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Volume 25 Issue 5 - February 2020

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  • February
Visions of 2020! Sampling from back to front for a change: in Rearview Mirror, Robert Harris on the Beethoven he loves (and loves to hate!); Errol Gay, a most musical life remembered; Luna Pearl Woolf in focus in recordings editor David Olds' "Editor's Corner" and in Jenny Parr's preview of "Jacqueline"; Speranza Scappucci explains how not to reinvent Rossini; The Indigo Project, where "each piece of cloth tells a story"; and, leading it all off, Jully Black makes a giant leap in "Caroline, or Change." And as always, much more. Now online in flip-through format here and on stands starting Thurs Jan 30.

And yet another version

And yet another version from 1954 – a big year for the song – by Lee Wiley, accompanied by a trio with Ruby Braff. Like everything else she did, it’s warm and utterly original. So, if you’re not a fan of Valentine’s Day, you could do worse than spend the evening on YouTube checking out these and other versions. As for me…. well, there’s bound to be a north wind blowing through my house in the wake of this article as my wife has a permanent and thorough dislike of My Funny Valentine. Oh well, she can’t be right about everything. JAZZ NOTES QUICK PICKS !! FEB 1, 8PM: Jazz Performance and Education Centre. “Generations: Stars and Rising Stars.” Lorne Lofsky, guitar; David Cruz, guitar; Artie Roth, bass. Aga Khan Museum. This has been a nice series and this latest offers a chance to hear a good up-and-coming young guitarist with one of the great veterans of the Toronto scene, Lorne Lofsky, in a splendid and intimate setting. !! FEB 12, 8PM: Royal Conservatory of Music. TD Jazz Concerts Series: “Oscar Peterson’s AFRICA.” Benny Green, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums; All-Star Big Band; John Clayton, conductor. Koerner Hall. Not much needs be said here. A superb trio with a first-rate big band in one of the best-sounding venues around. !! FEB 23, 4:30PM: Christ Church Deer Park. Jazz Vespers. Allison Au Quartet. 1570 Yonge St. Freewill offering. Religious service. Alto saxophonist Alison Au is one of the most talented young musicians in Toronto and this offers a chance to hear her in a reflective setting. Sun, Feb 9, 4:30pm Tribute to Bill Evans, with John Sherwood (piano) Dave Douglas !! FEB 27, 12:30PM: York University Department of Music. Jazz at Midday: Featuring jazz artist-in-residence Dave Douglas. Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building. Free. The once-daunting trek to York University has been made bearable by the subway extension, so take this opportunity to hear one of the seminal creative figures in contemporary jazz. Toronto bassist Steve Wallace writes a blog called “Steve Wallace jazz, baseball, life and other ephemera” which can be accessed at Aside from the topics mentioned, he sometimes writes about movies and food. Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St. (north of St. Clair at Heath St.) Admission is free; donations are welcome. Featuring some of Toronto’s best jazz musicians with a brief reflection by Jazz Vespers Clergy Sun, Feb 23, 4:30pm Allison Au Quartet Sun, Mar 8, 4:30pm Tribute to Erroll Garner, with Robi Botos (piano) 416-920-5211 Beat by Beat | Classical & Beyond Romancing Rachmaninoff, And Ophelia Gets Mad PAUL ENNIS In Billy Wilder’s classic 1955 film The Seven Year Itch, Tom Ewell fantasizes seducing his upstairs neighbour (Marilyn Monroe) while playing a recording of the slow movement of a piano concerto – “Good old Rachmaninoff,” he says, “the Second Piano Concerto, it never misses.” Monroe replies, “It’s not fair. Every time I hear it I go to pieces.” Indeed, the power of the concerto was extensive. Its second movement played a major role in David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1945); Eric Carmen’s All by Myself (1975), notably used in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), is also derived from the second movement; Full Moon and Empty Arms, a song written by Buddy Kaye and Ted Mossman derived from the third movement, has been covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra (1945) and Bob Dylan (2014). And that just scratches the surface of the impact of some of the most romantic music ever written. It’s an appropriate valentine to Toronto as Stephen Hough and the TSO, conducted by Elim Chan, perform it February 14 to 16 – the evening’s other major work is Rimsky-Korsakov’s crowd-pleasing Scheherazade with TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow as soloist. A leading pianist of the generation that includes Marc-André Hamelin, Hough is also a polymath, the first classical performer to receive the MacArthur Genius Award, an exhibited artist, a published author and newspaper columnist. He’s also a lively participant on Twitter, engaging with his audience, posting personal photos (especially of food) and links to musical nuggets out of the past. Hough’s latest book, Rough Ideas, which came out in the UK last August, has just been released in North America. Hough writes in his introduction that most of the book expands notes he has made during dead time on the road. “Mostly I’ve written about music and the life of a musician (not always the same thing), from exploring the broader aspects of what it is to walk out onto a stage or to make a recording to specialist tips from deep inside the practice room: how to trill, how to pedal, how to practise. Other subjects appear too, people I’ve known, places I’ve travelled to, books I’ve read, paintings I’ve seen. Even religion is there: the possibility of the existence of God, problems with some biblical texts and the challenge involved in being a gay Catholic, and abortion. I’ve placed these reflections in a separate section so that readers allergic to such matters can avoid them and we can remain friends.” Fun fact: Both Hough and Hamelin are Hyperion Records artists. Hough will be on the jury in the upcoming Cliburn Competition in 2021, for which he will compose the compulsory piece. Coincidentally, Hamelin was on the most recent Cliburn jury in 2017 and composed the compulsory work for that year’s competition. Elim Chan, at 33 the youngest-ever principal conductor of the venerable Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, was born in Hong Kong and began piano lessons at six. At 28 she became the first woman to win the Donatella-Flick LSO Conducting Competition which led to a posting as assistant conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra with then-principal conductor Valery Gergiev. The next year, a fellowship enabled her to work with music and artistic director of the L.A. Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel. She leads the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (of which she is chief guest conductor) in Benjamin Grosvenor’s just-released recording of the Chopin Concertos; Grosvenor returns to Music Toronto next month for a recital on March 31. 24 | February 2020

