Music reviews of the finest concerts in Toronto:
​symphonic, choral, opera, chamber, jazz and period music​

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON April 14th 2018

Pianist Yuja Wang; Photo credit: Norbert Kniet

Amici Ensemble - A Legacy of Inspiration on its 30th Anniversary!

Jan and I headed to the Royal Conservatory of Music yesterday to take in the Glenn Gould School’s annual Chamber Music Competition as we have done for the past several years. This year would be special because it was for the first time being held in Koerner Hall. We went early to sit in on student recitals that are held virtually daily through April and much of May. Little did we know that our plans would be altered by the student recitals that were scheduled.


​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON May 13th 2018

​​Review byPaul Merkley FRSC and David Richards

Toronto ON April 19th and 22nd 2018

The audience at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts was treated to an impressive performance on May 3. The singing was dazzling, the acting engaging, and the orchestral playing, under the able baton of accomplished opera director Corrado Rovaris, was expressive, and carefully synchronized with the singing.


Glenn Gould School hits a historic landmark twentieth anniversary

Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
Photo Credit: Antoine Saito0

Pianist Serouj Kradjian, clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas,
and cellist David Hetherington

Solo Recitals and Chamber Music: Take your pick at Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School

I have heard this promising young pianist at a house concert, and on broadcasts and recordings from competitions. Tonight, Chon gave a recital as part of the requirements of The Glen Gould School’s Performance Diploma program. The evening was an exciting one in different ways. 


Since the days of Horowitz and Richter, solo piano recitals have flourished in concert halls all over the world. Venues of over 1000 seats would be filled to the brim with people of all ages eager to hear their beloved pianist perform some of the most exquisite masterworks in the piano repertoire. Many leave feeling inspired, some hurriedly return to practice, and others feel a wave of excitement knowing they have witnessed something remarkable. With a program of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Ligeti, and Prokofiev, Chinese pianist Yuja Wang truly stepped up to continue in the traditions of her musical ancestors.


Tafelmusik: Bach Motets - Music to die for

Gautier Capuçon: the ultimate romantic for a romantic program of cello and piano

Yuja Wang delights, amazes and inspires audience in her Koerner Hall recital!

Music Director and Oboist John Abberger; Photo credit: Saajid Motala

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON May 4th 2018

It’s always a treat to hear guest orchestras in a Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert season. They usually bring their “A” game and present major works to an appreciative audience. Such was the case last night at Roy Thomson Hall when the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal performed.  OSM was last here in December 2016 when it brought the spectacular pianist Till Fellner and dazzled the audience with music by Beethoven, Dutilleux and Ravel. Last night, conductor Kent Nagano brought with him the much-acclaimed German violinist Christian Tetzlaff for a program of major works by Berg and Bruckner. This was a concert that I had circled on my calendar when it was first announced. It did not disappoint.


Ivars Tourin and Tafelmusik Baroque Chamber Choir
Photo credit: Sian Richards

The company of Ulysses; Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

Last night at Koerner Hall, French superstar cellist Gautier Capuçon along with piano partner Jérome Ducros performed a program of the music of Romantic composers: Fauré, Massenet, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. To say that Capuçon is a superstar is not to overstate. Not only does he have the musical chops and the resumé to go along with the title, but he exudes that love for what he is doing in every look of his intense gaze and in his correspondingly mysterious body language that whispers confidence in all he is doing.


It has been twenty years since the full-time diploma programs of the Royal Conservatory were re-imagined and re-named the Glenn Gould School. The school has become one of North America’s pre-eminent professional training institutes for classical musicians. Its graduates can be found on the world’s major stages. As the school year winds up for the twentieth time, it has seemed like a high-speed train moving to its destination. The last month has been a whirlwind of activity. 


A scene from the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, 2018; Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Anna Bolena at the Canadian Opera Company—Terrific Soprano loses her head (figuratively and literally)

Opera Atelier’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse: the bow and arrows of love, fidelity, and vengeance

Gautier Capuçon
Photo credit: © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Martin Argyroglo

​​Review byDavid Richards

Toronto ON April 27th 2018

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON April 29th 2018

Photo credit: Royal Conservatory of Music

The choir and continuo of Tafelmusik, along with violinist Cristina Zacharias, performed brilliantly and sensitively tonight, in a performance of motets by J.S. Bach and his uncle J.C. Bach, interspersed with works for violin solo. It was a memorable evening, in which the music, words, ambience, and expression all came together in a moving way.


Piano on the high-wire: Sae Yoon Chon at Mazzoleni Hall

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON May 12th 2018

Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal: another triumphant visit to Toronto!

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON April 21st 2018

​​Review by Christopher Au

Toronto ON May 14th 2018

​​Review by Jeff Mitchell

Toronto ON April 28th 2018

COC’s Stravinsky: A visual and musical extravaganza of child-like imaginative proportions!

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON May 4th 2018

Christopher Au; Photo credit: David Kennedy

A festival to celebrate the music of J.S. Bach is by no means a unique phenomenon. Many cities devote several weeks annually to music of perhaps the greatest musical genius of the western world. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until oboist John Abberger set out to create a festival that Toronto could join the ranks. Now in its third year, it can boast a devoted following. Last night, at St. Barnabas-on-the-Danforth Church, the Toronto Bach Festival opened with four orchestral works designed to lift the spirits.


Toronto Bach Festival: Riveting soloists dominate the opening concert of Bach’s orchestral music

Opera Atelier presented Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse at the Elgin Theatre, opening its spring run of productions this past weekend. The experience of opera is all about taking the audience into a different world, whether imaginary or historical. This is not your grandparents’ opera, or even your great-grandparents’ opera—it’s your seventeenth-century Venetian ancestors’ opera. 


Sondra Radvanovsky as Anna Bolenain the Canadian Opera
​Company’s production of Anna Bolena, 2018
Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Do you remember the childish laughter that would erupt in elementary school when the class show-off would put his hands in the way of a film or overhead projector to create a shadow-image of a dog barking or a wolf devouring a human hand? Perhaps you were a child who loved to put on puppet shows. Do you remember spending time in your bathtub playing with your ‘tubby’ toys? The Canadian Opera Company’sThe Nightingale and Other Short Fables took me back to childhood memories in a lavishly creative production at the Four Seasons Centre.


​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON April 18th 2018

On Friday evening, in partnership with TheRoyal Conservatory, Canada’s famed, Juno-award winning Amici Chamber Ensemble closed out its 30th concert season at the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning, Koerner Hall, with a program that felt as celebratory as the occasion demanded but also deeply respectful of the life-changing events of the past week in Toronto.  In the words of RCM President Dr. Peter Simon:

“On behalf of everyone at The Royal Conservatory of Music, I extend my deepest condolences to all those affected by the senseless attack earlier this week and applaud the calm professionalism of first responders. [Tonight] in Koerner Hall, The Royal Conservatory will honour all those who lost their lives by dedicating the performance of the Amici Chamber Ensemble to their memories.”


Pianist Sae Yoon Chon; Photo credit: David Kennedy