I found out quite late about OPUS Chamber Music and their current short concert series so I was only able to attend the last show on Sunday evening at Grace Church on-the-Hill. Pianist Kevin Ahfat is the driving force behind these concerts and he was able to marshal an impressive line up including recent Indianopolis Violin Competition gold medallist Serena Huang.
The first half of the programme was essentially French. Brannon Cho joined Kevin for Poulenc’s Sonata for Cello and Piano. It has a lively first movement with jazzy dance rhythms and lots of interaction between the players which showed excellent mutual understanding. The second movement is more limpid and languorous and drew some rather elegantly beautiful sounds from both cello and piano. The third movement is marked “Ballabile” which was new to me. Apparently it refers to a dance by the corps de ballet. I can see that. It’s fast and intricate with lots of pizzicato from the cello. The finale is almost like back to the beginning with more playful interaction between the instruments. Lovely playing in both the livelier and the more lyrical passages with an appropriate sense of Frenchness. Continue reading →
Tan Dun’s Water Passion After St. Matthew, given last night by Soundstreams at Trinity St. Paul’s is very Tan Dun. The work is in nine movements and scored for chorus, soprano and bass-baritone soloists, violin, cello, electronics and lots of percussion. And bowls of water and rocks. The texts broadly follow the Passion story finishing with a final Resurrection movement in which water is the symbol of rebirth, recycling and spiritual completeness. There are also ritual elements. Bowls of water laid out in a cruciform pattern are lit from beneath. The musicians change position and the players, especially the percussionists, perform hieratic gestures with the water bowls and their contents. It also involves a complex and dramatic lighting plot.
The last Songmasters concert of the season featured a selection of works that sorta kinda had a Finnish or Hungarian connection. The first part of the prgram featured songs by Sibelius, all but one to Swedish texts, and piano pieces by Selim Palmgren, whose music sounds like a sort of cross between Debussy and Sibelius. The songs were sung Stephen Hegedus with plenty of power and quite a bit of subtlety. We had been told he was quite ill but one wouldn’t have known it. Fine, delicate work at the piano by Robert Kortgaard. Continue reading →
The Royal Conservatory has now announced the 2015/16 season. The full details plus how to subscribe, buy tickets etc is here. It’s the usual rich mix of music in a wide range of genres. Here are the things I will be looking out for:
April 24th 2016 in Koerner Hall at 3pm there’s a recital by Bryn Terfel with Natalia Katyukova. This is definitely the big name vocal gig of the season.
Recitals at Rosedale is a new venture from collaborative pianists John Greer and Rachel Andrist. There will be four themed recitals, each featuring multiple singers, on Sunday afternoons at Rosedale Presbyterian Church. Last night saw a preview of excerpts from all four programs. Around 200 people showed up on a very hot and humid Saturday evening to see a pretty decent cross section of Toronto’s singing talent. The venue has a typically resonant church acoustic and tends to swallow the words a bit however carefully the singer enunciates but it’s a sensible size, holding maybe 200-300 and so avoids the problem of feeling empty even when there is actually a pretty decent crowd.