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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 19, No. 4

Gift Ideas

by Wah Keung Chan, Lucie Renaud, Caroline Rodgers & Joseph So / December 1, 2013

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The holiday season: a perfect time to treat the music lovers in your life or introduce friends and family to your favourite tunes and musicians. But what makes the best musical stocking stuffer? Here are some suggestions to get you started on your list this winter... and, perhaps, to add to your own wishlist!

For the opera buff
The DVD box set The Essential Opera Collection from Opus Arte, which brings together ten great operas on 19 discs, including productions from the Royal Opera House and Teatro Real. It includes Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, Tosca, and The Tales of Hoffman, among others.  CR

For the book lover
The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers. This is without a doubt among the most moving novels ever written about music. In postwar America, two musically gifted brothers are born to a Jewish father and a black mother. In spite of prejudice, they make their careers as a singer and a pianist in a story that is a great voyage through history and music. CR

For the pianist
After a few months of buzz, it’s finally available in Canada! I want to get my hands on the latest work by Alfred Brendel, A Pianist’s A-Z, a scholarly yet accessible work that reminds us that even though he retired some years ago, Brendel remains one of the giants of our era.  LR

For the collector
The large-format coffee table book Opéra by Andràs Batta (Ullmann)—now also available in French in a new 2013 edition—features 920 superbly illustrated pages, including photos of productions and singers. The operas and composers are richly presented in alphabetic order.  WKC

For the young-at-heart
I’ve already started giving my friends and family Ludwig, a magnificent “symphonic graphic novel” by Christian Quesnel (Art Global), which takes the reader on a musical journey as he or she leafs through while listening to the first movement of Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto, performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Gatineau and pianist Marie-Charline Foccrouelle. Quesnel’s aesthetic style is self-described as steampunk, and his Beethoven is by no means a disembodied entity lost in the 21st century. The book is an eloquent reminder that Beethoven remains as relevant today as he was in his own era.  LR

For the Wagner fan
Love it or hate it, Robert Lepage’s production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera was an accomplishment in technology and vision. Le Ring de Robert Lepage (L’Instant même; in French) includes a day-to-day journal by Lepage’s Production Director of Opera Bernard Gilbert, who takes us behind the scenes from the production’s beginning in 2005 to performance in 2012. WKC

For the concert-goer
New on DVD: A Salute to Vienna: Gala Concert for PBS. This delightful concert was filmed at the Vienna Konzerthaus last January 1st. Guests include Russell Watson, the Vienna Boys Choir, and Vienna State Opera Ballet, and the Volksoper Sinfonieorchester. Von Stade sang a lovely Vilja Lied complete with two interpolated high notes. Even the 82 year old Schell contributed a heart-felt piece! I would pair this gift with tickets to the Salute to Vienna shows on New Year’s Day. www.salutetovienna.com JS

For the cinephile
A subscription to the series The Met Live in HD, to give someone the chance to see and hear a live broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s extravagant productions from the comfort of the local cinema with the intimacy of close-ups of Jonas Kaufmann or Mariusz Kwiecien. CR

For the music novice
The History of Classical Music from Gregorian Chant to Górecki, from Deustche Grammophon. To encourage a friend to discover the most beautiful classical music throughout the ages played by the best performers, this 100-CD box set is definitely a first-class gift! CR

For the art lover
A painting by artist Raymond Quenneville. The landscapes by this Quebecois artist remind me of my childhood in Charlevoix: small Canadian houses, blue mountains, and golden fields. For years I’ve dreamed of having my own. www.raymondquenneville.qc.ca CR

Star Suggestions

Nous by Nicolas Gilbert: The fourth book by the Montreal composer and author.
• The DVD Saint François d’Assise by Messiaen
- Ana Sokolović, Composer

Theatre or dance tickets, to discover a new world of premieres
• For kids: Lots of tickets, to show them the beauty and diversity of local arts, for example for the Maison-Théâtre, The Nutcracker, The OSM’s Symphonic Matinées and many more lesser-known events…
CDs and books, while they still exist!
- Louis-Philippe Marsolais, French Horn, Orchestre Métropolitain

• The book The Jazz Ear – Conversations on Music by Ben Ratliff
• Recording(s) of music by Ralph Vaughan Williams
- François Bourassa, Pianiste et compositeur de jazz / Jazz pianist and composer

• CD box set of Keith Jarrett’s Concerts (Bregenz, München) (ECM)
- Lorraine Desmarais, Jazz pianist and composer

• An LP player and LPs
 “I recently received a beautiful LP player for my 30th birthday from someone very close to me, so I am happily dusting off my old vinyls.  I love the sound of it, and am excited to start building on my modest collection.”
• Tickets to the Les Grands Ballets
- Andrew Wan, Concertmaster, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

• CD box set Francis Poulenc – Intégrale des mélodies pour voix et piano (ATMA Classique)
 “With mostly Canadians: I just received it, and it’s great!”
• Any Wagner opera DVD with Jonas Kaufmann
 “I love his voice in that repertoire!”
- Michèle Losier, Mezzo Soprano

Translation: Rebecca Anne Clark

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