All the Strauss

Yesterday’s Amici Ensemble concert in Mazzoleni Hall was an all Richard Strauss program featuring an array of guests.  First up was the Duett Concertino where regulats Joaquin Valdepeñas (clarinet), David Hetherington (cello) and Serouj Kradjian (piano) were joined by violinists Timothy Ying and Jennifer Murphy, violist Keith Hamm, Theodore Chan on bass and Michael Sweeney on bassoon.  It’s a program piece in which the clarinet represents a princess and the bassoon, a bear, who eventually, of course, transforms into a handsome prince.  There are lots of dance rhythms from the strings and some sly quotations from Der Rosenkavalier along the way.  It’s fun and it was very well played.  I almost wonder if it was too smooth.  The bear certainly seemed very suave and his transformation was not terribly abrupt.  Still, bear!

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Mother of Light

motheroflightThis review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.

Mother of Light contains a series of works in praise of the Virgin Mary from Isabel Bayrakdarian’s Armenian Church tradition. Origins range from the 5th century to the early 20th. They are performed here in arrangements by Bayrakdarian’s husband Serouj Kradjian for soprano (Isabel Bayrakdarian), cello (Ani Aznavoorian) and female choir (Coro Vox Aeterna conducted by Anna Hamre).

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Transfigured: Transcribed

Yesterday’s Amici Ensemble concert featured four works transcribed for different combinations of instruments than the composer originally intended.  First up was Berg’s Adagio for violin, clarinet and piano.  This is from the Kammerkonzert originally scored for violin, piano and thirteen assorted wind instruments.  Unsurprisingly it doesn’t get played often in that arrangement.  It’s pretty typical second Vienna school; twelve tone but quite accessible and very pleasant to listen to.  It was expertly played by Serouj Kradjian (piano), David Hetherington (cello) and Joaquin Valdepeñas (clarinet).

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Amici Ensemble – Season close and new season announcement

Yesterday I attended the final concert of the 2011/12 season of the Amici Ensemble at the Glenn Gould Studio courtesy of Executive Director Lizzie Bowman.

It was my first time at the Glenn Gould and I was impressed by the space.  It’s pretty much ideal for chamber music.  They also have Glenn Gould’s childhood piano on display which is another addition to Toronto’s collection of secular relics.  There is a book or thesis at least in that topic.

The concert was a varied mix of pieces from the first third of the 20th century.  That’s pretty much a sweet spot for me as it’s pretty much where I discovered classical music.  My first classical LP purchase was of the Janáček string quartets.  Some of the music I was very familiar with.  Some was quite unknown to me.  Also, the ensemble was different for each piece.  It made for an interesting afternoon.  Continue reading