Anne Sofie von Otter at Koerner Hall

Anne Sofie von Otter DSC_3608 Ewa-Marie RundquistVeteran mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter appeared in recital at Koerner Hall yesterday afternoon with pianist Christopher Berner.  The first part of the programme was some fairly gentle Mozart with some fairly light weight Weckerlin and one long Schubert piece; “Die Viola”.  A short Mozart piano piece rounded out the programme.  It was stylish, enjoyable singing but one felt that both choice of material and method of presentation were being chosen to conserve the voice.  How would things go after the interval when three songs from Winterreise were promised?

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Bryn at Koerner

Almost six years to the day since his last appearance Bryn, now Sir Bryn, Terfel made it back to Koerner hall for a much anticipated recital; this time accompanied by Annabel Thwaite.  The first set, partly setting up a Shakespeare theme for the evening, consisted of four songs by Schubert including “Trinklied” and “An Silvia”.  It was followed by three of the the Quilter Shakespeare settings; “Come Away, Come Away, Death”, “O Mistress Mine” and “Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind”.  The first half concluded with the Vier ernste Gesänge of BrahmsI think it’s fair to say that what we were hearing was not the Bryn that his considerable following in the hall expected.  The artistry of interpretation was still there but something was up with the voice.  It didn’t have the bloom I remembered and in places, especially with high notes, it just wasn’t happening.  Was he a bit under the weather or was it the toll of the years and lots of Wagner?  I don’t know but I really hope it was the former.

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Eden

Last night Joyce DiDonato and il Pomo d’Oro brought their touring show Eden to Koerner Hall.  It’s one of those genre defying shows that’s not especially easy to describe.  Basically it’s a recital of art songs and arias; most of the latter from the 18th century, with chamber orchestra accompaniment.  It’s also staged but not with any obvious narrative.  Rather Joyce interacts with two very large metal hoops which move around and rotate on their axes.  All of this is backed up by John Torres’ complex and sometimes spectacular lighting plot.  Cynics might call it gimmicky but given the difficulty of building the audience for vocal recitals I’m all for trying new things and the audience loved it so I think that’s justification enough.

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RCM 2022/3 sneak peak

koerner-stage-emptyThe Royal Conservatory of Music did a partial reveal of their classical and jazz programming for Koerner Hall in the 2022/3 season.  It’s a pretty typical mx; heavy on piano, strings and chamber music, but there are a few interesting classical vocal concerts.  Here are the highlights:

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Leaping (or not) ahead to March

gloriaThere’s not exactly a flood of events in my calendar for march yet but there are a few.  Running March 1st to 20th at Crow’s Theatre is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ satirical play Gloria about a Manhattan magazine staff seeking fame and glory as the internet turns the industry upside down.  It’s not an opera but it’s directed by the very talented André Sills which is reason enough for me.

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Stewart Goodyear at Koerner

Yes, a real live concert at Koerner Hall; the first of 2022.  Owing to the current restrictions it was quite a short concert with no interval (although the time it took the stage crew to set up for the second half there could have been!).  The first piece was the premier of Goodyear’s Piano Quintet.  It’s a very complex piece riffing off Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  Stewart describes it better than I ever could:

“My piano quintet was commissioned by the Penderecki String Quartet (who played it with Stewart last night – JG) and the Canada Council for the Arts. It was composed in 2020 and pays homage to the spirit of Beethoven. The first movement is a passacaglia on the almost atonal eleven-note sequence from the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The second movement is a Ländler, fused with gestures of rhythm and blues and calypso. The third movement is a fast toccata, sampling themes of Beethoven similarly to a hip-hop track. The last movement starts as a lament and ends with a glimmer of hope, the inspiration directly taken from the challenges of the pandemic and the need for Beethoven’s spirit during these tumultuous times.”

It’s a highly virtuosic piece requiring a lot of extended technique from the players and it’s pretty demanding on the listener.  I would need to listen to it a couple more times to really “get” it.

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Slim pickings

wibble2As you probably now theatres are closed in Ontario until the end of January and, it seems, organisations are taking a very cautious approach to February. It’s not very heroic but given the flakiness of the Ontario government it’s understandable. The COC’s Madama Butterfly is to be an on-line stream and a whole raft of performances at the RCM are postponed or rescheduled. The only confirmed shows of vocal interest at this point that I’m aware of in February are the Stewart Goodyear concert on February 9th and the Opera Atelier All is Love on February 19th and 20th; both at Koerner.

Lovesongs

Soundstreams’ on-line concert, Lovesongs, recorded in Koerner Hall and streamed (access codes are PWYC, min $7) features three works; two by and one “in homage” to Claude Vivier with an intro by Lawrence Cherney and David Fallis who conducts on the first and third pieces.

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Back to Koerner

davonetinesBack to the Royal Conservatory yesterday for the first time since the plague struck.  Ironically the programme, which had originally featured the Dover Quartet with Davóne Tines, had to be rearranged at less than 24 hours notice due to one of the Dovers testing positive for COVID.  What we got instead was two mini concerts.  In the first half the New Orford Quartet performed works by Caroline Shaw and Mendelssohn and in the second Davóne Tines, with Rachael Kerr, performed excerpts from his Recital No. 1: MASS. Continue reading

October upcoming

Still not a whole lot going on and much of what is, is at short notice so it misses posts like this.  But, here’s what’s in my diary for October so far.

  • September 30th to October 17th.  Mistatim; a streamed version of the Rsd Sky/TSO collaboration for young people presented by Crow’s Theatre.  Streaming codes are $20 from the Crow’s box office.
  • October 14th 8pm.  Soundstreams presents RBC Bridges Showcase; six short choral works by young composers.  It’s on-line and free and available for a month.  Register here.
  • October 15th, 7.30pm.  The annual IRCPA Encounter concert with ten young singers and Rachel Andrist at the piano.  It’s being broadcast from Zoomer Hall, presumably w/o a live audience.  It’s free at Classical 96.3 FM, and at http://classicalfm.ca.
  •  October 24th at 3pm.  The Dover Quartet at Koerner Hall in a programme that includes Barber’s Dover Beach.  There are in-person tickets and live stream codes available.  The pricing structure is complex so check out rcmusic.ca for details.
  • October 29th (subscriber/donors) and 30th (plebs) at 7.30pm.  The COC is streaming Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi from the Four Seasons Centre.  The stream will be “on-demand” for at least a month and is free.

That’s it I’m afraid.