Thursday, April 14, 2016

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Thursday, March 31 2016

Taken before performance
On Thursday, March 31, John and I spent a pleasant afternoon at the Roy Thomson Hall listening to a concert by the Victoria Symphony, from British Columbia. The conductor is Tania Miller. I seemed to me her style is deeply emotional, and her feeling for the music is extreme.

The concert began with a world premier performance of a piece by Michael Oesterie, Entr'actes. A modern piece, it displayed the differences between earlier classical music and that of the present. The harmonies are different, and there is a different idea of melodies. I enjoyed it, and was delighted that it had been chosen to begin the concert.

The second piece was the Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op.16, by Edvard Grieg. The piano soloist was Stewart Goodyear, and he was outstanding. This is such a popular piece, it was a joy to hear, and Goodyear commanded the orchestra with his performance. He also commanded the audience and received a standing ovation.

After the Intermission, we were treated to Appalachian Spring (1945 orchestration), by Aaron Copeland. This piece was originally commissioned as a ballet with an American theme and first performed in 1944. Later, Copeland was commissioned to rearrange the music as an orchestral piece, and it was performed in 1945. This performance here in Toronto was very interesting.

The final piece was Suite from The Firebird (1919 revision), by the Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky. I have heard and seen this piece as a ballet, performed in London, England. The ballet was originally commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev of the then 28-year-old Stravinsky. Diaghilev was in the process of introducing Russian music and art to western audiences, and the music was intended to introduce new works of a distinctly 20th century style. The folk story of the magical glowing bird that can be both a blessing and a curse to its owner has been woven into a story around the Firebird and the evil magician Koschei. When premiered by the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1910, it was a huge success. The music was considered very modern, and created a sensation. To anyone, even today, brought up on Beethoven and Mozart, it sounds very different from either the Classical or Romantic periods of western art music.

The orchestra received a standing ovation from an audience that had appreciated their efforts. I found it interesting to hear once again, how different orchestras and conductors are from each other.

No comments: