7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 2 - October 2011

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They’ve Got

They’ve Got PersonalitySIMONE DESILETSInteresting personalities: the world of music is full of them.I’d like to tell you about a few who will be gracing our stages andcharming our senses during the coming month.Take, for example, Jan Dismas Zelenka, one of those talentedpeople whom history might well have completely forgotten, had itnot been for the determination of some who “discovered” and soughtto revive his music long after his death in 1745. This Bohemiancomposer, whose lifetime spanned more or less the same years asthat of J.S. Bach, spent most of his career at the Dresden court (aflourishing centre of music and the arts in 17th- and 18th-centuryGermany) where he played double bass, conducted the DresdenCourt Orchestra and became Court Composer of Church Music.His music is acknowledged as being extraordinarily creative, withunexpected turns of harmony and a freshly expressive outlook.Of course, as part of his duties he wrote masses. One of these, theMissa votiva, has quite a touching genesis: Zelenka wrote it to givethanks after recovering from a long illness, dedicating it as follows:“J.D.Z. composed this Mass ad majorem Dei gloriam to the greaterglory of God in fulfillment of a vow, after having recovered hishealth through God’s favour”.You can hear it, along with a beloved motet by one of hisacquaintances and admirers, in Tafelmusik’s “Glorious Bach andZelenka” performances, which take place on various days, and atvarious times, between October 14 and 20.And consider Johann Rosenmüller, 17th century Germancomposer and virtuoso trombonist, who is credited with being aninstrumental figure in the transmission of Italian musical styles toGermany. He had a promising career as teacher and organist inLeipzig, and was in line for theposition of cantor at the Churchof St. Thomas, but his career wasabruptly halted in 1655 whenhe and several schoolboys werearrested and imprisoned on suspicionof homosexuality. Aha; heescaped, fled Germany and nextturned up in Italy, where by 1658he had established himself at St.Mark’s in Venice as a trombonistand composer. Years later he alsoheld the post of composer at theOspedale della Pietà (the girls’ orphanage soon afterward to becomefamous as fertile ground for Vivaldi’s prolific creative output).Rosenmüller’s music was clearly inspired by the brilliant acousticof the Cathedral of St. Mark’s. You’ll be able to hear the effect ofthis magnificent space when, on October 21 and 22, the TorontoConsort brings together voices, strings, cornetti, sackbuts, lutesand keyboards to present “Venetian Splendour: The Music ofJohann Rosenmüller.”A towering figure of the 15th century, the Franco-Flemishcomposer Johannes Ockeghem led a life that is somewhat obscuredto us now, some five or six centuries later. We know that he wasemployed as a bass singer in the chapels of various royal courts,most notably the French courts of Charles VII, Louis XI andCharles VIII; that his life was very long; that though his survivingoutput of compositions is not large, it reveals a highly innovativestyle; also that he was admired throughout Europe for his expressivemusic and his technical prowess.It’s obvious that he revelled in creating musical problems andworking out solutions — for example, his motet Deo Gratias is amagnificent, pulsating canon for four nine-part choruses (36 partsin total). His Missa Cuiusvis Toni is a mass that may be sung in anyone of four different modes, at the performers’ choosing. Enormoustechnical feats of composition, these — yet (to quote one account)“music of contemplative vastness and inward rapture”.Both these works will be performed this month — the Deo Gratiasin “surround sound,” the Missa Cuiusvis Toni in — well, you’ll haveto attend the concert to find out which mode. They’ll be heard in theToronto Chamber Choir’s first concert of the season, “Ockeghem:Medieval Polyphony,” on October 23.A much-admired musician of the 21st century, the acclaimedEnglish conductor and keyboard player, Harry Bicket, will be bringinghis ensemble, the English Concert, to town — alas on one of thesame nights as the Toronto Consort performs. Bicket is renownedfor his interpretations of the baroque and classical repertoire andfor his work in opera, though his biography is chock-full of musicmaking in wide-ranging stylesand periods, all over the world.It’s especially telling that he waschosen in 2007 to succeed TrevorPinnock as artistic director of theEnglish Concert, one of the finestof the U.K.’s period orchestras.The concert takes place in anideal venue for this group, theRoyal Conservatory’s KoernerHall, on October 21. The musicHarry Bicket and the English ideal too, a true representationof their art: suites from28 thewholenote.comOctober 1 – November 7, 2011

