Today's Classical Music Video

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bramwell Tovey Discusses His Opera The Inventor / Bramwell Tovey nous parle de son opéra The Inventor

Tovey is best known to Canadians as a conductor and occasional piano soloist. But he is also a prolific composer. This past January his opera The Inventor was given its premiere by the Calgary Opera. The libretto is by John Murrell and the cast was headed by James Westman with the composer conducting.

The 58-year old British-born conductor has been based in Canada for more than 20 years, first as music director of the Winnipeg Symphony and more recently as music director of the Vancouver Symphony. For more Tovey see my companion video this week, Bramwel Tovey Conducts the New York Philharmonic.


Bramwell Tovey est bien connu auprès des Canadiens en tant que chef d’orchestre et parfois comme pianiste solo. Mais, il est aussi un compositeur prolifique. En janvier dernier, son opéra The Inventor a eu sa première avec l’Opéra de Calgary. John Murrell a composé le livret et James Westman est à la tête de la distribution avec le compositeur au podium. 

Le Britannique de 58 ans est au Canada depuis plus de 20 ans. Il a occupé le poste de directeur musical de l’Orchestre symphonique de Winnipeg et présentement, il  occupe le poste de directeur musical de l’Orchestre symphonique de Vancouver. Mon autre vidéoclip de cette semaine présente Bramwell Tovey qui dirige l’Orchestre philharmonique de New York.

- Paul E. Robinson; Traduction par Robert Scott


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bramwell Tovey and the NY Philharmonic / Bramwell Tovey et l’Orchestre philharmonique de New York

Bramwell Tovey has been the music director of the Vancouver Symphony since 2000 and recently extended his contract until 2015. Tovey is a very popular man in Vancouver. But he is also a favourite with the New York Philharmonic. For some years now he has conducted summer concerts with the Philharmonic in both New York and Vail.

In this video recorded at the Bravo Vail Valley Music Festival, he displays his characteristic wit and stage savvy. My companion video this week features Tovey discussing his recent opera The Inventor.


Bramwell Tovey est le directeur musical de l’Orchestre symphonique de Vancouver depuis 2000. Son contrat vient récemment d’être prolongé jusqu’en 2015.  Il est très populaire à Vancouver et à New York. Depuis plusieurs années, il dirige des concerts d’été avec l’Orchestre philharmonique de New York à New York et à Vail. 

Dans ce vidéoclip, il nous démontre sa grande présence d’esprit. Mon autre vidéoclip de cette semaine présente Bramwell Tovey qui nous parle de son dernier opéra The Inventor.

- Paul E. Robinson; Traduction par Robert Scott


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Adrianne Pieczonka Sings "Ein schones war" from Ariadne auf Naxos

An important event in the COC Spring Season is the return of Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos after a 16-year absence. It boasts a terrific cast - Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka in the title role; the great British mezzo Alice Coote as the Composer, and fast-rising Canadian coloratura Jane Archibald is Zerbinetta. Canadian tenor Richard Margison is Bacchus.  The supporting roles are equally well taken, with singers like veteran baritone Richard Stilwell (Music Master) and Canadian baritone Peter Barrett (Harlequin). Conductor Sir Andrew Davis makes his belated COC debut.  Here is a video clip of the Munich Opera Ariadne starring Adrianne Pieczonka and German coloratura soprano Diana Damrau, in the Robert Carsen production that premiered in 2008.  I saw the opening night in July 08 at the Prinzregenten-theater and it was an unforgettable experience.  The production was supposed to be filmed for DVD release the following year but unfortunately it didn't happen so we have to be satisfied with these short clips now available on Youtube.

- Joseph K. So


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Carlos Kleiber Conducts Beethoven's Seventh Symphony

In the April, 2011 issue of BBC Music you will find an article titled "The Twenty Greatest Conductors of All Time." The editors interviewed dozens of current well-known conductors, among them Valery Gergiev, Mariss Jansons, Simon Rattle, Colin Davis and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Yannick's choices? Carlo Maria Giulini, Herbert von Karajan and Simon Rattle. This was an illuminating exercise. The magazine went to the people who ought to know and their choices give music-lovers a good sense of who is important and who isn't. It also reveals a lot about the conductors giving the opinions. Unfortunately, the magazine goes too far - as Gramophone did in its survey of the greatest orchestras - by ranking the conductors selected as 1, 2, 3 etc.

