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Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019

  • Text
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Concerts
  • Singers
  • Arts
  • Jazz
  • Choral
  • Musical
  • Toronto
  • Choir
What a range of stuff! A profile of Liz Upchurch, the COC ensemble studio's vocal mentor extraordinaire; a backgrounder on win-win faith/arts centre partnerships and ways of exploring the possibilities; an interview with St. Petersburg-based Eifman Ballet's Boris Eifman; Ana Sokolovic's violin concert Evta finally coming to town; a Love Letter to YouTube, and much more. Plus our 17th annual Canary Pages Choral directory if all you want to do is sing! sing! sing!

MARIA BARANOVA LUMINATO

MARIA BARANOVA LUMINATO Toronto, ON SING! THE TORONTO VOCAL ARTS FESTIVAL Toronto, ON ORCHESTRA BREVA - EROICA: A SESQUICENTENNIAL TRIBUTE TO LAURA SECORD May 25, 26 and June 20, 21, 23 Windsor, Tecumseh, Ingersoll, Brantford, Niagara !! Laura Ingersoll Secord’s remarkable and significant contributions to our country’s history are recognized in this concert celebration highlighting her heroic acts and life’s journey, illustrated through music significant to her time and circumstance. All who have served humanity in times of war and peace, through acts of bravery and sacrifice, will be honoured. Featuring classical musicians, Indigenous artists, local historians, new works and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, conducted by Melanie Paul Tanovich. May 25, 8pm: Assumption Hall, Windsor; May 26, 8pm: Paroisse Ste Anne Parish, Tecumseh; June 20, 8pm: Ingersoll Cheese Museum, Ingersoll; June 21, 8pm: Sanderson Centre, Brantford; June 23, 2pm: Queenston Heights, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 519-980-1113 www.orchestrabreva.com SING! THE TORONTO VOCAL ARTS FESTIVAL May 24 to June 2 Toronto, ON !! SING! TORONTO is Canada’s premier a cappella festival. All the amazing sounds of the unaccompanied human voice come together for ten days of glorious singing featuring pop, jazz, folk, gospel, choral, world, barbershop and live looping music. Featured groups this year include international superstars The Swingles (UK), Mzansi A Cappella Ensemble from South Africa, Cuba’s Vocal Sampling; some of Canada’s leading a cappella groups including Countermeasure, Freeplay, Retrocity, Hampton Avenue, The Watch, and Pressgang Mutiny, a SING! Mass Choir conducted by Kurt Sampson with Toronto’s Juno Award-winning Cadence; celebrated Canadian singers Heather Bambrick, David Sereda, Patricia O’Callaghan; up and coming groups The Ault Sisters, WIBI, Yonge Guns and Turkwaz. Choose from 10 concerts, 4 free outdoor stage events and 7 workshops. 416-694-6900 www.singtoronto.com TAFELMUSIK BAROQUE SUMMER FESTIVAL June 3 to 15 Toronto, ON !! Musicians from around the world gather in Toronto for the annual Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival, featuring the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, and presented in conjunction with the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. Join us for a series of five free concerts in Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre; Walter Hall, University of Toronto; and Grace Church on-the-Hill. All concerts are open to the public. Tickets required for “Opening Night” on June 3 and “The Grand Finale” on June 15. For tickets and more information, visit www.tafelmusik.org/TBSF 416-964-6337 www.tafelmusik.org/TBSF SUMMER MUSIC PRESENTERS! Like what you see? The WholeNote’s annual Green Pages Summer Music Guide is an excellent and inexpensive vehicle for promoting your festival to music lovers in Ontario and beyond, published in our upcoming SUMMER print edition (June/ July/August; 30,000 copies) and online at thewholenote.com/green. You get a 120-word profile of your festival, a photo accompanying the online profile plus optional web links and embedded video links. You get the opportunity to submit and update daily concert and event listings, and discount opportunities for additional print advertising. Daily listings information (events June 1 through Sept 7) must be emailed to listings@thewholenote.com by MAY 8. For The Green Pages contact Karen Ages at 416-323-2232 x26 or karen@thewholenote. com – print edition deadline: MAY 10 66 | May 2019 thewholenote.com

