2 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020

  • Text
  • Violin
  • Musical
  • Performing
  • Concerto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Toronto
  • April
After some doubt that we would be allowed to go to press, in respect to wide-ranging Ontario business closures relating to COVID-19, The WholeNote magazine for April 2020 is now on press, and print distribution – modified to respect community-wide closures and the need for appropriate distancing – starts Monday March 30. Meanwhile the full magazine is right here, digitally, so if you value us PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN. It's the safest way for us to reach the widest possible audience at this time!


JULIEN MIGNOT Quatuor Ébène Peter Oundjian: Also scheduled for April, Oundian’s first visit as TSO conductor emeritus, leading the orchestra in Mahler’s transformative Symphony No.5. The work’s breathtaking Adagietto sent Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral service heavenward and three years later immortalized Lucchino Visconti’s celebrated adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novella, Death in Venice, a film that may hit too close to home right now, despite its beauty. Slated to open the program, concertmaster Jonathan Crow as soloist in Bruch’s lyrical calling card, his Violin Concerto No.1. Crow’s local musical presence has deepened in the last three years since assuming the artistic directorship of Toronto Summer Music and enriching a time of year that not too long ago was moribund. Speaking of TSM, Crow is scheduled to host a free noon-hour preview of TSM’s 15th anniversary season, at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on May 5. Quatuor Ébène was set to conclude Music Toronto’s current series of downtown concerts on April 16 with performances of Beethoven’s String Quartet Op.18, No.6 and Op.132. The Toronto concert was to follow a world tour with the theme “Beethoven Live Around the World” that has resulted in live recordings of all 16 quartets. The next day, April 17, the ensemble had planned to begin a complete traversal of the quartets in Zankel Hall, NYC. What insights would they have conveyed, what power, what joy? YouTube offers some consolation with their six-year-old video of Op.132 from Festival Wissembourg in Alsace and a three-year-old version of Op.131 also from Wissembourg. From seven years ago, there’s a spirited NPR spot where each Ébène member says a few words about their favourite quartet before selecting Op.131 as the group’s consensus pick. “It’s so intimate, so beautiful … leading to a heavy metal finale.” Confluence: As I write this (March 20), Confluence Concerts’ artistic director Larry Beckwith has begun a blog in which he aims to analyze a Beethoven string quartet each day for 17 days. Informative and diverting despite its relative brevity, it’s worth a read at Thoughtfully, Beckwith adds the performers he’s listened to for each and where to find each performance. NPR Music, specifically their Tiny Desk Concerts, is a treasure trove of multi-genre performances, all under 30 minutes. A recent delight featured Igor Levit – why has he not been heard in Toronto? – introducing and playing up-close-and-personal selections from two Beethoven sonatas and Für Elise, last November. Bent over the keyboard of a small upright piano, his delicate, rigorous touch coming from a position of strength, he played the first movement of the “Moonlight” sonata. Next came the second movement of Sonata No.10, Op.2, which he called one of the funniest and wittiest of the sonatas. Levit drew out its cartoonish quality, tongue clearly in cheek all the way to the double-barrelled surprise at the end. The concert concluded with Bagatelle in A Minor “Für Elise,” which he characterized as “a total eye-roller, one of the most beautiful treasures ever written.” Levit is one of many musicians in a growing list that Gramophone Igor Levit Tiny Desk Concert magazine’s streaming service has made available for these selfisolating times. Go to (their website) for streaming or the hashtag #gramophone (on Twitter) if you are an artist and would like them to watch your performance for possible inclusion. Among the many participants as the calendar turns to spring are Gautier Capuçon, Yo-Yo Ma, Alisa Weilerstein, Tafelmusik’s bassoonist Domenic Teresi, Boris Giltburg and James Rhodes. Three at Koerner: The immensely likable James Rhodes was the first of three singular concerts I was able to hear in Koerner Hall, March 5, 6 and 8 before the world changed. Rhodes (whom I interviewed for WholeNote’s March issue) began with a Bach prelude in honour of Glenn Gould before playing – straight through with no break, like a rock concert – three Beethoven sonatas, and three encores to satisfy the enthusiastic crowd. The sheer lyricism and heartfelt beauty of Giovanni Sgambati’s arrangement of the Melody from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice touched me the most. South Korea-born violinist Kyung Wha Chung, who is celebrating her 50th year as a performer, made her Koerner Hall debut on March 6 with a substantive program of Mozart, Beethoven and Franck. Her beautiful round tone seemed to be an outgrowth of, and throwback to, violinists of the first half of the 20th century. Her straightforward demeanour belied the luminous sounds she and her longtime collaborative pianist, Kevin Kenner, produced – judicious phrasing and dynamics that illuminated the composers’ scores, from the riches of Franck’s Violin Sonata in A Major to the second movement of Mozart’s Violin Sonata No.21 in E Minor, K304, which floated so naturally into the ether. Hélène Grimaud’s recital on March 8 was notable for its curatorial first half comprised of a mesmerizing hour of 13 works by Silvestrov, Debussy, Satie and Chopin chosen by the pianist to reflect “transparent textures, nostalgic, melancholic moods, cyclical structures… I think of the works as a sequence of crystalline miniatures, capturing time,” she wrote. “It serves to conjure atmospheres of fragile reflection, a mirage of what was – or what could have been.” A phrase that takes on more weight given our evolving circumstances. For a taste of the Koerner Hall experience, RCM’s Live from Koerner Hall Concert Livestream is available from and free to all. There are currently 27 concerts available including Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw’s memorable salute to fin de siècle Vienna and the Second Viennese School; Terry Riley Live at 85; Stewart Goodyear; the Dover Quartet with Avi Avital; Kronos Quartet with Tanya Tagaq; and a number of world music and jazz performers (Robi Botos and Kenny Barron stand out). Be well. Keep your social distance. Partake of music where you find it: on vinyl; on disc; on a streaming service; on YouTube. And remember before going to sleep, we’re one day closer to the end of the pandemic. Paul Ennis is the managing editor of The WholeNote. 14 | April 2020

