Browsing: Piano

Musical lullabies can quickly outlast their welcome. Everybody’s had the Brahms Wiegenlied sung to them at some point in infancy and many have experienced the sleepy time duet in Hansel and Gretel, the one they sing just before the witch becomes their nightmare. But one hearing is usually all I can bear of these bonbons. The beauty of this compilation by the French pianist Bertrand Chamayou is that it leads the ear down unexpected paths – some overgrown like Janacek’s crystalline opener, others unexpected, neglected or altogether unknown. Two etudes by Sergei Liapunov are drops of perfect chamomile. A dollop…

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The Royal Conservatory proudly announces the eighth edition of the 21C Music Festival, which will include four livestreams from Saturday, January 16 to Thursday, February 18, 2021. It will feature a plethora of Canadian women, as three of the four events will be performed exclusively by women: violinist Angèle Dubeau with her string ensemble La Pietà, whose mission has concentrated on an ongoing quest for virtuosity, aimed at making outstanding music accessible to all audiences while offering new repertoires drawn from a wide variety of musical influences; pianist Eve Egoyan, whose intense focus, command of the instrument, insightful interpretations, and unique programs welcome…

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The second piano by Sergei Prokofiev was the least performed of the five until Evgeny Kissin came along a decade ago and showed it was not only playable but pleasant. At this early stage in his emergence – the opus number is in the low teens – Prokofiev was more inclined to be rebarbative than agreeable. But once Kissin stripped off the barbed wire, an underlying soft centre was exposed and other pianists piled in to make the once-deterrent concerto practically an audience draw. The Vienna Philharmonic were touring it only this week in Japan. Of the half-dozen interpretations I…

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by Luke Welch From an early age I was quick to realize that there were not (m)any other young black pianists who were learning how to play classical music – at least that I had ever met. Fast forward a couple of decades, and nothing has changed. No “growth of the sport,” no “catering to a wider audience.” Why? The question invites a chicken-and-egg analysis. Is there a lack of interest in classical music within the black community because it is so underrepresented at the highest levels? Or is the lack of representation another form of systemic discouragement directed toward…

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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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