La Fiammata: Piano Duo on Fire at a House Concert

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON January 14th 2018

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON March 22nd 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.


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With just five months left in his tenure as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony, Peter Oundjian will have plenty of opportunities to bid farewell to the many accomplishments of his tenure. One of those has been the annual Mozart birthday festival. With today’s concluding concert at the George Weston Recital Hall of Mozart @262 Festival, he will have put together fourteen such festivals, warming the hearts of listeners during the coldest month of the year. Yesterday, at Koerner Hall, the reduced in size ‘Mozartian’ orchestra made the most of the wonderful acoustics of Toronto’s finest concert venue in the penultimate concert of the festival. 


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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. 


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Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov provides an eclectic musical treat for Music Toronto's audience

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON April 18th 2018

The Wizard of Oz with Live Orchestra

Maestro Peter Oundjian conducts Doctor Atomic
Photo Credit: Jag Gundu/TSO

Canadian Opera Company’s Abduction from the Seraglio sends provocative messages in a stunningly original new production! ​

Review by Paul Merkley, FRSC

​Toronto ON February 9th 2018

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 17th 2018

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 19th 2018

Toronto Symphony’s New Creations Festival features the Toronto Children’s Chorus, two soloists and a funky band in a music-packed evening!

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

​Oakville ON February 25th 2018

Review by Dave Richards

​Toronto ON February 11th 2018

One of the best things that January brings each year is a respite from the cold and snow with two weeks of some of the most sublime music ever written. This year’s edition of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s annual buffet of Mozartian offerings is entitled the Mozart@262 Festival, celebrating the upcoming 262nd  birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus. Last night’s concert at Roy Thomson Hall was the third of nine concerts celebrating the composer. Co-curators of the Festival, Bernard Labadie and TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian have put together a superb sampling of Mozart’s instrumental music. ​

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Why do people call the enhanced ability to learn that comes from listening to classical music the Mozart effect? Wouldn't it be more believable if we called it the Bach effect or even the fugue effect? Very little sharpens the mind as well as a fugue. My graduate advisor wrote fugues during department meetings. My wife practised a French technique that let her track the harmonic implications as she composed. I myself have been negligent in my fugue fitness, but I made up for it today at the masterful performance by harpsichordist David Louie of all twenty-four preludes and fugues in Book One of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier.


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Review by Dave Richards

​Toronto ON February 15th 2018

Pianist Dénes Várjon; Photo Credit: Felvégi Andrea

Review byDavid Richards

​Toronto ON January 21st 2018

“So everything here beckons me with longing, calling to me with the sounds of love.” So went the final stanza of Schubert’s lyrical lied Im Freien, D.880 (In the Open) last night. The concert by English tenor Ian Bostridge and collaborative pianist Julius Drake provided a sublime Valentine’s Day gift of Schubert Lieder, more than twenty examples in all. The romantic spirit was at the heart of the program. Bostridge and Blake together amplified Schubert’s words and music to present a treatise on German romanticism.​

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Tafelmusik creates its own gold medal performance with Handel’s Alexander’s Feast!

Musicians of TSO and Guest Conductor Bernard Labadie
Photo credit: Jag Gundu/TSO

Lang Lang, TSYO and TSO thrill sold-out audience at TSO’s gala with riveting performances!

Alison Mackay’s Safe Haven: Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra with guests Diely Mori Tounkara (kora) and Maryem Tollar (narrator); Photo credit: Jeff Higgins

Tafelmusik Chamber Choir with Director Ivars Taurins; Photo Credit: Sian Richards

​​Review by Paul Merkley

Toronto ON March 11th 2018

Photo credit: Royal Conservatory of Music

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON January 28th 2018

Sound on film, that is the sound track physically attached to the film, began in 1929, permitting a close synchronization of music with the images on the screen, and very soon afterwards composers of film music took the approach of motivic writing, borrowed from Wagner’s operas, in which a character or an idea was given a specific musical motive, a short segment of two to six notes, the idea being that when the motive re-appeared, listeners would think of that character. This was the approach, for example, of Bernard Herrmann (scores of Hitchcock’s Psycho and Vertigo) and John Williams followed in that line. 


