Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another awesome weekend simply stuffed with music (and a bit of hockey)

We are SO lucky to be living in this city.  This weekend was an extravaganza of music, once again.

Friday night, Michael and I met popped down to his high school to hear An Evening of Low Brass Music featuring Courtney Lambert (Michael's first tuba teacher) and bass-trombonist Barnaby Kerekes (our guy at Long & McQuade and friend of the school's music department).  An interesting evening featuring music by C.M. Weber, G.P. Telemann, Arthur Foote, Christopher Nickel, Elizabeth Raum (who was in attendance), and James Grant. Interestingly, both the Telemann and Foote pieces were originally written for flute.  Teleman's Fantasia #3 for Flute was played without accompaniment by Barnaby on the Bass Trombone, and Arthur Foote's Trois Pieces for Flute was played by Courtney on the tuba.  This was a double hit for Michael as he has been playing both tuba and bass trombone this year, and he got to say hello to Courtney who taught him for six months or so until the spring of 2009.

Saturday night, Z and I went down to hear the second New Creations concert of the TSO.  It featured three works.  The first was Suite from Ashoka's Dream by Peter Lieberson which, truthfully, left me a bit cold.  There didn't seem to be anything to focus on, no hook or thematic centre.  I don't know....I'm not a professional musician, but it kind of left me cold.  The second piece was commissioned by the TSO specifically for this series, the theme of which was "Music Inspired by Words".  Composer Andrew Paul MacDonald took Shelley's Ode to the West Wind and set the music around it.  Literally. Actor Colm Feore read the poem during the piece, the words having been set into the score.  Feore was "conducted", his voice another instrument in the orchestra. It was very effective... Feore was miked, and the music very definitely supported this lovely, well-known poem.  MacDonald spoke about this commission briefly before the performance which added to the audience's understanding of the process and way that he had represented various elements of the poem musically.

The final piece of the evening was probably one of the most stunning works I have heard this season.  Composer Osvaldo Golijov wrote a setting of the St. Mark's Passion in 1998 for orchestra, soloists and choir.  In 2008, one of his collaborators, percussionist Gonzalo Grau, was commissioned by the Labeque sisters (duo-pianists) to arrang thematic elements of the work, taking it down from 87 minutes and 30+ movements to about 30 mintues and 6 movements,  No singers. Just two pianos and orchestra.  

It was a masterwork!  Truly, it was like no other setting of the Passion than I have ever heard, and I am anxious to find a downloadable copy to listen to again.  Golijov is a wonder, and I'm hoping to be able to get to the final New Creations concert this Wednesday to hear another of his works.

As if that wasn't enough, this afternoon we attended the final performance of Otello at the Canadian Opera Company.  More of a psychological drama than action-oriented, it was intense and dark, with an awe-inspiring cast.  As we left the opera house and headed toward the parking garage down the street, we popped into Fionn MacCool's to catch the last few minutes of the Olympic Gold men's hockey game.  I took the Sunday dispensation for my Lenten TV sacrifice (which I normally would not) and we caught the last 5 minutes of regulation time and the sudden death period leading to Canada's victory, so that was a fun end to the afternoon!  It took the edge off the death of Desdemona and Otello, that's for sure!

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