In defence of the magazine, it should be mentioned that the ranking was done on the basis of who the current conductors had chosen and how often. And the top three were tabulated as follows:

1. Carlos Kleiber
2. Leonard Bernstein
3. Claudio Abbado

Fresh from watching Abbado conducting the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in a sensational concert last year in Lucerne (on an Accentus Music DVD), I would certainly put Abbado near the top of any such list. And Bernstein would be there too. No. 4 on the list, by the way, was Herbert von Karajan, and on my list he too would rank with the very best as would Toscanini and Furtwangler.

But most surprising to me - and perhaps to others too - was the selection of Carlos Kleiber (1930- 2004) as Numero Uno. After all, he conducted fewer concert and opera performances than anyone else on the list. According to BBC Music "he conducted just 96 concerts in his life, and about 400 opera performances." Moreover, he had a tiny repertoire which included only four of the nine Beethoven symphonies and two of the Brahms symphonies and no Bruckner or Mahler at all. And contemporary music? Forget about it. He was notoriously reluctant to conduct anywhere. It didn't help that he demanded far more rehearsal time than any other conductor. In the early 1990s he stopped conducting altogether except for the occasional benefit concert. Karajan famously said that Carlos Kleiber only accepted conducting engagements when his freezer was running low.

For more about Carlos Kleiber - not to be confused with his father Erich Kleiber, also a famous conductor - visit the website

The video shows Carlos Kleiber in 1983 conducting the last movement from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

- Paul E. Robinson


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daniel Levitin on Music and the Brain / Entretien avec Daniel Levitin

Daniel Levitin is a Professor of Psychology at McGill University. he is also a former rock musician and record producer. He is the author of "This is Your Brain on Music" and was recently featured in an article in the NY Times.

Levitin is interested is discovering all sorts of things about music. Why do some musicians become famous and others not? Can we understand musical ability by studying the genes and the brains of various people? And in this video, how musicians communicate emotion.


Daniel Levitin est professeur de psychologie à l’Université McGill. Il est aussi un ex-musicien rock et réalisateur de disques. Il est l’auteur de This is Your Brain On Music et était récemment le sujet d’un article dans le New York Times. 

Il cherche à découvrir tous les aspects de la musique. Pourquoi certains musiciens sont-ils plus célèbres que d’autres? Peut-on comprendre le talent musical en étudiant les gènes et le cerveau de plusieurs personnes? Dans ce vidéoclip, il explique comment les musiciens communiquent l’émotion.

- Paul E. Robinso; Traduction par Robert Scott


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ana Caterina Antonacci Sings "Non Piu Mesta" from La cenerentola / Ana Caterina Antonacci chante Non Piu Mesta de La cenerentola

The spring season of the Canadian Opera Company opens with Rossini's La cenerentola on Saturday April 23 with a great cast in a terrific production.  Angelina (Cenerentola) is American mezzo Elizabeth DeShong, who made her COC debut two seasons ago in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  The brilliant American high tenor Lawrence Brownlee is Ramiro. Canadian baritone Brett Polegato in one of his best roles is Dandini.  Italian buffo Donato DiStefano returns to the COC after a long absence as Magnifico. As a luxury bit of casting, American baritone Kyle Ketelson takes on the secondary role of Alidoro. Italian maestro Leonardo Vordoni conducts. The best known aria in the opera is Angelina's last act showstopper, "Non Piu Mesta", here sung by Italian soprano Ana Caterina Antonacci, who was the COC Angelina exactly 15 years ago in April 1996.  Accompanying her in this concert performance is conductor Paolo Olmi, who of course is no stranger to Toronto audiences, having conducted Don Carlos and Otello at the COC the last few seasons.


La Compagnie d’opéra canadienne présente le 23 avril la merveilleuse production de La cenerentola de Rossini. Angelina (Cenerentola) est interprétée par  la soprano américaine Elizabeth DeShong qui a fait ses débuts avec la COC dans Le Songe d'une nuit d'été de Benjamin Britten. Le brillant ténor américain Lawrence Brownlee interprète Ramiro. Le baryton canadien Brett Polegato est à son meilleur dans le rôle de Dandini. Après une longue absence, Donato DiStefano revient au sein de la COC dans le rôle de Magnifico. Le baryton américain Kyle Ketelson interprète Alidoro et le maestro italien Leonardo Vordoni est au podium. L’aria la mieux connu de cet opéra Non Piu Mesta est interprété par la soprano italienne Ana Caterina Antonacci qui a interprété Angelina pour la COC il y a 15 ans. Paolo Olmi l’accompagne au podium. Il est bien connu du public torontois pour avoir dirigé Don Carlos et Otello au cours des dernières saisons.

- Joseph K. So; Traduction par Robert Scott


Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Orchestre Métropolitain's Flash Mob-Style 'Random Act of Culture"

On April 14, students at Saint-Luc performed under Orchestre Métropolitain's Yannick Nézet-Séguin as part of the OM's 30th anniversary celebration. The surprise event at the Complex Desjardins was called "Surprise - Random act of culture."

- Crystal Chan

Friday, April 15, 2011

Conductor Yakov Kreizberg: In Memoriam / En mémoire : le chef d’orchestre Yakov Kreizberg

I heard Yakov Kreizberg conduct on several occasions. He was tall with long arms and could appear to be excessive in his movements. But if one could get beyond the appearance it became clear that Kreizberg was a fine musician who worked tirelessly to do justice to the music he conducted. It came as a shock when the news came a few weeks ago that he had died at the age of only 51. I have no doubt that the best of his career was still ahead of him.

Kreizberg was born in Russia and his brother is Semyon Bychkov, another world-class conductor. When he passed away Kreizberg was music director of the Monte Carlo Philharmonic. In this video he conducts that orchestra in a movement from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.


J’ai assisté à plusieurs prestations du chef d’orchestre Yakov Kriezberg. Il était grand avec de longs bras et semblait excessif dans ses gestes. De plus, il était un excellent musicien qui travaillait toujours à rendre justice à la musique qu’il dirigeait. Il y a quelques semaines, j’ai été renversé d’apprendre son décès à 51 ans. J’ai nul doute que son meilleur était à venir. 

Il est né en Russie et son frère est Semyon Bychkov, un autre chef d’orchestre de calibre mondial. Lorsqu’il est décédé, il était directeur musical de l’Orchestre philharmonique de Monte-Carlo. Dans ce vidéoclip, il dirige l’orchestre dans un mouvement de la Symphonie no9 de Beethoven.

- Paul E. Robinson; Traduction par Robert Scott


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mexican-American Opera Composer Daniel Catan: In Memoriam / En mémoire : le compositeur Daniel Catan

In 1996 I had the pleasure of seeing Daniel Catan's splendid Florencia en el Amazonas at the Houston Grand Opera. Under David Gockley the company had become a major force for opera in America. Renee Fleming was featured in a number of productions, Christoph Eschenbach often conducted there, and new work was encouraged and promoted. In the case of Catan's opera the company had the vision to reach out to the growing Hispanic audience in Houston with an important new opera by a Mexican-American. And audiences expecting a piece with tourist-friendly folkloric elements would have been disappointed. The new opera was melodic and accessible but it was imaginative and thoughtful too.

More recently Catan composed Il Postino for Placido Domingo and the Los Angeles Opera. It had its premiere last fall and it was seen to be another major success for Daniel Catan. Just a few weeks ago Catan was back in Houston overseeing another production of Il Postino at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston.

This semester Catan was living in Austin working at the Butler School of Music, University of Texas to develop another opera based on Frank Capra's film Meet John Doe. It was in Austin that he passed away at the age of 62.

Catan had become a vital force in American opera and he will be missed. But it is not too late to celebrate the works which made his reputation. The Met should quickly make amends for ignoring this fine composer by mounting productions of both Florencia en el Amazonas and Il Postino.


