Browsing: Piano

Pianist Ingrid Fliter (Photo: Sussie Ahlburg)The concert pick for me this week is the appearance of Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She is playing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21. She won the Silver Medal in the 2000 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the same year that the Chinese pianist Yundi Li – now re-branded as Yundi – won the Gold Medal, the first time that prize was awarded for many years. Despite coming in second, Ms. Fliter has gone on to a highly respectable career. A glance at her 2010-11 season on…

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Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian as Ilia in COC’s Idomeneo(Photo: Michael Cooper)The vocal scene this week continues with all three COC productions appearing on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre. I have now seen all three, and can truthfully report that they are all hits. Yesterday I attended the opening of Idomeneo. One of my most memorable evenings at the opera was a production of this Mozart opera at the O’Keefe Centre back in 1987, with sets and costumes designed by Michael Levine. To me, that show marked a sea change of production values at the COC, from very traditional and…

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By L.H. Tiffany HsiehJust a week ago, she had to cancel her concerts due to a sore arm. But pianist Yuja Wang showed no trace of fatigue during her triumphant Toronto debut recital at Koerner Hall Saturday evening.Wang, a Chinese-born Curtis Institute grad, is a new generation artist who has risen quickly in recent years to much critical acclaim, and it was easy to see why. She walked briskly on stage, bowed in such speed and depth that her head almost banged the piano, and showered the audience with three Liszt-transcribed Schubert lieder — Gretchen am Spinnrade, Auf dem Wasser zu singen, and Der…

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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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