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High Voltage Chamber Music Jan Järvlepp (composer) Sirius Quartet Arcadian Winds Jae Cosmos Lee Navona records NV6366 ★★★★✩ After two critically acclaimed albums in 2020, Ontario composer Jan Järvlepp returns with High Voltage Chamber Music, which presents four chamber works recorded between 2019 and 2020 and performed by the Sirius Quartet, Arcadian Winds and the formidable American violinist Jae Cosmos Lee. Järvlepp’s style is normally distinguished by the effective use of orchestral forces, a quality evident in his large-scale works. His writing for small ensemble bears witness to the same architectural thinking. Composing for quartets and quintets, Järvlepp remains just…

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English Songs à la française. Songs by Gounod, Hahn, Massenet, Milhaud, Poulenc, Roussel, Ravel, Saint-Saëns Tyler Duncan, baritone. Erika Swtizer, piano Bridge 9537 ★★★★✩ The catalogue of English settings by French composers is not vast, but neither is it inconsiderable, to judge by this intriguing recital by the New York State-based Canadian baritone Tyler Duncan. Most of the songs are in merry major mode. Saint-Saëns’s gloomy “‘Tis better so,” after the harmless “Cherry-Tree Farm,” is an exception. There are artful evocations of folksy British harmony or rhythm: Ravel is successful with minimal means in his Chanson écossaise (a setting of…

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Sound visionaries Works by Debussy, Messiaen, Boulez  Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano Navona Records NV6358 ★★★★✩ The Toronto pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico has built her career on the twin pillars of contemporary and Canadian repertoire. Here she goes international with incisive results. The angular and structural properties of  Debussy’s Book 2 Préludes (we hear a selection of eight) are given full value. Seven of Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus are brilliantly lit for all to see. The solemn chorale and treble cascades of Première communion de la vierge are sharply contrasted. Who would have thought that a “regard” of baby Jesus…

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Sibelius: Symphony No. 3 Orchestre Métropolitain Yannick Nézet-Séguin  ATMA Classique ACD24033 ★★★★✩ Least loved of the brood of seven, Sibelius’s Third Symphony is known (to the extent that it is known at all) as a modest classical interregnum between the heroic Second and tragic Fourth. This latest instalment in the Orchestre Métropolitain cycle under Yannick Nézet-Séguin sharpens its profile with crisp strings and tangy woodwinds held in a handsome balance. There are shadows and sunbeams under Nézet-Séguin’s exacting direction, and wonders of contrapuntal and colouristic interplay. The Andantino con moto second movement is as close to chamber music as orchestral…

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Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21; Scherzos (4); Etude Op. 10 No. 12 (“Revolutionary”); Impromptu No. 1 in A flat major Op. 29; Nocturne in E flat major Op. 9 No. 2 Seong-Jin Cho, piano Deutsche Grammophon DG 28948604395 ★★★★★ The 27-year-old South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho won the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 2015 and made a DG recording shortly thereafter devoted to Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and the Ballades. This new CD is a companion volume and one expects there will be more Chopin to come from this outstanding artist. Each time out he displays dazzling technique…

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Louise Farrenc: Symphony No. 1 in C minor Op. 32; Symphony No. 3 in G minor Op. 36 Insula Orchestra/Laurence Equilbey  Erato 190296698446 ★★✩✩✩ There is no question that the classical music business has done a poor job of providing equal opportunity for female composers and conductors. The present generation is trying hard to do something about that and this new recording provides an excellent example. Both the composer and conductor are Frenchwomen. Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) studied with Hummel and Reicha and was a professor of piano at the Paris Conservatoire for more than 30 years. She composed a great…

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A major page is about to turn. The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) in September announced the retirement of its artistic director Walter Boudreau. “The challenges ahead for the SMCQ, as well as for music and the arts in the post-pandemic world, will be unprecedented, demanding and exhilarating,” Anik Schooner, chairman of the board of the new-music society, said in a statement. “That’s why I think it’s the right time to pass the torch.” 33 Eager to ensure a smooth transition, this man with no inhibitions and a head brimming with ideas had already informed the board, near…

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Montreal, Oct. 4, 2021. Clavecin en concert is proud to announce Fantaisies au pianoforte, a recital by Mélisande McNabney to be held Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the concert hall of the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. Fantasy in music has a long history, and keyboard instruments are its main vectors. In the 18th century in Germany, the fantasia is presented as a kind of notated improvisation, related to the prelude and toccata. The fantasia can reveal the “genius” of its composer, exhibit the virtuosity of the performer or create an atmosphere full of dramatic surprises… Program…

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13 young pianists from an international pool of 72 invited to participate in the 6th Claudette Sorel Piano Competition Musicians from the United States, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland applied this year Final Round on Sunday, November 7, 2021, to be streamed live Now in its sixth year and named for pianist and SUNY Distinguished Professor Claudette Sorel,The Claudette Sorel Piano Competition is open to young pianists of all nationalities ages 15 – 18. Created specifically for young pianists who are passionate about piano performance and repertoire to encourage their growth in a healthy, supportive environment, and designed to…

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Opéra de Montréal Riders to the Sea/Le Flambeau de la nuit What you missed A dark double bill (Sept. 25) linking one-act operas by Vaughan Williams (1927) and Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse (premiere). Both deal earnestly with tragedy at sea and the loss of family. The strong cast led by the deep-toned mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy included some good Atelier prospects. Tanguay-Labrosse proved an effective conductor of both the moody music of Riders and his own more eclectic score. I Musici de Montréal sounded vibrant in the pit of the Théâtre Maisonneuve. Director Édith Patenaude managed the quiet entry of the chorus (the…

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