We went to the TSO at Roy Thompson Hall last night. It’s been awhile since we’ve gone (only went once last season and this was the first time this season). I had scanned the season calendar in September and this one wasn’t on my list to attend, but we went because some of our friends were also going. I’m glad we went because it was pretty good and fun!

The theme of this concert was music from the Classical period (so Mozart and Beethoven). When the conductor, Edwin Outwater, came on stage, he spent a few minutes discussing why he put this programme together. He said that in the Classical time period, instead of the Overture-Concerto-Symphony format that we hear today, there would be a symphony split into two parts; then in the middle there would be a “variety show” of random pieces (and even single movements from concertos). That’s what we ended up hearing, with Hayden’s Military symphony split into two by a couple of pieces and an intermission.

I enjoyed the soloists more than the symphony itself. Beethoven’s Romance No. 2 performed by Marc Djokic was a bit hesitant at the beginning by was played beautifully. Nowadays, we marvel a lot at technical prowness and sheer difficulty of pieces but this Romance was the opposite of this. It did not seem like a difficult piece, but the elegance shines through. The Romantic period is known for its lyrical and emotional pieces, but I still enjoy the form and structure imposed in the Classical period as well as Beethoven’s transitional style.

Next up was the third movement of Beethoven’s 1st piano concerto. We lucked out this time as we got great seats (right beside stage on left side) and had a perfect view of the pianist. Although I would say that we were too close and couldn’t really see that much since the pianist’s body blocked us. I didn’t like Alexander Seredenko’s interpretation of this though. I felt the tempo was too fast, although he was technically capable of the speed. Although, perhaps it is because I am used to a slower recording of this piece. I also didn’t like his interpretation on some of themes as it felt that he was trying to make the piece more dramatic than it should be given its playful nature and Classical period setting.

After the intermission, there were two pieces from operas by Mozart featuring the sorprano Layla Claire. I was pleasantly surprised by these and enjoyed them (especially after a horrific Opera experience). From our vantage point, we could she that she really got into the music. She looked as though she was going to cry before Ruhe sanf and was extremely happy before Alleluja. There was also a piece by Mozart for English Horn, which was incomplete at his death. The soloist, Cary Ebli, came out beforehand to give some history about it and although I couldn’t hear/understand some of it, was pretty entertaining. Unfortunately, while the sound of the Cor Anglais was interesting, it is pieces like these which turn me off of listening to 96.3.

This was a memorable concert as the pieces were good and the conductor Outwater spent a fair amount of time discussing the performances before doing them. I think he did a great job engaging the audience and made it fun and enjoyable.