Thursday, July 31, 2014

Programming - August 2014


Monthly Theme

July and August will be "encore" months on the blog, as I take the Summer to relax and recharge. I also plan some maintenance activities on the blog, cleaning up some of the content and giving the blog a much needed face-lift.
For August, we plan a Beethoven series. I will also be limiting myself to one Tuesday Blog and my regular Friday posts (all of them will be encores of either past montages or Tuesday Blog musical suggestions).
Pierre’s Tuesday Blog

With the exception of our Podcast Vault Selecton of the Month on August 5th, there will not be a weekly Tuesday Blog in August. We will return to our Tuesday series in September, and will introduce a new monthly anthology at that time to add to the Podcast VaultOnce Upon the Internet and Chronique du Disque. Stay Tuned!

Once or Twice a Fortnight

OTF takes the Summer off, and should return in the Fall with new complete operas and other musical musings on OperaLively.

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All of our Tuesday, Friday and ad-hoc posts, as well as OTF and YouTube Channel updates get regularly mentioned (with links) on our Fan Page. If you are a user of Facebook, simply subscribe to get notified so you never miss anything we do!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Podcast Encore: Shostakovich and Mathieu

Our Summer 2014 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Friday Blog and Podcast from January 13, 2012.

The podcast (No. 38 in our ongoing series) can be found in our archives at

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.

pcast038 Playlist

Our second "encore" montage in our July Canadian Content series features pianist and broadcaster Alain Lefèvre , performing piano concertos by Dimitri Shostakovich and André Mathieu. This montage was originally part of the ITYWLTMT Pianothion theme we considered in early 2012.

If the name André Mathieu sounds faniliar, it is because we featured some of his compositions on this blog before, and wrote an article with musical illustrations as part of the same Pianothon theme. Lefèvre has received praise for his efforts to revive the works of Mathieu, winning several awards for his recordings, and bringing Mathieu's music to stages the world over. For this, and his many accomplishments, he was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 2009.

Alain Lefèvre studied piano from the age of 4. His father was a clarinettist. His musical gift ensured him a place at l'École normale de Musique de Montréal. Later he studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris.

In many ways, the pairing of these concertos can be viewed as somewhat odd - Shostakovich is definitely part of the "new music" current whereas Mathieu is viewed more as a Romantic throwback composer. Shostakovich's Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, was completed by in 1933 and premiered the same year by the composer at the piano and the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. Despite the title, it is a true piano concerto rather than a double concerto in which the trumpet and piano command equal prominence.

As for the Mathieu concerto, according to liner notes by Lefevre, there are no fewer than six different scores of the work we are calling the Concerto de Québec, and the name changes from score to score (Symphonie Romantique, Concerto Romantique), Concerto de Quebec is a title associuated with an abridged version of the concerto used as film music – there exists a piano solo rendering of the work:

Mathieu completed the Concerto de Québec in early February, 1943, just short of his fourteenth birthday. – ten years after the Shostakovich, and decades older in style… The 25-minute Concerto betrays Mathieu's lack of formal training, and musical theorists will be quick to pounce on its episodic construction and formal weaknesses. On the other hand, there is a surging, unabashed romanticism at play here, a style inspired by Grieg, Puccini, Korngold, and above all Rachmaninov.

As filler, some solo piano works: by Shostakovich, the last of his 24 Preludes and Fugues and from Mathieu, three works, presented here in reverse order of composition.

I think you will love this music too!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Corey Cerovsek in Recital

Our Summer 2014 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Tuesday Blog from July 3rd, 2012.

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.

In past years, I programmed chamber music on the Tuesday Blog, and this is a nice opportunity to revive some of these old posts and bring them here on ITYWLTMT durung our Summer Vacation series.

Ine of my "go to" sources for musical tracks for those series was the Music Library of the Isabella Stewart Museum in Boston, which regularly hosts and records live chamber and small ensemble performances.

It is from my "Summer of the Sonata" series of 2012 that I have dusted up these live performances by Canadian violinist Corey Cerovsek. The first concert I attended featuring Corey was in Hamilton, Ontario almost 30  years ago. He was probably 11 or 12 at the time, and he held his own with the local orchestra in a performance of Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole. His demeanor was modest, but his playing was astounding! At age 12, he was the youngest student to receive a gold medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music - considering that Glenn Gould graduated from there in his mid-teens, that puts him in rare company!

