La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 1 April 2012

This Week in Toronto (Apr. 2 - 8)

Pianist Yefim Bronfman plays Brahms with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Photo: Dario Acosta)

The celebrated Russian pianist Yefim Bronfman makes a welcome return to Toronto this week, as soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra playing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2. Also on the program is Bruckner Symphony No. 3, with TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian at the helm. This is one of those core repertoire programs that's sure to please. The shows are on April 4 and 5 8 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall, just ahead of the Easter weekend.

On the vocal front, the Canadian Opera Company is gearing up for its spring season set to open with Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann. But that's next week! For now, voice fans can attend a few interesting events. Soprano Jacqueline Woodley, a COC Ensemble Studio member the last two years, is giving a farewell noon hour concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on Wednesday April 4. Woodley has a sweet, light soprano and an engaging personality to match. Uncharacteristically, the COC website does not provide the name of the pianist, or any program information. In the same venue, COC pianist and vocal coach Christopher Mokrzewski is taking the spotlight as a soloist, in Rival Romantics, a program of Brahms and Liszt, the latter in the transcription of Wagner's Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. The noon hour concert takes place on Thursday April 5. Be sure to show up at least 45 minutes early to secure a seat.

The National Ballet Orchestra is moving out of the pit to the mainstage in a concert celebrating its 60th anniversary year by making its debut at Koerner Hall on Tuesday April 3 at 8 p.m. David Briskin leads the forces in a program of works that highlight each decade of the 60 years of the Orchestra. The evening is hosted by actor Colm Feore with a slide show presentation of the history of the Orchestra.

Opera Belcanto, a young company in the South Simcoe area under the artistic direction of David Varjabed, is presenting Tosca in two performances at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. Sabatino Vacca, who is also a frequent conductor of Opera York productions, is at the helm. Gayane Mangassarian is Tosca, Hovhannes Ayvazyan is Cavaradossi, and David Babayants is Scarpia. I have not heard these singers live, but a search on Youtube reveals a whole bunch of clips including an excerpt from Cavalleria Rusticana from last fall. These singers are well worth hearing. Performances on April 5 and 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Fans of Kurt Weill and music from 1920's Berlin will be very familiar with the voice of Ute Lemper. She is returning to Toronto on Wednesday April 4 at 8 p.m. for Berlin Nights/Paris Days: The Art of Chanson, with the Vogler Quartet and Stefan Malzew. In addition to Surabaya Johnny, one of her most famous interpretations, Lemper is also singing songs of Hans Eisler and Jacques Brel, among others. I remember her Decca recordings back in the 1980s, and Lemper definitely has a big following in Toronto. Performance at acoustically friendly Koerner Hall.



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