La Scena Musicale

Friday, 1 November 2013

TSO's Carmina Burana a thrilling Halloween Musical Fare

Review:  TSO's Carmina Burana a thrilling Halloween Musical Fare

- Joseph So

Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
Ades: Dances from Powder Her Face

Valentina Farcas, sop.
Nicholas Phan, ten.
James Westman, bar.
Neil Deland, horn
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Toronto Children's Chorus
Peter Oundjian, conductor

Roy Thomson Hall, Oct. 31st 2013

Got to hand it to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for spooky programming - Carmina Burana, the Orff masterpiece with its elements of fantasy, macabre and mystery, was perfect for a rainy Halloween evening.  It was the opening of three performances at the TSO this week.  What makes good Halloween programming, you ask?  I do recall once hearing on the radio a round-table about the scariest classical music, and the panelists voted for Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, Saint Saens' Danse Macabre, and Carmina Burana.  If I had been on the panel, I would have added 1) Schubert's Erlkoenig, 2) the restored ending of Alban Berg's Lulu with Jack the Ripper, and 3) the Robert Lepage production of Schoenberg's Erwartung many years ago at the COC, when "The Woman" hallucinates that people and trees etc. were coming out of the brick walls horizontally - a show that gave me nightmares at the time!  Well, no nightmares last evening, as the TSO Carmina Burana was wonderful and only engendered sweet dreams.

(l. to r.) Concertmaster Jonathan Crow, soprano Valentina Farcas, conductor Peter Oundjian, baritone James Westman, tenor Nicholas Phan (Photo: Joseph So)

The program also featured Dances from Thomas Ades' Powder Her Face, an opera with a salacious story about a nymphomaniac British duchess (I'll leave the details for some other time...). Oundjian and the TSO forces really brought out the angular jazziness of this piece - the first dance is sort of a 21st century take on Ravel's La valse. This performance is billed as the Canadian premiere, but the opera itself was presented by Opera de Quebec just this past summer, although I am not entirely sure if these incidental music was included in the performance. The Ades piece was followed by Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, a totally different kettle of fish! American tenor Nicholas Phan was the soloist.  Given his single contribution in Orff was Cignus ustus cantat, Lament of the Roasted Swan, that lasts only about four minutes, it would be a waste of Mr. Phan's talent to have him here to sing so little. A Britten specialist, it makes sense to also program the Serenade on the same evening. Phan was last heard in town in July 2012 with soprano Kiera Duffy at the Toronto Summer Music Festival, as a replacement for soprano Christine Brewer who cancelled. I was impressed with Phan's performance last evening, singing from memory, with impeccable enunciation of the text, exemplary concentration and intensity of expression. At the beginning, his forte passages had some unsteadiness in Nocturne, but it disappeared after several minutes of warming up. Elegy and Dirge were both beautifully sung, with just the right plaintive tone for the funeral lament. The Sonnet that ended the work was delivered with heart-felt sincerity.  Incidentally, anyone wanting more information on this excellent singer and his thoughts on Britten should read the interview he gave to John Terauds on John's website <   http://www.musicaltoronto.org/ > You can also watch Phan singing Elegy and Dirge at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lis4YvLdoc&feature=youtu.be  I would be remiss if I don't sing the praises of horn player Neil Deland, who was magnificent. He brought a full spectrum of tone colours to this notoriously tricky instrument. Loved the virtuoso coloratura display in Hymn; and the off-stage recapitulation of the opening passages at the end of Sonnet was magical.


Baritone James Westman (Photo: Rob Harris)

The centerpiece of the evening, Carmina Burana, was in the second half, making for a very full evening. TSO's Peter Oundjian gave a grandly eloquent reading of this extraordinary score, fully bringing out the many mercurial changes in moods, tone colours and rhythms, while offering excellent support to the Mendelssohn Choir and the Children's Chorus. The three soloists couldn't have been bettered.  Romanian soprano Valentina Farcas is a voice new to me. Sampling her many clips on Youtube, particularly the gorgeous Laudate Dominum, turned me into a believer.  The soprano doesn't come on until the last 20 minutes or so of piece. In her solos and duets with the baritone, her smooth, warm, ethereal tone was a pleasure, and a nice contrast to some of the abrupt and aggressive music that went on earlier. "Stetit puella" - and particularly the perfumed "In truitina" were just exquisite. Her high notes in "Tempus es iocundum" were stunning. Let's hope we will get to hear this wonderful soprano in Toronto again.

