Music reviews of the finest concerts in Toronto and beyond!
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Philip Chiu, piano 

Collectìf members Danika Lorèn, Jennifer Krabbe and Whitney O’Hearn

with pianists Stéphane Mayer (left) and Trevor Chartrand (right)

Last evening’s concert at Walter Hall by the three-woman vocal ensemble Collectìf was a tour de force of both beautiful singing and emotional power and drama. Jennifer Krabbe, Danika Lorèn, and Whitney O’Hearn have combined their artistry to stage performances of art songs combining videography, text, translations and original paintings. Each of the three was responsible for what they termed “Concepts”, a featured work or group of works staged to bring the artist’s unique perspective.

In the first Concept, Whitney O’Hearn created her own arrangements of French Songs enveloped by the French-Canadian folk legend, La Blanche Biche. The theatricality began from the outset with two of the singers entering from the rear for a surround sound effect. Together and individually, the singing was magnificent. The theme of a female perspective on aspects of love and loss came through in the almost impressionistic filmography. Projected translations of the text were very helpful. PianistTrevor Chartrand added sensitive collaborations.

The second Concept by Jennifer Krabbe focused on the mother’s recovery from the death of her child by going to the depths of despair. Although dark in the extreme, it ended in hope for healing. The image of gold filling the cracks of a broken heart was poignant. Each of the singers contributed excerpts from Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder while translations were projected and spoken recorded commentary added.

Following intermission, Danika Lorèn sang George Crumb’s Apparition, an avant-garde piece surrounding the mythological story of the Greek nymph Daphne. The challenging atonal work was the highlight of  the most creatively profound set of pieces that I have witnessed in some time. Lorèn sang like an angel. Krabbe and O’Hearn added complimentary interjections from the rear corners of the upper catwalk. The piano part involved an amplified piano with all sorts of sounds of strumming and striking strings and frame inside the instrument. Pianist Stéphane Mayer was more than up to the challenge. Projected on the screen this time were Lorèn’s own drawings depicting the storyline of the myth. The impact was breathtaking.

Collectìf next performs at the Wellington Water Week in Prince Edward County on Monday August 19, 2019 at 9pm when they present a completely different kind of show, “a comedic irreverence in a casual atmosphere…spanning the sensual to cynical, haunting to hilarious”. 

Collectìf creates a tour de force of powerful emotional drama!

Toronto Summer Music Day Twelve: Pianist Philip Chiu and Collectìf!

Lo, cello 

​​by David Richards
oronto ON July 25th 2019

It was another engaging afternoon and evening at Toronto Summer Music. Driving into town before rush hour certainly makes sense. We missed the worst of Toronto traffic and had the bonus attending two concerts, the first, a free one hour ‘Shuffle Concert’ at Heliconian Hall with pianist Philip Chiu. Later we attended a powerful performance by the three-woman vocal ensemble Collectìf.

Philip Chiu arrived in town just hours before finding himself in front of a packed Heliconian Hall for a warm-up to Walter Hall performances over the next few days. Chiu performed a collection of short works from France, Russia and Canada to keep with the ‘Beyond Borders’ theme focusing mainly on ‘Preludes’ – a sort of prelude to his weekend at the festival.   His Debussy performances, two Arabesques and three Préludes were divine. I particularly enjoyed ‘La Cathédrale engloutie’. It had been years since I played it. I might just get it out again. Next came a transcription of the 2nd movement of Ravel’s String Quartet. He then proceeded to play three delightful Preludes by the Canadian composer John Burge, a composer perhaps better known for his choral music. The hour concluded with two Preludes by Sergei Rachmaninoff, the most virtuosic of theconcert.

Philip Chiu connected with the audience immediately with a little self-deprecating humour and a few respectful jabs at the Festival’s Artistic Director Jonathan Crow. His commentary on the music was infectious, but his playing displayed the sensitivity for which he has become one of Canada’s leading chamber musicians.

Chiu will be performing on Friday, July 26 at 7:30 in Walter Hall with Art of Time Ensemble and again on Monday, July 29 at 7:30 with Jonathan Crow