Browsing: Classical

Flash version here. Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 12 in A major K. 414 & No. 13 in C major K. 415 Karin Kei Nagano, piano; Cecilia String Quartet Analekta AN2 8765  (51 m) Is it in the genes? No, but genes play a major role in the creation of musical talent, especially so in the case of 15-year-old Karin Kei Nagano. Her father, Kent Nagano, has been the music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal since 2006 and recently renewed his contract until 2020. Karin’s mother, Mari Kodama, is herself a fine pianist with an international reputation. Against this background,…

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Like so many kids growing up in North America in the 1950s, my life was hugely enriched by Sid Caesar’s comedy on television. He was a genius at what he did, and in my book there is greater gift than being able to make people laugh. Sid Caesar had a remarkable gift for sketch comedy, the kind of thing we celebrate today on “Saturday Night Live.” While we are at it, let’s not forget the contribution to this genre made by so many Canadian comic actors on SCTV. Caesar had a Chaplinesque talent for physical comedy. He had a rubber face,…

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This Week in Toronto (Feb. 10 -16)- Joseph SoSir Thomas Allen (Photo: Sussie Ahlburg)One of the joys of attending performances at the Canadian Opera Company is the opportunity to hear visiting artists on both the opera and the recital stage. No, it doesn’t happen with every visitor, but when it does, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. The great Sir Thomas Allen is in town for Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, essentially a character baritone role, albeit one with plenty of beautiful music. I attended opening night and Sir Thomas burned up the stage with his dramatic flair…

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This Week in Toronto (Jan. 13 – 19)- Joseph SoThe long awaited Canadian Opera Company’s winter season opens this week with Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. This new production is directed by Canadian filmmaker and opera director Atom Egoyan, whose COC operatic credits include part of the Ring cycle and the recently revived Salome. I attended a working rehearsal last weekend and was thoroughly intrigued by the new staging. The voices and acting are really good. Look forward to the opening on Saturday Jan. 18 at 7:30 pm. It stars up and coming Canadians soprano Layla Claire (Fiordiligi) and mezzo Wallis…

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Schubert/Hoiby: Introduction, Theme and Variations Op. 82 No. 2/Rieti: Capers/Menotti: SebastianVienna State Opera Orchestra/Jonathan Sternberg Pierian 0050 (78 m 35 s)Jonathan Sternberg was music director of the Harkness Ballet in 1966-68. He led performances with the company on tour across the U.S. and in Europe and South America. These recordings were probably made during a tour of Europe in 1967, but they were never released.Leo Hoiby (1926-2011) was an American pianist-composer who often worked with the Harkness Ballet. He orchestrated an obscure piano four-hands piece by Schubert into a sort of concerto movement for piano and orchestra. It is a…

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This Week in Toronto (Dec. 16 – 29)- Joseph SoSoprano Natalie Dessay now in a second career as a chanteuse, at Koerner Hall (Photo: Joseph So)The new concert duo – composer Michel Legrand and soprano Natalie Dessay (Photo: Joseph So)French diva Natalie Dessay made her Toronto debut on Sunday Dec. 15, not as an opera singer, but as a French chanteuse. Like everything she does, Dessay is totally convincing. She sang with a microphone, bantering with her concert partner the great songwriter Michel Legrand, backed by musicians from Les Violons du Roy. The concert was late by about 20 minutes…

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There have been dozens of recordings of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony made over the years. The first one dates from the 1920s. It would be a daunting task to listen to them all and make detailed comparisons. But someone has gone to the trouble of taking just the two opening chords and comparing performances of them in chronological order. No commentary is offered. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions. What does it all mean? Probably very little. It would be foolish to compare performances of the Eroica Symphony, a work lasting about 45 minutes, just based on what the conductor…

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This Week in Toronto (Nov. 25 – Dec. 1)- Joseph SoPinchas Zukerman (Photo: Paul Labelle)The National Arts Centre Orchestra, under its artistic directorship of Pinchas Zukerman, is making one of it frequent visits to Toronto on Saturday Nov. 30 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall. It was announced not too long ago that Zukerman will be leaving his position in 2015, so this is a good opportunity to catch him before he departs. He is playing the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3, and conducting the Shostakovich Symphony No. 10. http://tso.ca/Home.aspxBritish conductor Edward Gardner, currently conducting Der Rosenkavalier at the Met a…

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Opera de Montreal’s Atelier Lyric Performs a Menotti Double BillFor its annual production, the Atelier Lyric at the Opera de Montreal presents two one-act operas by Gian Carlo Menotti: The Old Maid and the Thief and Amahl and the Night Visitors. Musical direction is provided by Robin Wheeler and staging by Martine Beaulne. This production is in collaboration with the Canadian National Theatre School. Four performances are planned and will take place at the Monument National, April 13, 16, 18 and 20 at 7:30 pm. www.operademontreal.com – Daniel TurpChants Libres: Oper’Actuel 2013 – Works in Progress, 4th editionDirected by Pauline Vaillancourt,…

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Herbert von Karajan was one of the most renowned conductors of his generation, but he started his career as a pianist and returned to the keyboard from time to time in later years. He was especially fond of playing harpsichord in performances of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. With two younger colleagues – Christoph Eschenbach and Justus Frantz – he also made a specialty of Mozart’s Concerto for Three Pianos and Orchestra. In this performance recorded in 1971 Eschenbach took the first part, Frantz the second and Karajan the third. At the time both Eschenbach and Frantz had major careers as soloists…

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