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Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON February 19th 2018

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 8th 2018


Maestro Alexander Shelley and NACO
Photo Credit: Dwayne Johnson 

The Toronto Consort and Guest Artists; Photo: Courtesy of Toronto Consort

Charles Richard-Hamelin, Maestro Peter Oundjian and TSO
​Photo credit: Jag Gundu

​​Review by Dave Richards

Toronto ON March 25th 2018

After forty years, the Canadian Opera Company has finally once again mounted Mozart’s early masterpiece, The Abduction from the Seraglio (Die Enttführung aus dem Serail). This is no ordinary production. It is a far cry from the “romp of a comedy, romance and suspense” that described the LA Opera production of a year ago. This new co-production with Opéra de Lyon is a serious attempt at going beyond the stereotypes and caricatures to find substance in the story to speak to important issues for today’s audience. I doubt that Mozart’s singspiel has ever taken on the serious themes found within Director Wajdi Mouawad’s interpretation. For the discerning person, this courageous opera had plenty of food for thought.​

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Who among us does not enjoy a well-told story? A story that is born in reality and has contemporary relevance carries the promise of emotional truth. Such was the story of Safe Haven, performed last night by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity St. Paul Centre. The audio-visual journey into the lives of refugees from Europe, Africa and Asia demonstrated their profound influences in the cultural lives of their new homelands. Alison Mackay has once again come up with a compelling piece of theatre that seamlessly integrates the music of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe into broader world issues. 

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Last night's performance of the Bach B minor Mass by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir conducted by Ivars Taurins at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre ​was amazing to say the least.


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Circle of Creation; Photo Credit: Glenn Davidson

This afternoon, when it seemed like baseball and opening day were on the minds of everyone else in the Toronto, it was remarkable that an audience still managed to gather at Roy Thomson Hall for a memorable concert by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Stéphane Denève and pianist Inon Barnatan in a program of Brahms and Rachmaninoff. 


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Oundjian’s fourteenth Mozart Festival concludes with a powerful performance of the Jupiter Symphony

Jane Archibald as Konstanze and Mauro Peter as Belmonte in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2018.
​P​hoto: Michael Cooper

Review by Paul Merkley, FRSC

​Toronto ON February 15th 2018

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir

Film showings with live orchestra are new to me. When I saw that this year’s calendar for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra offered four box-office smash hits, I had to try out the idea and see for myself the cause of all the excitement. It was an easy decision to choose The Wizard of Oz for my first foray into this medium that has been growing in popularity over the past decade. I have always loved this film, and on Family Day weekend, I could bring my granddaughter and discover first-hand the reaction of an eight year old.


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Schubert’s romantic songs: The perfect Valentine’s Day treat at Koerner Hall

Violin and Piano Virtuosi in the Mooredale Series

​​Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON March 2nd 2018

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON February 2nd 2018

Andrew McCandless, Guest Conductor John Storgårds and TSO
​Photo credit: Jag Gundu

Toronto Symphony hits it out of the ballpark with Brahms and Rachmaninoff!

Harpist Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton ​P​hoto credit: Jag Gundu/TSO

Violinist Paul ​Huang; P​hoto credit: Marco Borggrove

The lights dimmed at St. Paul’s Basilica bringing a hush over the capacity audience and suddenly, heavenly a capella sounds began wafting down from the balcony in the rear of the church. Since 2007, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has made it a tradition to present a concert of music appropriate for Holy Week in one of the most beautiful churches in Toronto on one of the Christian church’s holiest days, Good Friday. As the choir began to sing, I squelched the temptation to look back; looking upward at the colourful ceiling paintings of the life of Paul was as far as I dared turn my head. I was transfixed in the moment. The words of Behold the Tabernacle of God reinforced the feeling that I was in a ‘sacred’ space.


