Yesterday’s lunchtime recital in the RBA was given by soprano, Vanessa Vasquez and pianist Miloš Repický. It was a well constructed programme though there were few surprises. The first set was three Strauss standards; Ständchen, Breit’ übermein Haupt and Befreit; the last dedicated to Vanessa’s teacher who died recently. They were all well sung with appropriate emotional emphasis and, best of all, both performers appeared to be enjoying themselves.
This afternoon I saw Gerry Finley and Julius Drake in recital at Koerner Hall. In other words, two supreme exponents of the art of lieder at the top of their game in a hall with near perfect acoustics. They performed Beethoven and Schubert settings of Goethe texts, some Tchaikovsky and some Rachmaninoff, which gave Julius ample opportunity to show off. They finished up with settings of folky things by Copland, Barber, Respighi and Britten. The last was The Crocodile; a very silly and funny piece I hadn’t heard before. The encore was by Healey Willans and Gerry gave a very nice plug for the Canadian Art Song Project. Insert standard list of adjectival phrases describing top notch singing and accompaniment. My humble scribing is not worthy.
The opening concert of Off Centre Music Salon’s season was a programme of Russian romantic and post romantic works, songs and piano pieces, entitled Russia Cast Adrift. The first half of the afternoon was devoted to the sort of songs that explain why “smert” is one of about six Russian words that I recognize. It kicked off with a Rachmaninoff prelude played with vigour by William Leathers before going into a series of songs by Sviridov, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Glière, Arensky and Mussorgsky. The singing was shared by soprano Nathalie Paulin, mezzo Emilia Boteva, tenor Ernesto Ramirez and baritone Geoffrey Sirett with Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis at the piano.
Last night saw the first concert of the Toronto Summer Music festival which runs at a variety of venues until August 3rd. The theme for the festival is Paris La Belle Époque and this was reflected in last night’s opening concert being given by the distinguished French trio Trio Pennetier Pasquier Pidoux. One might question though to what extent works written in 1914 and 1923 can be said to belong to the themed era. It didn’t seem to bother a packed Koerner Hall. The reception to all three pieces given was raucous.
Trio Pennetier Pasquier Pidoux (From left to right: Roland Pidoux, cello; Régis Pasquier, violin; and Jean-Claude Photo credit: Guy Vivien
Furthering my quest to see more live opera I’m grateful to fellow COC podcaster Leslie of barczablog for drawing my attention to the following production that had hitherto escaped my notice.
Canadian directors, Aria Umezawa and Erik Thor combine their skills to help create Opera Five’s Winter production at the popular Gallery 345 venue. Alongside the senses of hearing and sight, the company is presenting a 3-course tasting menu thematically tied to each opera with food being prepared by local restaurants. The show features a cast of ten Toronto-based singers and the operas, Hin und Zurück (Hindemith), Aleko (Rachmaninov) and Talk Opera (Granger) a new American opera making its premiere in Canada. Milton Granger, the opera’s composer will be in attendance throughout the run. Musical direction is provided by Maika’i Nash and Kimberly Bartczak.
The show is at Gallery 345 (345 Sorauren Ave) on December 4th-6th at 7:30PM.