2 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020

  • Text
  • Violin
  • Musical
  • Performing
  • Concerto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Toronto
  • April
After some doubt that we would be allowed to go to press, in respect to wide-ranging Ontario business closures relating to COVID-19, The WholeNote magazine for April 2020 is now on press, and print distribution – modified to respect community-wide closures and the need for appropriate distancing – starts Monday March 30. Meanwhile the full magazine is right here, digitally, so if you value us PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN. It's the safest way for us to reach the widest possible audience at this time!

at the same time.” As

at the same time.” As for directors, a recent big revelation has been Paolo Sorrentino. “Because I was in Rome recently, a friend told me I had to watch La grande bellezza [The Great Beauty] and watched it now twice, it’s staggering. That’s the reason I bought La notte and L’avventura. Sometimes I just respond to visceral cinematic imagery… like Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus, Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. With some films you sometimes think, I don’t know what that is, but it moves me.” We linger some more in the Folio room while I ask him about poetry. “As I’m getting older, I respond a lot to poetry. I was never a big poetry buff growing up. But Gerard Manley Hopkins has become essential for me – it’s the images that bypass intellect. Cinema does the same thing, sometimes you just see the picture and the emotion registers before the intellect grabs on to it. Same thing with acting. I like directors who pull that out of me. Who stop me from intellectualizing the process.” He goes to theatre a lot, in his home town and whenever abroad, much more than to opera. “I always watch the actors who are not speaking. I want to see how people live on stage. It’s far easier to have the floor.” Is he more a Soulpepper kind of person or the Matthew Jocelyn’s Canadian Stage kind of person? “Maybe a little more Soulpepper. I like to be told a story but it doesn’t have to be in a linear, traditional fashion. It can be Ivo van Hove staging The Damned with video projections, which I saw at the Barbican in London.” Is he like that as a reader too? Let’s keep the structure of the storytelling and don’t mess too much with it? “David Mitchell for example isn’t traditional storytelling at all,” he says. “And I have to mention Gerard Manley Hopkins again, whom I read over and over … and Thomas Hardy. Edna St. Vincent Millay.” We have moved to another room, which has its own library and a mountain of books on the floor: the “To-Be-Read” room. I spot Alan Hollinghurst – Polegato’s partial to The Stranger’s Child, a historical novel on literary memory built around a fictional English poet resembling Rupert Brooke. “Kevin Barry! Now there’s an author that I love. Have you read City of Bohane? That’s a good example of the kind of stuff that I like. A bit like James Joyce. Dubliners is one of my favourite MICHAEL COOPER Egils Silins as Méphistophélès and Brett Polegato as Valentin in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Faust, 2007 In town for the COC’s Faust: Yannick Nézet-Séquin on our February 2007 cover. books ever.” I notice with delight that he has purchased all three Eimear McBride novels – another Irish writer working in Joycean, modernist tradition – and placed them prominently on their own. Oh and look, I say, there are the Ali Smith’s fast zeitgeist novels, Autumn, Winter and Spring – but he’s moved on to the poetry pile, bringing out Philip Larkin, Billy Collins, John Ashbury. “I’m very eclectic. This woman for example, Frances Harding, writes amazing YA fiction. The way she writes is so alive, so unpredictable.” There is a lot of CanLit on his shelves too. “I love Colin McAdam. There are things by Atwood that I like, but I like Lisa Moore even more. A friend of mine, Gil Adamson, is about to publish a new book. I love Joseph Boyden, Lynn Coady … I loved Anne Michaels before the world caught on.” I ask him about Kazuo Ishiguro, whose books I spot on the lower shelf before we head down the stairs. “Huge Ishiguro fan, especially Never Let Me Go. Richard Powers. Michel Faber. All wonderful.” Is there anything that you never buy and never look for? “I read very little crime fiction,” he says. You don’t need a book to be plot-y? “Not at all. Take for example Dan Chaon, You Remind Me of Me. I cannot tell you the number of people who’ve read it and tell me nothing happened. I tell them, ‘What do you mean nothing happens, you learn all about these people!’ I am more interested in discovering people; while I appreciate storytelling, I don’t need to be told a story the Dan Brown way.” Before we part ways, I ask him about projects coming up after this season of cancellations is over, if by then it is. A Canadian Art Song Project recording is on the agenda for May, and on June 6 a concert in honour of Randolph Peters’ 60th birthday, with music by John Estacio, Vincent Ho, Bramwell Tovey and Peters himself. On June 14, Off-Centre Music Salon and Petersburg, a song cycle by Georg Sviridov. In the fall, no small feat: the title role in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell with Irish National Opera. But meantime, at home, the comfort of books – the more books, the better. Lydia Perović is an arts journalist in Toronto. Send her your art-of-song news to Ok – so maybe you don’t have a personal library quite like Brett Polegato’s but if you or someone in your household has a Toronto Public Library card you’re in luck! All of their online services can be accessed from anywhere using your library card. The TPL has put together a quick guide to all their digital resources called 38 WAYS TO USE THE LIBRARY FROM YOUR HOME including e-books and e-audiobooks; newspapers and magazines; comics and graphic novels; materials for children of all ages, online learning resources and podcasts. There are also classic films, world cinema, documentaries and popular movies available for on-demand streaming. And there is a ton of music, from the NAXOS music library. For other online resources please see COVID-19 – Artist & Reader Resources, page 47 — WholeNote staff 12 | April 2020

