Musical Toronto’s weekly Critic’s Picks are a fully curated list of some of the best concerts happening now through the end of the week. Of course, this is not to say we are the provocateurs of taste, but simply seek to provide a good weekly summary. For a look at the full breadth of what’s available in and around Toronto, check out our concert listings in the Musical Toronto Datebook.
COC | Wagner’s Siegfried at The Four Seasons Centre. 6:30 p.m.$35-355 (Repeats Jan. 23 – Feb. 13; start times vary)
Canadian Opera Company’s winter season opened with Siegfried last evening. This is the same production from the Ring Cycle that opened the opera house nearly ten years ago. What a joy to re-acquaint myself with this masterpiece, directed by Francois Girard. Siegfried for years has been my least favourite of the Ring operas, but last evening’s show was so stunning that I just might change my mind! First of all, it was a great night of singing, from Stefan Vinke (Siegfried) down to the smallest roles. He was matched by the Brunnhilde of Christine Goerke. The rich, ringing tone of Alan Held (Wanderer) was a joy. The COC Orchestra under Johannes Debus made magnificent sounds for 5 hours (okay, that includes two relatively short intermissions). A full review to follow in Musical Toronto – I will update with the link here. Anyway, this show is not to be missed! Yes, it’s long, but the music is glorious. Two performances this week, Jan. 27 at the early start time of 6:30 p.m. and Jan. 30 at the super-early start time of 4:30 p.m. More details found here.
TSO | Barbara Hannigan at Roy Thomson Hall. 8:00 p.m. $45.75-148 (Repeats Jan. 27 and 28)
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting an absorbing program this week, combining Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique with the gorgeously atmospheric tone poem The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius. It’s one of those rare compositions, written specifically for cor anglais or English Horn. It’s called that but in really it’s a lower-pitched oboe. To me, this piece has an amazing suggestive power of imagery – just listening to the strings and its interplay with the woodwind gives me the chills. Watch this clip and see if you agree with me.
As if that’s not enough of an attraction, these performances also feature Canada’s “queen of new music” Barbara Hannigan in Dutilleux’s Correspondances. She has recorded this for Deutsche Grammophon a few years ago. Peter Oundjian conducts. Performances at Roy Thomson Hall on Jan. 27 and 28. Full details here.
RCM | Daniel Hope and Sebastian Knauer: Yehudi Menuhin @ 100 at Koerner Hall. 8:00 p.m. $35-75
British violinist Daniel Hope had a long association with the late, great Yehudi Menuhin. At the age of 11, Hope was invited by Menuhin to play Bartok duos with him on German television, thus beginning a long artistic partnership that resulted in over 60 concerts, including Menuhin’s last performance on March 7th, 1999, when the great maestro conducted Hope’s performance of Schnittke’s Violin Concerto. On Thursday, Jan. 28th 8 p.m. at Koerner Hall, Hope joins German pianist Sebastian Knauer in a recital, billed Yehudi Menuhin @100. They will perform pieces by Bach, Enescu, Mendelssohn, Walton, Ravel and Bartok. More info here.
SHOW ONE PRODUCTIONS | Denis Matsuev at Church of Koerner Hall. 8:00 p.m.$50-125
Another important concert this week is the recital by the fabulous Russian pianist Denis Matsuev on Saturday Jan. 30 8 p.m. at Koerner Hall. He is in the middle of a North American tour and thanks to Show One Productions, he’s making Toronto one of his stops. However, it’s already sold-out, but you can always check with the box office for returns. He is playing a program of works by Schumann and Rachmaninoff. Details here.
TORONTO MENDELSSOHN CHOIR | TMC’s annual Choral Conductors’ Symposium at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. 3:00 p.m. $10 Sugested donation
The august Toronto Mendelssohn Choir is giving a free community concert on Saturday January 30th 3 p.m. at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. It’s general seating, so get there early! Doors open at 2:15 p.m. TMC is accepting donations to support their outreach program. Suggested donation is $10. This concert is given in conjunction with the 6th Annual Choral Conductor’s Symposium, which is open to the public for a fee. The concert will be webcast on Livestream here. New for 2016, the concert will include the premieres of two works submitted to the TMC Choral Composition Competition. For more information, see here.
TORONTO SYMPHONY YOUTH ORCHESTRA | Winter Concert at the MacMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building 3:00 p.m. $16-28
On Saturday Jan. 30th 3 p.m., the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra under the baton of conductor Shalom Bard is giving a concert at the MacMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building on the campus of University of Toronto. On the program are Sibelius Symphony No. 1, Rossini’s Overture to La gazza ladra, and Shostakovich’s Festive Overture. More details here.