7 years ago

Volume 12 - Issue 5 - February 2007

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  • February
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EDITOR'S CORNERby David OldsFebruary is Black History Month and withthat in mind I have been saving a disc thatcrossed my desk a few months ago:.Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson - A Celebration(Cedille CDR 90000 087). Perkinson(1932-2004) was a versatile musician withdiverse interests and influences. HisSinfonietta from the mid-1950s (featuringthe New Black Music Repertory Ensembleconducted by Paul Freeman), which to my ears is reminiscent of theconcerti grossi of Ernest Bloch and his lyrical String Quartet No.1completed one year later (performed by the quartet of the sameensemble), is based on the Negro spiritual Calvary. In the 1960sPerkinson piayed jazz piano in the Max Roach Quartet, co-foundedand was associate conductor of the Symphony of the New World,served as music director of Jerome Robbins' Theatre Lab and wasassociated with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. His worksfrom the 1970s include Blues Forms for solo.violin and the strikingLamentations: Black Folk Song Suite for solo cello which d~spite itstitle has some ecstatic passages. The solo works are performedconvincingly here by Sanford Allen and Tahira Whittington. Perkinsoncontinued to compose up untiJ-the time of his death and the CDincludes the playful Louisiana Blues Strut (A Cakewalk) from 2001performeq by Ashley Horne on violin and the Movement for StringTrio (2004) which eerily echoes Samuel Barber's famous Adagio. "ACelebration" was my first exposure to the music of this Afro­American composer. I hope i,t won't be my )ast. .Another composer "new" to me isthe 19th century Czech court musicianJohann Wenzel Kalliwoda whose stringquartets as recorded by the Talich Quartet(Caliope CAL 9357) spent an inordinateamount of time on my CD player this pastmonth. It surprises me that someone whohad nearly 200 works published by thefamed Peters company in Leipzig wouldfall into relative obscurity - a brief paragraph in Baker's BiographicalDictionary and just three in that of Grove's - especially if thesecharming quartets ~re an accurate indication of the quality of hiswork. They were written at the request of the publisher with thesuggestion that they be in the "beautiful style of Mozart". This theyare, even at times to the extent of being melodically derivative;however, they are couched in the burgeoning Romantic style of thetime they were written- the mid 1830s. They make marvellousCONTINUES ON PAGE 61SOLD OUT!WholeNote advertising is the ticketto a sold-out house.Connect your event to your target· market - Advertise in WholeNote!416-323-2232THRICE BLESSEDYannickNezet-Seguininterviewed by Allan PulkerTSO double bass player Tim Dawson is the driving force behind theBach Consort whose February 23 performance of Bach;s B-minor Massis to be conducted by the young Montreal conductor Yannick Nezet­Seguin. Nezet-Seguin; Tim tells me, has recently been appointed ValeryGergiev's successor with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. "Thisis one of the highest profile positions ever offered to a Canadian-bornconductor" Tim says·. "Those ofus who have heard Yannick's concertsor have been lucky enough to work with him know that he is on track tqbecoming one of the world's great conductors."I have heard him in Toronto twice, first the Bach Consort in a performanceof the Christmas Oratorio and subsequently the TSO in Oetober2004 when he stepped in' at the last minute, replacing an ailing EmmanuelKrivine, to conduct an all Ru~sian program which included Shostakovich'sFifth Symphony. Consequently I knew he was good, but... theRotterdam Philharmonic, Valery Gergiev's successor..,totally amazing!WholeNote readers have three opportunities in February to hearNezet-Seguin: as operatic conductor of the COC's Faust, opening February1; as collaborative pianist with baritone Alexander Dobson in Schubert'sWinterreise at the Heliconian Hall on February 3; ~nd, as mentioned,with the Bach Consort on February 23.I connected with Nezet-Seguin during a Faust rehearsal break.AP: Since we 're here, let's begin with opera. Traditionally in Europeyoung conductors begin their careers conducting opera and move on tosymphony orchestras. Surely conducting opera is more difficult than conductingsymphonic music - there are just so many more things to take intoconsideration - soloists, a chorus, entrances and exits, timing etc. Why isthis challenging art form the beginning rather than the pinnacle?YN-S: I think it has to do with the human voice, because it is the pri'maryinstrument that other instruments try to imitate. You can start condO