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The Toronto Consort has for a long time stretched beyond its Euopean roots in medieval and renaissance music to embrace a wide range of cultures. It was just a year ago that it presented a program of early Canadian music of indigenous and French origins. In December, its Christmas concert was themed on music from Central and South America. It shouldn’t have been at all surprising that in researching the manuscripts of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that Artistic Director David Fallis went far beyond central Europe to include those of Persia for the concert entitled Illuminations.


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The company of Ulysses; Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

The Toronto Symphony’s The Wizard of OZ… a hit for both young and old!

National Arts Centre Orchestra ushers in the first weekend of spring with Brahms, Shostakovich and a new Canadian work

​​Review by Paul Merkley

Toronto ON March 19th 2018

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

Tafelmusik hits the mark with its inspirational stories of refugees in Safe Haven!​

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 31st 2018

This week at Koerner Hall, the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory mounted its annual fully staged showcase opera with two performances of Johann Strauss II’s comic operetta Die Fledermaus. Without the benefit of a proscenium stage, fly curtains, and wings that would greatly ease a traditional production, GGS took the operetta in a new direction that at once brought it into the 21st century while keeping the musical integrity of its popular score. It was a hit with the audience and it enriched the musical and theatrical training of the performers.


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Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON February 7th 2018

This was an ingenious program, featuring arias by Rossini, and, more importantly, a chance to hear concert and operatic arias composed by women who were connected to him, most by singing roles in his operas. The gracious lady who sat next to me this afternoon politely remarked that reviews are important to ‘keep them honest,’ and her point is well taken, but I think that this time the performers are the ones keeping us honest by bringing to our attention neglected repertoire and the important contributions of women to the world of nineteenth-century music.


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COC's 2018 Rigoletto Act I; ​Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir directed by Ivars Taurins
Photo credit: ​Trevor Haldenby

Clemens Hagen and Kirill Gerstein: An insightful look at Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas!

The National Arts Centre Orchestra came to Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall last night to perform a concert in the Toronto Symphony’s subscription series. The program set out to demonstrate once again that the NACO is indeed a world-class orchestra capable of outstanding performances of great orchestral repertoire. Under the leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley, it accomplished its goal and then some with the music of Brahms, Shostakovich and a new work by one of Canada’s most celebrated contemporary composers, Vivian Fung.


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Daniil Trifonov; ​Photo credit: Lisa Sakulensky Photography
​Courtesy of  The Royal Conservatory/Koerner Hall

The annual gala fundraiser for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra last night at Roy Thomson Hall turned into a testament to the power of mentoring young artists. Toronto Symphony members sat alongside their counterparts from the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO). Later, the brilliant superstar pianist Lang Lang shared the piano with fifteen-year-old sensation Maxim Lando, an alumnus of the “Lang Lang International Music Foundation”.


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Toronto Symphony Orchestra trumpets both new and familiar music with an emphasis on big!​

Die Fledermaus: a triumph for the Glenn Gould School

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON March 11th 2018

It was the age of instruments: new manufacturing, greater demand, music written for specific instruments, new combinations of instruments, the basso continuo, the start of functional bass harmony and tonality, virtuoso players, and new instrumental genres and forms, and it all came alive vividly and beautifully in the remarkable concert produced by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Feb. 9-11, a must-hear event. Recorder virtuoso Alison Melville began the evening with an instrumental song by Jacob van Eyck, early Baroque carilloner, bell tuner, and composer of recorder music in Utrecht, and ended the night with a masterful performance of a concerto for recorder by Vivaldi. She used four different recorders, two with nearly cylindrical bores, two with conical bores that were the hallmark of the baroque period in sound and shape, one of the instruments a replica of a recorder made in the environs of the Telemann quartet that she performed with the ensemble.

