German Culture in Ontario
The month of October was particularly heavily strewn with German events, especially in Toronto. As you know, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra started its season with a Beethoven and Mahler series. Out of 5 concerts I attended 3 and was totally astounded how well the symphony sounded. Peter Oundjian appears to have made further improvements to the orchestra, or perhaps it just appears to be better than last season because there is now more cohesion then even before.
Each one of these concerts was totally sold out and it was very difficult to get tickets, unless you wanted to kiss the sky in the top balcony, which is a dizzying experience. The sound up there is as good as anywhere else. However, I prefer the middle mezzanine balcony, which affords one a perfect experience in the middle of a sea of music lovers. Since enthusiasm is contagious this middle of the space spot makes the musical experience extremely ethereal, especially if one manages to get a first row seat. There is only one other preference I would recommend: the side balconies overlooking the stage or the actual choir loft, which affords one a perfect look at the orchestra and the conductor.
No matter where you sit, Roy Thomson Hall does not really
have a bad seat, not as far as sound is concerned. Thus it is of no great
concern from where you would listen to your favourite composer being
performed, which for me that includes Beethoven, and now also Gustav Mahler,
whom I was not very familiar with. Each of the Masterworks series concerts
had a different offering with different star quality performers. We missed
the opening night with Symphonies 1 and 8 by Beethoven and Joshua Bell’s
rendition of the Violin Concerto, which we had heard him play a couple of
years ago. The second evening featured Symphonies 2 and 6, as well as Gustav
Mahler’s Rueckert Lieder sung by Marie-Nicole Lemieux, explained perfectly
for better understanding by Peter Oundjian himself.
At the Day of Unification
There were a couple more concerts and then came the evening of the National German Holiday, the Day of Unification, celebrated here, because of the sponsored concert, on October 5. The evening started with a wonderful reception and welcoming words by the symphonies CEO, The Consul General of Germany in Toronto, Dr. Rupprecht, and the newest German Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Matthias Hoepfner.
The following concert, which was as all the others in the series totally sold out, consisted of the Overture to Coreolan, Op.62, Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder sung by the extraordinary Russel Brown, Baritone, and Beethoven’s Symphony 3, called the Eroica, one of his most expressive and emotional symphonies. Peter Oundjian and the orchestra added a superb crispness to the strongly romantic piece, which redefined it for our times, without changing the original intention.
Driving home was like a dream, a little bit unreal, and became outright annoying when we had to pass through the noisy and backed up downtown club scene.
Last but not least we went to attend the final concert of the series, featuring Mahler’s symphony no 5 in C sharp and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, as well as Leif Ove Andsnes on the piano with a Beethoven Piano Concert No 3 in C minor, Op 37. The piano soloist simply blew us away with his Playful yet forceful handling of the score so reminiscent of Mozart, all played by heart of course. This Norwegian Piano soloist has been called the most accomplished pianist of his generation, and opinion we would easily second.
This was a concentrated German experience, filling me up with the glorious sound of my favourite composer.
But that was not all that could be experienced. There was the annual Bach Festival, and there were other concerts of all descriptions in conjunction with the Baden Württemberg German Arts Festival. Unfortunately the latter venue was made public too late for us to follow up.
Until next time
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