La Scena Musicale

Friday, 13 May 2016

Petrenko, Thibaudet : du charme et du caractère

Vasily Petrenko, photo Mark McNulty


par Jeanne Hourez

S’il y avait un concert à ne pas manquer cette semaine, c’était celui que nous a offert la Maison symphonique mercredi. Fort de son choix éclectique, le programme de l'OSM réunissait du multinational et le pari fut réussi.

Tout d’abord, nous avions droit à l’ouverture du Corsaire, d’Hector Berlioz, moins connue que certaines autres œuvres du compositeur. Vasily Petrenko, jeune chef russe invité, a engagé dès le début du concert une communication complice avec les musiciens, comme s’il était chez lui, les sommant ainsi de donner le meilleur d’eux-mêmes. Présentée de manière claire et martiale, mais chantante, voire dansante à certains endroits, l’ouverture du Corsaire prenait une tournure très française que l’on ne pouvait qu’apprécier.

La deuxième pièce de la soirée nous plongeait dans l’univers du romantisme virtuose du hongrois Franz Liszt. Le soliste invité, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, pianiste français, nous a livré une interprétation très personnelle du deuxième concerto pour piano. Démontrant un toucher très mélodieux dans les passages plus doux et une technique impressionnante, les tempi parfois excessivement rapides (l’orchestre, plein de fougue, filait un peu derrière le piano) étaient choisis au détriment de la qualité sonore et du romantisme que l’on aurait souhaité un peu plus souligné. Nous saluerons par contre l’engagement du pianiste auprès des musiciens et la complicité avec le chef d’orchestre. L’intermezzo de Brahms, interprété en rappel, fut tout de même un petit moment de grâce, suspendu dans la salle où pas un bruit ne se fit entendre.


La deuxième partie du concert nous offrait la grande 1re Symphonie de Mahler, d’une durée de quasiment une heure. Et c’est dans cette œuvre que tout le génie de Petrenko se fit le plus ressentir. N’hésitant pas à prendre des risques, le chef tira l’orchestre toujours plus haut. On alterna des passages de grande majesté et puissance avec d’autres plus sombres comme le début du mouvement lent, interprété un peu plus rapidement que la moyenne. N’hésitant pas à accentuer les thèmes populaires et slaves et à donner une grande liberté aux musiciens, le jeune chef prit un parti risqué, mais parfaitement réussi. Le public, captivé et entièrement conquis, lui rendit bien son engagement total, malgré la salle debout à peine les derniers accords retentis.

http://www.osm.ca/fr

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Lebrecht Weekly - Joseph Haydn: Violin concertos (Panclassics)


4/5 stars


It must be a seasonal thing. When fresh mushrooms simmer and asparagus gently steams, it starts raining …Haydn. Sure enough, four Haydn releases have landed this month. Decca has a positively frisky set of four symphonies, 78-81, from Ottavio Dantone and the Accademia Bizantina.

The period-instrument precision is awe-inspiring, a worthy counterpoint to that epochal Decca set (1969-73) of Haydn symphonies from Antal Dorati and the Philharmonia Hungarica. Dorati changed the weather for Haydn while, with 104 symphonies, confirming the prejudice that the composer wrote too much. Other conductors gave up midway. I like Dantone’s note-perfect approach very much and hope he sticks to the later symphonies

Onyx, a boutique label has two Haydns this month – the cello concertos rom Pavel Gomziakov and the Orchestra Gulbenkian, directed by its concertmaster. Gomziakov plays a 1725 Stradivarius that lives at the national museum in Lisbon. The cello tone is gorgeous, but the tempi are a tad safe.

I much prefer Shai Wosner’s performance, on the same label, of three Haydn piano concertos interspersed with works by György Ligeti. Wosner is such an intelligent artist I wouldn’t lightly pass up anything he records. The Ligeti concerto, with the Danish radio orchestra, pulullates with morbid Magyar wit. The Haydn, however, pales by comparison.

It was only after scouring the small print that I grasped that an ear-opening first release of three Haydn violin concertos was recorded 19 years ago at a live concert in Schloss Elmau, Austria. The soloist, Isabelle Faust, plays with passion and vitality, taking wild risks and contributing (I think) her own cadenzas. The Munich chamber orchestra, conducted by Christoph Poppen, manages to stay in touch. The sound is a tad astringent but the liveness compensates. Of the three concertos, my marginal favourite is the A-major but it’s too close to call. There an infinity of happiness and invention in these pieces, at least as much as in the Mozart violin concertos. Why on earth don’t the Haydns get played more often? Or at all? Why are orchestra chiefs still afraid of Joseph Haydn?

