Marteau – April 14, 2010

Apr. 14, 2010 – PREVIEW – Stephen Pedersen, The Chronicle Herald, Halifax NS

Composer-conductor Pierre Boulez, at 84, is the acknowledged godfather of contemporary art music. He is, and has been for decades, respected and admired by musicians the world over.

But he is uncompromising, and while not stern, a formidable musical intelligence. The New York Philharmonic appointed him music director in 1971-1977 where his exacting fidelity to the composer’s intentions earned him the title of “The French Correction.”

As a conductor, his reputed ability to conduct two different sets of note groupings with two fingers of one hand, even in the time of five, for example, was legendary among classical musicians.

His most famous and revolutionary chamber music composition, Le Marteau sans Maitre (the hammer without a master), a setting of three poems by surrealist poet Rene Char, has never been performed in Halifax. Because of its extreme difficulty, it is seldom performed in Canada.

But it is one of the few works to have survived the ’50s, a notoriously arid era in contemporary music composition.

That changes tonight in Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery when conductor Bill Linwood brings his Victoria, B.C.-based chamber ensemble, Aventa, to Halifax, to perform Le Marteau in Janice Jackson’s Vocalypse Productions Series.

Linwood brings with him violist Mieka Michaux, flutist Mark McGregor, clarinetist Brent Besner, guitarist Daniel Peter Biru, pianist Miranda Wong, and percussionists Corey Rae, Richard Sacks and Olaf Tzschoppe.

Guest contralto Noa Frenkel sings the Rene Char text in the Boulez.

Aventa also will perform Chants Convergents by Quebec composer Gilles Tremblay, which will be sung by soprano Janice Jackson. Tremblay’s works are often featured in Aventa programs as one of Canada’s most highly regarded contemporary composers.

Jackson and Aventa will also perform Estelle Lemire’s Cantus arborescens, dedicated to Tremblay, who was her composition teacher at the Quebec Conservatoire de Musique a Montreal. Lemire won a Conservatoire Premier Prix for interpretation as an ondes Martenot player (1988), as well as another Premier Prix in composition (1991).