Summer music festivals: Highlights for the week of July 30

The Cecilia String Quartet presents a Toronto Summer Music recital on Wednesday.

The final week of this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival continues its pan-European chamber music journey. Three concerts in particular promise some exceptional musicmaking.

Canada’s Cecilia String Quartet teams up with young pianist Georgy Tchaidze, winner of the 2009 Honens International Piano Competition, in a celebration of oxblood wine-infused music at Walter Hall on Wednesday evening.

The Cecilias released a wonderful all-Dvorák album earlier this year. “Violinists Min-Jeong Koh and Sarah Nematallah, violist Caitlin Boyle and cellist Rachel Desoer achieve that magical balance of poise and passion, dynamic adventure and internal balance,” I wrote about the results, which were recorded at Koerner Hall.

They present Dvorák’s sweet Cypresses alongside Leos Janácek’s String Quartet No. 1, the one inspired by The Kreutzer Sonata, a novella by Leo Tolstoy that was, in turn, inspired by Beethoven’s work for violin and piano.
Tchaidze enters the sonic picture in a performance of Hungarian composer Ernö Dohnányi’s Piano Quintet No. 1.

It’s a programme of emotions earnestly laid out on sleeves, performed by up-and-comers who have become known for their engaging interpretations. The Cecilias and Tchaidze have played together before:

On Thursday and Friday, the Nash Ensemble, who also arrive bearing a very fine new all-Schumann album, will show us what has made them the U.K.’s favourite chamber group.

On the first night, at Koerner Hall, they team up in an all-English programme with Canadian tenor Colin Ainsworth, whose busy international career has kept him away from Toronto for much of the past couple of seasons. The instrumentalists delve into the Phantasie for piano quartet by Frank Bridge (best known these days at Benjamin Britten’s teacher) as well as Edward Elgar’s magnificent and powerful Piano Quintet.

Here is Britain’s Ian Bostridge with an introduction to Vaughan Williams’s powerful song cycle:

And here are four talented young Latvians — the EDMV Quartet — to give us a taste of the Phantasie:

Ainsworth is the cream filling in this whoopie pie, singing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge, arranged for tenor and piano quintet.

Friday night’s recital is an all-French affair at Walter Hall. On the programme are Claude Debussy’s Cello Sonata, Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio and the robust, expansive Piano Quintet by César Franck.

For all the details on these concerts, which begin at 7:30 p.m., click here.


Simone Dinnerstein

Wednesday: I happen to be one of those people who would request a precious day off from work to experience American pianist Simone Dinnerstein’s round-edged way with the keyboard music of J.S. Bach. This is music so carefully and lovingly shaped, it feels as if she is able to turn Bach’s counterpoint into glistening, wet clay. Whether or not you like your Bach sounding like this, its a remarkable experience. She brings two Partitas, one French Suite and one English Suite to Stratford Summer Music’s St Andrew’s Church at 2 p.m. For all the details, click here.

Here is Dinnerstein with the Sarabande from French Suite No. 5:

Thursday: The Elora Festival Singers and director Noel Edison present live the music from their Grammy-nominated album of choral music by American It-Boy composer Eric Whitacre. It’s a great opportunity to hear this impressive professional choir in action, as well as experience the (sometimes superficial) charms of Whitacre’s work. The concert takes place at the choir’s home base, St John’s Church, in Elora, starting at 8 p.m. For all the details, click here.

Saturday: The six-year-old Afiara String Quartet presents music from the core of the repertoire (Beethoven and Dvorák) as well as something new (Dan Becker’s two-year-old Lockdown) at Music Niagara’s main venue, St Mark’s Anglican Church. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information and tickets, click here.

John Terauds


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