La Scena Musicale

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Canadian tenor John Mac Master replaces Ben Heppner in Met Opening Night Tristan Monday March 10

Breaking News:

It is official - Canadian tenor Ben Heppner is indisposed and he will be replaced on the opening night performance of Tristan und Isolde opposite the Isolde of Deborah Voigt at the Metropolitan Opera by - another Canadian, tenor John Mac Master. Mac Master had previously sung two performances of Canio in I Pagliacci at the Met in 2005, one of which was broadcast on Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. He has also sung Tristan for the Welsh National Opera.

Heppner appears to have caught some sort of viral flu bug, and Mac Master, who was in New York covering the role, stepped in to sing both orchestra rehearsal and the dress rehearsal.

The Opening night performance on Monday March 10th will be broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio.

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Today's Birthday in Music: March 8 (CPE Bach)

1714 - Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Weimar, Germany; composer

Wiki entry

CPE Bach Cello concerto in a-minor, 1st mvt. (David Adorjan cello, Christopher Hogwood conductor, Bach Collegium München, 1999)

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: March 7 (Ravel)

1875 - Maurice Ravel, Ciboure, France; composer, pianist

Wiki entry

Le Tombeau de Couperin, Mvts. I & II (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen, 2007 Promenade Concerts, London)

Martha Argerich plays Jeux d'Eau

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 6 (Te Kanawa, Maazel, Nézet-Séguin)

1944 - Kiri Te Kanawa, Gisborne, New Zealand; opera soprano

Wiki entry

Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta" from Puccini's La Rondine. New Zealand Wellington outdoor concert in 1990.

1930 - Lorin Maazel, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France; conductor

Wiki entry

New York Philharmonic, conducted by Lorin Maazel, plays Korean folksong "Arirang" during North Korean visit (February 2008)

1975 - Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Québec, Canada; conductor

Official Website
Yannick Nézet-Séguin — A Soaring Talent (La Scena Musicale, Februay 2000)
Yannick Nézet-Séguin — un talent sans mesure (La Scena Musicale, février 2000)

Rotterdam Philharmonic conducted by Nézet-Séguin (January 2008)

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

CBC Radio 2 Changes Programming - Less Classical More Pop

Yesterday, timed to coincide with Canadian Music Week, the CBC announced changes to its day-time lineup for CBC Radio 2 that will begin after Labour Day 2008. According to a story on CBC News,

The changes were announced Tuesday by Jennifer McGuire, executive director of English programming for CBC Radio.

Radio Two will remain a music station, with an emphasis on classical and boosted Canadian content after the final phase of the redesign, she said.

The plan for weekday programming on CBC Radio Two is:

  • 6-10 a.m.: A music program dedicated to a range of genres, including classical, pop, jazz and roots music.
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: A classical program that will emphasize the most popular and accessible classical music, including Mozart, Beethoven and other favourites.
  • 3-6 p.m.: A drive-home show focusing on vocal music, including many new artists.

The format for the morning program also will continue on weekend mornings, with a different host.

This morning's Globe and Mail reports that

In September, Radio 2 will also launch separate all-day all-classical, all-jazz and all-singer-songwriter stations on the Internet. Radio 3 will remain an Internet- and satellite-based service. However, one petitioner among a vocal group of listeners, musicians and composers who have criticized the overhaul argued yesterday that even an all-classical Web-based service wouldn't rectify the fact that Radio 2's on-air, non-classical programs are moving away from what had been the network's core listeners.

While acknowledging that change always meets opposition, Jennifer McGuire, executive director of radio, said that overall ratings haven't dropped as significantly as anticipated, as some listeners tune out and new ones tune in. She also emphasized that only a tiny fraction - 0.8 per cent - of new Canadian songs get commercial radio play and that the Radio 2 changes will allow for much more Canadian music to be heard, from pop to experimental.

But, "people who like classical music can still find classical music on Radio 2. In fact, it is still the most represented single genre on the service," McGuire said.

The proposed all-day all-classical and all-jazz web stations, already in service on the French CBC, are red-herrings; if someone wants to listen to classical or jazz online, there are already thousands of web radio stations, and one or two more won't make a dent.

The announcement has stirred up passion amongst CBC Radio 2 listeners. Both reports were filled with comments (see G&M comments; comments to the CBC story is at the bottom of the page), mostly lamenting the lost of classical music.