Romanian soprano Valentina Farcas

Of the three soloists, baritone James Westman had the most to sing. He dispatched his music with aplomb, from rock solid lows to powerful highs, not to mention a surprisingly mellifluous falsetto in "Dies, nox et omnia." Nicholas Phan's one moment in the sun was the "Roasted Swan" which he sang in a fearless full voice, unfazed by the fiendishl tessitura that goes up to either a D or an E-flat.  Not too many tenors can handle this piece so kudos to Mr. Phan!  And finally I must give my highest praise to the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, surely a national treasure. Every time I see them, I always think - "they've outdone themselves this time." And then the next time I see them, I want to say the same thing. The hall was sadly not sold out, but the turn out was respectable, probably around 90%.  The audience was extremely appreciative, giving the performers many minutes of sustained applause. The artists deserved every second of it. Two more performances on Nov. 1 7:30 pm and Nov. 2 8 pm. http://tso.ca/Home.aspx

Soloists and TSO conductor receiving audience applause (Photos: Joseph So) 

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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Fêter les 200 ans de Verdi, Falstaff


Par Marc-Olivier Laramée

La répétition de Falstaff offerte aux médias, 2e opéra de la saison de l’Opéra de Montréal, avait lieu le 30 octobre. Cet ultime opéra de Verdi, son dernier avant sa mort, met en vedette Marie‑Nicole Lemieux dans le rôle de Mrs. Quickly. « Je suis contente d’être à la maison, le stress est toujours là, mais c’est comme cela que je réussi à garder la flamme. » nous dit-elle. Vous pourrez assister aux représentations du 9 au 16 novembre.

Tirée de la pièce de Shakespeare « Les joyeuses commères de Windsor »et « Henry IV », cette comédie burlesque saura divertir petits et grands. Sir John Falstaff, interprété par  Oleg Bryja du Kazakhstan, un vieil homme, mais oh! combien grand séducteur, avouera son amour à plusieurs femmes mariées par le biais de lettres. Ces femmes, joyeuses commères, décideront de punir Falstaff en l’humiliant.

Comme mentionné plus tôt, la contre-alto québécoise Marie-Nicole Lemieux est de retour après une absence de quatre ans à l’Opéra de Montréal. Elle vient justement de chanter cet été au Liceu de Barcelone avec le chef d’orchestre qui dirigera avec justesse et passion Falstaff cette année à Montréal,  Daniele Callegari. Le rôle de Mrs. Quickly n’a plus de secrets pour la québécoise. Elle l’a interprété brillamment à 52 reprises, entre autres à Paris et Londres.

« J’aime tout chez Verdi, ça ce chante bien quand on sait bien chanter! » dit-elle en riant. Peu connu, cet opéra que qualifie l’interprète Mrs. Quickly de « théâtre musical » est unique, « il faut le vivre et être dans la salle pour l’apprécier » souligne Marie-Nicole Lemieux.

L’opéra se veut humoristique et c’est exactement ce que nous avons pu voir en répétition. Le jeu des chanteurs est superbe. Ils vous feront rire et savourer leurs prestations vocales. Bon opéra!!

Opéra Falstaff, Verdi
Opéra en 3 actes
Livret : Arrigo Boito, d'après Les joyeuses commères de Windsor et Henry IV de Shakespeare
Création : Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 9 février 1893
Chanté en italien avec surtitres français et anglais
Production : Opéra de Montréal, créée pour le New York City Opera et le Glimmerglass Opera
Orchestre : Orchestre Métropolitain
Billets et informations

Représentations les 9, 12, 14 et 16 novembre 2013 à 19h30 à la salle Wilfrid-Pelletier

