8 years ago

Volume 19 Issue 3 - November 2013

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  • November
  • Toronto
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  • December
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I caught up with

I caught up with Scaramella’s gambist JoëlleMorton and asked her what inspired her program.“The history of the times really had a huge influenceon the music,” Morton explained. “Becausethere was no court for most of this period, theclosest thing to court music was the private musicpeople had in their homes. Composers who didn’twant to lose their jobs or their lives had to be veryambiguous about what religious denominationJoëlle Morton.they belonged to.”The result was a huge variety of secularchamber music for small ensembles that was performed in thehomes of England’s wealthiest citizens. Perhaps because even a richhousehold couldn’t afford a full orchestra (or have enough spacein the house for one) the instrumental combinations were incrediblydiverse, and Scaramella has found a wide array of these unusualorchestrations for their concert. In addition to a duet for violin andviola da gamba plus continuo, the program features compositions forlyra viol, which has become a speciality of Morton’s in recent years.Lyra viol involves playing chords on the habitually melodic viola dagamba as well as retuning the instrument in one of over 40 differentways; this style of gamba playing will be represented by a fantasia byJenkins for a lyra viol playing continuo and a piece for solo lyra violby Ives. Combined with Purcell’s most famous sonata for strings (the“Golden”), a Locke suite and a virtuosic organ fantasia by Gibbons,chamber music lovers should get quite a kick out of this concert.Daniels and LeBlanc: Music fans looking for a more conventionalconcert experience (or who just like their music sung ratherthan played) won’t want to miss Tafelmusik’s November concertseries, titled “Purcell and Carissimi: Music from London and Rome,”presented at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre from November 6 to 10. “Purcelland Carissimi” features tenor Charles Daniels and soprano SuzieLeBlanc, both of whom are world-renowned singers who have madea lasting impression on audiences across Canada. LeBlanc is probablybest-known for her collaboration with countertenorDaniel Taylor and the Theatre of EarlyMusic, and is herself the artistic director of herown opera company, Le Nouvel Opéra, based inMontreal. Englishman Daniels, best known for hisinterpretations of Bach, Purcell and Monteverdi,astonished audiences at the Montreal BaroqueFestival in 2009 with his completion of Purcell’sode Arise My Muse. Both Daniels and LeBlanchave sung with Tafelmusik before, most notablytogether in a performance of Purcell’s KingArthur during Tafelmusik’s 2009/10 season. Listening to them sing,it’s easy to tell why the orchestra wants them to keep coming back.Others to watch: Some other early-music concerts to watch outfor in November: the Community Baroque Orchestra of Toronto,performing Brandenburg Concerti 4 and 5, as well as a reconstructed“Brandenburg 9” (by the late musicologist and oboist BruceHaynes) at the 519 Community Centre, November 9; the evening willfeature violinists Valerie Gordon and Elyssa Lefurgy-Smith and harpsichordistSarah-Anne Churchill. Soprano Hallie Fishel and lutenistJohn Edwards from Musicians in Ordinary will be playing an all-Dowland tribute concert for his 450th birthday at Heliconian Hall onNovember 16. Finally, lutenist and choir conductor Lucas Harris willpresent a mixed program for his master’s recital in choral conductingat the Church of the Redeemer, November 2 at 4:30. While theprogram will include choral works by Arvo Pärt, Clara Schumann,and Lili Boulanger, the concert will also feature Austrian sacredmusic from the 17th century with some help from the “Jeanne LamonBaroque String Ensemble,” so this concert might be an opportunity tohear some Tafelmusik players free of chargeDavid Podgorski is a Toronto-based harpsichordist, musicteacher and a founding member of Rezonance.He can be contacted at | Novemberr 1 – December 7, 2013

Beat by Beat | Choral SceneStill SingingBritten’s PraisesBEN STEINROLAND HAUPTNo one should ever need an excuse to attend a concert of themusic of iconic English composer Benjamin Britten. But ifmodern music remains something you consider forbidding orunpleasant, find a reason to hear some Britten — experiencing someof his music live could be an enjoyable way to forge a new perspective.This is the centenary year of Britten’s birth and there will bemany opportunities to hearhis works. This year’s focus onmodern music in the ChoralScene column gives me a chanceto devote some space to thisimportant composer.Celebrated from an early age,Britten enjoyed both respectfrom his colleagues and arare level of public popularitythroughout his career. His firstopera, Peter Grimes, was aninternational hit in 1945. Hecontinued to compose operasthroughout his career, butalso wrote for all manner ofchoirs, ensembles and soloinstrumentalists.Britten founded his ownBenjamin Britten at Crag House, festival in 1948 — TheAldeburgh Festival — and maintaineda profitable relationship with Decca Records that ensured thathis works would be recorded almost as soon as they were produced.The stereotypical model of the 20th century modernist composer — awriter of unpleasant and inaccessible music, ignored by and scornfulof the crowd — is not one that Britten ever believed in or embodied.Of course, only in the museum-like culture of classical musicwould a composer who was born a century ago and died in 1976even be considered modern. Surely for those who are interested innew sounds, other composers have gone farther since. Why botherwith Britten?I’d argue that like Beethoven and Mozart, Britten’s music appeals onmany different levels. His ability to draw on and interpret elements ofpopular music, folk song and baroque music (notably that of Purcell,whose work Britten helped revive) has always attracted listeners wholike strong tunes and lively rhythms.But his individual voice and singular musical outlook moulded anddeveloped these popular elements in unique ways. He was no musicalPETER MAHONSales November 1 – December 7, 2013 | 21

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