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

SCRUTINY | 21C Music Festival: Gryphon Trio and the Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal

By Arthur Kaptainis on May 24, 2015

Grython Trio Photo: John Beebe
Grython Trio Photo: John Beebe

21C Music Festival with Gryphon Trio and the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal at Koerner Hall, Friday, May 22.

Pastiche is a pejorative word in music circles. It could nevertheless be applied with some enthusiasm to Illusions, the patchwork of 75 minutes presented by the Gryphon Trio and the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal Friday night in Koerner Hall as part of the 21st Century Music Festival.

Given its premiere last month in Montreal, this show intersperses the three movements of Charles Ives’s Piano Trio of 1911 with three new pieces. Binding the elements from behind is a black-and-white video that places much stress on rotating imagery (gears, Ferris wheels) and retro scenes from the amusement park.

Eight names were listed in the program under “artistic team” (including Gryphon cellist Roman Borys) so I shall refrain from crediting anyone in particular for the overall look. I might also fail to explain why the whole loopy business was both listenable and watchable. It helped that the Trio is one of Ives’s more approachable works and that the Gryphons managed to undo some of its density.

As for the contemporary pieces, these managed to speak their respective avant-garde dialects with some freshness. Simon Martin invested the microtonal layers of Musique d’art pour orchestre de chambre II with subtle tension and Gabriel Dharmoo’s Wanmansho was too inventive not to like. Baritone Vincent Ranallo, sporting a funky Indian jacket, whooped his way confidently through various rituals about which we could know nothing. Orchestral effects included a round of flamenco clapping.

Last and longest was Wunderkammer by the well-known eclecticist Nicole Lizée. While the program notes promised 20th-century allusions of all sorts, this potpourri (including participation by the Gryphons) seemed substantially original. Vibrant rhythms and clear textures kept interest alive. Like her colleagues, Lizée did not overwhelm us with percussion. A 21st-century reaction to a 20th-century bad habit? I would love to think so.

Quite central to the good vibrations was ECM artistic director Véronique Lacroix, a conductor of sure instincts and tensile podium style who managed to get the most out of her 13 Montreal musicians.

If Illusions seemed a little long I am inclined to blame in part the first half of the concert, which included a Royal Conservatory of Music commission from jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti. The only remotely interesting elements of this rambling jam session were the recorded cries of a Sicilian donkey-cart driver. Much more appealing were three quixotic pieces by Don Byron as played by the Gryphon Trio and the composer, a clarinetist with a strikingly vocal style.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and review before anyone else finds out? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Facebook for all the latest.

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | Alain Trudel Announced As Interim Artistic Director Of Brott Music Festival

By Anya Wassenberg on May 10, 2022

The Brott Music Festival has announced that conductor, composer and trombonist Alain Trudel will step in as Interim Artistic Director of the organization.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

SCRUTINY | Excellent Performances Don’t Go Far Enough In ‘Italian Mime Suicide’

By Paula Citron on April 27, 2022

'Italian Mime Suicide' has come to Toronto on a wave of acclaim, including being one of the Montreal Gazette’s Top 10 Shows of 2021.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

LEBRECHT LISTENS | A Fresh New Sibelius To Get Excited About

By Norman Lebrecht on April 29, 2022

A new set of Sibelius symphonies from young Finn wizz Klaus Mäkelä comes accompanied by exceptional hype.
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.