​​Review by  David Richards
T
oronto ON March 31st2019

The audience at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre were treated to a very good performance of Mozart’s stirring opera yesterday. The house was full. The singers performed beautifully. The orchestra, under the baton of Sabatino Vacca (who also played the continuo parts, the original playbill having specified Mozart ‘at the keyboard’) also played its part well.


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Cast of Southern Ontario's Lyric Opera performs Don Giovanni
Photo credit: SOLO 

Yuja Wang and Gautier Capuҫon: A masterful performance to be long-remembered!​

It was a miserable night to trudge downtown. The six or more inches of snow and slush was enough to discourage many from heading out. By mid-afternoon in Oakville when I learned that the GO trains would be cancelled for several hours, my own attendance was put in doubt. But for those of us who did brave the weather to St. Andrew’s Church, The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and their Interim Music Director David Fallis made it more than worth our effort with a celebration of Haydn and Handel.


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​​Review by  Jeff and Laurie Mitchell
T
oronto ON April 6 2019

​​Review by  David Richards
T
oronto ON March 24th 2019

Deutsche Grammophon recording artist Jan Lisiecki; Photo credit: Christoph Köstlin

Opera Atelier Produces a Stunning Idomeneo

Yuja Wang and Gautier Capuҫon accept the standing ovation
​Photo credit: David Kennedy

Jan Lisiecki delivers the dark side of Romanticism in a soulful performance

There wasn’t an empty seat in Koerner Hall yesterday afternoon for the Invesco Piano Series concert featuring the twenty-three-year-old Canadian phenom, pianist Jan Lisiecki. In the introductory comments, Mervin Mehta, The Royal Conservatory’s Executive Director of Performing Arts, said that the hall had never been as full in its ten-year existence. Indeed, the piano was surrounded by extra seating on stage to accommodate the overflow. 


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Oakville Symphony turns a concert into a ‘friend-fest’!

Koerner Hall’s 10th Anniversary season, sponsored by BMO Financial and the Toronto Star, continued a series of concerts that explore Roma culture by featuring the modern-day Paganini of the violin, Roby Lakatos. The near-capacity audience was treated to a jaw-dropping display of virtuoso violin playing over two hours by the “devil’s fiddler” from Hungary and his 5-piece band, which included the equally stunning cimbalom virtuoso Jenó Lisztes, along with the immense talents of pianist Szakcsi Lakatos, guitarist László Balogh, bassist Vilmos Csikos and 2nd violinist László Boni.  Fittingly, for an all Hungarian band, the concert was also sponsored by Kensington Market clothier Tom Mihalik of Tom’s Place


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TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

Many traits of the musical Baroque lived on after J.S. Bach. In 1781 the twenty-five year old Mozart wrote his opera Idomeneo in Crete with da capo forms; basso continuo; a castrato hero (powerfully sung last night musically and dramatically by the young, rising vocal star Wallis Giunta); and exit arias, in which the number of characters on stage is narrowed down to one, who sings a big aria and leaves the stage (one presumes with the coins, flowers, and other gifts thrown onto the stage by admirers). These are characteristics of Baroque opera, and Opera Atelier specializes in that period. 


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Cahal Masterson, a gifted young pianist of growing reputation from Belfast, Northern Ireland, has released his first album entitled Transition. It is a compilation of uplifting piano repertoire encompassing music by Liszt, Messiaen, Haydn, Fauré and Bartók. The title is symbolic of his own transition from student to professional performing artist. Cahal is an artist worthy of attention and the CD is a poetic expression of his rare musicianship. The sensuousness in his playing is always within the context of the music’s logic.


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Noah Grove as Papageno and Zachary Rioux as Tamino in Glenn Gould School’s Production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute 
Photo credit: Nicola Betts

Roby Lakatos – Roma Violin Virtuoso

​​Review by  Paul Merkley FRSC
T
oronto ON March 3rd 2019

A Heroic Evening: the TSO performs Debussy, Szymanowski, and Beethoven​

Baritone Bradley Christensen, tenor Colin Ainwsorth, Artists of Atelier Ballet
​Photo credit:  Bruce Zinger

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Conductor David Fallis, soloists and orchestra
Photo credit: Brian Summers 

TSO, Amadeus Choir, Elmer Iseler Singers, conductor Matthew Halls in Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony​Photo credit: Jag Gundu

Roby Lakatos; ​Photo credit: St.Prex Classics

Opera Atelier is one of Canada’s foremost cultural ambassadors. This year artistic co-directors Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and Marshall Pynkoski, both recently and justly named to the Order of Canada, have taken their company, which specializes in the authentic period reconstruction of Baroque opera, to Chicago and Versailles. Previously, I have described the great care the company takes in blocking, movement, and the rare art of Baroque expressive gestures, the gesto parlante that accompanies the libretto. Dance is correctly at the heart of their work, because dance is at the heart of Baroque opera, especially French baroque opera.