En 1996, j’ai eu le plaisir de voir l’opéra de Daniel Catan Florencia en el Amazonas à l’Opéra de Houston. Sous la direction de David Gockley, l’Opéra de Houston est devenu un vecteur central dans le monde opératique aux États-Unis. Renée Fleming s’est produite dans de nombreuses productions, Christoph Eschenbach a dirigé la compagnie souvent. Aussi, la compagnie suscite et encourage les nouvelles productions. En ce qui concerne Daniel Catan, l’Opéra de Houston cherchait à établir un lien avec le public hispanophone de Houston, donc ils ont présenté son nouvel opéra. Il a composé un opéra mélodique, accessible, sérieux et plein d’imagination. 

Récemment, il a composé Il Postino pour Placido Domingo et l’Opéra de Los Angeles. L’opéra eut sa grande première l’automne dernier et connu beaucoup de succès. Il y a quelques semaines, il était de retour à Houston pour surveiller une autre production de Il Postino au Moores School of Music à l’Université de Houston. 

Ce semestre-ci, il était à la Butler School of music à l’Université du Texas à Austin où il développait un autre opéra qui s’inspire du film Meet John Doe de Franck Capra. Il est décédé à Austin à l’âge de 62 ans. 

Il est devenu une véritable force dans le monde opératique américain et il ne sera pas oublié. Mais, il n’est pas trop tard pour célébrer les œuvres qui ont bâti sa réputation. Le Met devrait présenter des productions de Florencia en el Amazonas et Il Postino de se talentueux compositeur. 

- Paul E. Robinson; Traduction par Robert Scott


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Soprano Sumi Jo Sings "Ah fors'e lui....Sempre libera" from La traviata / La Soprano Sumi Jo chante Ah fors’e lui… Sempre libera de La traviata

This Friday, Korean soprano Sumi Jo is in Toronto to sing in the last of the Roy Thomson Hall International Vocal Series - I don't mean just the last of the 2010-11 season, but the last, as in forever.  Well, at least it will end on a high note.  I mean that figuratively as Jo is a wonderful singer, but also literally, as she has programmed Violetta's great scena with its famous high E-flat as the last item on her program. To mark her appearance, I've chosen a clip of her singing this showstopper in a concert from Korea in 2005.  She sings with her trademark crystalline tone and terrific high notes, if rather short on dramatic intensity.   

Ce vendredi, la soprano coréenne Sumi Jo est à Toronto où elle se produira lors de la dernière représentation de la série de récitals Roy Thomson Hall International Vocal series. La série se conclura sur une belle note, car elle est une excellente chanteuse et elle interprètera Ah fors’e lui… Sempre libera de La traviata à la fin du programme. J’ai choisi comme vidéoclip, son interprétation de cette merveilleuse pièce donnée en 2005 en Corée. Elle la chante d’un ton cristallin et ses aigus tombe si parfaitement à point, mais elle manque d’intensité dramatique.

- Joseph K. So; Traduction par Robert Scott


Friday, April 8, 2011

Richard Buckley in Conversation With Paul Robinson (Pt. 3) / Richard Buckley en entretien avec Paul Robinson (3e partie)

Richard Buckley is principal conductor of the Austin Lyric Opera. Maestro Buckley and the ALO will soon present a production of the opera Flight by British composer Jonathan Dove. The first performance is Saturday, April 9 at the Long Center. The opera was premiered at Glyndebourne in 1998 and a recording of this production is available on the Chandos label.

 Dove has written a dozen operas but Flight is one of his most successful. The opera is based on a true story; the same story that inspired Steven Speilberg's film The Terminal. The opera tells the story of an undocumented refugee trapped in an airport terminal, and fully exploits the absurdity of the situation in the refugee's encounters with a wide range of other characters who pass by.

In a recent conversation Maestro Buckley tells us more about this opera.


