Browsing: Contemporary

by Paul E. Robinson It was just over a year ago that Austin music lovers last heard Anne Akiko Meyers (photo: above) in an imaginative and brilliantly played recital at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas. Meyers had recently been appointed to the faculty at the school and – with a baby on the way – she and her husband had decided to move to Austin. What a coup for the school, its students and Austinites! We all looked forward to hearing Meyers on a regular basis; unfortunately, even the most carefully planned relationships don’t always…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehThe strange thing about the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Feb. 10 concert is that it was billed as an “interesting”, “somewhat unexpected” and “unusual and engaging” concert by music director Peter Oundjian.Strange because it’s as if Oundjian, who most likely helped program the concert, had nothing else to say about the choice of works presented except that they would be in the fine hands of guest conductor Andrey Boreyko and pianist Garrick Ohlsson.As if that would have been enough.The Russian-born Boreyko is music director of the Dusseldorfer Symphoniker. His slim physique coupled with a killer Arabian vibe in…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehAs far as operas go, John Adams’ Nixon in China is undoubtedly grand. It runs for about three hours. And judging by the Canadian Opera Company premiere of the work first debuted in Houston Grand Opera in 1987, Nixon is here to stay.The Feb. 11 performance at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts was an memorable one, whether or not you would consider paying money to watch it again in the future by the end of it.Directed by James Robinson, the set is essentially bare as to match Adams’ minimalistic score, which is heavily influenced…

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Photos: Baritone Elliot Madore to receive ARIAS Emerging Artist AwardSoprano Renee Fleming returns to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 8th 8 pm.The big news for voice fans this week is the return of soprano Renee Fleming to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. If there ever is an All-American prima donna, it would have to be Fleming – rarely does one find such a gorgeous voice combined with the drop dead beauty she possesses. She is of course a frequent visitor to Toronto – if I were to venture a guess, I would say since around 1995 she has been here…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehIt was a concert that began and concluded with mild ecstasy. British conductor Mark Wigglesworth whipped up a decent performance from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra by opening with a subdued and rather grave reading of Wagner’s Prelude to Parsifal and ending with a colourful and tightly focused account of Rachmaninoff’s expressive third symphony.But what really counted for most listeners at Roy Thomson Hall Dec. 1 was German violinist Christian Tetzlaff’s exciting showdown in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major.In this day and age, performing a piece as feverish as the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto — which easily puts the Bieber fever to shame,…

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German violinist Christian Tetzlaff plays Tchaikovsky at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week (Photo: Alexandra Vosding)The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has a surefire program this week – a winning combination of Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff! Back in town is the terrific Christian Tetzlaff playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 35 Also on the program is the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 3 in A Minor Op. 44 and Wagner’s Prelude to Parsifal. British conductor Mark Wigglesworth is at the helm. The energetic Mr. Tetzlaff has great musicality and technique to burn, so this is my choice of exciting event this…

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by Paul E. RobinsonClassical TravelsMeyerson Symphony CentreDallas, TexasOctober 22, 2010Mendelssohn: Violin ConcertoShostakovich: Symphony No. 8Nicola Benedetti, violinDallas Symphony Orchestra/Jaap van ZwedenJaap van Zweden took most of the summer off to nurse a sore shoulder. The recuperation seems to have been successful and he is back in town leading the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) with even more energy than before. Among his specialties are the symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler and Shostakovich is not far behind. Last season in Dallas he conducted a stunning performance of the Symphony No. 7 and this season he followed it up with an equally fine…

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by Paul E. RobinsonCLASSICAL TRAVELSConcert Hall, the Kennedy CenterWashington, D.C.October 16, 2010Mozart: Symphony No. 34 in C major K. 338Mahler: Symphony No. 5National Symphony Orchestra/Christoph EschenbachWho can explain the chemistry, or lack thereof, between a conductor and an orchestra? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At the moment, it is definitely working and working splendidly between Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony (NSO) in Washington, D.C; over the past four weeks they have been making music together and nearly everyone you talk to agrees that this partnership is something special. I went to hear for myself and was duly…

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By Paul E. RobinsonClassical TravelsRoy Thomson Hall, TorontoOctober, 2010Stravinsky: FireworksSibelius: Violin ConcertoShostakovich: Symphony No. 4Henning Kraggerud, violinToronto Symphony Orchestra/Jukka-Pekka SarasteThe Toronto Symphony (TSO) has the good fortune to enjoy good relations with several of its former music directors. While current music director Peter Oundjian is now well-established, conductor laureate Andrew Davis is a frequent and welcome guest conductor, and less often, maestro Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Saraste, who was music director of the TSO from 1994 to 2001, recently succeeded Semyon Bychkov as conductor of the WDR Radio Orchestra in Cologne.Solid Sibelius Follows Less than Stellar StravinskyOn this occasion, Saraste’s partnership with…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehIt’s not my kind of thing to want to watch a middle-aged man daydream about a young boy and then die of an infection in the end. But aside from the two main ingredients — love and death — one can find in Death in Venice, Benjamin Britten’s final opera, as directed by the Japanese actor, director and author Yoshi Oida, is a poignantlymoveable landscape of east meets west.In Oida’s Canadian Opera Company debut Oct. 16, the gripping production of Death in Venice came together as a piercing masterpiece. The Asian-influenced set of wooden platforms is complemented in combination with a shallow pool…

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