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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 13, No. 4 December 2007

Upcoming Concerts à venir

December 17, 2007


The month of December starts big for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. The pair of concerts on the 3rd and 4th (8:00 PM at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier), featuring Hilary Hahn’s interpretation of Mozart’s warhorse Concerto No. 3 and Kent Nagano leading the orchestra through Beethoven’s immortal Symphony No. 5, is already sold out. Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 starts that program off. Following this on their calendar is a benefit concert with Zubin Mehta, the legendary conductor and music director emeritus of the OSM, (Dec. 6th, 7:00 PM at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier). He will take the orchestra through two challenging summits of the repertoire: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pathétique”) and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. This will surely be a tough ticket to get. Next up is a presentation of the first three cantatas from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, presented alongside the Montreal Bach Festival. Nagano conducts the orchestra and the OSM Chorus on the 11th and 12th (7:30 PM at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier), with soloists Sibylla Rubens, Doris Soffel, Michael Schade, and Detlef Roth. Just before the holiday break, Jean-François Rivest will lead the annual Christmas Sing-Along with the OSM (18th and 19th, 7:30 PM at Notre Dame Basilica): the Montreal Children’s Choir and Concerto Della Donna will help you sing all your favourite carols. The New Year brings to fruition the performance of the winning piece in the OSM’s first International Composition Competition: Ramon Humet’s Escenas de pajaros. Lila, by Canadian Paul Frehner, is also on the program, as well as Messiaen’s Chronochromie (Jan. 10th, 8:00 PM at Pollack Hall). Beethoven’s fourth and eighth symphonies will be performed by Nagano and the OSM on the 15th and 16th (8:00 PM, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier), along with violin solos by Camille Saint-Saëns and Unsuk Chin, as interpreted by Viviane Hagner. Finally, the month closes with a whopper: Wagner’s Tannhäuser, presented in concert version, on the 22nd and 25th (7:00 PM at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier). An all-star cast of singers, led by Stephen Gould and Jennifer Wilson, join Nagano, the orchestra, and chorus, for what should be a memorable event in the orchestra’s season.

The Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand-Montréal, fresh off the exciting news of conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s recent appointment as Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic, starts off on December 2nd with the annual gala concert of l’Opéra de Montréal (2:00 PM, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) with the company’s chorus and 20 singers. The OM’s own Christmas program takes you to St. Petersburg with Tchaikovsky’s timeless Nutcracker Suite No. 1 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The program will be performed in various churches and CEGEPs throughout the city from the 10th to the 15th; check our regional calendar or www.orchestremetropolitain.com for full listings. January and February see a series of concerts featuring Tchaikovsky’s second and sixth symphonies (“Little Russian” and “Pathétique”) in, again, a variety of venues, including February 4 at the Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts (7:30 PM).

Don’t miss everyone’s favourite holiday ritual with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s production of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Fernand Nault. The dancers and orchestra hit Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts for multiple shows from December 15th through to the 30th. Check our regional calendar listings or www.grandsballets.com for more information.

The Montreal Bach Festival is presenting some remarkable Baroque instrumental concerts, from homegrown ensembles to those abroad. Check out the Belgian group Ensemble Il Gardellino as they interpret the two of Bach’s masterpieces, the Brandenburg Concerti Nos. 2 and 4. Canadian soprano star Suzie LeBlanc joins them for two cantatas in this, the festival’s opening concert on December 2nd at 6:30 PM at St. James United Church. The Austrian ensemble moderntimes_1800, with leader Ilia Korol, revisits Bach violin concerti alongside newer chamber works by Janitsch and Schnittke. See them at St. Andrew & St. Paul Presbyterain Church on the 5th at 8:00 PM. Finally, Montreal-based Arion Ensemble will feature a variety of soloists in an evening highlighted by the Brandenburg Concerti Nos. 4 and 5, as well the Harpsichord Concerto BWV 1052 and the Flute Suite BWV 1067 at Redpath Hall on the 7th, 8:00 PM. For this exciting festival’s complete listings, check out www.bach-academie-montreal.com.


