Claude Debussy at 150: We take his musical revolution for granted

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy, one of Western music’s revolutionaries.

As with the varying styles of Impressionist paintings, the long view represents something defined, but the closer you get, the more his compositions start to fall apart into the individual components that our minds work imperceptibly to piece together into meaningful shapes.

The long view is so sleek and seductive that listeners long ago began taking Debussy’s art for granted.

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CD Review: Martha Argerich pours out life force in 2011 summer festival album

For 11 straight years, pianist Martha Argerich has assembled her personal dream team of musicians for a festival in Switzerland — captured in an album of highlights.

MARTHA ARGERICH AND FRIENDS
Live from Lugano 201 (EMI Classics)

A half-century of musicmaking seems only to have been a warmup for Argentinean pianist Martha Argerich, who continues to wow with the immediacy and love she pours into every note she plays. There is life force in everything she touches. Continue reading

Interview: Pianist David Jalbert grasps for the unreachable in Bach’s Goldberg Variations

“Bringing out one voice is not enough. It doesn’t pay homage to everything there is in the music,” says David Jalbert of the Goldberg Variations (Chris Mukula photo for the Ottawa Citizen).

Ottawa-based pianist David Jalbert earlier this year released an impressive new album of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations album on the ATMA Classique label.

He performsthe masterpiece at at Stratford Summer Music recital tomorrow (Aug. 15) afternoon at St Andrew’s Church. Concert details here.

This performance promises to be well worth the drive. It is followed at 4 p.m. by the launch of Colin Eatock’s new book, Remembering Glenn Gould: Twenty Interviews With People Who Knew Him, at Stratford City Hall. Continue reading

Classical music clings to youthful saviours as Roy Thomson Hall announces 2012-13 season

Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez makes her solo Toronto début at the Glenn Gould Studio on Feb. 22 (Monica Trejo photo).

There isn’t much classical programming any more from Roy Thomson Hall with the demise of its mainstage concert series. But what may be missing in quantity is still there in youthful quality, according to today’s announcement of the 2012-13 season.

The best news is that Roy Thomson Hall continues its advocacy of rising vocal talents with a series of four recitals with piano at the Glenn Gould Studio collectively billed as Canadian Voices. Continue reading

Interview: The consummate pianist is like a consummate actor, says Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet plays Haydn and Debussy at Stratford Summer Music on Wednesday afternoon (J Henry-Fair photo).

Never write off an artist because they are a late bloomer.

French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet won his first competition in 1986, and quickly gained the respect of anyone who heard him play, but it took nearly two decades for the wider classical music world to fully catch on to this performer’s prodigious talents, which will be on solo display at Stratford Summer Music on Wednesday afternoon. Continue reading

CD Reviews: Two dashes of passion and finesse from Argentina

New York pianist Mirian Conti (Nan Melville photo).

MIRIAN CONTI
Nostalgias Argentinas (Steinway & Sons)

Here is music made for the dog days of summer — meditative and melancholy pieces for a shady hammock in the afternoon, tangos for twilight pleasure — from New York City-based pianist Mirian Conti. A native of Argentina, Conti has spent many years championing young pianists as well as the rich store of tuneful music written for her instrument in that country. Continue reading

Introducing: Piano Quintet, Op. 84, by Edward Elgar

This is the first in a weekly look at an indisputably great piece of music not frequently heard in concert. We’re starting with the Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84, completed by Edward Elgar in January 1919.

The Nash Ensemble performed this work on Thursday night at Koerner Hall. Following the performance, I heard several people say how much they enjoyed this piece, which they’d never heard before. Continue reading