TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

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

Review by David Richards

TAFELMUSIK’s Zelenka & Bach
​a joyful delight!

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir offered a pair of thrilling works in their concerts this past weekend at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall. Composers Bach and Zelenka provided joyful music that displayed the sublime artistry of Tafelmusik. In somewhat twisted roles, Bach supplied the secular, Italian-styled cantata while Zelenka, his Bohemian contemporary, provided the Bach-inspired mass.

​The program opened with J.S. Bach’s Cantata 202“Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten”. It was a showcase of virtuosity by guest soprano, Dorothee Mields. Oboist John Abberger and violinist Patricia Ahern provided beautiful obligato accompaniments. Mields, an international baroque sensation from Germany currently on a North American tour, told the story of this non-religious cantata, probably composed for an unknown springtime wedding. In its five arias interspersed with four recitatives, her skill, artistry, and sense of style were matchless. In the first aria, Mields spun endlessly long lines matching the beautiful tone of Abberger’s oboe solo with her silken tone. The ensuing rhythmically ornamented, imitative phrases served to contrast the melancholy of winter with the pleasures of spring. Mields’ voice seemed to dance as she sang the minuet-like fourth aria suggestive of the sexual pleasures of marriage. Patricia Ahern directed the orchestra with sensitivity and grace.

The second work on the program was a splendid performance of the Missa Omnium Sanctorum, ZWV 21 by Jan Dismas Zelenka. Ivars Taurens directed the choir, orchestra, and four soloists. Mezzo soprano Kim Leeds, tenor, Jacques-Olivier Chartier, and bass-baritone, Jonathan Woody, winners of the inaugural Tafelmusik Vocal Competition joined Mields. Solo arias, ensembles, and choruses combine to create a glorious extended work that has become a major part of Zelenka’s legacy. The influence that Bach had on his friend’s music was evident in the fugal writing and grandeur of the mass. The Chamber Choir was superb. It was hard to believe that just twenty-two singers could make such an impressive sound without ever once forcing or over-singing. They negotiated the technically demanding music effortlessly. Taurens elicited an energetic and joyful performance.

Tafelmusik continues to raise the level of enthusiasm in its audiences through high quality performances such as those given this weekend. It will next present a multi-media production written by double bassist Alison Mackay entitled TALES OF TWO CITIES: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House on May 19-22.

Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

May 1, 2016