Browsing: La Scena Online

So much nonsense is being spouted these days about ‘decolonising’ western music that we’ve forgotten it’s not western at all. It’s southern and eastern, arising around the Mediterranean Sea and spreading upwards into the European continent by a process of conquest and cultural supremacism. Europe was successively colonised by the Greeks, the Romans, the Mongols and the Arabs before it ever thought of spreading ‘civilisation’ to other parts of the world. This new release is a blessed relief from the decolonising agenda. It blends music from the major seaboard cultures – Greek, Italian, Judeo-Spanish and Arab – with arias from…

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Not your usual opening night. Small crowd. No mingling. No buzz. Except insofar as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Bernard Labadie proved itself equal on Sept. 11 to the repertoire at hand. This band has met only sporadically since March, mostly in popup chamber concerts that remained stubbornly under the radar. Apparently the players have not lost their team spirit and pride in playing well. Even in social-distance formation – 43 looking more like 60 as spread across the stage of the Maison symphonique – the MSO sounded like a balanced and cohesive ensemble. The start could not have been…

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I often wonder when listening to Silvestrov’s music why he is not one of the most performed living composers. His music is at once mentally challenging and aurally agreeable, beautifully constructed and unexpectedly affecting. He ought to be in every concert season. Born in Kiev in 1937 and a major catalyst in the 1960s Moscow avant-garde, Silvestrov was named ‘one of the greatest composers of our time’ by such distinguished colleagues as Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt. Yet as far as western conductors are concerned he might as well be an Mongolian herdsman for all the attention they pay to…

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Here’s a first – a record that resists categorisation. To give it one star would be an insult, two stars a gross over-estimation. No stars is as close as I can get to describe the distinctly uncomfortable feeling I get from hearing John Williams conduct his film scores with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. No discredit to Williams, a capable conductor with years of experience as director of the Boston Pops. No credit whatsoever to the Vienna Phil, an orchestra that has guarded its pedigree for almost 180 years, only to squander it on sheets of music that were written for…

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The arrival of an altogether astonishing album has made me break my solemn (and unrealistic) pledge to review only neglected composers during the Covid pandemic. Nobody could possibly call Rachmaninov neglected, although with the disruption of a regular supply of live music with a living, breathing audience this recital of solo pieces has the shock of the new – the more so when played by the Armenian artist Sergei Babayan, in his major-label debut. Babayan, 59, is best known as the teacher of Daniil Trifonov and occasional four-hand partner of Martha Argerich. Based in New York, he is an unobtrusive…

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August 30 Met Live Streams: Verdi’s Falstaff Starring Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Johnson Cano, Paolo Fanale, Ambrogio Maestri, and Franco Vassallo, conducted by James Levine. From December 14, 2013. More information here. August 29 Met Live Streams: Verdi’s Don Carlo Starring Marina Poplavskaya, Anna Smirnova, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, Ferruccio Furlanetto, and Eric Halfvarson, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From December 11, 2010. More information here. August 28 Met Live Streams: Verdi’s La Traviata Starring Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and Quinn Kelsey, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. From December 15, 2018. More information here. August 27 Met Live Streams: Verdi’s Un Ballo…

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As gatherings of up to 250 people are now permitted, the OSM is delighted to be gradually reconnecting with its audience at the Maison symphonique, beginning in September Montreal, August 20, 2020 — The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is excited to unveil its fall programming, a blend of serenity, transcendence, and poignant emotion. Despite the events of the last few months and the necessity to adapt to new circumstances, the entire OSM family has been hard at work to offer concerts beginning on September 11, many of which will be available in digital format. The pace of the Orchestra’s activity…

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It has been a while since the viola last had a powerful advocate. Timothy Ridout, 24 and British, is being touted as the next star violist. The evidence is laid out in these attractive performances with the Lausanne chamber orchestra, conducted by another gifted young Brit, Jamie Phillips. The 1934 suite for viola and orchestra and orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams demands a sympathy for the rolling contours and modest beauties of the English countyside. The suite is stitched together from English folksongs, none of them individually arresting, which gives the soloist free rein to invest them with breath and…

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Meet Jonelle Sills, soprano (Canada), new singer for Corona Serenades How has Covid-19 affected you?  During these times of physical distancing I have been privileged to be surrounded by family. Covid-19, has allowed me to slow down, take care of myself and  gain new perspectives in every area of my life. Most singing opportunities have been postponed or cancelled to ensure the spread of the Covid-19 slows down. While new opportunities have come to life, such as this. I have also been able to  participate in live outdoor performances with Jamii Esplanade and Canadian Stage. Jamii (Swahili for ‘community’) is…

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Meet Dominic Veilleux, bass-baritone, singer for Corona Serenades, (Canada) How has the pandemic affected you? Like most people in artistic fields, I saw all my contracts cancelled one after the other. The advantage of having all this free time is that I’ve really been able to concentrate on my technique and take time to reconnect with my voice. We live very quickly, contract after contract, and we sometimes risk forgetting why we do this in the first place. So, the pandemic has had a positive impact on me, as it has allowed me to make use of this time to…

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