TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

The concert put everyone on notice that young artists such as those we saw last night are on the threshold of musical careers. The mentoring that is being done by artists such as Lang Lang and those in the TSO have a huge impact on their development. Lang Lang paid tribute to the mentoring provided to him by Maestro Peter Oundjian from the time they met when Lang Lang was just fifteen years old. As he said, it is now his turn to pass on his knowledge.

As much as the concert was a fund-raiser for the future of the TSO, it was also a foretelling of what that future might look like when the teenagers on stage become the mature artists of tomorrow. 

Maxim Lando, Lang, Lang, Music Director Peter Oundjian and TSO
​Photo credit: Jag Gundu

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

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra's New Creations Festival 2018 begins on Saturday March 3rd 2018 at 7:30pm in Roy Thomson Hall with Processions featuring Music Director Peter Oundjian as conductor and host, composer and conductor Daniel Bjarnason, pianist Vikingur Ȯlafsson and Hot Jazz String Quartet.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra

Music Director Peter Oundjian, Lang Lang and Maxim Lando;
​Photo credite: Jag Gundu

​​Review by David Richards

​Oakville ON March 2nd, 2018

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”.


The program was cleverly designed to have broad appeal. Each work on the program was both familiar and energizing. Just the sight of over one hundred and forty musicians on stage contributed to the magic of the evening. The TSYO was on stage for the opening work, Paul Dukas’ L’apprenti sorcier (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice). The work was made famous to generations of children in the Disney animated film, Fantasia. TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian led a performance that bubbled with enthusiasm. Surely I wasn’t alone in recalling images of Mickey Mouse and the cartoon film associated with the work. Especially noteworthy last night was the sparkling clarity of the trumpet solo by TSYO’s William Leathers.

The TSO took over for the remainder of the concert, firstly performing yet another oft-performed work, Ravel’s Suite No. 2 from Daphnis and Chloé. The orchestra brought out the lush sounds of Ravel’s masterful orchestration capturing the musical picture of the rising sun. Newly appointed Principal Flute Kelly Zimba provided her own magical moments in the flute’s extended solo passages. The orchestra gave the work’s climactic conclusion a full measure of jubilation.


Following intermission, it was Lang Lang’s turn to cast his musical spell on the audience. His regular appearances in Toronto since 2003 always generate a buzz among the musical public. Last night’s visit required some creative programming. He has been suffering for almost a year with tendonitis in his left hand and has had to cancel performances including a tour with the Berlin Philharmonic. Nevertheless, he arranged Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for piano duo so that he could perform without taxing the injury, while using the experience to mentor a brilliant young artist. The connection with his partner, Maxim Lando, had an enthusiastic, uplifting spirit along with wonderful synchronicity and jazz flair. The dynamic contrasts with the power of two pianists were astounding. I am not sure I want to hear this performed again by just one pianist. Lang Lang’s mentoring of the younger artist was evident throughout the work as he suggested adjustments to the phrasing and dynamics with his body language. There was a great deal of joy in their music-making. The orchestra was at its best. The jazz rhythms and percussive effects were intoxicating. The clarinet solo of Eric Abramovitz at the beginning of the work oozed of the blues as he bent the pitch and tempo.