Richard Buckley est le chef attitré  de l’Opéra lyrique d’Austin. Le maestro et son orchestre présenteront bientôt l’opéra Flight du compositeur britannique Jonathan Dove. La première prestation aura lieu le samedi 9 avril au Long Center à Austin. L’opéra a été interprété pour la première fois au Festival de Glyndebourne en 1988 et l’enregistrement de cette prestation est offert sous l’étiquette Chandos. 

Jonathan Dove a composé une dizaine d’opéras, mais Flight figure parmi ses plus célèbres. L’opéra s’inspire d’une vraie histoire, la même histoire a servi à Steven Speilberg comme source d’inspiration pour le film Le terminal. L’opéra raconte l’histoire d’un réfugié qui erre dans un aéroport. 

Dans mon entretien avec le maestro, il nous en raconte davantage au sujet de cet opéra.

- Paul E. Robinson; Traduction par Robert Scott


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rattle and the BPO Rehearse Petrushka for 3D / Sir Simon Rattle et l’OPB répètent Petrushka

The Berlin Philharmonic continues to be in the vanguard of audio-visual technology. The latest innovation is the first recording of a symphony orchestra in 3D. At least 140 cinemas in the UK will show the first BPO concert in 3D on May 9. This first film will feature performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 and Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances recorded in Singapore. No word yet on when these films will be available in North American theatres.

The first BPO outing in 3D was a rehearsal of Stravinsky's Petrushka. Our video this week features an excerpt from this rehearsal.

The BPO concerts in 3D will also be available at home to music-lovers with the appropriate equipment on both computers and television screens. For more information visit or the BPO website (


L’Orchestre philharmonique de Berlin continue d’être à l’avant-garde de la technologie audio visuelle. La dernière innovation est le premier enregistrement d’un orchestre symphonique en 3D. Le 9 mai, au moins 140 cinémas présenteront le premier concert de l’OPB en 3D. Le film comprendra la Symphonie no 1 de Mahler et les Danses symphoniques de Rachmaninov enregistré à Singapour. On ne sait toujours pas si ses films en 3D seront présentés dans les salles de cinéma à travers l’Amérique du Nord. 

Le vidéoclip de cette semaine met en vedette l’OPB qui répète Petrushka de Stravinski. 

Les concerts de l’OPB en 3D seront aussi présentés sur internet. Pour de plus amples renseignements, visitez le ou le site de l’OPB .

- Paul E. Robinson; Traduction par Robert Scott


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Richard Buckley in Conversation With Paul Robinson / Richard Buckley en entretien avec Paul Robinson

In Part 2 of our conversation Maestro Buckley talks about how he divides his career between opera and concert conducting. He also discusses his years as artistic director of the Austin Lyric Opera, and more recently, as principal conductor.

En deuxième partie de mon entretien avec Richard Buckley, il parle de sa carrière opératique et de sa carrière orchestrale. Il parle aussi de ses années comme directeur artistique et plus récemment comme chef attitré de l’Opéra lyrique d’Austin.

- Paul E. Robinson; Traduction par Robert Scott


Angela Gheorghiu sings "E strano...Ah forse lui...Sempre libera" from La traviata / Angela Gheorghiu chante E strano...Ah forse lui…Sempre libera de La traviata

One of only a handful of superstar opera divas today, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu combines a beautiful voice with an alluring stage persona.  So it is great good news that she is including two Canadian stops in her current concert tour.  She has already sung in Vancouver last Sunday to rave reviews, and will be making her Toronto debut on Thursday at Roy Thomson Hall, with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra conducted by Steven White. To celebrate her appearance in Canada, here's Gheorghiu in one of her very best roles as Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, from a live performance at Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1995. Her Alfredo is American tenor Frank Lopardo.


L’une des rares divas d’opéra de nos jours, la soprano roumaine Angela Gheorghiu possède une belle voix et une charmante présence sur scène. Donc, nous sommes  heureux d’apprendre qu’elle a inclus deux villes canadiennes lors de sa tournée actuelle. Elle vient de chanter à Vancouver où elle a reçu des critiques élogieuses. Elle fera ses débuts à Toronto jeudi au Roy Thomson Hall avec l’Orchestre de la Compagnie d’opéra canadienne dirigé par Steven White. La voici dans l’un de ses meilleurs rôles : Violetta dans La traviata de Verdi au Royal Opera House en 1995. Elle est accompagnée par le ténor américain Frank Lopardo qui interprète Alfredo. 

