Browsing: Piano

Musicians don’t perform only because it is their passion: it’s also how they earn a living. The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating effect on the music industry and many institutions are under threat of closure. Performers have seen their work schedules scratched out from mid-March forward. Some are out of work until 2021. Soprano Aline Kutan and pianist Marie-Ève Scarfone discuss how their lives have been affected and how they carry on from home. Initially, the confinement came as a welcome break, an opportunity to take a step back from a hectic schedule for both musicians. After driving back…

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Like all performing artists, Dang Thai Son has modified his schedule to adapt to the ravages of COVID-19. The benefit concert he was to give in Bourgie Hall in April for Camp musical Tutti, of course, did not take place. Nor will the Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in October. That prestigious event, in which Son was to serve as a jury member, has been pushed for- ward to October 2021. We can expect a new date also for the Tutti concert. The year 2020 will be remembered by many as a time when almost nothing, artistically, happened.…

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Kenneth Gilbert, a Montreal-born organist, harpsichordist, musicologist and pedagogue who played an important role in the revival of early music, has died in Quebec City at age 88. Sources say the cause was related to Alzheimer’s disease. Gilbert in 1988 became the first Canadian to be named a full professor at the Conservatoire de Paris. Other appointments were at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Hochschule fur Musik in Stuttgart and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena and Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Gilbert made influential recordings for Archiv Produktion, Harmonia Mundi and the CBC.…

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First there was J S Bach. Then came Dmitri Shostakovich. The form is open for others to play with. I was unaware of Skempton’s contribution until this CD landed. A northern Englishman in his early 70s, Skempton is a minimalist in the absolute literal sense that he uses the fewest number of notes to make his point. Not a minim more or less. In prelude-and-fugue form this yields a string of aphorisms connected by a tonal centre and a gentle, rocking, bucolic mood. Some of the pieces last no longer than 40 seconds. The effect can be hypnotic if you…

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It was the day the music stopped – in future tense. On April 7 the City of Montreal decreed that no festivals, sporting events or public gatherings would be allowed on its “territory” through July 2 owing to the COVID-19 crisis. While it was not clear whether this announcement had any direct bearing on indoor performances, and Mayor Plante was heard telling CJAD that its decision was only for outdoor events which required a city permit, music presenters including the MSO promptly scrapped the balance of the 2019-20 season. The Orchestre Métropolitain, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival and Les Violons…

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In a dark moment of isolation, I found myself thinking of Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) a student of the atonalist Schoenberg and the microtonalist Haba who never really found his voice until darkness descended and he faced segregation and extinction. Before 1939 he’d enjoyed fragments of international attention, with a piano sonata premiered in London at the Wigmore Hall and a few more glimmers of invitation. In 1939, after the Germans occupied Prague, he set about writing a piano concerto for Juliette Aranyi, a fellow-Haba student, knowing it might never get performed. Both composer and soloist were deported in 1942 to…

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Montreal, March 17, 2020 – Following the Quebec Premier’s official announcement banning public gatherings of more than 250 people and, more recently, the announcement of the closing of Canadian borders in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Concours musical international de Montréal (CMIM) is obliged to postpone its 19th edition, scheduled for May 4 to 13, 2020. “This was an exceptionally difficult decision that was not made lightly. The current situation is evolving rapidly and we believe there will be significant impacts on logistics and international travel. Our jury members and competitors would have been travelling from close…

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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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Toronto, February 16, 2020—The Toronto Symphony performed its Valentine’s program to a full house last night featuring some of the most romantic classical music ever written. What you missed? The concert opened with the Canadian premiere of American composer Elizabeth Ogonek’s “As though birds.” The work was inspired by a three-line stanza from a poem by Jonathan Dubow. Though only three-and-a-half minutes long, it is densely packed with an immense range of orchestral timbres, with moods alternating between melancholy and euphoria. Elim Chan, Stephen Hough, Photo: Jag Gundu Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, a work that epitomizes…

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Calgary, AB, February 3, 2020—The triennial Honens International Piano Competition—distinguished for its philosophy of the Complete Artist—opens applications and announces the details of its 2021 edition. Honens awards its Prize Laureate $100,000 (CAD) and a comprehensive artistic and career development program which includes worldwide representation; debut recitals in career-building markets such as Berlin, London, New York, and Toronto; residencies and special projects; coaching and mentorship opportunities; and the production, release, and distribution of professional recordings. The prize is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Competition juries include pianists and other individuals including artist managers, collaborative musicians,…

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