8 months ago

Volume 28 Issue 4 | February - March 2023

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Volume 28 no.4, covering Feb, March and into early April '23! David Olds remembers composer John Beckwith; Andrew Timar reflects on the life and times of artistic polymath Michael Snow; Mezzo Emily Fons, in town for Figaro, on trouser roles, the life of a mezzo-soprano on the road and more; Colin Story on the Soft-Seat beat; tracks from 22 new recordings added to our Listening Room. All this and more.

interpretations, going

interpretations, going far beyond the partnership inherent in improvisation to create some completely new music. A Cycle of the Sun Perhaps one of the most audacious and effective interpretations of the piece was Tafelmusik’s 2003 production “The Four Seasons: A Cycle of the Sun,” later documented in the film, The Four Seasons Mosaic. It was conceived by Tafelmusik’s Alison Mackay, who played double bass and violone with the ensemble from 1979 to 2019, and was the springboard to almost two decades’ worth of thoughtprovoking, challenging and creative productions placing beloved works in the period-music canon into what she called “a new historical and cultural context.” Her Four Seasons, revolving around 1725 when Vivaldi’s Il Cimento was published, brought Tafelmusik’s European-style orchestra on period instruments together with players of the Chinese pipa and Indian sarangi, and Inuit throat singers. The fourth movement, Winter, was newly recomposed by Mychael Danna, an Oscar-winning Canadian composer. The production went far beyond the token inclusion of instruments from other cultures; instead, it showcases different kinds of virtuosity and different responses to the seasons in a way that respects both Vivaldi’s original and the guest musicians. Fresh ears As someone who has long been involved with historically informed performance, singing with Baroque violinist David Greenberg in the ensemble Puirt a Baroque and in choirs such as Tafelmusik and La Chapelle de Quebec among others, I can’t help but favour recordings which strive to approximate the kinds of performances that might have taken place in Vivaldi’s time and are played on historical instruments, with all that they make possible stylistically and sonically. But I am always ready for anything which calls me to hear familiar music in a new way, which is why the February 7 Mutter Virtuosi performance at RTH piqued my curiosity. It’s been 39 years since Mutter first recorded Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’ with Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic on EMI; in 1999, she teamed up with the Trondheim Soloists for a second recording of the 2023 Bach Walk Celebrate Bach’s 338th Birthday! SATURDAY, MARCH 25 1:00pm: Christ Church Deer Park 1570 Yonge Street Organ Recital with Patrick Dewell 2:00pm: Calvin Presbyterian Church 26 Delisle Avenue Instrumental Recital with Daniel Bickel and Friends 3:00pm: Yorkminster Park Baptist Church - 1585 Yonge Street Organ Recital with William Maddox Birthday Cake reception at the end of the day Free Admission (donations welcome) work, smaller in scale but still revelling in the lush vibrati and resonance of the modern violin. Even that, however, was 24 years ago now, and it will be interesting to hear how her ideas about these iconic pieces might have changed, and what choices she makes when she has control of the ensemble as well as her solos, as well as getting to choose what musical company the work will keep on the program. Mutter’s February 7 program includes a violin concerto by French Creole composer Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-George (1745- 1799), but also the Canadian premiere of a new double violin solo, Gran Cadenza by contemporary Korean composer Unsuk Chin, commissioned by Mutter. With its showcasing of modern virtuosic language it is a fitting accompaniment to the Vivaldi. Mutter cautions us that “one should not underestimate Antonio [Vivaldi],” yet many do. For his book Conversations with Igor Stravinsky (1959), Robert Craft asked Stravinsky’s opinion of Italian composers and received this response: “Vivaldi is greatly overrated – a dull fellow who could compose the same form so many times over.” What he failed to note, however, is that no piece could possibly be dull that inspires musicians to recreate it over and over in new and innovative ways, and which listeners are always ready to hear. In a recent interview with Mark Wigmore of 96.3FM, Mutter said of The Four Seasons that “you can never get tired of it” and that when she plays it with smaller ensembles like her 14-piece Mutter Virtuosi, “It’s really like a conversation between friends and a lot of spontaneity is possible.” Stephanie Conn is an ethnomusicologist, writer and editor, and former producer for CBC Radio Music. As a member of the ensemble Puirt a Baroque she sang on the Juno-nominated recording Return of the Wanderer. She has also sung with Tafelmusik, La Chapelle de Québec, Aradia and Sine Nomine, and is active as a traditional Gaelic singer and piano accompanist in Cape Breton. BEHOLD, HE CARRIED OUR SORROWS FRIDAY APRIL 15, 7:30PM Metropolitan Festival Choir Period Instrument Orchestra Michael Colvin, Evangelist Jacqueline Woodley, Tochter Zion Geoffrey Sirett, Jesus Jonathan Bach: Cantata Oldengarm, #23 direction and continuo St. John Passion (Selections) Buxtehude: Fürwahr HANDEL Brockes Passion Friday, April 7 Tickets: / Festival Choir, Soloists & Orchestra 6:30 p.m. pre-concert talk Recognizing 7:30 p.m. concert Dr. Patricia Wright Conductor & Minister of Music LIVESTREAM/IN-PERSON 24 | February & March, 2023