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Monday, 28 October 2013

Cette semaine à Montréal : le 28 octobre au 4 novembre


MUSIQUE DE CHAMBRE DE STYLES VARIÉS DANS LE RÉSEAU ACCÈS-CULTURE
Les musiciens d’ARTefact proposent, pour leur part, les œuvres de trois compositeurs montréalais: Serge Arcuri, Michael Oesterle et Nicolas Gilbert. Salle Pauline-Julien, Sainte-Geneviève, 29 octobre, 20h / Maison de la culture du Plateau-Mont-Royal, 10 novembre, 15 h. www.accesculture.com
Renée Banville

PROGRAMMES THÉMATIQUES POUR L’OSM
Les 30 et 31 octobre, quatre miniatures de compositeurs canadiens seront entendues (avec projections de toiles) dans le cadre du programme Tableaux d’une exposition qui comprend l’œuvre éponyme de Moussorgski. www.osm.ca
Lucie Renaud

LA SOPRANO DOMINIQUE LABELLE CHEZ I MUSICI DE MONTRÉAL
Le chef Jean-Marie Zeitouni a invité la soprano Dominique Labelle à interpréter Les illuminations de Benjamin Britten au deuxième concert de la saison d’I Musici de Montréal. L’ensemble jouera également Verklärte Nacht (La nuit transfigurée) d’Arnold Schoenberg ainsi que la Serenata notturna de Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart et After all de Cassandra Miller. Le programme sera complété par The Lark Ascending de Ralph Vaughan Williams interprété par la violoniste Julie Triquet. Ce concert aura lieu à la salle Bourgie le 1er novembre. www.imusici.com
Daniel Turp

MCGILL AU MAISON SYMPHONIQUE
L’Orchestre symphonique de McGill se produira pour la première fois à la Maison symphonique de Montréal lors d’un concert payant, sous la direction d’Alexis Hauser, dans un programme comprenant notamment la deuxième suite de Daphnis et Chloé de Ravel et Laterna magica de la compositrice Kaija Saariaho, qui recevra ce soir-là un doctorat honorifique. 3 novembre, www.mcgill.ca/music
Lucie Renaud

LE TÉNOR YURI GORODETSKI À LA SOCIÉTÉ D’ART VOCAL DE MONTRÉAL
Le deuxième récital de la 15e saison de la Société d’art vocal de Montréal met à l’affiche le ténor Yuri Gorodetski. Accompagné au piano par Tatiani Loisha, il interprétera des mélodies russes de Sergei Rachmaninov et Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski. Ce récital coïncidera avec la parution d’un enregistrement des mélodies des mêmes compositeurs sous étiquette ATMA Classique et se déroulera le 3 novembre à la salle du Conservatoire de musique de Montréal à 15 h. www.artvocal.ca
Daniel Turp

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This Week in Montreal: October 28 to November 4


Various styles of chamber music in the Accès-Culture Network
The musicians of ARTefact offer works by three Montreal composers: Serge Arcuri, Michael Oesterie, and Nicolas Gilbert. Salle Pauline-Julien, Ste-Geneviève, October 29 at 8 pm / Maison de la culture Plateau-Mont-Royal, November 10 at 3 pm. www.accesculture.com
Renée Banville

Thematic programs at the OSM
On October 30 and 31, four miniatures by Canadian composers will be performed (with a projection of paintings) as part of the concert Pictures at an Exhibition, which includes the eponymous Mussorgsky piece.
Lucie Renaud

Soprano Dominique Labelle and I Musici de Montreal
Conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni has invited soprano Dominique Labelle to perform Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations at I Musici’s second concert of the season. The ensemble will also play Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) as well as Mozart’s Serenata notturna and After All by Cassandra Miller. Violinist Julie Triquet’s performance of The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams completes the program. November 1 at Bourgie Hall. www.imusici.com
Daniel Turp

McGill at the Maison Symphonique
For the first time, the McGill Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Alexis Hauser appears in front of a paying audience at the Maison symphonique de Montréal. In particular, the program includes the second suite of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé and Laterna Magica by composer Kaija Saariaho, who will receive an honorary doctorate that evening. November 3, www.mcgill.ca/music
Lucie Renaud

Tenor Yuri Gorodetski at the Société d’art vocal de Montreal
The second recital of the Société d’art vocal de Montreal’s 15th season features Yuri Gorodetski. Accompanied by Tatiana Loisha on piano, he will perform Russian melodies by Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. The recital coincides with the release of a recording of melodies by the same composers on the ATMA Classique label and takes place on November 3 at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal at 3 pm. www.artvocal.ca
Daniel Turp

