Toronto, Ontario, Canada

23rd Season

Brahms (Note: rescheduled)

The September 20 presentation on “The Brilliance of Brahms” will consist of pieces for the piano, the orchestra, chamber groups, and compositions for the voice. The focus will be on Brahms’ ability to bring out the best in what he wrote for. There may be pieces you have not heard before which is fully intentional. Despite the variety of what Brahms wrote, there is always a Brahmsian thread that connects all the dots. The music is unmistakably Brahms. Could it be a hint of melancholy? Dissonance? Familiar chords? Come and find out either for the first time or as a seasoned classical music lover.

Reproducing the music on the September 20th session will be an upgraded sound system consisting of a self-assembled tube digital to analog converter (DAC), new tubes for the amplifier and a new CD player. We will also have an opportunity to compare the built-in DAC that came with the CD player with the outboard DAC.



Gerald Finley, baritone

For a number of years now I have been an unashamedly devoted fan of this outstanding Canadian baritone. The incredible range of his repertoire (from Handel to John Adams) and the sensuous warmth of his baritone has attracted me and I’ve been fanatically collecting his recordings for some time. My program will sample a few of the award-winning performances on CD and DVD in repertoire ranging from Schumann lieder to contemporary opera of this artist who has been called “one of the leading singers and dramatic interpreters of his generation”.



Mendelssohn: 200 Years on the Wings of Song

It is hard to believe that the music of a composer so beloved today could actually have had a period of decline; but that is the way of the classical music world when it comes to changing tastes and appreciation. In the short space of time between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the music of Felix Mendelssohn, which had once had a place in every Victorian parlour, became “old-fashioned” and “out of touch”. This was primarily due to the anti-Semitism of the period but also because of the perception of Mendelssohn as a conservative and unadventuresome composer at a time when Wagner, Liszt, and Berlioz were blazing sensuous new trails. However, as with other matters of culture, the pendulum swings back and today the melodic gifts and lyrical beauty of his works still delight us and he is being re-evaluated as a creative “original” of the early 19th century.

The program will feature excerpts from several works for which he is most known — his violin concerto and symphonies — as well as some items which may not be so familiar — lieder, concert arias, and chamber music. A highlight will be a DVD excerpt from a bicentennial commemorative concert by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the very ensemble which Mendelssohn conducted beginning in 1835.



Christmas Party

Each year, the Classical Music Club Toronto holds a Christmas party for members and their guests. We hold the party to a FRIDAY night because Saturdays in December tend to be fully booked for many of the Classical Music Club Toronto members.



Orientalism in music

Note the later starting time!

The European world's fascination with the East goes back to the Middle Ages. Until the late 15th century the contacts between Europe and the East were limited mainly to the Middle East and Islamic world, but with the great voyages of discovery and the reestablishment of the vast colonial empires, these contacts became more extensive as did the influence of the East on Western art. At first, these were just depictions of the Orient owing more to the imagination of the artist than actual reality and, musically speaking, just brief quotations with oriental flavour. But, by the 19th century the influence of the East became much more profound. In painting, Japanese art become one of the main influences in the development of the Impressionist style. In music, both Russian and French composers incorporated elements of Eastern music to form a completely new language. I will present a few representative works that exemplify Orientalism in music.



Sibelius symphony cycle

Although probably best known for his composition Finlandia, a larger view of Jean Sibleius’ works reveals him to be one of the greatest composers of symphonic music. Although often ranked with the Romantics, Impressionists, and Nationalists, it only takes a few moments of hearing any of his seven symphonies to be immediately impressed by his outstanding originality and innovative use of tonal colour.

Although probably best known for his composition Finlandia, a larger view of Jean Sibleius’ works reveals him to be one of the greatest composers of symphonic music. Although often ranked with the Romantics, Impressionists, and Nationalists, it only takes a few moments of hearing any of his seven symphonies to be immediately impressed by his outstanding originality and innovative use of tonal colour.

In a reminiscence of the composer, Leopold Stokowski spoke of “the voices of people” and the “fantastic cries of Nature” that the Second Symphony evoked. The program will explore briefly each of the symphonies as well as some of his other orchestral music. For contrast, we will also investigate some lesser-known areas – songs, piano music, and chamber music.

Robert L. Jones, in a brief biographical sketch, writes: “In Sibelius’ music, one reaches the heights of ecstasy and descends to the depths of fear. Sibelius speaks in a tonal language that is the voice of Finland itself: aloof, solitary, and cold. Paradoxically, it also speaks for the aspirations of the Finnish people — proudly, triumphantly, rebelliously. It is impossible to enter the bleak, yet fascinating, landscape of Sibelius’ music and then leave.”



