Over the next two weeks, adventurous listeners - those who actually enjoy hearing music, old or new, that they have never heard before - can look forward to several musical events offering unfamiliar repertoire.
This evening, for instance, the Canadian Music Centre's Vancouver office will sponsor the local debut of its popular Score-Reading Club - informal gatherings at which guest musicians present and lead discussions of modern and contemporary works (Open Space, 6 p.m.; by donation; openspace.ca).
On this occasion, soprano Cathy Fern Lewis will present Rudolf Komorous's Cold Mountain Songs (1987), for voice and cello; pianistcomposer Christopher Reiche, Open Space's New Music co-ordinator, will present Cassandra Miller's Bel Canto (2010), for two chamber ensembles; and composer Daniel Brandes will perform and discuss excerpts from Antoine Beuger's keine fernen mehr (2010), for solo whistler.
(All three presenters are locals; Komorous, too, lives here, and Miller, who recently resettled in Montreal, was born here.)
In Vancouver, the Score-Reading Club has met every two months or so since it was launched in 2010, and the CMC hopes to make this a regular event here, too.
nsemble Pacifica is a
Echamber group comprising wind instruments, and so is almost by definition devoted to unfamiliar repertoire, since music for winds alone is (regrettably) performed much less often than music for strings or mixed ensembles.
Pacifica's last concert, in November, was devoted to transcriptions (and proved that an all-winds setting can make even Beethoven's ubiquitous Seventh Symphony sound utterly new).
Its next program, by contrast, will be devoted to original works for winds (May 26, 7: 30 pm., Church of St. Mary the Virgin; by donation; ensemblepacifica.ca).
The first half will comprise Mendelssohn's delightful Notturno, Op.
24, to be performed in its original version for 11 winds, and a substantial four-movement partita (i.e., suite) by the Bohemian oboist, composer and arranger Josef Triebensee (1772-1846).
The highlight of the program, though, will be a difficult major work that has not been performed here in 20 years: Kurt Weill's Violin Concerto, Op. 12, from 1924. Pablo Diemecke will tackle the challenging solo part, joined by 10 winds, two double basses, and a large percussion battery.
Weill is best known for his theatrical works, of course, but he also left a distinguished, if comparatively small, body of concert music, including this sole concerto.
Composed when he was just 24, this half-hour, three-movement work is intense, acerbic, angular, sometimes ironic, calling to mind the neoclassical Stravinsky, the early works of Hindemith and Shostakovich, and other avant-garde music of the day.
Violist Yariv Aloni has always programmed a
good deal of unfamiliar repertoire with both of the string groups he conducts, the Victoria Chamber Orchestra and the Galiano Ensemble.
Indeed, in the VCO's program in February, three works - by Turin, Glazunov and Mayakovski - were obscure enough that the orchestra's librarian had to scour libraries around the world to procure the necessary parts.
The next program of the Galiano Ensemble will offer three serenades all by German Romantic composers: Robert Volkmann, Julius Klengel and Robert Fuchs (May 30, 8 p.m., Phillip T. Young Recital Hall; $33/$30; galiano.ca). The Volkmann and the Fuchs, while not exactly unknown, are hardly warhorses, and the Klengel seems to be a genuine rarity: Naxos Music Library, an online database offering more than a million tracks on almost 70,000 CDs, includes no recording of his serenade, and his life and works rate a mere paragraph in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Fortunately, the novelties Aloni performs invariably prove to be interesting and accessible, well worth getting to know, and it is heartening to report that he has been rewarded for his adventurous programming: The Galiano regularly fills its venue, mostly with season subscribers.
The ensemble has already announced its 2012-13 season, incidentally, and once again it includes obscure composers - Kurt Atterberg, Heino Eller, Haydn Wood - whose names required a trip to The New Grove.
For the record, though, the Galiano is so good that it can make a profound impression regardless of the repertoire. This season, it played nothing more movingly than its most familiar offering, Danny Boy, Percy Grainger's arrangement of which featured in its annual program of English music on Jan. 11. Bigtoned and warm-hearted, sensitive and nuanced, this was a performance that could have melted the heart of a serial killer.
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