Opera Atelier’s fall show Something Rich and Strange was originally conceived as a show that could be given before a (limited) live audience as well as via web stream. That’s obviously constraining compared to a show that is created without a fourth wall and can include location filming. All the other constraints of these strange times had also to be observed. Despite this there was much to like in a show that presented a number of scenes from the 17th and 18th century repertoire plus a couple of “neo-baroque” pieces composed by Edwin Huizinga.
Last night Koerner Hall live streamed a concert by the COC orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus with guest soloist Adrienne Pieczonka. It was a mostly Beethoven concert bookended by the Egmont Overture and the Symphony No.2. In between came a set of more Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner sung by Adrienne.
Elliot Madore’s recital with Rachel Andrist was supposed to have happened at Mazzoleni all with a limited live audience last weekend but that didn’t happen and the programme was recorded in an empty Koerner Hall and streamed last night. The programme’s first half was all French and the second half English.
The COC is posting complete performance videos from the archive here. These are “technical” videos designed to inform a future revival rather than material intended for broadcast. They feature a single camera angle (full stage) and the video quality is so-so but it’s quite interesting. There will be one available at a time and the current one is Strauss’ Arabella from a couple of seasons ago.
I’m a big fan of taking classic song cycles and giving them a treatment other than the very formal Liederabend approach; fond as I am of that! So I was intrigued to see what Philippe Sly and Le Chimera Project would make of Schubert’s Winterreise.
The opening concert of the 21C festival featured an all Osvaldo Golijov programme presented by Against the Grain Theatre. It was preceded by a very informative conversation between Joel Ivany and the composer. My main takeaway from that is that Golijov writes for people not instruments. If the people he has in mind for a piece play a certain combination of instruments that’s what he will write for and if circumstances demand it he will readily make changes. We saw that last night when cantor Alex Stein was unable to perform in K’vakaret (for cantor and string quartet) and Juan Gabriel Olivares stepped in on clarinet instead.
Russian soprano Hibla Gerzmava’s recital last night at Koerner Hall felt like stepping into something of a time warp. The diva sweeps on stage in a ginormous cape (all that was missing was Bach’s Toccata and Fugue). The first half of the programme is Russian art song (Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov) but there are no surtitles or translations or words of introduction which is a bit hard on non Russian speakers. There’s tumultuous applause after every damn song (and sometimes in the middle); accepted with gracious condescension and grand gestures. On the odd occasion the pianist is invited to accept applause she demurely takes three steps backward lest she should be seen to share the limelight. It’s all a bit like watching Lady Catherine de Bourgh accompanied by her talented but penniless niece. I have no idea whether this is the “real” Hibla Gerzmava or some sort of act that she or her promoters think the Russian diaspora expects but it felt very weird.
Last night’s concert at Koerner Hall featuring Karina Gauvin and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra was originally put together for a Russian themed event and featured music that either was written by Russian composers of the late 18th century or might have been heard in St. Petersburg in that era though the final set was changed out for excerpts from Gluck’s Armide though one would not have gathered that from the programme notes!
Last night’s concert at Koerner Hall was a celebration of the life and work of Armenian composer and song collector Komitas on the occasion of his 150th birthday. Unsurprisingly Koerner was packed with members of Toronto’s Armenian community. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable at events like this; unable to really appreciate what the music means in its home culture, but last night what I felt was joy and inclusion. It was an extremely well curated concert of rather beautiful music extremely well performed.
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.