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PREVIEW | British Violinist Rachel Podger Returns To Toronto For Tafelmusik’s La Passione

By Anya Wassenberg on January 11, 2023

Rachel Podger (Photo courtesy of Tafelmusik)
Rachel Podger (Photo courtesy of Tafelmusik)

British violinist and conductor Rachel Podger will be featured in Tafelmusik’s upcoming concerts, titled La Passione: Haydn and Mozart. Rachel will share a stage with Tafelmusik for the first time since her debut with the ensemble more than 10 years ago. She’ll be performing as a soloist as well as guest director for the concerts.

In LvT’s review of her 2012 Toronto performance, John Terauds wrote, “English violinist Rachel Podger exhibited an intoxicating combination of power and grace… […] Throughout, Podger was an expressive treat, leading the players in interpretations that combined strong phrasing held aloft with rhythmic vigour.”

The show will be taped for a digital broadcast that will be available later this season.

The program

Works from the classical era are featured. The concerts take their title from the nickname for Haydn’s Symphony No. 49, “La Passione”. The work comes from the composer’s so-called Sturm und Drang stylistic period, a more emotional approach that presages the arrival of romanticism in Western music. In contrast, his Symphony No. 43 “Mercury” has a more sparkling and quintessentially classical character.

  • Haydn Symphony no. 43 in E-flat Major “Mercury”
  • Mozart Violin Concerto no. 1 in B-flat Major, K.207
  • Mozart Rondo for violin in C Major, K.373
  • Haydn Symphony no. 49 “La Passione”

Rachel Podger released a cycle of Mozart’s complete sonatas for violin and piano with Gary Cooper on Channel Classics, recorded between 2004 and 2009. The series was highly acclaimed by both critics and fans.

Along with their deserved reputation as Baroque specialists, Tafelmusik as an ensemble have a special relationship to the music of Josef Haydn. Under the late Jeanne Lamon as director, and with Bruno Weil conducting, Tafelmusik’s recording of Haydn’s Paris Symphonies on the Naxos label won a Cannes Classical Music Award in 1996. Tafelmusik and Weil went on to record several more that were collected and released as a 7-CD set in 2018 on the Sony label, including Nos. 41-47, 50-52, 64-65, and 82-90.

Rachel performs the Allemande from the Bach Cello Suite No 1 at the Gramophone Awards ceremony in London in 2018.

Rachel Podger

English violinist Rachel Podger has established a reputation as a specialist in both the Baroque and Classical periods. She co-founded Baroque chamber groups The Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium, and worked with period instrument ensembles such as the New London Consort and London Baroque during her days as student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She led the Gabrieli Consort and Players and subsequently The English Concert from 1997 to 2002, and has performed with many of Europe’s leading ensembles, including Brecon Baroque and The Academy of Ancient Music.

Among other accolades and recognition:

  • She won the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Prize in October 2015 as the first woman to receive the award;
  • Gramophone Artist of the Year 2018;
  • One of the Artists in Residence at Wigmore Hall throughout the 2019/2020 season.

Tafelmusik’s La Passione: Haydn & Mozart featuring Rachel Podger takes place Feb 10 at 8 p.m., Feb 11 at 2 p.m., Feb 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets and more information here.


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