Toronto Mendelssohn Choir At its Estimable Finest In Verdi Requiem

L-R (clockwise): Conductor Jean-Sébastien Vallée; Rose Naggar-Tremblay, Andrew Haji, Teiya Kasahara, Geoffrey Sirett (Photos courtesy of The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir)

Verdi: Messa da Requiem / Teiya Kasahara, sop., Rose Naggar-Tremblay, mezz., Andrew Haji, ten., Geoffrey Sirett, bar. / Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Jean-Sébastien Vallée, conductor / George Weston Recital Corridor, April 27, 2024. Repeats April 30 at Koerner Corridor; tickets right here.

The common 2023-24 season of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir drew to a wonderful shut with the primary of two performances of the Verdi Requiem final Sunday. Particular Notice: For many who can’t wait till subsequent season, there’s a free neighborhood live performance (registration required) that’s a part of TMC’s fifteenth annual Choral Conducting Symposium, the place six younger conductors will take activates the rostrum, after finishing a sequence of masterclasses beneath the management of TMC’s Conductor Jean-Sébastien Vallée (extra data right here).

Now again to the topic at hand. It’s typically mentioned that the Verdi Requiem is an opera in disguise. For certain it’s essentially the most operatic of all oratorios I can consider, particularly when one compares it to the quiet and introspective German Requiem by Brahms. Each are magnificent and impressed, each spiritually uplifting every in its personal method.

I attended the efficiency on the George Weston Recital Corridor in North York. It’s a small auditorium that seats 1,036 and endowed with nice acoustics, an ideal area for recitals. With a mid-size orchestra and 200 sturdy choir plus 4 big-voiced soloists, the sound coming from the stage and choir loft was thrilling, even overwhelming, and I imply it as a praise.

From the terribly hushed opening to the galvanizing fortissimos of Dies Irae to the chic Libera Me, it was a sonic journey destined for the reminiscence financial institution. TMC conductor Jean-Sébastien Vallée coaxed essentially the most beautiful sounds from the choir, the trademark TMC sound that makes this choir so particular.

The pick-up orchestra, made up principally of seasoned TSO musicians, was excellent if not good. Maestro Vallée’s tempo was on the gradual facet. A typical Verdi Requiem efficiency ought to be roughly 80 minutes. The OCD in me made me time it with my watch. From the primary down beat to the conclusion, this efficiency was about one hour and 29 minutes.

Becoming a member of the nice Mendelssohn Choir was a really superb quartet of Canadian soloists — soprano Teiya Kasahara, mezzo Rose Naggar-Tremblay, tenor Andrew Haji, and baritone Geoffrey Sirett. Whereas I’ve heard all of them beforehand, the voice of the tenor Haji is essentially the most acquainted to me. His vibrant, plangent tenor, with its ease of manufacturing, and his innate musicality made his “Ingemisco” an actual pleasure.

Additionally superb was Geoffrey Sirett, whom I final heard within the winner’s live performance of the Norcop Prize a couple of years in the past. Whereas his voice isn’t the booming sound of a basso profundo, it’s a top quality sound, heard to good impact in “Mors stupebit.” This was adopted instantly by the “Liber scriptus” of mezzo Naggar-Tremblay, whose low mezzo has the right tonal weight and timbre for this work. The mezzo has rather a lot to sing, and she or he sang all of it superbly, a really occasional under-pitched excessive word however.

The shock for me was soprano Teiya Kasahara, who has transitioned from a excessive coloratura — she was a notable Queen of the Night time — to Verdi soprano. “Libera Me” just isn’t for the faint of coronary heart, however she is a fearless artist. She sang unconventionally, with little or no vibrato, virtually straight tone, an uncommon timbre that grew on me. Kudos to her for singing with the requisite lengthy breath line, and for observing all of the dynamics markings, together with the pianissimo excessive B flat on the finish. I look ahead to listening to her once more sooner or later.

There you’ve got it, a superlative finish to the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s 2023-24 season. I’m talking somewhat too quickly! There’s nonetheless time to catch a second efficiency of the Verdi Requiem at Koerner Corridor on Tuesday, April 30.

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Joseph So
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