TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

Last night, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra continued its 40th anniversary season, presenting its second of six performances of a program they called, Vivaldi con Amore. A selection of seven of Antonio Vivaldi’s five hundred concertos and the Sinfonia from one his fifty or so operas gave a thorough retrospective of his instrumental music. Vivaldi was indeed an eighteenth century ‘rock-star’ composer/violinist/opera-impresario. There were few empty seats in the Jeanne Lamon Hall in the Trinity-St. Paul's Centre for a concert that delivered unbridled joy, vivacity and ‘amore’.


Read more...

(centre) Joyce El-Khoury as Tatyana and Gordon Bintner as Eugene Onegin in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Eugene Onegin, 2018
​Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Tafelmusik: spellbinding in its year 40 opener with an all-Mozart program!​

A scene from Canadian Opera Company’s Hadrian; Photo credit: Michael Cooper

​​Review by Paul Merkley F.R.S.C.

Toronto ON September 17th 2018

With many fresh new faces in the orchestra, the evening began with Godfrey Ridout’s arrangement of O Canada, the orchestra joined by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. I think I have never heard the national anthem sound better. The violins and violas played standing.


Read more...

Marc-André Hamelin is in a select group of Canadian virtuoso pianists who grew up following in the footsteps of Glenn Gould: a generation of pianists that includes Jon Kimura Parker, Janina Fialkowska, André Laplante, Louis Lortie, and Angela Hewitt, each of whom has made a mark on the world stage. Hamelin distinguishes himself in this group as one who has made a point of exploring lesser-known piano repertoire in addition to his stellar interpretations of the nineteenth century masterpieces. Last night at the Jane Mallet Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre, Music Toronto presented a solo recital by Hamelin for the twelfth time over the past thirty-two years.


Read more...

Royal Conservatory Orchestra: Gábor Takács-Nagy inspires childlike energy and enthusiasm in the music of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Dvořák!

Marc-André Hamelin
 Photo Credit: Sim Cannety-Clarke

Every festival should end in fireworks. This week, The Royal Conservatory has been celebrating the beginning of the tenth season of Koerner Hall with a festival. It began with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra with Gábor Takács-Nagy, and has continued all week with theKathleen Battle Gala, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, and the Jerry Cans and New North Collective. Last night provided the climax to this special week with the superstar conductor Yanick Nézet-Séguin and his Orchestre Métropolitain. What a week! What a celebration! And what a milestone worthy of celebrating. Koerner Hall has changed the landscape of music in Toronto. With its eclectic programming, it has become the go-to destination for all things musical. Nézet-Séguin tonight provided the fireworks for the week-long festival


Read more...

Conductor Yanick Nézet-Séguin, and Orchestre métropolitain
​Photo credit: www.orchestremétropolitain.com

​​Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 22nd 2018

​​Review by Paul Merkley FRSC

Toronto ON September 21st 2018

There aren’t many operatic composers who, while premièring a major new opera, are also preparing for a major concert tour with their band. But then, there aren’t any composers like Rufus Wainwright, the Canadian-American singer-songwriter who happens to have composed his latest opera for the Canadian Opera Company, its first newly commissioned work of this century. Hadrian is not his only opera. His first, Prima Donna, gave him the impetus for taking on this latest venture, a production wildly anticipated across the operatic world. Last night’s performance was the second of seven this month.


Read more...

Timbres, Textures, Tuning, and Razor-Sharp Rhythms: Orchestre métropolitain sparks fireworks at Koerner Hall

Guest Conductor Kirill Karabits, Nicola Benedetti and TSO
​Photo credit: @Jag Gundu

Elisa Citterio and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, photo credit: Jeff Higgins

​​Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 29th 2018

​​Review by  Paul Merkley F.R.S.C. and David Richards
Toronto ON October 6th 2018

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin brings passion to familiar and obscure repertoire!

TSO opening night: a fantastic symphony orchestra plays the Symphonie fantastique

​​Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 27th 2018

COC’s Eugene Onegin; an unabashed triumph!

​​Review by  David Richards
Toronto ON October 5th 2018

The Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Eugene Onegin is remarkable on many fronts, but perhaps most importantly, its components all come together and just work in a very satisfying way. Dramatically, musically and visually it has everything that one could ask for in an opera. A superb orchestra, chorus and cast were given the direction, staging and lighting to make for a fabulous performance last night at the Four Seasons Centre, the second of eight performances this month.


Read more...

Hadrian: A new grand-opera that resonates with today’s world

TSO with Guest Conductor Kirill Karabits and violinist Nicola Benedetti gives stirring performances of Silvestrov, Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff

Jeffrey Carl, Rigoletto; Allison Cecilia Arends, Gilda; Romulo Delgado, Duke of Mantua; ​Adriana Albu, Maddelena ; Photo credit: SOLO

The second week of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's new season began last night at Roy Thomson Hall. The much-heralded guest-conductor Kirill Karabits in his first appearance with the TSO and the return of the sensational Scottish violinist, Nicola Benedetti combined to create music of a very high order. 


Read more...

​​Review by David Richards
Toronto ON October 13th 2018

Music, Maledictions, and Murder: Southern Ontario Lyric Opera does Rigoletto in Burlington

​​Review by David Richards
Toronto ON October 4th 2018

It’s not the first time that Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra has delivered an all-Mozart program, but perhaps the first time this fine period orchestra has opened a new season and celebrated a major milestone such as its 40th Anniversary with anything other than Baroque offerings. I caught the second of four performances of the mesmerizing program last night at Koerner Hall


Read more...

Royal Conservatory Orchestra with Guest Conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy
 Photo Credit: Royal Conservatory of Music

Interim Artistic Director Sir Andrew Davis, Toronto Symphony Orchestra,
​Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Photo credit: Jag Gundu

Tafelmusik’s vitality fits with Vivaldi’s vivacious spirit!

I never fail to be impressed by the young musicians of the Glenn Gould School. For that reason, the four concerts of the Royal Conservatory Orchestra are the first dates I put on my calendar at the beginning of each concert season. They bring not only their youthful enthusiasm and dedication to their challenging programs, but a consistently high level of musicianship and preparation. 


Read more...

Elisa Citterio ​with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
​Photo credit: Jeff Higgins

I learned two important things yesterday: there is a sufficiently large (and discerning) opera audience in Burlington to justify and sustain productions, and the Southern Ontario Lyric Opera Company is up to the task.


Read more...

​​Review by David Richards
Toronto ON October 18th 2018