DISCOVERIES | RECORDINGS REVIEWED DAVID OLDS I must confess that German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser was more or less unknown to me until the arrival of his recording of the Lutosławski and Dutilleux Cello Concertos with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under Thomas Søndergård (Pentatone PTC 5186 689 pentatonemusic.com). That’s the trouble with having someone like Terry Robbins as delegate for most of the string recordings that cross my desk. Checking my archive I was surprised to note that Terry has reviewed two of Moser’s discs since we instigated the Strings Attached column back in 2011. Fortunately for me, he has such a backlog of titles at the moment that I have no qualms about cherry picking for my own purposes – two months in a row – a few discs that would otherwise have gone to him. You may recall from my column last month that Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994) is one of my favourite composers. I had the great pleasure and privilege of meeting that fine gentleman in October 1993 when he conducted the New Music Concerts Ensemble with soloists Fujiko Imajishi, violin, and soprano Valdine Anderson. We did not know it at the time, but that concert would turn out to be the last he ever gave; he died of cancer less than four months later. The recording of that concert was released independently and later reissued by Naxos (naxos.com). By the way, the photo of Lutosławski that graces that album cover is by André Leduc, who you may remember from last month’s issue. André and I also had the opportunity to meet Henri Dutilleux (1916- 2013) when he was the guest of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the University of Toronto back in May 1998. The TSO performance of three of Dutilleux’s large orchestral works under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste was released the following year (Finlandia Records 3984-23524-2). I sometimes wonder why it takes me so long to write this column. Often it is because of side trips such as this down memory lane, revisiting treasured recordings that slow me down. So, back to Johannes Moser: it was an easy decision to keep this fabulous new CD for myself. His biography makes a point of saying that he was born into a musical family in 1979 with dual German and Canadian citizenship. I was not able to find anything more about his Canadian heritage initially, but Tourism Saskatoon provides the information that “Moser is the son of Saskatchewan musical royalty; [his] mother is Saskatchewan-born soprano Edith Wiens.” He began playing the cello at eight. Ten years later, he was studying with the renowned Lithuanian cellist David Geringas, a pupil of Rostropovich, who won the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1970. In 2002, Moser himself received that same honour. He is enjoying an electrifying international career, performing with top orchestras around the world – the Berlin, Vienna, New York, Los Angeles and Israel Philharmonics to name a few – and has recently formed a trio with violinist Vadim Gluzman and pianist Yevgeny Sudbin. Moser’s performance on this new disc is superb. The Lutosławski concerto begins quietly, with an opening motive like a heartbeat that is intermittently interrupted by scurrying sounds above and below the pitch of the pulse. The interruptions gradually become more insistent and intense, all created by the cello alone. It is only after four and a half minutes, and a return to the heartbeat, that other members of the orchestra join in, with brazen fanfares from individual brass instruments. This pattern is developed throughout the Four Episodes of the second movement and the Cantilena third, with the solo cello as protagonist facing off with various orchestral disturbances, but also holding its own. And always returning to the heartbeat. It is only in the final movement that the full orchestra explodes in seeming fury. But the cello is not daunted and rises against the din with a repeated shrieking pulse, now more reminiscent of a heart attack than a heartbeat. Dutilleux’s concerto Tout un monde lointain was written in the same year as Lutosławski’s – 1970 – and once again it is a dramatic work that starts in near silence. Its title and the epigrams for the five movements are taken from Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs de mal. If you are not familiar with this work, or the Lutosławski, I urge you to rectify the situation with this very fine recording. Søndergård leads the Berlin RSO in what, for me, are definitive performances; and the sound is impeccable. I’ve never heard these concertos live and don’t know whether it would be possible to achieve such a perfect balance between cello and orchestra in a concert setting. I hope someday to have the opportunity to find out, ideally with Johannes Moser as the soloist. Sticking with a theme, the next disc also involves solo cello, but in this instance without an orchestra or any accompaniment whatsoever. Esa-Pekka Salonen; Kaija Saariaho – Works for Solo Cello (Ondine ODE 1294-2 naxosdirect.com) features American cellist Wilhelmina Smith in repertoire that pushes the extreme limits of the instrument. It begins with Salonen’s YTA III, one of a series of works for solo instruments. Yta is the Swedish word for surface, and in this piece the pitch C, in any of five octaves, surfaces and resurfaces in what the composer describes as “a vision of the death of an organism”; in music this vision is “violent and ugly.” Much of the disc gives this same impression and at times I found myself wondering where such anger was coming from. Even Saariaho’s Sept papillons (Seven Butterflies) more often resembles the buzzing of angry bees than the floating grace of its namesakes. For all that, there is a compelling power to this music that drew me in and held my attention. And there are moments of respite, for instance in the middle movement of Salonen’s knock, breathe, shine, where for an instant I thought the eerie sound coming from the cello was actually a theremin. But even with that I found that I could not listen to the whole disc at one sitting, despite the inclusion of a “palette cleanser” in the form of what may well be the first piece ever written for solo cello, Chiacona by Giuseppe Colombi (1635-1694). Mystery Variations was a set of 31 pieces that were commissioned on behalf of Finnish cellist Annsi Karttunen, in which each composer would take as a foundation the above-mentioned Chiacona. Both the composers featured here contributed to the series; on this disc the original is bookended by Salonen’s Sarabande per un coyote and Saariaho’s Dreaming Chaconne. The first, after a stately opening, leads “the coyote into rough terrain, up rugged peaks of harmony and over precarious ridges of dissonance.” In the second Saariaho “maintains the fundamental pitch structure of the Colombi, which is, however, in disguise behind the veil of shades traversed by the instrument and the performer.” On first listening, without having read the program notes, I must confess that I did not hear the relationship of either to the original, which appeared as a wonderful aberration (apparition) in the midst of a very difficult listening session. But there is much here to be enjoyed, or at least marvelled at, including the vast technical acumen of Smith and the range of ethereal sounds she is able to coax, or wrestle, from her instrument. thewholenote.com May 2019 | 67

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
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)