Browsing: Contemporary

Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra/Jeanne Lamon. Trio Arabica. Alon Nashman and Maryem Tollar, narrators. Conceived by Alison Mackay. Tafelmusik Media TMK 1035 DVD & CD. Total Time: 97:15 (DVD); 70:00 (CD). A founding member of Tafelmusik, Alison Mackay has also developed such multi-disciplinary projects as The Four Seasons: A Cycle of the Sun, The Galileo Project, House of Dreams. The latest, Tales of Two Cities, draws together music, history and culture from Europe and the Muslim world, drawing attention to what we have shared for centuries. Leipzig and Damascus have long been important as…

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Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 1 Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 3. Forsyth: Piano Concerto. Jane Coop, piano. Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra/Mario Bernardi. Skylark Music Sky1703. Total Time: 67:01. Born in New Brunswick and raised in Calgary, Jane Coop studied with Anton Kuerti in Toronto and went on to teach at the University of British Columbia from 1980 to 2012. In an era of limited recording, Coop has done the next best thing in re-issuing recordings from the 1980s, originally produced by the now defunct CBC Records. Her collaborations with the late Mario Bernardi (1930-2013) invariably produced excellent results. Short at 16 minutes,…

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CRAZY GIRL CRAZY Berio: Sequenza III. Berg: Lulu Suite. Gershwin: Girl Crazy Suite (arr. Bill Elliott & Barbara Hannigan). Barbara Hannigan, soprano and conductor. Ludwig Orchestra. Alpha Classics 293. Total Time: 57:23. At 47, the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan has emerged as an international star, praised for her work in such operas as Berg’s Lulu, George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, Louis Andriessen’s Writing to Vermeer and, notably, an excerpt from Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, which she both sang and conducted. Here she sings and conducts Berio, Berg and Gershwin. Arguably less about music than all…

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Inspired by Canada Notre Pays Music by Seitz, Léveillée, Joni Mitchell, etc. Amici Chamber Ensemble. Mireille Asselin, soprano; Joaquin Valdepeñas, clarinet; David Hetherington, cello and Serouj Kradjian, piano. Marquis 774718148520. Total time: 62:00. The Amici Chamber Ensemble recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. It is amazing that the group (clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas, cellist David Hetherington and pianist Serouj Kradjian, who has succeeded the retired Patricia Parr) has endured for so long considering that apart from trios by Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms, there is little important repertoire for this configuration of instruments. Amici gets around this problem by performing duos (for clarinet…

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Lucia di Lammermoor 4.5 Stars Opera McGill. Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor. Brittany Rae, Marcel d’Entremont, Bryan De Parsia, Jean-Philippe Mc Clish, Amelia Lubrano, Sébastien Comtois, Patrick McGill, Saraha Dufresne. McGill Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Hargreaves, conductor. Direction by Patrick Hansen. Monument National, Jan. 28. Performance 9/10 What you missed: Bumper crop at Opera McGill. Soprano Brittany Rae of Calgary, the third of three Lucias, combined pure tone, brilliant highs, natural acting and a fetching way with a phrase. Mad scenes are not always so believable. Good projection by tenor Marcel d’Entremont as Edgardo. Sturdy Enrico from baritone Bryan De Parsia, a…

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The evolution of Western European music follows a pretty clear path. From Monteverdi to Gluck, Mozart to Wagner and Strauss to Schoenberg, the dominance of German (and Austrian) composers to the present looks very logical. A whole new world opens up if we dig deeper into the Eastern European classical music tradition. While the evolution of Western music had a progressive order, developing continuously and consistently, the music of the Caucasus – and Armenia in particular – is characterized by abrupt and inconsistent development. This is due to the history and background of the region. There are, however, some similarities…

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This year, the Association des orchestres de jeunes du Québec (AOJQ) presents the 20th edition of its Quebec Festival of Youth Orchestras. The festival allows eight youth orchestras to be matched with four distinguished guest conductors, one of whom is Alain Trudel, who also happens to be the event’s spokesperson. In addition to performing onstage at the Salle André-Mathieu in Laval under the direction of their respective conductors, the orchestras will be grouped in pairs and will receive the guidance of a mentoring musician. They will then present the fruits of their labour during a gala concert held at the…

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The innovative production company La Nef presents Udistik Orkestra, a concert showcasing the oud – the Oriental lute – and directed by composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Wells-Oberegger. The show’s organizers promise a trip across various artistic universes. Concertgoers will be exposed to different currents of Middle-Eastern music, novel rearrangements of Western masterpieces and original compositions by Udistik Orkestra that explore the overlap between Oriental and Occidental traditions, all thanks to the marvelous potentialities of the oud, ancestor of the lute. This is not the only case of cultural intermingling. Wells-Oberegger offers the example of the violin, which has become…

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Hadrian Anchors a Star-Studded Season that Explores the Many Facets of Love Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company’s 2018/2019 season presents the world premiere of Hadrian, a new opera from composer Rufus Wainwright and librettist Daniel MacIvor, which features the highly anticipated COC debuts of international opera stars Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila. The COC’s 68th season offers multi-faceted perspectives on love as a contested ground of the human condition. Being presented along with Hadrian in the 18/19 season is a new COC production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin; returning COC productions of Richard Strauss’ Elektra, Mozart’s Così fan tutte and…

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Stravinsky: Chant funèbre &c (Decca) Beware the lost leavings of great composers. Time and again we get hyped up about a long-forsaken missing score, only to be cruelly awakened by the reality of its insignificance. In some case, the composer mislaid the score with good reason. In others, it adds nothing to the sum of our knowledge. Anyone care to remember a few bars of Beethoven’s 10th symphony? Or Schubert’s? The present premiere release is an exception to that ignominious rule. Here’s the back story. In 1908 Igor Stravinsky, unknown and in his mid-20s, wrote a funeral ode for his…

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