The following story is based on a videotaped conversation at The WholeNote between Angela Hewitt and David Perlman on November 12, 2014 . Click the image below to view/hear the entire conversation.

As Pamela Margles notes in her review of of Angela Hewitt’s newly released Bach: Art of the Fugue in this issue of The WholeNote (page 77 of the print edition) “it was four years ago that Hyperion released all of Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt’s recordings of Bach’s solo keyboard works as a 15-disc boxed set. It was a huge project, but it didn’t include Bach’s monumental late work, The Art of the Fugue.”

“That is when everyone started writing to me of course,” says Hewitt. “You know, why haven’t you done The Art of the Fugue.” She hadn’t even performed it before then, she says, let alone contemplated recording it. “Growing up, it wasn’t even really considered a keyboard piece, or even anything you performed much. For one thing it had long been considered something of an academic work – Bach seeing what he could do with fugues, double fugues, triple fugues, mirror fugues. And there was the fact that in the first edition it was written as an open score, one voice per stave, like a string quartet.”


Messiah - 12When it comes to our December issue, no topic it seems has the power to set the pigeon among the cats more effectively than the perennial popularity of Handel’s Messiah. Our choral columnist Ben Stein simply states that he is going to assume that the readers of this column need no urging from him to find a Messiah performance (and then goes on to talk about an admittedly interesting array of other choral events over the holidays and beyond. Our early music columnist Dave Podgorski is slightly less categorical proffering that from his vantage point, Tafelmusik’s sing-along Messiah and Aradia’s Dublin Messiah are the only two Messiahs in Toronto he thinks you need to see. (And like Stein goes on to talk about an equally interesting array of other musical options.) Even CD reviewer Hans De Groot, after singing the praises of a new CD of Messiah from the Boston Handel and Haydn Society (liberally laced with Canadian vocal and instrumental talent, I might add) feels it necessary to add the remark that when asked to review the recording, his first thought was: Another Messiah – who needs it? (Before going on to say that in this case, he couldn’t have been more wrong.)

Our experts notwithstanding, there’s something about Herr Handel’s 24-day opus that continues to captivate, year after year. This year we have scoured the listings and come up with 32 performances by 20 organizations. Five period-instrument groups account for ten performances. Nine modern instrument organizations offer a further 14. Two organizations serve up four performances accompanied by organ. And a further four give single performances that include excerpts from the work.

Davis 14It was a dark and snowy afternoon Wednesday, November 19, 2014. The first significant snowfall of the year blanketed the city sidewalks and the air was decidedly crisp. I subwayed to Hugh’s Room on Dundas West for the launch of Toronto diva Measha Brueggergosman’s new album Christmas (Warner Music Canada) and its 19-date Canadian tour. It was a treat to witness the New Brunswick native, so at home in concert recitals and opera, in such an intimate dinner club concert setting. Though only in her 30s, she is that rare breed today: Canadian classical music royalty. Brueggergosman is a glittering diva combining superb vocal and acting chops, a bona fide classical celebrity in a country where the two words don’t usually crop up in the same sentence.

As thrilling as it was to witness the Grammy-nominated, JUNO-winning star deftly working the music – and her fans in the room – I was primarily there to see the singer’s musical director, arranger and pianist Aaron Davis at work. But first, full disclosure: my path crossed Davis’ at York University’s Music Department back in the mid-1970s. He was deeply immersed in jazz then and I in everything but. We did however share some common ground in the study of the music of several West African, Caribbean, and South Asian cultures.

Paetkau 17

Eric Paetkau, tall and lean, appeared confident, serious and enthusiastic on a mid-November visit to The WholeNote’s office as he described the program for group of 27’s January 30 concert “Journey.” He characterized it as “ a wonderful mix of music,” from Mozart’s beloved Symphony 35 “The Haffner” to the lyrical Dvorak Romance and Andrew Staniland’s Voyageur, with Beethoven’s rarely performed, delightful 12 Contredanses broken up and interspersed between the three works. Each piece is a kind of journey, he explained, “taking you to a different place.”

“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” – Stanley Kubrick

Imagine, as you walk through Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition (October 31 to January 25 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox), that you have an iPod loaded with music from Kubrick’s films. Listening to this music as you stroll would further illuminate the artefacts from the filmmaker’s extensive archives that already comprise an extraordinary glimpse into the working habits and intellect of one of the most thorough directorial minds the world of cinema has ever seen.

Prokofiev’sNevsky: The first piece on that iPod, perhaps surprisingly, would have to be Prokofiev’s soundtrack to Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky (1938), which Kubrick bought after seeing the film with Alexander Singer, a friend from high school (and later a director himself). Kubrick was so obsessed with the record that he played it continually, well over 100 times, so much so that his younger sister, fed up, broke it “in an absolute rage,” Singer said. “Stanley never got over [the battle on the ice].”

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