La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 18 November 2012

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 19 - 25)

Conductor Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra play Stravinsky and Haydn at Roy Thomson Hall (photo: B Ealovega)

Top news on the symphonic front this week is the much anticipated visit of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under the musical direction of Kent Nagano, for a single performance at Roy Thomson Hall on Wednesday Nov. 21 at the unusually late time of 8:30 pm. The centerpiece is Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, on occasion of the 100th anniversary of its premiere in Paris. Also on the program is Haydn's Symphony no. 94, the so-called "Surprise" Symphony. Rounding out the evening is Peter Maxwell Davies An Orkney Wedding.  Perhaps it's more imagined than real, but to the minds of Toronto music lovers, there has always been a friendly rivalry between the TSO and the OSM. So it's always fascinating to compare the two orchestras when the opportunity arises. This is an important event and not to be missed. There will be a pre-concert talk with Rick Philips in the lobby at 7:45 pm. 
French pianist Alexandre Tharaud plays Haydn's Piano Concerto in D Major  

On Saturday and Sunday, the TSO presents a program of Haydn and Beethoven with guest conductor Bernard Labadie and French pianist Alexandre Tharaud in Haydn's Piano Concerto in D Major. This elegant and colourful work is not heard in concert halls all that much these days, as the spotlight tends to be on the super-virtuoso finger-breakers. The evening opens with Haydn's Symphony no. 101 "The Clock", and ends with Beethoven's Symphony no. 1.  Two performances, on Saturday Nov. 24 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall, and on Sunday Nov. 25 3 pm in the under-used but acoustically wonderful George Weston Recital Hall in North York, a perfect venue for these Classical pieces.

Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski makes his Koerner Hall debut on Sunday

A rare event this week (that coincides with the TSO performance on Sunday) is the Koerner Hall debut of Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski in an all-Bach program. One of the most fascinating, intense, charismatic, uncompromising, and - yes, "eccentric" also comes to mind  - musicians of our time, Anderszewski astounded the musical world by walking off the stage in the middle of the Leeds Competition in 1990 when he wasn't happy with his playing at that moment. For that he was interviewed, written about, and Bruno Monsaingeon made a film on Anderszewski, The Unquiet Traveller (2008) that makes for fascinating viewing. It is available on the Medici label, or if you can understand Polish, you can watch it on Youtube! The program Sunday consists of English Suites No. 3 and 6, French Suites No.5 and the Italian Concerto.    For more information, go to 

Britten fans will get a chance to see its rarely performed church opera, Noye's Fludde. To my knowledge, the last time this piece was heard locally was almost ten years ago in the Benjamin Britten Festival organized by the late Niki Goldschmidt. On that occasion, he conducted this opera in a church in the west end - I vividly recall attending it. I think that might have been his last conducting assignment.  This opera is being presented on Nov. 23, 24, and 25 at the Trinity St. Paul's Centre on Bloor Street near Spadina. Baritone Justin Welsh and mezzo Marion Newman are the soloists, plus R.H. Thomson as the Voice of God.

Portrait of Conductor Agnes Grossmann by artist Soheir Morcos

Austrian conductor Agnes Grossmann is of course no stranger to the Toronto music scene. She was the artistic director of Toronto Summer Music Festival and Academy until two years ago. She is back in town this week, bringing with her the Taiwan National Choir, in a performance of works by Bruckner, Brahms and Schumann, plus Taiwanese folksongs. Friday Nov. 23 Koerner Hall 8 pm.

As mentioned last week, Opera By Request's presentation this week is the wonderful Tchaikovsky opera, Eugene Onegin. As usual, with piano accompaniment at the College Street United Church, 452 College St. in downtown Toronto. Sunday Nov. 25 7:30 pm.

Opera in Concert, the august group of presenting operas in concert format, has a new moniker, Voicebox.  This Sunday at 2:30 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre, it is presenting Armida by Rossini. It stars Raphaelle Paquette in the title role. This is one of those hard to cast operas with three (!) tenors. In this case, they are Edgar Ramirez, Christopher Mayell and Michael Ciufo. This piece is unlikely to be staged in Toronto any time soon, so this is a good opportunity to catch it.

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