Two truly remarkable solo piano performances are coming Montreal’s way in December. First, the young German phenom Martin Stadtfeld presents one of the highlights of the Montreal Bach Festival with his rendition of the timeless Goldberg Variations at Christchurch Cathedral (December 6th, 8:00 PM). Skip to the end of the month, when the Pro Musica Society brings us the legendary Radu Lupu, who interprets Schubert’s Sonata in D major D. 850 and Debussy’s Preludes, Book 1. See it at the Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, on the 30th at 7:30 PM.

Chamber highlights in the New Year include a co-production by the Bozzini Quartet and Ensemble Caprice: a performance of Reich’s Different Trains paired with Bach’s Chaconne for solo violin and chorales by the Baroque master. See it at Redpath Hall on January 12th at 8:00 PM. Exactly one week later, still at Redpath Hall (January 19th, 8:00 PM), Musica Camerata presents a unique look at some of Montreal’s finest composers, past and present, including Vivier, Hétu, and the world premiere of a piece by Blair Thomson. The principal string players of one of the finest orchestras in the world, the Berlin Philharmonic, come together as Philhamonia Quartett Berlin, presented to Montreal concertgoers by the Pro Musica Society. Their concert is on January 21st at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, at 7:30 PM, performing works by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Kurtág, and Webern. Finally, Montreal’s Molinari Quartet performs at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur on Feburary 2nd at 2:00 PM, featuring works by Schnittke, Takemitsu, and Gilbert.


Always a holiday classic, the St. Lawrence Choir brings us Sing Noël, a selection of Christmas music from across the centuries and continents. Special guests include brass quintet Buzz cuivres farfelus, organist Robert Sigmund, and timpanist Robert Slapcoff. Check it out at Oscar Peterson Hall on December 1st at 7:30 PM or at the Centre culturel de Montréal-Nord on the 16th at 3:00 PM.

Naturally, the second edition of the Montreal Bach Festival has some fantastic vocal concerts in store for early December. Renowned Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor and his Theatre of Early Music present Time and Consolation: Around the Time of Bach. Along with the venerable master, other composers on the program include his son, J.C. Bach, Bruhns, Kuhnau, Schmelzer, Schütz, and Tunder. The concert gets underway at 8:00 PM on December 3rd at the Église St-Léon-de-Westmount. Quebec City’s remarkable chamber orchestra, Les Violons du Roy, dedicates their program in the festival to Bach’s Magnificat (in the original version for Christmas), coupled with Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum. La Chapelle de Québec takes on the choral duties, with distinguished soloists Karina Gauvin, Matthew White, Frédéric Antoun, and Joshua Hopkins. Concert time is 8:00 PM on the 4th at the Église St-Jean-Baptiste in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal district.

The Opéra de Montréal takes its holiday break until February, when Jacques Lacombe and the Orchestre Métropolitain take on Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, featuring Aaron St. Clair Nicholson (Figaro), Julie Boulianne (Rosina), and Frédéric Antoun (Almaviva). Still, there’s one show left to go in 2007: the 12th annual installment of Le Gala, with 20 singers including Marc Hervieux, Aline Kutan, and Marianne Fiset. Paul Nadler leads the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Opéra de Montréal chorus, and the huge cast of soloists who will lead you through some of opera’s best-loved arias and choruses. Also up soon for opera buffs, Julian Wachner and Opera McGill bring you Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, starting January 30th (7:30 PM) at Pollack Hall and continuing into February. Check our regional calendar for full listings.

Musique contemporaine

René Bricault

Événements inédits et nouveaux classiques se côtoient dans le monde de l’avant-garde en cette saison des fêtes. La Série hommage : Vivier de MNM se poursuit avec trois concerts. Lors du premier, présenté au Centre de créativité du Gesù (8 déc.; tous les concerts sont à 20 h sauf indication contraire), les pianistes Mikolaj Warszynski et Zuzana Simurdova s’attaqueront à la première canadienne de la version originale pour deux pianos de Désintégration. Le reste du programme sera dédié aux œuvres de Ross Perrin, d’où le titre du concert, Perrin invite Vivier. Le second, mettant en vedette l’Ensemble Musique Avenir du Conservatoire dirigé par Véronique Lacroix, nous propose Bouchara (Sophie Martin, soprano) ainsi que plusieurs créations de Dufort, Primard et Borboën-Léonard, entre autres (13 déc., Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, 19 h 30). Et dès le lendemain, même heure, même endroit, l’ECM Relève nous interprète les grands : outre Prolifération, nous aurons droit à Stockhausen, Xenakis, Donatoni… Le Quatuor Bozzini débute l’année 2008 avec un autre gros morceau, soit le fort connu Different trains du minimaliste Steve Reich (12 jan., salle Redpath). Mais le classique des classiques, c’est l’OSM qui nous l’offrira, et sous la baguette de nul autre que Zubin Mehta : Le sacre du printemps (6 déc., salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, 19 h).

