DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Daily album review 19: Ensemble Made in Canada enchants in Mozart and Brahms début

By John Terauds on November 21, 2013

(Bo Huang photo.)
(Bo Huang photo.)

The impressive, elegant interpretations of piano quartets by Mozart and Johannes Brahms on Ensemble Made in Canada’s début album is proof that DIY recording can result in big-label quality.

Ensemble Made in Canada violinist Elissa Lee, violist Sharon Wei and cellist Rachel Mercer teamed up with pianist Angela Park to record Mozart’s E-flat Major Piano Quartet No. 2, K493 and Brahms’ C minor Piano Quartet No. 2, from Op. 60, at the Glenn Gould Studio in 2012.

Recording costs big bucks, so the Ensemble took a gamble by setting up an online fundraising campaign on Kickstarter — eventually exceeding their $8,000 goal by $6,000 dollars. The 97 people who pledged money must feel incredibly gratified to have received such a high-quality result.

The Mozart is balanced, clear, delicate yet still filled with colour and energy.

The Brahms quartet, like all of his music, is far more challenging than its easy-to-love Romanticism might suggest. The music too easily gets too heavy, too contrived. Yet, if the musicians go lightly, the result lacks the weight of conviction.

The Made in Canadians get it just right, with Mercer and Park anchoring Brahm’s all-important lower timbres confidently, and the two higher-pitched instruments adding the spark of life without ever sounding strident.

There are no liner notes with the CD, so I just want to mention that the Mozart piano quartets are significant because they introduce the piano into this particular chamber music setup for the first time. The music was commissioned in 1785 by the music publisher Hoffmeister — but Mozart gave No. 2 to another publisher, and it didn’t sell well, mainly because the music was too difficult for the amateur musicians who would have been the people performing chamber music at the time.

There’s a 20-year span between Brahms’ first ideas on the Op. 60 piano quartet (also known as the “Werther” quartet) and its completion in 1875. the Werther reference is all about Goethe-inspired suicidal desperation, a reflection of the mental health issues his close friend Robert Schumann was going through.

Both pieces in their very different ways reveal new layers of beauty with each listen — and the fine performances by Ensemble Made in Canada make it all the more tempting to do just that.

Hopefully the Ensemble will soon post details of the album on their website here. UPDATE: In my enthusiasm for the album, I jumped the gun on its availability, which will include iTunes, starting Dec. 5.

Their next performances in Toronto are both free: at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on Dec. 5 (details here) and the Great Hall at Hart House on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.

John Terauds

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Toronto Summer Music Festival’s In-Person Opening Concert Is A Cause For Celebration

By Joseph So on July 27, 2021

Jonathan Crow and Philip Chiu brilliantly kick off Toronto Summer Music's live music concert series this week after the long COVID drought.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | National Ballet Of Canada Names Hope Muir As Artistic Director Effective 2022

By Anya Wassenberg on July 7, 2021

After a two-year search that spanned the globe, the National Ballet of Canada announced the appointment of Toronto-born Hope Muir as Artistic Director.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE SCOOP | Toronto Summer Music To Add In-Person Concerts

By Michael Vincent on July 15, 2021

Announced today, the Toronto Summer Music Festival will be adding a new series of live in-person concerts for the final week of the festival between July 26 to 31.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.