Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. It was a miserable night to trudge downtown. The six or more inches of snow and slush were enough to discourage many from heading out. By mid-afternoon in Oakville when I learned that the GO trains would be cancelled for several hours, my own attendance was put in doubt. But for those of us who did brave the weather to St. Andrew’s Church, The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and their Interim Conductor and Artistic Director David Fallis made it more than worth our effort with a celebration of Haydn and Handel.
Conductor David Fallis has put together a stellar group of soloists for this concert of two beloved 18th century greats on February 27, 2019. The Choir and orchestra will be joined by soprano Mireille Asselin, mezzo-soprano Christina Stelmacovich, tenor Asitha Tennekoon, and bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus.
Of the Missa in tempore belli, David writes in the program notes:
“The mass has many extraordinary touches. The overall feel is optimistic and confident, appropriate to the basic key of C major, but the beautiful cello and bass singer duet at the Qui tollis in the “Gloria”, the deeply moving Et incarnatus est in the “Credo” and the gorgeous harmonic colouring at so many moments mark this mass as the work of a great composer working at the height of his powers.”
Haydn's Missa in tempore belli (Mass in time of war) is so called because it was written in 1796-97 as Napoleon’s forces were advancing towards Vienna. In German-speaking countries it is often referred to as the Paukenmesse (Timpani Mass): the timpani does play a significant part in the mass, especially in the Agnus Dei where Haydn uses a brilliant drum solo to heighten the intensity of the movement’s prayer for mercy and peace.
The mass has many extraordinary touches. The overall feel is optimistic and confident, appropriate to the basic key of C major, but the beautiful cello and bass singer duet at the Qui tollis in the “Gloria”, the deeply moving Et incarnatus est in the “Credo” and the gorgeous harmonic colouring at so many moments mark this mass as the work of a great composer working at the height of his powers.
Acclaimed Toronto conductor David Fallis has been named as Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Interim Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons. “David brings to the TMC a life-long passion for choral music, incredible conducting experience, and a wide-ranging knowledge of choral repertoire and creative programming," commented TMC Executive Director Cynthia Hawkins. "We are thrilled to work under the leadership of such an accomplished musician over the next two seasons while the TMC carries out an international search for our new artistic director.”
The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s 2018/19 season starts with performances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the Fall, including Benjamin Britten’s compelling War Requiem in a concert that commemorates 100 years since the conclusion of the First World War. The TMC’s own concert season begins in early December with Festival of Carols, the Choir’s annual joyous welcome to the season. Then in January, a Free Community Concert will focus on the music of great composers from Canada and the United States. In February the TMC, with orchestra, will perform two great 18th century choral-orchestral masterpieces by Handel and Haydn. The season concludes with Sacred Music for a Sacred Space in April with a program that brings together two rich choral traditions: the French subtlety of Messiaen, Poulenc and Martin, and the mystical traditions of Eastern Europe and Russia.
At one point I began to imagine myself seated in the hull of Noah’s Ark instead of Koerner Hall with its beautiful wood-paneled balconies and ceiling and how I was being prepared for a world of such beauty and diversity, listening to the music. Haydn’s Creation was an experience of sonic excellence combining vocal soloists, choir and orchestra and at the same time a good opportunity to reflect on the natural beauty we’ve been afforded and should not take for granted.
Joseph So, Musical Toronto. One of the cornerstones of the oratorio repertoire, Haydn’s The Creation (Die Schöpfung) is a wonderful work that I never get tired of hearing. Together with Die Jahreszeiten, it’s two pieces on my short list of go-to oratorios if I ever want a “spiritual uplift.” So it was great to hear it again the other evening at Koerner Hall.
David Richards, Ontario Arts Review. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir created an evening of spectacular bliss. Noel Edison successfully highlighted the drama and humour in the work with uplifting results. He created a symphonic sound of magnificent proportions with the 135 voice choir and the Festival Orchestra.
The opening orchestral introduction, called “The Representation of Chaos” is famous. Haydn paints the dark, frightening void just prior to creation by using snippets of melody, vague rhythms, strange harmonies, awkward dissonances and sudden outbursts. “There is nothing else quite like it,” claims Noel Edison. “It’s the Big Bang expressed in music, and was way ahead of its time!”
The TMC’s 2015/16 season will build on the success of the 2014/15 season and create great musical experiences for audiences– from the drama of the story of creation captured in music by Haydn, to the romance of choral lieder by Brahms and Schubert, and the contemplative space created in the works of contemporary composers.