La Scena Musicale

Monday, 26 May 2014

This Week in Toronto (May 26 - June 1)

Toronto Concert Picks for the week of May 26 - June 1

- Joseph So

Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky 

The great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is in town this week for a recital at Koerner Hall. One of the truly great voices of our time, Hvorostovsky combines thrilling vocalism with dramatic intensity. Not a lot of program details available, but the Koerner Hall website mentions that he's offering a new program including works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Medtner and Liszt. The pianist is his long time collaborator, Ivari Ilja. The show is rescheduled from the original date of May 13 and will now be on Sunday June 1 7 pm at Koerner Hall.

Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena (Photo: Sussie Ahlburg)

Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting a very interesting program this week, pairing the ever popular Beethoven Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral" with Shostakovich's violin concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77. Originally composed in 1947 for David Oistrakh, Shostakovich, fearing reprisals from the government, withheld the violin concerto for several years, until after the death of Stalin. It is symphonic in structure, with four movements. The soloist with the TSO is Lithuanian violinist Julian Rachlin. At the helm making his TSO debut is Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena. The opening work is Overture to Los esclaves felices by Spanish composer Juan Crisostomos Arriaga, who lived all of twenty years in his short life. Not a lot of his work survived, including the opera that this overture is supposed to be part of. I was not familiar with this piece but thanks to Youtube, not any more!  On  Saturday May 31 7:30 pm and Sunday June 1 3 pm are two performances  of TSO Artists in the Spotlight, a program featuring TSO musicians as soloists, in a potpourri of popular works by Paganini, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and the popular Bolero by Ravel. Soloists include Sarah Jeffrey (oboe) and Teng Li (viola). Also on the program is Calla Lilies by Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich. TSO resident conductor Shalom Bard is at the helm. All performances at Roy Thomson Hall.

The Toronto Summer Music Festival is the premiere venue for classical music in the city spanning the months of July and August.  Like last spring, the TSMF is having a sneak preview at the Canadian Opera Company noon hour concert venue of the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on Thursday noon May 29th.  The Montreal chamber ensemble Sonoro Quartet (violinists Ewald Cheung and Byungchan Lee, violist Ryan Davis and cellist Eli Weinberger) is presenting Haydn's String Quartet Op. 76 No. 5 and Dvorak's "American" Quartet, Op. 96 in F Major. This is a good opportunity to get a taste of this fresh and energetic chamber group if you are unfamiliar with their work. Here is the program details -

Sonoro Quartet

Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival is part of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute that takes place at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. There are several free concerts this week. Delightfully Baroque - Music performed by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, directed by Jeanne Lamon & Ivars Taurins, with soprano Ann Monoyios and baritone Peter Harvey on Thursday, May 29 at 8:30 pm Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, in the newly named Jeanne Lamon Hall 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Also, there's Musical Interlude, a casual noon-hour concert featuring baroque chamber music performed by members of the TBSI faculty, on Sunday, June 1 at 12:30 pm Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto 80 Queen's Park, Toronto.

Tafelmusik's Jeanne Lamon

The chamber group Talisker Players ends its season with A Poet's Love: The Romantic Imagination. Soloists are Canadian baritone Alexander Dobson and actor/reader Stewart Arnott. On the program are works by Bechwith, Faure, Rapaport, and as the centerpiece, Schumann's Dichterliebe, arranged by Harold Birston for baritone and string quartet. Two performances, on May 27 and 28 8 pm (with pre-curtain talk at 7:15 pm) at Trinity St. Paul's Centre. 

Baritone Alexander Dobson (Photo: Jimmy Song)

The Toronto Classical Singers is presenting Dvorak's Stabat Mater on June 1 at 4 pm, at Christ Church Deer Park. Soloists are soprano Lesley Bouza, mezzo Danielle MacMillan, tenor Stephen McClare, and baritone Bruce Kelly.  Jurgen Petrenko conducts the Talisker Players Orchestra. This 90 minute piece is a large scale orchestral work and a real choral masterpiece, a deeply moving one. I only heard it "live" once in Vienna back in the 80's and it's well worth experiencing.

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