Fourth Annual Toronto Bach Festival

bachtbfThe fourth annual Toronto Bach Festival runs May 24th to 26th.  There are four concerts and a lecture.  Here’s the line up:

Friday, May 24th at 8pm – Brandenburg Five

The program includes two cantatas: the early Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn, and Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn, plus Julia Wedman as soloist in Bach’s Concerto in A minor for violin. A brilliant night of illuminating music.  Soloists for the cantatas are Hélène Brunet, Daniel Taylor, Nick Veltmeyer and Joel Allison.  John Abberger directs the Toronto Bach Festival Orchestra.

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Alma Oppressa

alma oppressaThis review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.

Mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne’s new CD Alma Oppressa, recorded with the Clavecin en Concert and Luc Beauséjour, features arias by Vivaldi and Handel as well as a few short instrumental pieces taken from their operas. It’s a pleasing combination of the dramatic and the more lyrically relaxed, though as pretty much all these arias were written for star castrati it’s also highly virtuosic. The first two numbers give a very good sample of what’s to come. The title track, from Vivaldi’s La fida ninfa is dramatic and allows Ms. Boulianne to use the darker colours of her voice to good effect as well as providing coloratura hijinks. “Sovvento il sole” from the same composer’s Andromeda Liberata is much more lyrical. Indeed, it’s very beautiful with a haunting melody line and an interesting dialogue between voice and violin. It shows off both the brighter tones of the voice and her very attractive lower register. The Vivaldi pieces will likely not be too familiar to most opera goers but there are much better known Handel pieces on the CD including “Lasci ch’io pianga” from Rinaldo and “Cara speme questo core” from Giulio Cesare. The latter shows off the brighter side of the voice as befits an aria for a juvenile character. The twelve piece band, with Beauséjour directing from the harpsichord is quite excellent. They provide a brisk and transparent accompaniment to the arias and sound really excellent in their three short instrumental pieces. I think this is a sensible sized ensemble for this music and probably not far away from what the composers would have expected.

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