MRDe-music Review: The Hearer of the Music
1. The Fellowship(?) of the Critics

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra
f. Andrey Boreyko (guest conductor)
and Maxim Vengerov (violin)

May. 31 2006 (Wed.) 8 pm
Roy Thomson Hall

Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1, op. 99
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10, op. 93

This review grew in the telling ... which is a lie. I'm only writing it because I'm otherwise likely to totally and completely waste my time. Writing this means I'm merely misusung it.

An author can of course be wholly unaffected by its experience ... if it has a lobotomy. Directly unaffected by the shadow of war, but living in the shadow of some world-wide BS, but the country in which I lived in childhood ... I'll stop now, to avoid any political reference.

This latest edition is unlikely to ever be re-set. So there.

Prologue: Concerning Music
This review is largely concerned with music and the composers thereof. Skip this and get to the review if you bore easily.

Music was first created when a caveperson named Uggg grunted some non-symbolic noises. Oggg rather enjoyed it and signified (using a series of symbolic noises designed to convey specific meanings) that if Uggg came back to Oggg's cave and attracted people to stay long enough to trade Oggg dead animals for a chance to drink the funny berry juice Oggg made by leaving the juice out in the sun because Uggg's non-symbolicgrunting made them do so, Oggg would give Uggg some dead animals too. Also, Annn started to hang around Uggg shortly thereafter and doled out sexual favours, and others tried to emulate Uggg so that others like Annn would also dole them out sexual favours. One of those who emulated Uggg, named Argh, decided that non-symbolic noise could be more meaningful, scorned the trade of dead animals in return for getting people to drink interesting juices, and believed that the tribal council should fund deeper exploration of this practice by giving its practioners dead animals culled from a store of said corpses to ensure survival in the winters.

Long story short, Uggg became addicted to Oggg's juice and died young (at 18, instead of the average 20), Annn took up with many groups who performed non-symbolic noise making. New diseases took hold in the noise making community, of whom many had cold sores and depedencies on sun-baked fruit juices. The followers of Argh got less cold sores, made increasing long non-symbolic collections of noises, and spent lots of time string together lots of symbolic noises to explain what the non-symbolic ones were about and why they were so important.

Nothing much has changed since.

Chapter 1: A Totally Predictable Anniversary
When the Toronto Symphony announced performances celebrating Shostakovich's four score and eleven-ninth birthday in 2006 who knows what there was in Toronto.

"It will have to be paid for," cynics said, "and probably out of our taxes, and trouble will come of it."

Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Satifsfactory
And trouble, to my ear, seemed to come on the evening of May 31 2006 ... I'm not convinced the orchestra woke up until the third movement of part one of the evening's entertainment, Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 ... although some of my "fellow" Toronto reviewers don't think the same way.

Chapter 3: A Performance Unmasked
There was really nothing to fault in the performance: Maxim Vengerov played well, accurately and passionately, holding his own against the orchestra's volume of sound where required. The orchestra was neat, precise ... the harp and celesta worked their required magic early on. However, the performance didn't take fire in the first movement, although the high-velocity second movement did get things going a bit more.

Chapter 4: Flight to the Finale
Everyone onstage seemed to come together for the passacaglia in the third movement; nice to see that an ancient form can yeild such a strong and timeless structural backbone to a piece. The final movement got the house excited, and well it should of.

Chapter 1: Many Movements
Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony, by contrast, was played with what seemed to be much more verve and fire by the orchestra.

Chapter 2: The Council of Metal Tubes
As usual, the brass filled the hall when required ... I can never fail to compliment this orchestra's brass players.

Chapter 3: Farewell to the Show
The performance gave me much to mull over, reflect on ... at least I mulled over and reflected on Shostakovich's methods and manners as a composer, but such long-winded discussions will not be had here. I left those for the foreward/prologue, just to ensure the form of this review was weird, weighted down at the beginning and end, but fast paced and taut in the middle sections.

Here ends the first part of the history of the Music-hearer going to concerts in Toronto in late May and early June 2006.

The second part is called THE TWO HALLS, since the events recounted contrast the audience at ROY THOMSON HALL, the citadel of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the audience at the ST. LAWRENCE CENTER FOR THE ARTS, dominated by events such as the Esprit Orchestra's 2006 season finale, the musical Hair, the comedy troupe The Frantics, and Miss Latino World (none of these should be missed!)

The third part tells of hearing the same damn symphony as in the first part again, and the end of the mission of the Music-Hearer in THE RETURN OF THE TENTH.

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