Samuel Feinberg

March 23, 2017 brings Marc-André Hamelin to our stage once again.  He will be playing a selection of piano sonatas including works by Beethoven, Haydn, Scriabin, and Chopin.  The evening will also include two sonatas by Samuel Feinberg.

Feinberg was a Russian composer and pianist.  Born in 1890, he was raised in Moscow and studied at the Moscow Conservatory.  He graduated in 1911 and started performing as a solo pianist.  However, WWI was soon upon us and he was sent to fight for Russia.  He became ill, was discharged, and spent a long period of time recovering in Moscow.

He became a faculty member at the Moscow Conservatory in 1922.  With his piano career revived, he performed in Russia and toured parts of Europe in the 1920s.  However, by the 1930s, under Stalin’s rule, Feinberg, a Jew, was no longer allowed to leave the country with the exception of two brief trips (1936 and 1938) to be a competition jury member.  This time period also meant a return to a more conservative composition style for Feinberg.  He felt it unwise to publish some of his progressive works written in the 1920s.  For example, his Seventh Sonata was written in 1924/25 but not in print until the 1970s.

In 1951, he became ill and by 1956 he had stopped performing in public.  He continued to compose and to play up until his death and made a number of recordings, especially when he could no longer perform in public.  Feinberg was a respected member of the faculty at the Moscow Conservatory until his death in 1962 at the age of 72.

Marc-André Hamelin will perform Feinberg’s Sonata No. 2 in A minor, Op. 2 and Sonata No. 1 in A major, Op. 1 at his Toronto recital on March 23rdhttp://music-toronto.com/piano/Hamelin.htm

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Prazak Quartet

The quartet was originally formed in 1972.  The current quartet members are Jana Vonášková (violin), Vlastimil Holek, (violin), Josef Kluson, (viola), Michal Kanka, (cello).  The quartet was formed by its original members when they were still students at the Prague Conservatory.  Kluson is the only remaining founding member.

The most recent addition to the quartet is violinist Jana Vonášková, previously a member of the Smetana Piano Trio.  Born in 1979 in the Czech Republic, she studied at the Prague Conservatory, gaining a scholarship to continue her studies at the Royal College of Music in London.  After graduating in 2005, she returned to Prague to study at the Academy of Performing Arts.

The quartet has released over 60 recordings in the past 40 plus years including 30 award-winning ones with Praga/Harmonia Mundi.

Read more about the quartet on their website – http://prazakquartet.com/en/

Join us on March 2nd to hear the Prazak Quartet play Haydn, Bruckner, and Dvorak.  http://music-toronto.com/quartets/prazak.htm

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Eybler Quartet

The Eybler Quartet performed for us a couple of years ago at one of our outreach events. We are excited to have them on our main stage this season. Formed in 2004, the quartet currently includes Aisslinn Nosky (violin), Julia Wedman (violin), Patrick G. Jordan (viola), and Margaret Gay (cello).

Their primary focus is on works of the first century of the string quartet and they like to bring attention to lesser known early composers. They are named for one such composer – Joseph Leopold Edler von Eybler. Eybler was a contemporary of Mozart.

The quartet perform period music on instruments appropriate to the time period. Nosky, Wedman, and Jordan are all part of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

You can read more about the individual performers on their website – http://eyblerquartet.com/

Join us on Thursday February 16th and hear the Eybler Quartet perform live in Toronto. They will play pieces by Vanhal, Haydn, Asplmayr, and Beethoven http://music-toronto.com/quartets/eybler.htm

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Franz Asplmayr

Franz Asplmayr was born in 1728 and lived to be 58 years old.  Born in Linz, Austria, he studied violin with his father initially and was mainly self-taught in composition.  He was a prolific composer of ballets, symphonies, chamber music.  Influenced by composers of the Mannheim School, Asplmayer combined techniques with the developing Viennese style.  During his life time he met both Haydn (in 1760) and Mozart (in the 1780s).

He moved to Vienna in the late 1740s.  In 1759 he started serving in the Imperial court.  He started as a secretary and violinist and eventually took over the duties of Christoph Willibald Gluck, the ballet composer for the Kärntnertortheater.  When this position finished, Asplmayr composed for Jean Georges Noverre’s ballet troupe.

We will be treated to one of his quartets with the Eybler Quartet on February 16, 2017 in Toronto.  Join us to hear Quartet in D Major, Op.2 No.2 by Franz Asplmayr.

