Special to The Montrealer

Founded by renowned cellist Denis Brott, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival will celebrate its 18th Anniversary from May 9 to June 1; as some of the world’s greatest classical musicians take the stage at St. George’s Church at the corner of Peel and de la Gauchetière, just across from Windsor Station. Artistic Director Denis Brott continues to attract gifted musicians in part because of his own high reputation and also because he and the Festival Montreal team have established outstanding credentials for the annual celebration of Chamber Music in Montreal.

In all, 102 musicians will share their musical talent during the festival, with 40% coming from Quebec, 23% from other Canadian provinces and 27% from the US and Europe. And let’s not forget that the link between classical music and jazz. Friday nights during the festival are devoted to Jazz – and Montreal favourite Oliver Jones will open the TD Jazz Series.

Festival highlights include a week dedicated to Bach and performances of the complete Brandenburg Concertos. The Bach Week concludes with Violin Concertos performed an ensemble of young and very talented musicians who have qualified to participate in the prestigious Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank. The closing concert is a Tchaikovsky marathon that includes his Piano Trio, a transcription for solo piano of the Scherzo from Symphony No. 6 and the Serenade of Strings.

The Boston Chamber Music Society opens the Festival on May 9 with their first Quebec performance – and they will be joined by Denis Brott, the Festival’s Founder and Artistic Director. The program will present Menotti’s Suite for 2 Cellos and Piano which was given its first performance by Denis’ teacher, Gregor Piatigorski. The Quintet for Strings and Piano, Opus 57 by Shostakovich and the String Quartet by Schubert finish the evening. The same musicians will travel to Boston on May 12 to perform the same program at Harvard’s Sanders Hall. They were here first!

British virtuoso cellist Colin Carr returns to the Festival on Saturday May 11 with Pianist Thomas Sauer to perform Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, Rachmaninov’s Sonata for Cello and Piano and the sonata for Solo Cello by Kodaly. Musicologist Richard Turp will engage Carr in a conversation prior to the concert.

Week Two will feature the music of Camille Saint-Saens, presented over three evenings. On May 14, the Fine Arts Quartet – one of the finest in the world – will perform String Quartet No. 1 with Brazilian pianist Christina Ortiz. The Fine Arts Quartet has just released a 2 CD set of Saint-Saens’ music.

On Wednesday, May 15, the Fine Arts Quartet will again take the Festival stage and perform the famous Carnival des Animaux. The Quartet will be augmented by 14 year-old pianist Annie Zhou and 12 year old pianist Daniel Clarke Bouchard. The evening’s program also includes excerpts from Schubert’s Trout Quintet and music of Mendelssohn, Liszt and Robert Schumann. To conclude the Saint-Saens week, the May 16 concert will again feature the Fine Arts Quartet, pianist Christina Ortiz, and OSM principal players trumpeter Paul Merkelo and bassist Ali Yazdanfar performing; String Quartet No. 2, the Quartet with piano, the Fantaisie in E-flat and the celebrated Septet. Richard Turp will engage musicologist Sabina Ratner in conversation preceding the May 14 and 16 concerts.

In the May issue of The Montrealer, we’ll provide more details about the programming for Bach Week beginning May 22 with the complete Brandenburg Concertos. Recognized as one of the world’s finest pianists, Jean-Philippe Collard returns after his acclaimed 2011 festival performance.

On Thursday may 30, The Emerson String Quartet will debut cellist Paul Watkins, as he takes over from David Finckel, the first personnel change in the quartet’s 34 year history.
Tickets for The Montreal Chamber Music Festival are now on sale; $40 for individual concerts, $140 for a 4 Concert Pass, and $600 for all 18 concerts and all meet-the-artist receptions.

Place des Arts Box Office at 514-842-2112 or online: www.laplacedesarts.com.
For concert information please call the Festival Office: 514-489-7444. Enjoy!

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