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Volume 19 Issue 7 - April 2014

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immediacy that is almost

immediacy that is almost unbearable.”Their upcoming concert presented by the Women’s Musical Club ofToronto is comprised of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 1, in additionto the Britten and Brahms, all from the same C major tonal family.When I pointed this out to Niki, he said it was coincidence, somethinghe had not realized until now. These pieces have only been part of thequartet’s repertoire for a short time, about a year for the Brahms andBritten but less for the third. “The Shostakovich quartet is almost anew piece for us,” he said.Replying to a question about live performance versus studio work,Niki piqued my curiosity once more about their April 1o debut. “Ourapproach is always the same. We try to play hard and do not distinguishwhether we are playing on the concert stage or whether we arerecording. But there is a fundamental difference. Unlike recording, onthe stage we have just one shot for all ...”Recent EventsStephen Hough’s masterclass at RCM’s Mazzoleni Hall March 3 overflowedwith insights from that most discerning of pianists:•“Have the courage to do nothing sometimes.”•“Late Chopin – he became more interested in counterpoint – needsclarity; the right hand has to be able to whisper and still the accompanimentmust be softer.”•“Descending chromatics in Western music from the Renaissance onis all about suffering.”•“Let’s find a real pianissimo so that it’s floating from the elbow;a real pianissimo in the concert hall makes an audience listen [asHough’s blissful unveiling of Schoenberg’s Six Little Pieces in hisMarch 2 Koerner Hall recital illustrated].•“We have evidence (Horowitz’s Rach 3) where you don’t have toplay all the notes; sometimes you need to thin things out – this wasHorowitz’s great trick. Rubinstein admitted he left out notes in Iberiaby Albéniz to get the ‘lift.’”•“Some kind of musical clarity is more important than playing allthe notes.”Gustavo Dudamel’s visit to Roy Thomson Hall March 19 ignited hisorchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and electrified the nearcapacitycrowd. His stellar status stems from his musical approachwhich energizes his players and invigorates the notes they play. TheToronto concert juxtaposed John Corigliano Jr.’s Symphony No. 1, analternately tuneful and violent reflection of the composer’s reaction tothe AIDS epidemic, with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, with its ownbrand of fateful splendour.Dudamel turned Corigliano’s massive outpouring of pain andbeauty (written at the end of the 1980s and inspired directly by thedeath of three of his friends) into a showcase for his superb orchestralinstrument. The conductor laid bare the work’s many textures,from an offstage piano quoting Albéniz to double tympani at oppositeends of the stage, from a heavenly solo cello to the stark shrill of threepiccolos at triple fortissimo.But it was the Tchaikovsky that confirmed Dudamel’s reputationand justified an immediate standing ovation. He revealed the visceralpower of the music, making the familiar fresh -- with great claritythroughout and restraint when appropriate, from the snark of thebrass to the anguish of the strings, with perfectly phrased momentsand bars snapped off as if by a bullwhip, even unearthing a noteyou’ve never really heard before.And then, at the end, with an elegance that acknowledged his loveand respect for the orchestra, he disappeared into their midst to soakup the applause.Concert-copiaThe Toronto Symphony Orchestra bids farewell to a stellar monthApril 30 and May 1 with Sir Andrew Davis conducting Mahler’s essentialSymphony 9 in D. April 17 and 19 finds the fascinating pianistHélène Grimaud as soloist in Brahms’ Concerto No. 1 under thebaton of Andrey Boeyko, music director of the Düsseldorf SymphonyOrchestra. On April 11 and 12 Mozart’s vivacious Piano Concerto No. 17comes under the scrutiny of the highly respected Richard Goode whilePeter Oundjian also leads the orchestra in Richard Strauss’ gloriouslyhubristic Ein Heldenleben.The Kindred Spirits Orchestra celebrates Good Friday April 18with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture, Andre LaPlanteperforming Beethoven’s Concerto No.5 “Emperor” and Schumann’sSymphony No.1 “Spring.” Kristian Alexander conducts.April 6 the Royal Conservatory concludes another season of Sundayafternoon piano recitals with a power-packed program by KhatiaBuniatishvili. Liszt’s Piano Sonata and Chopin’s Second Sonatabookend Ravel’s iconic La valse. Stravinsky’s Three Movements fromPetrushka conclude the breathtaking proceedings.Music Toronto brings back Kikuei Ikeda, former violinist of thebeloved Tokyo String Quartet, to join the Parker Quartet as a violistApril 10 in a performance of Dvořák’s Quintet in E-flat Op.97 whileApril 28 finds the Associates of Toronto Symphony Orchestra playingMozart’s String Quintet No.3 in C, K515 and Brahms’ String QuintetNo.2 in G Op.111.In their program May 4, the Windermere String Quartet notethat “the 13th quartets of Haydn and Beethoven [the lyrical Op. 130]bookend the era of the classical quartet: from the making of themould to the breaking of it.”The Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society offers an alternativeinterpretation of Britten’s String Quartet No.2 when they presentthe Enso Quartet April 11, one day after the Pavel Haas Quartet plays itin Toronto. On April 15 pianist Philip Chiu includes his own arrangementof the Suite for Oboe and Piano by Pavel Haas in his free noontimeconcert “Music in the Time of War” at the Richard BradshawAmpitheatre.Two Grammy Award Winners: April 4 Jeffery Concerts presentsJames Ehnes accompanied by Andrew Armstrong performingLeClair’s Sonata No. 3 in D major, op. 9, Brahms’ Sonata No. 3 in Dminor, op. 108, a new work by Alexina Louie and Richard Strauss’Sonata in E-flat major, op. 18 while the iconic Canadian Brassconcludes the Mooredale Concerts current season April 27.Paul Ennis is managing editor of The WholeNote.Violins, violas, cellos & bowsComplete line of strings & accessoriesExpert repairs & rehairsCanada’s ad largest stock of string musicFast mail order servicethesoundpost.cominfo@the soundpost.com93 Grenville St, Toronto M5S 1B4416.971.6990 • fax 416.597.9923A treasure trove for string players& lovers of string music18 | April 1 – May 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