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Ilya Poletaev

Ilya Poletaev is no stranger to Toronto.  He has performed on our stage in the past and has played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

At the age of six, he started studying in Moscow.  He moved to Israel and eventually came to Canada when he was 14.  He obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and then went on to complete his Masters and Doctorate at Yale.  He is an accomplished and award-winning pianist and harpsichordist.

He was part of the faculty at Yale between 2005 and 2010 as a lecturer in Early Music.  In 2011, he became the Assistant Professor of Piano at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montréal, a position he still holds today.

Join us on February 7, 2017 when Ilya Poletaev takes to our stage to play Bach, Enescu, and Schumann.  http://music-toronto.com/piano/poletaev.htm

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St. Lawrence String Quartet 2017

The St. Lawrence Quartet is back on our stage on January 26, 2017!  They have been performing on our stage since 1992 and are known world-wide as a very respected quartet.

Geoff Nuttall (violin), Owen Dalby (violin), Lesley Robertson (viola), and Christopher Costanza (cello) all return to perform the following programme this year for our audience:

Haydn – Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 20, No. 1

Jonathan Berger – “Swallow” (2014), written for the SLSQ

Leos Janacek – String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”

Haydn – Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20, No. 5

 

The SLSQ is the quartet in residence at Stanford University.  For several years the quartet has been involved in a summer Chamber Music Seminar held there.  The dates for 2017 are from June 24 to July 2 and applications are being accepted until February 1, 2017.  This seminar gives attendees the opportunity to focus on chamber music by working with the SLSQ and special guest teachers.  For more information, visit this link https://music.stanford.edu/ensembles-lessons/ensemble-in-residence-slsq/slsq-stanford/seminar

We have a few previous blog postings on the SLSQ here on this site so feel free to do a quick search and read some of our past thoughts.  If you would like more information on the quartet or its members, you can find all of that on their website at http://www.slsq.com/   And to hear them in person in Toronto, come and join us on January 26, 2017 http://music-toronto.com/

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Jonathan Berger

Jonathan Berger is an American composer born in New York in 1954.  He obtained a Master of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Composition from Stanford University.  He currently holds the position of Denning Family Provostial Professorship in Music at Stanford University in California.

The founding co-director of Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SICA, now the Stanford Arts Institute) and founding director of Yale University’s Center for Studies in Music Technology, Berger composes for a wide variety of styles – opera, chamber, orchestral, vocal, to name a few.  His work has been performed world-wide and he has been commissioned by several music foundations and ensembles over the years.

Along with composing and teaching, Berger is a researcher in areas related to music, science, and technology with over 60 publications.

Read more about Berger and his works on his website at http://jonathanberger.net/bio/.  You can listen to some of his pieces on his site as well.  This link will take you directly to his music page – http://jonathanberger.net/all-music/

Join us with the St. Lawrence String Quartet on January 26th to hear his piece “Swallow”, written in 2014 for the SLSQ.  http://music-toronto.com/quartets/STLQ.htm

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Sean Chen

We will start off 2017 with the Toronto debut of pianist Sean Chen.

Still under 30, Chen has toured much America simply as a citizen.  He was born in Florida, grew up in California, went to school at Yale and Juilliard, and currently lives in Kansas City.  Betty, his wife, plays violin with the Kansas City Symphony.

As a performer, Chen has performed with many US orchestras and given recitals around the world.  He is the third prize winner at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.  2015 saw him named a fellow of the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts.  He was the only one in 2015 to receive 2 years of funding and planned to put some of that towards purchasing his own piano.

A Steinway artist, he has recorded for their Spirio system.  Read more about Steinway’s Spirio player piano system here – http://www.steinway.com/news/press-releases/steinway-sons-announces-steinway-spirio-a-new-high-resolution-player-piano-system

Read more about him on his website – http://seanchenpiano.com/about.  Join us on January 10, 2017 to hear Sean Chen perform live.  http://music-toronto.com/piano/seanchen.htm

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The musical compositions of Schoenberg, Kelly Ann Murphy, Brahms and young locals. (Or, lovely stories as told by the Gryphon Trio)

by guest blogger Julie Berridge

Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), was composed in 1899. Schoenberg composed it as a sextet and Eduard Steuermann later arranged it for a trio.

Verklärte Nacht was inspired by a poem of the same name written by German poet Richard Fedor Leopold Dehmel. The poem tells a lovely story of a night transfigured by a revelation of a woman who has found her true love around the time she discovers that she has become pregnant by another man. As the new lovers walk through the forest, the woman reveals her sadness and regret. The man’s response is beautiful and totally unexpected.

