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.
It was a fitting farewell with one of Mozart’s best known masterpieces, his Jupiter Symphony performed in tandem with works that included a former student of Oundjian, Canadian violinist Adrian Anantawan and a rising Canadian star pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin. Both Anantawan and Hamelin have been students at Yale University where Oundjian is a professor. It was as if to say that although leaving his post as Music Director, his influence on our music and musicians will be here for some time.
Adrian Anantawan, Maestro Peter Oundjian and TSO
Photo credit: Jag Gundu
Oundjian’s fourteenth Mozart Festival concludes with a powerful performance of the Jupiter Symphony
Review by David Richards
Toronto ON January 21st 2018
Adrian Anantawan opened the program with two contrasting works for violin and orchestra. The first, Adagio in E Major for Violin and Orchestra, K. 261 was a lyrically expressive youthful work. Both Anantawan and the orchestra played with delicacy. The musical lines of the simple yet heart-wrenching melodies poured like honey over the orchestra’s gentle accompaniment with sweeping beauty. Next came the Rondo for Violin and Orchestra from Serenade No. 7 in D Major, K.250/248b. This showed Anantawan’s dexterity on the violin with the dazzling sixteenth note scales and arpeggios of the playful rondo.
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Charles Richard-Hamelin, Maestro Peter Oundjian and TSO
Photo credit: Jag Gundu
Pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin; Photo credit: Yamaha Japan
Charles Richard-Hamelin is quickly becoming a household name among classical music lovers in Canada. Since his prize-winning performance at the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2015, his more than 200 performances have included solo recitals, concertos with many of the world’s major orchestras, chamber music, and radio broadcasts. Clearly Richard-Hamelin will be a part of the music landscape for years to come. Yesterday, he gave evidence of his rare musicianship and pianistic skills in Mozart’s well-loved Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488. Both he and the orchestra played with clarity and subtlety in expression. Richard-Hamelin kept the sound contained within a delicate style, never over-playing, even in the fast moving finale. I especially enjoyed the sublime and moving second movement. He played with such gracefulness, that I sensed his fingers were just floating over the keyboard.
Following intermission, Oundjian and the orchestra returned with a sparkling reading of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, K. 551, the Jupiter Symphony as it is commonly known. Was it the addition of trumpets and timpani at this point, or did Oundjian indeed let out the reins and allow the enthusiasm of the symphony to envelope the orchestra with a wonderful energy. It was a triumphant conclusion to a concert and to fourteen years of the January Mozart festivals.
The program will be repeated this afternoon, January 21 at 3:00pm at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts. In the coming months, Oundjian will conduct some of the great orchestral masterpieces as he wraps up his tenure in June of this year. His next performance with the symphony will be on March 1. The program on that evening will include pianist Lang Lang.