February 2023

february2023Here’s what I’m looking forward to in February plus a few gigs I can’t make:

  • February 1st and 2nd the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti are performing at Koerner Hall.  It’s a rare opportunity to hear a top orchestra in the wonderful Koerner acoustic but it’s probably sold out already.
  • On February 3rd the COC opens a run of Richard Strauss’ Salome with Ambur Braid in the title role and a stellar supporting cast.  Hard core Braid fans (and that includes me) know that this is a role she was born to sing.  It’s an Atom Egoyan production and he’ll likely tweak it but here’s a link to my review of the 2013 run.
  • February 6th sees the return of the Quilico Awards; a competition for the singers of the Ensemble Studio.  That’s at 5.30pm in the RBA and it’s free.

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The Power of Words

Yesterday’s RBA concert was an intriguing mix of music and poetry presented by soprano Zi Xin Emily Lapin (soprano), Jialiang Zhu (piano) and Kathryn Knowles (polymath with her poet on).  It was a carefully curated programme and it featured surtitles throughout (major bonus points for that).

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Wirth prize winner

The 2021/22 winner of the Wirth Vocal prize at McGill’s Schulich Schoolof Music is Innu soprano Elisabeth Saint-Gelais.  She performed in the RBA at noon on Wednesday, accompanied by Louise Pelletier.  It was impressive.  She has power to burn and a rather lovely voice and, not so common among young dramatic sopranos, considerable control across her registers.  She also displayed considerable linguistic skill in French, German and Czech though I’m completely unqualified to comment on the quality of her Anishinabe.

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Classy singing from the Rebanks fellows

Yesterday’s free concert in the RBA featured the vocalist Rebanks fellows from the Glenn Gould School.  There was some very classy and very powerful singing.  We heard Hannah Crawford, fresh off her second place at Centre Stage, sing a couple of arias; “Pleurez, plearez mes yeux” from Masenet’s Le Cid and “Come Scoglio” from Cosí.  There was some very considerable power on display here as well as accuracy and emotion.  Definitely one to watch.

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Psychological Elektra

Strauss’ Elektra, for all its “grand” music, is essentially a rather intimate psychological study of the psyches and relationships of three women.  Given this, one might think that the enormous stage of the Felsenreitschule in Salzburg a very odd choice of venue.  Krzysztof Warlikowski’s approach to the challenge is bold but almost impossible to do justice to on video.  Despite that, what does come across on video is a rather compelling version of the work.

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Elektra trivia

Back in the days when all British regiments had bands it was common for the band to entertain the locals with outdoor concerts in park or seaside bandstands.  As well as the usual martial and patriotic fare, such concerts often featured suites drawn from operettas or operas; both old and new.  Shortly before the First World War the more than averagely enterprising bandmaster of the Grenadier Guards made such a suite from Richard Strauss’ Elektra (premiered 1909).  Rather pleased with it, he decided to insert it into one of those rather dull pauses that happen during Trooping the Colour.  The bandsmen were also rather pleased with themselves for executing such advanced music.  Unfortunately they were soon to be deflated as a liveried flunkie emerged from the palace with a message for the bandmaster… “The King does not know what the music the band just played was but it is never to be played again”.  Sic transit gloria mundi.  Mozart apparently is OK though as the Coldstream’s slow march to this day is Non più andrai.

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Fairytales and Lullabyes

Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was the last for the year in the vocal series and featured members of the Ensemble Studio.  Rachael Kerr was scheduled to do about half the accompanying but illness prevented her from playing so some hasty reprogramming meant that what we got differed somewhat from the printed programme but it was still a very well put together effort.

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7th annual Krehm memorial concert

It’s seven years since Elizabeth Krehm died and last night we heard the seventh memorial concert organised by her sister Rachel at Christ Church Deer Park.  As ever I was amazed and delighted at the resources the extended Krehm family can draw on.  The Canzona Chamber Players Orchestra is essentially a scratch operation but in the hands of conductor Evan Mitchell it’s always a pleasure to listen to.

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An afternoon with Adrianne

There’s something very special about a song recital by a really good singer at the top of his/her game in a space conducive to song.  The stars conjoined yesterday to yield a recital by Adrianne Pieczonka with pianist Rachel Andrist in the song friendly acoustic of Mazzoleni Hall, as part of the Mazzoleni Songmasters series.

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