Philip Chiu

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 bring pianist Philip Chiu to our stage.  While Chiu has performed in Toronto many times, this will be his Toronto solo recital debut.  The evening will include Ravel – Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose Suite), John Burge – Studies in Poetry No. 4: Loop (2009), Rachmaninoff – Preludes (Five Selections from Op. 23, Op. 32), Schubert/Liszt – Fantasy in C Major, “Der Wanderer”, D. 760, and Liszt – Legends, S.175.

Current residing in Montreal, Chiu was born in Hong Kong and raised in Toronto and London, ON.  In Montreal, he can be found working at McGill University as an accompanist and coach, at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal as an invited professor and accompanist, and at l’Universite de Montreal as an accompanist.

He frequently tours as an accompanist for competitions, and does a lot of chamber music and collaborative playing. In 2015, he was the inaugural recipient of the Prix Goyer (Extreme Emerging Artist Award). The $125,000 prize is one of the largest in the world for a collaborative emerging artist.

This recent Q&A in WholeNote magazine will give you some insight into Chiu

https://www.thewholenote.com/index.php/newsroom/feature-stories/27446-solo-phil-a-q-a-with-philip-chiu

You can find out more about him on his own website www.philipchiu.ca and here him live at our concert on November 28thhttp://music-toronto.com/piano/Chiu.html

 

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Carducci Quartet

After a cancellation by another quartet, we were fortunate enough to secure the Carducci Quartet with fairly short notice to perform on November 16, 2017.  This will be their Toronto debut. The performance will include Beethoven – Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op.95, Serioso; Shostakovich – Quartet No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83; and Debussy – Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10.

2017 marks the 20th anniversary for Britain’s brilliant Anglo-Irish quartet.  The Carducci Quartet members are Matthew Denton (violin), Michelle Fleming (violin), Eoin Schmidt-Martin (viola), and Emma Denton (cello). Award winning in several areas, they received the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Chamber Music Award for their Shostakovich15 project, in which they commemorated 40 years since the composer’s death by performing all of Shostakovich’s string quartets in 2015. Check out their blog about the project http://shostakovich15.blogspot.ca/

As you would expect, they perform around the globe and record. They actually have their own recording label, Carducci Classics. Sharing their knowledge is also important to the quartet.  They set up the Carducci Music Trust in 2009 to help fund their work with schools and at their annual Festival at Highnam.

You can read more about the Carducci Quartet and all of their endeavours on their website http://www.carducciquartet.com/ and hear them live in Toronto on November 16, 2017. http://music-toronto.com/index.html

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Appeal, imitation and inspiration

by guest blogger Julie Berridge

On November 7, Benjamin Grosvenor plays Mozart, Debussy, Brahms, Berg and Ravel.

Appeal, imitation and inspiration

Appeal

“Teeming with dissonances” is how Brahms described the first Intermezzo in Opus 119.  In a letter from May 1893 to Clara Schumann, Brahms wondered if the piece would please her palate. He wished “they would be less correct, but more appetizing and agreeable to your taste”.  Clara must have found it appealing because she wrote back, that the piece was “grey, pearl-veiled and very precious”

Imitation

Brahms’ appeal is timeless and not just for lovers of classical music.

While doing research for this post I came across a 2000 blog post about an article titled “Santana really should acknowledge Brahms”.  The writer points out the similarities between “Love of My Life,” played by Santana featuring Dave Matthews & Carter Beauford, from Santana’s 1999 album, Supernatural, and the third movement (III. Poco allegretto) from Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90.  Here is a link to the article.  Scroll down to hear audio clips of the two pieces.  What do you think?  I tend to agree with the writer. It seems audibly obvious. And both are lovely. I wonder if Santana ever did acknowledge Brahms?

https://leleftovers.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/santana-really-should-acknowledge-brahms/

On a less lovely note, the first movement of Mozart’s Sonata in B-flat Major, K.333 was performed by Frank Zappa’s back up band, the Mothers of Invention at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. The band members did what was described as a “grotesque parody of the art of ballet dancing” as part of the “performance”.

Inspiration

Debussy’s L’après midi d’un faune was inspired by and is a musical depiction of a Mallarmé poem. In the poem, a faun sleeping on a sunny slope awakes from a dream and tries to realize the dream by pursuing the nymphs that he dreamt about.  After playing a soliloquy on his flute he realizes that he is unable to bring the dream to life, and he goes back to sleep.  It’s been said that Debussy found a way to break with orthodoxy when he “passed into the symbolist domain of Stéphane Mallarmé”. To Mallarmé, then we are forever grateful.

Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit is based on a poem by Aloysius Bertrand which features a mermaid a monster and a corpse.  Ravel’s composition is in three movements.  Listen for the seductive whispers and cheerful laughter of Odine the mermaid, the slight swaying of the hanged man in the repeated B-flat and the frenzied appearances of the evil dwarf Scarbo, waiting to pounce and scare.  Gaspard de la Nuit was first published in 1842, one year after Bertrand’s death. The poem was reprinted in 1908 in the Mercure de France which was where Ravel may have first encountered it.

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Benjamin Grosvenor

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 will be opening night for our 2017-2018 piano series and we are bringing back Benjamin Grosvenor for his third visit to us since 2014.

For a bit of background on him, check out our initial blog about him, https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/benjamin-grosvenor/, or visit his website at https://www.benjamingrosvenor.co.uk/

The young pianist continues to delight and impress audiences around the world.  Grosvenor continues to tour and play both with orchestras and in recital. He made his LA debut in May of 2017 receiving this great review – http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-benjamin-grosvenor-review-20170501-story.html

Since he was here last, he has released another album on the Decca Classics label.  Homages was released in 2016, making it the fourth CD he has released since signing on in 2011 as their youngest British artist.

 

His program for our Toronto concert is:

Mozart   Sonata in B-flat Major, K.333, “Linz

Brahms   Four Pieces, Op. 119

Brett Dean   Hommage à Brahms (played as interludes between the Brahms pieces above)

(Intermission)

Debussy   L’après midi d’un faune (arr. Leonard Borwick/George Copeland)

Berg   Sonata, Op. 1

Ravel   Gaspard de la nuit

 

If you haven’t heard him live yet, you will want to join us on November 7th!

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Brett Dean

Australian Brett Dean is a contemporary composer. Born in Brisbane in 1961, he played violin from the age of eight and later moved to viola. He studied at the Queensland Conservatorium, graduating with the Conservatorium Medal for the highest achieving Student of the Year in 1982.

In 1985, he joined the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as a violist. He played with them until 1999.  He returned to Australia in 2000, deciding to work as a freelance artist. He started composing in 1988, originally for film and radio.

His list of compositions and awards has grown greatly over the years and includes pieces for ballet, opera, orchestra, chamber music, solo instruments, and choral. In 2016, Dean became the inaugural Artist in Residence with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a position which will last for three years and includes conducting, performing, and collaborating with creative programming. The world premier of his latest opera, Hamlet, took place this past summer at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

We will hear his piano piece Hommage à Brahms played by Benjamin Grosvenor at our November 7, 2017 concert. While this three movement piece can be played on its own, it was intended to be performed as interludes between the Four Pieces of Op. 119 by Johannes Brahms – Engelsflügel 1 placed between Brahms’ B-minor and E-minor Intermezzos, Hafenkneipenmusik between the E-minor and C-major Intermezzos, and Engelsflügel 2 between the C-major Intermezzo and the E-flat-major Rhapsody. It will be played this way by Grosvenor at our concert.

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Quatuor Mosaïques

On Thursday, October 19, 2017, Quatuor Mosaïques will open our 46th season!

This Austrian Quartet was formed in 1987 and celebrates their 30th anniversary this year. With a focus on 18th century music, they play on historical instruments. They are the foremost European quartet playing on period instruments.

The quartet players and their instruments are: Erich Höbarth (violin, J. Guarnerius filius Andreae, Cremona 1705), Andrea Bischof (violin, 18th century French), Anita Mitterer (viola, Girolamo Devirchis, Brescia 1588), Christophe Coin (cello, C..A. Testore, Milano 1758). The quartet members met while playing with Concentus Musicus Wien, the first professional Baroque orchestra formed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Quatuor Mosaïques tours the world and records. We are thrilled that everything has at long last aligned and we are able to present their Toronto debut! Join us on October 29th for some Mozart and Haydn string quartets.

Check out more about Quatuor Mosaïques here – www.kirshbaumassociates.com/artist.php?id=qm

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Marjan Mozetick

Marjan Mozetich is a Canadian composer of Slovenian heritage. Born in Italy, he emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario with his family at the age of 4. He started his music studies with theory and piano in Hamilton at 9 years old. He graduated in 1972 from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music and with a diploma in piano performance as an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. He continued his studies abroad for the next two years, studying privately in Italy and the UK.

His new music works have been performed around the world by many prominent artists over the years. In 1971, he co-founded Arraymusic and he served as their artistic director from 1977 to 1979. He started teaching composition in 1991 at Queen’s University and continues to teach and reside in Kingston, Ontario.

