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Two exciting debuts

Roy Thomson Hall
10/04/2018 -  & October 5*, 2018
Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp Minor

Javier Perianes (piano)
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Han-Na Chang (conductor)

H.-N. Chang (© Nick Wons)

There isn’t much to say about this concert except that everything fell into place to an extraordinary degree. Both conductor and pianist were performing with the TSO for the first time. The whip-crack that begins the Ravel concerto could have had a more aggressive sound, but what ensued showed both conductor and pianist working as one, with the contrasts of light and shade emerging well. Mr. Perianes’ approach was a bit on the introverted side, a risky approach in such a large hall, but the audience responded enthusiastically. There was even an encore, a feather-light performance of a Chopin mazurka.

The Korean-born Ms. Chang, now 36, established herself as a cellist but has moved into conducting (as did her teacher, Mstislav Rostropovich) and is now music director of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway. I never saw her play the cello, but judging from her conducting style, I can imagine she was compelling. She conducts from the solar plexis, and the results in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony were riveting from start to finish. There is no need for a detailed description. A major plus, of course, is that the orchestra is in great shape these days.

Let’s hope both artists return soon.

Michael Johnson



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