May 15, 2015: Virtuosi Concerts Season in Review

We present:

The Season in Review – 2014-15.

After Nobuyuki Tsujii’s stunning season-finale recital on Mother’s Day, we feel like we should create a club for music-lovers in recovery! He was phenomenal, and we feel exhausted from experiencing such an amazing display of virtuosity and stamina – a real tour de force.

In Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata which ended the programme, the tonal and emotional contrasts kept building and building all the way to the thrilling conclusion. With all that power, Nobu sensitively produced some of the softest triple pianissimos we have ever heard from any pianist!

Not only did Nobu play his scheduled program, but we were all delighted when he performed THREE encores:

Nocturne No. 21 in C minor, Op. Posthumous

SOREDEMO IKITE YUKU, Elegy for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, March 11, 2011

Étude No. 3 in G sharp minor “La Campanella” (S. 141/3)

Nobu’s exciting concert served as a fitting preview for the spectacular 25th anniversary season – opening in September. But it was also a culmination of many truly wonderful musical experiences in our intimate Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall over the past year.

Here are some impressions I’ve cobbled together to help us travel, fleetingly in memory, through the nine Virtuosi Concerts of 2014-15. The Season in Review is based mostly on selected (but representative) remarks you provided in The Audience as Critic.


The Findlay-Braslavsky Duo was “beauty doubled” in Chopin’s piano/cello sonata, and Canadian composer Milton Barnes moved us with his elegiac and haunting Lamentations of Jeremiah.




Minguet Quartett Photo: Frank Rossbach

Andreas Klein Photo: Marco Borggieve

Mountains were moved when the Minguet String Quartet arrived with their guest pianist, Andreas Klein, but minus their Romanian violist, who remained at the Canadian border unable to obtain the necessary travel visa. Luckily, the Cecilia Quartet was in town to perform with the Women’s Musical Club the next day. Their violist, Caitlin Boyle, knew the Minguet’s concert programme and agreed to come rehearse and play with them on Saturday night. CRISIS AVERTED! “Their Mozart was refined, elegant and a wonderful blend, with four great talents…including a violist who could step in so seamlessly.” “The Bach Concerto No. 1 was fantastic both by quartet and pianist. More of such groups!”




The tragedy of WWI was recapitulated by pianist Maxim Bernard when he played music written during The Great War on the Remembrance Day weekend. “An abundance of musicality reflecting great feeling and finesse.” “It was a great evening in the company of a fine artist.”

UWinnipeg Collegiate students had a preview performance and chat with Maxim. “It helped me to know what to listen for and to understand what I was listening to,” said one student. “I was taken on a journey, like reading a book. It was an amazing experience.” “The Great War was a time of confusion and tragedy, so lest we forget.”

Proceeds from the encore performance on Sunday were donated to the Army Cadet League of Canada (Manitoba) to support them in sending representatives to France in April 2017 for the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.


WSO String Quintet Photo: Tony Nardella

The Kim Piano Duo performed with the WSO String Quintet, with Michael Kim providing illuminating commentary on My Favourite Key. “Michael’s thoughts on key signatures were charming, funny and thoughtful, and the playing was superb.” “The best concert I’ve seen and heard to date!!!”







Ensemble Caprice Photo: Bill Blackstone

Ensemble Caprice performed early music from the Old and New Worlds taken from their Salsa Baroque CD; they left the audience clamouring for more early music on Virtuosi Concerts. “Early music is a voyage to a strange land that we should visit more often!” “It was an astounding event.” “One of the most original Virtuosi Concerts I have attended.” “Salsa Baroque was an unforgettable experience, and you find many at Virtuosi.” There were so many remarks of a similar nature, but I cannot resist adding one more: “A wonderful musical journey – more comfortable than a dark clammy old castle!”






