Last night’s Toronto Summer Music concert at Koerner Hall featured two works played by the TSM Festival Orchestra conducted by Nicolas Ellis .  The first was Keiko Devaux’ Arras.  It’s a sort of tone poem for chamber orchestra.  The base material is drawn from Keiko’s family’s musical and other heritage; agriculture, weaving, plainsong, Buddhist chant, chansons, Japanese-American pop and so on.  Samples are rewoven, looped, distorted etc and mixed to form a “tapestry” (hence the title).  The effect is quite hypnotic and rather soothing though there’s not much to get a “handle” on, which may be the point.

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The second half of the programme was a chamber arrangement of Mahler’s fourth symphony by Klaus Simon.  The orchestra was joined by Karina Gauvin for the last movement.  I like Mahler in chamber reductions.  With only one instrument on a part and piano filling in where needed the various strands of the music seem clearer and in sharper focus.  It also, of course, makes llife easier for singers.  This was very nicely done with the overall effect being appropriately playful and child like.  My only beef would be that there were no surtitles and no text available.  Seems odd given that they had been used at every other TSM vocal concert I attended.

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Photo credit: Lucky Tang

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