Tudor Queens of Bel Canto

In the 1950s the long-abandoned Bel Canto operas by Bellini and Donizetti were revived by such specially talented singers as Callas and Sutherland, and conductors such as Serafin, Gavazzeni and Bonynge. Now in the 21st century, it seems that the directors are finding new dramas in those operas once thought old-fashioned.

It is hard to satisfy everyone by offering all the opera queens' dream singers, but we will try to display the Tudor Queens, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, and Mary Stewart, woven into the operas composed by Donizetti and Rossini ,and sung by the Divas you worship.



Mahler's Symphony No. 7

The late Klaus Tennstedt is famous for the explosive energy he brought to his live recordings. One of the most exciting CDs released after his death was Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 in 2007 on the BBC Legends label. This 1980 recording captures Tennstedt conducting like a mad scientist on the podium in Edinburgh. What energy expanding from grotesque distortion to soaring passion! In addition to this new release, two more recordings of the same piece with the same orchestra (London Philharmonic) are available now: a 1980 studio recording and a live 1993 recording from London’s Royal Festival Hall. In comparing these three, we will be able to examine the essence of Mahler’s genius and the unique talent of Tennstedt.



Obbligato - The Joy of Partnership

Obbligato, an Italian word originally meaning “obligatory”, was used as a musical term to describe a musical line that is in some way indispensable in performance. Throughout history the meaning has been developed, misunderstood, and altered... Putting the academic lesson aside, I would like to gather samples of pieces we would now call “vocal pieces with instrumental obbligato”. In this sense the obbligato is an important, semi-solo role, not an accompaniment, and also an additional character performed by various solo instruments such as violin, piano, horn, and clarinet. When the obbligato appears in a solo vocal piece it suddenly becomes a mysterious duet in which some kind of relationship between voice and instrument can be more internally intimate than between two voices in a regular duet. The voice dances with, circles around the partnering melody line. Approaching and parting, two characters exchange glances and caress each other. Let’s embrace the joy of partnership!





Chopin in the 21st Century, Part I

Celebrating the 200th birthday of this master of compositions for piano.

For the bicentennial of Frederick Chopin (1810-1849), his piano concerti have been programmed lately in orchestral concert scenes all over the world. All-Chopin piano recital programs are everywhere. Building towards this anniversary in the last ten years a large number of new recordings have been appearing. Familiar and fresh talents are carving out a new portrait of one of the most familiar composers and the CMC's new series will explore their discoveries. For Part 1 of the series, we will look into one evident characteristic of this phenomenon: the active Asian pianists from such countries as China and Korea in the Chopin repertoire. What is new for them to say?


SunJul4All day

Pride Day CMC Booth

Drop by our club´s booth on Pride Day, July 4, 2010

We´re with the community organisations

Club members will be there to answer your questions

And we will have some previously enjoyed CDs for sale.

Pride Toronto Official Web site





Wagner’s Ring Cycle - Das Rheingold & Die Walküre

The Classical Music Club Toronto offers you its first presentation of the entire Ring Cycle by Richard Wagner on Blu-ray Disc!

This provocative RING is from The Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts (Valencian: Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Spanish: Palacio de las Artes Reina Sofía), a spectacular new opera house in Valencia which opened in 2006 as the completion piece of Santiago Calatrava’s cultural complex The City of Arts and Sciences. Mirroring the building’s state of the art look, the production lives up to its own reputation as “a RING for the 21st century”.

The Spanish performance group Fura del Baus and its leader Carlus Padrissa extract from Wagner's score spectacular images, utilizing massive scenery pieces, cranes for individual singers, real water, massive groups of dancers, and extremely elaborate super high definition computer graphics. All the technology and craftsmanship brought into play here is stretched to the limit to contribute fascinating, moving results.

The orchestra playing, conducted by Zubin Mehta, is so fabulous. Along with the strong singing, such as that by Lance Ryan (a Canadian Siegfried!), Jennifer Wilson (Brünnhilde), and Juha Uusitalo (Wotan), the musical achievement in this production never shines less than the visual triumph. Neither betrays the other!

We will have a very unusual schedule of four evenings over two weekends. Please do not feel obligated to attend this Ring in its absolute entirety. To celebrate the start of the Cycle, following Das Rheingold, let�s plan on going out to dinner immediately afterwards. There are plenty of interesting, reasonably-priced restaurants in the neighbourhood. Following Act 1 of each of Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung there will be a dinner break. Let's enjoy pot-luck, so please bring your share!






Wagner’s Ring Cycle - Siegfried & Die Götterdämmerung

The concluding two operas of the cycle.



Bring Your Own Recording

Bring one or two selections of up to ten minutes duration to share with the other club members.


Past Years:

Last Updated: Sunday October 1, 2023 at 1:56 pm