Archive for Toronto

The Eybler Quartet presents the World Premiere Recording of Vanhal’s Six String Quartets, Op. 6 on Period Instruments

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The Eybler Quartet, the acclaimed Toronto-based string quartet, praised for both their “poise and grace” (The WholeNote) and their “grit and urgency” (San Francisco Chronicle), releases a new album this month featuring the string quartets of Czech composer Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739–1813).  Immensely prolific – second only to Haydn in the number of string quartets and symphonies to his credit – Vanhal has emerged as one the most significant innovators in the development of the Classical or Viennese style, earning a place alongside its most well-known exponents, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Vanhal’s six string quartets, Op. 6, are recorded here by the Eybler Quartet on period instruments for the first time. The Quartet will launch the new recording at the Heliconian Club of Toronto on Thursday, April 27 at 7:30, performing works by Vanhal as well as music by Mozart and Haydn.

Born into servitude in Nechanice, Vanhal’s gifts as a musician were recognized and developed from childhood. After achieving proficiency on the organ and violin, he relocated to Vienna where he quickly enjoyed enough success in the city’s aristocratic circles as a teacher and performer to purchase his freedom from bondage. The first composer to make a living free of a court or municipal position – a distinction often afforded Mozart – Vanhal was the most widely published Viennese composer from 1771–81, far outstripping the elder Haydn or the young Mozart.

“This is perhaps the cheeriest, happiest classical recording we will ever make – or that you might ever hear,” comments violist Patrick G. Jordan, “There are no quartets in minor keys. In fact, there are no movements that do anything more than briefly visit that darker side. And yet, there is huge variety in expression. In our rehearsal and recording process, we quickly exhausted the words “charming”, “delightful” and “sweet”, reaching for “sunny”, “bright”, “friendly” and in one case, a made-up word “nostohedon” or nostalgia with pleasure in place of pain. Among the moments of wistfulness, yearning and intensity, we drew our own characterizations, such as “kid’s party,” “slightly tipsy Maggie Smith sipping a Mimosa,” “gormless Prince Charming,” and, my personal favourite for one of the Presto final movements, “ocelots on the loose!”

The Eybler Quartet came together in late 2004 to explore the works of the first century of the string quartet, with a healthy attention to lesser known composers such as their namesake, Joseph Leopold Edler von Eybler. The group plays on instruments appropriate to the period of the music it performs. Violinist Julia Wedman and violist Patrick G. Jordan are members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; Violinist Aisslinn Nosky is concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society and Principal Guest Conductor of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra; Julia and Aisslinn are also members of I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble. Cellist Margaret Gay is much in demand as both a modern and period instrument player. The group brings a unique combination of talents and skills: years of collective experience as chamber musicians, technical prowess, experience in period instrument performance and an unquenchable passion for the repertoire. Their most recent recording, a 2-CD set of Joseph Haydn’s Op. 33 String Quartets for the Analekta label was called “simply a treasure” by Early Music America, “the tempos are beautifully chosen, the ensemble perfect, and the intonation absolutely pure. This is music-making that reflects the deeply human and attractive qualities found in Haydn the composer—good humor, wit, and invention.”  The ensemble’s recording of Eybler’s Opus 1 String Quartets, also for Analekta, is the world premiere recording of these pieces.            



Trio Magnifico ~ The Ultimate Opera Gala! April 25, 2017 in Toronto

trio-magnifico-imageSvetlana Dvoretsky of Show One Productions in collaboration with the Canadian Opera Company, Alexander Neef, General Director, is proud to present the world premiere appearance of a trio of today’s most remarkable opera stars. Trio Magnifico: The Ultimate Opera Gala stars soprano Anna Netrebko, today’s reigning prima donna in her Canadian debut, outstanding tenor Yusif Eyazov, and the dynamic Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, for a truly magnificent evening of opera arias, duets, and trios, never before experienced. Italian conductor Jader Bignamini conducts the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra in the Gala concert on Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 pm at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Tickets go on sale on Thursday, October 20 at 10:00 am (11:00 in person at the COC box office).

With her distinctively beautiful voice, abundant charisma, and arresting stage presence, Anna Netrebko is acclaimed for her performances around the world. Since her triumphant Salzburg Festival debut in 2002, Netrebko has gone on to appear with nearly all the world’s great opera companies, from the Metropolitan Opera to London’s Royal Opera House, and from the Paris Opera to La Scala. The Russian soprano frequently returns to the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg to collaborate with her long time mentor, conductor Valery Gergiev. Her extensive discography includes several award-winning albums on Deutsche Grammophon including the newly-released Verismo, which has received enormous acclaim worldwide, claiming the No. 1 spot on the Classical charts and even entering the Pop charts in several countries. “Nothing short of magnificent,” says the San Francisco Chronicle, “a powerful artistic statement from a great and still growing singer.” And The Observer raves, “Verismo reveals Netrebko is more than just a star; her performances of arias and scenes from Italian opera highlight an artistry that is both subtle and thrilling.”

