Last night, we attended the third of seven performances of Richard Strauss’ opera Arabella at the Four Seasons Centre. The production is a first for the Canadian Opera Company, and in fact, it is the first production of the work in Canada, 84 years after its opening in Dresden in 1933. Arabella has been called a lyric comedy, and there are certainly many comedic moments. It’s a melodramatic story of an aristocratic family fallen on hard times because of a gambling father who tries to marry off the eldest daughter to someone of wealth to restore some much needed cash. The opera hangs together because of Strauss’s lush orchestration and wonderful sense of soaring melodic line for voice and especially the soprano. 

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The new concert season has begun and Toronto Concert Reviews looks forward to an exciting year of music in Toronto and beyond. We had a wonderful vacation in Europe which included my competing in the FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest. The swimming competition was followed by an adventurous two weeks touring throughout Austria and Switzerland spending time in Vienna, Saltzburg, Innsbruck, and Lucerne where we learned some great trivia about the musical geniuses from that part of the world. Hiking in the mountains was the real source of inspiration.


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Toronto Symphony Orchestra pays tribute to Glenn Gould

TSO’s CARMINA BURANA is a memorable conclusion to its 16/17 season!

Geoff Nuttal, Owen Dalby, Christopher Costanza and Lesley Robertson
Photo credit: James Ireland

When I first looked at the calendar of concerts for the year, I highlighted last night’s as one near the top of my priority list. It had been a number of years since hearing a live performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsche Requiem Op. 45 but it is a work that I can always listen to and count on a feeling of euphoria. Heading out to Roy Thomson Hall last evening to hear the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, I anticipated a thrilling concert. It did not disappoint.

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Benjamin Britten's Saint Nicholas Cantata

Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir team up for Brahms’ Ein Deutsche Requiem

If a day in Elora is a pleasant escape, a weekend makes the trip truly fulfilling!

ST. LAWRENCE STRING QUARTET lights up opening night at Toronto Summer Music Festival

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 16th 2017

Nestled on the edge of a river gorge northwest of Guelph and not far from the Mennonite communities of St. Jacob’s and Elmira, the village of Elora has been home to some of the finest of summer music festivals for the past 38 years; 2017 is no exception. In this first weekend of the Elora Festival that extends to the end of the July, some of Canada’s finest musicians have made Elora the perfect escape destination from the bustle of Toronto. Yesterday afternoon, two fabulous performances took place at St. John’s Church.


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Jan Lisiecki, TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian and TSO

Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON October 1st 2017

Andrew Wan, Nikki Chooi, Desmond Hoebig, Joseph Johnson and Steven Dann

Photo Credit: Gord Fulton

STRING EXTRAVAGANZA: Five of Canada’s finest chamber musicians join together at Toronto Summer Music Festival

In the most stunningly creative undertaking of the season, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra mounted a performance of Kurt Weill’s “sung-ballet”, Die sieben Todsünden (The Seven Deadly Sins). Led by Music Director Peter Oundjian, the orchestra moved upstage, took off their formal jackets and fittingly looked the part of a German cabaret band of the 1930s. This was not just a homerun for the TSO, it had the drama of a walk-off in the ninth inning of a playoff game.​


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TSO knocks it out of the park with Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins!

Canadian Opera Company opens its season with a beautiful production of Richard Strauss' Arabella

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON June 15th 2017

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 14d 2017

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 25 2017

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 23 2017

Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt

Erin Wall as Arabella (foreground) and Jane Archibald as Zdenka in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Arabella, 2017;  Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON June 22nd 2017

The last few weeks has been a “Tale of Two Cities” for Toronto Concert Reviews. We have shuttled between Elora and Toronto and enjoyed both the intimate atmosphere of St. John’s Church and the grandeur of Koerner Hall. The Elora Festival has exploited the human voice for the most part while the Toronto Summer Music Festival has focused on chamber music. Both festivals have crossed over into both the vocal and instrumental arts providing a generous mix of great music. Bookending these two weeks has been music written within a few short years of each other by Beethoven in the case of the St. Lawrence Quartet on the opening night of TSMF, and Schubert in the case of last night’s String Extravaganza at University of Toronto’s Walter Hall. In between, the Cecilia Quartet’s Death and the Maiden by Schubert was composed within the same time frame while cellist Cameron Crozman delighted his audience with Mendelssohn’s Cello Sonata No 2 written some 15 years later. It has been a ‘Romantic’ summer.​


