If nothing else, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Saturday night program demonstrated that a program of pops classics can just about fill Roy Thomson Hall to the rafters. A couple of well known overtures by Berlioz and Mozart, some tuneful Rachmaninoff, a touch of Impressionism from Debussy, and a suite from a certain opera by Bizet made for a crowd-pleasing evening.
"Gil Shaham and the Knights” almost sounds like the name of a boy-band from the 1950s. But there was no rock n’ roll on the program at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on Wednesday evening. Instead, the audience was treated to an eclectic musical mix from a 45-year-old virtuoso soloist and a chamber orchestra whose average age looked to be about 30.
The Knights grew out of score-reading marathons in the Long Island home of Eric and Colin Jacobsen, in the late 1990s.
This review was originally written for Classical Voice North America.
The official name of the ensemble is “Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra” – but there was nothing Baroque about its Feb. 4 concert at Toronto’s Koerner Hall.
Like many early-music groups, Tafelmusik has extended its reach into the nineteenth century, and even beyond. This was evidenced not just in the big piece on the program – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 – and also in several shorter works by Josef Rheinberger, Johannes Brahms, and the Canadian composer Jeffrey Ryan that opened the program.
Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro is an ensemble piece. To succeed, it needs a consistently strong and evenly matched group of singers, equipped with a shared idea of what they’re all supposed to be doing on stage. And I expect that just about everyone in the audience at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre on Sunday afternoon would heartily agree that the Canadian Opera Company’s current production of Figaro has exactly that kind of cast.
One of the hidden challenges of the international culture of classical music is “jet lag.” It’s not often talked about, yet it’s probably the root cause of many performance problems.
However, on Thursday evening, at Toronto’s Koerner Hall – where violinist Daniel Hope and pianist Sebastian Knauer played a recital – the musicians candidly stated from the stage that, having just flown in from Europe, it felt to them like three o’clock in the morning.
I'm a composer and writer based in Toronto – and this is my classical music blog, Eatock Daily.
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