Tarrodi: Paradisfåglar II (Birds of Paradise II); Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1, Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique. Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Dalia Stasevska conducting; Sergei Babayan, piano. November 23, 2022, Roy Thomson Corridor, Toronto. Tickets right here.
Orchestral programming is a science. When the company are newcomers — like conductor Dalia Stasevska and pianist Sergei Babayan — the Toronto Symphony Orchestra compensates with sure-selling Tchaikovsky. The method drew a wholesome crowd on Wednesday to Roy Thomson Corridor, even when the outcomes weren’t all the things they could have been.
First, it ought to be pressured that the orchestra sounded on the prime of its recreation within the Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique,” and that Stasevska was very a lot a part of the sonic success. A compact and energetic determine armed with what seemed like an extended baton, this Ukrainian-born Finn beats time clearly, judges instrumental balances to perfection, and dictates a variety of dynamic results.
Each the bassoon originally of the primary motion and the clarinet close to the top projected the requisite quiet melancholy. Strings had been burnished, and fortissimo outbursts had focus. It was attention-grabbing to see the conductor drop her arms and stay immobile by a lot of the central part of the Allegro con grazia second motion. This world-weary music, with its regular timpani tread, wants no cajoling from the rostrum.
Different passages do want consideration, and Stasevska typically appeared impatient with the pathos this rating embodies like few others. Phrases had been neatly groomed within the well-known Adagio lamentoso finale, however the feeling was, paradoxically, of an enthusiastic rush towards a tragic conclusion. Stasevska is in her late thirties. She would possibly take a look at the symphony otherwise in a decade or two.
There was applause after the martial third motion, an illustration that enhances the irony of what follows. Clapping advanced slowly after the ultimate fadeout. The orchestra declined to face for one of many curtain calls, a gesture denoting distinctive approval of the conductor.
Earlier than intermission, we heard the Piano Concerto No. 1, a piece that usually depends on the bravura of the soloist for its success in efficiency. Babayan was at his most alluring within the Andantino semplice sluggish motion, with sympathetic help from Stasevska (who elsewhere was extra aggressive). The Armenian-American’s fondness for rubato was noteworthy additionally within the dreamy solo interludes of the primary motion. As for the loud-and-fast stuff, it sounded slapdash, to not say peppered within the opening minutes with improper notes. We have now heard higher renderings of this warhorse.
This system started with Paradisfåglar II (Birds of Paradise II) by Sweden’s Andrea Tarrodi, an eight-minute piece impressed by a BBC documentary on the unique birds of the title. The evocatively symphonic opening led to an array of cheeps, toots, and tremolos. It was onerous at instances to attach the weird sounds to the devices that produced them. Stasevska knew the music totally. The TSO responded just like the virtuoso ensemble it’s.
There are repeat performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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