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GRYPHON TRIO combines with clarinetist James Campbell for a lively beginning of the 2017-18 concert season!​

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON October 15th 2017

​​​In the mid-1960's, a lecture at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music criticized the effectiveness of music education in Canada. The work of the conservatories, universities, elementary and high schools all came under attack. Nevertheless, there was one positive note in the lecture.  The point was made that if Canada could produce a Glenn Gould, it must have been doing something right. 


Gould was indeed a graduate of the Royal Conservatory and had become Canada’s iconic legend on the world stage. At the time of that lecture, Gould was in the midst of a career that would earn him more classical album sales than any artist the world has known before or since. And he was Canadian through and through. Sadly his life ended at age fifty. It was only fitting that in Canada’s 150th year, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra would pay tribute to Canada’s most celebrated artist.


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Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 16 2017

A Joyful Welcome…Tafelmusik’s weekend of concerts starts a new and exciting page in its history!

TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra opened its 2017-18 concert season last night with a performance celebrating Canadian creativity and artistry. This is to be Peter Oundjian’s final season as Music Director and he has curated a year of spectacular programs. Last night’s concert was the first. It included Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna, and two of the world’s leading performing artists, violinist James Ehnes and pianist Jan Lisiecki, ​the latter being added to the program as a surprise for both the maestro and the audience. ​


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Russell Braun(baritone), Erin Wall (soprano), Maestro Peter Oundjian and TSO

Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

Canadian superstars open Toronto Symphony Orchestra's 2017/2018 season!

This weekend, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and its audiences embraced the arrival of its new Music Director, Elisa Citterio in four concerts at Koerner Hall. The long-awaited new leader has finally arrived. The Toronto music scene had been anticipating this moment for five years since Jeanne Lamon first announced her intention to retire. The search was exhaustive. During the intervening years, a long list of guests appeared with the orchestra, each auditioning for the role.


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TSO's The Seven Deadly Sins; Photo credit: Jag Gundu

After a splendid day at the Elora Festival on Saturday, a second day in a row with promising performances made staying over to Sunday irresistible as there were three enticing performances scheduled for the afternoon and evening: soprano Karina Gauvin in recital, Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas Cantata directed by Noel Edison, and finally the young Canadian cellist Cameron Crozman in recital.  


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Annalee Patipatanakoon(violin), James Parker(piano), Roman Borys(cello), and James Campbell(clarinet) 

TSO with Music Director Peter Oundjian and Life of Pi soloists

Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 17th 2017

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s successful season is coming to an end this week with four performances of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The orchestra has been on a whirlwind for the final six weeks of its schedule with a four country tour of Israel and Europe, two brilliant weeks with Sir Andrew Davis conducting, and the Decades Project concerts that have already included riveting performances of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins. Of course in early June, Sir Andrew Davis was announced as Interim Music Director for two years following Peter Oundjian’s departure in June 2018. All this activity has led to a climactic finale with four performances from last night through to Saturday.


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Tafelmusik's New Music Director Elisa Citterio

Photo Credit: Monica Cordiviola 

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 20 2017

Music Director Peter Oundjian, Phillip Addis, Daniel Taylor, Aline Kutan, TMC, TCC
Photo credit: Jag Gundu

ELORA FESTIVAL brings the finest of music to the picturesque Ontario town!

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 17th 2017

I had been beginning to suffer withdrawal symptoms with the void in live music in Toronto since the end of the 2016/17 season for the city’s musical organizations. The withdrawal came to an abrupt halt last night with the spectacular performance by the St Lawrence String Quartet at Koerner Hall marking the beginning of the Toronto Summer Music Festival, and for that matter the beginning of the summer music festival season in Ontario.


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