Dans un tout autre ordre d’idées, l’Orchestre nous présentera (10 jan., salle Pollack), en plus de la superbe Chronochromie de Messiaen, les deux œuvres lauréates de la toute première édition du Prix International de Composition de l’OSM, c’est-à-dire Lila du Canadien Paul Frehner (lauréat du prix Claude-Vivier) et Escenas de pajaros de l’Espagnol Ramon Humet (lauréat du prix Olivier-Messiaen). L’Atelier de musique contemporaine de l’Université de Montréal, toujours sous la direction de Lorraine Vaillancourt, se sera spécialisé en musique vocale lors du dernier trimestre, comme en témoignera le concert La voix dans tous ses états (10 déc., salle Claude-Champagne, 19 h 30), laissant la parole (!) à Aperghis, Crumb, Dusapin, Lesage, Goebbels et une création de Ferguson. Trois jours plus tard, Sixtrum et Quasar feront équipe dans des œuvres de Gubaidulina, de Man et une création de Holbrook. Enfin, nous revenons avec l’ECM, mais en version « danse », puisqu’il accompagnera une chorégraphie d’Hélène Blackburn (de Cas public) sur une musique de la toujours surprenante Ana Sokolovic (24 au 26 jan., salle Pierre-Mercure). Antidote par excellence aux excès commerciaux de Noël !



Les Violons du Roy amorcent la saison des fêtes avec un réjouissant programme baroque, donné d’abord le 1er décembre à 20 h au Palais Montcalm et repris le 4 à Montréal à l’église St-Jean-Baptiste. Outre le Te Deum de Dettingen de Haendel, on découvrira le Magnificat de Bach dans sa version originale écrite pour Noël, qui s’enrichit de quatre hymnes polyphoniques et de flûtes à bec de circonstance. Les solistes seront Karina Gauvin, Matthew White, Frédéric Antoun et Joshua Hopkins. Puis, les 21 et 23 décembre, les Violons accompagneront cette fois l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal et la Maîtrise des Petits chanteurs de Québec dans un choix de Noëls traditionnels proposé par le chef Jean-Marie Zeitouni.

En janvier, les Violons remettent sur le métier leur arrangement des Variations Goldberg pour cordes et continuo, qu’ils avaient enregistré pour Dorian il y a quelques années. L’œuvre sera jouée deux fois le 18 décembre au Palais Montcalm, d’abord à 10 h 30, avec des commentaires du chef Bernard Labadie, et de nouveau en soirée, à 20 h (643.8131 – www.violonsduroy.com)


Le 4 décembre, l’OSQ a invité Gilles Cantagrel, conteur de talent et passionné de musique baroque allemande, à prononcer une conférence intitulée « Bach aujourd’hui ». L’événement se tient au Musée de l’Amérique française à 19 h30 et il est conseillé de réserver sa place ! (643.8486)

Le 19 décembre, le chef Yoav Talmi présente le jeune violoniste belge Yossif Ivanov, âgé de 21 ans, qui jouera le Poème d’Ernest Chausson et Tzigane de Ravel. On entendra également, comme pièce de résistance, la 9e Symphonie de Chostakovitch. Dans la tradition viennoise, l’OSQ souligne ensuite la nouvelle année par un concert de valses, les 25 et 26 janvier. Si le programme se termine par l’incontournable Danube bleu, on découvrira aussi plusieurs pièces peu connues, comme cette Brise du fondateur de l’OSQ, Joseph Vézina, qu’on surnommait à l’époque le « roi de la valse canadienne ».

