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Volume 27 Issue 2 - November 2021

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • Symphony
  • Jazz
  • Musical
  • December
  • Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Album
  • Quartet
  • Volume
  • Thewholenote.com
Live events on the up and up while creative live-and livestreamed hybrids continue to shine. October All-star Sondheim's Follies at Koerner Hall headlines the resurgence; Zoprana Sadiq brings MixTape to Crow's Theatre; Stewart Goodyear and Jan Lisiecki bring piano virtuosity back indoors; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir's J-S Vallee in action; TSO finds itself looking at 60 percent capacities ahead of schedule. All this and more as we we complete our COVID-13 -- a baker's dozen of issues since March 2020. Available here in flipthrough, and on stands commencing this weekend.

you sing Elliott Carter,

you sing Elliott Carter, for instance, another composer that I love, the pleasure is of a different sort. There is an intellectual pleasure going on there; there’s a sort of a rhythmic, animal pleasure going on as well.” I ask her if any of the Mozart-Da Ponte heroines are included in her MixTape narration. “It’s rather the non-verbal component of music that I’m making the case for. I do very much investigate actual melody and sound, but characterization wasn’t that appealing to me for this show. This is a personal story of what I made of my life – through my ears.” Is she a very literary singer? Sadiq confirms she is an avid reader. “I will asterisk passages in books and dog ear them, and go back multiple times – something will arrest me in the way somebody arranges words.” Like a lot of musicians, she seeks and finds the music of the sentence, the way words sound together, the rhythm of their jostling. “Sentences can lacerate me. I kind of collect them. Those crazy sentences that I write down when I find them, because they’re so evocative.” She also reads poetry and enjoys lyrical fiction. “Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces is one of my favourites of all time. And I love her poetry.” Plotting in novels, she can take or leave. “Plot is secondary for me. It’s all about how you say it.” MixTape runs at Crow’s Theatre from November 9 to 28 at 8pm, with Sunday matinees at 2pm. Choose your own emergent comfort level: half the performances will be at 50% capacity, the other half at 100%. Lydia Perović is an arts journalist in Toronto. Send her your art-of-song news to artofsong@thewholenote.com. CLASSICAL AND BEYOND GOODYEAR, THEN LISIECKI AT KOERNER; RTH at 60% capacity for Gimeno’s TSO return PAUL ENNIS There are hopeful signs of live-music life at the RCM’s Koerner Hall. On November 27, virtuoso pianist Stewart Goodyear, joined by the Penderecki String Quartet, perform the world premiere of his piano quintet based on themes from Beethoven, after which Goodyear takes on Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 9, in Franz Liszt’s transcription for solo piano and voices, accompanied by members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, soprano Jonelle Sills, mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender, tenor Zachary Rioux and baritone Korin Thomas-Smith, all current or recent students of The Royal Conservatory. I caught up with Goodyear for an email conversation that touched on his response to the pandemic, his relationship to Beethoven and how he is feeling about his first public appearance in Toronto since the pandemic. WN: It’s been about a year since our most recent email exchange; you were just about to traverse Beethoven’s ten sonatas for violin and piano with James Ehnes last December – livestreamed from an empty Koerner Hall, and you talked about how the finale of the Ninth Symphony was the first piece of Beethoven’s music that made a strong impression on you. “I was riveted,” you said. “I never heard such music – comforting and exulting the listener, a music of optimism and a bright hope for humanity.” What’s it like to be back? SG: It will be my first public appearance [here] since the pandemic. Very meaningful to me as I was in my home town for most of the pandemic; finally performing in public in this city makes me feel like I am playing for friends who I grew up with. I am honoured to perform Beethoven’s Ninth; its ode to humanity is something I believe we all have to internalize, especially with the things that have happened these past two years. Was the pandemic a fertile time for you creatively? Yes and no. It was a very trying time, and there were moments where it took a lot of energy to feel hopeful and optimistic. I wish I was a composer who can pour out emotions when spirits are low, but I felt depleted of inspiration, and I spent more time learning repertoire, reading and cooking than writing. I must say, however, that after the pandemic my approach to composing deepened, and my piano playing has changed as well. I think that is due to a feeling of hope spreading everywhere, plus the warmth I have experienced from audiences in the past few months as concert halls reopened. It’s an auspicious return to Koerner, not the least of which is the world premiere of your Piano Quintet. What sparked you to base it on themes from Beethoven? Beethoven has been a part of my life from the very beginning, and the power of his music inspired and strengthened me in different chapters of my life. When I was commissioned to write a work that paid homage 8 | November and December 2021 thewholenote.com

Stewart Goodyear ANITA ZVONAR UPDATE: This concert has been rescheduled to Wednesday February 9, 2022 to Beethoven, it probably was the most personal assignment, as this brought me to the beginning of my journey as a musician. How long did you work on it? What challenges did you encounter? I worked on the first three movements very quickly. I wrote them in swift succession in the winter of 2020. It was the closing movement that took the majority of time. Beethoven’s music is filled with hope, even in the darkest hour, and I needed to feel that hope. That feeling finally came this fall, and I could only then bring the quintet to its conclusion. What are the Beethoven themes you incorporated in it? The first movement is a slow-burning passacaglia, based on an 11-note sequence from the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The themes of the second movement are original, using only the gestures of a Beethoven-esque minuet. The third movement is a furious scherzo, with themes from Beethoven’s “Waldstein” sonata, Second Symphony and the Op.135 string quartet used as hip-hop sampling. The last movement is original, calm and hopefully ethereal. How early did you discover Liszt’s piano arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies? When I was six years old. Did Liszt include soloists and a choir in any version of the Ninth Symphony? Performing it with singers seems to be a rare occurrence. How many members of the Mendelssohn Choir will participate? The Liszt arrangement of the Ninth Symphony has choir and orchestra incorporated in the fourth movement. For my Koerner Hall performance, I will be incorporating Liszt’s transcription for the wholly orchestral moments and scaling back the arrangement during the solos and choir moments. This will be my first time ever performing this work. There will be around 27 members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir participating. Jan Lisiecki: Now 26, Jan Lisiecki makes his sixth Koerner Hall appearance on December 12 with a rare pairing of Chopin’s Études Op.10, Nos. 1 to 12 with 11 of the composer’s Nocturnes (all 20 of which appear on Lisiecki’s latest Deutsche Grammophon recording). In an Ottawa Chamberfest conversation with Eric Friessen on September 30, he described growing up with the Nocturnes, and the many years it took to plan the double CD – years during which he played the nocturnes as encores to get feedback. “Nocturnes are poems written in the moment,” he said. “Each nocturne needs to tell its own unique story.” And slowing the tempo – as Lisiecki often does – creates more interior space and contributes to a dreamlike nighttime mood. When I saw the unusual juxtaposition of the Études with the Nocturnes in his upcoming recital, I asked Lisiecki about his programming choices. “The concept of putting this program together started very much with an idea, or a wish to include Chopin’s Nocturnes in a recital program” he replied. “Now, including purely Chopin’s Nocturnes would be very challenging, for the attention of the audience, for the communication with them, for the atmosphere – while putting simply a few, an opus or two would … result in a program that is completely standard, nothing special whatsoever. So, I came up with the idea to match Chopin’s Études from Op. 10 with his Nocturnes. They are matched according to thewholenote.com November and December 2021 | 9

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