Beat by Beat | In with the New Emergent and Evolutionary The Challenge to Let Go WENDALYN BARTLEY Self-isolation, social distancing, stay at home, connected isolation, the new normal, flattening the curve – all phrases that are becoming the latest updates to our current vocabulary. But as I along with everyone else take all this in, I am also listening to those who speak about how what’s also emerging are new levels of global co-operation, and that this is a time for societal reset, even a time that offers a choice for humanity to change or die. In a sense we’ve all known somewhere inside us that this was coming, in some form; living in a culture that was killing off the very planet our lives depend upon was not sustainable. It’s almost as if the Earth is presenting a challenge to us to let go of our old and familiar ways. Now is the time to slow down and listen, and to sense what might be emerging and arising out of the old. When a caterpillar forms a chrysalis around itself, everything that once was disintegrates and turns to goo. The only things left are the imaginal cells that come together to form the new template – the emerging butterfly. This image gives us a model for the evolutionary process we are currently in the midst of. Although it is early days for this new reality, I found myself looking to the ongoing Emergents Series at the Music Gallery for some hints as to what these emerging changes might forecast for the future of music-making. Flutist Sara Constant (who also does editorial work for the WholeNote website, but has no role in assigning or editing print magazine content such as this) has been the curator of this series since 2018, taking over from Chelsea Shanoff. Even though the April 25 Emergents Series concert, featuring the two string ensembles Vaso and unQuartet has been cancelled, this felt like a good time to find out more about her curatorial vision for the series. Her main goal, she told me in an email exchange, is to support early-career artists working in experimental music. “It’s more than just giving emerging artists an extra gig, though,” she said. “I want to make sure that these shows contribute meaningfully to community-building, equity-building, and long-term opportunitybuilding for artists in our field. This also includes supporting people to feel empowered to look outside of their genre for new approaches to sound.” This was a major goal for this April 25 show: “to bring together these two incredible experimental string ensembles, one specializing in contemporary chamber music and the other in free improvisation, that both think really deeply about sound and music.” One of the things that Constant and other emerging artists are starting to dismantle is “the myth in performing arts institutions that opportunities will come to the most talented and most deserving. We are trying to dream up new ways of supporting experimental arts practice. I’m happy to see a community that feels increasingly plural and increasingly caring in its focus.” And since crises tend to amplify inequalities rather than reduce them, now, more than ever, it’s essential to work creatively towards equity-building. Vaso Quartet VASO QUARTET A PORTRAIT OF MATTHIAS PINTSCHER Sunday May 31, 2020 @ 8 Introduction @ 7:15 New Music Concerts Ensemble | Matthias Pintscher Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor St. W. Matthias Pintscher (Germany 1971) whirling tissue of light for solo piano (2013) Jaehyuck Choi (South Korea 1994) dust of light for ensemble (2019) Pintscher - Uriel for cello and piano (2011) Olga Neuwirth (Austria 1968) Hooloomoloo for ensemble (1996/97) Pintscher - celestial object 1 for trumpet and ensemble (2009) | 416.961.9594 Neuwirth Choi April 2020 | 15

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)