Both Corey and his sister Katja were precocious musical talents - and in fact were a tandem for the first few years of Corey's early career. Mr. Cerovsek holds not only a Doctorate in Music from the prestigious Faculty of Music at Indiana University (where he studied with Josef Gingold), but also a Doctorate in Mathematics from the same school, attaining both before he was 20 years old - thus, Corey is not a mere precocious talent...

He may not be quite as active as some other violinists, but he chooses his repertoire wisely, and is a solid interpreter - as you will hear for yourself from the selections I chose. Not an old man (barely 40), he now elects residence far from his native British-Columbia, living in Paris.

I think you will love this music too!


Corey Cerovsek, on the "Milanollo" Stradivarius violin, accompanied by different pianists

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sonata for violin and keyboard No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1018
(with John Gibbons, piano)

Gabriel FAURE (1845-1924)
Sonata in A Major for violin and piano, Op. 13
(with Jeremy Denk, piano)

Wolfgang Amadeus MOXART (1756-1791)
Violin Sonata No. 23 in D Major, K. 306
(with Jeremy Denk, piano)

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 ("Kreutzer")
(with Paavali Jumppanen, piano)

More tracks by Corey from the ISGM library:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Podcast Encore: Mario Bernardi (1830-2013)

Our Summer 2014 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Friday Blog and Podcast from November 8, 2013.

The podcast (No. 130 in our ongoing series) can be found in our archives at

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.

pcast130- Playlist


Brilliant, driven, demanding, passionate, precise – these are the words people use when remembering Mario Bernardi, one of Canada’s premier conductors and a renowned builder of cultural institutions. Mr. Bernardi, who died [...] at 82, was known for conducting superlative Mozart, developing top talent, championing Canadian composers and, above all, for creating from the ground up a flagship orchestra in the nation’s capital that fostered Canada’s coming of age in terms of musical excellence.
When I think of Maestro Bernardi, I think of him as Canada’s unofficial Kapellmeister,  and this title comes well deserved: his long association with the National Arts Cenre orchestra (1968-82, later as its Conductor laureate) and the CBC Radio Orchestra in Vancouver (1983-2006) being his most noteworthy assignments of national scale. He was a fixture on the radio, as attests this CBC Music playlist assembled from archival recirdings: In a career that spans almost six decades, we heard him on the airwaves and in person consuct all of Canada’s major orchestras, and accompanying some of Canada’s leading soloists from Leopold Simoneau and Pierrette Alarie, to Angela Hewitt, to James Ehnes, and so many more!

The montage features Bernardi at the helm of the three orchestras he led as Music Director in Canada -the two aforementioned and the Calgary Philharmonic (1984-92) - in works by Respighi, Schumann, and of course Mozart - his composer of predilection for who he dedicated a special annual concert at the Footfhills of the Rockies "Mozart on the Mountain".

From Bernardi’s many Mozart performances, I retained a pair of “Turkish” selections – his recording of the overture to The Abduction at the Seraglio (with the Calgary Philharmonic) and a great performance of Mozart’s Turkish violin concerto accompanying Steven Staryk with the NAC Orchestra.

In tribute to Bernardi’s commitment to Canadian music, I chose the recording he made with the NAC orchestra of André Prévost’s Evanescence. It flows effortlessly into one of his last recordings with the CBC Radio Orchestra, the second movement from Shostakovich’s Tenth that was filler to an excellent compilation of Shostakovich Jazz-inspired works that included his two piano concertos.

I think you will love this music too.

Friday, July 4, 2014

¿Qué tal Carmén?

Our Summer 2014 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Tuesday Blog from September 6, 2011.

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.

This month's "do-over" posts feature Canadian Content: artists and composers. Today's look at Bizet's Carmen affords us the opportunity to put the spotlight on a great Canadian lyric tenor, who walked the operatic stages of the World between 1930 and 1960.

Carmen is not my favourite opera: to me, opera is a display of raw emotion, and it requires (more often than not) that one's own emotions bubble to the surface. Speaking for myself, I don't find the character of Carmen very sympathetic, and you figure she gets what she asked for at the end (harsh as it may seem). Other French operas: Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites, or even Gounod's Faust manage to get the waterworks going for me, and are therefore higher in my list of favourites.