Le 30 janvier enfin, Yoav Talmi dirigera ses troupes dans la Messe en si mineur de Bach, avec les solistes Karina Gauvin, David DQ Lee, Colin Blazer et Kevin Deas. Une présentation de Denis Grenier, de l’Université Laval, bien connu pour son travail avec la maison de disque Alpha, précédera le concert à 19 h (643.8486 – www.osq.org).


Dans un registre plus intime, et à prix fort modique, on pourra aller entendre l’Ensemble Nouvelle-France jouer aux chandelles dans la petite chapelle du Musée de l’Amérique française. En plus de quelques Noëls, dans leur fraîche simplicité d’origine, on nous promet des partitions baroques récemment découvertes (5 déc., 20 h).

Signalons enfin le programme éclectique du concert qu’offrira le réputé Ensemble vocal André Martin à l’église Saint-Dominique : Purcell, Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Fauré et Rachmaninov, quatre siècles de musique religieuse et six compositeurs de pays différents, rien de moins ! (26 jan., 20 h).

Preview of Metropolitan Opera at the Movies: The Second Season

Joseph So

Peter Gelb must be a very happy man these days. His innovation last season of bringing the Metropolitan Opera to the hinterlands was wildly successful. Through high definition satellite transmissions to selected theatres in North America and the UK, “Met at the Movies” reached an estimated audience of 325,000 viewers. Who says classical music doesn’t sell? I attended all the shows in Toronto, and I dare say you won’t find a more enthusiastic, attentive, and well-behaved audience at the movies anywhere in Canada. Starting with the Julie Taymor Magic Flute at Christmas time, all six operas sold extremely well, with some locations completely sold out; some people had to be turned away. More theatres were added midstream to meet the demand. Despite occasional glitches with the satellite transmission, everyone I spoke to enjoyed the experience and many expressed appreciation to the Met for bringing opera “to the people”. Now, other opera houses from Australia to Italy are jumping on the bandwagon, however those enterprises likely won’t be available to Canadian moviegoers.

Building on the phenomenal success of last season, the Met is expanding the series from six to eight operas, with more theatres participating than ever. Tickets can be purchased in advance. Early reports indicate some locations are already sold out, probably because the ticket prices are so reasonable, only a fraction of what one would pay at the Met. General admission is $19.95, with children and seniors at $16.95. You can purchase a season package of all 8 operas at $134.95. Alternate packages are available for 5 operas ($89.95) or 3 operas ($56.95). Taxes are extra on all price categories. Go to the link below to find a theatre near you for details and to purchase tickets on line:


The “season” opens with Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette (Dec. 15), with Russian diva Anna Netrebko as Juliette, opposite the Romeo of Roberto Alagna, who replaces the ailing Rolando Villazón. The conductor is none other than Placido Domingo. New Year’s Day brings a new production of Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel, sung in English (note that this show is on Tuesday instead of the customary Saturday). Verdi’s Macbeth follows on Jan. 12, conducted by James Levine and starring Italian baritone Lado Ataneli, Russian soprano Maria Guleghina, and Canadian bass John Relyea as Banquo. On Feb. 16 is Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, with Finnish soprano Karita Mattila as the femme fatale. Opposite her will be Italian tenor Marcello Giordani as Des Grieux – these two will surely burn up the screen. Levine, said to be not too fond of Puccini, will make his first stab at this opera since 1981. If there is a downside to this show, it is the three intermissions, stretching a two-hour opera to three hours and 41 minutes – I hope you like popcorn! A new production of Britten’s Peter Grimes arrives on March 15, with tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, considered to be the definitive Grimes of the 21st century. Soprano Patricia Racette will be Ellen Orford. Get ready for the marathon the following week (March 22) with Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Starring Canada’s own Ben Heppner as Tristan opposite the Isolde of Deborah Voigt, this surely will be the hottest ticket of the season. To accommodate its length, the opera starts at 12:30pm and ends at 6:05, but Wagner junkies will love every minute of it! The spectacularly beautiful Zeffirelli La bohème will be shown on April 5, with the glamorous Angela Gheorghiu as Mimi, but unfortunately no Alagna. As Rodolfo, we will have the wonderful-sounding but unglamorous Ramon Vargas. The season ends with a new production of Donizetti’s La fille du regiment, with a fantastic cast headed by Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez – not to be missed!

(c) La Scena Musicale