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Volume 20 Issue 9 - Summer 2015

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DISCOVERIES | PREVIEW

DISCOVERIES | PREVIEW Partnership Bears Fruit DAVID PERLMAN Christina Petrowska Quilico is no stranger to launch events. Fancies and Interludes – violin/piano duos by Gary Kulesha, Raymond Luedecke, Oskar Morawetz and James Rolfe – to be released by the CMC’s venerable label Centrediscs on June 11 is her 12th recording on the Centrediscs label and her 37th overall. For her partner-in-crime on the album, former Toronto Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch, it’s safe to say the CMC’s Ontario headquarters on St. Joseph St. is less familiar territory. This is his first Centrediscs CD, but a natural outgrowth of his involvement with contemporary music and a performing and recording partnership with Petrowska Quilico which has flowered since he stepped down as concertmaster of the TSO in 2008. This collaboration began in part because they are colleagues in the Department of Music at York University and in part, according to Petrowska Quilico, because of their mutual interest in contemporary music, their shared love of playing as a duo and their combined ability to embrace a wide variety of contemporary styles and approaches. (It all started in 1996 during TSO rehearsals for a piano concerto by Larysa Kuzmenko, which included a short duo.) Happily, Fancies and Interludes will not be the last fruits of their collective endeavour. Over the past six years they have enjoyed a vigorous performing relationship. Some of this arose as part of the York faculty artist performing program: first with French repertoire, and then Mozart. They began sight-reading the Mozart violin and piano sonatas, but soon realized they wanted to perform the complete set, which they presented at Gallery 345 in the spring of 2014 in a marathon of four concerts embracing all of them. Recently a series of York University faculty concerts of the same repertoire was recorded by veteran producer David Jaeger and engineer Simon Head. Combined with additional recording sessions, the result is a complete recorded collection. The Mozart sonata project was recorded in 15 sessions over the past eight months in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall at York University. According to Jaeger, the performances “are remarkable for their elegance, clarity and detail, but also for their lively spirit – revealing the joy that Petrowska Quilico and Israelievitch have in playing together.” Of the last recording session in particular (May 2015), Jaeger says “this session was filled with absolutely beautiful playing and a compelling sense of the love the artists have for the Mozart sonatas.” The first disc in this collection is scheduled for release in January 2016. In connection with the June 11 CMC release Petrowska Quilico says: “The repertoire was chosen by Jacques and illustrates his longstanding involvement with contemporary repertoire. Fancies and Interludes shows the incredible range of styles and techniques in contemporary duo composition, from classical and romantic, to minimalism and other advanced approaches.” DISCOVERIES | CONTIUNES ON PAGE 68 Bethlehem and Beyond In conversation with Daniel Taylor BY DAVID PERLMAN “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” W.B Yeats With apologies to W.B. Yeats, “slouching towards Bethlehem” is a perfect description of me as I walk the 15 minutes down Bathurst Street from home to the Toronto Island Airport. I am Newark bound, with my one overstuffed carry-on bag on my shoulder. It’s 6:30am on a Friday, and I have to be on the bus to Bethlehem at 10am. So I have not had time for shower, shave or coffee this balmy May 8 morning. But I make my Porter flight to Newark with time to spare and find my bus; my little spring adventure is underway. Modern-day Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, sits like two halves of a cracked soup bowl, with the Lehigh River zigzagging through the crack between, flowing eastward towards Easton, one of Bethlehem’s two sister cities. Easton is at least as famous for being the headquarters of Crayola as Bethlehem is for being home to the longest running annual Bach festival in North America. (But Bach, I am happy to say, yields 151 million google results compared to Crayola’s 15.5 million.) The Hotel Bethlehem (where I get my shower, but shortly after noon) is in the northern half of the town, and boasts among its famous guests, according to the cards in the elevators, the Dalai Lama and Jack Nicklaus. It was built in the 1920s with steel girders from the Bethlehem steel mill, now a rusting hulk looming like a spectacular post-modern art installation alongside the river between the two halves of the town. Looking straight down from my ninth floor window I can see the original mid-18th-century buildings that speak to the town’s pre-1776 Moravian settler origins, a heritage that stretches for block after remarkable block in the old town. And looking straight out from that same window I can see all the way over the Lehigh River to the steeper slope of South Bethlehem. Halfway up that slope is the Packer Church on the campus of Lehigh University. Church and campus between them will host most of the performances in this, the second weekend of the 109th iteration of the Bethlehem Bach Festival. The first week’s program will be repeated in its entirety for a new group of pilgrims. And as they did the previous weekend, for the next two days little white shuttle buses will circle endlessly between the town’s key hotels on the north side of the river and the festival venues to the south. Two days later I am Newark bound again, with a head full of the history of a town I previously had no awareness of, and with a heart full of the music of Bach, presented in a context that felt less like a festival than a glorious friendship between a great composer and the orchetra, conductor and choir at the heart of an extraordinary town. For decades Canadian performers have been making this pilgrimage, even if Canadian audiences have not. Take countertenor Daniel Taylor, for example, one of this year’s stellar Canucks. He’s been coming here for well over a decade, he tells me. “I heard first about the festival when Catherine Robbin was getting ready to retire,” he says. She had been singing at the festival on a regular basis and encouraged Greg Funfgeld, the festival’s music director to go and hear Taylor. “He came to hear me at the Met in 1999,” Taylor says. “I was in a show with Brian Asawa, David Daniels, Stephanie Blythe and Jennifer Larmore.” “Sounds like Handel’s Caesar,” I say. “Were you the bad guy?” “No it was a small role, actually,” he says. “What was interesting was he was specifically looking for a middle voice. So there was Larmore and Blythe and these two other countertenors who were really at the top of their game right then, and he called me right after and asked if I would come and sing some Bach for him.” Taylor met with Funfgeld in New York and “the next thing you knew I was on the way to Bethlehem.” That was in 1999, and Taylor has been at every festival since. “There 8 | June | July | August, 2015 thewholenote.com

