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Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017

  • Text
  • April
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Quartet
  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Musical
In this issue: Our podcast ramps up with interviews in March with fight director Jenny Parr, countertenor Daniel Taylor, and baritone Russell Braun; two views of composer John Beckwith at 90; how music’s connection to memory can assist with the care of patients with Alzheimer’s; musical celebrations in film and jazz, at National Canadian Film Day and Jazz Day; and a preview of Louis Riel, which opens this month at the COC. These and other stories, in our April 2017 issue of the magazine!

well-received by

well-received by contemporary audiences. This month, Opera Atelier is reviving the crowning achievement of a composer whose career never did justice to his compositional talent. Medea is running April 22 to 29 at the Elgin Theatre and Opera Atelier, with its exceptional roster of singers, opulent staging and crack pit orchestra (Tafelmusik), will certainly make this rare performance of a composer who never got to be the best a must-see. We like to think we’ve come a long way, culturally, since Louis XIV and his privilèges royaux, but the distance between first and second place in Canada still seems like a wide gulf. A perfect example of this is Les Violons du Roy who, from a vantage point within the Toronto early music scene, never seem to enjoy the popularity and success of Tafelmusik. I’m not sure the lack of coverage is entirely fair to the the Quebec City-based group, as it’s certainly not lacking for talent. They’ve been led in the past by Bernard Labadie, Jonathan Cohen and Mathieu Lussier, all of whom have led full careers and made significant contributions to the early music field. The group’s members are all perfectly competent players and have enjoyed a lifetime of experience playing orchestral, solo and chamber music in Quebec. The group itself is one of Canadian early music’s stalwarts, having been in operation since 1984 (just five years after Tafelmusik) and now has some 35 recordings to its name. If there’s any reason this group is being held back, I have no idea what it is. This month, you’ll be able to see for yourself what makes Les Violons du Roy worth hearing, as they’ll be coming to play Koerner Hall April 13 in a program that includes Bach, Handel, Fux and Graun. Lussier will be leading the group and, to sweeten the deal, the orchestra will be joined by the great countertenor Philippe Jaroussky who, far from being just a voice, has a versatility that lets him sing a wide range of repertoire from Monteverdi to Fauré. I will be very interested to hear what this soloist and this group are capable of when they collaborate. Music-making has probably been a family business since about as long as there have been professional musicians. Although the history of music pedagogy is full of brilliant teachers and outstanding pupils, it’s difficult to overcome the problem of what the student does when the lesson ends and he goes home to (one hopes) practise, and a good deal of the numerous performance issues that arise from a typical piece of music can be resolved much more quickly in having an older, more experienced musician on hand at home to help. The Bach family is an obvious example of such dynasty, but there are plenty of musicians who also parented a younger generation of great performers. Tafelmusik explores the theme of musical families in their concert this month, “Bach: Keeping It in the Family,” which features one great early music father-daughter duo, Alfredo and Cecilia Bernardini. Dad is a well-known baroque oboist, and daughter Cecilia is a baroque violinist who is beginning to shine as a soloist. They’ll both be coming to Toronto to show off their talents in a program that includes the JS Bach Concerto for Violin in E Major BWV 1042 and the CPE Bach Oboe Concerto in E-flat Major Wq. 165, as well as a sinfonia by Bach’s eldest son Wilhelm Friedmann and a Telemann orchestral suite. This is a pair of soloists who can handle virtuostic works with ease, and Tafelmusik always sounds great when there’s a guest director to give a new perspective on performance practice. Check this concert out April 5 through 9 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. If you’d prefer a concert of chamber music this month to a full-scale French opera or orchestral concerts of high Baroque music, consider checking out “Fork in The Road,” I Furiosi’ s concert on April 21 at Calvin Presbyterian Church. It’s somewhat unclear what the group is up to, but no matter: I Furiosi can always be counted on to put on an exciting concert with great performers, and this concert will highlight some seldom-heard composers, including Jean Baptiste Senaillé, Giuseppe Tartini and Louis Bourgeois. David Podgorski is a Toronto-based harpsichordist, music teacher and a founding member of Rezonance. He can be contacted at earlymusic@thewholenote.com. PODCASTING at THE WHOLENOTE Jenny Parr: 17.03.06 Toronto-based “lifelong theatre person” Jennifer (Jenny) Parr works as a director, fight director, stage manager and coach, and is equally crazy about movies and musicals. So reads the little bio on our website at the end of her recent online concert report for The WholeNote on the Toronto opening night of the new musical Sousatzka. It was the “fight director” angle that provided the spark for this conversation taking place at this particular point in time, but by the end of our chat I’d say we’d at least touched on all the aspects of her life alluded to in that little bio. Parr has been Opera Atelier’s fight director for as long as I can remember, and the April 2017 production of Charpentier’s Medea has fight scenes that are the most complex and elaborate of any in the company’s repertoire. Here’s a taste of the conversation: “I think of this as one of the big ‘fight’ operas, which for me is of course the most fun. I love working with Opera Atelier. The first one we did was Persée in 2000. Médée (Medea) was the second, in 2002. The nice thing was we already had some dancers I had trained two years earlier for Persée who could come with a little bit of expertise…how to hold a sword, how to act with a sword. And we had a big workshop that first time, experimenting with the choreography. Coming back to it has been wonderful. It’s been a long time. There are two big sections. Early on in the opera in Act One there’s a big section of display at the court, the power of the court and the quality of the army, so the dancers do a lot of what we term display fighting, as if they’re fighting invisible opponents…single rapier; rapier and dagger; rapier and cape, which is a great historical fighting style I have always wanted to do, and I got to invent a fight for this…. “And then later on in the opera (hopefully I’m not giving away the story)…the king Creon has gathered together a group of assassins to capture and kill Medea – she is of course a witch, a very powerful sorceress – she puts a spell on these assassins and they turn on each other. There’s a long sequence of the soldiers fighting each other. Single fighters, two against one, a big almost ballet-meets-swordfighting combined scene.” Following the April production Parr will travel, in May, with Opera Atelier and Tafelmusik to where the opera was born - Versailles. “I went when the company did Persée and wanted to be there this time as well, because it’s a slightly different space. The biggest change is that the stage is raked…so just as a safety concern I want to be there as they go through the fights. The drops are slightly different distances so that affects the space you have for a fight. So I always want to be the one that makes the changes if changes need to be made.” From being bitten by the theatre bug (“My dad was an actor so I grew up with that in the blood and all the way through school”), to how she got her name, to being introduced to the “gentleman’s art of defence” at Trinity College, to the particular intricacies of scoring fights to pre-existing music (rather than the more usual film techniques of scoring music to fight scenes after the fact), to recent (and future) directing projects revolving around all-female productions of classical theatre, Parr’s is a diverse and ever-evolving musical and theatrical skill set, and it comes through nicely in this little chat. To hear the full conversation with Jenny Parr, or any of our other podcasts, search for “The WholeNote” in your favourite podcast app, or go to TheWholeNote.com/podcasts. BRUCE ZINGER 18 | April 1, 2017 - May 7, 2017 thewholenote.com

