Tag Archives: Debussy

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


Leave a comment

Filed under Performers

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


“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”


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?


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”.


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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Composers

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)


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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Performers

Steven Osborne

We start the month of March with a piano concert! Steven Osborne returns to our stage on March 1, 2016. He made his Toronto debut with us in 2007. Born in Scotland in 1971, Osborne studied at St. Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh and at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

In 1998, he released his first recording with Hyperion. He was signed shortly after winning first prize in the 1997 Naumburg International Competition in New York City. Since then he has recorded exclusively with them, releasing 22 recordings to date.

His career has taken him all over the world to perform with major orchestras and in recitals. Osborne performs frequently with major orchestras in the UK and has performed at the Proms a dozen times. He is the recipient of several awards including The Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year in 2013 and two Gramophone Awards.  You can find out more about Steven Osborne on his website http://www.stevenosborne.co.uk/

On March 1, 2016, we will be treated to Osborne performing Schubert (Impromptus D. 935, Nos. 1 & 4), Debussy (Masques; Images, Book 2; L’ile joyeuse) and Rachmaninoff (Etudes tableaux – various selections from Op. 33 and Op. 39). Join us! http://music-toronto.com/

Steven Osborne’s performances up and down the country have confirmed his pre-eminence among British pianists. His un-showy brilliance, integrity, and very wide repertoire have long marked him out, but what now emerges most strongly is the unique magic of his sound combined with a profound musical intelligenceRPS Instrumentalist of the Year May 2013

Leave a comment

Filed under Performers

Debussy – part 2

There were many female figures in Debussy’s life, starting with his family at a young age. As mentioned last week, his family went to live with his aunt to escape the war and his aunt paid for his piano lessons.

At the age of 18, he started an affair with Marie-Blanche Vasnier. A married woman and singer, Debussy worked for her as an accompanist. Her husband introduced Debussy to the writings of prominent French writers, influencing some of his song writing.
Nadezhda von Meck was another influence. She was a patroness of Tchaikovsky. Debussy spent a few years travelling with her and her family around Europe. He played four-hand pieces with her, taught music to her children, and performed in private concerts.

When Debussy returned to Paris from his Prix De Rome residency, he became involved with Gabrielle Dupont, the daughter of a tailor. They lived together for a time. He was also briefly engaged to Thérèse Roger. Eventually he left Gabrielle and married her fashion model friend, Rosalie Texier.

At the age of 44, Debussy met Emma Bardac. Married to a Parisian banker, her son was a student of Debussy’s. Debussy decided to end his marriage with Texier. Texier survived an attempted suicide and eventually they were divorced in August of 1905, though the scandal would cost Debussy several of his friends.

Bardac and Debussy lived together in Paris and stayed together until Debussy’s death. They were not legally married until 1908. Their daughter Claude-Emma was born in 1905 and was an inspiration to Debussy. Unfortunately, she died from diphtheria not too long after her father passed. Debussy, Bardac, and Claude-Emma are all buried together in the Passy Cemetery in Paris.

Leave a comment

Filed under Composers