La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 3 November 2013

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 4 - 10)

This Week in Toronto (Concert Picks for Nov. 4 - 10)

- Joseph So

This is a very busy week at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. American pianist and audience favourite Emmanuel Ax is in town to play a real "heart of the repertoire" piece - Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2.  Ax has a special connection with Canada, having lived in Winnipeg during his youth before the family moved to New York City. He also has a special connection with the TSO, having been featured in a documentary on the TSO and Peter Oundjian, Five Days in September: the Rebirth of an Orchestra, made several years ago.  The program also features Haydn's Symphony No. 96 "The Miracle".  It's nicknamed "The Miracle" not as a commentary on the quality of the composition, but rather it refers to the legend that a chandelier fell from the ceiling during the performance but nobody in the audience was hurt.  Well, apparently it was the wrong symphony - the actual event occurred in Haydn's Symphony No. 102!  It makes an interesting subject for conversation anyway.  The third piece is Canadian composer Gary Kulesha's Third Symphony.  Peter Oundjian conducts. Nov. 6 and 7 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall.

American pianist Emmanuel Ax (Photo: Maurice Jerry Beznos)

On Friday Nov. 8th 7:30 pm, as part of the Exposed: What Makes it Great? series, the TSO is presenting Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik K525. The format of this series is an analysis of the piece followed by a full performance. This is designed for new audiences to classical music, and what better piece to feature than this most popular of Mozart compositions?  On Saturday Nov. 9th 1:30 and 3:30 in the afternoon, the TSO is presenting In the Groove, a 'Young Peoples' Concert' with works by Gershwin, Bernstein and Bruch. Violinist Leo Jarmain, the winner of the TSYO Concerto Competition Winner, is the soloist in the Bruch. Evan Mitchell conducts.

Soprano Suzie Leblanc (Photo: Tara McMullen)

Acadian soprano Suzie Leblanc recently released a marvelous CD, I am in need of music, a collection of songs based on the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. It is on the Centerdisc label from the Canadian Music Centre, catalogue no. CMCCD19413.  You can hear Ms. Leblanc in person this week with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, in Purcell and Carissimi: Music from London and Rome. Also appearing is tenor Charles Daniels. Ivars Taurins conducts. The concert is in the newly refurbished Trinity St. Paul Centre. Performances on Nov. 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, the last is a matinee.

Jazz singer Adi Braun 

One of Canada's premiere jazz singers, Adi Braun, is vocalist in Speak Low, a recital of the music of Kurt Weill at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre on Wednesday Nov. 6 at 5:30 pm. Adi is the daughter of the great, late Canadian baritone Victor Braun, and the sister of baritone Russell Braun. She started out as an opera singer but switched to jazz early in her career. Having grown up in Germany, Adi is completely fluent in German and she is the German diction coach at the Canadian Opera Company.  She is joined in this concert by Dave Restivo (piano), Pat Collins (bass) and Daniel Barnes (drums). Like all free COC concerts, be sure to show up an hour ahead to ensure a seat. The full program of this concert can be found at   

Cellist Matt Haimovitz (Photo: Stephen Mackinnon)

This is Holocaust Education Week, and there are many events all around town, including a number of notable concerts featuring the works of Jewish composers. The Ontario Philharmonic is presenting a concert on Tuesday Nov. 5 at Koerner Hall. Marco Parisotto is conducting Ernest Bloch's Schelomo (Hebraic Rhasopdy) with cellist Matt Haimovitz, as well as Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D "Titan."  Performance at 8 pm.

Violinist Midori (Photo: Dan Borris)

Also at Koerner Hall this Friday at 8 pm is an appearance of violinist Midori with pianist Ozgur Aydin in a program of Bloch, Mozart, Hindemith, Faure and Schubert. Midori made her debut at the age of 11(!) at the very top, as a last minute fill in for the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta.  It really seems like she's been around forever, and she's only 42!  Do go hear this wunderkind-turned-mature-artist if you haven't before. Aydin is one of those up and coming pianists who burst on the scene after winning a competition, in his case the prestigious ARD Music Competition in Munich.

Opera York is presenting Verdi's Il Trovatore, in two performances on Thursday Nov. 7 and Saturday Nov. 9 in the intimate, Jack Diamond-designed Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts (10268 Yonge Street). SabatinoVacca conducts baritone Nicolae Raiciu (di Luna), tenor Paul Williamson (Manrico) and mezzo Kristine Dandavino (Azucena.) 

Essential Opera, a group I have not yet experienced, is in its 4th season. This week, it is performing a rarely heard Haydn opera, L'isola disabiltata (The Deserted Island).  Haydn operas generally don't get staged by the big opera companies very often, so this is likely your only chance to hear this locally. A single performance under the direction of former COC coach Kate Carver on Friday Nov. 8 7:30 pm at the intimate Heliconian Hall in Yorkville.

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