—Norman Lebrecht

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Monday, 9 May 2016

Tchaikovsky Competition winners face off – and get along

by Arthur Kaptainis

Lukas Geniušas and Lucas Debargue, photo Vladimir Kevorkov

Two 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition laureates for the price of one: This was the upscale bargain offered by the Show One concert organization, whose many Toronto followers obligingly filled Koerner Hall. Few could have left disappointed.

Lucas Debargue and Lukas Geniušas were the visiting pianists, the former born in Paris, the latter in Moscow. Debargue is already a minor celebrity owing to an improbable life story that includes a late start at 11 and a three-year hiatus from his chosen instrument in his late teens. The slim 25-year-old says he has learned some complex 20th-century scores by ear, a claim that has led to discussion in pedagogical circles.

What cannot be contested is that he has a natural technique and a rich palette, both of which advantages he deployed to stunning effect in Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. From its shimmering beginnings this hyper-difficult triptych seemed to float above the piano in search of another dimension. "Le Gibet," the slow movement, was slow indeed, but mesmerizing from first to last; and the finale, "Scarbo," darted ahead with freewheeling, demonic fury. Piano freaks could delight in the high definition of the repeated notes while structural thinkers admired how firmly the pianist understood the thematic value of those tremolos.

To the astonishment of all, Debargue disregarded the applause that followed the Ravel and proceeded directly to Scriabin’s two-movement Sonata No. 4, fusing the dreamy start and volcanic conclusion into a captivating whole. Earlier he had performed a pair of Scarlatti Sonatas (K. 208 and K. 24) with a species of freedom that turned the baroque master into a modern mystic. Yet all the weirdness sounded like exploration, not exploitation. I have read about a fuss in Moscow over an open collar. Perhaps Debargue’s eyeglasses give him a Left-Bank look but his stage manner is polite. The point is the playing.

Lukas Geniušas and Lucas Debargue, photo Vladimir Kevorkov

From Geniušas (winner of the second prize; Debargue finished fourth) we heard a more mainstream style, richly coloured in the melodious middle movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7 but by the same token a little thick in the manic finale. A bell-like Steinway tone prevailed in seven Chopin mazurkas. Tempo fluctuation was extensive but not always convincing. Just the same, this player, also 25, is one we need to watch.

The two Lukes collaborated at the start of this April 30 concert in two of Grieg’s four-hands Norwegian Dances Op. 35. At the end they performed Ravel’s La Valse in the version for two pianos. Geniušas played primo while Debargue took charge of the breathtaking glissandi of the secondo part. Quite intoxicating. Cheers all around.

There should be applause also for Show One, which is defying the stodgy book-in-advance routine of the classical music world. Millions watched the Tchaikovsky Competition from Moscow through the Internet and other media. Why not capitalize on that buzz rather than let it dissipate?

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Cette semaine à Montréal (9 à 15 mai) / This Week in Montreal (May 9–15)

English follows

Fin de saison : La Chapelle Historique

La Chapelle termine sa saison printanière avec les pianistes Kyoko Hashimoto et Ilya Poletaev qui interpréteront des œuvres de Brahms, Debussy, Mozart et Rachmaninov. Le 15 mai à 15 h.

Retour attendu et nouveau venu à Arion

Le premier concert à Montréal du claveciniste et chef britannique Steven Devine se déroulera dans le fracas de la Music for the Royal Fireworks de Haendel. On y entendra en plus des œuvres de Arne et Telemann. Salle Bourgie, 13 au 15 mai. www.arionbaroque.com


La Symphonie Fantastique Version OM

La musique de Bach a trouvé un écho chez les compositeurs qui lui ont succédé. L’héritage de Bach couvre près de 200 ans avec Bach, Stravinski et Chostakovitch. Avec les altistes Brian Bacon et Elvira Misbakhova, sous la direction de Cristian Măcelaru. Maison symphonique, 13 mai, 19 h 30. Présenté dans trois arrondissements du 11 au 14 mai. www.orchestremetropolitain.com


