DIVERTIMENTI - Virtual Concert

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Sinfonia Toronto performs a kaleidoscope of delights from four centuries. Pianist Sona Barseghyan joins for Bach and a gorgeous rhapsody.

About this Event

This concert will be livestreamed on April 9, 2021, 8 pm and will be available for viewing until May 8, 2021.



A variety program spanning four centuries - Pianist Sona Barsghyan joins Maestro Arman and the orchestra for Bach and a dreamy Rhapsody to open, followed by three entertaining divertimentos and one of the most famous melodies of all time, Rachmaninov’s Vocalise.


BACH Keyboard Concerto in A major

SARGSYAN Rhapsody Canadian premiere

MOZART Divertimento K 136


HAYDN Divertimento in E flat Major

WEINER Divertimento op. 20

Virtual concert will be streamed live from Glenn Gould Studio on April 9, 8 pm and will be available for viewing until May 8.

About the program

Keyboard Concerto in A Major, BWV 1055 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Bach’s other keyboard concertos were all expansions from existing concertos for other instruments or from movements of cantatas, but no precursor for this concerto has ever been found. Most musicologists assert that it is also based on an instrumental concerto, one lost since Bach’s time, and have concluded that the A major key signature indicates the original source was probably a concerto for oboe d'amore.

BWV 1055 is one of Bach's most mature and densely written concertos. The opening movement is an agile Allegro in da capo A-B-A form. The orchestral introduction is followed by a keyboard episode with more sustained thematic material as well as rapid passagework derived from last bars of the orchestral statement. The keyboard solo passages develop this same material through the rest of the movement.

The second movement is an expressive Larghetto in F♯ minor, with the character of the mournful Baroque dance form called a siciliano, though it does not have the typical dotted rhythms of a siciliano. The introspective mood is increased by the interval of a chromatic fourth rising and falling repeatedly in the melodic line.

We recover our spirits in the third movement, a lively Allegro ma non tanto which returns to the cheerful signature key of A major. This finale is also akin to the first movement in its A-B-A form and compact structure.

Rhapsody for Piano and String Orchestra by Ruben Sargsyan (1945-2013) Canadian premiere

Ruben Sargsyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia into a scientific family. His musical education progressed from the Sayat-Nova Music School to the Romanos Melikian Music College and then the composition class of the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory. After graduating from the Conservatory in 1972 he became a member of the Composers' Union. From 1973 to 1985 taught Music Theory and Solfege at the Yerevan Music School and from 1987 to 2013 he was on the faculty of Music Composition and Modern Composition Technology at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, becoming a Full Professor in 2004.

In 1994 Sargsyan joined colleagues in founding the Armenian Musical Assembly, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting modern Armenian music worldwide. He would have been pleased to know that his lovely Rhapsody will now be heard in Canada. The Rhapsody is a single movement, composed like a tone-poem, as one continuous meditation.

Divertimento in D Major, K 136 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Mozart wrote three pieces of light, entertainment music to take along on his trip to Milan in 1772, to have ready in case he was asked for some orchestral works while staying there. This was the same trip during which he wrote the Exsultate, jubilate also on this evening’s program. Scholars are not sure whether Mozart himself called this delightful work and its two companions K 137 and K 138 divertimentos; the question is raised because divertimentos usually had more than three movements. However in the 18th Century the terms divertimento, serenade, notturno and cassation were not used very strictly; any of these could identify a work such as this, intended to offer a pleasant musical diversion during an event at court.

Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) The original version of Vocalise was the last song in a set of fourteen Rachmaninov composed for voice and piano between 1910 and 1912. The first thirteen songs were settings of verses by Russian romantic poets including Pushkin, Polonsky, Korinfsky and Shaginyan. The Vocalise capped off the entire cycle through the beauty of its wordless melody. It quickly became tremendously popular, leading Rachmaninov to rewrite it in 1915, creating different arrangements for solo piano, violin and piano and orchestra. Many others have added to the trove of arrangements since then. The magic of the Vocalise’s short six minutes lies in Rachmaninov’s ability to translate his love for his country estate, Ivanovka, into a memorable melody. There he found tranquil beauty and found calm and relaxation, the respite he required from the hectic demands of touring and a double career as an eminent composer and lionized piano virtuoso.