Beat by Beat | Choral Scene“Youthful”AssumptionsBENJAMIN STEINAnyone involved in arts work knows the importance of involvingyouth in art’s survival. So how does one generation pass on its interestsand traditions to the next? A method often employed by wellmeaningover 30s is to solicit ideas and suggestions from the young.The assumption is that such ideas must be indicative of future trendsthat the cautious elderly would do well to heed.The problem with this method as Canadian author RobertsonDavies once observed is that rather than being open-minded, childrenand teens can be notably conservative, insisting on strict protocols ofbehaviour, discourse, gender roles and physical appearance.When very young we grasp for certainty out of a lack of knowledgeor experience, and move towards innovation and experimentation asour understanding and confidence grow. New art is created withinthe uncomfortable nexus between embracing and rejecting what hasbeen learned.True, suppressed conservative attitudes in both art and politicsoften re-emerge as people get older (with notable, or brave, or nuttyexceptions), but neither conservatism and liberalism, artistic or otherwise,is really tied to age. True open-mindedness is a rare quality andis often limited to specific areas. There’s no guarantee that a liberalattitude to politics, religion, even food (not to mention more transgressiveentertainments), will be accompanied by a liberal attitudetowards music or other art forms.The problem for the choir director, or any teacher of music, is tostrike a balance between imparting past traditions and striking intonew territory. The question of when to lead, and when to be led by,youthful suggestions can be perplexing. The most cutting-edge artoften dates the most quickly, and a choir director can be forgiven forwondering if having the bass section beatbox to a Lorde hit is reallythe right choice.There are a number of children’s and youth ensembles performingthis month; their performances are referenced a little further on inthe column. Judge for yourself if their work represents the wave ofthe future, a familiar continuation of the past, or the usual elusivemix of both.First though, a note on some less than usual fare.Grace Church on-the-Hill: Stephanie Martin’s Pax Christi Chorale,(below); and with True North Brass and videographer Rob DiVito (above)during the audio and video recording of Martin’s newest composition,Now the Queen of Seasons, to be performed publically by the choirfor the first time, April 26 in Kitchener and April 27 in Toronto.RaritiesOn April 5 the Larkin Singers perform “Modern Mystics,” includingworks by Tavener, Dove, Briggs and others.On May 3 the Orpheus Choir of Toronto teams up with ChorusNiagara for a performance of Dvořák’s Requiem in St. Catharines; theconcert is repeated the next day at Koerner Hall.On Apr 26 7:30 Pax Christi Chorale performs “Passion and Peace:Radiant Music, Ancient Wisdom” in Kitchener, with three compositionsnot heard often enough live: Fauré’s Messe Basse; Langlais’Missa Salve Regina and Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom.Conductor Stephanie Martin, also a notable composer, premieres herNow The Queen of Seasons. Concert repeated April 27 in Toronto.EMILY DINGthewholenote.com April 1 – May 7, 2014 | 19

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