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The musical performances were outstanding. Playing from memory, the strings and woodwinds moved casually around the stage, coming to the front for solos, grouping together for trios, and generally interacting. Oboists John Abberger and Marco Cera were superb on their period instruments. Music Director Elisa Citterio and the violinists were dazzling. The bass instruments provided the firm harmonic foundation that allowed the high instruments to soar (double bassist Alison Mackay indeed conceived, programmed and scripted Circle of Creation). Harpsichordist Charlotte Nediger not only played the continuo (the part that is usually in the background, and heard as a kind of rhythmic shimmering, but without which baroque music is a non-starter) flawlessly, she also had solo parts, including a sensitive performance of part of Bach's Goldberg Variations.


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J.S. Bach in Context: Tafelmusik’s Circle of Creation Production

Mazzoleni Masters Series You’re Welcome, Rossini 
(and Thank You to the Sopranos)

Alison Melville; Photo courtesy of Tafelmusik

It has been a week of contrasts at the Toronto Symphony from last week’s Mozart Festival to  last night’s concert featuring Holst’s The Planets. Last week it was a small orchestra performing in the classically intimate Koerner Hall. This week, it was a hundred-piece orchestra filling Roy Thomson Hall with majestic sounds. Last week, it was Mozart’s classical ‘absolute’ music; this week each work was programmatic having extra-musical ideas imbedded therein. Within this week’s concert there was the contrast of two works, written only a few years apart, one of which had one performance in the first hundred years after its creation in 1908 while the other instantly became the signature work of the composer with countless performances over the same time span. 


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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. 


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​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 28th 2018

Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
Photo Credit: Antoine Saito0


Ensemble
​The Glenn Gould School's Die Fledermaus;
Photo Credit: The Royal Conservatory
​Lisa Sakulensky Photos 

David Louie; Photo Credit: Nicola Betts

Oakville Symphony and pianist Mehdi Ghazi delight the audience in the inaugural concert for a new Steinway Grand

Jaws by TSO: Double Basses, Trombones, and a very big Shark!

Violinist Mira Wang, Cellist Jan Vogler, Maestro Peter Oundjian and TSO
Photo Credit: Jag Gundu/TSO

Pianist Sae Yoon Chon

TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

Pianist Sae Yoon Chon; Photo credit: David Kennedy

Listening to a string quartet is unlike other musical experiences, perhaps because in a good quartet, the players are paying such close attention to each other that they hardly seem to notice the audience at all; one has the impression of being permitted to observe scenes from the private musical life of four musicians who know each other so well that they could be related. Pawel Zalejski (violin), Bartosz Zachlod (violin), Piotr Szumiel (viola), and Piotr Skweres (cello) perform together so perfectly that they seem to be one big, sophisticated brain playing four instruments. Different dynamics, tempi, and articulations were precisely synchronized and beautifully excuted.​


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Tenor Ian Bostridge; ​P​hoto credit: Sim Canetty-Clarke


Cellist Clemens Hagin;
Photo Credit: Uta Süsse- Krause 

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON April 21st 2018

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. 


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Daniil Trifonovreturns triumphantly to Koerner Hall for a Chopin-inspired extravaganza!

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON January 27th 2018

Pianist Alexei Lubimov

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON March 15th 2018

Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra

Is there any music that the Russian pianist Alexei Lubinov can’t play exceedingly well? He can boast recordings and performances of twentieth century composers such as John Cage, Stockhausen, Boulez and Ligeti and Schӧnberg and at the same time is equally versed in the music of the classical and romantic periods. He has specialized in period instrument performances of early music and performed Debussy on early twentieth century Beckstein and Steinway pianos for their different colours. He has devoted much of his time in recent years to the fortepiano and the music of Mozart. 

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Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal: another triumphant visit to Toronto!

COC brings sexual abuse issues of today into their production of Rigoletto!

