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Volume 19 Issue 5 - February 2014

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  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
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  • Violin
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have a future chance to engage with this music – it certainly deservesa repeat performance and a wider audience in Toronto and other partsof the country.On to this month’s concerts. To get the month started, inKingston the Melos Choir and Chamber Orchestra perform an earlymusic program, Eros and Agape: Love’s Longing and Laments onFebruary 9. The concert includes works by Hildegard von Bingen,Victoria, Palestrina, Machaut, Dufay and others. Guillaume deMachaut, wrote in 14th century France, and is one of the earliestcomposers from whom we have comprehensive musical scores. It isalways fascinating to hear his music live.For more early music choices (mixed with a little Beatles) the AnnexSingers perform works by Josquin and Palestrina on February 22.In a later vein, the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir performs Handel’sSaul on February 21 to 23. Saul explores the themes of jealousy, loveand ambition that characterize the rivalry between the biblical Saul,king of Israel, and the young, charismatic shepherd and musicianDavid, who will ultimately usurp the Israelite throne. David’s lovingrelationship with Saul’s son, the doomed young warrior Jonathan,adds the final element through which internecine conflict becomestragedy. It is one of the most dramatic stories of the Hebrew scriptures,and one that is beautifully suited to Handelian choruses and solos offerocity, triumph and lament.Richard III was the last Plantagenet king of England before the riseof the Tudor dynasty. He was killed in battle in 1485 at the end of theWar of the Roses. These guys basically spent centuries killing eachother back and forth, which ought to put Prince Harry’s naughty LasVegas adventures in a bit of perspective. On March 1 the Tallis Choirsings a Requiem for Richard III, a recreation of a requiem mass as itmight have been celebrated at the end of the 15th century. The musicwill include medieval carols and some of the the stunning late EnglishRenaissance choral works of the Chapel Royal of Richard’s Tudorusurper, Henry VII. Which is kind of rubbing it in.In Hamilton on February 28 and March 2 the Bach Elgar Choirperform two midsize masterworks of the classical repertoire,Fauré’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G. The Fauré workin particular is a small miracle of orchestration and melodic andharmonic invention. It’s a piece every fan of choral music ought toknow, and every choral singer must perform at least once.In Kitchener on February 22, the Grand Philharmonic Choiralso performs the Vaughan Williams work, as part of an anglophileprogram entitled Glorious England.Also in the classical vein, on March 2 the Toronto Classical Singersperform Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and Haydn’s Mass in the Timeof War (In Haydn’s original autograph, the Missa in tempore belli.)Haydn’s mass was first performed in 1796 Vienna, during the turbulentand violent era of upheaval following the French Revolution andprior to the rise of Napoleon. Anyone who asserts that the worksof classical composers are ivory tower art, divorced from the politicalrealities that buffet us all, would be advised to listen to this mass,which contains dramatic moments that approach savagery.Benjamin Stein is a Toronto tenor and lutenist. Hecan be contacted at Visit his website at MAHONSales Representative416-322-8000pmahon@trebnet.comwww.petermahon.comBeat by Beat | Classical & BeyondGrosvenor’sAsynchronicityPAUL ENNISThe most acclaimed British pianist of his generation, the remarkableStephen Hough, makes his Koerner Hall debut March 2,his first solo recital in Toronto since his Music Toronto appearanceseven years ago. A few weeks earlier his 21-year-old countrymanBenjamin Grosvenor, who’s been not so quietly building a burgeoningcareer of his own appears on Music Toronto’s Jane Mallet stageFebruary 11, following that up February 14 and 15 as piano soloist withthe Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Saint-Saëns’ Piano ConcertoNo.2 (which Grosvenor plays with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonicon his latest Decca CD).Benjamin GrosvenorGrosvenor: In one so young – he’s only 21 – we expect the notesand hope for the music; in this case there are good reasons to behopeful. The Times said of Grosvenor’s first recording (which includedChopin’s Four Scherzi and Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit) that “he jumpsinside the music’s soul.”Just who is this pianist upon whom the venerable magazineGramophone bestowed its “Young Artist of the Year” and“Instrumental Award” in 2012?At 11, Grosvenor’s exceptional talent was revealed when he won thekeyboard section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year. At 19, shortlyafter becoming the first British pianist since the legendary CliffordCurzon to be signed by Decca, he became the youngest soloist toperform at the First Night of the Proms.The youngest of five brothers, his piano teacher mother shapedhis early musical thinking. He divulged in a 2011 YouTube video thathe decided at ten he would be a concert pianist and wasn’t fazed atall by playing on the BBC shortly thereafter. Only when he becamemore self-aware at 13 or 14 did he suffer some anxious moments. Onthe video, a piano excerpt from Leonard Bernstein’s Age of Anxietyfollows, the musical core of which he expresses beautifully bothliterally and figuratively, before adding: “The pieces you play the bestare the ones you respond to emotionally.”In a May 2013 YouTube webcam chat in advance of a return engagementin Singapore, he spoke of his musical taste. From the beginninghe was attracted to Chopin but over the years hearing Schnabelfor the first time led to an attraction to Beethoven and hearing SamuelFeinberg opened his ears to Bach. He’s a bit of an old soul in that hehas a great interest in recordings by pianists like Moriz Rosenthal,Ignaz Friedman, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Shura Cherkassky and VladimirHorowitz made in the early half of the 20th century. “Their primaryconcern was in imitating the voice especially in romantic repertoire,”he explained. “Horowitz was obsessed with the voice. They were themasters of that asynchronization of the hands.”14 | February 1, 2014 - March 7, 2014

