7 years ago

Volume 16 Issue 9 - June 2011

  • Text
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • Festival
  • Concerts
  • Musical
  • Summerfestivals
  • Symphony
  • Orchestra
  • Arts
  • Trio

celled due to

celled due to legislation banning tobacco sponsorship, which meantchief sponsor du Maurier was out. Within 24 hours then-mayor MelLastman twisted arms and the big show was saved and went ahead atits new base, Nathan Phillips Square. Now the chief sponsor is TDCanada Trust, and no one fools with the banks.I have a million memories of the festival years, including roastingon the concrete slabs outside City Hall, nearly drowning in a Yorkvilletent awash with turbulent water torrents (Jackie Richardson kept goingon the stage), missing Diana Krall’s 1988 two-night debut at George’sSpaghetti House, Sun Ra’s Arkestra prancing through Jane MallettTheatre chanting ‘hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go’, Tony Williams’riveting drumming, Archie Shepp’s revolutionary harangues at BerczyPark, Gerry Mulligan, Vincent Herring, the Thomson Hall “tea dance”by its pool with the ghost Artie Shaw orchestra, stunning pianist MichelPetrucciani being carried onto the stage, wailing sax monster Johnny48 bands in 1995 (56 two festivals later), Jackie McLean, trumpeterEnrico Rava playing a Carmen jazz suite, bass giant William Parker,the brilliant Jazz Superband (Bob Berg, Joey deFrancesco, RandyBrecker, Adam Nussbaum) at the ill-titled Comfort Zone, Chris Potter,Phil Woods Joe Zawinul, Slide Hampton, scorching Arturo Sandovaland so many more thrills.It’s important to bear in mind that jazz is now an internationallanguage, although the word jazz has been used, abused and misusedthroughout its 100-year history. As an art form it developed primarilysouth of the border, its chameleon sounds, shapes and colours goingthrough wrenching changes, so it’s hard to recognize the close relationshipsbetween New Orleans marching bands, the tearaway virtuosityof post-bebop (which today is dubbed mainstream), thundering funkgrooves, contemporary hip hop and the avant-garde of every musicalgeneration.After all, a principal charm of jazz is its similarity to spoken languageand it has survived critical onslaughts, rocky economies andrival musical passions by constantly reinventing itself while remainingfragmented into myriad parts.For the middle years of last century pop music and jazz shared thesame language and the same base of musicians and the Great AmericanSongbook was prized both by pop singers and jazz musicians. Withbebop jazz knowledge became separated from pop repertoire, whichinstead of appealing to adult love became over-conscious of teenageinfatuation. Still is. That may explain my loving adherence to bebopand its later forms.Something we can all agree on is this thought from the estimableDuke Ellington – “There’s only two kinds of music, good and bad.”Geoff Chapman is a leading Toronto music writer.Last November in The WholeNote I interviewed ChristinaPetrowska Quilico about the many international piano competitionsin the world today, and the abundance of pianists vying forthe opportunity to compete. Almost as if to prove my point a messagearrived in my inbox yesterday telling me that a twelve-year oldprize in the adult pianists’ class of the Concurso International dePiano Rotary in Mallorca, Spain, the youngest pianist ever to winthis award. Needlessto say, thistime many readerswill have heard ofMs. Rizikov, who,I expect, has a brilliantcareer ahead.I doubt it will bethe last. Hopefullywe will have theopportunity soonto hear her playagain in Toronto.Beat by Beat / Classical & BeyondYoung HeadlinersALLAN PULKERAnastasia Rizikov.Another Toronto pianist, whose name is not yet well knownoutside the piano competition circuit, is Ilya Poletaev. He came toToronto from Russia via Israel at the age of fourteen, continuing hispiano studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Some years laterhe completed a Bachelor of Music degree at the Faculty of Music atU. of T., moving on to Yale University, where he did his Master’sand Doctorate.Just last July he captured First Prize at the International JohannSebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig and, as the winner, willthe 2008 Concorso Sala Gallo Piano Competition in Monza, Italy,where he also received the Audience Prize, the Bach Prize, andthe Orchestra Prize. He also won First Prize at the 2009 GriegInternational Competition, is a laureate of the 2008 NationalStepping Stone Competition in Canada and joined the Astral Artistsroster as a winner of its 2009 National Auditions. But it was wayback in 1997 that he got his start in Toronto when he won the TSOFESTIVAL 2011July 19 – August 13Beethoven and the Romantics10 thewholenote.comJune 1 – July 7, 2011

Volunteer Competitionwhich gave him the opportunityto perform Brahms’Concerto in D Minor withthe TSO.Unlike most pianists,Poletaev manages toharpsichord and fortepiano,intending to include them inhis performing career alongwith the modern piano.“What is important to me isnot so much playing variousinstruments as being ableto speak each musical lan-a lot of continuo playingon the harpsichord. Doingthis you can’t help but seethe connection betweenthe continuo and the text,which informs the musicalrhetoric. Interestingly, Ihave found it possible totransfer something of thisIlya my mainstream piano playing to make it more rhetorically vivid.” music history with a focus on the less well-known works of wellknowncomposers. He has recently completed a project unearthinglargely unknown works of the twentieth-century Romanian composerGeorge Enescu, and with violinist Jennifer Curtis has recordedEnescu’s complete works for violin and piano, scheduled for releasesoon by Naxos. Not surprisingly, with abilities as both a performerand as a scholar, he has recently been appointed an assistant professorat McGill University.A little closer to home I asked harpsichord wrangler extraordinaireDawn Lyons of Claviers Baroques about Ilya Poletaev: “… He isa really, really nice guy who can play the piano and the harpsichordvery well … I mean very, VERY well … stupendously well, in fact.Den [Den Ciul, her partner in Claviers Baroques] says he is one ofthe ten best harpsichordists on the planet who can do ‘magic’.”Where this is all leading is to the good news that we will havethe opportunity to hear this accomplished Torontonian on June 4,when he will play the rarely-performed Piano Concerto No. 3 byNikolai Medtner, with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conductedby Peter Oundjian. musicological interests and perhaps his Russian background.Nikolai Medtner, who was Russian, lived from 1880 to 1951, andwas trained at the Moscow Conservatory as both a concert pianistand as a composer (he studied composition under Taneyev). Froma Canadian perspective it is interesting that in 1924 he touredthe United States and Canada. A slightly younger contemporaryof the much better known Russian composer and pianist, SergeiRachmaninoff, he dedicated his second Piano Concerto in cminor, Op. 50 (1920–27) to Rachmaninoff, who dedicated his ownFourth Concerto to Medtner. The third Piano Concerto (in e minor“Ballade”, Op. 60, 1940–43) was written towards the end of his lifewhen he was living in London. Medtner recorded his three pianoconcertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1947. sixteen” Poletaev writes. “Something that makes him a very specialcomposer is that he was able in a very original way to put togetherboth his Russian and his German roots. What makes it Germanicis its coherence, the way unity is built into it in a very organic way.This was not an important feature of Russian music. What seemsRussian to me is his thematic material, which while not overtly“Russian,” is somehow psychologically charged in that it containsANDREW CHICHIAKJune 1 – July 7, 2011 11

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