​​​​Soprano Lucia Cesaroni and mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy
Photo Credits: Samantha Gaetz and Bo Huang 

He hunched over the piano, his eyes just inches above his fingers and his straight brown hair hanging down in front of his eyes. Suddenly, with a new musical idea, he moves away, now leaning back and looking up with pensive intensity. His fingers pull the sound of each melodic note out of the German Steinway. The final note of the phrase lands tenderly in place, with emotion dripping from the sound.


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Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON February 5th 2018

Review by Paul Merkley, FRSC

​Toronto ON February 18th 2018


Shark attack--calling all double basses!
Photo Credit: Universal Studios 

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC 

Toronto ON March 26th 2018

TSO’s Mozart@262 Festival a welcome respite from January’s cold and snow!​

This is a student orchestra of very high caliber; Friday night’s performance at Koerner Hall left no doubt of that. First on the main program was Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture. Guest conductor Leon Fleisher, about to turn ninety years of age, directed the work with great nuance, including frequent, slight changes of tempo, of the kind for which he was (before he lost the full use of his right hand and turned to conducting) famous as arguably the best interpreter of Beethoven’s music on the piano, having studied with and succeeded Artur Schnabel, who studied with Leschetizky who studied with Czerny who studied with the composer himself. Fleisher once remarked of the frequent changes of metronome (measured tempo) markings in Schnabel’s edition of Beethoven that if one understands them as sometimes pushing the music forward a bit, and sometimes holding it back, the markings make sense, and indeed his nuances of pace in the overture made very good sense.​


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Glenn Gould School hits a historic landmark twentieth anniversary

Review by Paul Merkley, FRSC

​Toronto ON February 17th 2018

Royal Conservatory Orchestra: The Big Night!

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir showed once again last night at Koerner Hall why they are Canada’s gold medal deserving ensemble in their performance of Handel’s ode to St. Cecilia, Alexander’s FeastorThe Power of Musick. This was a monumental work spanning well over two hours of virtuosity. The work began with rich, warm sounds of the gut stringed violins, the sweet sounding baroque oboe, the energy of the dotted rhythmic figures, and playfully energetic melodies. From the overture onward, the choir, soloists and orchestra each contributed to a brilliant performance.


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Review byPaul Merkley, FRSC

​Toronto ON February 23rd 2018

Concerts consisting solely of Beethoven’s music can be found regularly in programs by string quartets, pianists, violinists and even symphony orchestras. Less common are such programs for the cello and piano combination. Yesterday afternoon at Koerner Hall, the Austrian cellist Clemens Hagen and Russian- born pianist Kirill Gerstein proved that Beethoven’s cello/piano combination is thoroughly rewarding on its own in a program exploring its vast potential. 


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But soft! What notes through yonder viols sound? Shakespeare did not write his prologue that way, but he could have. Romeo and Juliet has been translated into many languages: Russian certainly, Klingon probably (unless that was the language it was originally written in), and into Russian music absolutely, specifically the ballet of that title composed by Prokofiev in 1935, from which Sir Andrew Davis arranged an orchestral suite performed by the TSO. Prokofiev did not arrange this ballet music into a suite, but he could have; indeed he did this for another of his ballets.


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The Parisian salons of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were concerts in small venues, sponsored by private patrons, in which musicians played for small audiences, new compositions were tried out, and avid listeners gathered to hear the newest music and musicians. Sometimes, musicians held their own salons. How did one get invited to attend a salon or perform at one? By knowing someone who knew someone who ultimately knew the generous hosts. The salon has reincarnated in our time as the house concert. I am old school and insist on calling house concerts salons. The literary giant Proust reviewed salon performances; I am reviewing this one.


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Pianist Dénes Várjon: probing performances of Beethoven, Bartok and Liszt

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 30th 2018

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON January 20th 2018

Full Expressions in TSO’s New Creations Festival —A Night to Remember!

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

Pianist Mehdi Ghazi, Maestro Roberto De Clara and Oakville Symphony


Linda Ruan and Charissa Vandikas 

Guest Conductor Leon Fleisher ​P​hoto credit: Chris Hartlove

In the early twentieth century there were musical gems to be heard in salons. The modern-day equivalent is the house concert and the same principle holds true today. Charissa Vandikas and Linda Ruan have won concerto competitions, and have been heard and will be heard with orchestras, but it was a special treat to hear them perform beautifully at a house concert in Oakville today.