QUICK PICKS FEB 12, 2PM: Don Wright Faculty of Music. Opera at Western: Scenes Gala With Early Music Studio. Paul Davenport Theatre, Talbot College, Western University (London). FEB 19, 3PM: Music at Met. Trinity Bach Project. Vocal and Period Instrument Ensemble. Metropolitan United Church (Toronto). FEB 23, 7PM: Vesuvius Ensemble. Ninna Nanna: Lullabies from Popular Tradition. Lullabies from Southern Italy. Francesco Pellegrino, voice; Romina Di Gasbarro, storyteller; Lucas Harris, lute & guitar; Louis Simão, accordion & colascione. Heliconian Hall. FEB 26, 2PM: Toronto Beach Chorale. Vivaldi and the Italian Baroque. Jennifer Krabbe, soprano; Rachel Miller, mezzo; Chamber Orchestra. Beaches Presbyterian Church. MAR 3, 8PM; MAR 4, 2PM; MAR 5, 3PM: Tafelmusik. Bach’s Library. Francesco Corti, harpsichord & guest director. Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. MAR 4, 7:30PM: Kingston Road Village Concert Series. Side by Side Winter Bach #2. Musicians of Toronto Symphony Orchestra; University of Toronto students; Mark Fewer, violin & leader. Kingston Road United Church. MAR 5, 8PM: Toronto Chamber Choir. The Return of Rosenmuller. Toronto Chamber Choir; Lucas Harris, artistic director. Calvin Presbyterian Church. MAR 10 & 11, 8PM: Toronto Consort. Canticum Canticorum. Canticorum Trombonorum, performing ensemble. Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall. MAR 15, 7:30PM: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Arion Baroque Orchestra: Vivaldi and His Curious Friends. Mathieu Lussier, direction; Samantha Louis-Jean, soprano; Vincent Lauzer, recorder. Jennifer Velva Benjamin Performance Hall, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts (Kingston). MAR 23 & MAR 24, 7:30PM; MAR 25, 3:30PM: Tafelmusik. Bach St. John Passion. Ivars Taurins, director. Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. MAR 26, 3:30PM: Rezonance Baroque Ensemble. Crossing Borders. Rezan Onen-Lapointe & Kailey Richards, baroque violins; Erika Nielsen, baroque cello; Benjamin Stein, lute & theorbo; David Podgorski, harpsichord. St. David’s Anglican Church. MAR 28, 7:30PM: Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Bach: Mass in B Minor, BWV232. Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Baroque Orchestra; Jean-Sébastien Vallée, conductor. Koerner Hall. APR 6 & APR 7, 7:30PM: Opera Atelier. Handel: The Resurrection. Carla Huhtanen, soprano (Archangel); Meghan Lindsay, soprano (Mary Magdalene); Alyson McHardy, mezzo (Cleophas); Colin Ainsworth, tenor (St. John); Douglas Williams, bass-baritone (Lucifer) and others. Koerner Hall. APR 7, 8PM: Georgetown Bach Chorale. The Passion According to St. Matthew. Michael Taylor, tenor (Evangelist); Georgetown Bach Chorale Chamber Choir, Soloists, and Baroque Orchestra. Knox Presbyterian Church (Georgetown). The Spirit of Music in Community: Lecture-Recital Series Wednesdays in March at 7:30 p.m. March 1: Larry Beckwith March 8: Ian Cusson March 15: Stephanie Martin March 22: Waleed Abdulhamid March 29: John Abberger Free. Register via QR code or at Baroque Music by Candlelight Monday, April 3 at 8:00 p.m. Quiet reflection in Holy Week. Freewill offering. Choral Services | Holy Week Schedule Visit for details. stthomastoronto smokytomsonhuron St. Thomas’s Church, 383 Huron Street February & March, 2023 | 25

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