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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Truth in Our Time with NACO

March 30, 2022
60 Simcoe St, Toronto, ON M5J 2H5, Canada

“Truth In Our Time.” Most of all, the theme points to Philip Glass’s new Symphony No. 13, commissioned by the NAC Orchestra in tribute to the Canadian-American journalist Peter Jennings, who anchored ABC World News Tonight for more than 20 years. But it also carries over, in various ways, to the rest of the program. Nicole Lizée’s Zeiss After Dark seeks to evoke the cinematographic effect of movie lenses specially developed for scenes played exclusively by candlelight (cue Barry Lyndon). Shostakovich’s antiauthoritarian Symphony No. 9, ordered up to celebrate Stalin, instead serves up subversive satire. The extramusical messaging is probably at its most muted in Erich Korngold’s popular Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35. Korngold, you may recall, fled the Nazis for Hollywood, where his lush, romantic soundtracks set a lasting standard for what movie music could be. Once in America, he vowed never again to write concert music until Hitler was defeated. As soon as Hitler fell, he got busy on this concerto, which is shot through with stirring themes from his film scores. The solo part, Korngold said, was conceived “more for a Caruso than a Paganini.” But in Jascha Heifetz, who played the premiere, Korngold reckoned he had lucked into an interpreter who was “Caruso and Paganini in one person.” The challenge now passes to Blake Pouliot, a rising Canadian virtuoso likewise given to “singing” on the violin. —Matthew Gurewitsch

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