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Beatrice Rana Fuses Ferocity And Beauty In ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata

TORONTO – I have heard a lot of Beethoven over the years, but never have I heard his daunting Sonata No. 29 in B-flat played with the fire and passion summoned by this Italian pianist – not to mention her almost miraculous technical mastery.

A Throwback Concert Recalls Triumvirate Of 2nd Viennese School

VANCOUVER – Soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen sang Berg's Seven Early Songs in a concert by the Turning Point Ensemble on a program titled "Vienna, End of an Ear," spotlighting a wide range of works by Berg, Webern, and Schoenberg.

‘Fragments’ For Cello: Random Bach, New Bits All Add Up To Very Little

TORONTO – Cellist Alisa Weilerstein's project Fragments integrates Bach’s cello suites, their movements scrambled, with 27 new commissions to make six hourlong, multi-sensory programs for solo cello. Ambitious, yes, but what's the point?

A Hundred Musicians, One Glorious Sound: Chicago’s Grand Band

TORONTO – Although the Chicago Symphony Orchestra hadn't played here in 109 years, its recorded legacy was well known. Two concerts led by music director Riccardo Muti proved the current CSO remains an ensemble par excellence.

With Canadian Premiere Of ‘Jobs,’ Opera House Buffs Modernist Profile

CALGARY – Embellishing its exceptional history of Canadian premieres of works by contemporary American composers, Calgary Opera presented the country's first look at Mason Bates and Mark Campbell's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.

Multi-talented Hannigan Cedes Baton In Display Of Otherworldly Singing

MONTREAL – The Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan left the podium to Orchestre symphonique de Montréal music director Rafael Payare but made a distinctive contribution as vocalist in an intriguing program.

Amid Old Friends Again, Emerson Quartet Offers Farewell To Remember

VANCOUVER – The celebrated ensemble, formed in 1976 and retiring from the concert stage at the end of this season, played an eloquent valedictory program of Haydn, Schubert, and Shostakovich for longtime hosts the Friends of Chamber Music.

Music Was Resonant, Applause Tremendous. Don’t Ask About Drama.

MONTREAL – La beauté du monde, a new work by composer Julien Bilodeau and librettist Michel Marc Bouchard commissioned by the Opéra de Montréal, displayed greater intention than tension in a tale of Nazi plunder of European art.

‘Goldberg’ Perspectives: Bach In Knowing Hands On Piano, Harpsichord

VANCOUVER – Keyboard fans enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime conjunction of performances when pianist András Schiff and harpsichordist Jean Rondeau, in very different venues, delivered two thoughtful readings of the Goldberg Variations.

Bach’s ‘Art Of Fugue,’ Luminously Analyzed And Masterfully Played

VANCOUVER – To call pianist Filippo Gorini's achievement a performance doesn’t convey the scale of his encompassing project, which included outreach activities, a lecture, and a series of filmed discussions about Bach's relevance today.

In Golden Homecoming, Chopin Winner Scores Again As Keyboard Hero

MONTREAL – Pianist Bruce Liu, a 25-year-old Paris-born Montrealer who last October won gold in the International Chopin Piano Competition, displayed his winning mettle in Rachmaninoff with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

Yiddish Cabaret Echoes In Fresh Form And Spirit Of String Quartet Fare

VANCOUVER – In the intimacy of a synagogue, the Jerusalem Quartet, with Israeli soprano Hila Baggio, offered a nuanced program featuring a work based on cabaret-inspired songs by Ukrainian-born composer Leonid Desyatnikov.

Orchestra Breaks Mold With Adventures Into New Worlds Of Music

EDMONTON – Historically, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra has programmed only a smattering of contemporary composers, but under chief conductor Alexander Prior, new music concerts have broadened the orchestra’s palette.

Toronto Relays: Baton Passed Around As Five Directors Cross Podium

TORONTO – As the Toronto Symphony played a Dvořák Slavonic Dance, five TSO music directors took turns leading. Pictured, Peter Oundjian, Andrew Davis, Günther Herbig,, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Gustavo Gimeno shared the concert.

In Pursuit Of A Cycle, Confronting Gloom Of Sibelius’ 4th Symphony

MONTREAL – Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain are well into creating a CD box of Sibelius symphonies. They presented the Fourth in a suitably shadowy account at the Maison symphonique.

‘St. John Passion’ For 1: Busy Tenor Sings It All; He Conducts A Bit,...

MONTREAL – Benedikt Kristjánsson undertook the Herculean labor of singing Bach's recitatives of the Evangelist and the exchanges of the Passion characters, including the central dialogue of Jesus and Pontius Pilate, plus the shouts of the crowd.

Scaled Back, Brahms’ ‘German Requiem’ Still Makes Its Grand Effect

TORONTO – Any performance of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem is an occasion, but a concert given by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir led by Jean-Sébastien Vallée was special: a "chamber version' that was anything but chamber-like.

In Gala-Salad Program, Orchestra Dishes Up Return To Concert Life

VANCOUVER – Jauntily dubbed “We’re Back! Gala Performance,” the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra season opener was a mixed bag: a “gala” portion of bits followed by the Tchaikovsky Fifth, all led by music director Otto Tausk.

New Montreal Maestro Shows Flair For Basics (But Maybe Not French)

MONTREAL – At the season opener for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, music director-designate Rafael Payare received a huge ovation even before the downbeat, a display justified by an affirmative Shostakovich Fifth. 

Far-Flung String Players Converge (Virtually) For A Festival Homecoming

BANFF, Alberta – After the success of last year's streamed Banff International String Quartet Festival, the 2021 event again went digital, spurred by a “moral obligation to be hand in hand with the artists through this pandemic."
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