Posted by Liz
Continuing yesterday’s Canadian Voyage theme, today’s noon concert entitled Ottawa and Beyond featured new works from local composers, including solo piano; solo soprano saxophone; cello and piano; and two vocal works. Julian Armour’s brief introduction outlined the increasing freedom of contemporary composers and the resulting homan connection of new works. This was evident today in particular in my two favourites, both incredibly atmospheric: Angus McLachlin‘s Piano Sonata No 2 and Colin Mack‘s Isis and Osiris, Fantasy for Cello and Piano.
A little later on, Se-Doo Park provided an entertaining concert of cello repertoire: Britten’s Cello Suite No 1 Op 72, Piatigorsky’s Paganini Variations and Gaspar Cassadó’s Suite. Sadly I had to leave early, as Park’s playing was of a very high level.
This evening’s final Vikram Seth event, An Equal Music, was a delight. Seth’s engrossing readings from the novel concentrated on the directly musical aspects, keeping back some of the plot for concertgoers who had not yet read the book. The core performers, Quatuor Arthur Leblanc, provided accomplished performances of the string quartet excerpts (Beethoven’s String Quintet in C minor Op 104 – finale; Haydn’s String Quartet in A minor Op 20 No 6 – minuetto) and a spellbinding Contrapunctus 1 from Bach’s Art of Fugue. Maria Sourjko played the same piece for solo piano as the final performance, providing an interesting contrast. Philippe Honoré and Sourjko provided the most inspiring performance of the night in Vivaldi’s Manchester Sonata in C major, No 1 – largo. My mind kept flicking between images of the characters Michael and Julia and of Anna Maria Della Violin. The layout of the concert and of the works seemed to me to be a good introduction to chamber music so I hope there were ‘newcomers’ there – readers of the book who may not previously have heard the music, or indeed, been to this type of concert.
Posted by Liz
Day 3 and if anything, the quality of concerts has gone up, as has the size of the audience. Today’s daytime concerts at Dominion-Chalmers were about 75% and 85% full. First up, the ever-popular Menahem Pressler, today with the Principal Winds of the NAC Orchestra. It’s good to hear a slightly different take on chamber repertoire, although the program (Mozart and Beethoven) remained very much ‘core’. Each piece – Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds and Beethoven’s Quintet for Piano and Winds – was performed excellently, with Messrs Hamann, Sykes, Vine and Millard (and Pressler!) making the performance look easy. Both pieces seemed to me to be characteristic of each composer. I preferred the Beethoven, especially the 2nd movement, but really there wasn’t a bad moment.
A break for lunch before the even more popular Jewish Composers through the Ages concert. Sponsored by longtime friends of chamber music Teena and Walter Hendelman to celebrate their golden wedding, the atmosphere was part gala, part party. The selection of works (each introduced by Julian Armour) included big names (Gershwin, Copland) to relatively obscure composers (Rossi, Meyerbeer). I particularly enjoyed the suite of cello and piano works performed by Paul Marleyn and Dina Namer: Bloch’s ‘Prayer’ from From Jewish Life; Stutschewsky’s Kihan; and Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody. Lovely melodies and a dance edge to the Popper.
After the interval the excerpt ‘Lied’ from Korngold’s very romantic Suite for Two Violins, Cello and Piano Op 23 proved very popular, as did Gershwin’s Two Preludes performed by Namer. The closing piece, Glick’s Old Toronto Klezmer Suite, was a very fun and fitting end to the show. All 4 movements were fun in their own ways; ‘The Rabbi’s Wedding at the Palmerston Street Shul’ announced the after-concert reception with its party ending.
I am off to see The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings in concert this evening, but for string quartet fans tonight is the first of the Borodin Quartet’s Brahms and Tchaikovsky cycle.
Posted by Liz
A complete evening of high quality performances – I heard from attendees of A Lover And His Lass that the evening was wonderful (for more detail, read Richard Todd’s review in the Ottawa Citizen).
The auditorium at the former Ottawa Technical High School was at least three-quarters full for last night’s Music and Dance spectacular. I can’t remember the last time I went to a dance program, but the evening was very entertaining and highly informative. Having just a few musicians to accompany the dancers introduced a more intimate element to the performances.
It was very interesting to see the Baroque dance sequences by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière and Mikael Bouffart: wonderfully ornate costumes and excellent acting, especially in La Verdinguette (Jacques Champion de Charbonnières). Harpsichord accompanist Marie Bouchard received almost equal acclaim; her performance of Froberger’s ‘Lamento sopra…’ from Partita VI in C Major FbWV 612 was superb. Bouchard described the piece as an ‘unmeasured prelude’ and there was certainly a familiarity with some of the piano prelude repertoire.
Sonia Rodriguez and Piotr Stancyzk were clearly the stars of the evening, keeping the audience spellbound. Their performance of the pas de deux from Swan Lake was extremely well received, but the subsequent Lady of the Camelias (set to excerpts from the quintet arrangement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 1) performance was even more superb.
At this point the scheduled program was somewhat mixed up, but this didn’t detract from some excellent instrumental performances by Wonny Song, Paul Marleyn and Yehonatan Berick.
Another excellent concert followed – Arianna Warsaw-Fan, Julian Armour, Matthew Larkin and Andrew Tunis playing the Rachmaninoff Piano Trios, featuring performances of the Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor and Trio élégiaque No. 2, the latter in the original arrangement with harmonium. Both performances had the reasonably sized audience rapt. Trio élégiaque No. 1 was incredibly atmospheric: beautiful melodies and great variation between flowing and gritty elements. Trio élégiaque No. 2 (written in homage to Tchaikovsky) was more difficult. The 2nd movement (quazi variazone) with the harmonium was very interesting and the violent piano passages were impressive, but I found the piece overall rather exhausting. A very full-on concert for a late night slot, but it was a good experience and I hope the two Fauré nocturnes concerts have as good attendance.