TSO Lets Berlioz Do The Talking In Season Opener

Paul Robinson, ludwig van Toronto

At the age of 74, Sir Andrew Davis’s walk to the podium is a little more measured these days but that is not surprising for a man who seems to be everywhere. For nearly two decades the centre of his musical world has been Chicago where he is music director of the Lyric Opera. But he is also music director of the Melbourne Symphony and conductor laureate of both the BBC Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. And for the next two seasons, he is adding another TSO title as interim artistic director, bridging outgoing Peter Oundjian and incoming Gustav Gimeno. This week Sir Andrew is on the podium for the opening concerts of the TSO’s 2018-2019 season.

The concert got off to a rocky start with Godfrey Ridout’s fussy and subdued arrangement of O Canada, which oddly defied audience participation due to its lack of prerequisite joy and enthusiasm.

Then came a rarity: an excerpt from Berlioz’ Lélio, ou Le retour a la vie (The Return to Life), a sequel to the Symphonie fantastiqueLélio is a mishmash of music and declamation and not among the composer’s masterpieces. Sir Andrew chose to give us just one musical excerpt, a Fantasy on Shakespeare’s The Tempest for chorus and orchestra. As usual with Berlioz’s orchestral music, the instrumentation was clever and original. But even with an impressive Toronto Mendelssohn Choir on hand, this brief excerpt seemed too long for the quality of its inspiration.

Read the full review here.