TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

This afternoon at 2pm, operatic soprano Karina Gauvin will be heard at St. John’ Church in a solo recital. It will be followed by a performance at 4pm of the Saint Nicolas Cantata by Benjamin Britten with Lawrence Wilifred in the title role along with the Elora Festival Singers, the Guelph Youth Singers, and the Elora Festival Orchestra. This performance will be conducted by the Elora Festival’s artistic director, Noel Edison. Canadian cellist Cameron Crozman will present a recital at the Wellington County Museum Exhibit Hall at 7pm.

Following a second Purcell composition, the Chacony in G minor arranged for quartet by Benjamin Britten, Wiliford once again joined the quartet, this time in two breathtakingly emotional settings of Walt Whitman poems set to music by Canadian Juno Award winning composer Marjan Mozetich. On the Beach at Night and O Sun of Real Peace were sublimely sung with clarity and emotional energy giving one pause to consider the wonder in the poetry expressed.

The quartet returned to perform one of the most loved string quartets in the romantic repertoire, Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor: Death and the Maiden. The powerful music gave the quartet the opportunity to display the individual artistry of each of its members and the sonorous quality of its blended sound. There was a precision to its playing that one has come to expect from this group which came to prominence in 2010 when it captured first place in the Banff International String Quartet Competition. The emotional depth of the stormy and pathos-ridden nature of the work contrasted with its relaxed and lyrical sections created a rare occasion for the audience.  

Tenor Lawrence Wiliford 

CECILIA STRING QUARTET along with tenor Lawrence Wiliford combine in performances of Purcell, Mozetich and Schubert!

Nestled on the edge of a river gorge northwest of Guelph and not far from the Mennonite communities of St. Jacob’s and Elmira, the village of Elora has been home to some of the finest of summer music festivals for the past 38 years; 2017 is no exception. In this first weekend of the Elora Festival that extends to the end of the July, some of Canada’s finest musicians have made Elora the perfect escape destination from the bustle of Toronto. Yesterday afternoon, two fabulous performances took place at St. John’s Church.

ELORA FESTIVAL brings the finest of music to the picturesque Ontario town!

In this second programme of the afternoon, a very different and equally uplifting performance took place. The acclaimed Cecilia String Quartet teamed up with Lawrence Wiliford, the esteemed Canadian tenor heard frequently in oratorios and operas throughout Canada.

Purcell’s Music for Awhile arranged by Marjan Mzetich opened the program with a serene beauty of expression and blend of singer and quartet, inviting the audience to cast aside its cares. The text that began, “Music for a while, Shall all your cares beguile…” set the tone for the next hour as the artists beguiled and captivated the audience with splendid music making.

Angela Hewitt came home to Canada this week from a whirlwind of performances and tours in the past few months. Since her last visit in April, she has performed in New York, Florence, Madrid, Vienna, Singapore, all of the major centres in Australia, Tokyo, England, Spain, and finally at her own Trasimino Festival in Umbria.

Yesterday afternoon, Elora became her first Canadian stop on a week-long tour of Ontario and beyond. Once, again Hewitt demonstrated why she has been called the “first-lady of Bach’s keyboard music”. Ever since winning the International Bach Competition in Toronto in 1985, she has been recognized as one of the world’s finest interpreters of J.S.Bach, the Baroque genius. The Goldberg Variations, the pinnacle of Bach’s keyboard music, was the much anticipated program of the afternoon.

From the outset, she controlled each note of the opening aria with delicacy. In each of the succeeding thirty variations, the emotional smorgasbord that Bach conceived came through in the various canons and dances. The three variations set in the minor mode evoked a contrasting sadness in the music that made the joyously rhapsodic variations ever more blissful. The final reprieve of the opening aria cast a magical spell of peaceful resolution. The audience was spellbound for what seemed a moment in eternity at its conclusion before erupting in a standing ovation.

ANGELA HEWITT demonstrates her affinity to Bach with the Goldberg Variations

Cecilia String Quartet: Rachel Desoer(cello), Catherine Cosbey(violin),

Caitlin Boyle(viola), Min-Jeong Koh (violin)

Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 16d 2017

Still More to come today in Elora!!