Toronto Symphony Orchestra – The Theme of Shakespeare

Toronto Symphony Orchestra – The Theme of Shakespeare featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Music by Tchaikovsky, Walton and Kuzmenko (World Premiere)
Conducted by Peter Oundjian
Featuring actor Christopher Plummer, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Toronto Children’s Chorus
Sept. 22 and 24, 2011

You’re in a theatre and everything on stage is magic because it touches the heart and the soul. Such a concert was the opening of the Toronto Symphony’s 90th season.

The theme was Shakespeare.

The main event was William Walton’s music for the 1944 film Henry V. The arrangement by Christopher Palmer featured episodes of Shakespeare’s text performed by Christopher Plummer, and vocalise for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Children’s Chorus.

Plummer’s chair was in the orchestra. He was another instrument, and his magnificent voice worked wonderfully with the stirring music. His “Once more into the breach” speech sent chills down the spine.

Composer Larysa Kuzmenko’s impressive world premiere, Behold the Night, set speeches from the Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the TSO and children’s chorus. Neo-romantic in style, it captured the charm of fairyland.

Gilding the lily was Tchaikovsky’s lush Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.

Throughout these pieces, conductor Peter Oundjian, as always, served the composers with finesse.

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