This does not mean that I dislike Carmen - quite the contrary. It has great moments, but it simply isn't "Grand Opera".

My favourite recording:

There's a reason why this is my favourite: it puts Carmen where it belongs: on the stage of the Opera Comique, making it closer to a musical than an opera. The performance isn't "over done", the libretto and book are spoken clearly, so you can follow the action (something I appreaciate as a fluent speaker of the language).

As far as I know, there are two recordings of Quebec-born tenor Raoul Jobin singing Don Jose: one at the MET (under WIlfrid Pelletier, 1946) and this one from the stage of Paris' Opera Comique under Cluytens. It is singing this role that Jobin made his debut in San Francisco, New-Yor k and at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. The "Flower Aria" is his signature aria, and it is his intensity and lyricism that made him the dominant Don Jose of his era:

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Raoul Jobin (1906-1974) came from the working-class Quebec City district of St-Sauveur, where his father owned a tavern, and was a member of the parish choir and a soloist there for about 10 years. He first took voice lessons from Louis Gravel and then studied 1924-8 with Émile Larochelle at Laval University. He then went to Paris, where he continued his studies with Mme d'Estainville-Rousset (singing) and Abby Chéreau (stage skills), and at the Institut grégorien de Paris. His exceptional voice captured the attention of Henri Büsser who arranged his audition for Jacques Rouché, the director of the Paris Opéra, who in turn offered him a contract for the following year.

Maintaining a busy career in Europe, he was forced to return to North AMerica at the onset of World War II. At WIkfrid Pelletier's urging, he entered the 'Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air,' and the Metropolitan placed him under contract immediately, making his debut there in 1940. He remained with this company until 1950, singing many roles alongside such stars as Lily Pons, Bidú Sayão, Martial Singher, Ezio Pinza, Salvatore Baccaloni, Rïse Stevens, and Licia Albanese, under the direction of such conductors as Thomas Beecham and Wilfrid Pelletier.

Although rightly considered the successor to Georges Thill as the greatest 'French' tenor of his time, Jobin was unable to escape specialization. Yet it was the really substantial roles - whether French (Hoffmann, Samson, and especially Don José), Italian (Cavaradossi, Canio), or German (Lohengrin) - that best lent themselves to the heroic nature of his powerful voice with its triumphant highs, to his dramatic instinct, and to his temperament. Upon his death the French critic Jean Goury said of him: 'Raoul Jobin was undoubtedly one of the most celebrated tenors in the French tradition in recent decades. His voice, with its highly personalized timbre - neither Italianized nor Nordic but permeated with the warm fragrance of the Canadian soil - was capable of surprising variations in dynamics ... Raoul Jobin was a singer in the grand tradition, never sacrificing musicianship to sentiment and maintaining at all times a restraint of the highest order'.

I think you will love this music too!


Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen - opéra-comique in four acts (1875)
French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy after the novella Carmen, by Prosper Mérimée.


Carmen - Solange Michel
Don José - Raoul Jobin
Escamillo - Michel Dens

Choeurs de l'Opéra-Comique, Henri Janin (Chorus master)
Orchestre de l'Opéra-Comique, André Cluytens conducting
Recrding date: 6-9 September 1950


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

*** Don't Be Alarmed - Blog Mainetance ***

As we are slowing down our activities for the Summer, I will take the opportunity to give the blog an overdue facelift. Here are some of the things that will happen over the Summer:

The Blog Template will change - here is a preview of what it will look like

("Live" Demo:

I hope this "new look" will translate well for our mobile users, which have let it be known some of the colours and fonts don't render well.

I will also update some of the "static" page contents, which hasn't been done probably since the very beginning. I will model these after my French blog.

As for some of the blog labels, hot links and other assorted gadgets on the web page, these will get cleaned up.

As for disruptions, I hope the "transition" between templates will be straight forward, but this is the one step that could put us off-line for an hour or so. I will probably do that first... The rest of the changes should not be disruptive at all - maybe annoying though...

As always, I will look forward to some feedback from you on the "new look" and will make adjustments accordingly.

Keep Smiling!