44th Season 2015-2016 SUBSCRIPTION SERIES GREAT CHAMBER MUSIC DOWNTOWN Quartets Piano Discovery Tu. Oct. 13 Benjamin Grosvenor Daniel Taylor and Greg Funfgeld were times when I have had bookings in Germany where I could only do one of the two weekends. Greg prefers to have singers who will do both weekends, but he was very flexible. He is totally loyal to the singers that he likes.” “Most wonderful, he is totally approachable, with no airs about him, and yet his understanding of the music is quite profound. His demands are quite specific; he knows about the text; and his ears are very, very keen. So any wrong turn from anywhere in the orchestra he’s right on it, and in a way that I’d say is less obvious than say someone like Bernard Labadie – Labadie who’s a great technician. Greg might seem more casual about it but in fact he has these standards he wants to achieve and he holds onto singers that he feels understand him and are open to reaching the same goals.” Another favourite of Funfgeld’s, Taylor tells me, is tenor Charles Daniels. Taylor had sung a St. John’s Passion with Daniels at Tafelmusik and made the suggestion to Funfgeld that he invite Daniels to the Bethlehem Bach Chorus for their recording of the work. “For that kind of repertoire Charles is probably my favourite singer,” Taylor says, of working with Daniels during the Tafelmusik St. John. “He got up night after night just like it was pouring a cup of tea every night. He did it with such ease, such conviction. I mean, we all did what we could but the show was about Charles. He’s a remarkable, he’s, well, a hero.” “He’s a wonderful storyteller,” I offer. “It’s a rare talent to be able to get inside the musical story like that.” “Exactly,” Taylor says. “That’s exactly right. At University of Toronto that’s what we work on so much at the Faculty of Music. I mean, students and other performers were given the gifts they have to work with and we work as hard as we can to maintain that. But its quite another challenge to teach someone how to tell a story. I’ve been involved in masterclasses, anywhere in the world where I’ve heard a really great, great voice and I’ve felt ‘what’s missing here?’ and it’s usually that. It’s a skill which can also to some extent be taught, but really you know it’s a question of having to be open to communicating with people and less self-critical.” So often, he says, students and some professionals are concerned above all with developing what they think will be an unfailing technique. “I joke with students when they arrive in the studio, especially if they’re there to do their master’s; they think you’re going to give them a key to open the secret area of resonation or secret breathing technique or whatever that’s going to give them – and all you can really tell them is ‘it’s a long journey, its a very long journey.’” Talking to Taylor now, compared to even a few years ago, it’s interesting to see how deeply the commitment to teaching has taken hold, along with his still astoundingly busy performing and recording pursuits. And the teaching aspect feeds off the other as he ropes his duet partners and other performance collaborators into his teaching work. “I mean just last week I had Emma Kirkby in at the faculty – I bring her in every year; I bring in Nancy Argenta as well; I just had Christopher Purves.” (Purves is the English baritone, who sang the hair-raisingly chilling Th. Th. Jan. 21 Andriana Chuchman Th. www.music-toronto.com Th. Oct. 22 Cuarteto Casals Th. Nov. 5 Cecilia Quartet Tu. Nov. 10 Peter Jablonski Nov. 26 Apollon Musagète Quartett Th. Dec. 10 Gryphon Trio Tu. Jan. 5 Marc-André Hamelin Th. Jan. 14 JACK Quartet Th. Feb. 4 Annex Quartet Th. Feb. 18 St. Lawrence Quartet Tu. Mar. 1 Th. Steven Osborne Th. Mar. 10 collectif9 Mar. 17 Quatuor Ebène Tu. Apr. 5 Duo Turgeon Apr. 14 Artemis Quartet Full season subscription for 1 or 5. Other subscription combinations from and up. order online at www.stlc.com 416-366-7723 1-800-708-6754 TORONTO FUNDED BY THE CITY OF RTS COUNCIL TORONTO CELEBRATING 40 YEARS Canadian Patrimoine Heritage canadien ONTARIO ARTS COUNCIL CONSEIL DES ARTS DE L’ONTARIO thewholenote.com June | July | August, 2015 | 9

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volume 25 Issue 9 - July / August 2020
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Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
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