8 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 5 - February 2005

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • February
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Musical
  • Ensemble
  • Baroque


So HERE WE HA VE the fascination of the Fazioli - an instrument of definite merit, with mysterious and interesting features: a fourth pedal which allows the pianist to produce ethereal pianissimo passages and rippling glissandi; and an extra and unsounded bass string at the bottom of the keyboard. As with all the best instruments, a mystique is forming and this is where it gets interesting, because the best instruments have always carried with them an aura which transcends mere wood, steel and felt, alfowing the artist to feel connected to the instrument in an organic way .. The mechanism, by whatever occult process, becomes an extension of their innermost selves. The ,greatest instruments enable their artists, and this in turn amplifies the instrument's aura of mystery and delight. So IN SHORT, the January 13'h and 151h concerts in the Toronto Symphony's Mozart Festival had me quivering in anticipation. Not only would we get to hear the Fazioli concert grand, we would get to hear three of them. Quite a·logistical feat in itself:,one came from Montreal, one from New York and a third from Italy along with, amazingly enough, Paolo Fazioli himself. Now when I say that the pianos were the concert grands, they were the nine foot models, and not the F308. But the twinge of disappointment at the news of not getting to hear the F308 was certainly cured by the prospect of meeting the F308's father, Paolo Fazioli himself, thanks to Robert Lowrey the Canadian distributor of the Fazioli. This was like meeting a modern Muzio Clementi. I first saw Mr. Fazioli striding lightly across his hotel lobby. He moves quickly and his mind, I found, works just as fast. He's a man of medium height with salt and pepper hair "who looks like a professor of musicology. He talks like one too, with that captivating European charm which wears its deep sophistication lightly. And in profile he bears a slight resemblance to the photographs of Gustav Mahler. He adores music and musicians and the feeling seems to be very mutual. Angela Hewitt's utter delight at his appearance was evidence of that. "Caro!!!" she squealed when he went back stage for a word before the concert. Now I may be romanticizing here when I make a correlation between the piano and the maker's personality but I am going to do just that. Paolo Fazioli is a musician and composer who, as he told me, made his family happy by studying engineering rather than becoming a professional musician, and then made himself happy when he began manufacturing pianos. The result was an amalga-· mation of technology and art; each leavening the other, so while in each realm alone he is a consummate professional, the combination allows him to maintain overall the passion of an amateur. And I had to ask about that Red Spruce from the Vale di Fiemme. "Are many piano manufacturers using it?" I asked. "They are now, ..." was the reply, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. In regards to his pianos and his artists he has, I may say, a paternal attitude to both. He loves those pianos. After Angela Hewitt played, on the 13'h, I turned to him and said " Do you feel like your child has made its Toronto debut?" "Yes I really do!" he said. And you could tell that, yes, he really did. He was like a benign stage parent. "Do you like the sound? What do you think of the sound?" I told him I was very impressed. The piano carried very nicely in Roy Thomson Hall which is sadly not very kind to piano tone in general. And Hewitt performed like a god. She is a lyrical player and the piano certainly helped that ap- Dave Snider Music Centre 3225 Yonge St. PH (416) 483-5825 eM ai I: www.snidcrmusic.cum One of Toronto's Oldest Music Stores ... With The Best Selection of Pop, Jazz & Broadway Sheet Music in the city - For Beginners and Professio11als - Come in and browse over 25,000 sheet music publications. We have a wide array of Woodwind, Brass, Keyboards, Guitars and Accessories. Music Lessons offered on site. FEBRUARY 1 - MARCH 7 2005