Beat by Beat | Classical & Beyond The Cruellest Month A Portrait of April 2020 as It Might Have Been PAUL ENNIS Art of Time Ensemble was to have presented “S’Wonderful,” their Gershwin brothers’ tribute at the beginning of April and “Dance to the Abyss,” with music by Kurt Weill (and lyrics by Bertold Brecht), Schulhoff, Spoliansky et al, early in May, both already cancelled. To ease the pain, artistic director Andrew Burashko has created “The Self-Isolation Playlist” on Soundcloud, inviting everyone to listen, and saying this: This song list is a desire to share with you some of the music we’ve made over the years - a kind of offering at a time when everything is being taken away. Suddenly, having more time than I know what to do with - trying to distract myself from the fear and madness outside my window, I’ve been digging through recordings of past concerts - some not heard in years, and reflecting on the immense privilege I have had of making music with such remarkable people/musicians. I hope you will enjoy it. If you’re reading this online, go to: 185119516/sets/the-self-isolation-playlist, where you can hear Art of Time’s take on nine songs by the likes of Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, Gilles Vigneault, Charles Trenet and Robert Charlebois. Canadian superstar Jan Lisiecki was also to appear at the beginning and end of this time period: scheduled to play Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No.3 and No.5 “Emperor” with the TSO in early April; and at the end of the month, with baritone Matthias Goerne, to perform a program of Beethoven songs at Koerner Hall. In November 2014 when Lisiecki and the TSO played Beethoven concertos 3, 4 and 5, the then 19-year-old sat down in the Roy Thomson Hall lobby with composer Gary Kulesha for a brief interview. “My modus operandi is to make the piano sing,” I remember Lisiecki saying. Kulesha wondered how Lisiecki would characterize the three Beethovens. The Third “has a similar ferocity and darkness as the D Minor Mozart K466 which it parallels”; the Fourth “pushes the boundaries… [it] begins from the soul of the piano”; the Fifth “broadens what can be done in a concerto.” The following summer (2015) at Stratford, I heard Lisiecki and the Annex Quartet perform all five, arranged for piano and string quartet. It was part of an exhaustive learning process leading up to his recording of the concertos with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Tomo Keller. The Academy/Keller/Lisiecki live recording from Konzerthaus Berlin in 2018 is available for viewing on YouTube! It’s some consolation for the cancelled April TSO concerts. In an interview in July 2019 for, Lisiecki was asked about his evolving approach to the Chopin concertos; his response seems to me representative of his approach in general: “My interpretations are fluid, I change them from performance to performance, sometimes consciously, other times subconsciously. This is what makes music live, what makes it real and visceral to the audience.” Regarding the anticipated recital at Koerner with Goerne, on March 11, Deutsche Grammophon posted on their Facebook page a snippet of a rehearsal in anticipation of the release, on March 20, of Matthias Goerne (baritone) and Jan Lisiecki’s recording of Beethoven songs to coincide with their concerts in Vienna (March 20), Munich (March 22) and Koerner Hall (April 24). A full performance video is Matthias Goerne (left) and Jan Lisiecki coming soon per Facebook, offering an alternative should the April recital not take place. Gimeno and Wang: April was also set to mark the return of incoming TSO musical director Gustavo Gimeno leading the orchestra in Brahms’ bucolic Symphony No.2, paired on April 8 and 9 with Brahms’ incendiary Piano Concerto No.1 and on April 11 with his uber-Romantic Piano Concerto No.2. In both instances, the soloist is the formidable Yuja Wang. YouTube features her emotions on display in both concertos with the Munich Philharmonic and their regular conductor Valery Gergiev. I was particularly looking forward to Wang’s musical conversation with TSO principal horn, Neil Deland, that begins the second concerto. April 2020 | 13

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