Explore more about Marjan Mozetick and his music on his website at http://www.mozetich.com/

We will hear his piece Scales of Joy and Sorrow (2008) performed by the Gryphon Trio at our December 7, 2017 concert.

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Pavel Fischer

Over the past few weeks we have looked at a few different noted Czech composers. Today we take a brief look at a still living Czech composer!

Pavel Fischer was born in 1965 into a musical family. His mother sang in a sextet specializing in Moravian folk music. His father conducted. Fischer attended the Prague Conservatory and the Prague Academy of Music. He cofounded the Škampa Quartet in 1989 and performed as their first violinist until 2007.

In 2007, Fischer decided to devote more time to composing and teaching.  His first string quartet, Morava, premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2008. He was a visiting professor of chamber music at the Royal Academy in London. Since 2008 Fischer has been a tutor in violin at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Fischer has also added conducting to his interests. In December 2016, he led the National Youth String Orchestra in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can learn more about the South African National Youth Orchestra on their website http://www.sanyo.org.za/about-us/our-orchestras-and-ensembles/

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Josef Suk, composer

Josef Suk was born in 1874. He was immersed in music from a young age and his father was his first teacher of piano, organ, and violin. At the age of 11, he entered the Prague Conservatory. While he received his degree in 1891, Suk studied at the conservatory until 1892. Antonín Dvořák had become a professor at the conservatory and Suk stayed an additional year to study with him.

Dvořák and Suk had a close relationship. In 1898, Suk married Dvořák’s daughter, Otilie. In 1902, their son was born. This was a very happy time in Suk’s life. Unfortunately, in 1904 Dvořák passed away and 14 months later in 1905, Otilie passed away as well. Both the happy times in his life and the passing of his mentor and his wife had large impacts on the style of music he composed.

Suk was a composer, a teacher, and a performer, it was the latter two that were his main income over the years. He and his fellow students formed the Czech Quartet in 1893. He was their second violinist for 40 years, retiring in 1933.

In 1922, Suk became a professor in composition at the Prague Conservatory. He was appointed the head of the conservatory from 1924 to 1926 and again from 1933 until 1935.

Suk died in 1935 and is the grandfather of famed violinist Josef Suk.

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Bedřich Smetana, part four

Bedřich passed away in 1884 but he kept working until close to the end of his life.  He returned to Prague in 1861 when a new home for Czech opera was being built.  Passed over for the position of conductor at the new theatre, he focussed on composing for opera competitions.

It is interesting to note that his command of the Czech language was not all that strong even though he was focusing on opera.  Due to the politics when Bedřich was young, he was raised speaking, reading, and writing primarily German.  So he studied the Czech language and focussed on writing and speaking it to obtain a better fluency.  By 1864 Bedřich had developed a solid handle on the language – enough to become the music critic at a main Czech language newspaper.

By this point, Bedřich and Bettina had a second daughter.  Bedřich had also made an attempt to be the Director of the Prague Conservatory.  He was passed over for the position.  He continued to compose and to conduct.  And in 1866 two of he most famous operas were both presented at the Provisional Theatre.  In January The Brandenburgers played to great success.  In May a two act version of The Bartered Bride was presented.  Due to the threat of invasion, it was poorly attended and the full three act version was performed finally in 1870 and well received.

In September of 1866, Bedřich was appointed principal conductor of the Provisional Theatre – the position he had hoped for back in 1861 when he had returned to Prague.  Over the next several years, he brought more and more works from Czech composers to the Provisional Theatre.

There was much controversy generated with Bedřich being in this position over the next few years.  He had much opposition and they made themselves known.  In 1872 a petition was brought forward calling for his resignation.  Support for Bedřich from the theatre and from well-known and respect musicians like Dvorak, ensured his reappointment in 1873 as Artistic Director with a change in title and an increase in responsibility.

In the summer of 1874, Bedřich fell ill.  Among other things, his hearing started to fail.  By the fall of 1874, he resigned his position.  Over the next several years he continued to compose and to make public appearances.  In 1876, he moved his family to the home of his eldest daughter in Jabkenice where he could compose undisturbed.  His health continued to decline and signs of possible dementia started to emerge.  He was still composing and making public appearances in the fall of 1883 but his outbursts worried his friends and family.  In the spring of 1884, he was no longer coherent and his family was having difficulty caring for him at home.  In April 1884 Bedřich was moved to an asylum in Prague and he passed away in May of that year.

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