A German Requiem

It was an unusual double bill at the TSO last night; the premiere of Alexina Louie’s Triple Violin Concerto and Brahms’ A German Requiem.  The concerto is an interesting piece.  It’s got a layered, shimmery quality that sounds quite modern without going off into territory that would frighten the punters.  It also makes excellent use of the three virtuoso soloists for whom it was written; Jonathon Crow, Yosuke Kawasaki and Andrew Wan; concertmasters respectively of the the TSO, the NAC Orchestra and l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.  It clever plays the combinations of having soloist dialogue with soloist and soloists dialoguing individually and collectively with the orchestra.  Very enjoyable.

Jonathan Crow, Yosuke Kawasaki, Andrew Wan, Peter Oundjian (@Jag Gundu)

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And off we go again

Giulio_Cesare_di_AsterixAfter the usual summer hiatus the Toronto music scene starts to get back into gear in the coming week.  Tonight there’s the final concert of the Fall Baroque Academy at Trinity College Chapel.  It features excerpts from Handel’s Giulio Cesare.  It’s at 7.30pm and it’s free.

There are two Ensemble Studio lunchtime concerts in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  Tuesday is the traditional “Meet the Artists” gig where everyone gets to do an opera aria and Wednesday celebrates the Invictus Games.  It’s a predictably war themed program with the expected like Butterworth (good) and Ives (the appalling He is there) and the less expected with works by Somers and Argento among others.  Both concerts are at noon and free.

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Carmina Burana

Last night the TSO gave the last concert of the Decades Project.  Starting, inevitably, with a sesqui, the first half continued with a fine performance of Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with Nicola Benedetti as soloist.  In some ways it’s an odd piece to use to characterise the 1930s (but then so is Carmina Burana!).  It’s high romantic in tone and style.  Lush even.  It’s also extremely well crafted with a rather luscious part for the soloist played quite beautifully by Ms. Benedetti.

Nicola Benedetti, Peter Oundjian @Jag Gundu

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Seven Sins at the Symphony

Last night’s Decades series concert featured three works from the 1930s plus a sesqui.  The sesqui, Andrew Balfour’s Kiwetin-acahkos; Fanfare for the Peoples of the North was definitely one of the more interesting of these short pieces.  There were elements of minimalism combined with a nod to Cree/Métis fiddle music.  Quite complex and enjoyable.  It was followed by Barber’s rather bleak Adagio for Strings and the Bartók Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.  It’s familiar enough fare and was well played by the orchestra under Peter Oundjian.  I particularly enjoyed some of the weird percussion/celesta effects in the third movement of the Bartók.  But really I was there for the second half of the program.

sds3

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A rather odd night at the symphony

BoulezI went to see the TSO last night because there was a Boulez piece programmed that I wanted to hear.  It was a rather odd evening.  It kicked off with Morawetz’ Carnival Overture Op.2.  This was I suppose the designated Canadiana.  It’s a roughly five minute piece that sounds like the Brahms of the Academic Festival Overture crossed with Dvořák.  Too much brass and cymbals for my taste.  Then came about ten minutes of faffing about reorganising the stage for the Boulez followed by Peter Oundjian coming out and making one of those cringingly apologetic speeches for programming something “difficult”.  I hate this.  If an orchestra, opera house or chamber ensemble is going to program atonal, serialist or what you will music (and they should) by all means explain how it works in a program note but don’t patronise the audience and, above all, don’t apologise.  If it needs an apology why are you programming it?

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Tanya Tagaq at the TSO

Last night saw the opening concert of the TSO’s New Creations Festival.  It opened with a sesquie by Andrew Staniland; Reflections on “O Canada” After Truth and Reconciliation.  Sesquies are two minute “fanfares” composed to commemorate Canada’s 150th.  Staniland’s version was a bold attempt to deal with the immensely complex subject of reconciliation between Canada and its native peoples and, of course, one can’t do that in two minutes in any medium.  Reflections was an interesting stab though.  It was structured as a very quiet canon for high strings in a minor key using the principal theme of O Canada and ending with an overblown fanfare in the winds.  You can apply your own political interpretation.

tanya-tagaq

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And now, the TSO

tso-music-director-peter-oundjian-photo-credit-sian-richardsHot on the heels of the RCM, the Toronto Symphony has announced its 2017/18 season, whih will be Peter Oundjian’s last as Music Director.  There’s lots of sesquicentennial stuff of course but here’s a summary of the interesting vocal stuff (rock and roll and other children’s music omitted).

September 27,28 and 30, 2017: Brahm’s German Requiem with Erin Wall and Russell Braun.

October 19 and 20, 2017: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Susan Platts and Michael Schade.  This is billed as a Maureen Forrester commemoration.

November 9 and 11, 2017: Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan:Requiem for a Generation with Measha Brueggergosman, Alysson McHardy, Colin Ainsworth and Brett Polegato.

December 16, 19, 20, 22 and 23, 2017: Handel’s Messiah with Karina Gauvin, Kristina Szabó, Frédéric Antoun and Joshua Hopkins.

April 26 and 28, 2018: A concert performance of Bernstein’s Candide with Tracy Dahl, Judith Forst, Nicholas Phan and Richard Suart.

June 2 and 3, 2018: A concert called Water Music with Leslie Ann Bradley singing Dvorak, Schubert and Mozart.

June 28 and 29, 2018:  Peter Oundjian signs off with a Beethoven 9.  Soloists tba.

Full details here.