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Opera Atelier's Abduction from the Seraglio a Non-Stop Comic Romp

Opera Atelier's Abduction from the Seraglio a Non-Stop Comic Romp

- Joseph So

Elgin Theatre, October 26, 2013

Ambur Braid (Konstanze)
Lawrence Wiliford (Belmonte)
Carla Huhtanen (Blondchen)
Adam Fisher (Pedrillo)
Gustav Andreassen (Osmin)
Curtis Sullivan (Pasha Selim)
David Fallis, conductor
Gerard Gauci, set designer
Marshall Pynkoski, stage director
Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, choreographer
Margaret Lamb, costume designer
Bonnie Beecher, lighting designer


It hardly seems possible that it's already been five years since this beautiful production had its premiere, in the fall of 2008. At the time, I was struck by the gorgeous unit set by Gerard Gauci and the wildly colourful costumes by Margaret Lamb.  Now it is making a welcome return to open the OA fall season, with a few cast changes. Soprano Ambur Braid and tenor Lawrence Wiliford replace the original Konstanze and Belmonte from 2008, soprano Amanda Pabyan and tenor Frederic Antoun.  Wiliford, Pedrillo five years ago, has "graduated" to Belmonte. Taking his place as Pedrillo is tenor Adam Fisher, making his OA debut. Returnees include Carla Huhtanen (Blondchen), Osmin (Gustav Andreassen) and Pasha Selim (Curtis Sullivan).    

Two happy couples (l. to r.) Ambur Braid, Lawrence Wiliford, Adam Fisher, Carla Huhtanen (Photo: Bruce Zinger)

This production underscores the gradual shift in recent years of Opera Atelier's performance aesthetic, from an essentially traditional, historically informed approach for most of OA's history to the current one, where the stage direction is generally designed for contemporary sensibilities.  This Abduction is unabashedly zany, sexy, and wildly over-the-top.  It helps that OA artists are not just good singers but also youthful, attractive people with trim figures and are not shy to show off their physical assets - the old operatic adage that "it ain't over until the fat lady sings" certainly does not apply here!  The current OA performance vision works well with a piece like Abduction, a story that's more fantasy than grounded in reality. Without going into a discussion of Edward Said's Orientalism discourse, it's safe to say that Mozart's view of the "ethnographic other" - in this case Turkey - is a product of his upbringing, ie. the Eurocentric lens of the Middle European male composer. Given the 21st Century sensibilities regarding sexual and ethno-racial stereotyping, this opera can be problematic to a modern audience. By turning it into an outrageously farcical romp, it glosses over the knotty sexual politics and the inherent racism that would have offended many in the audience today. To this end, the OA production works well, as a bellyful of laughs can be very forgiving.           



That said, there's a downside to all this. While Abduction does not have quite the darkness (or social commentary) that inhabits Mozart's later, more mature works like Le nozze di Figaro or Die Zauberfloete, inevitably certain nuances inherent in the story are lost given the broadly comedic treatment. For one thing, there isn't enough of a contrast between two couples. The upstairs folks (Konstanze and Belmonte) are supposed to be the more serious sort compared to the downstairs ones (Blondchen and Pedrillo). Structurally, the two couples are not unlike Conte/Contessa and Figaro/Susanna, or even Pamina/Tamino and Papageno/Papagena. Painting them with the same broad comedic stroke takes away some of the nuances in the story.  A more serious blemish is the characterization of Pasha Selim.  While he is recognized as the "bad guy," Pasha Selim is redeemed in the end by letting the lovers go, an act of forgiveness that underscores his humanity. Sadly this Pasha Selim is a caricature, a cardboard figure singularly lacking in nobility.

