Farewell to Oundjian

Wouldn’t that make a really good title for a pipe tune?  But that aside Peter Oundjian is marking the end of his long run as Music Director of the TSO with a series of three Beethoven 9ths with Kirsten MacKinnon, Lauren Segal, Andrew Haji, Tyler Duncan and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir joining the TSO.  I caught the second yesterday evening.  It’s always a bit odd listening to a piece one has been familiar with for years.  Will I hear or learn something new tonight?  Will this performance probe the nature of the piece like I have never heard it probed?  The Tafelmusik performance and recording of this piece did just that.  I felt I was hearing it for the very first time.  Alas, the only new thought I had last night was about how repetitive certain sections are.  So there it was, an OK run through but no more.  The soloists were fine, though perhaps possessing a weight of voice better suited to Tafelmusik at Koerner than the TSO in full cry in the unforgiving sonic deserts of Roy Thomson.  I did think Ms. MacKinnon and the sopranos of the choir managed the fiendishly high setting of their part (probably a good job that Beethoven didn’t have to listen to complaints from his sopranos) very well.  Nice work from the piccolo accompanying them too.  Otherwise it was a bit unremarkable though that didn’t stop the obligatory idolatry from the RTH audience.  Heaven knows what would happen if they ever heard a truly great performance…

MacKinnon, Segal, Haji, Duncan, Peter Oundjian (@Nick Wons)

Photo credit: Nick Wons

Magic Flute – the other cast

Last night I saw the alternate cast of the COC’s Magic Flute.  Owen McCausland swaps First Armed Man for Tamino with Andrew Haji, Kirsten MacKinnon comes in as Pamina, Phillip Addis is Papageno and Matt Boehler is Sarastro.  The changes don’t really affect things much at all.  All the new faces are very good.  MacKinnon is a very perky Pamina which works well with Addis who has maybe a bit more of the “cheeky chappy” than Hopkins.  Fans of Owen McCausland and Andrew Haji will see exactly the differences in timbre and vocal technique one would expect but the interpretation is pretty much the same.  Overall, I would say that someone not very familiar with these singers would scarcely notice any differences.  What I did notice is how much better this production looks from Ring 3 than from the Orchestra.  Getting something of a “plan view” makes the antics during the overture look less cluttered and frantic and the trials scene is much more effective.  And the sound is better too.

Photos by Michael Cooper under the fold. Continue reading