L’Histoire du Soldat

Most music lovers have probably heard the music from Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat in either orchestral or chamber arrangement but it’s rare for the work to be given in its full staged form but that’s how it was presented (more or less) last night at Koerner Hall by the Toronto Summer Music Festival in association with LooseTEA Music Theatre.  That form includes a narrator, an actor (originally three actors, nowadays usually just a single actor/narrator) and dancer.  Plus, of course, the band; violin and bass, clarinet and bassoon, cornet and trombone, piano.

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The Nightingale sang

The COC’s revival of Robert Lepage’s 2009 production of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, revived by Marilyn Gronsdalis a delightful mix of witty and clever stagecraft coupled with some fine music making.  It’s very much a work of two contrasting halves.  The first is a carefully constructed program of shorter Stravinsky vocal and instrumental works; all from the period 1911-1919 and all with a sound world reminiscent of The Firebird or Petrouchka rather than The Rite of Spring or the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto.  The full line up was:

  • Ragtime
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.1
  • Pribaoutki
  • Berceuses du chat
  • Two Poems of Konstantin Balmont
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.2
  • Four Russian Peasant Songs
  • Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet No.3
  • The Fox

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Secret cypher! Loch Ness Monster!

Stravinsky LSO is a video release on the LSO’s own label of a 2015 concert at the Barbican featuring music by Berg, Webern, Ligeti and Stravinsky conducted by Simon Rattle.  It opens with Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra Op.6.  Rattle produces a transparent, clearly articulated and structurally coherent account of this short work.

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Voice of a Nation

VOANVoice of a Nation is a Métis inspired collection of works that has been touring Ontario as part of the Canada 150 thing.  Last night the Toronto leg of the tour happened  at Grace Toronto Church.  There are three pieces in the program.  Different Perspectives is a setting by Ian Cusson of a text synthesized from the sometimes surprising reactions of a group of young people asked “what Canada meant to them”.  It was designed to be sung by community choirs on the tour and last night was given by three (uncredited) female singers accompanied by the thirteen player Toronto Concert Orchestra under Kerry Stratton.

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This looks interesting

Here’s the blurb for a new piece being presented in Toronto this Thursday…

CoyoteinacanoeIn 1885 Louis Riel proclaimed, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” And so we bring you Voice of a Nation, an interdisciplinary concert featuring dance, orchestra, and theatre. Presented by Ontario’s première touring ensemble, the Toronto Concert Orchestra led by Kerry Stratton, in recognition of Canada’s 150th year, concert highlights include a new orchestral song-cycle based on the Métis poet Marilyn Dumont’s A Really Good Brown Girl, composed by Métis composer Ian Cusson, directed by Michael Mori, and sung by Métis Mezzo-Soprano Rebecca Cuddy; a reimagining of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire de Soldat by First Nations choreographer Aria Evans featuring the shapeshifting Trickster; and Perspectives, a new text by the Scarborough youth collective Couronne du Canada also composed by Cusson.

It’s at Grace Toronto Church on Jarvis at 7.30pm.  Ticket details here here.

Barbara Hannigan masterclass

Barbara Hannigan gave a masterclass for four students last night at Mazzoleni Hall.  I’ve been to quite a few masterclasses and it’s the second one of Hannigan’s that I have sat in on.  Like everything else she does her teaching style is unique, fascinating, incredibly illuminating and, at the same time, slightly terrifying.  Part of me wants to review like an “event” and part of me wants to be very subjective and impressionistic.  I think I’m going to do a bit of both.

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COC 2017/18

Last night the Canadian Opera Company announced the line up for the 2017/18 season.  It was all pretty much as predicted.  My predictions post got five out of six right and Dylan was right on the money down to timing.  So what do we get?

The fall season features, finally, Tim Albery’s production of Strauss’ Arabella first seen at Santa Fe.  Erin Wall, as expected, takes the title role while Jane Archibald, in one of three season appearances, sings Zdenka.  The Mandryka will be one of the few high profile imports, Tomasz Konieczny.  There are welcome appearances for David Pomery as Matteo and Claire de Sevigné as Flakermilli.  It’s a season full of Ensemble Studio graduates.  Patrick Lange conducts.  Partnering Arabella is Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore in a production by James Robinson adapted to set the piece in pre WW1 Niagara on the Lake.  Simone Osborne and Andrew Haji play Adina and Nemorino with Gordon Bintner as Belcore.  This is, I think, the first time I’ve seen husband and wife as soloists at the COC though the Pomeroys have been seen on stage together quite a few times.  Brit Andrew Shore rounds things out as Dulcemara.  Yves Abel makes his COC debut in the pit.

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