Browsing: Contemporary

Martinu: Double concertos (Pentatone) It feels like I’ve spent half my life trying to persuade people that the next composer they should discover is Bohuslav Martinu. A Czech of limitless melodic permutations, he takes the legacies of Dvorak and Janacek forward into an early modern idiom, infused by a decade of living in Paris. I know no work of Martinu’s that outlasts my interest. He is incapable of being boring. This jam-packed recording presents three of his most scintillating works. If they don’t convert you to Martinu, nothing will. The concerto for two violins and orchestra are played blazingly by…

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Tapestry Opera continues its tradition of bringing new work to the stage this spring with a full production of The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring. Based on The Overcoat, a successful play of 1998 which in turn was based on the classic tale by Nikolai Gogol, this opera features a score by James Rolfe and a libretto by Morris Panych. The opera is a product of Tapestry’s LibLab, a program that pairs leading up-and-coming composers with the most exciting librettists working in Canada today. Panych and Rolfe were paired up in 2014; the playwright came up with the idea of reworking…

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Geraldine Mucha: Macbeth (ArcoDiva) Late in the Second World War, a Scottish girl in London fell in love with a Czech journalist. Geraldine Mucha was a rising talent at the Royal Academy of Music. Jiri Mucha was the son of a world-renowned artist, the man who had remade the fin-de-siecle image of Sarah Bernhardt in a style as unmistakable and widely imitated as Gustav Klimt’s. Newly married, the Muchas returned in autumn 1945 to Prague where, with Rafael Kubelik, they organised the first Prague Spring Festival. When the Communists seized power, Jiri was arrested as an enemy of the people…

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Fridrich Bruk: Symphonies 17 and 18 (Toccata) Some 15 years ago I was asked by one of the London orchestras to curate a series titled Other Russia, looking at the composers who fell or were pushed off the wayside under the Soviet Union. We were going to focus on the likes of Karamanov, Kancheli, Knaifel, Roslavets, Tishchenko, Ustvolskaya, Firsova and more. The scheme hit a brick wall when prominent conductors balked at unfamiliar repertoire and the orchestra feared a box-office frost, but it was a worthwhile exercise and one that some braver spirits should still take up. Among the names…

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Avner Dorman is the winner of the 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music The Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert Takes Place October 15, 2018 at Maison symphonique de Montréal Featuring the McGill Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and Guest Conductor Yoav Talmi The Azrieli Foundation is proud to announce that composer Avner Dorman is the winner of the 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music for his composition, Nigunim for Violin and Orchestra. The $50,000 cash prize is granted biennially to a composer who has written the best new major work of Jewish Music, and is accompanied by a world premiere gala performance and a professional recording of the…

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Deux (Alpha-Classics) I can’t remember when I last heard a violin-piano recital that was as ingenious and exhilarating as this. On the sleeve, the Franco-Hungarian programme looks a bit odd – the Poulenc sonata written for Ginette Neveu in 1943, a Dohnanyi setting of a waltz from Delibes’ Coppélia, the full-on Bartok sonata of 1922 and Ravel’s Tzigane to close. What do these pieces have in common? Check this: On April 8, 1922, Bela Bartok gave a recital in Paris with his compatriot Jelly d’Aranyi. Ravel was the page turner for Bartok and Poulenc for d’Aranyi. In the audience were…

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Haydn: Symphonies No. 26 and No. 86. Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3. Handel and Haydn Society. Harry Christophers, conductor. Aisslinn Nosky, violin. Coro COR 16158. Total Time: 69:15. The British conductor Harry Christophers has his own record label, Coro, which turns out a stream of fine performances, mostly with his own group The Sixteen. This release, however, is with Christophers’ other group, the venerable Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, America’s oldest performing arts organization. It presents two Haydn works written 20 years apart with Mozart’s G Major Violin Concerto sandwiched in between. It shows Haydn looking both to past…

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Woefully Arrayed : Sacred & Secular Choral & Polychoral Works Jonathan David Little, Navona Records NV6113 Woefully Arrayed by the Australian-born composer Jonathan David Little is dedicated to choral music. Recorded for the most part in churches in 2016, the six pieces have been performed by various ensembles, including Vox Futura, the Thomas Tallis Society Choir and The Stanbery Singers. As the title suggests, Little’s musical manner is in line with such Renaissance polyphonic composers as Palestrina and Josquin des Prés. However, Little does not just imitate the language of his predecessors. If he accepts the formal general characteristics, such as contrapuntal…

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Subduction Julie Thériault, Audiogramme 19075801072 Inspired by geology, the pianist, composer and arranger Julie Thériault last November launched her second album, Subduction. This term refers to the slow and inexorable movement of two overlapping tectonic plates. Seemingly benign, these underground movements can have dramatic effects at the surface. The metaphor is quite appropriate to describe Thériault’s music: the 11 pieces unfold and follow each other slowly and steadily, gradually increasing in dramatic intensity before reaching the cataclysmic paroxysm of the last track, Magma. Thériault’s delicate and serious articulation introduces the main melodies as accompanying instruments appear, thickening the sound as…

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1747 : C.P.E. Bach Infusion Baroque, Sonates en trio Wq.145 à 148 et Wq. 150, Leaf Music, 63 min 48 s In 1747, J.S. Bach traveled to Berlin to visit his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. There he composed The Musical Offering, at the heart of which is a trio sonata. This may have inspired C.P.E. In the same year, he reworked several trio sonatas he had written at 17 in collaboration with his father. He offered a modern version, halfway between baroque aesthetics and the new galant style. The Montreal ensemble Infusion Baroque made a wise choice by selecting this seductive repertoire, still…

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