SIMON FOWLERsemi-operas by Purcell, soloand orchestral concertos byVivaldi and Telemann.A compelling musicalpersonality whose star isdefinitely on the rise isthe French countertenorPhilippe Jaroussky. He’s beendescribed as a “young singerwith the tone of an angel andthe virtuosity of the devil.”Perhaps because he beganhis musical life as a violinist,his singing displays a verypure sound quality and high,sweet timbre; this combinedwith his dazzling vocal feats,expressive phrasing andhandsome stage presencehave catapulted him intoan international career in aPhilippe Jaroussky.relatively short time.Jaroussky’s art is ideally suited to the virtuosic coloratura of thebaroque; this will be evident when, on November 1 at the RC’sKoerner Hall, he’ll be joined by the acclaimed baroque orchestrafrom Cleveland, Apollo’s Fire, in a programme of fiery operaticarias and orchestral music, entitled “Handel and Vivaldi Fireworks.”OTHERS IN A NUTSHELL• October 8: “Apt for Voices, Viols or Violons”: For its first concertof the season, the Musicians In Ordinary presents a programme ofconsort songs, dances, lute songs and solos from the Elizabethan andJacobean courts, by Holborne, Byrd and Dowland. Soprano HallieFishel and lutenist John Edwards are joined by a renaissance violinband of five parts, led by violinist Christopher Verrette.• October 8: Cardinal Consort of Viols presents “Oktoberfest!”:Beautiful German music from the 16th and 17th centuries, withrefreshments included, in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere atRoyal St. George’s College Chapel.• October 15 and 16: “Best of Baroque”: Andrew Davis conducts theTSO, and plays harpsichord and organ in a rich tapestry of music byBach, including Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, Concerto for Oboeand Violin and Davis’ own orchestrations of Bach organ works.• October 16: Windermere String Quartet on period instrumentspresents the fourth in their six-concert survey of “The GoldenAge of String Quartets,” juxtaposing three great works by Haydn,Mozart and Beethoven.• October 22: “A Celebration of Victoria: 1611–2011”: Tallis Choircommemorates the 400th anniversary of the death of Victoria,presenting some of his greatest works and those of hiscontemporaries, Guerrero, Lobo and Esquivel.• October 29: Our ever-energetic friends in Kingston, Trillio,present their third annual “Baroquetoberfest” with music on periodinstruments by Telemann, Bach, Matthes and others — not tomention home-prepared German food including choucroute garnieand a German beer sampling!Simone Desilets is a long-time contributor to The WholeNote inseveral capacities who plays the viola da gamba.She can be contacted at Concert SeriesOctober 16: The Golden Age of String QuartetsNovember 20: Traces of a Silent LandscapeFebruary 19: The Art of ConversationApril 29: Turning Points4-Concert Series: , seniors/students www.windermerestringquartet.cominfo@windermerestringquartet.com416-769-0952Nine Sparrows Arts Foundation & Christ Church Deer ParkPresentNine Sparrows Arts Foundation416-241-12989sparrows.arts@gmail.com High Park Choirs of TorontoZimfira Poloz, ConductorBrendan Cassin, TrumpetThe Soloists and Choir of Christ Church Deer ParkEric N. Robertson, Music DirectorAdmission FreeDonations WelcomeFridayNovember 11th, 20117:30 pmChrist Church Deer Park1570 Yonge Street at Heath Streetwith Special GuestJohn McDermottChrist Church Deer Parkwww.thereslifehere.orgOctober 1 – November 7, 2011 29

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