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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Critic’s picks: Toronto concerts for January 21 to 27

By John Terauds on January 21, 2013

Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard conducts Mahler with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week.
Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard conducts Mahler with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week.

MONDAY

  • University of Toronto Faculty of Music presents Luciano Berio’s Sequenzas at Walter Hall, 6:30 p.m. Free.

U of T’s annual new music festival running to Sunday night includes a major flourish to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of noted Italian avant-garde composer Luciano Berio in May, 2003. A who’s who of Canadian musicians with new-music affinities present all 15 of his Sequenzas, written over the course of his professional lifetime.

Each piece pushes the limits of its intended instrument — including the voice — with what are called extended techniques. Toronto’s dean of new-music pros, flutist Robert Aitken, leads the way with the first piece, written in 1958. David Heatherington, one of the evening’s curators, concludes the concert nearly four hours later.

Trumpeter Guy Few acts as narrator and Graham Cozzubo has created a sort of staging for the small Walter Hall stage.

Admission is free, and there are to be two intermissions, allowing anyone to take a chance on this complex, challenging music. You’ll find more details here.

  • Associates of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, 7:30 p.m.

The first of this group’s Five Small Concerts featues two great and gorgeous works — Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Johannes Brahms’ G Major String Sextet — performed by notably fine musicians including Toronto Symphony Orchestra: concertmaster Jonathan Crow, principal viola Teng Li and principal cello Joseph Johnson. Regular admission to these intimate, engaging concerts is $20 — $17 for seniors and students. You’ll find details here.

TUESDAY

Marc-Andre-Hamelin

  • Pianist Marc-André Hamelin at the Jane Mallett Theatre, 8 p.m.

Music Toronto welcomes back Canadian pianist’s pianist Marc-André Hamelin, a master of all he surveys. His meaty, varied programme includes pieces by J.S. Bach, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel, Sergei Rachmaninoff — and himself. Details here.

WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY

  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m.

Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard has been a favourite visitor with the Toronto Symphony for the better part of a decade now. He brings his particularly fine, deep musicianship to bear on Gustav Mahler’s great Symphony No. 6. Although the music is big, laden with expressive meaning, it’s success depends on fastidious attention to minute details. In what I think will turn out to be a brilliant stroke of programming, the work is paired with a Schubert String Quartet and Mahler’s Piano Quartet, performed by the orchestra’s best — along with guest pianist Jamie Parker.

Although Roy Thomson Hall is a bit too large for chamber music, this could turn out to be one of the great, memorable concerts of 2013. You’ll find the details here.

THURSDAY

  • Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon. Free.

Four members of the COC Ensemble Studio — soprano Sasha Djihanian, baritone Cameron McPhail and pianists Timothy Cheung and Jenna Douglas — present two song cycles: Claude Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées and Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe. This music is a treat, which is great start.

FRIDAY

  • Sinfonia Toronto with clarinettist Julian Milkis and violinist Mary-Elizabeth Brown at the Glenn Gould Studio, 8 p.m.

Two days before the Austrian great’s birthday, the chamber-sized Sinfonia Toronto presents a Mozart-heavy concert featuring two fine soloists. Also on the programme is Evening Prayers a 20-year-old meditation by fascinating Belgium-based veteran Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. Details here.

If you need an introduction to Kancheli’s aesthetic, this is Morning Prayers, the first piece in the same cycle, performed beautifully by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, led by Dennis Russel Davies:

SATURDAY

  • Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Choral Conductors’ Symposium Concert, Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 3 p.m. Free.

Starting Tuesday morning, five young choral conductors from Canada and the United States are spending five days honing their skills with Noel Edison, the 70-voice Mendelssohn Singers and the 20-voice Elora Festival Singers. They will show off the state of the art at this free public concert, being offered with the help of pianist James Bourne and organist Michael Bloss. There will be a live webcast, in case you’d rather attend from home. Details here.

  • Classical Revolution at Gallery 345, 8 p.m.

The Toronto chapter of Classical Revolution, which aims to add an informal touch to fine art music, presents a mixed programme that includes Dmitri Shostakovich’s engrossing Piano Quintet at this wonderful, intimate venue in the hart of Parkdale. Some details here.

SUNDAY

Because of declining audiences, fine art song recitals are supposed to have become more rare in Toronto. So you can imagine the hair-tearing frustration of having to pick between three prime recitals being held at the same time, within a short stroll of each other:
• Soprano Monica Whicher, with pianist Liz Upchurch and violinist Marie Bérard, 2 p.m. at Mazzoleni Hall — details here.
• Baritone Russell Braun and others in a German programme for Off Centre Music Salon, 2 p.m. at the Glenn Gould Studio — details here.
• Soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, mezzo Anita Krause and others in a Czarist-Russian programme for Aldeburgh Connection, 2:30 p.m. at Walter Hall — details here.

  • Soundstreams presents the Three Faces of Jerusalem at Koerner Hall, 3 p.m.

A point of intersection — sometimes benign, sometimes not — of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem is the ideal anchor for this programme that celebrates musical meetings. Soundstreams has invited some very fine musicians local and international. Besides pieces from all three traditions, including Hildegard of Bingen’s O Jerusalem, there is a premiere, of Toronto composer James Rolfe’s Five and a Half Bridges. Check out the details here. I’ll have more on this concert later in the week.

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.

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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