Beat by Beat | Classical & Beyond Sublime Schubert Is Something to Behold PAUL ENNIS COURTESY CBC RADIO TWO The New Orford String Quartet, founded in July 2009, takes its name from the trailblazing Orford String Quartet whose 26-year career ended in 1991. The New Orford’s pedigree is impressive: violinists Jonathan Crow and Andrew Wan, respectively concertmasters of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; Eric Nowlin, principal viola of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; and Brian Manker, the OSM’s principal cello. Their concert April 23, the finale of Mooredale Concerts’ current season, is the quartet’s third appearance with Mooredale since 2012. Terry Robbins wrote about their latest CD of Brahms’ two Op.51 Quartets in his February 2016 Strings Attached column for The WholeNote: “Just about all of the Brahmsian qualities you would want to hear are present: these are warm, passionate, nuanced, beautifully judged and balanced performances, full of that almost autumnal, nostalgic introspection so typical of the composer and with a lovely dynamic range.” Notwithstanding the JUNO nomination (Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble) for that Brahms’ String Quartets CD, which includes the A Minor Op.51 No.2 that they will perform April 23, the highlight of the afternoon will be the opportunity to hear Schubert’s Quintet in C Major D956 which represents the peak of chamber music writing. I asked Mooredale Concerts’ artistic director, Adrian Fung (also the cellist of the Afiara String Quartet, who will be playing the Cello II part in the concert), when he first heard Schubert’s Quintet in C. He said it was a recording with the Cleveland Quartet and Yo-Yo Ma. Fung was about 10 or 11, shortly after he had begun the cello. “It was transcendent,” he said. “And only later did I realize how few recordings (and performances!) respect the true dynamic markings in the first movement (where the two-cello theme is intended within a pianissimo dynamic).” “I was moved by the sheer complexity and scope of intention,” he told me. “It is incredible how each of the two cellos enables the other to let go of a supporting bass line and soar as a melody. In string quartets, when the cello Adrian Fung soars, usually the viola needs to step in as best as it can to provide resonance below. In this work, there is an incredible spectrum of sound because of the equal balance of two violins, one viola, and two cellos. One would think there would be more cello quintets!” His favourite configuration for performances of the work, he says, is “an established quartet playing with a guest cellist. There is so much poetry in how a group’s existing cellist plays a welcoming role – musically – to a ‘brother/sister’ joining for this masterwork. I love how in the second movement, Cello II gets such a spotlight playing a recurring, transcendent, low bass line that is at once melismatic [and] a deep pondering of life’s meaning.” Fung first heard the piece live when he was about 15 or so (and a student at different chamber music festivals), performed by various faculty musicians coming together to give the work a reading. His relationship to it has continued to evolve: “From first as a listener, to having played both Cello I and Cello II parts with my own quartet New Orford String Quartet (Afiara) and as a guest with other quartets, the work has opened up several unexpected riches with each performance. I have had the privilege of welcoming incredible guest cellists in my role in Afiara, learning especially from the late Marc Johnson of the Vermeer Quartet, my mentor Joel Krosnick of the Juilliard String Quartet, Denis Brott of the first Orford Quartet and Bonnie Hampton. In turn, I have enjoyed playing the work with the Alexander and Cecilia String Quartets, among others….The Schubert is truly something to behold, with so many layers becoming more apparent with each visit. One of my favourite performances of it was with my Afiara and Shauna Rolston.” As for me, I first heard Schubert’s Quintet as a teenager, taken to the Eaton Auditorium by an aunt and uncle one fall afternoon. It was played by the Quintetto Boccherini and presented by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto. I had never before been so moved by a piece of chamber music. Many years and many diverse recordings since, thewholenote.com April 1, 2017 - May 7, 2017 | 19

Volumes 21-24 (2015-2018)

Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
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Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

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