In recent weeks, Netrebko has been joined on stage by her husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov in a series of hugely successful concerts in Hamburg, Cologne, Sochi, Budapest and Moscow. Eyvazov, born in Algeria and raised in Azerbaijan, has been praised by The Los Angeles Times as “an exciting tenor whose sound is metallic, stentorian and markedly Italianate.” This past season he starred in the Los Angeles Opera production of I Pagliacci conducted by Plácido Domingo, and made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Calaf in Turandot, along with debuts at the Paris Opera and Salzburg Festival. This season, Eyvazov returns to the Bolshoi Theatre, Bayerische Staatsoper, Prague Opera, and Mariinsky Theatre in major roles.

Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky has mesmerized audiences around the world with his majestic voice and dashing presence, acclaimed for his “smouldering manner” (Financial Times) and “confidence, daring, exceptional technique and a caramel-colored voice (Washington Post). Hvorostovsky has performed under the Show One Productions umbrella for almost a decade, in a variety of recital and opera programs. His career has taken him to all the world’s major opera houses and renowned international festivals, and he is a celebrated recitalist in demand in every corner of the globe. Dmitri was the first opera singer to give a solo concert with orchestra and chorus on Red Square in Moscow – an event which was televised in over 25 countries. His extensive and award-winning discography spans recitals and complete operas. His current season includes appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Gran Teatro del Liceu Barcelona and his debut at the Bolshoi, as well as extensive concert and recital tours.

Jader Bignamini is Resident Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica la Verdi in Milan. Recent career highlights include his Asian debut at the Otsu Biwako Hall in Japan and his South American debut at the Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo. Upcoming engagements include Andrea Chénier at the Tokyo National Opera; La Traviata at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, directed by Sofia Coppola; La Traviata at the Arena of Verona; and Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi with Anna Netrebko. Bignamini was born in Crema, Italy, and studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory.

The COC Orchestra has received worldwide acclaim for its musical versatility and range of expression. Under German-born conductor Johannes Debus, who was appointed Music Director of the Canadian Opera Company in 2009, the Orchestra’s quality and consistency has only increased. In addition to winning the love and respect of his colleagues, Mr. Debus has captivated Toronto and international critics with an emphasis on artistic excellence and riveting musical presentation, as evidenced by a recent performance of Wagner’s Siegfried when “Debus was deeply into the music, but careful to keep each emotion and sentiment in its place. And his orchestra played their hearts out for him – as good as the COC Orchestra has ever sounded” (Globe and Mail).

Formed in 2004 by Svetlana Dvoretsky, Show One Productions is a full scope production company that presents concerts with high-profile classical musicians, opera stars, and orchestras, as well as great dance and theatre companies. For over a decade, Show One Has presented thousands of performances on Canada’s best stages and concert halls and has made many Canadian debuts possible including the upcoming “Trio Magnifico.” Show One Productions’ presentations to date include: Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Orchestra; Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic; Vladimir Spivakov and National Philharmonic of Russia and Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra; Orchestre National de France, opera stars Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky; soloists Denis Matsuev, Mischa Maisky, Ann-Sophie Mutter, and Mutter Virtuosi, amongst many others.

Artists and dates subject to change.


TRIO MAGNIFICO:  The Ultimate Opera Gala

Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 pm

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

TICKETS:   $55 – $345   Grand Ring Box Seats $450  Ÿ Standing Room available day of the performance at $50
Prices include HST, $9 box office charge for phone and online sales

WWW.COC.CA or 416 363-8231 or 1-800 1-800-250-4653

In person at 145 Queen Street West, Toronto (Mon to Sat, 11am – 6pm)

Cellist Matt Haimovitz Reaches New Heights in His Intense Engagement with the Bach Suites with Six Commissions and Premiere Recordings

PTC5186561_Coverart_SGPRMatt Haimovitz’s continuously-evolving and intense engagement with the Bach Cello Suites reaches a new zenith with Overtures to Bach, six new commissions that anticipate and reflect each of the cello suites. The new overtures expand upon the multitude of spiritual, cross-cultural, and vernacular references found in the Bach, building a bridge from the master’s time to our own. Overtures to Bach, released internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series in August, follows the 2015 release of Haimovitz’s profound new interpretation of the Bach Suites, inspired and informed by an authoritative manuscript by Bach’s second wife and performed on period instruments.

