Browsing: Orchestral

The late Michael Kennedy, lifelong Telegraph critic, once told me he lost interest in new music in his late sixties. Michael had known Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten and reckoned their successors were not up to the mark. We argued about the merits of Birtwistle and Turnage but his ears were not for the turning and I respected the candour of his admission. Myself, around the same age, I am still bi-curious: eager to see what the old hands are doing and keen to hear new sounds coming through. Nothing thrills me more than finding a composer I can…

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June 21, 2018, Montreal, QC – The McGill Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and Artistic Director Boris Brott are pleased to welcome Marc Djokic as the orchestra’s new concertmaster. Praised by La Presse for his “rhythmic sense and natural phrasing,” Marc Djokic is winner of the prestigious 2017-2018 Mécénat Musica Prix Goyer. A native of Halifax, Djokic is known for his powerful and virtuosic performances, as well as an engaging and down-to-earth approach that has made him an audience favourite across the country and beyond. “I’ve long been an admirer of Marc Djokic’s solo career and his expertise in chamber music,” comments…

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Montreal, June 20, 2018 – In the tradition of the popular summer concerts that filled public parks with music in the early 20th century, wind and percussion ensembles Cambridge University Wind Orchestra and Harmonie Laval will present free performances at the foot of Mount Royal on two Thursday evenings in July. The concerts will take place rain or shine (unless there’s a thunderstorm) on July 5 and 12 at the Mordecai-Richler Gazebo on Park Avenue, a stone’s throw from the Sir George-Étienne-Cartier monument. No reservations are required; simply bring a lawn chair. A return to the evenings of yesteryear Montrealers…

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If I had to choose Elgar or VW for a desert island, I know which it would be. Elgar these days seems over-familiar, where Vaughan Williams loses none of his capacity to surprise. You would not automatically guess that from the opening item on this Toronto Symphony recording, the 1938 Serenade to Music, a flossy piece which is made up of bits of Shakespeare and broderie anglaise. Moving swiftly on, the 1944 oboe concerto is an exquisite wartime consolation, a promise of green fields and scones for tea when all the unpleasantness is over. Sarah Jeffrey’s reading is ideally serene,…

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War came to an end with the Treaty of Versailles. Music societies and festivals around the world are observing the centenary and paying their respects. Reflections of Wartime is the theme of this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival, which runs from July 12 to Aug. 4. “I didn’t want it to be just World War I-inspired, but wartime-inspired in general,” artistic director Jonathan Crow explains. “An incredible wealth of music comes from wartime and not all of it dark.” Toronto Summer Music combines a festival with an academy program for pre-professional classical musicians. Most have completed their undergraduate degrees and…

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OTTAWA, May 24, 2018 /CNW/ – Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, presented a Meritorious Service Medal to Maestro Kent Nagano, conductor and music director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, during a ceremony in Montréal, Quebec, on May 24, 2018. Included below is the recipient’s citation as well as background information on the Meritorious Service Decorations. Kent Nagano, M.S.M. As the music director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), Kent Nagano rejuvenated the OSM, increasing its profile worldwide and instilling a sense of pride into the City of Montréal. He has toured with…

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Arvo Pärt: The Symphonies (ECM New Series) Worth buying for the booklet alone. A symphonic cycle from most composers marks a stately progress from imitative beginnings to a predictive summit. Think Brahms with all that Beethoven clutter in the first symphony and those weighty Mahler anticipations in the fourth. Well, Arvo Pärt is not quite like that. His first two symphonies, written in the mid-1960s, are set in Schoenbergian twelve-tone with a polyphonic overlay, an intentional affront to Soviet rule in Estonia. The third, dated 1971, marks his conversion to Russian Orthodoxy with voices from heaven, Bach chorales and other…

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Bruckner: 4th symphony/7th symphony (DG) Andris Nelsons prefaces two Anton Bruckner symphonies with small bites of Wagner – the prelude to Lohengrin and Siegfried’s funeral march. This makes sense inasmuch as Bruckner worshipped the ground that Wagner trod, but the effect is vaguely disorienting, as if one were to precede Schoenberg’s orchestral variations with Mahler’s Adagietto. The Leizpig Gewandhaus Orchestra can play this stuff in their sleep and sometimes it sounds as if that’s just what they are doing. There is a lack of momentum in the fourth symphony that is close to soporific and, though the seventh comes to life with…

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Berlioz: Harold in Italy (Hyperion) The pianist Emanuel Ax remarked the other day that performance quality has risen so high in his lifetime that you hardly ever encounter a sub-standard orchestra. On the evidence of this release Bergen in Norway, the rainiest city on earth, boasts a Philharmonic that could be mistaken on a dull day for one in Berlin. Playing Berlioz, grand master of the art of orchestration, Bergen come through with maximum points in all departments and a deep coherence across the spectrum. My only quibble is why the local engineers record the orchestra at a level so…

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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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