La Scena Musicale

Monday, 16 September 2013

This Week in Toronto (Sept. 16 - 22)

This post marks the beginning of my This Week in Toronto coverage of the 2013-14 concert season.  I started this weekly column way back in January 2009 to preview musical events in the Greater Toronto Area.  Except for about two months every summer, this column has appeared on a regular basis for over four and a half years, a real labour of love for me.  I intend to continue for the full 2013-14 season.  My choices are based on my personal preferences - often voice-centric - and not meant to be comprehensive, but I hope my picks provide a good representation of the most prominent and interesting musical events in our fair city.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein (Photo: Jamie Jung)

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra opens its season in Roy Thomson Hall this Wednesday and Thursday, with American cellist Alisa Weilerstein playing the Elgar Cello Concerto, a wonderful, deeply felt, autumnal piece of music that once heard, never forgotten. Also on the program is Dvorak's Symphony No. 7 and Britten's Variations and Fugue on a theme of Purcell. TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian is at the helm. This marks the conductor's 10th season with the TSO - where has the time gone!  The third concert of this blockbuster opening week (Saturday 7 pm) is the appearance of Chinese pianist Lang Lang in two Mozart piano concertos (no. 17 and 22), plus the Overture to Wagner's Tannhauser. The Lang Lang concert is billed as a Gala Performance. Given this is opening week and the high profile artists involved, be sure to get your tickets early.

It is symbolic that Tafelmusik, Canada's premiere baroque orchestra, is opening its season with Beethoven's Symphonies no. 1 and 2, rather than some early music gems. Even though it is still billed as a Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, it's artistic reach is significantly greater. Frequent guest conductor Bruno Weil is back to conduct, and the concerts take place at Koerner Hall (Sept. 19, 20 at 8 pm). The performances will be recorded for release as a two CD set in November, on the Tafelmusik Media label. Tafelmusik has performed all the Beethoven symphonies, on period instruments, under the baton of Bruno Weil.

The eclectic and innovative Tapestry New Opera Works, now usually just shortened to Tapestry Opera, is presenting Tapestry Briefs, an evening of short opera works by Canadian composers and librettists. There are no details of the actual works performed on the Tapestry website. Singers include soprano Carla Huhtanen, mezzo Krisztina Szabo, tenor Keith Klassen and baritone Peter McGillivray. It takes place at the Ernest Balmer Studio of the Distillery District. Sept. 19, 20, 21 at 7:30 pm, and Sept. 22 at 2 pm.

Canadian soprano Monica Whicher and collaborative pianist Steven Philcox, both faculty members of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music as well as active performers. They are giving a noon-hour recital at Walter Hall on Thursday September 19. The intriguing program features two song cycles on an Arcadian theme - Resphighi's Deita Silvane and Debussy's Chansons de Bilitis. Retired U of T professor of English Eric Domville is the commentator.

- Joseph So

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