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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

Pianistic

High-Wire Acts

and More

PAUL ENNIS

When he was 24, Lucas Debargue finished fourth

in the 2015 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition but,

more importantly, the Moscow Music Critics

Association bestowed their top honours on him as “the

pianist whose performance at the Competition has

become an event of genuine musical significance, and

whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom

have impressed the critics as well as the audience.”

Just before the COVID-19 protocols took effect in March 2020,

Debargue made his third Koerner Hall appearance headlined by ten

Scarlatti sonatas in support of his SONY recording released in 2019.

He returns to Koerner Hall on October 29, just days after his 32nd

birthday in an intriguing recital titled “An Evening in Paris.” It features

music written by composers who lived in Paris or wrote the music

while staying there – pillars of the repertoire by Mozart (Sonata for

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

Op. 38; Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 45; Polonaise-Fantaisie in A

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

Concerto for Solo Piano, Op.39 No. 8, Op.39 No. 8).

Arguably Canada’s greatest living pianist, Marc-André Hamelin –

whose own recital on October 16, also at Koerner, features an exploration

of works by Fauré – made his early reputation mining the treasure

trove of music by 19th-century composer-pianists, including the enigmatic

Alkan. When Hamelin recorded the Concerto for Solo Piano for

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

– an epic work which demands unprecedented levels of technical ability

and physical stamina. It is conceived on a breathtakingly grand scale and

is rich with both orchestral sonorities and lyrical pianistic passages.”

Debargue has said he likes to place lesser-known music later in a

program after the audience has heard more familiar works. He told

smART Magazine in January 2022: “I never choose repertoire for the

sake of novelty alone. There are plenty – thousands! – of unknown

composers. Some of them are really worth playing, but they have to

connect with my heart.” It will be interesting to hear how Debargue

plays the Mozart sonata – with the spirit of Dinu Lipatti still hovering

in the air – and the Alkan concerto – with Hamelin’s long shadow still

warm on the Koerner Hall stage.

Piano and Orchestra

The piano is also prominently positioned in three upcoming Toronto

Symphony Orchestra programs. On September 21-24, artistic director

Lucas Debargue at Koerner Hall

Gustavo Gimeno conducts the TSO and Bruce Liu in Chopin’s Piano

Concerto No.2 barely 11 months after Liu’s final round performance of

Concerto No.1 helped make him the first Canadian to win the prestigious

International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition.

According to TSO sources, in the TSO’s 100-year history, Beethoven’s

Piano Concerto No.3 has been performed 116 times, making it the

most played (by the TSO) of the composer’s five piano concertos.

The remarkable pianist Yefim Bronfman joins with Gimeno and the

orchestra for three more performances on October 12, 14 and 15. A

few days later, on October 20 and 22, the charismatic Yuja Wang,

Gimeno and the orchestra will play the Canadian premiere of Magnus

Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No.3.

Orchestral Plethora

Perusing the listings from late September through October, it’s

remarkable the number of orchestral events taking place apart

from the TSO: Hamilton, Stratford, Niagara and Kitchener-Waterloo

Symphony Orchestras, from beyond the GTA; the Greater Toronto

Philharmonic Orchestra, Kindred Spirits Orchestra, Orchestra Toronto

and more from within the GTA. Some repertoire that caught my eye:

Aaron Schwebel playing Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto

with Rafael Luz and the North York Concert Orchestra on October 2;

Jonathan Crow playing – on October 21 – Brahms’ emotionally rich

Violin Concerto with the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra in celebration

of that orchestra’s 60th anniversary.

Sinfonia Toronto under Nurhan Arman showcases two works for

violin, piano and string orchestra: Alice Ping Yee Ho’s Capriccio Ballo

which she describes as “whimsical and capricious” and Christos

Hatzis’ Arabesque, a work he calls “mainly autobiographical.”

Christina Petrowska Quilico (piano) and Marc Djokic (violin) are the

esteemed soloists on October 22. Dvořák’s joyous Serenade completes

the strong program.

Chamber music is also making its presence felt as autumn rolls into

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

Amphitheatre have returned in full force. Rising star cellist Anita Graef

opens a series of cello music spanning centuries with works by Joseph

Dall’Abaco, Gaspar Cassadó and J.S. Bach, on September 21.

Made up of Rebekah Wolkstein (violin), Drew Jurecka (violin),

Shannon Knights (viola) and Amahl Arulanandam (cello), the Venuti

String Quartet is a highly versatile group, comfortable performing not

only the great classical repertoire, but also jazz, contemporary, and

many other musical genres. On September 27, the quartet will perform

two new works written by Jurecka: The Spider and Quartet Number

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

is a wealth of listening pleasure to be had in the months to come.

VLADIMIR KEVORKOV

14 | September 20 - November 8, 2022 thewholenote.com

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