Introducing: The Grande pièce symphonique by César Franck

Sainte-Clothilde basilica in Paris inspired César Franck.

The pipe organ has had several lives over its five-century history, the grandest as a symphony orchestra substitute, starting in the second half of the 19th century.

We have a chance to hear a live performance tomorrow of the French composition that heralded this great, golden chapter in the instrument’s history: the Grande pièce symphonique. The 30-minute work will be performed by Simon Walker, one of Toronto’s bright young organ virtuosos, at St James Cathedral, at 1 p.m. Continue reading

Il Divo puts Atlanta Symphony on stage but pipes pre-recorded music to audience

Those orchestra players lost in the crimson dusk behind Il Divo may look like they’re playing — but it’s highly likely they’re just part of the stage dressing.

Organisers of male popera quartet Il Divo’s current world tour hired the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for their concert at Encore Park last Sunday — then used pre-recorded tracks as the musicians played in the background. 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

Concert review: Nash Ensemble and Colin Ainsworth ace all-English Toronto Summer Music programme

Tenor Colin Ainsworth joined the Nash Ensemble at Koerner Hall on Thursday night (Liz Parker photo).

There are great performances and then there are magnificent ones like the first of two recitals the Nash Ensemble presented for Toronto Summer Music on Thursday night. Continue reading

Concert review: Emotional fervour from Cecilia String Quartet and Georgy Tchaidze at Toronto Summer Music

The Cecilia String Quartet performed for Toronto Summer Music at Walter Hall on Wednesday night (Liz Parker photo).

Chamber music concerts are so often seen as staid, serious events. But Wednesday night’s Toronto Summer Music performance by Canada’s Cecilia String Quartet and pianist Georgy Tchaidze at Walter Hall was pure excitement. Continue reading

Interview: Simone Dinnerstein has more in common with Glenn Gould than we might think

New York pianist Simone Dinnerstein performs an all-Bach recital at Stratford Summer Music on the afternoon of Aug. 1 (Lisa-Marie Mazzucco photo).

Last weekend, following a recital in Leipzig, Germany, pianist Simone Dinnerstein was taking a walk around the Thomaskirche, the church forever associated with Johann Sebastian Bach.

“I was standing outside at night, thinking about Bach and being around this square full of modern buildings,” Dinnerstein recalls. “There were a lot of drunken tourists, this kind of nightlife. In the middle, here is Bach’s church and I was thinking about how there’s something extremely funny about the fact that people nowadays obsess about how Bach would have played his own music when you just need to stand in this place and see that absolutely everything has changed. Continue reading

Concert review: Toronto Reunion glows by way of Brahms and Tchaikovsky at Walter Hall

There was chemistry in the ad hoc string ensemble at Toronto Summer Music Festival’s concert on Friday night (Margaret Lam iPhone photo).

Toronto Summer Music Festival audience members who experienced Friday night’s performance of Brahms’ Sextet No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence by some of Canada’s leading musicians were no doubt left in awe. Continue reading