Messiah on Messiah turns out even

Michael Vincent, Musical Toronto and The Toronto Star. Toronto boasts over 30 Messiah’s performed across the city, and perhaps with the exception of New York City, makes Toronto Messiah Central. While there are a wide variety of offerings, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Tafelmusik remain the two standbys. Without being too competitive, it’s always fun to compare them.
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season and Media Reviews.

Big, fat Messiah

John Gilks, operaramblings. Sir Andrew Davis is in town conducting his own orchestration of Handel’s Messiah. In the modern world this is probably as close as it gets to Sir Malcolm Sargent and the Huddersfield Choral Society. He conducts the TSO with brass and woodwinds that Handel never saw and lots of percussion including snare drum, sleigh bells, tambourines and marimba. He also has the not inconsiderable heft of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season and Media Reviews.

Toronto theatres offer three unique versions of Handel’s Messiah

Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail. Davis’s Messiah will be one of three quite different versions of the perennial favourite presented in Toronto next week, a bit shy of the 20 or so in the New York metropolitan area that the unfortunate junior critic for the New York Times is routinely assigned to review every season, but quite a bouquet nonetheless. The three Messiahs show the extreme versatility and adaptability of this amazing work, which has been pushed and pulled into innumerable, sometimes unrecognizable shapes over its two-and-a-half-century existence, but which manages to escape whole and healthy every time.
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season and Media Reviews.

New Ears Encounter the German Romantics

[T]he entire evening reminded me of the incredible power of live music. Even the slower pieces were performed with such passion that even though they were about the loss of love etc I couldn’t help but be a bit giddy with excitement. I had never heard love songs performed like this before.
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season, Media Reviews, and New Ears Project.

A fine sampling of German Romanticism

Michael Johnson, concertonet. This program by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir was doubly unusual in that it presented a number of short choral works that rarely get the “big choir” treatment, plus the evening’s guest soloist was a pianist, in this case André Laplante, whose deeply thoughtful performance of six pieces helped fullfil the evening’s title German Romantics.
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season and Media Reviews.

Luminato’s ‘Apocalypsis’ Offered A New View to the End of the World

Tom Beedham, Noisey. The apocalypse began before the audience could find its seats. While some still filtered in from the Toronto Sony Centre’s lobby, in an unnerving scene of delirium, actors situated throughout the audience stood and shouted proclamations for the end of the world in English, German, and Latin, silencing excited chatter about the epic sensory buffet that was about to unfold.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.

The Rebirth of R. Murray Schafer’s Apocalypsis

Neil Crory, Musical Toronto. “Apocalypsis,” as the 82-year-old composer so succinctly puts it in the programme notes, “is a work in two parts. Part One describes the destruction of the world and Part Two suggests the birth of the new universe.” What he doesn’t mention is that the work (based in part on the Book of Revelation and Psalm 148) runs well over 2 hours without an intermission. As this is a spatial work and meant to wrap around the audience, part of the orchestral and choral forces were placed in the balcony of the Sony Centre with the audience taking up the main floor.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.

Luminato’s Apocalypsis is a complicated triumph

Robert Harris, Globe and Mail. Toronto’s Luminato Festival has staked a great deal on the highly original and highly idiosyncratic imaginative outpourings of a now 82-yr.-old Canadian musical wizard, R. Murray Schafer. Three long years in the making, the production of Schafer’s music ritual Apocalypsis that opened at the Festival Friday night brought together 1,000 musicians, singers, actors, dancers and technicians. It assembled a cast of internationally-known stars. It cost over a million dollars. It was a high-profile, big-time gamble. The gamble paid off.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.

TSO conveys emotion of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2

Michael Vincent, Toronto Star. Singing with a singular voice, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir lined the balcony with impressive numbers. Rather than coming out for the fourth movement, they sat motionless until it was their turn to sing. But once they did, their voices filled the hall like the massive organ that loomed at their backs.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.

Happy Ending and Then Some in Mahler’s Second

Arthur Kaptainis, Musical Toronto. I am always up for a sermon on the life everlasting, and the great finale, made of glorious sonorities onstage and off, did not fail. Oundjian found respiration in the phrasing and drama in the entries. Brass playing was firm, woodwinds were colourful and strings had the ring of truth. Most important, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (prepared by Noel Edison) entered with breathtaking solemnity. Remarkable how gripping a pianissimo equilibrium can be.
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Categories: 2014-2015 Season and Media Reviews.