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Volume 28 Issue 1 | September 20 - November 8, 2022

Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.

Our 28th season in print! “And Now, Back to Live Action”; a symphonic-sized listings section, compared to last season; clubs “On the move” ; FuturesStops Festival and Nuit Blanche; “Pianistic high-wire acts”; Season announcements include full-sized choral works like Mendelssohn’s Elijah; “Icons, innovators and renegades” pulling out all the stops.

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CLASSICAL AND BEYOND<br />

Pianistic<br />

High-Wire Acts<br />

and More<br />

PAUL ENNIS<br />

When he was 24, Lucas Debargue finished fourth<br />

in the <strong>20</strong>15 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition but,<br />

more importantly, the Moscow Music Critics<br />

Association bestowed their top honours on him as “the<br />

pianist whose performance at the Competition has<br />

become an event of genuine musical significance, and<br />

whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom<br />

have impressed the critics as well as the audience.”<br />

Just before the COVID-19 protocols took effect in March <strong>20</strong><strong>20</strong>,<br />

Debargue made his third Koerner Hall appearance headlined by ten<br />

Scarlatti sonatas in support of his SONY recording released in <strong>20</strong>19.<br />

He returns to Koerner Hall on October 29, just days after his 32nd<br />

birthday in an intriguing recital titled “An Evening in Paris.” It features<br />

music written by composers who lived in Paris or wrote the music<br />

while staying there – pillars of the repertoire by Mozart (Sonata for<br />

Piano No.8 in D Minor, K310) and Chopin (Ballade No. 2 in F major,<br />

Op. 38; Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 45; Polonaise-Fantaisie in A<br />

flat major, Op. 61; and the rarely performed tour-de-force, Alkan’s<br />

Concerto for Solo Piano, Op.39 No. 8, Op.39 No. 8).<br />

Arguably Canada’s greatest living pianist, Marc-André Hamelin –<br />

whose own recital on October 16, also at Koerner, features an exploration<br />

of works by Fauré – made his early reputation mining the treasure<br />

trove of music by 19th-century composer-pianists, including the enigmatic<br />

Alkan. When Hamelin recorded the Concerto for Solo Piano for<br />

Hyperion, their website called it “one of the great pianistic high-wire acts<br />

– an epic work which demands unprecedented levels of technical ability<br />

and physical stamina. It is conceived on a breathtakingly grand scale and<br />

is rich with both orchestral sonorities and lyrical pianistic passages.”<br />

Debargue has said he likes to place lesser-known music later in a<br />

program after the audience has heard more familiar works. He told<br />

smART Magazine in January <strong>20</strong>22: “I never choose repertoire for the<br />

sake of novelty alone. There are plenty – thousands! – of unknown<br />

composers. Some of them are really worth playing, but they have to<br />

connect with my heart.” It will be interesting to hear how Debargue<br />

plays the Mozart sonata – with the spirit of Dinu Lipatti still hovering<br />

in the air – and the Alkan concerto – with Hamelin’s long shadow still<br />

warm on the Koerner Hall stage.<br />

Piano and Orchestra<br />

The piano is also prominently positioned in three upcoming Toronto<br />

Symphony Orchestra programs. On <strong>September</strong> 21-24, artistic director<br />

Lucas Debargue at Koerner Hall<br />

Gustavo Gimeno conducts the TSO and Bruce Liu in Chopin’s Piano<br />

Concerto No.2 barely 11 months after Liu’s final round performance of<br />

Concerto No.1 helped make him the first Canadian to win the prestigious<br />

International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition.<br />

According to TSO sources, in the TSO’s 100-year history, Beethoven’s<br />

Piano Concerto No.3 has been performed 116 times, making it the<br />

most played (by the TSO) of the composer’s five piano concertos.<br />

The remarkable pianist Yefim Bronfman joins with Gimeno and the<br />

orchestra for three more performances on October 12, 14 and 15. A<br />

few days later, on October <strong>20</strong> and 22, the charismatic Yuja Wang,<br />

Gimeno and the orchestra will play the Canadian premiere of Magnus<br />

Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No.3.<br />

Orchestral Plethora<br />

Perusing the listings from late <strong>September</strong> through October, it’s<br />

remarkable the number of orchestral events taking place apart<br />

from the TSO: Hamilton, Stratford, Niagara and Kitchener-Waterloo<br />

Symphony Orchestras, from beyond the GTA; the Greater Toronto<br />

Philharmonic Orchestra, Kindred Spirits Orchestra, Orchestra Toronto<br />

and more from within the GTA. Some repertoire that caught my eye:<br />

Aaron Schwebel playing Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto<br />

with Rafael Luz and the North York Concert Orchestra on October 2;<br />

Jonathan Crow playing – on October 21 – Brahms’ emotionally rich<br />

Violin Concerto with the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra in celebration<br />

of that orchestra’s 60th anniversary.<br />

Sinfonia Toronto under Nurhan Arman showcases two works for<br />

violin, piano and string orchestra: Alice Ping Yee Ho’s Capriccio Ballo<br />

which she describes as “whimsical and capricious” and Christos<br />

Hatzis’ Arabesque, a work he calls “mainly autobiographical.”<br />

Christina Petrowska Quilico (piano) and Marc Djokic (violin) are the<br />

esteemed soloists on October 22. Dvořák’s joyous Serenade completes<br />

the strong program.<br />

Chamber music is also making its presence felt as autumn rolls into<br />

the city. The free noon-time mini-concerts at COC’s Richard Bradshaw<br />

Amphitheatre have returned in full force. Rising star cellist Anita Graef<br />

opens a series of cello music spanning centuries with works by Joseph<br />

Dall’Abaco, Gaspar Cassadó and J.S. Bach, on <strong>September</strong> 21.<br />

Made up of Rebekah Wolkstein (violin), Drew Jurecka (violin),<br />

Shannon Knights (viola) and Amahl Arulanandam (cello), the Venuti<br />

String Quartet is a highly versatile group, comfortable performing not<br />

only the great classical repertoire, but also jazz, contemporary, and<br />

many other musical genres. On <strong>September</strong> 27, the quartet will perform<br />

two new works written by Jurecka: The Spider and Quartet Number<br />

One, as well as Mendelssohn‘s Op.80 String Quartet in F Minor. There<br />

is a wealth of listening pleasure to be had in the months to come.<br />

VLADIMIR KEVORKOV<br />

14 | <strong>September</strong> <strong>20</strong> - <strong>November</strong> 8, <strong>20</strong>22 thewholenote.com

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