Thursday, February 16, 2012
Shout-out in today's Sun
Posted by: sjacobsohn
In the Friday, February 17th Baltimore Sun op-ed column Shriver Hall Concert Series gets a terrific 'shout-out' by New York-based commentator Eileen Pollock. You can read the whole article here and the excerpt is below. Tell us what you think!
"The New York Philharmonic is sublime, but the high prices mean I listen to it on classical radio. In Baltimore, I could subscribe to the symphony and actually attend performances.
Shriver Hall produces a top-notch classical series, with many of the legendary performers who are playing this season at Carnegie Hall. And the prices — I have sticker shock in reverse. Les Violons du Roy, the renowned Quebec baroque ensemble, is discounted for $25. Les Violons du Roy is playing Carnegie Hall this March for $63 to $85. The brilliant pianist Richard Goode is playing Shriver Hall (Mozart and Chopin) for a modest $38. Richard Goode will play at Carnegie Hall in April, and comparable tickets range from $67 to $99. This season, Angela Hewitt, the marvelous interpreter of early music, is playing Rameau at Shriver in May. I'm tempted to take the train to Baltimore to hear her. She is not scheduled to play in New York this season."Read More >>
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
More Praise for Les Violons du Roy
Posted by: sjacobsohn
Something other than politics in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Corelli in London, M. Steger, English Concert, L. Cummings (2010)
Handel, Water Music, Les Violons du Roy, B. Labadie (2008)
Our last chance to hear Les Violons du Roy in the area was in 2005, so we were not going to miss the chance to hear the Canadian early music group when they played on Sunday afternoon at Baltimore's Shriver Hall. The group plays on modern instruments, so they produce a plush sound, but with reproductions of 18th-century bows that changes the nature and precision of the attack, which produces a refined unity in spite of relatively small numbers of players. While music director Bernard Labadie does favor the crisp, fleet approach to Allegro movements, typical of historically informed performance (HIP) conductors, he also approaches the music with considerable liberty of phrasing, heard in the Largo introduction to Handel's B? major concerto grosso (op. 6/7, "Hornpipe"), a piece last heard from the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2009. Placement of the archlutenist, Sylvain Bergeron, in the front row, helped his decorations of the exquisitely soft third movement come to the fore. Labadie guided the players through expertly pointed phrases in the the fast movements, especially the folksy vigor of the "Hornpipe" last movement, where harpsichordist Richard Paré, the instrument wisely placed at the back to reduce its tendency to dominate, shone in his inventive continuo realization.
Recorder player Maurice Steger lived up to his reputation as a daredevil virtuoso in a Telemann suite (A minor, TWV 55:a2), featuring alto recorder, that is well worth a listen. Steger was up to all of the composer's many virtuosic challenges, giving clean, precise articulation to the many cascading runs, ear-piercing clarity on the high notes, and astounding breath support and finger work. The only deficit, if it should even be called that, is the lack of a truly luxurious legato, heard in the somewhat impatiently rendered Largo movement. Much the same effect was produced by an inferior piece of music, Giuseppe Sammartini's F major concerto for soprano recorder. The soloist dazzled in many sparkling runs, and the archlute had another pleasing turn decorating empty spaces in the middle movement, but it was not a piece that warranted its resurrection.
Tim Smith, Les Violons du Roy, recorder soloist Maurice Steger light up Shriver Hall (Baltimore Sun, January 30)
Susan Isaacs Nisbett, Maurice Steger, Violons du Roy offer thrilling baroque playing at Rackham (Ann Arbor.com, January 29)
Of greater interest on the second half were two pieces drawn from Steger's recent album, a blockbuster, of music by Arcangelo Corelli, adapted and made even more brilliant by his student, Francesco Geminiani, who packaged many of Corelli's works for English audiences during his time in London. Although Steger made that disc with a different ensemble, the English Concert, Les Violons du Roy took Geminiani's version of Corelli's famous variations on the Follia tune and ran with it, with lead violinist Nicole Trotier and the other musicians each getting virtuosic moments in the spotlight. The rhythmic verve of this performance was spirited and ferocious, especially in the fastest sections, taking on the spirit of dances like the fandango. Steger returned for a final solo turn in Geminiani's amped-up version of a Corelli recorder concerto (op. 5, no. 10), incorporating extremely ornate ornamentation dreamed up by leading recorder virtuosos in London at the time. Such written-out embellishments are an invaluable resource for HIP musicians, giving precious evidence of just how florid the process of ornamentation could be. As rewarding as the recording is to listen, to hear that level of virtuosity in live performance was an overwhelming experience.
The next Shriver Hall event is a free concert by 15-year-old pianist George Li, at the Baltimore Museum of Art (February 11, 3 pm).
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Les Violons du Roy Rave Review
Posted by: sjacobsohn
This ensemble of 15 from Quebec City delivered a sterling demonstration of period instrument panache, and had the extra advantage of a Pied Piper-like soloist who worked his magic on three concertos.
The whole program had an infectious energy. And, for all of the obvious discipline and fine-honing in the execution, there was an air of spontaneity, too.