In a profile in The Guardian three years ago when Grosvenor was18, Tom Service wrote that he “talked of his early years as if he’s aseasoned professional looking back on the sins of his youth. But he’stalking about 2004.”“Listening back to the Chopin D-Flat Major Nocturne I did when Iwas 12 -- I think it’s really interesting, some of the expressive things Ido, like the asynchronization of the hands.” Asynchronization, Servicewent on to explain, is “a technique where the left hand plays a microsecondbefore the right, something associated with pianists of anearlier age ... and frowned on by today’s virtuosos.”Grosvenor continued: “I don’t really know where that came from;I hadn’t heard any of those early 20th-century recordings by then ...If you compare the way people perform Mozart now with, say, LiliKraus’ recordings, or Schnabel’s Beethoven with today’s players –today, things are so much blander and more boring. They were eachso unique back then ... Maybe it’s because of recording and the pressureto make things note perfect, or the influence of competitions, butwe’ve lost touch with that tradition of playing, with its imaginationand expression.”The Independent has described Grosvenor’s sound as “poetic andgently ironic, brilliant yet clear-minded, intelligent but not withouthumour, all translated through a beautifully clear and singing touch.”After his Wigmore Hall recital last fall, which contained much ofwhat he will be playing in Toronto, International Piano comparedGrosvenor to a young Krystian Zimerman. I’m looking forward to it.Aurora Cultural Centre presents2014 Great ArtistPiano SeriesEnjoy a dazzling concert series featuringinternationally acclaimed performers in theintimate salon setting of Brevik Hall.MOSHEHAMMER violinANGELA PARK pianoFri. February 28, 8pmKreisler, Dvorak, BrahmsFUNG-CHIUpiano duoFri. April 11, 8pmSchubert, Stravinsky, BernsteinStephen HoughHough: It had been eight years since Stephen Hough became thefirst classical musician to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, theso-called “genius award,” so it was only fitting for him to be namedby The Economist in 2009 as one of 20 polymaths the magazinedetermined to excel in diverse fields (in Hough’s case: pianist, poet,composer, writer on religion – this was before his first solo exhibit ofpaintings in the fall of 2012 at London’s Broadbent Gallery).In the last two years Hough has been profiled and/or interviewedin Le Monde, Classical Music, the Houston Chronicle, Sunday Times,New York Times and London Evening Standard, all of which are availableon his well-ordered website. There you can also link to the blog2013-2014SeasonMar. 2, Leblanc & DjokicHeliconian Hall 35 Hazelton 416.654.0877Each concert highlights a Canadian compositiontogether with familiar classical repertoire.JANECOOP pianoFri. May 30, 8pmBeethoven, Brahms, Chopin3-Concert Subscription Series Adult Senior (60+) & Student (18 and under)Receive a free Naxos CD with subscription purchase!Single Concert Adult Senior / StudentAvailable in person, or over the phone.HST applicable on all tickets.All sales final; no refund or exchange.General Admission seating.Fully accessible building – enter at north doors.Generously sponsored by Bonnie & Norbert Kraft.22 Church St., Aurora905 713 February 1, 2014 - March 7, 2014 | 15

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