Montreal Bach Festival 2017
The 11th Montreal Bach Festival will be held from November 17 to December 3. Since its launch in 2005, which featured the renowned Musica Antiqua Köln ensemble among others, the Bach Festival has continued to bring exceptional Canadian and international artists together each year. This year’s line-up showcases four choirs with an imposing international presence. For their second time in Montreal, the Thomanerchor Leipzig children’s choir performs a prelude to the festival in a captivating program at the Notre Dame Basilica, including major sacred works by Bach and Mendelssohn (November 8).
In the opening concert at the Maison symphonique, the Czech Republic’s Collegium 1704 will present the Mass in B minor, conducted by its founder and artistic director, Václav Luks (November 17). The Vox Luminis choir from Belgium will perform an original program celebrating the Reformation and Martin Luther, including works from several members of the Bach family (November 20). The Ensemble Jacques Moderne from France will perform compositions by three masters of the Baroque era, Monteverdi, Scarlatti, and Bach (November 30).
The Montreal Symphony Orchestra, a partner of the festival, pairs Bach with Mozart in a concert conducted by Masaaki Suzuki, with soloists Martin Fröst (clarinet), Timothy Hutchins (flute), and Rashaan Allwood (organ) (November 21 and 23). In the festival’s postlude, Kent Nagano and the OSM present Magnificat by J.S. Bach and the Christmas Oratorio by Saint-Saëns (December 12 and 13).
Saint Joseph’s Oratory will host six concerts presented by the Bach Festival, from November 5 to December 3, including the St. John Passion by Arvo Pärt (November 21) and “Noël chez les Bach” (December 3) with McGill’s Cappella Antica choir, directed by Jean-Sébastien Vallée and narrated by Albert Millaire. You can hear Alcée Chriss — the 2017 winner of the Gérard-Coulombe Bach Prize of the Canadian International Organ Competition — in a concert hosted by French musicologist Gilles Cantagrel (November 26). www.saint-joseph.org
J.S. Bach’s wonderful œuvre, the Goldberg Variations, will be presented in two performances: the first by Nick van Bloss on piano at Bourgie Hall (November 18) and the second by violinist Axel Strauss, violist Victor Fournelle-Blain, and cellist Anna Burden at St. John the Evangelist Church (November 22). Yet another masterpiece, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin will be interpreted at Bourgie Hall by French-Albanian violinist Tedi Papavrami, who plays a 1727 Stradivarius loaned by the Louis Vuitton Foundation (December 2).
Ensemble Caprice and the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal will collaborate for the festival’s concluding concert, a performance of the six cantatas from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, with soprano Anne-Marie Beaudette, mezzo-soprano Maude Brunet, tenor Philippe Gagné, and baritone Clayton Kennedy. Directed by Matthias Maute and Andrew McAnerney. Bourgie Hall, Dec. 3. www.festivalbachmontreal.com
Viva España! by Musica Camerata Montréal
The second concert in Musica Camarata’s 48th season is devoted to Spanish composers: Felip Pedrell (Catalonian guitarist), Manuel de Falla, Joaquín Turina, Enrique Granados, and Ernesto Halffter, whose short trio suite Hommages will have its Canadian premiere. With Dominique Labelle (soprano), Berta Rosenohl (piano), Luis Grinhauz (violin), Sylvain Murray (cello), and Jean-Willy Kunz (pump organ).
Bon Pasteur Historical Chapel, November 11, 6 pm. www.cameratamontreal.com
La Crème de la Crème with Appassionata
With its new musical director, Jean-Philippe Tremblay, the Appassionata Chamber Orchestra will present a musical tale written for the “Family Sundays at the Orchestra” series by young adult novelist Mathieu Boutin. Hailing from Italy, France, and Germany, these artists make up “la crème de la Cremona”. In collaboration with the Arte Musica Foundation. Bourgie Hall, November 12 at 2 pm. www.appassionata.ca
Gerhardt and Helmchen at the LMMC
Since performing for the first time as a soloist in 2007 at the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club, German cellist Alban Gerhardt has established himself as one of the great cellists of our time.
He mesmerizes ever-growing audiences thanks to his infallible musical instinct, intense emotion, and tremendously natural stage presence.
He will join the LMMC for the fifth time in a program featuring works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, and Debussy.
Pollack Hall, November 12 at 3:30 pm.
Winner of the Clara-Haskil competition in 2001, German pianist Martin Helmchen has been drawing attention since his first recordings and has won over music lovers from many major international stages.
After his first concert in Quebec at the Centre d’arts Orford in 2015, he will debut with the LMMC at Pollack Hall, December 3 at 3:30 pm. www.lmmc.ca
ECM+ — World New Music Days Reprise
Conducted by Véronique Lacroix, the ECM+ brings the concert presented earlier this year in Vancouver to the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. Their audience will hear Pesma, written in 2007 for the ECM+ by Ana Sokolović, as well as Evta, her newest violin concerto. Their exciting program also features recent works by Gzegorz Pieniek (Poland), Martin Rane Bauck (Norway), and Iñaki Estrada (Spain) and soloists Andréa Tyniec (violin) and Krisztina Szabó (mezzo-soprano). Conservatoire de musique de Montréal concert hall, November 14 at 7:30 pm. www.ecm.qc.ca
November at the Arte Musica Foundation
Quatuor Van Kuijk, a young French quartet which has been lauded for their unique “style, energy and risk-taking,” will perform a divertimento and a quartet by Mozart that verges on Debussy’s distinctive String Quartet. November 15 at 7:30 pm.