The bigger question is what is the role of a public broadcaster. Supporters of the change put forth the argument that a public broadcaster should serve all of its citizens. The consequence of this argument is that the public broadcaster would end up chasing ratings, as this plan aims to do. Ratings are the currency to justify the broadcaster's existence to its political masters. Historically, the role of a public broadcaster is to offer quality programming rather than follow the motives of commercial media. Favouring quantity over quality is usual a passing fad. Hopefully, saner minds will prevail, one day. Let us know what you think in the comments section or by emailing

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Bach : Le Clavier bien tempéré, Livre 2

Zhu Xiao-Mei, piano
Mirare MIR 044
2 CD: 133 min 10 s
***** $$$$

Dans les notes de programme données sous forme d’entrevue, la grande pianiste chinoise installée maintenant à Paris, déclare avoir voulu humaniser le Clavier bien tempéré, en montrer la sensibilité plutôt que l’architecture ou la rigueur mathématique, et elle pose comme exigence première à l’interprète de « savoir danser et chanter ». On peut dire que sa mission est accomplie, car rarement exécution du deuxième cahier aura-t-elle été aussi fluide et lyrique à la fois. Avec une dynamique subtile et une accentuation d’une grande souplesse, aidée aussi par un travail sur la pédale qui équivaut, selon son expression, à « un vrai toucher avec les pieds », Zhu Xiao-Mei réussit son pari non seulement pour les préludes qu’elle débarrasse de toute préoccupation virtuose ou technique, mais aussi avec les fugues qui trouvent sous ses doigts une musicalité de tous les instants; leurs sujets se transforment en mélodie et leur structure en continuité, toute barre de mesure semblant ici abolie. Les quarante-huit pièces se laissent écouter comme une suite et la fin de chacune d’elles arrive toujours en surprise. Une des très belles versions au piano de cet « Ancien Testament » de la musique. À quand donc le premier cahier ?

-Alexandre Lazaridès

Buy this CD at

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Today's Birthdays in Music: March 5 (Donalda, Villa-Lobos)

1882 - Pauline Donalda, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; opera soprano

Wiki entry
Epilogue: Prima Donna Donalda

1887 - Heitor Villa-Lobos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; composer

Wiki entry

Villa-Lobos - Prelude No.5, played by John Williams

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: March 4 (Vivaldi)

1678 - Antonio Vivaldi, Venice, Italy; composer

Wiki entry
Méconnu Vivaldi (La Scena Musicale)

"Winter" from The Four Seasons (Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra)

Stabat Mater, Mvts. 8-9 (Andreas Scholl, countertenor)

Double mandolin concerto, RV 558 - Andante

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 3 (Wood, Quivar)

1869 - Henry Wood, Hitchin, England; conductor, founder of the Promenade Concerts (the "Proms")

Wiki entry
Wiki Proms
BBC Proms

Last Night of the Proms 1998: Andrew Davis leads a rousing rendition of Hubert Parry's Jerusalem (BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, and BBC Symphony Chorus, backed up by the audience at the Royal Albert Hall, and at the Proms in the Park

- Florence Quivar, Philadelphia, USA; opera mezzo-soprano

Wiki entry
Florence Quivar as Ulrica in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera (The Met, 1990

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

La Scena Musicale March 2008 Issue Online in HTML and PDF Formats

La Scena Musicale's March 2008 print issue is now also online. The low resolution PDF, downloaded here, is viewable but not printable (subscribers have access to the printable version). We also bring back the HTML format of the issue; click on this page to view the contents of the English articles. There are more articles in French; be sure to click on the link to the French articles.

LSM’s March issue features violinist Laurence Kayaleh and her recital partner, pianist Paul Stewart. Together, they are releasing a disc this month on the Naxos label covering the remarkable violin and piano works of the oft-neglected Russian master, Nikolay Medtner. This will be the second of two discs they have recorded with Naxos in as many years, and together, the two-disc set represents the complete output for violin and piano by Medtner. As part of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec will perform one of the most audacious orchestral pieces ever composed, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony: OSQ artistic director Yoav Talmi shares his thoughts on this magnificent work in our Musician’s Corner. Lucie Renaud sat down with Raoul Sosa, a Montreal-based pianist who is celebrating the 40th year of his career here in Quebec. A longtime piano teacher at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, Mr. Sosa has won a great number of awards and international recognition; he also remarkably overcame an injury to his right hand by exploring the piano repertoire for the left hand.

The guide for this month features summer music and arts camps: our comprehensive listings showcase a variety of programs that will take place across the country this summer.

Next LSM Benefit Event


Today's Birthdays in Music: March 2 (Smetana, Weill)

1824 - Bedřich Smetana, Litomyšl, Bohemia; composer, pianist, conductor

Wiki entry

"The Moldau" ("Vltava") from Smetana's Má Vlast (Rafael Kubelik, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, 1990)

1900 - Kurt Weill, Dessau, Germany; composer

Wiki entry
Brief bio

From the Los Angeles Opera production of Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

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