Musically something is lost as well. Abduction is not such a long opera that would warrant cuts. So it was strange that five years ago, the tenor aria 'Ich baue ganz' - a definite high point of the opera - disappeared. I lamented this in my Opera (u.k.) review at the time, especially when Belmonte was the excellent Quebec tenor Frederic Antoun who could have aced this very difficult aria. Lawrence Wiliford this time around could have done justice to it as well. Instead, we have added music for more dancing through a repeat of the overture near the end! I have nothing against the choreography, but in my view it's a poor trade-off.  In Konstanze's great aria, 'Martern aller arten,' there were many moments when the tempo deliberately slowed to accommodate the onstage shenanigans with the dancers brandishing the torture instruments. This has the effect of impeding the natural flow of the aria.
A bespectacled Konstanze mugging with Belmonte (Photo: Bruce Zinger)

Now a few comments about the singing. Seen on opening night, the cast was very strong. In her first Konstanze, Ambur Braid impressed with stratospheric high notes and coloratura facility, although her pronounced vibrato sometimes caused her tone to flutter. A fine actress, her mobile face - inexplicably wearing glasses in a few scenes! - was inimitable. She was well partnered by tenor Lawrence Wiliford as an engaging Belmonte. His vocal refinement and Mozartian grace made up for a relatively modest-sized instrument, and sadly no 'Ich baue ganz.' Soprano Carla Huhtanen was well nigh perfect as a vivacious and saucy Blondchen, and she had excellent chemistry with her Pedrillo, sung by tenor Adam Fisher making his OA debut. Visually a superb Pedrillo, Fisher sang well save for a few tight top notes. His athleticism served him well in this production, given he had to take his clothes off at one point, although one could do without the sexual shenanigans on the balcony with Blondchen. Norwegian bass Gustav Andreassen repeated his excellent Osmin five years ago, but on this occasion, he surprisingly lacked the requisite firm low notes in the duet with Blondchen. As Pasha Selim, OA regular Curtis Sullivan doesn't get to sing, but visually he was a formidable villain. The OA dancers were a feast to the eyes as usual, and the chorus was fine in its few brief moments in the spotlight.  David Fallis conducted with a sure hand, albeit a few tempo concessions to accommodate stage action notwithstanding. 
(l. to r.) Adam Fisher, Lawrence Wiliford, Ambur Braid, Carla Huhtanen, Gustav Andreassen (Photo: Joseph So)

A few final thoughts - no, this Abduction isn't profound, authentic or complete, but it is decidedly fun and entertaining, which is not a bad thing!  The audience on opening night - a virtually full house - was very appreciative. You can catch this in four more shows on Oct. 29, 30, Nov. 1, 2 at the Elgin Theatre.   http://www.operaatelier.com/       

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

This Week in Toronto (Oct. 28 - Nov. 3)

This Week in Toronto (Oct. 28 - Nov. 3)

- Joseph So

This week is rich in chamber music as well as opera. The Canadian Opera Company's fall season is in its final week. If you haven't yet seen Peter Grimes - you are too late. But La boheme is still in business, with performances on Oct. 29 and 30 7:30 pm at the Four Season's Centre. There are two different casts - Oct. 29 has Italian soprano Grazia Doronzio and American tenor Eric Margiore, and Oct. 30 it's Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury and American tenor Michael Fabiano.  My advice is to see both! The excellent maestro Carlo Rizzi is at the helm. I haven't seen a Boheme as well sung as this in quite a long time. http://coc.ca/Home.aspx  UPDATE (1 pm Oct. 29th 2013): Due to illness, Eric Margiore will not be singing Rodolfo this evening. Taking his place will be tenor Michael Fabiano, who will also perform the super human feat of singing his own performance a day later, on Oct. 30th.

Opera Atelier's fall production, a revival of Abduction from the Seraglio, opened last Saturday Oct. 26. It brings back the beautiful production first seen in 2008. This time around, it stars dramatic coloratura soprano Ambur Braid as Konstanze and Mozart tenor Lawrence Wiliford as Belmonte. Soprano Carla Huhtanen reprises her Blondchen; also returning are bass Gustav Andreassen as Osmin and Curtis Sullivan as Pasha Selim. Making his OA debut is tenor Adam Fisher as Pedrillo. David Fallis conducts the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chorus. This revival continues for four more shows this week (Oct. 29, 30, Nov. 1 and 2) at the Elgin Theatre. If you like your Mozart opera broadly comic, this is for you. You can read my full review at http://blog.scena.org/2013/10/opera-ateliers-abduction-from-seraglio.html The production premiered in 2008 and it was gorgeous, and it still is lovely. http://www.operaatelier.com/

