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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Concert review: Tafelmusik teams up with R.H. Thomson for visit to late-Baroque London

By John Terauds on January 17, 2013

R.H. Thomson and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra at Trinity-St Paul's Centre on TRhursday night (John Terauds iPhone photo).
R.H. Thomson and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre on Thursday night (John Terauds iPhone photo).

Tafelmusik and music director Jeanne Lamon are taking the themed concert programme one step further this week with the help of actor R.H. Thomson, inviting their audiences on a trip through mid-18th century London.

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.

Our guide is Thomson’s Richard Neale, a retired oboe player from the Orchestra of Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket, who, with the help of his “spectral players,” a.k.a. Tafelmusik, survey the pan-European collection of composers and styles that comprised musical life in Britain’s capital.

The concert programme is a mix-and-match assortment that allows each section of the period-instrument orchestra to show off a bit — something everyone did very nicely at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre on Thursday night.

It was a treat to have visiting flautist Grégoire Jeay show off his nimble way with the wonderfully mellow sound of a Baroque transverse flute.

The anchor composer in this programme is George Frideric Handel — himself a German import who came to represent the best of English Baroque music. France is represented in Jean-Baptiste Loeillet, Italy in Francesco Geminiani, Giovanni Battista Bononcini, Pietro Castrucci and Giuseppe Sammartini.

Germans Johann Ernst Galliard and Johann Joachim Quantz round out the list of European visitors who all offer variations on Baroque style — even if the date of the reminiscence, 1759, approaches the Classical borders of the Baroque era.

Thomson’s script is good, mixing fact with whimsy, the serious with humour. The words never feel too long, nor does the insertion of Neale’s character strain the flow of the concert.

On the whole, this is a great variation on the standard concert format — one that is entertaining as well as educational. That’s a pretty significant accomplishment.

The programme continues to Sunday afternoon at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, with an additional performance at George Weston Recital Hall on Tuesday. Details here.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
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