La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 2 December 2012

This Week in Toronto (Dec. 3 - 9)

The big news this week is the appearance of Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa in recital at Koerner Hall, on Sunday Dec. 9 at 3 pm. She is playing works by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert (Lieder transcriptions by Liszt), Chopin and Prokofiev. She is a late replacement for the ailing Cuban pianist Horacio Gutierrez. She is an exciting performer, just go to youtube and look at her numerous clips.  Her Erkonig is stunning. Read more about this remarkable pianist at  For more information about the concert at Koerner, go to  

Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa visits Koerner Hall

One of Canada's brightest composers, Newfoundland native Dean Burry, composed the children's opera, The Brothers Grimm back in the late 90's. According to Burry's website, it has received 500 performances and seen by 120,000 children, mostly in school tours.  Its most recent COC tour has just been completed.  This week, the COC is putting on the Grimm Fest, two noon hour concerts celebrating the success of The Brothers Grimm opera, as well as the 200th anniversary of the fairy tales. According to the COC publicity material, the artists "weave a spell of musical enchantment featuring operatic classics and Disney favourites inspired by these timeless tales." The cast includes soprano Virginia Hatfield, mezzo Andrea Ludwig, tenor Michael Barrett, and pianist Jenna Douglas. 
The event is Tuesday Dec. 4 at noon, at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. On Wednesday, there will be Fairy Tales from Faraway Lands. Egyptian-Canadian vocalist Maryem Tollar and others combine traditional and original music and movement inspired by stories and fairy tales from the Middle East. Be sure to show up early for a seat.

 Canadian composer Dean Burry's The Brothers Grimm is being feted 

With the COC and OA fall seasons over, opera fans who needs a fix can attend the Met in HD at your local cinemas. This week is Verdi's sublime opera, Un ballo in maschera, with an equally sublime cast - Argentinian tenor Marcelo Alvarez, American/Canadian soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, and Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.  The Met is using the original Swedish (as opposed to Boston) setting, although the music stays the same. Fabio Luisi is at the helm. Check to see if your local Cineplex has a screening.

The fabulous Verdi soprano Sondra Radvanovsky

Anton Kuerti, the dean of Canadian piano, is the soloist in Brahms Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat major with the Ontario Philharmonic at Koerner Hall on Tuesday Dec. 4 at 8 pm. Also on the program is Brahms Symphony no. 4 in E minor. Marco Parisotto conducts.

Canadian pianist Anton Kuerti at Koerner Hall (Photo: Martin Tosoian)

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra 

With Christmas just around the corner, we can expect a feast of Messiah's from venues big and small.  For something a little different, Tafelmusik is presenting a French Baroque Christmas Dec. 5 - 9 at the Trinity - St. Paul's Centre.  On the program is Marc-Antoine Charpentier's In nativitatem Domini canticum H. 416 and Messe a 8 voix et instruments, H. 3.  These baroque pieces will sound wonderful in that acoustic and will put you in the Christmas mood! Ivars Taurins directs.

Conductor Ainars Rubikis

For a small country, Latvia has certainly produced a disproportionate number of great classical musicians. Currently Elina Garanca is the most famous opera singer, but there's also Inessa Galante from a generation ago, and more recently Maija Kovalevska. Other famous musicians include Gidon Kremer, and conductors Mariss Jansons and Andris Nelsons. Young conductor Ainars Rubikis is the latest sensation to hit the musical world. He is the winner of the Third International Mahler conducting competition in 2010 and last year he won the Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award. He is now the Music Director of Novosibirsk State Opera House. This season, he is making lots of debuts, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the NAC Orchestra next May. This is definitely someone to watch.  It is an all-Tchaikovsky program - Symphony no. 1, Piano Concerto no. 2 with Alon Goldstein as soloist, and Suite from Swan Lake. Two shows, Wed. Dec. 5 and Thurs. Dec. 6 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.

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