Last night, as part of the Ashkenaz Festival, we got to see Henekh Kon’s Bas-Sheve. It’s the only known pre Holocaust Yiddish opera and there’s quite a saga involved in it getting to a staging. The work dates to 1924, when it premiered in Warsaw then disappeared. In 2017 Dr. Diana Matut unearthed an incomplete piano score version which was completed and orchestrated by librettist Michael Wex and composer Joshua Horowitz to create an hour long piece that premiered in August 2019 as part of the Yiddish Summer Weimar festival.
A Cup of Sins is a new CD release of works by Iranian-Canadian composer Parisa Sabet. If there’s a unifying theme it’s religious/cultural persecution in Iran and there’s a strong Bahai influence. The six pieces are scored for various combinations of voice, piano and small ensemble and add up to about an hour of very rewarding music.
The first piece, Shurangiz, is a riff on music for the tar (a kind of Iranian lute) and it’s scored for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello. It’s an interesting combination of traditional Iranian influences with a nod to Western minimalism. It’s quite meditative in mood. Continue reading →
…let me explain is a new CD of Canadian art song (mostly) from soprano Christina Raphaëlle Haldane. The first set consists of three arrangements of Acadian folk songs by by Carl Philippe Gionet. The three are quite different. L’Escaouette is fast, high, rhythmic and very high energy. Tout Passe is much more elegiacal while Wing Tra La is very playful. They are sung quite beautifully with piano accompaniment from the arranger. Ahania’s Lament is a longish piece in which Blake’s text is set by Samy Mousa. It’s a tough sing with a lot of high exposed passages against a minimal accompaniment. It’s a piece that it’s easy to get drawn into. It’s a good vehicle for Haldane’s crystalline upper register. Piano accompaniment by M.Gionet again.
Yesterday afternoon saw the final concert of the season for Off Centre Music Salon; the concert series organised by Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis at the Glenn Gould Studio. This one, as the title suggests, celebrating philanthropy in music by putting together a concert of works by composers who were supported by patrons. It was very much salon style with many short sets by various combinations of performers. There was some instrumental music; an impressive performance of Khachaturian’s Toccata in E flat minor by twelve year old William Leathers, reprised later on accordion by Michael Bridge. Jacques Israelievitch and Boris Zarankin collaborated on a bravura rendition of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne and Zarankin and Perkis gave their traditional one piano/four hands performance, this time an arrangement of Beethoven’s Egmont overture, which was received with enthusiasm.
Coming up on Sunday 28th April at 2pm at the Glenn Gould Studio is Celebrating Philanthropists in Musicwhereby Off Centre Music Salon concludes its 18th season, paying tribute to the philanthropists who stood in the shadows behind some of the greatest composers and supported their careers. The program will includes a variety of vocal solos and duets, 1 piano, 4 hands, and violin and piano, performing repertoire by: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Poulenc, Debussy, Chabrier, Ravel and Stravinsky.
Performers include 12 year old pianist William Franklyn Leathers, baritone Peter McGillivrey, soprano Ilana Zarankin, mezzo soprano Lauren Segal, violinist Jacques Israelievitch and accordionist (I kid you not) Joseph Macerollo. They will be accompanied by pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin.
This afternoon’s Off Centre concert at the Glenn Gould Studio was structured around three pairs of composer friends; Mozart/Haydn, Schumann/Brahms and Wolf/Mahler. It was a mix of lieder, opera excerpts and piano pieces and was pleasantly varied.
Things kicked off with Russell Braun singing a number of songs from Schumann’s Liederkreis accompanied by his partner, Carolyn Maule on the piano. This was maybe the third time that I’ve heard Russell in recital and he really is impressive. He has a really good command of a wide range of dynamics and tone colour and lovely floaty high notes. If I was being hyper critical I’d say I think there’s a point in the middle voice though that can’t quite sustain the volume he sometimes tries to get. He has quite an operatic approach to lieder (compared to, say, DFD) but that’s quite fun in its own way.