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More Labadie magic with Mozart

Koerner Hall
01/18/2017 -  & January 20, 2017
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Overture to Lucio Silla, K. 135 – Violin Concertos No. 3 in G Major, K. 216, & No. 1 in B-flat Major, K. 207 – Symphony No. 38 in D. Major, K. 504 “Prague”
Isabelle Faust (violin)
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Bernard Labadie (conductor)

I. Faust & B. Labadie (© Jag Gundu)

The TSO’s Mozart Festival (Mozart@261) wrapped up with a pair of concerts featuring violinist Isabelle Faust and guest conductor Bernard Labadie.

This was Ms. Faust’s debut with the TSO, although not her Koerner Hall debut. A few seasons back, she appeared with pianist Alexander Melnikov performing sonatas by Beethoven. The rapport between the two was remarkable (to say the least), and this appearance with the TSO’s Mozart-size ensemble was every bit as amenable. Maestro Labadie does not use a baton and his hand gestures create a sculptural effect. The violinist’s approach was totally in keeping, with sensitive legato giving way sparkling cadenzas and dramatic thrust when required as in the contradanse episode in the final movement of K. 216.

The opening piece, the overture to Lucio Silla, with its three distinct movements, came across as a miniature symphony with a bracing conclusion. The “Prague” Symphony that ended the program saw the orchestra expanded to about 50 players. It was marvelous to watch Labadie’s self-effacing style result in so much musical drama that looks forward to Don Giovanni, and beyond to Beethoven and Schubert.

It is great to see Bernard Labadie’s ongoing recovery from the devastating illness that sidelined him for much of 2014 and 2015. He conducts while seated but his current sojourn in Toronto also has him conducting the 12-performance run of Die Zauberflöte for the Canadian Opera Company in addition to the two sets of concerts with the TSO.

The festival’s relocation to Koerner Hall has been a terrific success. Next year (Mozart@262) it will feature concerts in both Roy Thomson Hall and Koerner Hall, as well as the George Weston Recital Hall. Bernard Labadie will share conducting duties with Peter Oundjian in his final season as TSO Music Director.

Michael Johnson



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