Tag Archives: Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts

Brahms, Debussy and a Canadian Voyage

Posted by Liz

New music to start off Friday’s concert schedule with Canadian Voyage at midday, featuring various new works by Canadian composers. The last (and best) piece was Victor Herbiet’s Concerto de Chambre; the piece was written to show that new saxophone music need not be alienating! The sextet (saxophone, 2 violins, viola, cello and piano) was an interesting mix of romantic-style melodies and technique. A very interesting 2-movement work that ought to be played regularly. out of the other works, Soulmate from Chan Kai Nin (for solo cello) was excellent but I found Still Time by John Burge to be harder to fathom.

Moving swiftly to Dominion-Chalmers for an afternoon of entertainment from ‘Alexander Tselyakov and Friends’. True light-hearted entertainment, perfectly suited to 2pm. Tselyakov père et fils started the afternoon with a piano four-hands arrangement of Debussy’s Petite Suite. Subsequently Tselyakov, Arianna Warsaw-Fan and Julian Armour (the latter two, after a few days of sheet music blowing around, with clothes pegs on their music stands) performed the short but very expressive Piano Trio in G major, again by Debussy.

A change of composer to Milhaud, whom I don’t recall having heard in concert before. I thought his Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Op 157b matched the Debussy trio in good-humoured beautiful music, but livelier. The odd discordant moment in the fourth movement added an extra twist. Finishing off with a flourish came courtesy of Saint-Saëns’ Septet for Trumpet, String Quintet and Piano, Op 65.

Later on I headed to Saint Brigid‘s. The heat kept me away from the first half of A Brahms Night Out, but I heard some of the DJ set in the interim and it brought to mind the image of dancing in a field with glow sticks. There was a reasonable audience for Orchestra de la francophonie’s (OF) performances of Brahms’ Third and Fourth Symphonies Opp 90 and 98, plus a new work by Julien Bilodeau. Bilodeau’s piece, Concerto du printemps pour piano et orchestre, had a varied mix including interesting piano parts, a full orchestral scream, lots of percussion and ended with a kind of slap. Totally different from Brahms, maybe almost too different in terms of programming.

Brahms’ Fourth Symphony was the more enjoyable of the two. The OF played well, but sadly not as well as the Zürich Academic Orchestra on Tuesday. It was again refreshing to see a group of young musicians on stage, though I did not envy them having to perform in jeans!

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 2012 Festival

Violin virtuosi part 1 – The Rivered Earth and Earthen Grave

Posted by Liz

Today saw the start of the much-anticipated The Rivered Earth series of concerts featuring music by Alec Roth and libretti by Vikram Seth. Part 1, introduced by Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld and Seth, was a performance of Songs In Time Of War, written by Seth after the Chinese Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu. Lawrence Wiliford‘s voice was elegantly restrained and fitted with the violin, harp and guitar accompaniment of Philippe Honoré, Michelle Gott and Daniel Bolshoy. The set of 12 songs transported the spellbound audience to far away worlds. In particular I enjoyed the 4th and 8th songs, ‘A Fine Lady’ and ‘ The Old Cypress Tree at the Temple of Zhu-ge Liang’. Meanwhile, number 11 ‘Ballad of the Army Carts’ conjured up images from epic films such as Red Cliff. Roth’s music narrated along with the libretti, with effects such as ‘scratch’ violin to match the story.

Rivered Earth Part 2 featured Shared Ground and Ponticelli, each inspired by the Stuart poet George Herbert and for unaccompanied chorus and solo violin respectively. In the Ex Cathedra/Philippe Honoré recording, each work is played through, though it is possible to perform them as an interlocking sequence, which we heard today.

Seventeen Voyces, Larkin Singers and soloist Isaiah Bell provided a stellar performance, but in my mind the greatest plaudits go to Honoré for his performances. Heard alternately, each part of Ponticelli at least in some way referenced the preceding Shared Ground song. Ponticelli 1 ‘Flat Bridge’ and 3 ‘Arched Bridge’ had to my ears a fleeting similarity to some of the works of Icelandic indie-classical artist Ólafur Arnalds. The vocal settings had an almost song-like structure, with most verses having the title as a bridge/chorus.

From one super violinist to another, this time with a radically different sound: Rachel Barton Pine and her band Earthen Grave. Also a rather different setting – a metal band playing a church, albeit de-consecrated. Playing a set list predominantly from their current self-titled album, Earthen Grave executed a very professional performance and managed to engage the audience (which was mostly Music and Beyond passholders), although it did take a while mainly due to the type of venue and the relatively small crowd. There were a few of us up at the front, but compared to a more typical rock live music venue, it must have been weird for the 6 performers (including excellent stand-in drummer Chad Walls) to see people sat in pews! Some more concertgoers were standing for the final track, a rendition of Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave. The special violin Viper definitely added an extra timbre to their sound. Based on this performance, the band and album are highly recommended!

Both Honoré and Pine are performing tomorrow in The Rivered Earth Parts 3 and 4 and Paganini: The Complete Caprices.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2012 Festival