SIM CANETTY-CLARKE WILLEKE MACHIELS Stephen Hough Elim Chan And pianist-author James Rhodes, who makes his Toronto debut in Koerner Hall on March 5 under the auspices of the Glenn Gould Foundation, includes the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2 in his latest book, Playlist. “It has everything that any music fan could ever want – incredible, unforgettable melodies, insane piano pyrotechnics … excitement, melancholy, heartbreak, and heroism,” he writes. In other TSO news, regular visiting orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) arrive – unusually – in the same month. On February 6, NACO and conductor Alexander Shelley’s program features Joshua Bell in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, an audience favourite. Notably, Bell will eschew the composer’s cadenza for his own. OSM comes to Roy Thomson Hall on February 19 in what will be Kent Nagano’s last visit as music director; Beethoven’s Symphony No.6 “Pastoral” is the main event. And finally, TSO favourite, Donald Runnicles, broadens the impact of guest conducting Wagner’s Siegried Idyll and Bruckner’s majestic Symphony No.7, by collaborating on piano with mezzosoprano Krisztina Szabó in a pre-concert performance of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder at 6:45pm on February 20. The Takács Returns The celebrated Takács Quartet returns to Koerner Hall on February 23 for a concert that includes Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s String Quartet in E-flat Major, Bartók’s String Quartet No.4 and Beethoven’s Op.59, No.3 “Razumovsky.” First violinist Edward Dusinberre, who joined the quartet in 1995, wrote in his book, Beethoven for a Later Age (2016), that in the quartets dedicated to Razumovsky, Beethoven presented a vivid spectrum of emotions at times linked to his personal experience. “Let your deafness be no more a secret – even in art,” he wrote at the top of a sketch of the last movement of Op.59, No.3. In an email exchange I had with Dusinberre two years ago, he described the benefits of playing in Koerner Hall. “What a gorgeous hall and acoustic! Such a space creates the possibility for more varied dynamics and colours of sound: in particular it is more rewarding to play very quietly. Also timing can be affected. The last chord of a slow movement will fade beautifully into silence, where in a less good hall it might stop abruptly, so one is encouraged to linger.” Since the quartet’s last visit to Toronto, RIchard O’Neill has replaced Geraldine Walther as the ensemble’s fourth violist since their founding in 1975. Laurence Vittes caught up to him recently for the January/ February 2020 edition of Strings Magazine. “Two summers ago, I was having lunch with the Takács’ second violinist, Harumi Rhodes, an old friend from Marlboro and Lincoln Center,” O’Neill told Vittes, “when she asked if I would be interested in auditioning for the Takács. ‘Gerry is going to retire. It’s top secret,’ Harumi told me. It had been 13 or 14 years since I had auditioned for first violinist Edward Dusinberre and cellist András Fejér. I said I would be honoured. “In October I flew to Boulder, Colorado, and auditioned with a healthy list of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók – typical Takács repertoire. One thing I absolutely loved about the audition was that Ed was so willing to try anything – whatever anyone suggested, he didn’t flinch. He said, ‘Let’s try it.’ I also have a lot of Bartók memorized, and every time I’d look up to get a sense of where we were going, Ed was looking up too, which felt like we were making an amazing connection.” Within a few weeks, Vittes writes, O’Neill got a call from Dusinberre, saying they’d like him to join, with one caveat: It would be necessary for O’Neill to leave James Ehnes’ quartet. “It was a hard David Bowser, Artistic Director and Conductor Trumpet Concerto in D major Leopold Mozart Andrew McCandless, trumpet Church of the Redeemer 162 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON Requiem, K 626 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Soloists from the 2020 Toronto Mozart Vocal Competition Toronto Mozart Players Pax Christi Chamber Choir February 2020 | 25

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