Three more renowned ensembles will take the spotlight in the days that follow. First up is Tafelmusik, one of the world’s leading Baroque orchestras, who will present its multidisciplinary concert “J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation”, which combines narration, music, and projections. Its narrator guides the audience through the fascinating world of the artisans (instrument makers, papermakers, among others) who contributed to the blossoming of Bach’s musical genius. November 21 at 7:30 pm.
Next, the incomparable London Handel Players illustrate the deep ties between J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, and Telemann. This concert is presented as part of the Montreal Bach Festival on November 29 at 7:30 pm. For more than 40 years, the Tallis Scholars have made an integral contribution to the English choral tradition. In 2003, the ensemble became a living component of a Janet Cardiff installation at the Musée d’art contemporain. In the performance of Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis, forty singers were recorded separately and played back on forty speakers — a truly unforgettable experience. Their current program highlights the impact of Josquin des Prés and Heinrich Isaac, two masters of the Franco-Flemish Renaissance. December 5 at 7:30 pm.
Violinist Andrew Wan and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin will interpret all ten of Beethoven’s Sonatas for violin and piano at Bourgie Hall. This musical odyssey will begin with Opus 30, composed in 1802 and dedicated to Russian Tsar Alexander I. December 6 at 7:30 pm. www.mbam.qc.ca/concerts
I Musici — A Tribute to Its Origins
This program, concocted by musical director Jean-Marie Zeitouni and performed by the Cordes du Nord, is a retrospective of the cornerstones of I Musici, paying tribute to the origins of its founder, Yuli Turovsky. Most of the composers featured in this program for strings hail from countries that border on the Baltic Sea: Sibelius (Finland), Pärt (Estonia), Dag Wirén (Sweden), and Grieg (Norway). The ensemble will also play a commissioned work by composer Julien Bilodeau, who became close to the orchestra after several collaborations. Bourgie Hall, November 16 at 11:00 am and 6:00 pm. Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten will share the stage with Bach in the “Douce dissonance” concert, conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Purcell’s Chacony in G minor and Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings will be presented as part of the Bach Festival, with tenor Julian Prégardien and horn player Nadia Côté. Bourgie Hall, November 27 at 8:00 pm. www.imusici.com
Violons du Roy — La Vision de Cohen
With soloists Vincent Lauzer (recorder) and Mathieu Lussier (bassoon), the new musical director of Les Violons du Roy, Jonathan Cohen, shares his vision of the works of Bach and Telemann. First, the audience will enjoy orchestral works by Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major and Suite No. 1 in C major. Each soloist will then take his turn performing works by Telemann: Suite in A minor for recorder, strings, and continuo and Concerto for flute and bassoon in F major. Bourgie Hall, November 17, 7:30 pm. www.violonsduroy.com
The Shockwaves of Poulin & Marchand
Montreal’s seasoned piano duo, Jean Marchand and Brigitte Poulin, present “Onde de choc”, a representation of the indelible impressions of the last century left in their memory: infectious rhythms, ritualistic dance, and intimate poetry. This diverse program includes exciting works by David Lang, John Adams, Denis Gougeon, Morton Feldmann and Igor Stravinsky. Maison de la culture Plateau-Mont-Royal, November 19 at 3:00 pm. www.accesculture.com/emplacement/maisondelacultureduplateaumontroyal
The Canadian Guitar Quartet’s Visitation
The Canadian Guitar Quartet (CGQ), made up of guitarists Julien Bisaillon, Renaud Côté-Giguère, Bruno Roussel and Louis Trépanier, has toured extensively in Europe as well as North and South America. Since its beginnings in 1999, it has inspired many standing ovations, establishing itself as one of the foremost guitar ensembles in the world. The CGQ has performed with orchestras across Canada and has recorded three albums critically acclaimed at home and abroad. You can hear them perform at the Église de la Visitation on November 19 at 3:00 pm. www.accesculture.com/emplacement/ahuntsiccartierville
Les Boréades — A Pastoral Opera
In a coproduction with the Nouvel Opéra, Les Boréades de Montréal is putting on a production of Nicandro e Fileno, a pastoral opera by Paolo Lorenzani based on the Italian libretto by Philippe-Julien Mancini. This work was written in 1681 for Louis XIV and performed at the Fontainebleau Castle. Directed by Francis Colpron, the ensemble will bring together sopranos Pascale Beaudin and Suzie LeBlanc, tenors Nils Brown and Philippe Gagné, baritones Dominic Côté and Jean-Marc Salzmann, as well as actress Stéphanie Brochard and Baroque dancer and choreographer Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, who also provides stage direction. Monument-National, November 23 at 7:30 pm. www.boreades.com
Rejoicing with Arion
Arion has created a program especially for the Montreal Bach Festival. Alexander Weimann will conduct the delectable Suite in E minor from Telemann’s Tafelmusik collection, one of whose movements is fittingly titled “Réjouissance”. Bach’s Missa brevis in A major will follow in the concert’s second half. Soloists: soprano Hélène Brunet, alto Krisztina Szabó, tenor Philippe Gagné, and bass David McFerrin. Bourgie Hall, November 24 at 7:30 pm. www.arionbaroque.com
Pro Musica — Dawn Upshaw & Brentano
Internationally recognized as an interpreter of both operatic and concert repertoires — mastering everything from the sacred works of Bach to the innovative sounds of contemporary creations — American soprano Dawn Upshaw joins forces with the Brentano String Quartet in this concert of the Pro Musica Society. Founded in 1992, the Brentano Quartet has been resident at the Yale School of Music since 2014. The quartet is known for its faultless technique and unrivalled musicality. This program features two quartets, one each by Mozart and Schoenberg, plus Respighi’s Il tramonto for voice and string quartet and Webern’s Bagatelles (Opus 9). Theatre Maisonneuve, December 4 at 8:00 pm. www.promusica.qc.ca