This Week in Toronto (Sept. 28 – Oct. 4)

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Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka (Photo: Bo Huang)

Canadian soprano and Toronto resident Adrianne Pieczonka makes a rare appearance on the Toronto recital stage on September 29th 8 pm at Koerner Hall, under the auspices of Soundstreams, an organization that specializes in the presentation of contemporary classical music.  Billed as Adrianne Pieczonka: Beyond the Aria, the soprano, together with mezzo Krisztina Szabo, sing an eclectic program that combines George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children with the Beatles.  They are accompanied by a chamber orchestra under the baton of conductor Leslie Dala.  There is a pre-concert chat at 7 pm, well worth attending since some of the repertoire will likely be unfamiliar – and I’m not talking about the Beatles! Tickets available online or at the Koerner Hall box office.

Pianist Kirill Gerstein

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting an interesting program this week, juxtaposing Shostakovich, Prokofiev with Gershwin!  Not sure how that’s going to work, but it would be interesting to hear. The brilliant Russian born American pianist Kirill Gerstein returns to Toronto to play the Gershwin Piano Concerto in F. American conductor James Gaffigan is also coming back to conduct.The Wednesday Sept. 30 performance starts at 6:30 pm, and is an abbreviated program of just Shostakovich and Gershwin. This is part of the Afterworks series, designed to catch people after they get off work but before going home. Apparently they are serving appetizers in the lobby before the show. Thursday and Saturday performances have the additional Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 – but no appetizers!

Conductor James Gaffigan (Photo: Franca Pedrazzetti)
The Royal Conservatory Orchestra is presenting Mahler Symphony No. 4  with soprano soloist Mireille Asselin. With her beautiful light lyric soprano, Asselin’s voice is made for this piece. It is paired with the Elgar Violin Concerto, with soloist Alexis Hatch. To my ears, this Elgar work is sublime – very long at nearly an hour, and technically a real tour de force. Since hearing it nearly 35 years ago with Nigel Kennedy in London, I always seek out this piece to attend. The conductor is Julian Kuerti, who is the son of Anton of course, but a terrific conductor in his own right.  He is the principal conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica de la Universidad de Concepcion in Chile. Performance is on Friday Oct. 2nd 8 pm at Koerner Hall.

Soprano Mireille Asselin

Violinist Cecilia Bernardini is the soloist and guest director of Tafelmusik for four performances of Musik Mania, an intriguing program of warhorses and rarities – works by Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann, Geminiani, Zelenka and Keiser.  The Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann pieces are very familiar, but the Zelenka piece I am unfamiliar with. Here’s the very informative program notes -  I found out from the notes that it’s the Jan Dismas Zelenka work, Hypochrondria that gives this concert its title Musik Mania!  Four performances – Oct. 1, 2, 3, 4 (matinee) at Trinity St. Paul Centre.


About Author

Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.

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