To the intimate (i.e. tiny) Array Space last night for a concert by the Happenstancers who, in this iteration, consisted of Brad Cherwin – clarinet, Madlen Breckbill – viola and Micah Behr – piano. and, in the first number, viola.
Part 1 of the programme was called Dream Images and was intended to evoke the discontinuous and illogical. It began with Du Yun’s dreams-bend for taped speech, two violas and clarinet as a sort of intro to the main event. This consisted of Schumann’s Fairy Tale Narrations and Kurtág’s Hommage à R. Schumann; these being two of the very few works for clarinet, viola and piano. Added to these was a new work; Abstractions by Nahre Sol. The pieces were played with the movements in the right order but with the composers mixed up so, for example, the first four movements went Kurtág, Sol, Schumann, Kurtág and so on. I like this approach. The styles contrast. The Kurtág is spikey and dissonant, the Schumann structured and Romantic and the Sol playful, tonal (mostly) and rhythmically varied. Listening to them interspersed somehow focusses attention on their particular qualities and has a kind of focus that the conventional way of doing things doesn’t.
March 3rd and 5th, Opera York are presenting Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. Details are here. Also on the 5th at 1pm Opera Revue are playing a new venue; The Aviary in the Canary District. (They are playing another new venue, Granite Brewery, on the 12th. Opera Revue your source for craft beer!) And the following night at 7.30pm it’s AtG’s Opera Pub at the Drake at 7.30pm.
From the 9th to the 12th it’s UoT Opera’s spring offering at the MacMillan Theatre. This year it’s Arthur (not George) Benjamin’s A Tale of Two Cities. Benjamin is probably the only opera composer to be shot down by Hermann Göring. I’m not sure what, if anything, that says about his music.
To 918 Bathurst last night to hear the Happenstancers’ latest offering Hypersuite. The concept was to take movements from Bach suites and partitas for solo instrument and combine them into sets with (mostly) contemporary music of like form. The one exception was some Telemann but we’ll come to that.
So the first set consisted of cellist Sarah Gans playing Ana Sokolovic’s vez before a brief segue brought in Katya Poplanskaya on violin for the adagio from Bach’s Violin Sonata BWV 1005. It’s really interesting as, although the Sokolovic piece uses a fair amount of extended technique there’s a definite sense that they belong to the same soundworld. Both are spare and spiky and eschew anything that might conventionally be called melody.
The second set had a lot in common with it. Brad Cherwin on clarinet played Augusta R. Thomas’ d(i)agon(als) followed by the sarabande from Bach’s Partita BWV 1013 (usually played on flute). This segued into Telemann’s fantasie 8 played on English horn by Aleh Remezau. Completely different from the first set; more melodic and dance like, these three pieces also had much in common.
The second half kicked off with The allemande from BWV 1013 on clarinet, followed by Sokolovic’s cinq danze, II on violin and the gigue from from BWV 1008 on cello. Here there is more contrast with the Sokolovic exploring a more complex sound world though still with clear affinities to the Bach. This was followed by Elliott Carter’s a 6 letter letter on English horn. It’s a quite long and complex piece which clearly places serious physical demands on the player. Continue reading →
Here are a few more gigs that I didn’t check in my earlier February post.
This Saturday (18th) at 7.30pm at 918 Bathurst the Happenstancers have a concert. It’s called Hypersuite and it will consist of movements from Bach works for solo instrument interspersed with contemporary works in like vein. Composers to be featured include Ana Sokolovic, Augusta Read Thomas and Elliot Carter. More info and tickets here.
Last month I posted about a Pierrot themed concert including Danika Lorèn singing Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with the Happenstancers. Now they have released films of five of the songs studio recordings – not from the concert). They are very artsy black and white movies with the texts included and I like them a lot. They can be found on the Happenstancers Youtube channel as five separate films or as one continuous movie.
Last night the Happenstancers presented a short but extremely enjoyable Pierrot themed concert at 918 Bathurst. The major work, unsurprisingly, was Schoenberg’s melodrama Pierrot lunaire for voice and chamber ensemble. It was presented in two parts. The first fourteen poems formed the first half of the programme which closed out with the concluding seven. It was extremely well done. Danika Lorèn was an excellent choice as the voice. She has the technique for Schoenberg’s tricky sprechstimme as well as the innate musicality and sense of drama the piece needs. The standard “Pierrot ensemble” is perfectly suited for the Happenstancers typically eclectic mixing of instruments. Here we had Brad Cherwin on clarinets, Rebecca Maranis on flutes, Hee-See Yoon on violin and viola, Sarah Gans on cello and Alexander Malikov on piano. Simon Rivard conducted. Skilful playing and well timed interplay between instruments and voice made for a most satisfactory experience. Continue reading →
June 17th/18th/19th Toronto Operetta Theatre are presenting Oscar Straus’ A Waltz Dream at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.
June 19th at 4.30pm Opera Revue have a Father’s day show at the Emmett Ray.
June 24th the Happenstancers have a concert at 918 Bathurst. It’s Pierrot themed with Danika Loren singing the obvious Schoenberg work plus moon themed music by Saariaho, Sokolovic and the Saskatchewan Songbird herself. One not to miss IMHO
June 25th at Crow’s theatre Soundstreams are presenting Noam Bierstone and guests in Percussion Theatre. It’s described as “a curated concert experience exploring the concept of instrumental theatre: the music doesn’t just accompany an action, the music is the action”
Last night the Happenstancers presented another intriguing concert of chamber music titled Chimaera. This time it was in the excellent hall at 918 Bathurst. It was a clever conceit. There were three “sets” with each consisting of two contrasting works that were combined in different ways.
The pieces in the first set were played straightforwardly consecutively but consisted of the least familiar music; Julia Wolfe’s Reeling and the premiere of Nahre Sol’s Chunhyang. Wolfe is one of those young American composers who combine a conservatory training with a taste for minimalism and hard driving rock and, in the case of this piece, folk music. It’s scored for nine instrumentalists including electric guitar and drum kit plus lots of electronics. It’s really cool and reminds me of the most drunk ceilidhs I’ve ever been to. And that may be why I remember almost nothing about the second piece except that the composer (keyboards) was playing it.
There’s a fair number of shows appearing at fairly short notice as people scramble to adapt to relaxing regulations so this post will contain events for April not previously noted plus a look forward to May.
April 26th at 7.30 pm Likht Ensemble have a free Holocaust Remembrance Day concert at Mazzoleni Hall.
April 28th at 8pm at St. Andrews on King St. Soundstreams are reprising the Vivier Lovesongs concert that was done as a stream last fall.
April 29th at 7.30pm at 918 Bathurst The Happenstancers have a concert featuring music by Julia Wolfe, Nahre Sol, Kaija Saariaho, Gyorgy Kurtag, Oliver Knussen, and WA Mozart.