The typical week gathers steam slowly — but not this one.
The Glenn Gould Foundation honours Leonard Cohen at Massey Hall next Monday night with the Glenn Gould Prize. To mark the occasion, the Foundation hosts an art exhibit in the Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place, and has organized live music on downtown streetcorners for this Friday and Saturday, weather permitting. For all the details, click here.
- Organist David Simon at the Church of the Holy Trinity, 12:15 p.m. Free.
Toronto organist David Simon may still be a student at University of Toronto, but he has the organ chops of a seasoned professional, thanks to his years at St. Michael’s Choir School and, by association, working as one of the organists at St. Michael’s Cathedral. He’s stretching the fine concert organ at Church of the Holy Trinity with a meaty lunchtime recital that’s both showy and serious to kick off this year’s Organix organ festival.
Three particular treats on the programme are Master Tallis’s Testament, by Herbert Howells, an opportunity to savour Franz Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H, and an effervescent Rhapsodie by Quebec composer Denis Bédard.
There are more details about Organix coming in a separate post.
Here is the great Gillian Weir performing the Liszt in Denmark:
- Pianist Scott MacIsaac at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, noon. Free.
This promising young Calgarian, now studying at Yale, brings a neat recital programme to the COC’s free lunchtime series, featuring a Sonata by Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 11 and Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 4, in C minor.
- The Canadian Opera Company presents the opening night of George Frideric Handel’s Semele at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m.
The COC is making a big fuss over the production by Chinese artist Huan Zhang, which features a real Ming Dynasty temple on stage, not to mention a party scene with real Sumo wrestlers. But that’s just window dressing on a superb cast led by Nova Scotia soprano Jane Archibald in the title role, as well as Toronto mezzo Alison McHardy as Juno/Ino. The conductor is Renaldo Alessandrini, a master of Baroque-era music.
Performance continue to May 26. You’ll find all the details, and much further reading, here.
Semele’s gorgeous arias include, “Endless pleasure, endless love,” performed here by Rosemary Joshua for the English National Opera in 1997:
WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY
- The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs Gustav Holst’s The Planets at Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m.
Toronto Symphony music director Peter Oundjian has made Gustav Holst’s suite, The Planets, a cornerstone of his orchestra’s repertoire, producing a nice recording of it (available on the in-house TSOlive label) and programming it frequently. Oundjian’s clean, balanced readings of the richly coloured score are a treat.
Complementing the programme is principal clarinet Joaquin Valdepeñas, who takes a turn in the spotlight with American composer John Corigliano’s fiendish Clarinet Concerto, written in the mid-1970s for Stanley Drucker.
For all the details, including a podcast and a special offer on the CD, click here.
- French chamber music for winds at the Four Seasons Centre, noon. Free.
As if members of the COC Orchestra didn’t have enough to do, they’re presenting 20th century French chamber music for wind instruments — with the help of music director Johannes Debus at the piano. A rare treat is Charles Gounod’s Petite Symphonie. Other composers on the programme are Florent Schmitt and Jean Françaix.
FRIDAY & SATURDAY
- Toronto Masque Theatre presents Convent of Pleasure at the Hart House Theatre, University of Toronto. 8 p.m.
In typical fashion, Toronto Masque Theatre founding artistic director Larry Beckwith mixes words and music as Claudio Monteverdi’s 1608 Il ballo delle ingrate (The Ingrates’ Ball) sits side by side with staged excerpts from Margaret Cavendish’s 1668 drama The Convent of Pleasure and Noi siam tre donzellette semplicette (Three Simple Maids Are We) a chamber opera from the 1640s by Luigi Rossi.
The singing cast includes Tafelmusik and Toronto Consort regular, Michelle DeBoer, and Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio alumna Virginia Hatfield. Beckwith leads a period-instrument ensemble from his concertmaster’s desk, and period dance specialist Marie-nathalie Lacoursière is ballet mistress.
For more details and tickets, click here.
Here is La Venexiana performing Ballo delle ingrate:
- Pianist Emanuel Ax at Koerner Hall. 3 p.m.
One of the great sensitive pianists of our time, Amercian Emanuel Ax, usually comes hitched with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, so it’s a particular treat to get him in a solo programme — and not just any old recital, but an afternoon of great music not heard often.
Call it a case of multiple variations — by Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann and Aaron Copland. The whole second half of the programme consists of Schumann’s magnificently challenging Etudes en forme de variations.
This is a must-attend concert for any lover of classical piano music.
For all the details and tickets, click here.
Here are two Mazurkas by Frédéric Chopin, from a vintage Ax recording: