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An amiable workout

Roy Thomson Hall
02/21/2018 -  & February 22, 2018
Antonín Dvorák: Cello Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 104
György Ligeti: Concert Românesc
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60

Johannes Moser (cello)
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Gustavo Gimeno (conductor)

J. Moser &. G. Gimeno (© Jag Gundu)

Aside from an attractive program, this program featured the local debut of 41-year-old Valencian Gustavo Gimeno, music director of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra. As the TSO seeks a new music director, any visitor is assumed to be under consideration. So: how did it go?

The concert opened with Dvorák’s evergreen Cello Concerto given a wonderfully well-integrated performance with the orchestral part intertwining expressively with the cellist. Johannes Moser maintained a glowing, singing tone throughout, with total avoidance of the grinding sound that can result when a player overdoes it. The descriptive that came to my mind was “princely” (an he is from musical royalty - his German father is from a distinguished musical family and his mother is cherished Canadian soprano Edith Wiens).

Mr. Moser then treated us to an encore, the Sarabande from J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.

György Ligeti’s Concert Românesc turned out to be an enjoyable curiosity composed in 1951 before Ligeti left Hungary and developed himself into the Ligeti we know today. The 12-minute work makes use of Romanian folk tunes as well as original material inspired by village band music. It opens with a subdued Andantino followed by a bouncing Allegro vivace that bears a cousinly resemblance to Zoltán Kodály’s Háry János Suite. It ends with a giddy Molto vivace. Imagine! - a Ligeti piece that could work at a pops concert.

The concert closed with a finely controlled performance of Beethoven’s 4th Symphony, crisp, well-defined with the orchestra displaying a relaxed suppleness. It was as if the orchestra and conductor were old friends getting together for an invigorating, good-humoured workout with an old favourite.

Michael Johnson



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