Showing posts from 2016

La Grande Bellezza è molto bella!

Far l'amore! Music includes Lang, Pärt, Tavener and Preisner.  *swooning* Finally gave in and got the DVD to go with my CD.

Mind Blown. Again.

Like Arrival, there are so many levels to this film. And Matt Damon.

Hans Zimmer masterpiece

It's not often that I buy soundtracks but this one's use of the pipe organ is incredible.


"One felt nothing at all from the dead. They died, and then they were gone, and one's heart ached from the sudden absence of feeling more than from any surfeit." (pg. 247)

Lots to digest from this

photo by Guntar Kravis  WRITTEN & PERFORMED BYDaniel MacIvor

DIRECTED BYDaniel Brooks

Multi-layered Sci-fi


Scott Conarroe at Stephen Bulger


Constellations at CanStage

Choice and destiny collide in British theatre luminary Nick Payne's startlingly original play about the infinite possibilities of love (and the quantum multiverse). A man and a woman's chance encounter sets off a singular chain of events where each path they might take shapes an entirely different future. Their sweeping and spellbinding romantic journey will defy the boundaries of the world we think we know. Director Peter Hinton brings his award-winning vision to this five-star West End and Broadway hit. 
ROLANDGraham Cuthbertson
MARIANNECara Ricketts
Courtesy CanStage.

Dollhouse at CanStage

Prolific Canadian dancer/choreographer Bill Coleman (Older & Reckless) confronts a series of almost biblical challenges in this eye-opening spectacle about a man out of sync with his surroundings. Objects fall, shatter and move of their own accord creating a unique soundscape that accompanies one man's descent into chaos. Coleman, a master performer, plays the role of modern fakir as he navigates through situations, at times verging on the comic, culminating in a hypnotic symphony of sight and sound created and performed in collaboration with celebrated composer Gordon Monahan.  Courtesy CanStage.

The Realistic Joneses at Tarragon Theatre

THE REALISTIC JONESES TORONTO PREMIERE by Will Eno directed by Richard Rose Nov 9 – Dec 18, 2016 in the Mainspace Opened Wednesday, November 16, 2016 NOW PLAYING Meet the Joneses – Bob and Jennifer, and their neighbours, John and Pony – two couples who have even more in common than their identical homes and shared last names. With compassion, great humour, and a fine eye for the quirks of contemporary life, The Realistic Joneses dives deep below the surface to expose the extraordinary heroism of the everyday. ★★★1/2 (out of 4)  “Eno’s is an original theatrical voice; a poignant and pitch-perfect production; superb cast” – The Globe & Mail  “That [Broadway] production, with a starry cast, was good, but the Tarragon one, directed by Richard Rose, is better. It’s certainly much funnier, the four actors feast on the wrong-footing and second-guessing with which these Joneses strive to keep up with one another.” – National Post ★★★ (out of 4) “[Eno] is a master of dialogue; this isn’t …

Private Viewing with Imago at the AGO: Mystical Landscapes

One of the best exhibits I've seen at AGO in recent years. Closes January 29, 2017. Podcast from CBC’s Tapestry with Mary Hynes How do you find a spark of light in the midst of darkness? CBC’s Tapestry radio show takes an intimate look at the mystical impulse in great art created during turbulent times much like our own and reveals the spiritual side of great painters such as Monet, van Gogh, and Gauguin.

Men and Their Work

I never read reviews before I go to see or hear something. I want to form my own opinions, uninfluenced. So I'm surprised to see all the hoopla about a documentary and the less enthusiastic reviews about a story (that might as well be a documentary) which I saw this week.
La loi du marché or The Measure of a Man (Brizé, 2015) is a current tale of a middle-aged man sent for retraining as part of his employment search plan after being laid off. Vincent Lindon is again wonderful (as he was in Toutes Nos Envies or All Our Desires, Lioret 2011), playing the frustrated and humiliated Thierry Taugourdeau with incredible yet affective restraint. This poignant character study and damning social commentary is top-notch film: nothing's Hollywoody-obvious and the viewer is left to decide the ending's result based on what they have judged Taugourdeau to be, when he is faced with a moral dilemma. The supporting cast is excellent, as are the untrained actors used to fill out the story. Bu…

