It’s seven years since Elizabeth Krehm died and last night we heard the seventh memorial concert organised by her sister Rachel at Christ Church Deer Park. As ever I was amazed and delighted at the resources the extended Krehm family can draw on. The Canzona Chamber Players Orchestra is essentially a scratch operation but in the hands of conductor Evan Mitchell it’s always a pleasure to listen to.
The programme began with Bruch’s Kol Nidrei with quite lovely cello playing by soloist Michel Strauss. This was followed by that epic of Lieder singing; Vier letzte Lieder of Richard Strauss. Rachel herself was the soprano soloist. This is a heavily orchestrated piece and, in the resonant acoustic of a very large church, a real challenge to be heard at all, let alone clearly. One could certainly hear Rachel even if sometimes the words tended to disappear into the wall of sound. Actually she sounded quite beautiful and, if hardly effortless, not overstrained. And who can not respond to Hesse and von Eichendorff’s texts when set with all the hope and despair of late Strauss?
After the break we got Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. Truly this is one of the greatest symphonies of all and another striking example of hope and renewal. It got a blazing account. No attempt to sound “Viennese” or refined, but full on, the way a Russian orchestra would play it. Well almost, I’ve never heard a Western orchestra’s brass section play Shostakovich the way the Leningrad Phil does and maybe that’s a good thing! Toronto needs more Shostakovich.