Browsing: Chamber Music

What can you do with 3 sopranos and 2 altos. Be inventive, that’s what. The all-women quintet Papagena have come up with a range of unaccompanied songs, settings and original commissions that often takes the breath away. Don Macdonald’s Moonset, for instance, does just what the title says: it sinks, gently, bringing hope of a new day, a breath of fresh air. Libby Larsen’s Jack’s Valentine declares ‘I love you’ with just the right degree of equivocation. Sweet Child O’Mine is a Guns N Roses hit reset for a capella voice – magic. Apart from Larsen, David Lang, Tchaikovsky and Gustav Holst, I don’t recognise any…

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“Only good news from the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club,” Constance Pathy, president of the venerable organization, said at the formal launch of the 2020-21 season. The announcement came a day before some not-so-good news, as the LMMC was forced to cancel the March 15 appearance of the Pavel Haas Quartet with pianist Boris Giltburg, thus joining several Quebec organizations (and countless worldwide) affected by the coronavirus outbreak. A recital on April 5 by the Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov is also cancelled. Premier François Legault’s ban on gatherings numbering more than 250, announced on March 12, was intended to remain in…

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Meet Jonathan Cohen, cellist, baroque cellist, classical cellist, orchestral player, chamber musician, Cambridge scholar, pianist, harpsichordist, conductor, recreational sailor, father of one. And most importantly for our purposes, music director of Les Violons du Roy. The native of Manchester and resident of London has held that position since 2017, although a Montreal music fan might be forgiven for supposing that Bernard Labadie was still at the helm. This season alone, the founding conductor of Les Violons has led Handel’s Messiah in the Maison symphonique and is booked to conduct a double-Requiem night (Fauré and Duruflé) on April 4. “I get…

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Nadia Labrie launches a new installment of her ongoing series of recordings entitled Flute Passion on Feb. 12. As a follow-up to her previous Analekta album devoted to Schubert, Labrie turns her attention to Bach, a composer she first fell in love with during her student days and whose music she wanted to dedicate a recording to someday. “I had been thinking about doing Bach for my series almost as long as I did about Schubert,” Labrie confides. “I first thought of it when I was 20, and it became an idée fixe. In my spare time, I’d go back…

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A harmonium you only find in heaven,” Boris Brott said from his earthly lodgings in Montreal. “And even there they get tired of pumping with their feet.” The music director of the Orchestre classique de Montréal was explaining why the Viennese program of Feb. 16 in Victoria Hall in Westmount will involve that least classical of all instruments – a synthesizer. “A synthesizer that sounds like a harmonium,” he clarified. Also known as a pump organ, the harmonium is indeed in short supply, its heyday having passed about a century ago, which is approximately when Arnold Schoenberg and his acolytes…

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Haydn’s Op. 77 No. 1, Mendelssohn’s Op. 13, Beethoven’s Op. 131: The program is logical enough. After all, the Elias String Quartet takes its name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah – Elias being the German form. Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Sharp Minor Op. 131 is a towering masterpiece, and this is the composer’s 250th anniversary year. Mendelssohn wrote his String Quartet No. 2 in A minor in 1827, when he was 18, months after Beethoven’s death. The influence of the late string quartets of the master is quite clear in the work of his young admirer. As for Haydn’s String Quartet in G Major Op.…

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I love Wozzeck,” Elisa Citterio, 43, said in a cozy spot in Trinity-St. Paul’s, the renovated church in Toronto where Tafelmusik presents most of its concerts. “I played it twice. And Lulu.” If operas by Alban Berg seem a curious choice of favourites for the music director of the best-known baroque ensemble of English Canada, they faithfully reflect the upbringing of a violinist who grew up in Brescia, an hour from Milan, and dreamed from youth of playing in the orchestra of La Scala. Citterio realized her dream, after orthodox training as a “modern” violinist, first by serving as concertmaster…

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Never miss a Quatuor Molinari concert. It might end up being a Prix Opus-winning event. Actually, I had a few reasons turn up at the Conservatoire on the final evening of January. One was an opportunity to hear Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 4 – probably the first in Montreal since this enterprising ensemble played a Schoenberg cycle in 2012. One can understand why the Fourth is a less-than-frequent flyer on the standard chamber circuit. Made of 12 tones and multiple time signatures, it poses considerable technical and intellectual challenges, which the Molinaris managed adroitly in this taut reading. The rigour…

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Something was missing at the inaugural performance of the Montrose Trio on Dec. 7, 2013 in Detroit. Something that is usually conspicuous: the name of the ensemble. “The program listed all three of us individually because we hadn’t come up with a name,” Jon Kimura Parker recalled, referring to violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith as well as himself. “We promised the presenter we would announce it at our opening concert.” Which they did. And celebrated backstage by opening a bottle of Château Montrose, a highly regarded Bordeaux that happens to share a name with the arts district of…

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La Chapelle de Québec isn’t performing its first Messiah by Handel – far from it. On this side of the Atlantic, tradition has it that this oratorio is sung during the Christmas season. Each performance seems to bring its share of new experiences. This year, the ensemble will be joined on stage by soloists of international renown, including British countertenor Tim Mead. “Collaborating with such talented artists opens up new interpretive possibilities, such as the choice of arias I can do,” said Bernard Labadie. For the founder and music director of La Chapelle de Québec, it’s essential to keep the…

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