Late Night TSO – Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5
On Saturday, June 14, the Toronto Symphony Oechestra Music Director, Peter Oundjian, lead the orchestra in Shostakovich’s powerful “Symphony No. 5.” An emotionally jarring masterpiece that has been critically acclaimed so, that it ranks as his most riveting symphony.
Sharing the bill with Shostakovich is an equally bold pioneer, American composer Mason Bates. The TSO will be among the first to present his new “Garages of the Valley,” a clever, all-acoustic celebration of Silicon Valley’s tech visionaries.
Late night with the TSO was sponsored by Big Daddy’s Burbon Street Bistro and Oyster bar, as well as the 2014 Luminato Festival – and must say, it was a smashing success.Oundjian began the night with Mason Bates’ “Garages of the Valley,” the exclusive Canadian premiere. Roy Thomson Hall was practically packed, but for a show of this magnitude, for such a well respected symphony that dates back to long before any of us were born in 1905, it was sadly not a sold-out crowd.
The opening piece lasted just a hair over a half hour, and before the start of Shastakovich, Oundjian remarked to Mason who was in attendance that his piece was quite a unique and challenging piece to perform – quite a complement coming from such a prestigious director.
After a brief intermission, Oundjian retreated, then returned to begin setting the stage for the main event, but not before he presented a brief but informative back story on the man who created “Symphony No. 5.” Once he took his place on the podium and lifted his wand with a flick of his wrist it had begun.
Where a lot of conductors – including the head of the New York Philharmonic – have chosen to speed up Shostakovich, Oundjian masterfully chooses to slow it down, and in doing so, gave the piece a much more vibrant and intense impact. When its melody flowed through the engrossed audience of Roy Thompson Hall, you could feel the goosebumps in the crowd.Oundjian was in full control of the orchestra, and with them at his disposal, he utilized them as he saw fit. The musician behind the cymbals was second to none, and all the principals nailed their respective solos with flawless precision, elevating the the entire performance.
With deft subtlety, Oundjian caressed the final notes of Shostakovich’s powerful “Symphony No. 5.” And just as he had started the show, with a flick of his wrist, with another it was all over.
As it ended he left the stage, and upon his return, the entire audience gave him and the TSO a raucous several minute standing ovation. They bowed and off to the after party we headed where all in attendance were treated to the soothing sounds of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, while we feasted on chicken skewers, jalapeño cornbread and shucked oysters – courtesy of Big Daddy’s.
It was a Late Night show not soon to be forgotten, and an amazing feature in addition to this year’s Luminato festivities.