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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

CRITIC'S PICKS | 10 Classical Music Shows You Should Absolutely See This Week

By Joseph So on January 16, 2017

For the week of January 16–22

Classical Music Critic’s Picks for the week of Jan. 16 – 22. (Photo: Heath Quartet)
Classical Music Critic’s Picks for the week of Jan. 16 – 22. (Photo: Heath Quartet)

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. 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 curated concert listings here: Musical Toronto Datebook.

For opera fans, the big news this week is the start of the Canadian Opera Company’s winter season, with the first of two productions, Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), opening on Jan. 19. French Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie makes his belated COC debut. The busiest maestro in town, Labadie is doing double duty with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for more Mozart (Jan. 18, 20) as part of their Mozart@261 Festival.  Another Quebec maestro, Alain Trudel, is here to conduct a concert of Canadian works with the TSO (Jan. 21). Alternately, chamber fans can catch the JCT Trio (short for violinist Stefan Jackiw, cellist Jay Campbell, and pianist Conrad Tao) in a program of Mozart, Ives, and Dvořák at Koerner Hall (Jan. 21). Tafelmusik presents a program of German Baroque gems designed by Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon, with guest soloist baritone Peter Harvey (Jan. 19–22). Met Live in HD fans will love Romeo et Juliette (Jan. 21), a new production starring German soprano Diana Damrau and Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo as the star-crossed lovers.  I’ve seen preview clips of this, and it’s a terrific show. Canadian baritone and Toronto native Elliot Madore is Mercutio, and the choreography for the duel scene is dynamite! Also highly recommended is a special performance by the amazing Heath Quartet presented by our friends at Mooredale Concerts on Jan. 22.

Monday 16

Canzona Chamber Players | TRIO INK at Music Gallery, 197 John St. 7:30 p.m. $25

TRIO INK (formerly Trio Plus, with violinist Yosuke Kawasaki, cellist Wolfran Koessel, and pianist Vadim Serebryany) presents a program of Mozart, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. This must be the only ensemble with separate “City” and “Island” concerts!  The “Island Concert” took place yesterday at the St. Andrew-by-the-Lake Church on the Toronto Islands.  “City Concert” is at the St. George the Martyr Church, also known as The Music Gallery. Program details, here.

Wednesday 18

Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Royal Conservatory | Mozart@261 at Koerner Hall. 8 p.m. $39+ (Repeats Jan. 20 7:30 p.m.)

As part of the Mozart birthday celebrations, the TSO, in partnership with RCM, presents Mozart Prague Symphony, conducted by Bernard Labadie, with soloist Isabelle Faust playing the Violin Concerto No. 1 K207 and No. 3 K216. The centerpiece is Symphony No. 38 K504 “Prague.”  Full details found, here.

Thursday 19

University of Toronto Faculty of Music | Colin Ainsworth and Stephen Ralls, at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building. 12:10 p.m. Free!

The fine Canadian lyric tenor Colin Ainsworth, last heard during the Holidays in Opera In Concert’s Pirates of Penzance, gives a recital of Liszt, Holman, and Britten, with Stephen Ralls at the keyboard. Details, here.

Canadian Opera Company | The Magic Flute at Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. 7:30 p.m. $35–235.

The COC Winter Season opens with a revival of the Mozart masterpiece. The setting of this production, with a great cast and directed by Diane Paulus, has an interesting twist, which I won’t reveal. Four of the principal roles are double-cast — it opens with the marvelous Russian soprano Elena Tsallagova as Pamina. I saw her Mélisande in Munich, and she was enchanting. Singing Tamino is the wonderful Canadian tenor Andrew Haji. Canadian baritone Josh Hopkins sings his signature role of Papageno. The flamboyant dramatic coloratura Ambur Braid returns as the Queen of the Night. All under the baton of Bernard Labadie. Not to be missed!  See here, for all the details.

Tafelmusik | Intimate German Baroque, at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. 8 p.m. $30 + (Repeats Jan. 20, 21, 22 mat.)

Canada’s premiere Baroque band swings into action in the new year with Intimate German Baroque, a program of JS Bach and Johann Christoph Bach, handpicked by former Tafelmusik director violinist Jeanne Lamon.  Joining her is baritone Peter Harvey. More info, here.

Saturday 21

Met Live in HD | Romeo et Juliette, at select Cineplex Cinemas. 12:55 p.m. $28

This new, visually striking production, directed by Bartlett Sherr, received critical acclaim at the Salzburg Festival and La Scala. It stars German soprano Diana Damrau and Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo as the star-crossed lovers. Canadian baritone Elliot Madore is Mercutio. Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda is at the helm. Tickets and showtimes, here.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra | Canadian Legacy. At Roy Thomson Hall. 7:30 p.m. $33.75–107.

French Canadian conductor Alain Trudel leads the TSO forces in an all-Canadian program of works by Trudel, Ridout, Mercure, Mathieu, Coulthard, and Weinzweig, with soloist Alain Lefèvre (piano). Long-time TSO stalwart Victor Feldbrill is the special guest conductor. Info, here.

Royal Conservatory of Music | Chamber Music Concert: JCT Trio. At Koerner Hall. From $25

The JCT Trio stands for Stefan Jackiw (violin), Jay Campbell (cello), and Conrad Tao (piano). They join forces to present a program of works by Ives, Dvořák, and Mozart. This concert is part of the TSO’s Mozart@261 Festival. More info, here.

Canadian Sinfonietta | Winds in the Tropics. At Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. 8:00 p.m. $30

If we can’t go south to escape the wintry climes, you can at least relocate musically by attending Canadian Sinfonietta’s Wine and Cheese Concert Sinfonietta Winds. On the program are works by George Gershwin, Samuel Barber, and Paquito d’Rivera. Listing details, here.

Sunday 22

Mooredale Concerts | Music and Truffles 1:15 p.m., Main Performance 3:15 p.m. at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, University of Toronto. $20

The British chamber ensemble, the Heath Quartet, makes its Canadian debut in this concert, under the auspices of Mooredale Concerts. The program features works by Bela Bartók and Antonin Dvorák. As is the custom of Mooredale, there’s a Music and Truffles event at 1:15 p.m. followed by the main performance at 3:15 p.m. Highly recommended. Full info, here.

For more classical music and opera events, visit our DATEBOOK CALENDAR.

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Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
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