Tafelmusik Launches Bold New Season With Tchaikovsky & Mendelssohn On Period Instruments

Tafelmusik Launches Bold New Season With Tchaikovsky & Mendelssohn On Period Instruments

Tafelmusik launches its 2019/20 season with new soundscapes and new repertoire, bringing a sense of creative renewal to the music of the 19th century. Elisa Citterio directs Tafelmusik meets Tchaikovsky, a program that extends Tafelmusik's reach into an era where few period orchestras have gone before - the music of the late romantic Russian composer Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The Serenade for string orchestra, op. 48, is paired with works by Mendelssohn, and Pytor's Dream, a world premiere by Cree composer Andrew Balfour. The opening concerts take place September 19 to 22, 2019, at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre. Full program details are available at tafelmusik.org.

The program opens with three works by Mendelssohn: two youthful string symphonies, as well as the Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream in a new arrangement by Elisa's brother, composer Carlo Citterio.

Though these concerts mark Tafelmusik's first experience with the music of Tchaikovsky, the orchestra is no stranger to 19th-century composers. Tafelmusik has performed and recorded works by Mendelssohn, Schubert, Bellini, Rossini, and Chopin.

"At Tafelmusik, we do our best to perform music as it would have been heard when it was first composed, whether in 1626 or 1880. We also infuse everything we play with inspiration from our experience in the world today. The opening program of our season highlights the brilliance and vigour at the heart of everything Tafelmusik undertakes, including our first-ever foray into the music of Tchaikovsky," said Citterio. "More than 70 years ago, pioneering musicians began the journey of rediscovering original instruments. Without them, we would not be here today, and we wouldn't have rediscovered thousands of amazing old scores. This spirit of creative renewal has paved the way for us to play Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and now also Tchaikovsky with freshness and vitality, while respecting the original scores and the sonorities of instruments at the time when the compositions were first drafted."

To prepare for the Tchaikovsky Serenade, Tafelmusik's string players will take part in an intensive workshop led by a specialist in 19th-century performance practise, cellist Kate Bennett Wadsworth, who will also join the orchestra for these concerts.

"We're beginning this artistic adventure with workshops to help the whole orchestra to get comfortable with a style that is new and, for some, downright bizarre. We hope that Toronto audiences will join with us in the spirit of adventure that has guided our work. We don't exactly know what will happen next; that is part of the magic," said Bennett Wadsworth.

For his first Tafelmusik commission, composer Andrew Balfour draws upon his background in early music as a choral singer and his great love for Russian classical romanticism. Pyotr's Dream is based on Tchaikovsky's 1878 choral work Hymn of the Cherubim, taken from the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

"Considered one of the most celebrated of the Eucharistic services of the Eastern Orthodox Church, it suggests a certain romantic ritualistic protocol which is familiar to me as the son of an Anglican priest," says Balfour. "Pyotr's Dream expands beyond the particular beauty of choral music in church and embraces an appreciation of music as a spiritual truth. The period strings lend themselves to a singing tone and help create a heightened sense of spirituality that is a universal beyond any church, religion, or ritual.

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