The Halloween concert by the UoT Contemporary Music Ensemble in Walter Hall was fun. Unfortunately I was only able to catch the first half which featured Sofia Gubaidulina’s In Erwartung for saxophone quartet and percussion. This was a cool piece making interesting use of the space. It was followed by Robert Paterson’s Closet Full of Demons which is scored for small ensemble plus alarm clocks and jack-in-a-box. Sometimes I feel I should listen to music like this more often (and sometimes I don’t!). The main reason for being there though was to see Maeve Palmer and the Ensemble do Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre. I wasn’t disappointed. Clearly tons of work had gone into this and it was much crisper than when I saw it in Barbara Hannigan’s master class a few weeks ago. Maeve really got into character as Gepopo. It was all there. The notes of course but also the keen sense of timing and the ability to convey the paranoia of the character. The Ensemble was well into it too. The bassoon and trombones were ugly. The shouting was convincing.
I wish I had photographs because everyone was in costume not just Maeve. The firs conductor (lorenzo Guggenheim) appeared as a back to front neon lit Wolfman and the second; Wallace Halladay, as a reversed skeleton. The Ensemble included Superwoman among others and Maeve was a sort of leather mini-skirted SS officer. Much fun!
If anyone does have photos I could use please drop me a line.
September starts the slow ramp up to the new season. The first thing in my calendar is Mysterious Barricades on September 14th from 1pm to 2pm in Walter Hall. This is a series of coast to coast, dawn to dusk concerts in aid of Suicide Awareness. Russell Braun, Monica Whicher and Nathalie Paulin are all involved. It’s free but ticketed. Check the link for details.
Collectìf’s latest show for the Toronto Summer Music Festival at Walter Hall last night was called Beyond Perception: What Haunts Us Now. It presented three new multimedia works each curated and directed by one of the trio of singers. The first piece, by Whitney O’Hearne featured arrangements of French works; both folk and classical that deal with the idea of La Dame Blanche; by turns sorceress or virgin bride. Turning the idea of male defined female transgression upside down to celebrate women’s agency, O’Hearn combined arrangements of the chosen music for combinations of three voices and piano with soft focus atmospheric video rather reminiscent of Collectìf’s Winterreise show at Heliconian Hall. The singing was beautiful and the concept intriguing. Top notch accompaniment by Trevor Chartrand.
The second set of reGENERATION concerts of the Topronto Summer Music Festival took place yesterday at Walter Hall. The song portion, unusually, consisted of 100% English language rep, mirroring the Griffey/Jones recital earlier in the wee. The first concert kicked off with tenor Eric Laine and pianist Scott Downing with five songs from Finzi’s setting of Thomas Hardy; A Young Man’s Exhortation. It was good. Laine has a nice sense of style and very good diction. The high notes are there though sometimes, especially at the end of a line, they don’t sound 100% secure. There was some quite delicate accompaniment from Downing too.
Anthony Dean Griffey and Warren Jones’ TSMF recital at Walter Hall last night was an all English language affair with offerings from both sides of the pond. IT kicked off with Frank Bridge’s Three Songs for voice, viola and piano with the viola part played on the cello by David Heiss. These might better be billed as for “Viola, piano and voice” as the viola part is much, much more interesting than the vocal line. Really it felt more like a piece of chamber music that happened to include a vocalist. Heiss played beautifully as did Jones and Griffey did what was to be done with the vocal line.
There were three reGENERATION concerts in Walter Hall yesterday at 1pm, 4pm and 7.30pm. It made for a long but interesting day. As last year, each concert was a mix of vocal and chamber music. The vocal program was not announced in advance so I’m working from notes and there could be the odd error. Pleasingly, there were surtitles for the songs. This is a huge improvement on a sheet of tiny print to be read in the dark! Continue reading →
Walter Hall at lunchtime today saw the annual recital for the winners of the Norcop Prize in song and the Williams Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying. The winners this year were baritone Korin Thomas-Smith and pianist Joy Lee. It was a very well constructed recital. It was all English language and consisted of three sets of highly contrasted moods.
Perhaps the most interesting concert of the Toronto Summer Music festival so far took place at Walter Hall last night. The main event was the presentation of Sounding Thunder; a work about the life of Francis Pegahmagabow, Canadian war hero and First Nations activist.
German tenor Christoph Prégardien and English pianist Julius Drake teamed up at Walter Hall last night for one of the finest Liederabends that I have ever been privileged to hear. The first set was all Mahler; six songs from Das Knaben Wunderhorn plus one from the Rückert-Lieder. It started strongly with three essentially comic songs; all donkeys, geese and magic rings. The teamwork between the musicians was exemplary. and the attention to text by both parties penetrating. And then it was the little things that raised the bar from excellent to exceptional; the use of a pause, the slight lingering on a syllable, the accelerando into a comic line.
So it was back to Walter Hall at 7.30pm for Saturday’s second instalment. This time the programme kicked off with the Schumann Piano Quartet in E flat Major Op. 47 before the singers. The first singer up was mezzo Danielle Vaillancourt with pianist Jing Lee Park. They gave us just two songs. The first was Fauré’s Il pleure dans mon coeur followed by Duparc’s Au pays où se fait la guerre. Vaillancourt has excellent French diction, a really interesting timbre and plenty of power. This was pretty fine singing. Jing Lee Park made the most of her chance to shine in the rather lovely piano part in the Duparc. Continue reading →