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Jane Archibald, sop., Susan Platts, mezz., Isaiah Bell, ten., Kevin Deas, bbar., Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Michael Francis, cond., Roy Thomson Corridor, Jan. 11, 2023. Photographs: Jag Gundu
January is Mozart Month on the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. To mark the 267th anniversary of the birthday of the nice Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Jan 27, 1756 – Dec. 5, 1791), the TSO is giving 4 performances of his incomparable Requiem Mass.
The story behind its genesis may be very well-known, because of the massively profitable 1984 film Amadeus. Mozart died earlier than the completion of the work, and it was left others to finish the work. In response to the superb program notes, the model heard here’s a way more latest version, by Harvard College’s Professor Robert D. Levin, who lowered the orchestra to chamber dimension, consistent with Mozart’s time.
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The Mozart Requiem counts as one of the often carried out of his compositions. To my ears, any model of this masterwork is an unalloyed pleasure, particularly when it’s given by the TSO with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Over time, I’ve loved many performances of the Requiem that grew to become completely etched in reminiscence.
What you missed?
The present revival options three Canadian soloists: soprano Jane Archibald, mezzo Susan Platts, and tenor Isaiah Bell, all acquainted to Toronto music lovers. American bass-baritone Kevin Deas rounds out the quartet, and I consider that is his debut with the TSO. On condition that the Requiem clocks in at underneath an hour, 4 different quick items are added to fill out the night’s efficiency.
With British conductor Michael Francis on the helm, the night opened dramatically, in a very darkish theatre, with “O virtus Sapientiae,” an ode to knowledge, by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Ten feminine members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Singers entered downstage and slowly crossed from left to proper, whereas singing the 2-minute piece. Sitting within the auditorium and listening to this disembodied sound, the impact was putting and ethereal, a wonderful begin to the night.
It was adopted by Mozart’s Maurerische Trauermusik K477, a sombre piece with a predominance of woodwind and brass, creating an fascinating distinction to the von Bingen. Subsequent got here Beethoven’s Gross Fuge, Op. 133 tailored for a string orchestra. Musicologists aren’t too keen on this piece, calling it dry, laborious pushed, unemotional, you identify it. Some suppose that Beethoven’s deafness was a contributing issue. To my ears, its fearsome technical calls for – which the TSO musicians fulfilled splendidly – and its superior harmonics and construction garner huge admiration and respect, if not love.
After the relatively angular Gross Fuge, it’s again to “straightforward listening” once more, with the beautiful Miserere mei by Allegri (1582-1652) bringing the primary half of the live performance to a detailed. The excessive notes – high C, extraordinarily uncommon in early music – are sometimes taken by trebles, however right here splendidly sung by a soprano within the TMC – brava!
Now to the centrepiece of the night. If I could also be allowed to share a little bit of my private expertise – the Mozart was the primary requiem I realized as a sophomore music scholar, extra years in the past than I care to say. It was rapidly adopted by the Brahms and at last the Verdi. To this present day, these are my favorite works of this style, in that order, regardless that I’m an enormous Verdi fan. It’s simply that there’s one thing so human and heartfelt within the Mozart that’s so deeply shifting. That applies to each single efficiency I’ve seen.
Kudos to British conductor Michael Francis for main the TSO so fantastically, with a felicitous mixture of power, ardour, magnificence and elan. He’s additionally an exquisite speaker, his feedback on the music supply the listeners insights in a matter of minutes. Thoughts you, he has an amazing orchestra and choir to work with, to not point out the 4 marvelous soloists. His tempi had been on the brisk aspect, however I favored it – it shouldn’t be too heavy.
And when one has the posh of listening to the calibre of performers like final night’s, it’s bliss. I loved the fluty, centered tone of Jane Archibald, the smooth-as-silk mezzo of Susan Platts, the heart-on-sleeve urgency of the tenor Isaiah Bell, and the requisite gravitas for the bass half, admirably executed by bass-baritone Kevin Deas. And the TMC with its 100+ voices was in its traditional advantageous type. If I sound like I’m gushing slightly, it’s as a result of the artists deserved it. I simply might go once more, if I can.
Three extra performances – January 12 & 14 at 8 pm in Roy Thomson Corridor, and January 15 at 3 pm within the acoustically fantastic George Weston Recital Corridor. www.tso.ca
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