proach: the spare Mozartian texture sang through the hall. And Fazio Ii 's pianos certainly can sing. ON SATURDAY JANU­ ARY 15, they had their night of glory. I arrived early, as did Robert Lowrey: Paolo Fazioli wasn't the only stage father on site. The programming was clever: thtee overtures; three pianos: three soloists: three concerti: No. 9 (K.271) the Jeu11ehomme from 1777, played by Andre Laplante; No. JO for Two Pianos (K.365), with Angela Hewitt and Louis Lortie; and finally No. 7 the Lo11- do11, for Three Fazioli (K.242) and the three soloists .... You'll have to forgive me if what follows is more adoring than c.:ritical. When, after all, do we get to see three soloists of the highest rank in perfonnances that were, in short, sublime? Peter Oundjian was dancing with delight by the end of the concert. And the smooching on that stage e11tre Les quatre c.:ould serve quite effectively as a review of the whole evening. Louis Lortie and Angela Hewitt, who has a consummate stage presence, provided a virtually seamless conversation of instruments, particularly in the slow movement of both multi-piano works. They played as with one mind, and the sonority and elegance of their performance was breathtaking. It was a sophisticated, noble and broadly conceived reading. The architecture of the c.:oncerti shone through: players often get bogged down by lavishing too much attention on the "pretty bits". In this performance we never lost sight of the "cathedrals of the mind" that Mozart constructs in his music. And Oundjian and his band? · May I go on record as stating that the "Oundjian sound" is beginning to emerge from that orchestra: precision of attack and an especially rich sonority in the lower strings helped by, but certainly not limited to, Joel Quarrington as principal bass. Oundjian is at his finest as an accompanist - he was a chamber musician, remember, and his support for the soloists was extraordinary. As for the pianos, the bell-like clarity of the upper tenor and lower treble ranges sang (there's that word again) through the hall. Having listened to piano concerti in RTH where I thought I had inadvertently stuffed cotton in my ears, the experience of a ravishing piano tone filling that vast space gave me goose bumps. Okay, so it's a piano technician thing, but you understand what I am saying. At intermission I kept hearing snatches of converstions where the words " Fazioli Piano!" caught my ear. I admit that I'd wondered if three modern concert grands in Mozart would be like driving a Hummer down the shortcut to the roses. But it was remarkable to hear: powerful piano tone that at the same time had the clarity to not overwhelm the music or, in the three piano work, the orchestra. At the conclusion there was a standing ovation. And I still think they should have brought Paolo Fazioli on stage but, come to think of it, in a special way perhaps he had been there all evening. Women's Musical Club of Toronto AFTERNOON CONCERT Thursday, February 3 at 1.30 p.m. SONIA CHAN; piano Works by Haydn, Ravel, Chopin, Dutilleux, and the premiere of Rhythm of Life, a new work by Chan Ka Nin Walter Hall Edward Johnson Building U. of T., 80 Queen's Park Tickets 416-923-7052 Sponsor: WMCT Centennial Foundation Upcoming Concerts March 10, 1.30 p.rry. Lark String Quartet Wo rks by Beethoven, Gershwin, Bolcom, April 14, 1.30 p.m. Ellington. and Ravel Eve Egoyan, piano, with dancers from Dancemakers A n A.fiernoon of Erik Sa tie, including works by Evangelista. Tanaka, and N@rgard Subscribe to mwic in the Afternoon 2005-2006 Seruon Five great concerts for the early-bird price of5 (until May 30'' Thursday afternoons at 1.30 p.m. Pre-concert lecture 12.15 p.m. Vienna Piano Trio October 27, 2005 Alain Trudel, trombone November 24. 2005 &. guests Jupiter String Quartet January 19, 2006 2004 Banff ISQC Winner Xiang Zou, piano March 9, 2006 2003 Honens 151 Laureate PHILIP L. DAVIS Luthi er formerly with ]./. Schroder: Frankfurt, West Germany A Fine Selection of Small and Full Sized Instruments and Bows • Expert Repairs (416) 466-9619 67 Wolverleigh Blvd., Toronto, Ontario, M4J I R6 Meredith Hall, soprano Bernard Farley, guitar Sylvain. Bergeron, lute Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building For more information or to subscribe, call 416-923-7052 April 20, 2006 FEBRUARY 1 MARCH 7 2005 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM

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