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Review by David Richards
Toronto ON October 6th 2016
Cellist Christophe Coin adds his own ‘eloquence’ to a stunning performance by Tafelmusik!
Guest Director and Soloist Christophe Coin
Photo Credit Nemo Perier Stefanovitch
Two weeks ago the Tafelmusik Orchestra was performing music of the Baroque period with Handel’s Water Music. Last night at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, the orchestra jumped forward in time by a generation to the middle of the Classical period to present a programme of exquisite music written for the European courts in the 1760’s-1780’s. To assist in this time-travel was Christophe Coin, the renowned French cellist and world authority on historically informed performance practice. He participated both as guest director and featured cello soloist.
Coin worked differently as guest music director in each of the four works of the programme. In the opening work, Symphony No. 4 in F Majorafter Ovid’sMetamorphoses (Vienna 1783) by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, he conducted from his cello facing the orchestra. The orchestra played flawlessly creating a warm ensemble sound that only comes with exquisite intonation and an intimate knowledge of the score. The aria-like solo in the first movement by oboist John Abberger was as sublime as one could imagine.
In the Boccherini Cello Concerto in D Major G.483 (Vienna, 1785), Coin turned to face the audience exposing the brilliant tone of his 1720’s Italian cello. His virtuosic cadenzas and tuneful passages with wonderfully musical lines were accomplished with a graceful loveliness and without extra embellishment.
Following intermission, Coin moved into the cello section of the orchestra performing C.P.E. Bach's Symphony for Strings in B Minor, Wg 182/5 (Hanburg, 1773), allowing the orchestra to play around him with a wonderful sense of ensemble. He and violinist Julia Wedman shared the leadership with intuitive accord. The dramatic moments in the work were stunning. Sudden contrasts from very exposed solo playing to vigorous tutti sections grabbed hold of the drama.
Finally, Coin moved to the front of the orchestra and both directed and performed the brilliant Cello Concerto in C Major, Hob. VIIb/1 (Esterháza, c.1761-65) by Joseph Haydn without a score. This masterpiece of the Classical period is one of only two cello concertos in existence by Haydn, although he wrote at least five in total. This one, found in a private library in Prague in 1962, has become a mainstay of the cello repertoire and for good reason. The sound of the cello soared throughout the hall. In the Larghetto, the long single sustained note leading to a beautiful melodic theme was breathtaking. The full tutti sound complete with virtuosic passages in the Presto Finale lifted the audience's spirits in a climactic conclusion.
Coin’s appearance as guest director and cello soloist was eagerly anticipated. As the founder and leader of Mosaїque Ensemble and Quatuor Ensemble, and director of Ensemble baroque de Limoges, he has been a world leader in the movement of authentic performance practice with these standard-setting French period ensembles. He is been a prolific recording artist with over fifty cds to his credit.
The evening included a pre-concert talk with cellist Allen Whear and violist Patrick Jordan as well as a post-concert 'talk-back' with Chirstophe Coin, first violinist Julia Wedman and oboist John Abberger. The unspoken question on everyone’s mind throughout the evening concerned Tafelmusik’s new permanent Musical Director position. Would it be Coin? He certainly gave a display of his mastery of both the cello and insightful musical direction. Let’s hope Toronto has more opportunities to hear his artistry.
Performances of The Eloquent Cello continue through Sunday October 9. In the next series of concerts, the orchestra will be joined by Tefelmusk Chamber Choir in a programme entitled Let us All Sing! on November 2-6.