CD Review of Arvo Pärt's The Deer's Cry

Arvo Part - The Deer's Cry            Vox Clamantis; Jaan-Elk Tulve     ECM New Series               ECM 2466

A mixture of the new and old recorded here by Estonian choir Vox Clamantis, this CD includes the world recording premiere of Habitare fratres in unum and the largely plainchant And One of the Pharisees, which had its world premiere in California in 1992. There is a variety of Pärt’s music here: from the innocence-evoking Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima to the ode to a gittern, Sei gelobt, du Baum. (Read the info about the latter here.)
Serendipitously, I started my day reading St. Patrick’s 4th-century prayer, The Deer’s Cry, and the title track contains a purity comparable to Lang’s I Lie. The Alleluia-Tropus is different than my recording by Vox Clamantis with Sinfonietta Riga: at a decade’s distance, this a capella version is 25 seconds longer and less dance-like, perhaps the liturgical pace being more fitting for the intercession of St. Nicholas of Myra. Most notable to me, …

CD Review of Artyomov's Symphonies

Vyacheslav Artyomov - Symphony Gentle Emanation; Tristia II   Russian National Orchestra; Teodor Currentzis; Vladimir Ponkin Divine Art            dda 25144
Vyacheslav Artyomov - Symphony on the Threshold of a Bright World; Ave Atque Vale; Ave, Crux Alba  National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia; Vladimir Ashkenazy  Divine Art            dda 25143

I hadn't known about Russian composer Vyacheslav Artyomov until I was asked to review two of his records for an upcoming magazine issue. To get aquainted with him, during my first listen I employed a drawing exercise from a book I use, pictured above, which suggested drawing the sounds of a piece of music. I think the result (this is Tracks 3–8) is accurate.
In my research about him, I heard that he also has done some film scoring, notably the 1995 short B&W film, Koza (Cocoon in English), which is a Dreyeresque piece that includes his work; you can find a clip of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film here.
Artyomov was preparing for a life in astro…

All But Gone

A contemporary musical exploration of the absurd and evocative imagery of Samuel Beckett, All But Gone follows the sold-out hit Beckett: Feck It!, hailed as "entirely engrossing" by The Globe and Mail. Renowned Canadian director Jennifer Tarver (Venus in Fur) reunites with musical director Dáirine Ní Mheadhra for an elegiac and provocative evening of theatre and song featuring performer Jonathon Young (Betroffenheit), and Canadian opera stars Shannon Mercer and Krisztina Szabó.   Courtesy of CanStage.

Last Minute Twist and Goosebumps!

Photo by Chris Hutcheson
Norma at the COCNormaSondra Radvanovsky / Elza van den Heever*PollioneRussell Thomas   ❤AdalgisaIsabel LeonardOrovesoDimitry IvashchenkoClotildeAviva FortunataFlavioCharles SyConductor:  Stephen LordDirector:Kevin NewburySet Designer:  David KorinsCostume Designer:Jessica JahnLighting Designer: Duane SchulerChorus Master:Sandra Horst With the COC Orchestra and Chorus *We saw Elza van den Heever ~ wonderful! A Canadian Opera Company co-production with San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona)
Bellini and his operas are synonymous with the bel canto era when the beauty and virtuosity of the human voice reigned supreme. In that tradition, our production features two of the most sought-after sopranos today as Toronto’s own Sondra Radvanovsky and South African Elza van den Heever share the title role. Courtesy of COC.