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Tafelmusik, Bach B minor Mass: How much mass for the Mass?

Last night’s concert at Toronto’s Jane Mallett Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre is one that will not soon be forgotten by those in attendance. This was the final Piano Series event of Music Toronto’s current season. Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon went back to his roots and brought to the stage, some of the most emotionally packed music of the season. This was Várjon’s second visit to Toronto; he was last here in 2015. This time, he performed short works by Beethoven and Bartok in the first half and returned following intermission with the most emotionally powerful and poetically sensitive performance of Liszt’s B Minor Sonata, S. 178 that I can remember.


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A Good Temperament: David Louie, Mazzoleni Masters Series

Toronto Consort: Illuminations across a millenium and several cultures demonstrates we are all one!

I had been looking forward to yesterday’s concert at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts for some time. Not only has the Oakville Symphony been in the midst of its 50th Anniversary Season in 2017-18, but Mehdi Ghazi, a young Canadian artist with a very special and unique background would be on the program performing on the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts' brand new Steinway D piano. 


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​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON April 14th 2018

​​Review byPaul Merkley FRSC and David Richards

Toronto ON April 19th and 22nd 2018

Tafelmusik's Recorder Romp excels! 

Last night at Roy Thomson Hall, the Toronto Symphony gave the second of three concerts in its 14th annual New Creations Festival. In his final year at the helm of the orchestra, TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian has curated this year’s festival and is both conducting and hosting each program. He has put together recent compositions from some of the world’s greatest composers. One didn’t have to be a fan of the avant-garde last night to enjoy the evening of new music. It was more than a concert. It began in the lobby beforehand with a performance by the Toronto Children’s Chorus, continued at intermission with a chat with of one of the evening’s composers and two of the soloists, and then concluded with a post-concert party by the crazy-wild Lemon Bucket Orkestra.


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What a wonderful program of recent music, performed with virtuosity by the TSO under the meticulous baton of Peter Oundjian. This was the grand finale of the New Creations series, generously sponsored by David Broadhurst, an invaluable opportunity for the community to hear new music presented at its very best. Tonight’s program was a fitting capstone to a long history of excellent audience experiences. One of my students found me at intermission. “Isn’t this great?” he asked, “and isn’t it great that we are here?” I told him it was indeed great.


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Apollon Musagète Quartet; Photo Credit: Michael Borggreve

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space: a special concert for a special day!

TSO: From Russia with love...

Was life imitating art this past week when we read about the debauchery in the Presidents’ Club of London England? At its annual fundraising dinner many of Britain’s political and corporate leaders were exposed for their misogynistic culture. Their expectations that the scantily clad hostesses would be ready to keep them happy in whatever way they wished was exposed by a journalist posing as one of these hostesses. The current Canadian Opera Company production of Verdi’s Rigoletto by Christopher Alden at the Four Seasons Centre is set in a 19th century British men’s club reminiscent of the one in the news this week. 


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Paul Huang (violin) and Helen Huang (piano, not related) performed an excellent concert Sunday afternoon at Walter Hall in the Edward Johnson Building at the University of Toronto. When I read in the pre-concert publicity that Paul Huang has been called the next Joshua Bell, I was surprised, but when he played Prokofiev’s first sonata, with its broad and varied expressive range and its considerable technical demands on the player, I understood why. He is a promising young violinist, talented, accomplished, and sensitive.


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​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON April 7th 2018

Apollon Musagète: the Quintessential Quartet

Pianist Inon Barnatan, Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève and TSO
​Photo Credit: Nick Wons

Sae Yoon Chon: Salon Stylings

Review by Dave Richards

​Toronto ON February 24th 2018

​​Review by David Richards

Toronto ON March 4th 2018