La Scena Musicale

Monday, 13 October 2014

This Week in Toronto (Oct. 13 - 19)

My concert picks for the week of October 13 to 19 - Joseph So

Kelly Kaduce as Cio Cio San (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The second of two Canadian Opera Company's fall season productions, Madama Butterfly, opened on the long weekend at the Four Seasons Centre, with two alternating casts. I saw American soprano Kelly Kaduce give a stunning account vocally and dramatically as Cio Cio San. She was partnered by the ringing tenor of Andrea Care as Pinkerton. Canadian baritone Gregory Dahl took on Sharpless, and American mezzo Elizabeth DeShong was a fabulous Suzuki.  German maestro Patrick Lange led the COC Orchestra in a well paced, idiomatic reading of the Puccini score. I intend to go back to hear the alternate cast of Patricia Racette, Stefano Secco, and Dwayne Croft. Performances this week at Oct. 15, 18, 19.  Meanwhile, the critically acclaimed Falstaff continues with the great Canadian bass baritone Gerald Finley in the title role, with a single performance this week on Oct. 14.  Details at

The COC free concert series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre this week features two interesting events - top on my list is a preview of the Opera Atelier's Alcina. OA is Canada's premier Baroque Opera company, and their historically informed productions are always visually wonderful. The cast of this Alcina is made up of COC Ensemble Studio graduates soprano Mireille Asselin, mezzos Allyson McHardy and Wallis Giunta, and baritone Olivier Laquerre.  The only non-alumna is Alcina herself, soprano Meghan Lindsay. This is bound to be an extremely popular preview, so be sure to show up early.

Canadian piano wunderkind Anastasia Rizikov

The other noon hour attraction is Canadian piano wunderkind Anastasia Rizikov playing works by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff and Balakirev. This brilliant 15 year old has a technique and musicality that's remarkable.  October 15

Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz 

Pianophiles' cup truly runneth over this week, with the appearance of Polish pianist and 2014 Gilmour Artist Rafal Blechacz in recital at Koerner Hall on Sunday Oct. 19 at 3 pm, as well as Jean Efflam Bavouzet with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall. Blechacz is in town under the auspices of the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Canadian Chopin Society. The Polish pianist will play a program of Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin. 

French pianist Jean Efflam Bavouzet (Photo: Paul Mitchell)

London Philharmonic Orchestra is currently on tour, and will be at the Roy Thomson Hall on Oct 17 under the helm of conductor Vladimir Jurowski. Bavouzet plays the challenging Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3, and the centerpiece of the evening is Shostakovich Symphony No. 8. Performance on Friday Oct. 17 8 pm.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra goes pop this week, with vocal ensemble Rajaton performing Best of the Beatles under the baton of maestro Steven Reineke on Tuesday Oct. 14 8 pm and two shows on Wednesday Oct. 15 at 2 and 8 pm. 

Since Oct. 17 marked the passing of Frederic Chopin, there's a lot of his piano music being played this week. In addition to the Blechacz recital, the Canadian Chopin Festival is putting on a concert on that day featuring Canadian pianists Leonard Gilbert, Anastasia Rizikov and Li Wang. This concert marks the opening of the 2014 Canadian Chopin Competition. It takes place at the Polish Cultural Centre at 4300 Cawthra Road in Mississauga. For more information, call (416) 231-7709. 

Conductor Alex Pauk of Esprit Orchestra

The Esprit Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Alex Pauk, is presenting a concert on Oct. 16 8 pm at Koerner Hall. This orchestra is known for its innovative programming involving new music. It features works by Thomas Ades, Charles Ives, Paul Frehner and Chris Paul Harman.

Finally, a Chinese orchestra, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is performing at Roy Thomson Hall at exactly the same time. The Orchestra combines Chinese and Western instruments. I wasn't able to find program details, but on the Roy Thomson Hall website, it states the concert features music from "a program including the vast repertoire of Shen Yun's original music and celebrated classics from Berlioz and Dvorak."

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