La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 30 November 2014

This Week in Toronto (Dec. 1 - 7)

My Toronto concert picks for the week of Dec. 1 to 7  - Joseph So

Early December is arguably the busiest time on the classical music calendar in Toronto.  It's a time when one can catch "regular" programming as well as works geared to the Holiday Season. (By mid December however, the concerts are predominantly religious-themed.) Top on the list for voice fans is the concert performance of Rossini's William Tell conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and the whole orchestra and chorus of the Teatro Regio di Torino. It is being presented by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as part of its Masterworks series.  When it was announced two months ago that Maestro Noseda has resigned from Teatro Regio, many of us really didn't think this North American tour would take place.  So it's the great good fortune of Toronto opera lovers that it is still happening on Friday Dec. 5th 7 pm, to be followed by an appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York on Sunday Dec. 7th, with a slightly different cast. William Tell is of course Rossini's last opera and one of his most significant "serious" works, in musical values as well as in length.  I saw a staged version of this in Munich in July that was somewhat cut but it still lasted three and a half hours including intermission! That production was really out in left field, but the music was of course glorious. The Toronto concert performance will feature American soprano Angela Meade as Mathilde, and Luca Salsi stepping in to replace Dalibor Jenis in the title role.  This is a performance not to be missed.

Conductor Gianandrea Noseda (Photo Sussie Ahlburg)

Luca Salsi sings the title role in William Tell

The great violinist and Toronto audience favourite Itzhak Perlman is coming this week for a recital at Roy Thomson Hall. On the program are works by Vivaldi, Schumann, Beethoven, and Ravel. With him is pianist Rohan De Silva. According to the RTH website, only limited stage seating is available, so don't delay.

Violinist Itzhak Perlman (Photo: Akira Kinoshita)

Pianist Alice Sara Ott

The music director of the great Philadelphia Orchestra is Canada's own Yannick Nezet-Seguin, but most of us are probably not familiar with their associate conductor, Cristian Macelaru, who assists Nezet-Seguin and conducts the non-subscription performances. He is the guest maestro with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week in a program of Tchaikovsky gems. German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott is the soloist in a Tchaikovsky warhorse, the Piano Concerto No. 1. Also on the program is Nutcracker Act 2 (no dancing as far as I know), and a piece unfamiliar to me called the Jurisprudence March. Certainly a popular program and with Nutcracker, suitably festive. Wednesday Dec. 3 and Saturday Dec. 6 at 8 pm.  On Sunday Dec. 7 is a children's concert - the screen of an animated film, The Bear, with live accompaniment by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Amado. Singers are soprano Alex Hetherington, tenor Owen McCausland, and bass-baritone Mark S. Doss.  Tom Allen is the narrator.  Also appearing are the Cawthra Park Chamber Choir and Tha Spot Holiday Dancers.

Lydia Adams and the Elmer Iseler Singers (Photo: Bo Huang)

While the bulk of holiday programming really gets underway next week, a few early birds can be heard now, such as this Messiah with the Elmer Iseler Singers and a fine quartet of soloists - soprano Virginia Hatfield, mezzo Marion Newman, tenor David Pomeroy, and bass-baritone Giles Tomkins. The Amadeus Choir under Lydia Adams supplies the big choral sound. Dec. 5th 8 pm at the Metropolitan United Church on Queen Street East.

The Pax Christi Chorale under Artistic Director Stephanie Martin is presenting Winter Nights, a Christmas celebratory concert featuring Part II of Bach's Christmas Oratorio and the Advent Cantata Nun komm der Heiden Heiland.  Two weeks ago I was in Leipzig and went to the Thomaskirche where Bach worked as the kapellmeister.  November is just a bit early yet for the Holiday Season decorations but already they were busy putting up the Christmas tree!  I have to say it was quite the special atmosphere there, to be in that church, seeing where Bach spent his life.  Here's a photo I took of the altar and Bach's grave in front. 
J.S. Bach's Thomaskirche, Leipzig in November 2014

Soloists are soprano Michele Bogdanowicz, tenor Sean Clark and baritone Doug MacNaughton
Two performances, Saturday Dec. 6 at 7:30 pm and Sunday Dec. 7 at 3 pm, at the Grace Church on-the-Hill, 300 Lonsdale Road in midtown.

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