Recent News
12.09.16
Colin Currie
A striking performance from percussionist Colin Currie
Boston Globe
12.08.16
Colin Currie
Colin Currie brings probing mind and energetic technique to Pickman Hall
Boston Classical Review
12.08.16
Shai Wosner
Beethoven: Complete Cello Sonatas and Variations CD review – here's how to make Beethoven's huge structures work
The Guardian
12.06.16
Johannes Debus, Patricia Racette
A riveting Racette ignites in Met’s “Salome”
New York Classical Review
12.06.16
Wynton Marsalis, James Conlon, Giancarlo Guerrero, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Eric Jacobsen, Mariss Jansons, Ludovic Morlot, David Robertson, Gene Scheer, Gil Shaham, Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, Mason Bates, Silk Road Ensemble , Nashville Symphony , St. Louis Symphony Orchestra , The Knights , Patti LuPone, Georgia Jarman, Ian Bostridge, Nathan Gunn, Thomas Hampson, Lucas Meachem, Luca Pisaroni
2017 Grammy Nominees
Grammy Awards
12.05.16
JoAnn Falletta
How the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Hit Its Stride
New York State of Opportunity
12.04.16
Colin Currie
Colin Currie provides the highlight in New World’s program of contemporary German music
South Florida Classical Review
12.01.16
Voces8
Review: VOCES8's "Winter"
Gramophone
11.30.16
Shai Wosner
Review: Shai Wosner's Haydn/Ligeti
FanFare
11.28.16
The TEN Tenors
The TEN Tenors Launch Holiday Tour, Support St Jude Children’s Hospital

News archive »

For drama, Tovey heads to the bar; Visiting conductor showcases trumpet concerto

12.03.09
Bramwell Tovey
Globe and Mail

By Robert Everett-Green

Composers often fret about how conductors will handle their music, especially when rehearsal time is short (as it usually is for new works). No worries on that point for Bramwell Tovey, who led the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in two of his own pieces on Wednesday, including a premiere.

Tovey's new commissioned trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon , borrowed a scenic idea and some musical material from The Inventor , an opera he is writing with John Murrell for Calgary Opera. Tovey, who is music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, invited us to imagine ourselves in a 19th-century New York bar, and gave us the option of hearing sketches of its inhabitants in the piece's 12 variations on a theme.

The theme was an expansive, hot-house affair that spread itself across violas and cellos at the start, bobbed up in fragments throughout the piece, and reassembled itself later on. Tovey's zesty variations exploited the colours of a large orchestra and four solo instruments: C and piccolo trumpets, cornet and flugelhorn, all played by TSO principal Andrew McCandless.

There was a Spanish-sounding variation for flugelhorn, a polytonal waltz led by the woodwinds, some soft-footed jazz for a section with muted trumpet, and a Gallic flavour to much else. The solo part, by turns brilliant and reflective, felt less like a protagonist than a privileged observer, presented by McCandless with flair and sensitivity.

Tovey is fond of regular strophic phrases and American rhythms, and apparently sympathetic to the eclectic, evocative symphonic writing of the best Hollywood composers of the forties. These traits recurred in Urban Runway , a brief orchestral work related (said Tovey) to the diversity and playfulness of runway couture. This effervescent entertainment featured some high-kicking music led by the brass, a sentimental melody for violas, a bit of fugal business for woodwinds and a stubbornly recurrent idée fixe for marimba and piano. Both pieces showed a strong theatrical sense, which bodes well for Tovey's opera, which opens in Calgary in January, 2011.