Robert Silverman, piano, with the Lafayette String Quartet
When/where: Sunday, 2: 30 p.m., Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (MacLaurin Building, UVic); preconcert reception at 1: 30 p.m.
Tickets: $50. Call 250-721-8480; online at tickets.uvic.ca; in person at the UVic Ticket Centre
Victoria Baroque Players: Bach, Handel and More, with Nancy Argenta, soprano, and Curtis Foster, oboe
When/where: Sunday, 7: 30 p.m., Church of St. John the Divine (1611 Quadra St.)
Tickets: Adults $25, seniors $23, students and children $5. In person at Ivy's Bookshop, Munro's Books, the Cadboro Bay Book Co., Long and McQuade, and the St. John's office (250-383-7169)
Robert Silverman is one of Canada's most admired pianists, and his concert career, which spans half a century, has taken him across this country and all over the world.
In 2003 he retired from the University of British Columbia, where he had taught for 30 years, but he still lives in Vancouver and still performs and records. He has not appeared in Victoria for some time, but on Sunday afternoon he will join the Lafayette String Quartet in concert at the University of Victoria's School of Music, where the quartet's members have been artists-in-residence since 1991.
Silverman and the Lafayette are old friends; they first performed together in 1987, when the quartet was just a year old and still based in Detroit.
That first concert came about through "dumb luck," says Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, the first violinist.
Silverman was scheduled to play Shostakovich's Piano Quintet in Vancouver with a Russian quartet, but when the Russians' travel documents failed to arrive, the Lafayette was tapped, with just a few days' notice, to replace them. Silverman and the Lafayette have since collaborated many times in concert, in Canada and the U.S. "His warmth, enthusiasm and support for us have always been steadfast," Elliott-Goldschmid says.
In the first half of Sunday's program, Silverman will perform solo works by Brahms (the Rhapsody in B Minor, from Op. 79, and the six gorgeous late pieces of Op. 118); in the second half, he and the Lafayette will perform Schumann's Piano Quintet. (Silverman is an authoritative interpreter of both Brahms and Schumann; indeed, the latest addition to his large and varied discography is a forthcoming CD of variation sets by these two composers.)
In case you're wondering about the hefty ticket price: Sunday's concert is a fundraiser for the School of Music, and the proceeds will help cover the cost of the 63 Steinway & Sons pianos it recently acquired, making it Canada's only allSteinway school. But there's a pre-concert reception, so if you're feeling overcharged bring some Tupperware and load up.
On Sunday evening, the Victoria Baroque Players will open their second full season with Bach, Handel and More, and it is the "Handel and More" that stands out here: Since its debut in April 2011, this periodinstrument ensemble has devoted itself almost exclusively to Bach.
More than half of its coming season, too, will be devoted to Bach, including a program of sacred cantatas in November and, ambitiously, the St. John Passion in March. But this season it is also embracing more generously the very wide range of Baroque repertoire. Its season-closing program next May, for instance, will be devoted to French music, and in addition to its own four-concert season, it will collaborate with the Victoria Children's Choir in a Charpentier mass early in the Christmas season and will perform concertos by Italian and German composers for the Early Music Society of the Islands in January.
This is good news. The ensemble plays with plentiful colour, flair and rhythmic verve, which certainly pay dividends in Bach, particularly his concertos and other Italianate works, yet its style actually seems better suited to music more stylish and vivid and sensuous than Bach's sacred vocal works, which, after all, are musical sermons intended to instruct and inspire, not entertainment to refresh and delight the ear.
There is admittedly a certain summit-straddling prestige in playing Bach, and the ensemble has won a healthy following by programming his music, but its particular musical merits may actually be more flatteringly displayed in the "Handel and More."
Sunday's concert will include a quotient of Bach: a string transcription of a trio sonata and a sacred cantata, the latter featuring soprano Nancy Argenta.
But otherwise the program is Handel-heavy: a trio sonata, a concerto grosso from Op. 3, the third and most lightly scored of the Water Music Suites, and (again with Argenta) four arias from the Miltoninspired choral work L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.
Also noteworthy this Sunday will be the first appearance of an oboist among the Victoria Baroque Players. Curtis Foster, a Seattlebased specialist in historical oboes and recorders highly regarded in international early-music circles, has been engaged as a guest artist, and will be featured in the Bach cantata and a trio sonata by Telemann. The latter will have him playing in duet with the exceptional flutist Soile Stratkauskas, the ensemble's founder. That, in particular, promises to be a treat.
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