Feb. 27: Toronto classical concert highlights for the next seven days


MONDAY

This is typically a quiet night, but, this week, there are two fine choices within six blocks of each other:

University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music presents one of its own, pianist Henri-Paul Sicsic, in an all-Beethoven programme: the 15 “Eroica” Variations and fugue in E-flat major, Op. 35, the Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110, and both the Op. 33 and Op. 126 Bagatelles.

Besides teaching, Sicsic gives master classes and performances elsewhere in the world, but he rarely does anything outside the university in Toronto, even though he has been here for nearly five years.

For more concert and ticket details, click here.

Here is a French art video Sicsic collaborated on last year. It has nothing to do with his recital, but it’s an interesting collaboration between music and moving pictures:

Four fine members of the Toronto Symphony’s strings — assistant concertmaster Itsuko Kimura, violinist Angelique Toews, violist Christopher Redfield and cellist Roberta Janzen — have prepared a rich chamber music programme of first string quartets by great nationalist composers Edvard Grieg and Bedrich Smetana.

Given the quality of the musicians, the programme, the intimate venue and the $20 tickets (at the door), you really can’t go wrong.

TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY

The Zagreb Piano Trio: violinist Martin Drausnik, Pavle Zajcev, cello, and pianist Danijel Detoni

  • The Zagreb Piano Trio at Gallery 345, Tuesday at 8 p.m. At the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Wednesday at noon.

The members of the Zagreb Piano Trio were teens when they came together in 1997. They are making their first Canadian tour, ow that they’re all grown up — personally as well as artistically. And it includes two Toronto gigs.

The first, at Gallery 345 on Tuesday, is a cleverly layered programme that interweaves contemporary works (by Torontonian Michael Pepa, founder of Les Amis Concerts, and Croat Berslav Sipus) with two great 20th century trios by Maurice Ravel and Dmitri Shostakovich (No. 2, in E minor, Op. 67).

For more information and tickets, click here.

The second gig, a free, hour-long lunchtime concert at the Four Seasons Centre, doesn’t include the Shostakovich trio.

THURSDAY

Wallis Giunta

  • Mezzo Wallis Giunta with pianist Steven Philcox at the Jane Mallett Theatre, 8 p.m.

Ottawa-born mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta has become a hot commodity less than three years after graduating from the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould Professional School. She jumped straight from the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio to the Metropolitan Opera’s young artist development program this season, and has been singing elsewhere whenever her schedule allows.

Music Toronto is giving Torontonians an opportunity to see how she is coming along, in a song recital accompanied by her former COC répétiteur (now University of Toronto professor) Steven Philcox.

Giunta adds further interest to her recital by débuting a new song cycle Rufus Wainwright has written in memory of his mother, the late Kate McGarrigle. Music Toronto also promises traditional Irish folk fare, a spot of Noël Coward, as well as art songs by Britten, Purcell, Niles, Barber, Musto and Bolcom.

For more details and tickets, click here.

Even though mezzos sing a lot of trouser roles, Giunta reached for some nice female couture to sing Urbain’s aria from Les Huguenots, by Giacomo Meyerbeer in this recital for Bavarian radio with pianist Tobias Truniger, last fall:

And here are Giunta and Wilcox performing My Lover is a Farmer Lad, by John Jacob Niles, at the AGO last spring:

FRIDAY

So Percussion

  • So Percussion celebrates the 100 anniversary of John Cage’s birth at Koerner Hall, 8 p.m.

In August, it will be 20 years since the death of American composer John Cage and, a few weeks later, fans of new music will celebrate his centenary. Among the fine many Cage matches we’re likely to witness between now and then is this concert by new York City-based Cage masters So Percussion (with other guests), who are here under the auspices of Soundstreams.

The concert will include not a moment of silence, but 4 minutes and 33 seconds’ worth.

For more details and tickets, click here.

Here are the members of So Percussion having fun with Cage’s Third Construction:

SATURDAY

Luanda Jones

  • Art of Time Ensemble at Koerner Hall, 8 p.m.

Andrew Burashko’s Art of Time Ensemble’s Brazilian show was such a smash that they decided to organize a one-night-only reprise at Koerner Hall this season. The show, which, typically for the group, crosses genre boundaries, features two fabulous singers: classical soprano Shannon Mercer, fresh from limbering up her voice in Beckett, Feck It!, and jazz singer Luanda Jones.

Backup comes from an all-star collection of Torontonians from all musical walks, and the programme itself is a rich quaff that includes music by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Carlos Jobim.

Here is Jones in action at Lula Lounge, last fall:

And, here, in something completely different, is Mercer singing “Non so se quel sorriso,” by Francesca Caccini, from her fabulous 2010 album, O Viva Rosa, from Analekta. Her collaborators are harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour, lute player Sylvain Bergeron, and cellist Amanda Keesmaat:

SUNDAY

Ian Bostridge (Eamonn McCabe photo for the Guardian)

  • Tenor Ian Bostridge with pianist Julius Drake at Koerner Hall, 3 p.m.

It’s tempting to call Ian Bostridge the finest lyric tenor in the English-speaking world, and the solo recital is definitely the best way to savour the subtlety of his rich craft. It helps that he has one of the great accompanists, Julius Drake, on hand to help.

They present a very serious Lieder programme divided between Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms.

For more details and tickets, click here.

Here are Bostridge and Drake performing “Meerfahrt,” a Brahms song not on the Koerner Hall programme, at the Bimhuis Amsterdam last week:

John Terauds

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