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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Schubert to Mercury to Beethoven

The main stage concert for TSM at Koerner Hall last night was given by the Art of Time Ensemble with vocalists John Southworth and Sarah Slean.  It’s my first encounter with Art of Time have been around for about ten years and specialise in cross genre collaborations inspired by their founder, pianist Andrew Burashko.

TSM July 25-Dale Butterill

Last night was classical meets singer songwriter.  There was an introductory piece by Christos Hatzis, some Schubert, plenty of Gershwin and lashings of Leonard Cohen plus much more (there was no set list and I didn’t take notes).  It’s rather out of my usual zone but I enjoyed.  Southworth is a really quirky vocalist, exemplified by a rather weird version of The Old Folks at Home; which needed to be weird!  Slean is quite a performer; good voice, very funny, great mover.  The ensemble was terrific across the board.  I’m sold.  There are lots of reasons to stretch the boundaries of classical performance.  Larry Beckwith does it very well with his Confluence series.  Here’s another example.

TSM July 25-Photo Dale Butterill

The late show, also at Koerner, featured Jonathan Crow, Katya Poplyansky, Minkyoung Lee and Allison Rich in a performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in B-flat Major Op. 130 but with a twist.  They played the full original version in which the Grosse Fuge Op. 133 forms the finale.  So, basically, an hour long string quartet!  It was very well done though I confess late Beethoven at 10.30 pm was straining the grey matter.

Photo credit: Dale Butteril

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.

July-24-Collectif

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reGENERATION week 1

There were three reGENERATION concerts in Walter Hall yesterday at 1pm, 4pm and 7.30pm.  It made for a long but interesting day.  As last year, each concert was a mix of vocal and chamber music.  The vocal program was not announced in advance so I’m working from notes and there could be the odd error.  Pleasingly, there were surtitles for the songs.  This is a huge improvement on a sheet of tiny print to be read in the dark! Continue reading

A new beginning?

Last night the Music Director designate of the TSO, Gustavo Gimeno, conducted a concert of 20th century classics.  It was the first chance to see him with the orchestra since his appointment.  First up was the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor.  It’s a curious work with relatively little dialogue between soloist and orchestra.  Rather there’s a very Sibelian orchestral piece kind of sandwiched with a highly virtuosic violin part but it works in an odd sort of way.  It was also very well played with all the necessary virtuosity from soloist Jonathan Crow and an orchestral sound which while often dark and brooding was also quite transparent.

TSO June 28 Photo Credit Jag Gundu

Photo: Jag Gundu

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L’Histoire du Soldat

Most music lovers have probably heard the music from Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat in either orchestral or chamber arrangement but it’s rare for the work to be given in its full staged form but that’s how it was presented (more or less) last night at Koerner Hall by the Toronto Summer Music Festival in association with LooseTEA Music Theatre.  That form includes a narrator, an actor (originally three actors, nowadays usually just a single actor/narrator) and dancer.  Plus, of course, the band; violin and bass, clarinet and bassoon, cornet and trombone, piano.

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Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation

Last night’s TSO program started off with a sort of Remembrance Day pot pourri; pipes, bugles, a bit of poetry, an excerpt of Vaughan Williams in between and finally a rather beautiful account of The Lark Ascending with Jonathan Crow playing the solo from high up in the Gallery.  Once upon a time the TSO would do Remembrance Day by performing an appropriate work or works, Britten’s War Requiem for example.  I think that might actually be a more effective way of remembering.

Jonathan Crow_The Lark Ascending (@Jag Gundu)

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