If you never thought a "historically informed" performance could be fun, this concert would have turned your ears.
Les Violons du Roy, conducted by founding artistic director Bernard Labadie, got things started with Handel's Concerto Grosso in B-flat (Op. 6, No. 7).
There were pianissimi of the finest grade. Every crescendo, accelerando, ritardando and other expressive device was achieved with great finesse.
The overall sound of the orchestra was quite warm, far from the dry tone of early music groups in the first days of the authenticity movement; tempos, too, felt more flexible.
When speed was desired, as in the most spirited variations in the "La Follia" Concerto Gross by Geminiani (after Corelli), it hit unabashedly supersonic levels, yet never left a single player in the dust. Solo playing within the ensemble was uniformly impressive, at whatever speed.
The rest of the program was devoted to …
works for recorder and orchestra.
The recorder is one of those instruments that isn't always taken seriously, and isn't always heard to its best advantage.
(That's one reason there was so much comic mileage in the vintage Saturday Night Live skit about a dicey French restaurant where "for your entertainment pleasure, our daughter Francine will play the recorder.")
Swiss-born Maurice Steger could disarm the most recorder-adverse listener with a single phrase. He combines a startling level of technical bravura with an ability to breathe sincerity and purpose into even the most floridly decorative phrase.
The personality in his playing proved quite persuasive, especially in Telemann's A minor Concerto. Steger's disarming charm made each movement of that work more animated and involving than the last.
The soloist also made much of the Haydn-worthy wit in the music, aided at every step of the way by Labadie and the ensemble.
The Telemann piece was so rewarding on so many levels that it would have been better placed at the end of the evening. The concertos that came after -- by Sammartini and Geminiani -- had their fine points, but paled by comparison, in one way or another.
Still, Steger's delivery remained full of character, and the beautifully dovetailed contributions of Les Violons du Roy remained equally delectable.Read More >>
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Bernard Greenhouse and the Beaux Arts Trio
Posted by: sjacobsohn
On this day 41 years ago the legendary Beaux Arts trio graced the stage of Shriver Hall Concert Series in the second of 14 visits spanning from 1968 to 1995. The trio's name has recently been prevalent in the news again because of the sale of one of the greatest cellos in the world - an instrument owned by the late Bernard Greenhouse, founding member of the Beaux Arts trio. The instrument, a magnificent Stradivarius from 1707 that sold for over $6 million last week, was played by Mr. Greenhouse for over a half a century and the touching story of the bond between instrument and artist has been wonderfully told in a serious of New York Times articles:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/arts/music/stradivari-cello-sells-for-more-than-6-million.htmlRead More >>
Monday, January 23, 2012
Les Violons du Roy
Posted by: sjacobsohn
January 23, 2012
Les Violons du Roy to make SHCS debut
Shriver Hall Concert Series begins 2012 by presenting its annual Paul and Barbara Krieger Early Music Concert, with the Canadian ensemble Les Violons du Roy. The acclaimed group will perform works by Handel, Telemann, Sammartini and Geminiani at 5:30 pm. on Sunday, Jan. 29, in Homewood’s Shriver Hall Auditorium.
Borrowing its name from the renowned string orchestra of the court of the French kings, Les Violons du Roy is widely hailed for the exceptional energy, brilliance and vitality of its performances.
The orchestra, with a core membership of 15 players, makes its series debut with founding artistic and music director Bernard Labadie and recorder virtuoso Maurice Steger.
Since its founding in 1984, the group has specialized in the vast repertoire of music for chamber orchestra performed in the stylistic manner most appropriate to each era. Though the ensemble plays modern instruments, its approach to the works of the baroque and classical periods has been strongly influenced by research into 17th- and 18th-century performance practice; in this repertoire, Les Violons uses copies of period bows. In recent seasons, the orchestra has begun to explore 19th- and 20th-century repertoire.
Les Violons du Roy is at the heart of the music scene in Quebec City, where it has been in residence at the Palais Montcalm since 2007. The group first performed in Europe in 1988 and has given dozens of concerts in France, Germany, England, Spain and the Netherlands. Since its first U.S. performance, in 1995 in Washington, D.C., the group has made regular stops in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
For ticket information, go to www.shriverconcerts.org or call 410-516-7164.Read More >>
The Washington Classical Review gives its take on the Jonathan Biss and Brentano String Quartet performance at Shriver Hall this past Sunday. "Throughout [...]Read more>
Pianist Jonathan Biss has been busy touring his "Late Style" project that focuses on pieces written by composers near the end of their lives, [...]Read more>
In 2012, Jonathan Biss sat down with NPR to discuss recording the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas. "There's no doubt in my mind that it exists [...]Read more>
After last night's breathtaking performance with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, violinist Nicola Benedetti took a moment to sign CDs and meet with fans. Thank [...]Read more>
Violinist Nicola Benedetti appears on the cover of the March issue of Strings Magazine! In a feature article, Benedetti discusses music education, her tour [...]Read more>
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- July 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- July 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- July 2014
- February 2014
- September 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011