Browsing: Piano

by Paul E. RobinsonThere is no one hotter in the world of classical music today than Chinese pianist Lang Lang. What a coup for Maestro Christoph Eschenbach and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra (SHFO) that he agreed to be the featured soloist on their first North American tour! In this extraordinarily long tour of twenty-three concerts in thirty-two days, Lang Lang played concertos by Prokofiev, Mozart and Beethoven, with Eschenbach at the podium. I caught up with this remarkable road show at the Long Center in Austin, Texas.An Intimate Destination for Music Festival ConnoisseursThe Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival is based in Salzau…

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Soprano Serena Farnocchia (Photo courtesy of Atelier Musicale srl)With the spring opera season in full swing, the musical offerings are varied and delectable. Top on my list is the opening of one of Donizetti’s “Three Queens” – Maria Stuarda, at the Canadian Opera Company. This is the first fully staged production of this opera in Canada. It has a really great cast, headed by Italian soprano Serena Farnocchia in the title role. She was Luisa Miller for the COC, impressing everyone with her limpid, gleaming tone. She is also a wonderful Liu and Mimi, the last I heard her sing…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehI was one of the few people who didn’t give Louis Lortie a standing ovation at Koerner Hall this afternoon.I have a deep respect for Lortie, who has long been a favourite pianist of mine, and not because he’s Canadian. I have attended many of his concerts and masterclasses and he has never let me down before. Just last March, when he played Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, I quietly shed a few tears during the moving adagio.However, Lortie was a very different pianist in an all-Chopin recital today. He struggled…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehIf the performance quality of a group of young musicians making their North American debut tour is any indication, classical music is in good hands. On April 6, a near sold-out Roy Thomson Hall erupted for conductor Christoph Eschenbach and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra in a program that would appeal to any classical music novice.Founded by Leonard Bernstein, the Germany-based Schleswig-Holstein trains in the 19th-century Salzau Castle north of Hamburg. It consists of musicians under the age of 27 handpicked through a rigorous auditioning process.Opening the program with Prokofiev’s Symphony # 1 (the Classical Symphony), Eschenbach, who conducted by memory,…

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Image from Giiwedin, a First Nations opera by Spy Denomme-Welch and Catherine MagowanMy first choice this week is the premiere of Giiwedin, a First Nations opera by Spy Donomme-Welch and Catherine Magowan. It tells the story of Noodin-Kwe, a 150 year old native woman fighting for her land. I wrote the cover story in the new issue of The Music Scene, which you can access athttp://www.scena.org/tms/tmspdfindex.html It stars First Nations mezzo-soprano Marion Newman in the role of Noodin-Kwe. The preview is on April 6, 8 pm at the Theatre Passe Muraille. The show opens on April 8, 8 pm. Performances…

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Yefim Bronfman (Photo: Dario Acosta)This being Easter Week, the music scene is heavy on sacred works, in venues large and small. A good choice is Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Sacred Music for a Sacred Place, on Good Friday, April 2, 7:30 pm at St. Paul’s Basilica. Noel Edison conducts a program of more contemporary sacred pieces by Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Pavel Lukaszewski and Timothy Corliss. Rick Phillips presents a pre-concert chat at 6:50 pm. For ticket information, go to http://www.tmchoir.org/purchase/singleTix.cfm?ID=484If you aren’t into religious music, here’s the antithesis of Sacred Music – the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has TSO Goes Vegas:…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehThere was a bear on stage at Roy Thomson Hall Wednesday night, and he consumed the black Steinway concert grand like a toy piano.OK, the Siberian-born pianist Denis Matsuev isn’t a bear, but the 34-year-old with all his Russian roar was bear-like in his performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 — lovable and cuddly on the outside, powerful on the inside, and prone to be violent in extreme situations.Backed by conductor Valery Gergiev and the touring Mariinsky Orchestra (formerly the Kirov Orchestra), the Rach 3 was the centrepiece of an all-Russian program that marked the end…

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By Hannah Rahimi and Kali HalapuaThe 86 year-old Menahem Pressler appeared last night at Pollack Hall before a packed house of appreciative musicians and music lovers. A generous performer, Pressler smiled throughout the evening, possessed with a twinkling energy that fueled his playing and spread throughout the audience. Well-programmed, the concert consisted of Dvorak’s Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, performed with the Cecilia String Quartet, McGill’s graduate quartet in residence, followed by Schubert’s beloved “Trout” quintet, performed with McGill faculty members, Jonathan Crow (violin), Douglas McNabney (viola), Matt Haimovitz (cello) and Ali Yazdanfar (double bass).The young Cecilia Quartet presented…

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by Paul E. RobinsonLast week, at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Peter Bay and the Austin Symphony presented an all-Russian program: Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, followed by the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3, and closing with the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, the Russian composer’s most popular symphony.As always, Maestro Bay had prepared well and interpreted the music with assurance and without exaggeration of any kind. In the opening piece, Vocalise, Bay went for a nuanced, understated beauty that suited this slight work very well. Personally, I would like to hear more expansive phrasing in some sections, but then I may…

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Pianist Avan Yu gives a noon hour concert at The New Classical 96.3 FM on March 1, the 200th anniversary of Frederic Chopin’s birthday.Photo: Soula ZizidisOn Monday March 1st, the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Toronto’s classical radio station, The New Classical 96.3 FM, opened its doors by inviting music lovers for a free noon hour concert starring Chinese Canadian pianist Avan Yu, winner of the 2004 Canadian Chopin Competition. It was followed by a lunch reception, complete with birthday cake! Broadcast live over the airwaves as well as webcast…

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