Conrad Chow, Barry Shiffman, Nuné Melik, David Hetherington and Michael Berkovsky; Photo credit: Iuliana Pacso

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON September 15th 2019

Isabel Bayrakdarian is a formidable, expressive soprano. Her voice is full, vibrant, resonant, she has a wide range of tonal colours, and her diction is flawless.  On Friday afternoon at the Avondale United Church in Stratford, all of those abilities and talents were employed in the service of a program of mostly Romany (‘gypsy’) inspired music.  Bayrakdarian performed alongside Robert Kortgaard (piano) and Mark Fewer (violinist and the artistic director of the festival).


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Baroque strings wax Romantic: Tafelmusik performs Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky

Song of the Earth orchestra with tenor Mario Bahg, mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb
​and conductor Gemma New

Toronto’s Tafelmusik is internationally known for its historically authentic performance of music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The ensemble uses period instruments and follows the performance practices of the time. The results over forty years  have been impressive, and the performance and leadership of their new director, Elisa Citterio, have elevated their already high standard of playing.


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The Fifth Canadian Chopin Piano Competition winds up with stunning performances and the announcement of prize-winners

The Fifth Canadian Chopin Piano Competition and Festival finished up this week at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall with a full day of finalists vying for the top prizes in the Junior and Senior Divisions. It was an extraordinary climax to a week of performances and special events all contributing to “celebrating and preserving the legacy of Fryderyk Chopin, and to supporting young artists”.


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On Monday evening, in the intimacy of U of T’s Walter Hall, TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow and pianist Philip Chiu performed an exciting and eclectic violin recital entitled Europe and the New World. This concert was part of the Toronto Summer Music concert series “Beyond Borders”, for which Jonathan is Artistic Director, and he certainly did his part to uphold the high standard of artistry and programming that he demands of all the artists whom he recruits for this festival. As a testament to both the popularity and skill of the artists, this concert was sold out – good news for Walter Hall venue sponsor Sheffield Moving and Storage and the festival that they generously support.  Acknowledgement also goes to Christine Choi & Bryan Price and the Heeyun & Robert Brandon Memorial Fund for supporting Jonathan’s performance.  Philip was generously supported by Colleen Sexsmith. 


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Violinist Jonathan Crow and pianist Coral Solomon at George Enescu Festival
Photo credit: Iuliana Pacso

August is usually the time when we take a break from the musical activities of Toronto as there is less going on. This year however is different. The Fifth Canadian Chopin Piano Competition and Festival is offering a week of music and musical events sure to attract music lovers who don’t want to let a month go by without a ‘fix’ so to speak. And of course, one can’t miss with the music of Fryderyk Chopin. Alan Walker in his book entitled Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times, wrote that Chopin’s music has “the timeless power to move the listener to a better place”. It is no wonder that all of Chopin’s music is still in the standard concert repertoire of pianists 260 years after his death.


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Toronto Summer Music – Europe and the New World​

Although there are still two days and two concerts remaining in the Toronto Summer Music schedule, last night was a sort of culmination of three wonderful weeks of chamber music and art songs. The three weeks have ended for us at Toronto Concert Reviews much as they began, with a magnificent program that stretched the borders of chamber music by adopting arrangements of orchestral works to much smaller forces. In the opening concert, Adrianne Pieczonka sang an arrangement by George Crumb of Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs with piano and string quartet. Last night, it was Gustav Mahler’s symphonic masterpiece for two singers and large orchestra arranged for a pared down minimalist chamber orchestra by Arnold Schoenberg and Rainer Riehn. 


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​​by Paul Merkley F.R.S.C.
T
oronto ON August 11th 2019

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON August 31st 2019

Gypsy-inspired Afternoon at Stratford Summer Music with Bayrakdarian, Kortgaard, and Fewer

Mozart and Mahler: music of the highest order performed magnificently!

George Enescu Festival: Family and friends come together for great music!

Sijing Ye, second prize winner of the Third Canadian Chopin Competition
and Festival performing in the Alan Walker presentation
Photo credit: Antonio Infante

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON August 27th 2019

I had a sense last night that George Enescu would have loved the concert, the second of three in Toronto’s inaugural George Enescu Festival. Joe Ringhofer, in his pre-concert chat, quoted George Enescu who once said, “The sacred mission of music is to bring souls together”. Enescu would have enjoyed the variety of great music bringing together family, friends and community, much as he did as a violinist, conductor and composer.


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​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON August 1st 2019

​​by Paul Merkley F.R.S.C.
T
oronto ON September 20th 2019

Isabel Bayrakdrian; ​Photo credit: Scott Wishart 

Last night, violinist Jonathan Crow and pianist Coral Solomon gave a spectacular concert to open the first ever Toronto edition of the George Enescu Festival at Jeanne Lamon Hall in the Trinity-St. Paul Centre.


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The new season for the Toronto Symphony opened last night with new faces in the orchestra and not one but two familiar faces sharing both the conducting and solo roles. Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan along with violinist and conductor John Storgårds both did double duty.  The concert contained emotionally charged music from the late 18th century Haydn to 21st century composers Dutilleux and Brett Dean.


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​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON September 8th 2019

Toronto Symphony Orchestra opens its new season with music from four centuries

Elisa Citterio and Tafelmusik take a bow at Koerner Hall following their season opener, Tafelmusik meets Tchaikovsky; Photo credit: Seanna Kennedy;

John Storgårds and Barbara Hannigan with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
​Photo credit: Jag Gundu

TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

​​by David Richards
T
oronto ON September 20th 2019

Fifth Canadian Chopin Competition and Festival: a week of great music in Toronto

Awards Ceremony of the Fifth Canadian Chopin Piano Competition

George Enescu Festival expands to Toronto in spectacular fashion

​​by Jeff Mitchell
T
oronto ON July 30th 2019

Jonathan Crow; Photo credit: www.torontosummermusic.com