Divertimento in E flat Major by Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809) During his service as Kapellmeister at the Esterházy court, Haydn's position placed him in the ranks of “house officers.” He had to wear livery and follow the family as they moved among their various palaces, notably their ancestral seats Schloss Esterházy in Kismarton (now Eisenstadt) and later also Esterháza, the magnificent new palace they erected in the Hungarian countryside. Haydn heavy burden of responsibilities included composing, managing and conducting the court orchestra, performing chamber music for and also with his royal patrons, and producing operas.

With new compositions required for a constant schedule of court occasions, and in the isolation of country estates, Haydn was "forced to become original," as he put it himself. In his mid- to late-20’s in the 1760s he composed a great many divertimentos - a wealth of orchestra and chamber music one historian has called “beautifully written for a wild assortment of ensembles.”

This E-flat Major Divertimento is delightful rather than wild, with the unified texture of a string ensemble and a typically classical structure in which two minuets separate faster opening and closing movements from a slower third-movement Adagio cantabile.

Divertimento, Op. 20 by Leó Weiner (1885-1960)

Leó Weiner’s dates are more modern than one would assume on hearing his works. He took inspirations from Mendelssohn and Brahms, grounded in Viennese musical traditions. After winning the Franz Josef Jubilee Prize, a travelling fellowship that allowed him to study in Vienna, Berlin, Leipzig, and Paris, he became a coach at the Budapest Comic Opera and then from 1908 to 1949 he was a professor at the Budapest Academy of Music.

Weiner published about thirty compositions, including this captivating Divertimento and his best-known work, the incidental music for the fairy play Csongor and Elf. Unlike his compatriots Bartók and Kodály, he retained folk music in its near-original state rather than reformulating it into a personal style. The Divertimento is dedicated to another countryman, the famous conductor Fritz Reiner. Its five movements are orchestrations of Hungarian dances which preserve their characteristic charm and flavour.


Sona Barseghyan was born in 1989 in Yerevan, Armenia. She began playing the piano at the age of seven at the Tchaikovsky Music School. At 17 she joined the class of Sergey Saradzhyan at the Yerevan State Conservatory. After receiving Bachelors and Masters degrees With Excellence there she moved to Germany to continue her studies at Cologne Conservatory with Nina Tichman. She graduated from Cologne Conservatory in 2016 with a Ph.D. Sona has also participated in masterclasses with Norma Fisher, Vladimir Krainev, Phillippe Cassard, Evgeny Kissin, Tamas Ungar, Arkadiy Zenziper, Vadim Monastirskiy and Leonel Morales.

In 2007 when Sona was just 16 she won second prize in the 2nd International Aram Khachaturian Competition, and in 2009 she was honored by the President of the Republic of Armenia with the “Youth Prize for Achievement in Classical Music Performance.” In 2013 she was a prize-winner in both the International Karl Robert Kreiten Competition in Cologne and the International Amadeo Prix Competition in Aachen.

Sona has also been a laureate of competitions in France and Italy, and received special awards during her studies including AGBU Performing Arts Fellowships, a scholarship from the International Spivakov Benevolent Fund, and the All Armenia Fund ‘A way to the future’ Prize.

As well as performing recitals and concertos as soloist, Sona is an experienced chamber musician. Since 2011 she has been a guest artist at the Schlern International Music Festival. She has performed throughout Europe and in Australia, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and the US. She has ben half of the piano duo ‘Sonet’ with her mother, pianist Armine Grigoryan. The duo has released a CD of works by Armenian composers. Sona has also been a featured artist of “Weltklassik am Klavier.”

Sinfonia Toronto now in its 22nd season, has toured twice in Europe, in the US, South America and China, receiving glowing reviews. It has released four CD’s, including a JUNO Award winner, and performs in many Ontario cities. Its extensive repertoire includes all the major string orchestra works of the 18th through 21st centuries, and it has premiered many new works. Under the baton of Nurhan Arman the orchestra’s performances present outstanding international guest artists and prominent Canadian musicians.

Maestro Nurhan Arman has conducted throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada and the US, returning regularly to many orchestras in Europe. Among the orchestras Maestro Arman has conducted are the Moscow Philharmonic, Deutsches Kammerorchester Frankfurt, Filarmonica Italiana, St. Petersburg State Hermitage Orchestra, Orchestre Regional d’Ile de France, Hungarian Symphony, Arpeggione Kammerorchester, Milano Classica and Belgrade Philharmonic.

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