The cheers throughout several curtain-calls were witness to the remarkable music. Lisiecki’s technical brilliance was overshadowed by his powerfully emotional outpouring. His delicate handling of the lyrical passages drew me deep within the music. The orchestra and piano were as one. It was indeed, a performance worthy of Glenn Gould. Returning to the stage for an ecore, Lisiecki humbly offered the uplifting aria from J.S Bach’s Goldberg Variations forever identified with Gould.

All that preceded the Brahms in the evening's program was a prelude to the main event. In the spirit of Canada’s 150th, the concert opened with a Sesquie by Yannick Plamondon entitled Wīhtikō – In memoriam femmes mortes, enlevées et disparues. With just the string section of the orchestra, the work portrayed a woman’s cry of despair for the 1860 Aboriginal women who have disappeared or been murdered over the last 30 years.

​As Feore so eloquently articulated in his bilingual introduction, Gould was a man of many complexities. Composer Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Curiosity, Genius, and the Search for Petula Clark was an exploration of the many sides of Gould. Commissioned by the TSO, the work had a driving energy that carried it through an eclectic series of vignettes. I am not sure it gave me any new insights into Gould, but I am confident he would have been able to analyze its many layers of complexity.

Jan Lisiecki, TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian and TSO

Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

The first half of the concert concluded with a chamber work that Gould had conducted shortly before his death as he experimented with the idea of taking his career in a new direction. Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll was composed as a love serenade for his new wife and family to be performed by a small orchestra (small enough to fit on the stairway of his home). Last night, thirteen principals of the orchestra performed this music. The serenity of the music was accentuated by the sublime playing of these stellar musicians. The music became a tribute to the Music Director Oundjian’s fourteen years at the helm of the TSO. Most of these principal players were hired during his tenure.

I think that the state of music education since the mid-sixties lecture would have to include the successes of the many musicians on stage including Maestro Oundjian, many members of the TSO including concert master Jonathan Crow and the millennium generation’s superstar, Jan Lisiecki.

The concert will be repeated this evening, September 23rd 2017 at Roy Thomson Hall at 8:00pm

Toronto Symphony Orchestra pays tribute to Glenn Gould


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Review by David Richards
Toronto ON September 23 2017

Composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian and TSO

Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

Concert Host Colm Feore and TSO

Photo Credit: Jag Gundu

​​In the mid-1960's, a lecture at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music criticized the effectiveness of music education in Canada. The work of the conservatories, universities, elementary and high schools all came under attack. Nevertheless, there was one positive note in the lecture.  The point was made that if Canada could produce a Glenn Gould, it must have been doing something right.

Gould was indeed a graduate of the Royal Conservatory and had become Canada’s iconic legend on the world stage. At the time of that lecture, Gould was in the midst of a career that would earn him more classical album sales than any artist the world has known before or since. And he was Canadian through and through. Sadly his life ended at age fifty. It was only fitting that in Canada’s 150th year, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra would pay tribute to Canada’s most celebrated artist.

Last night at Roy Thomson Hall the TSO did just that with the help of two current Canadian icons, actor Colm Feore and pianist Jan Lisiecki. It was Lisiecki’s performance of Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15 that lifted the program to a sense of occasion. Feore introduced the concerto by hearkening back to Gould’s performance with the New York Philharmonic in 1962. Feore played a sound recording of Bernstein’s introduction prior to the controversial performance on that historic evening in which Berstein disassociated himself from the interpretation. There was however, nothing controversial about last night’s performance. There was no question that Lisiecki and Maestro Peter Oundjian were in agreement about the work.