Pierrot on film

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.

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Pierrot

pierrotLast 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

Late June

danikalA couple more things coming up this month.

  • 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”

Krehm memorial concert

Inevitably, this year’s Krehm memorial concert was presented virtually. It premiered last night and is available on the Canzona Chamber Players Youtube channel.  It’s in two parts.  In the first Rachel Krehm is the soloist in the Schoenberg arrangement of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.  I initially thought that Evan Mitchell’s tempi were on the slow side but they grew on me and Rachel sings expressively and rather beautifully.  I like the chamber arrangement of these pieces precisely because the singer doesn’t have to force her voice over a big orchestra and can be more Lieder like.

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Music to wallow in?

verklartenachtNo, not Flanders and Swann but rather a well constructed new recording from Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.  It contains music by four composers exemplifying that lush territory that lies emotionally, if not always temporally, between Wagner and the Second Vienna School.  The two central works were both inspired by Richard Dehmel’s Verklärte Nacht.  The first is a 1901 setting of the text for mezzo, tenor and orchestra by Oskar Fried.  It’s lushly scored and rather beautiful.  The sound world is not dissimilar to Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder.  Gardner gets a lovely sound from his players and some really gorgeous singing from Christine Rice and Stuart Skelton.  The second Verklärte Nacht is the more familiar Schoenberg piece for string orchestra.  It’s curious how without voices and with only strings it manages to sound almost as lush as the Fried.

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Song of the Earth

Last night’s final Koerner Hall event in Toronto Summer Music started off with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major.  It’s a tuneful, well constructed piece which in places riffs off Romany music, hence its nickname “Turkish”.  Jonathan Crow was the soloist with a small orchestra drawn from all the area’s major orchestras plus TSM Fellows.  Gemma New conducted.  It was very satisfying.  The orchestra was excellent and the interplay between solist and orchestra worked very well.  It’s quite a demanding piece for the soloist and I really enjoyed the sound that Jonathan produced.  He plays an instrument with a rather distinctive timbre which worked well here.  I’m curious about the first movement cadenza.  I don’t know the work well enough to knoew what the options are but this one was very virtuosic though sounding distinctly post-Mozartian.

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The Norcop prize recital

It’s that time of year again at UoT when the respective winners of the Norcop song prize and the Williams Koldofsdky prize for accompanying collaborate in a lunchtime recital.  This year’s winners were mezzo Simona Genga and pianist Jialiang Zhu who gave us a program of songs by Schoenberg, Freedman, Berlioz and Santoliquido.  The Vier Lieder Op. 2 of Schoenberg are extremely lyrical though with a rather complex and involved piano part.  They played to the strengths of both musicians.  Taken at fairly slow tempi they allowed Simona to show off the beauty and ease of her voice all through the registers combined with terrific breath control and spot on German diction while Jialiang had something fairly virtuosic to display her skills.

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Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw

Barbara Hannigan made her much anticipated Koerner Hall debut last night in an all German program accompanied by Reinbert de Leeuw.  The first half of the program consisted of three sets; Schoenberg’s Vier Lieder Op. 2, Webern’s Fünf Lieder nach Gedicten von Richard Dehmel and Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder.  All of these cycles were composed between 1899 and 1907 and there are many similarities.  They are highly lyrical and essentially tonal and they mostly set poetry of a fairly pastoral nature.  It would be churlish to complain about a performance of the utmost artistry (by both performers) of important works that likely no-one else would program in a major Toronto recital.  That said, it was all quite lovely but it was a bit samey.  Occasionally, especially in the Webern, some slightly different moods would emerge e.g in the third stanza of Ascension where it gets a bit more dramatic or in Heile Nacht, where there are echoes of Perrot Lunaire, but generally it was all rather in one place musically and emotionally.

Hannigan at Koerner

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From another planet

Yesterday lunchtime in the RBA soprano Lauren Eberwein and the Rosebud String Quartet (Sheila Jaffé, Aaron Schwebel, Keith Hamm and Rachel Desoer) entertained us with a program of Haydn and Schoenberg.  First up was an arrangement of Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos.  We got the recitative, Teseo mio ben, and the two arias, Dove sei and Ah! che morir vorrei.  It’s basically a cantata with tessitura that sits very nicely for Lauren’s voice.  It was an elegant performance all round with some passion in the concluding aria.  And it’s always good to hear a Haydn vocal work.

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Into November

eberwienSo coming up in the next week or so…

On Monday LooseTEA have another Whose Opera is it Anyway? show.  It’s at 9.30pm at Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor West.  Alaina Viau directs with hosting by Greg Finney, Natasha Fransblow at the piano and Jeff Boyd, Amanda Cogan, Adanya Dunn, Gillian Grossman, Rachel Krehm, Jonathan MacArthur, Erin Stone, and Lindsay Sutherland Boal doing silly things.

On Tuesday Lauren Eberwein and the Rosebud Quartet have a noon time concert in the RBA including the fascinating and very difficult Schoenberg String Quartet No.2.  Barbara Hannigan was the last person to do that in the RBA so no pressure.

Wednesday evening is Centre Stage, the COC’s Gala/Singing Competition/Audition for the Ensemble Studio.  Things kick off with booze and snacks at 5pm.  It’s at the Four Seasons Centre of course.

Thursday, UoT Opera are previewing their Don Giovanni in a free concert at 12.10pm in Walter Hall.  Later, at 9pm, it’s AtG’s Opera Pub Night at the Amsterdam Bicycling Club.

In the continuing runs department, Arabella closes out tomorrow at the COC but The Elixir of Love runs through the 4th.  Soundstreams’ Müsik für das Ende, which opens tonight, runs all week at Crow’s Theatre and Opera Atelier’s The Marriage of Figaro also runs through the 4th.