The magical evening began with The Smile of Maude Lewis, a work the CBC commissioned from Nikolai Korndorf in 2000; it is a childlike piece inspired by the east-coast Canadian paintings of M.K.Lewis. The music was in an additive minimal style, with a texture that built up gradually against repeated patterns in the upper strings, patterns played so quickly and softly that the notes were almost not distinguishable; instead, listeners experienced timbre and texture.
This first piece on the well-balanced program was written entirely in a high range with as an example, no lower brass. When the lower strings eventually joined the violins, they played near the top of their ranges. The percussion was light and fully pitched including celeste and xylophone. There was even a recorder. Overall, the impression that this piece gave was of naive, delicate music, matching the spirit of the paintings, true to the visual art of Maude Lewis that inspired the composer.
Next on the program was Mendelssohn's celebrated Violin Concerto in E minor, opus 64, played by virtuoso violinist Alina Ibragimova. She performed with sensitivity and agility, both in the strikingly dramatic sections, and in the softer, refined, expressive passages. The cadenza was beautifully executed.
Mendelssohn's work, following one of the trends of the mid-nineteenth century, is an extended musical unit, with no breaks between the three movements. It is also cyclical and thus unified by material from the first movement that is repeated in the last.
The first movement, with its famous, heroic opening in a minor key, formed a contrast with the much lighter and quicker third movement, the latter similar in texture to the composer’s incidental music to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The playing by the woodwinds was admirably delicate and accurate.
After intermission, the trombones and tuba joined the group for the orchestral suite from Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, opus 66a. While Tchaikovsky had intended to write an orchestra suite, he never selected the dances; the suite was completed by M.Pletney.
In this work, we entered the fantastic world of romantic Russian ballet with full orchestra including xylophone, triangle, and harp. The latter was played with a fine sense of touch and élan by Heidi von Hosen Gorton. There was also strong playing by the French horns. Concert master Jonathan Crow's solo was beautifully played with the subtlety and care that he consistently exhibits in each and every performance.
Guest conductor Andrey Boreyko performed well. His strengths seemed to be his rhythmic consistency and his ability to get the orchestra to express what was needed with an economy of means.
All in all, it was a very satisfying performance of a well thought out program which will be repeated at 8pm this evening, Friday October 26th 2018 at Roy Thomson Hall and at 3pm on Sunday October 28th 2018 at George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts.
Andrey Boreyko conducts Korndorf; Photo credit: @Nick Wons
Balanced as a ballerina: TSO performs Sleeping Beauty and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor
Guest conductor Andrey Boreyko, violinist Alina Ibragimova and TSO
Photo credit: Nick Wons
Alina Ibragimova plays Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
with guest conductor Andrey Boreyko
Photo credit: @Nick Wons
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Review by Paul Merkley FRSC
Toronto ON October 26th 2018