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​​Review by David Richards
T
oronto ON April 14th 2019

Kerem Hasan conducts Beethoven Eroica Symphony; Photo credit: @Jag Gundu

East and West met, joined forces, and the result was harmonious as the Lafayette String Quartet (based in the University of Victoria) and the Saguenay String Quartet (from Chicoutimi) played string octets together last night in Music Toronto’s great Chamber Music Downtown concert series at the Jane Mallett Theatre of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.


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​​Review by  David Richards
T
oronto ON March 4th 2019

Gustav Mahler once said that in his first two symphonies, “there is nothing except the complete substance of my whole life”. Indeed, his music delves the depths of life itself. In the ninety minutes of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor “Resurrection”, last night’s concert by the Toronto Symphony invited the audience to explore the emotional journey of life and death in a way few composers’ music could do.


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​​Review by  Paul Merkley F.R.S.C.
T
oronto ON  February 22nd 2019

Violinist Leslie Ashworth, Maestro Roberto DeClara

and Oakville Symphony Orchestra

​​Review by  Paul Merkley FRSC
T
oronto ON April 5 2019

Cahal Masterson-  Transition; Photo credit: William DeVizia 

Glenn Gould School’s The Magic Flute hits all the right buttons!

It’s been a banner week at the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School. It began  with its annual Chamber Music Competition, the finals of which were held for the first time in the magnificent Koerner Hall and continued with the Piano Showcase, an evening of music by Rachmaninoff with each student contributing a work  .

In addition to these two showcase events were  master classes by the renowned American pianist Richard Goode  and violinist Ilya Kaler,  one of the world’s most sought after teachers of the instrument. The week culminated with   Richard Goode's sold-out solo recital , one of the Invesco Piano Series of concerts  in Koerner Hall.


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Toronto Mendelssohn Choir's Handel and Haydn celebration lifts the spirits on a blustery winter's night!

The TSO hosted the talented 26-year old conductor Kerem Hasan last night, standing in at the last minute for Louis Langrée who was ill. Hasan will direct the Innsbruck Symphony Orchestra beginning this fall. If I may judge from this performance—and that is a bit difficult given the short rehearsal time he had with the orchestra—he hears much of the repertoire in a structural way, rather than emphasizing expressive harmonic details. At times he reminded me a bit of Boulez. 


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A banner week for the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School begins with Chamber Music Competition and ends with Richard Goode Recital

​​Review by  Paul Merkley FRSC
T
oronto ON March 14th 2019

Artists of Atelier Ballet Mireille Asselin, Jesse Blumberg, members of Tafelmusik
Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

Finalists of the Glenn Gould School Chamber Competition

​​Review by  David Richards
T
oronto ON March 4th 2019

​​Review by  David Richards
T
oronto ON  February 28th 2019

​​Review by  Dave Richards
T
oronto ON April 7th 2019

​​Review by David Richards
T
oronto ON April 18th 2019

Don Giovanni, or the Dissolute Man Punished: Southern Ontario Lyric Opera performs Mozart’s ‘comic tragedy’

Lafayette and Saguenay String Quartets; Photo credit: Christian Rouleau

Toronto Symphony and Mahler team up to explore the depths of life and death!

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC
T
oronto ON April 14th 2019

It was with good reason that last night’s concert by the Oakville Symphony Orchestra at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts was entitled Musical Friendship. Friendships of all kinds are to be celebrated, but when they are rooted in a deep love of music from early childhood and developed through to adulthood, they are very special indeed.


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Cahal Masterson: Transition ​- CD review

It was a masterful performance to be long-remembered! No, I don’t mean Tiger Woods’ victory at the Masters Golf Tournament. I am referring to the brilliant performance of cellist Gautier Capuҫon and pianist Yuja Wang at Koerner Hall last night. But there is much that could be compared with the two events. The finest cellist and pianist of their generation came together and performed to perfection; wild standing ovation and cheers followed their stunning encore (Astor Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango for Cello and Piano); the concert was played on the stage of the country’s finest concert hall; and, if you missed the performance (just as if you missed the Masters final holes) you will be able to replay it over and over again when the recording is released by Warner Classics this fall. 


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I have seen three Magic Flutes in the past two years and each one has been a very satisfying experience, albeit very different. There was the 2017 production by the COC that was conceived as a play within a play to help the audience suspend disbelief in the improbable storyline with a three-headed serpent killed mysteriously by three ladies in black robes. Then, just a few months ago at the Met, there was a remarkable production with Papageno dressed in a green bird-cage costume, three spirits transported through the air on the back of a huge bird and three ladies hiding behind their masks, all clearly designed to appeal to audiences of all ages. Both productions were spectacles of lavish embellishment, as impressive for costumes and sets as for their impeccable musical values.


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The Angel Speaks: Opera Atelier turns the clock back (and forward!) for old and new music and dance

Music Toronto hosts Octets: the Lafayette and Saguenay String Quartets