Ariodante ~ These Boots are Made for Walking

One of Handel’s most radiantly beautiful scores echoes myriad emotions in this story of love, honour, and deception. Alice Coote and Jane Archibald—two COC favourites—return to head a dream Baroque cast, under the baton of Music Director Johannes Debus. Ariodante at the COC
AriodanteAlice CooteGinevraJane ArchibaldPolinessoVarduhi AbrahamyanDalindaAmbur BraidLurcanio Owen McCauslandOdoardoAaron SheppardKing of ScotlandJohannes WeisserConductor:  Johannes DebusDirector:Richard JonesSet Designer and
Costume Designer:ULTZLighting Designer: Mimi Jordan SherinChoreographer:Lucy BurgePuppetry Director:Finn Caldwell                                       Outstanding use of puppetry!Puppetry Design:Nick Barnes & Finn CaldwellChorus Master:Sandra HorstWith the COC Orchestra and Chorus Scene from Ariodante (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper. Courtesy of COC.

Only in Vaughan, You Say?

Photo courtesy of CanStage

I saw Concord Floral at CanStage this weekend and from the moment I entered the Bluma Appel Theatre, I knew we were in for something different, even by Matthew Jocelyn's standards. Billed as "a gothic urban thriller," I don't think that does this production enough justice. This is a very thought-provoking look into young people's psyches, through the medieval looking glass of Boccaccio's The Decameron. (For some background, here's an interesting project and here's the play's teaser trailer.) Written by Jordan Tannahill and directed by Erin Brubacher and Cara Spooner, the work is the result of a 2012 Festival of Ideas and Creation. Four years later, it's still fresh and oh so relevant. But it's not for the faint of heart. In other words, you need to love teenagers and understand them if you're to get past the frank talk and subjects covered.  I found some of the ensemble stronger in their acting ability than o…

CD Review: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

Did Bugs Bunny ruin the Barber of Seville for you? How about Merrie Melodies’ The Three Little Pigs with Brahms’ Hungarian Dance #5? I have a particular eye/earworm of The Rite of Spring: I can never unsee the gorgeous choreography of Pina Brausch when I hear this piece. The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s recording is bright and clear and complements the rather dark storyline of the ballet. The First Part is a vital description of nature and leads with some urgency to the undeniable corporeality of the Second Part. The backbone of the piece, however, is Track 2, although I prefer my Augurs of Spring to be a little more heavy-handed than David Bernard’s version, such as the Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez’s take on it; I think this reflects Bernard’s interpretation, though, and does not make Stravinsky an inappropriate choice for this orchestra. (The Augurs of Spring always strikes me as a misplaced climax, though.)
The Bartók Concerto for Orchestra, known as a soloistic piece, also h…

Death and Delinquency

Photo courtesy of

Zachary Wadsworth (composer) - The Far West         Lawrence Wiliford (tenor); Luminous Voices; Timothy Shantz (dir.)     Bridge Records  9466

I’m submitting a briefer version of this for publication in the CD review section of a music magazine later this month but I wanted to expand on my necessarily truncated comments there. I was given The Far West to review: it’s a modern cantata for tenor, choir and instruments, written by the crazy-young Zachary Wadsworth, an American composer who’s already internationally known and respected. This work won the 2016 Choral Canada’s Outstanding Choral Competition Award.
Recently, I reviewedthe stunning Trinity Requiem by Robert Moran, and its poignancy has kept me going back to it. The Far West is going to be on my shelf of favourites, too.

Tracks 1 and 2, set to the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Christina Rossetti, are complementary introductions to the cantata. His …

A Sequel and Equals

They had me at "dystopian;" I changed my movie plans immediately. Equals (dir. Drake Doremus, 2015)is a surprisingly successful (but not perfect) movie with the poutily pretty Nicholas Hoult and solid Kristen Stewart as futurish Romeo and Juliet types (or are they?...), in a world that tonally, although not visually, echoes the one in Children of Men.  The story, shot largely in Japan, revolves around a post-apocalyptic world where life has been re-created, supposedly a post–common cold and –cancer utopia, but is threatened by SOS, a gene defect whose arc is like real-life's experience with HIV-AIDS. Social constraints swiftly eradicate those with "the bug," called "Switched On Syndrome." There is a far-flung place, The Peninsula, where degenerates live, embracing social bonds, but it is a no man's land that, if emotions were present, would give the people the heebie-jeebies, so adverse are they to the thought of social contact with any caring. And…