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Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020

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Welcome to our December/January issue as we turn the annual calendar page, halfway through our season for the 25th time, juggling as always, secular stuff, the spirit of the season, new year resolve and winter journeys! Why is Mozart's Handel's Messiah's trumpet a trombone? Why when Laurie Anderson offers to fly you to the moon you should take her up on the invitation. Why messing with Winterreisse can (sometimes) be a very good thing! And a bumper crop of record reviews for your reading (and sometimes listening) pleasure. Available in flipthrough here right now, and on stands commencing Thursday Nov 28. See you on the other side!

Mozart’s Messiah This

Mozart’s Messiah This year is less routine. The TSO has engaged Alexander Shelley, music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, to conduct Mozart’s orchestration of Messiah. This eliminates a wide range of issues, but by no means all. Mozart’s Messiah is originally sung in German. Shelley wants English, but his preferred edition (Bärenreiter) does not produce a score with English text. For the chorus, this is no problem, since the choruses retain the same music and bar count as Handel’s original. TMC members can read from their familiar parts with a list that converts the Bärenreiter numbers to Watkins Shaw. Parts for the vocal soloists are, however, more complicated. Mozart chose some of Handel’s standard voice assignments, but also some of his optional ones. Most of these can be taken from the original Handel vocal score and its Appendix. So far, so good – until you get to an alto aria reassigned to the bass (the clef doesn’t work) or “The Trumpet Shall Sound” in which measures are deftly omitted, and the whole is rescored with horns taking prominence. In these cases, it was necessary to replace the German text with English in the Mozart vocal score. Sometimes matching the syllables is quite a challenge. The TSO’s principal trombone, Gord Wolfe, had no idea what he was getting into when he first encountered the Mozart Messiah – in more ways than one. In keeping with the orchestras of his time, Mozart augmented Handel’s instrumentation by two flutes, two clarinets, one bassoon, two horns and three trombones, so players who might usually have enjoyed an extra holiday week are obliged to work. Trombones appear in only three short movements of the full score, however it was the performance practice of Mozart’s time that the three trombones would reinforce the alto, tenor and bass voices in all the choruses. Only a remark in the critical commentary, printed in a separate volume of the Bärenreiter edition, points to this. Bärenreiter doesn’t even print complete trombone parts. Quite ironically, the “trombone” does appear in the German title of “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” [Sie schallt, die Posaun’]. (In the German tradition, the trombone is the instrument of the last judgment, and Mozart would again use it as such in his Requiem.) A Match Made by Mozart Messiah is, as Elmer Iseler was fond of saying, a “big sing” for the chorus and nobody knew that better than Gord at the end of the first rehearsal. As he looked skyward in exhaustion, his eyes wandered over to the choir loft where Stephanie Fung, an alto in the TMC who was also singing her first Mozart Messiah, happened to be looking back. “Oh, she’s cute,” Gord thought to himself. He looked for her on the subway, but she was living in Markham at the time and had driven. By some electronic holiday miracle, they booked a coffee before the final concert – and then agreed to a drink afterward. That was 13 years ago – the last time the TSO performed the Mozart Messiah. Steph and Gord got married in 2009 so in performing together again in these concerts they are celebrating the anniversary of their meeting. On the topic of “Orchestra Librarian Nightmares,” next month the TSO will be giving four performances of Mozart’s Requiem - a work left unfinished at Mozart’s death and which exists in completed versions by Süssmayr, Robbins Landon, Beyer, Maunder, Levin, and Druce. If you want to see and hear how it goes – the Süssmayr version, that is – come to Roy Thomson Hall on January 15,16,17 or 18, 2020: Gary Corrin is principal librarian of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, would-be scholar and eternal romantic. He met his wife, Ingrid Martin, a soprano with the Canadian Opera Company Chorus, at “Bravissimo!” the annual New Year’s Eve opera gala at RTH – but that’s another story. Gordon Wolfe and Stephanie Fung Gary Corrin in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra library EMMA BADAME God is in the Trombone The trombone is said to have been invented in the middle of the 15th century, but until the 18th century was called a “saqueboute” (in French) or a “sackbut” (in English). Originally it was closely associated with Christian church music and for this reason was often used to symbolize God or supernatural phenomena when it began to be used for other kinds of music during the 18th century. Mozart is said to have picked up on this from Gluck and Salieri. In the impressive solo at the end of Mozart’s Requiem, the trombone announces the Last Judgment. And when Don Giovanni is sent to hell for his life of debauchery, the trombone is used to portray a supernatural force that reaches beyond human intellect. In Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony the trombone represents the powerlessness of man in the face of nature during the fourth movement which depicts a thunderstorm, and in the fifth movement the trombone voices mankind’s gratitude toward God. 10 | December 2019 / January 2020

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