YN-S: I have conducted the B-Minor Mass before with the Chapelle .de Montreal, which I founded when I was very young. I am very happyto collaborate with the Bach Consort, which is a very unusual organization.We ~ave developed a relationship, and I now know everyone; Ithink we do better music when we know each other more. Baroque musicis 'very important to me, especially Bach. It's a bit like opera - if Idon't do it I feel deprived!•AP: As Tim Dawson pointed out, you have risen very high in the conductingfirmament. What advice do you have for aspiring young Canadianconductors who hope to follow your example?YN-S: I think I owe a great deal to the trust people have put in me -managers, audience, broadcasters, the press and especially the musicians.I didn't have to go elsewhere to show that I couid do something, ·and that's maybe a change of mentality in Canada. Of course, whensomeone puts their trust in you, it's up to you to meet their expectations.I am oftep disappointed to hear people in their teens say that it'stheir dream to make a career in music .but it's so difficult they might aswell do something else. It's a reasonable idea, but once you start withit, there's no way, becau~e it undermines the will to make the sacrificesthat are needed and the drive to just do it.AP: On February 3 you are peiforming Die Wintetreise with Alexan­. der Dobson. How did this come about and where does pelf.arming asa collaborative pianist fit into your career plans?YN-S: We rehearsed ·yesterday. This has been a dream. Alex and I gotto know each other when I was working for Montreal Opera and hewas in the studio as an apprentice. Alex sang Winterreise a few yearsago but I've never done it. Since he now lives in the Toronto area and Iam here for a few weeks we said "Why not?" It's wonderful for me asa pianist to do a few projects each sea~on. It's good for my musicalhealth to be back at the keyboard. As a conductor you're always askingeveryone else .to make music, so making music m.)(self keeps me intouch with the process of making the connection between what youwant to achieve and actually doing it. Also, when you're working withthe voice there's the text ~hich can open some doors to understandingthe composer's other music.AP: This is interesting in relation to what you said about musical in~struments as extensions of the voice, 'as imitating the voice. When 'you 're pelf arming, is this i-_vhat you are trying to do with the piano?YN-S: It's interesting you mention this, because when I was a youngstudent I was seeing the piano as a symphonic instrument, so I wasplaying very big and very loud - not harsh, because my teacher was·very good! Now my playing has changed so inuch, because I am hear- ·ing the piano more as a human voice. ·AP: I interviewed Spanish conductor Jesi1s Amigo in the November :WholeNote. He pointed out that aspiring conductors are faced with a ·"catch-22" situation: they need an instrument (an orchestra) to practiseon but no orchestra wants to be used for practice. They want you (ljteryou have practised! How did you get past this hurdle?YN-S: As a pianist I had a great advantage of the understanding of harmonybut a great disadvantage of not having played in an orchestra, so Ihad to create opportunities just to observe. Choral conducting waswhere I really learned to stand in front of people and make the musichappen, but of course there's so much more to it than just that. It requiresa lot of knowledge. You need to know about the instruments,about bowing. What is really important to me is to be as wide open aspossible to every aspect of music - history, analysis, the voice, repertoireand psychology. Giulini used to say the important thing is not thegesture but what's in your mind. If your' mind is really clear, then yourgestures will be clear. But it's not only knowing what you want toachieve but it's knowing how to keep conducting as a relationship,learning to balance what I want to achieve with identifying what needsto be done to get there. The only way I have of getting around this is towork and work and work to be as prepared as I possibly can. It's neverfinished - you always wish you were more prepared! The thing is to beconvinced that this is the way so that you can convince others; above allwhat this requires is to be sincere and to be open to the others. Other-CONTINUES ON PAGE 142180 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario :M4N 3K7 •....,BIS CanadaCouncll ConselldesArts toro.ntdartsbouncil ~~for the Arts du Canada Anerm'sleng!ht>odyot1hf1C11yolloron10 ...,_,.,,,....,_._'-=--""' ·-..·-·..·---CALL 416·217 ·0537 Monday to Friday 9 am - 5 pm4 WEEK COURSES2006-2007Opera Coursesand SeminarsWithIain ScottBoth courses are held on Tuesdays 2.30 -4.30 and 7.00 -9.00at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club 141 St George StreetDueling Divas - Great SopranosHow to run an opera companyWEEKEND SEMINAR10 - 4 each day includes lunchDie MeistersingerAt the Rosedale Golf Club6 - 27 February13 March - 3 April24 - 25 Februa,ryFEBRUARY 1 2007 - MARCH 7 2007 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 11

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