The COC/AtG film of Mozart’s Requiem is now available for viewing. It’s free but requires either registration with AtG or a (free) COC digital membership. Directed by Joel Ivany, it’s essentially cast as a reflection on what we lost during the pandemic and as a statement of hope as, maybe, we reach the end.
Last night the first of three concerts at Lutheran Redeemer Church in the West End Micro Music Festival took place. It was an exploration of the boundaries and possibilities of the string quartet and proved most interesting in that regard. The use of extended technique has long been part of the string quartet repertoire but in the first part of last night’s programme two works by Nicole Lizée explored much further than that using additional “instruments”; whirly/whizzy things, strange blue/purple contraptions that made their own sounds and were also used as bows and sheets of paper rustled in front of fans. Norma Beecroft’s Amplified Quartet with Tape augmented the four instruments with recorded electronics. Whether this was all pre-recorded or processed as the performance proceeded (or both) I couldn’t say. One has to admire the versatility of the interro quartet (Steve Sang Koh and Eric Kim-Fujita – vilolins, Maxime Despax -viola and Sebastian Ostertag – cello) in handling all the requirements. It also really made me glad to be back listening “live”. This kind of music demands a kind of distraction free attention that’s really hard to conjure up in one’s own living room.
The schedule for the Royal Conservatory’s 2022 21C festival has been announced. As usual it’s heavy on premieres and this year showcases the Kronos Quartet. The three things that are likely of most interest to OR readers are:
The premiere of Gould’s Wall by Brian Current co-presented with Tapestry Opera. It’s a re-imagining of the life of Glenn Gould and features singers climbing along the wall of The Royal Conservatory’s atrium. It opens on January 12th and runs until the 16th.
Marc Neikrug’s A Song by Mahler gets a single performance on January 15th at 8pm in Koerner Hall. It tells the story of a singer and her husband coming to terms with Alzheimer’s.
A recital by Gerald Finley and Julius Drake at 3pm on January 23rd in Koerner Hall. This features the premiere of a new song cycle by Marc-Anthony Turnage plus lots of other goodies.
I came across Hans Thomalla’s 2019 opera Dark Spring when the record label Oehms gave me access to a pre-release of the CD version which is to be released in a couple of days time. Listening to a couple of scenes and looking at the photos in the accompanying booklet suggested to me that this was really an opera I needed to see to fully appreciate and, indeed, it turns out that there’s a lot going on that isn’t explicit in the libretto. Fortunately, as it turns out, there’s a full video recording on Vimeo. It’s not the greatest technical quality of all time but it is drawn from the same live performances at the work in Mannheim in the fall of last year as the CDs. The CDs are excellent high quality (48kHz, 24 bit) CD quality. So I think there’s a case for tracking down the video and the CD recording.
So the latest Toronto organisation to announce a return to “live” is Toronto Operetta Theatre. There are three shows:
Oscar Straus’ A Waltz Dream will play December 29th, and 31st and January 2nd and 4th. The cast includes Andrea Nuñez, Scott Rumble, Elizabeth Beeler, Keith Klassen and Greg Finney. Derek Bates conducts.
Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld will be presented on February 16th, 18th, 19th and 20th. The cast includes Vania Chan, Tonatiuh Abrego, Ryan Downey and Rosalind McArthur with Derek Bates again conducting.
Finally, there’ll be the premiere of Michael Rose’s musical, A Northern Lights Dream. This will play May 5th, 6th and 7th with Natalya Gennadi, Karen Bojti, Ian Backstrom, Daniela Agostino and Stephanie O’Leary.in the cast. Suzy Smith conducts.
All three shows will play at the St. Lawrence Centre. At time of writing two shows in each run will be restricted to 50% capacity though I imagine that could change before May.
My main reason for getting my hands on a new CD of mainly orchestral music by Sibelius featuring the Bergen Philharmonic and Edward Gardner was to listen to the couple of tracks that feature soprano Lise Davidsen. I first saw her with the TSO in 2019 and I thought she was great.
The most substantial piece is Luonnotar which is drawn from the Kalevala and tells the often told story of the universe being created from an egg. This is big orchestra Sibelius ad Gardner is not afraid to go to the extremes in the contrasts of dark and light and, of curse, volume. Davidsen sings with great beauty and no sign at all of stress all through her range, even over a sometimes very loud orchestra. It’s all super smooth and really impressive.
Soundstreams’ on-line concert, Lovesongs, recorded in Koerner Hall and streamed (access codes are PWYC, min $7) features three works; two by and one “in homage” to Claude Vivier with an intro by Lawrence Cherney and David Fallis who conducts on the first and third pieces.
Cathedral City was the (2010) debut album of Missy Mazzoli’s ensemble Victoire. All the tracks are music composed by Mazzoli and give a pretty good feel for her non-operatic output. It’s been described as a “distinctive blend of post-rock dreamscapes and quirky minimalism” and that seems as good a description as any. Virtuosic instrumental playing is mixed with live vocals, electronics and distorted recorded speech fragments. Often the material is looped and the basic acoustic changed to create a different sound scape. The music is by turns, drivingly energetic, brutal and gently lyrical. It’s like the work of no other composer I know and I find it really compelling.
Welcome Party is a new record of music by British-Armenian composer Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian. Much of it is inspired by her residency with the LSO at 575 Wandsworth Road. That house, now a National Trust property, was the home of Kenyan born polymath and poet Khadambi Asalache, who decorated it with his own wood carvings and murals. Asalache’s poetry provides the texts for several pieces and others are inspired directly by the house and its contents. The house is also a factor in the composer’s visual scores which sometimes use visual elements in the house to shape the music and inspire the improvisatory passages. COVID looms large on the album too; from personal tragedy to the conditions under which many of the recordings were made. Continue reading →