Browsing: Orchestral

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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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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To conclude its 78th season, the McGill Chamber Orchestra presents a gala in the company of tenor Marc Hervieux, its spokesperson for 2017-2018. This huge party on June 6 will have the Rialto resonating with the sound of the singer’s voice, which will be accompanied by his band as well as a string quintet comprising MCO players. The colourful setting of the famous Montreal theater will add a glamorous touch to this musical night. MCO artistic director Boris Brott has only praise for his collaborator: “To have Marc Hervieux as a spokesperson has been almost miraculous for us. We worked…

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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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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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Noted philanthropist Jacqueline Desmarais has passed away at age 89 today. Our condolences go out to her family. See below for a profile published in La Scena Musicale in 2012, the family’s official statement, and other tributes: Jacqueline Desmarais: A passion for opera (English version), La Scena Musicale, February 2012 Jacqueline Desmarais : La passion de l’opéra (version française), La Scena Musicale, février 2012 La mécène et philanthrope Jacqueline Desmarais s’éteint à 89 ans, Radio-Canada La grande mécène Jacqueline Desmarais s’éteint, La Presse Update: The Montreal Symphony under Kent Nagano will dedicate a performance of Verdi’s Requiem to her memory on the…

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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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Winnipeg, MB – February 14, 2018 – – In a press conference this morning, Terry Sargeant, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO), announced that Russian-born maestro Daniel Raiskin will be the next Music Director of the WSO commencing August 1, 2018. The public’s first opportunity to see Maestro Raiskin in action will be at The Asper Foundation Opening Night Gala on September 17, 2018 and then at concerts throughout the WSO 2018-2019 season. “The Board believes that Daniel will prove to be an excellent Music Director for the WSO,” says WSO Board Chair Terry Sargeant.…

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