“I’ve been playing and thinking about the Bach Cello Suites for over three decades,” says Haimovitz, “and with these new commissions – a culminating moment in my relationship with the Suites – I feel like I’m giving back to Bach. I’ve asked six composers, whom I admire so much, to engage with his music. It’s my form of time travel – going back into the mind of Bach through the compositional process of these composers today.”

Overtures to Bach pairs each of the new works with the Prélude, newly recorded here, from the Suite it introduces. Philip Glass simply and eloquently prepares the audience for the first Suite with his Overture, encouraging an open frame of mind. For the second suite, Du Yun creates a heartbreaking lament in The Veronica, referencing a Russian Orthodox prayer for the dead, Serbian chant, and central European gypsy fiddle music. Vijay Iyer’s Run responds to Bach’s third suite with infectious energy and kinesthetic rhythms that celebrate the natural resonance of the instrument as well as the composer’s jazz roots. Then, Roberto Sierra’s La memoria plays on our memory of Bach’s Suite IV, referencing motivic fragments while creating a kaleidoscopic musical perspective, underpinned by Caribbean bass lines and salsa rhythms. David Sanford’s tour de force, Es War, leads into the fifth suite, with a Mingus-inspired pizzicato intro, alluding to Bach’s epic fugue and quoting a Bach cantata. For the sixth and final suite, Luna Pearl Woolf is inspired by pre-Western Hawaiian chant, taking full advantage of the virtuosic properties of the 5-string cello piccolo and treating it operatically, from the low bass to the soprano stratosphere. Overtures to Bach spans more than time, linking us to far-flung corners of our musical world and offering an entrée into six distinct compositional voices. Then, as Philip Glass writes, “Just let Bach’s music begin. It’s there for the listening.”

PENTATONE – which has named Matt Haimovitz their Artist of the Season – has created an online enhanced booklet, with “In Session” videos of Haimovitz and each of the composers in the recording studio, where the new works were further developed and shaped. (The new videos – seven in total – will be available one every two weeks, starting August 1.) Also included as exclusive bonus material on iTunes is a three-movement reflection on Bach by Mohammed Fairouz called Gabriel.

The new album will be launched at Salon Christophori in Berlin on August 12 followed by select Overtures performed on tour in London, Oxford, and Bayreuth. Haimovitz’s “A Moveable Feast” – residencies that bring the Overtures and Suites to unusual locations before culminating in concert-hall performance – premiered last October at Miller Theater at Columbia University and featured in The New York Times, continue this season in cities in Arizona, Utah, Florida, New York, California, Kansas, Iowa, Connecticut, and Quebec.

The PENTATONE Oxingale Series, a new collaboration between the two labels, was launched in January 2015 with BEETHOVEN, Period., the complete Beethoven Sonatas and Variations with Christopher O’Riley. Gramophone said “Haimovitz and O’Riley play the living daylights out of these works” and included it among its list of Top Ten Beethoven Recordings. This was followed by the ORBIT, a new compilation of contemporary solo cello works, which The New York Times called “fascinating … heartwarming, scary, playful and groovy, this recording reveals worlds inside a single instrument.” PENTATONE has also released newly-remastered SACDs of Schubert recordings by Haimovitz, with Itamar Golan and the Miró String Quartet, and Haimovitz and O’Riley’s genre-blurring double-album Shuffle.Play.Listen. The 2015 release of J.S. Bach: The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalena was critically-acclaimed. Gramophone said: “Those who want to be challenged without compromising tone or tuning, both of which are impeccable here, should look no further,” and ICI Musique concurred, “Matt Haimovitz has made us well aware that this music is alive, breathes, and refuses to be walled up in a stylistic protective shell. And that is the greatest achievement of this exceptional musician.”

MATT HAIMOVITZ is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” He has been closely associated with J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites since the year 2000, when the former child prodigy jump-started the alt-classical revolution by taking his cello on the road across the U.S., playing the Suites in bars and coffeehouses, including New York’s now-defunct punk palace CBGB’s. Additional performance highlights this season include concerti with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Atlanta Symphony, and Tokyo’s New Japan Philharmonic. Haimovitz will also lead the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at the Berlin Philharmonie, and perform a concerto by Isang Yun – marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Korean composer and political prisoner – with the Bruckner Orchestra with Dennis Russell Davies on tour in Austria.