When the Ohio city’s exuberant Art Deco train station was handed a new life by preservationists as the Cincinnati Museum Center, the building also received a massive, new pipe organ, cobbled together from two instruments built in the 1920s by E.M. Skinner, the United States’ equivalent of Canada’s top builder, Casavant Frères.
Most concert pianists are like modern tennis players. They know that only two or three men and women are ever going to win the major tournaments, which leaves all the rest working harder each day in vain pursuit of an inhuman perfection and an inexhaustible hope.
Most of the music on the latest album by Toronto’s Amici Chamber Ensemble is not well known. But thanks to brilliant, affecting performances, there isn’t a single piece among the 10 works represented that doesn’t deserve our attention.
J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, written for a two-manual harpsichord nearly three centuries ago, are musical and artistic ballbreakers on many levels that include Glenn Gould’s two iconic recordings which no one on earth has been able to ignore. The Goldbergs are incredibly addictive for the listener as much as the interpreter, which has prompted so many others to try recording them — each with utterly different results.
For most concert presenters and record label managers, familiarity breeds content, meaning that it sells. But in the wider world, there are musicians as well as listeners who welcome a nice stretch of the imagination every now and again.