chailly, conductor. Sophie Koch, mezzo. Decca 028948325627. Total Time: 70:35. This premiere release of a lost Stravinsky has a fabulous back story. In 1908 the young Igor, unknown and in his mid-20s, wrote a funeral ode for his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The music was played at Rimsky’s obsequies and then apparently lost, until the parts turned up in 2015 in a St. Petersburg archive. Valery Gergiev won the rights to give the first modern performance, while Decca won the recording rights.…

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