OA's Abduction from the Seraglio (l. ro r.) Adam Fisher, Lawrence Wiliford, Ambur Braid, Carla Huhtanen, Gustav Andreassen receiving audience applause (Photo: Joseph So)



Cover art work of the Carmina Burana score by Carl Orff 

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting Carl Orff's best known work, Carmina Burana, for three performances.  On Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 at 8 pm, and Nov. 1 at 7:30 pm  at Roy Thomson Hall. TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian leads the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Children's Chorus, and three soloists - soprano Valentina Farcas, tenor Nicholas Phan and baritone James Westman.  Canadian Westman is of course very well known to local audiences, having just sung Ford in Opera Hamilton's Falstaff to audience and critical acclaim. American Phan was last heard in recital at the Toronto Summer Music Festival in July of 2012. I have to confess Romanian soprano Farcas is a name new to me. A search on the web found this clip of Laudate Dominum from Maggio Musicale di Fiorentino conducted by Riccardo Muti < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuAf2IYUpXM > The voice is gorgeous - warm, gentle, and caressing, exactly right for this piece.  I look forward to hearing her.  The program also includes Dances from the opera Powder Her Face by Thomas Ades, and Britten's wonderful Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.   
Romanian soprano Valentina Farcas (Photo: Bel Canto Global Artists LLC)

On Sunday Nov. 3 7 pm at the Metropolitan United Church, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra is presenting the challenging Shostakovich Symphony No. 10, paired with Dvorak's very lively Carnival Overture, an interesting juxtaposition to say the least!  The TSYO is conducted by resident conductor Shalom Bard, whose official title is the RBC Resident Conductor. http://tso.ca/Home.aspx  

Pianist Andras Schiff 

Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff is making one of his welcome returns to Toronto, this time in recital at Koerner Hall on Sunday Nov. 3 at 2 pm.  I am sad to say it's already announced as sold out on the Koerner website, but there's always the possibility of returns so do give their box office a call, or better yet, go in person. I have to say that we Torontonians are spoiled - getting concert tickets here is so easy. All the other important venues that I've been to, be it Vienna, London, Munich, even New York, sometimes getting a ticket is like winning the lottery - I hope you are one of the lucky ones. Schiff is playing the Goldberg Variations and the Diabelli Variations on the same program!  Is there any wonder why it's sold out?  http://performance.rcmusic.ca/

Brentano String Quartet (Photo: Christian Steiner)

Have you seen the 2012 movie The Late Quartet?  I fell in love with it right away, not just with the story and the acting (how do you beat the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken?) but also with the soundtrack. The music provided for the fictional quartet in the movie is the real life Brentano String Quartet ( violinists Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violist Misha Amory and cellist Nina Lee).  They are playing a recital at Walter Hall on Monday Oct. 28 at 7 pm. The program consists of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 11 and 14.  More information about this excellent ensemble at http://www.brentanoquartet.com/  More concert information at http://www.music.utoronto.ca/home.htm

Speaking of chamber music, musicians of the COC Orchestra (violinists Aya Miyagawa and Ashley Vandiver, violist Joshua Greenlaw, cellist Alastair Eng, and oboist Mark Rogers) are presenting Britten @ 100, a celebratory noon hour concert on Wednesday Oct. 30, featuring two Benjamin Britten's most notable chamber works, his Phantasy Quartet and his String Quartet No. 2 in C Major. We all know the COC Orchestra is a wonderful band, but the musicians are heard but not seen. So it's great have at least a few of them front and center. Full program details at  http://files.coc.ca/pdfs/concert131030.pdf  These noon hour free concerts are always popular so be sure to show up an hour early to line up for a seat.

Yet another chamber event this week is Music Toronto's presentation of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble. In addition to the better known Shostakovich Prelude and Scherzo for String Octet, Op. 11 and the Mendelssohn Octet for Strings, Op. 20 is a work by Joachim Raff - Octet for Strings in C Major, Op. 176 (1872). I confess to not being familiar with Raff, but a visit to Youtube solved that! There's a ton of stuff on this composer, including the gorgeous Octet - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfoehSMoJHs  Thursday Oct. 31 8 pm at the Jane Mallett Theatre. 




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