La Scena Musicale

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Week in Toronto (December 7 - 13)

White Pine Pictures promotional image of Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould, a new documentary by Canadian filmmakers Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, first screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, 2009

In my haste to post last week's blog entry which was already late, I forgot to mention the Toronto screening of Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould, the new documentary on this most enigmatic of Canadian cultural icon by filmmakers Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont. I attended the second screening last Thursday at the Royal in downtown Toronto. The filmmakers were there to introduce the documentary, as was Professor Mark Kingwell, who penned the newest Glenn Gould book, as part of the Extraordinary Canadians series on Penguin Books. Gould has been an endless subject of scholarly and popular works, and this film goes a long way in answering some of the many questions about Gould the man, with all his complexities and eccentricities. The film was screened at the TIFF last September. The filmmaker Michele Hozer mentioned at last Thursday's screening that it will be shown on many arts channels, including Arte in Europe and PBS in the United States. The screenings in Toronto ended yesterday, but you can still catch it in Waterloo (Jan. 27-28), Ottawa (Feb. 3), Barrie (Feb. 6 - 8), and Collingwood (March 29). I understand the film is not yet available on DVD, but I imagine it will be at some point after its run of international screenings are completed. Highly recommended.

A main interest this week is the world premiere of a Toronto Symphony Orchestra's co-commissioned piece, The Four Seasons by composer Philip Glass. This intriguing new work is billed as Glass's re-imagining of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Also on the program is Beethoven Symphony No. 6, 'Pastoral'. Two performances on the 9th (8pm) and 12th (7:30pm). The Saturday 12th show is a "casual concert", without an intermission and with lobby entertainment after the show.

Of course the season of Christmas choral music is just beginning. There are multiple offerings on each day of the week, so I won't try to be comprehensive about this! On Wednesday December 9 at the Yorkminster Baptist Church on Yonge Street is Mendelssohn Choir's Ceremony of Carols, featuring Judy Loman (harp). On Thursday at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts in North York, it's the Toronto Philharmonia and their Carol for Christmas -rather clever play on words I thought - with jazz vocalist Carol Welsman. On Friday, December 11 (2 shows 4 and 8pm), you can catch the Moscow Boys Choir in Christmas Around the World at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. Or you can choose to attend Oakville Choral Society's performance of Vivali's Gloria at the Glen Abbey United Church at 7:30 pm. There are at least two Messiahs this week, one presented by the Brott Musical Festival at the St. Christopher Anglican Church in Burlington on Saturday December 12 at 7:30 pm. The second one is The Dublin Messiah, presented in its "original version" by conductor Kevin Mallon and his Aradia Ensemble at the Glenn Gould Studio on Saturday, December 12 8 pm. Soloists are Laura Albino, Marion Newman, Nils Brown and Sean Watson.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Le Piano: Les choix de Georges Nicholson

Horowitz; Gould; Arrau; Rubenstein; Haskil; Backhaus; Richter; Cortot
Disques Pelléas CD-0123 (6CD)
***** $$$$
This compilation is a fine introduction for any young pianist or new classical music lover. The collection consists of six discs (7.5 hours) of some of the most famous recordings mixed with older, less celebrated selections. Featuring performers like Cortot, Gould and Horowitz, the CDs are divided into categories: Chopin, Adagio – Rêverie, Les Femmes, Transcriptions, Glenn Gould, and Horowitz. At the moderate price of $26.99 (less than five dollars per disc) it is a great deal considering some epic recordings usually cost a premium when purchased individually. Vladimir Horowitz’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 and Glenn Gould’s recording of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C major are two recordings no pianist’s collection should be without. Les Femmes is a particularly eclectic CD of female musicians, pairing Beethoven and Bach beside Chabrier and Granados and featuring Fauré’s oft forgotten Impromptu No. 2 in F minor recorded by the talented Marguerite Long. Unfortunately, the only modern composer is Frederico Mompou, so while the collection is ideal for a new initiate, the seasoned listener may find they already own the more popular recordings.

- Andrew Buziak

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: September 25 (D. Shostakovitch, Gould)

1906 - Dmitri Shostakovich, St. Petersburg, Russia; composer

More Cracks Opening ... (La Scena Musicale, Sept. 2006)

Excerpt from Act III of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (2000 TV film; voices of Galina Vishnevskaya and Nicolai Gedda; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mstislav Rostropovich conducting)

Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10, 1st mvt. (Royal Scottish National Orchestra)

1932 - Glenn Gould, Toronto, Canada; pianist, composer, conductor

Biography (Encyclopedia of Music in Canada)
Master of Counterpoint (La Scena Musicale, Feb. 2000)

Glenn Gould plays Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier Book 2 - Prelude and Fugue in A, BWV 888

"So You Want to Write a Fugue?" - composition by Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto # 5, "The Emperor", 1st mvt. (Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Karel Ančerl)

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