The Fauré Piano Quartett Photo: Matt Hennek


The Fauré Piano Quartet arrived from Germany for a very late dinner at our home the evening before their concert. They recovered quickly, and then gave us a performance that was “…unbelievable from the first to the last note.” “It was as close to perfection as I expect to hear for a long time to come.” We agreed and have invited them back for 2017.






Octagon came with two first violins – Mark Fewer and Martin Beaver who were “absolutely stunning.” “An incredible performance; an unbelievable experience sitting three feet from the performers on the stage.” “I also loved the pre-concert Young Artists in Performance featuring violinist Gregory Lewis playing Bach.” (Gregory had just triumphed at the Winnipeg Music Festival by winning both the Aikins Memorial Trophy and the Victor Feldbrill Trophy.)






The Kang/Mercer/Park Trio was “Five Stars!” But maybe, “Six Stars! Or 6.5? Seven?” But certainly, five Es: “Energetic! Engaging! Elegant! Enchanting! Enthusiastic!” “I’ve never heard Beethoven’s Archduke played better.” “A tour de force of teamwork and harmony!!”






…And then there was Nobu…

1. Wonderful concert! (M.S.)

2. Spell-binding! (B.S-G)

3. Fantastic performance. Continue with the great artists. (V.D.)

4. When words fail, music begins. One needs a new vocabulary to describe this young man’s performance – outstanding, breathtaking, amazing do not describe it. We were in the presence of the divine. His technique and dynamic control are totally awesome. This is music that comes from within and stirs the soul of the listener. (V.H.)

5. Fantastic playing by a blind genius! Best treat of the season! Thank you, Harry! (M.F.)

6. The most spectacular concert we have ever attended! Thank you (S.T.)

7. The music is played in a marvelous, enrapturing manner. What a wonderful concert! (A.F.)

8. The whole concert was awesome, but the Liszt “Mephisto Waltz” was spectacular both visually and to the ear. Amazing stuff from anyone – sighted or blind. (J.P.)

9. Mind boggling. Soul stirring. Nobu attacks the keyboard directly. (A.M.)

10. Words cannot describe your performance. “Thank you” for coming to play for us Nobu. Brilliant, and more than memorable. (M.T.)

11. This young man has a gift from God (and Mephisto?) (U.E.)

12. Brilliant musician! Thank you for bringing him to us. Such intimacy, grace, and utter command of the music and the piano. A lovely choice of pieces. Thank you. (D.M.)

13. What a Mother’s Day present. Nobu is an incredible artist – it doesn’t get much better. (Anonymous)

14. Unparalleled range and musicianship. His playing drove me to tears. Outstanding. (D.W.)

15. Subarashi! Incredible technique, exquisite sensitivity. That Liszt Mephisto was unbelievable to hear, and even more fantastic to see. (K.T.)

16. Even better than last time! (Anonymous)

17. Loved the concert! Since it was a piano recital, it would help to have the “Piano In The Sky” camera on a tighter shot. Not necessary to see so much fervour and piano strings. Bring that shot about 1/3 closer so you can really see the artist’s hands on the keyboard. (B.B.)

18. The Liszt “Mephisto” was like lightning striking on the piano. When he was not unleashing the full extent of the storm, Nobu’s lyrical moments carried a wonderful inevitability that let the soul of the piano out and greet us. (M.G.)

19. Unbelievable! Bring him back soon! (C.R.)

20. Excellent concert! I have not been to a Virtuosi concert for a very long time, and in fact we got the last two seats. What an enjoyable experience. The hall was great and cozy! The music, unbelievable. The wine at the beginning + snack was awesome too. Thank you. An excellent variety! Nobu’s personal piece as an encore was so touching and beautiful! (H.B.)

21. Thank you for bringing this amazing artist here. Remarkable playing. A joy!! (Anonymous


I’m so looking forward to our anniversary in September. Help us celebrate what Virtuosi Concerts has become over a quarter century: Winnipeg’s International Recital and Chamber Music Concert Series.

Until the fall,

Illustrated by Wayne Elliott