Song of the Earth

Last night’s final Koerner Hall event in Toronto Summer Music started off with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major.  It’s a tuneful, well constructed piece which in places riffs off Romany music, hence its nickname “Turkish”.  Jonathan Crow was the soloist with a small orchestra drawn from all the area’s major orchestras plus TSM Fellows.  Gemma New conducted.  It was very satisfying.  The orchestra was excellent and the interplay between solist and orchestra worked very well.  It’s quite a demanding piece for the soloist and I really enjoyed the sound that Jonathan produced.  He plays an instrument with a rather distinctive timbre which worked well here.  I’m curious about the first movement cadenza.  I don’t know the work well enough to knoew what the options are but this one was very virtuosic though sounding distinctly post-Mozartian.

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Coming Up

There are a couple of interesting concerts coming up in the last week of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.  On the 24th at 7.30pm in Walter Hall you can see Collectìf in a “spooky” programme.  Collectìf is a group started by Danika Lorèn and friends.  They do shows that incorporate staging, art song and video and they are never boring.  (They also do adult cabaret but that’s another story!).  Wednesday’s show is called Beyond Perception: What Haunts Us Now and features three sections.  The first is built around the theme of La Dame Blanche, the second features Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and the last deals with the myth of Daphne and Apollo.  Recommended.  And as an added incentive for operaramblings readers there’s a discount code OR10 which will get you $10 tickets.  Tickets from the Royal Conservatory Box Office online, in person or by phone.

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Art song semis – part 1

So the first four semifinalists have sung.  It’s interesting.  Julien van Mellaerts sang a very restrained, very Liederish set while all three girls were more dramatic.  A lot is going to turn on the judges views on the “right way” to do art song.  If the prelims are anything to go by I suspect they tend more to the operatic than I do.  We shall see.

Julien van Mellaerts kicked off with Schubert.  Der Einsame was a model of Germanic restraint but he clearly had plenty of power in reserve and let it out a bit in the more dramatic Rastlose Liebe.  Mahler’s Zu Strassburg auf der Schantz was lovely and lyrical and showed real ability to shape a line.  Gurney’s In Flanders showed off clean high notes plus a sense of style.  His version of Butterworth’s Is my team ploughing? almost teetered into the mannered.  It was lovely but a little precious à la Bostridge.  Songs by Fauré and Duparc were sung stylishly to round out a set that was very much to my taste but will it please the judges?

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The conclusion of the aria prelims

Last night the final eight aria contestants performed.  Canadian mezzo Marie-Andrée Mathieu was up first.  Meyerbeer’s Nobles seigneurs, salut! showed genuine mezzo colours, good control and some dramatic flair.  Parto! Parto! was pleasant but not as dramatic as one might expect.  Certainly the range of emotion on display was markedly less than Emily D’Angelo the day before.  Amour, viens rendre mon âme from Gluck’s Orphée showed she could handle long runs.  So it was a solid performance but maybe not at the level needed against this field.

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The All Gretchen Show

Yesterday afternoon and evening we heard all sixteen contestants in the preliminary round of the art song competition and the eight semifinalists were announced.  To try and keep things interesting I’m going to do three posts; one on the afternoon, one on the evening and one on the judging and other general observations.  The first was written between the afternoon and evening sessions yesterday and I haven’t updated it with later information.  The second will be based on my notes and I’ll try to ignore who the fact that at time of writing I know the results.  So here’s the first post about yesterday afternoon…

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News

soileSo after a bit of a hiatus the Toronto music scene is coming back to life.  The Toronto Summer Music Festival has kicked off and the main interest for followers of the vocal arts lies in the Art Song fellows project with concerts at 1pm on each of the next two Saturdays in Walter Hall (free but tickets required).  Then the vocal highlight of the festival; Soile Isokoski in recital with Martin Katz at 7.30pm on the 18th at Walter Hall.  The programme includes the Schumann Mary Stuart songs, the Strauss Ophelia songs plus some Wolf and, of course, Sibelius.  Ms. Isokoski is also giving a public masterclass in Walter Hall on the 23rd at 2pm.

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