- Joseph K. So; Traduction par Robert Scott


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Andris Nelsons Conducts CBSO in Dvorak New World

When James Levine recently announced his resignation as music director of the Boston Symphony the race was on to name a successor. In the short run, the management of the orchestra had to scramble to replace Levine in upcoming concerts. One young conductor summoned to help out immediately was Andris Nelsons. But he is also on the short list for the permanent post.

Nelsons is currently the music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), Simon Rattle's old orchestra. Nelsons is also very active as an opera conductor. He has appeared often at the Met.

If you warm to Rattle's vast range of facial expressions you may find Nelsons attractive too. Of course the audience doesn't see any of this but on a DVD or video this constant smiling and grimacing can be a bit wearing.

But back to the Boston Symphony. Nelsons recently took over a performance of the Mahler 9th at Carnegie Hall and the reviews were very good. Nelsons appears to be a contender.
In this video Nelsons conducts an excerpt from Dvorak's New World Symphony with the CBSO. The performance was given at the Proms in London last year.

- Paul E. Robinson


Friday, April 1, 2011

In Memoriam: Robert Tear (March 8 1939 - March 29 2011) / En mémoire de Robert Tear (8 mars 1939-29 mars 2011)

Welsh tenor Robert Tear passed away on March 29 at the age of 72. Born in Barry, Glamorgan, Wales, Tear made his operatic deut in 1966 as Peter Quint in Britten's The Turn of the Screw. He made his Royal Opera debut as Lensky in Eugene Onegin in 1970. The tenor had an incredibly wide repertory, from Handel and Mozart to Hindemith and Strauss, but he was most identified as an interpreter of the works of Britten and Tippet.   His Aschenbach in Britten's Death in Venice for Glyndebourne received critical acclaim and is preserved on DVD. Tear retired in 2008 after a long career of over 40 years. His last operatic role was Emperor Altoun in Turandot at the Royal Opera Covent Garden.  In his prime, his bright, high tenor with its solid technique and the intangible "English" quality was very reminiscent of the great Peter Pears. As a result he interpreted many works Britten wrote with Pears in mind.  Tear died shortly before 4 am London time on March 29, after suffering from cancer of the esophagus since last year.  To remember this estimable artist, I have chosen his recording of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.  Recorded in 1971 and at the prime of Robert Tear, it captured very well the quality of his voice and art.


Le ténor gallois Robert Tear est décédé  le 29 mars à l’âge de 79 ans. Né à Barry dans le comté de Glamorgan au pays de Galles, il a fait ses débuts opératiques en 1966 dans le rôle de Peter Quint de l’opéra Le tour d’écrou composé par Benjamin Britten. Il a fait ses débuts au Royal Opera House dans le rôle de Vladimir Lenski de l’opéra Eugène Onéguine en 1970. Ce ténor possédait un très large répertoire, de Handel et Mozart à Hindemith et Strauss, mais il était surtout connu comme interprète des œuvres de Benjamin Britten et de Michael Tippet. Son interprétation du rôle de Gustav von Aschenbach de La mort à Venise par Britten au Festival de Glyndebourne a reçu les éloges de la critique et est maintenant offerte en DVD. Il a pris sa retraite après une carrière de 40 ans. Son dernier rôle était Altoum dans Turandot au Royal Opera House. À son apogée, sa voix éclatante, sa solide technique et sa qualité « britannique » intangible rappelaient le grand Peter Pears. Donc, il a interprété plusieurs œuvres composées par Benjamin Britten pour Peter Pears. Robert Tears est décédé vers 4 h (heure de Londres) le 29 mars, à la suite d’un cancer de l’œsophage. J’ai choisi son enregistrement de l’œuvre de Benjamin Britten la Sérénade pour ténor, cor et cordes qui est dirigé par Sir Neville Marriner. Enregistrée en 1971, elle capture son art et sa voix à son apogée.

- Joseph K. S; Traduction par Robert Scott