Below is an English translation of the poem. The composition matches the moods of the poem. Come hear the Gryphon Trio tonight, and see if you agree.

Two people are walking through a bare, cold wood;
the moon keeps pace with them and draws their gaze.
The moon moves along above tall oak trees,
there is no wisp of cloud to obscure the radiance
to which the black, jagged tips reach up.
A woman’s voice speaks:
“I am carrying a child, and not by you.
I am walking here with you in a state of sin.
I have offended grievously against myself.
I despaired of happiness,
and yet I still felt a grievous longing
for life’s fullness, for a mother’s joys
and duties; and so I sinned,
and so I yielded, shuddering, my sex
to the embrace of a stranger,
and even thought myself blessed.
Now life has taken its revenge,
and I have met you, met you.”
She walks on, stumbling.
She looks up; the moon keeps pace.
Her dark gaze drowns in light.
A man’s voice speaks:
“Do not let the child you have conceived
be a burden on your soul.
Look, how brightly the universe shines!
Splendour falls on everything around,
you are voyaging with me on a cold sea,
but there is the glow of an inner warmth
from you in me, from me in you.
That warmth will transfigure the stranger’s child,
and you bear it me, begot by me.
You have transfused me with splendour,
you have made a child of me.”
He puts an arm about her strong hips.
Their breath embraces in the air.
Two people walk on through the high, bright night.
Give me Phoenix Wing to Fly is a composition by Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, Commissioned by the Gryphon Quartet in 1997. Murphy has noted that the words of John Keats inspired the work.

But when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire

Those are lines from Keats’ sonnet “On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again”. Keats wrote that sonnet in 1818, but those words are perhaps even more relevant today.

Murphy has noted,

“I’ve always been intrigued by the myth of the Phoenix – a bird that immolates in fire and then rises up again from its own ashes. It is such a powerful image, and one which is relevant to contemporary life, as we find ourselves balanced somewhat precariously on the brink of disaster. No matter how devastating any single event might be, you can still recover and begin again: a do-over. The success in the attempt and the belief that it is possible to move forward”.

Give Me Phoenix Wings To Fly: A shouted demand to the heavens, or a whispered prayer? Struggle, angst, chaos, exploration, tenuous grasps of the thing we most want that eludes us. Freedom caught but can it be held? Come, listen and decide. Tonight.

It’s only fitting that a theme so apt to contemporary society be followed by compositions of very young contemporary composers in the 2016 Gryphon Trio Young Composers Program from the Claude Watson program at Earl Haig Secondary School. This program was initiated by the Gryphon Trio in 1996, to provide mentorship to students as they create original works. What moods and emotions will you hear in these compositions? Come and find out.

Brahms’ Trio in B-sharp Major brings the evening to a close. It develops through four movements. The work opens with a pensive but sweet piano solo, followed by an engaging cello solo. The second movement starts with a whispered skip followed by increased exuberance. Then comes the Adagio third movement. Mysterious, serene and meditative. The final movement approaches symphonic proportions. The scope and sound of this work is enormous. Warm, sentimental, lyrical, rich and intense.

All in all, an evening not to be missed.

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Blue Engine String Quartet and Robert Kortgaard

December 1, 2016 brings us a concert called Pocket of Time, a musical tribute to Pulitzer Prize poet Elizabeth Bishop.  Soprano Suzie LeBlanc will be accompanied through out the evening by pianist Robert Kortgaard and the Blue Engine String Quartet.

For this concert, the Blue Engine String Quartet will feature Anne Simons (violin), Jennifer Jones (violin), Kerry Kavalo (viola), Hilary Brown (cello).  Formed in 1997, the members of the quartet are all members of Symphony Nova Scotia.  When not performing with the symphony or as the quartet, they are often sharing their knowledge through teaching.  You can read more about the quartet here – http://www.blueenginestringquartet.com/about.php

Pianist Robert Kortgaard was born in Regina and grew up in Calgary.  He studied at the Juilliard School, obtaining both his bachelor and his master’s degrees there.  He continued his studies in England and Italy thanks to awards from the Canada Council.  Today he is based in Toronto and travels the world to perform.  He is also the Artistic Director of the Leigh Summer Festival.  Find out more about the festival here – http://www.leithfestival.ca/

Join us on December 1st to hear these great artists live! http://music-toronto.com/quartets/suzi_leblanc.htm

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