Apr 15, 2013

Tafelmusik Season Finale - Chopin & Beethoven

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“Hearing Beethoven on period instruments attempts to recapture the magic of those early performances, emphasising their unusual qualities and approaching the music as though it has never been heard before. Cheeky surprises … jump out of the delicate orchestral textures in a way they cannot in a recording on more modern instruments.” –Classic FM (London)
Tafelmusik’s final subscription concerts of the 2012-13 season take place at Koerner Hall from May 30 to June 2 and feature two titans of the classical music world: superstar Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska —described as “a born Chopin interpreter” by legendary pianist Arthur Rubinstein — performs the music of Chopin on period piano in the first half of the programme; and long-time Tafelmusik collaborator Bruno Weil conducts Beethoven’s Symphony no. 4 and the Coriolan and Egmont Overtures in the second half. The Beethoven symphony and overtures will be recorded live, to be featured as part of a two-CD set on the Tafelmusik Media label. The CD is slated for November release and will include a live recording from the September 2013 performances of Beethoven Symphonies 1 and 2.       
Following her stunning 2010 Tafelmusik debut performance, “an exceptional program of intimate chamber music, such as Chopin himself might have provided,” (Toronto Star) Janina Fialkowska returns to perform a chamber version of Chopin’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in F Minor on a rare 1848 Pleyel piano. These concerts mark only the second time in its 34-year history that Tafelmusik has performed the music of Chopin, a composer who wrote almost exclusively for the piano. Prior to the Chopin bicentenary in 2010, Fialkowska commissioned Dutch composer Sylvia Maessen to arrange the E-minor and F-minor concertos for chamber ensemble, taking her cue from one of Chopin’s letters mentioning his unfulfilled intention to write a chamber version of both pieces. Fialkowska premiered the new arrangements of both concertos at the Ottawa and Parry Sound music festivals in 2010. 
The magnificent Pleyel piano for these Tafelmusik performances dates back to Chopin’s lifetime and was restored by the Quebec City-based team of Marcel Lapointe and Isabelle Gagnon. The instrument is the same model as that used by Chopin himself when he gave his last concert at the Salle Pleyel in Paris in 1848, and is one of very few to survive. The piano sat abandoned in the basement of a small hotel in Paris for more than 100 years before being discovered and restored by Lapointe and Gagnon.
Janina Fialkowska has enchanted audiences for over thirty years with her lyrical sound, her sterling musicianship and her profound sense of musical integrity. The Montreal-born pianist’s career was launched in 1974 by Arthur Rubinstein after her prize-winning performances at the first piano competition held in his name. Recently bestowed with Canada’s Governor General’s Performing Arts Award 2012 for Lifetime Achievement in Classical Music, Janina Fialkowska has made several high-profile appearances this season, including a five-concert UK tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; a recital at Wigmore Hall, which was broadcast live on BBC3; her debut recital at the Frick Collection in New York City; and a recital at Berlin’s Konzerthaus. Earlier this month, her ATMA Classique recording Chopin Recital II won the prestigious BBC Music Magazine Award for Best Instrumental Recording of 2012.
The second half of the programme is no less impressive, with Bruno Weil leading the orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.  A live recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, “Eroica”, released last fall on the Tafelmusik Media label, was selected as Album of the Week by Classic FM in London, and has garnered praise for “vigour with bitingly crisp tone and dynamic playing … Lyrical phrases are smooth and graceful. Bold, concentrated tone color enriches the middle movements, and clean, swift counterpoint enhances the finale.” (New Jersey Star-Ledger)
Tafelmusik began its cycle of Beethoven symphony recordings in 1998 on the Analekta and Sony Classical labels under Bruno Weil’s direction. Previously released recordings include the JUNO Award-winning Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 CD, and the JUNO Award-nominated Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8 CD and DVD. During Tafelmusik’s nineteen-year tenure as orchestra-in-residence at the Klang und Raum Festival in Irsee, Germany, Weil also directed the orchestra in internationally acclaimed performances of Beethoven symphonies. 
Tafelmusik has performed all nine Beethoven symphonies in Toronto under the direction of Bruno Weil, beginning in 1993 with Symphony No. 2. For the first time, Toronto audiences heard Tafelmusik perform these works on the instruments for which they were written. The Beethoven symphony cycle began in earnest in 1998 when he led a performance of the Symphony No.1 in Irsee, with a repeat performance in February 1999 at Toronto’s Massey Hall.