Musique Inspirée de la Sculpture de Jim Dine au MBAM

Dans le cadre du projet de créations de la Fondation Arte Musica, la compositrice Luna Pearl Woolf s’est inspirée de l’œuvre Au Carnaval, cette monumentale sculpture des trois Vénus de bois offerte par l’artiste au MBAM. L’œuvre est écrite pour trois chanteuses, trois violoncelles et trois contrebasses. La soirée exceptionnelle Triptyque inclut deux autres œuvres de Woolf : Mélange à trois, un opéra sans paroles pour violon, violoncelle et percussion et Pueraria lobata, un trio à cordes inspiré de la vigne kutzu. Salle Bourgie, 12 mai, 19 h 30. www.sallebourgie.ca


Trois pour trois avec Camerata

Pour le dernier concert de la saison, Musica Camerata a sélectionné trois trios rarement joués : une œuvre du Canadien Robert Rival, un trio du Danois Niels Gade, qui fut très influencé par Schumann et Brahms, et le Trio opus 8 composé par un très jeune Chostakovitch. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, 14 mai, 18 h www.cameratamontreal.com


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End of Season at the Chapelle Historique

The Chapelle will close its spring season with pianists Kyoko Hashimoto and Ilya Poletaev playing works by Brahms, Debussy, Mozart, and Rachmaninov. May 15, 3 pm.


An Awaited Return and a New Face at Arion

The first concert in Montreal by the British harpsichordist and conductor Steven Devine will be the Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel. There will also be works by Arne and Telemann. Bourgie Hall, May 13 to 15. www.arionbaroque.com


The OM version of the Symphonie Fantastique

The music of Bach was echoed in that of the composers who followed him. Bach’s Legacy covers almost 200 years with Bach, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich. With violists Brian Bacon and Elvira Misbakhova, under the direction of Cristian Măcelaru. Maison ­symphonique, May 13, 7:30 pm. Presented in three neighbourhoods May 11 to 14. www.orchestremetropolitain.com


Music inspired by the MBAM’s Jim Dine sculpture

As part of the Fondation Arte Musica’s project to commission new works, composer Luna Pearl Woolf took inspiration from the piece At the Carnival, a monumental wooden sculpture of three Venuses given to the MBAM by the artist. The work is written for three singers, three cellos, and three basses. The exceptional Tryptyque concert includes two other works by Woolf: Mélange à trois, a wordless opera for violin, cello, and percussion, and Pueraria lobata, a string trio inspired by the kudzu vine. Bourgie Hall, May 12, 7:30 pm. www.bourgiehall.ca


Three for three at Musica Camerata


For the last concert of the season, Musica Camerata has selected three rarely-played trios: a piece by Canadian Robert Rival, a trio by Danish composer Niels Gade, who was highly influenced by Schumann and Brahms, and the Trio opus 8 composed by a very young Shostakovich. Chapelle ­historique du Bon-Pasteur, May 14, 6 pm. www.cameratamontreal.com

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Lebrecht Weekly - Beethoven: Symphonies 4 and 5 (Sony)




Rating: 4/5 stars


In May 2015, visibly frail, the august Nikolaus Harnoncourt stood before his Concentus Musicus Wien and directed two Beethoven symphonies in a reading that followed closely what the composer had written in his score. If Beethoven gave a primitive horn an impossible low D to play, that’s how Harnoncourt wanted it played and not, as others do, switched it to the bassoon. It’s a vital question, he said at the time, of ‘whether it is possible to achieve your goals’.

Harnoncourt and his Concentus had spent their lives together trying to achieve a literal understanding of great art, written by great masters. Now, months before his death, aged 86, he set out to get ‘a millimetre closer’ to Beethoven’s intentions.

How close is that? The hushed opening of the 4th symphony is as dramatic as it gets, the tension heightened by elongated pauses, and the playing of exceptional precision and beauty, unachievable in Beethoven's day. So much for period authenticity. However, the emotional coherence, the interplay of individuals in pursuit of a better lives, locks right on to romantic-era aspirations; and the first allegro, reckless as a runaway horse, takes us back to a continent ravaged by despots and crawling with desperate soldiery. This is a cracking Fourth, among the most convincing you could wish to hear, right up there with Furtwängler, Kleiber, Marriner, Abbado and Norrington.

The fifth symphony, so much more familiar, suffers for want of novelty. The opening raps on the door are neither startling nor ominous. The tempi are midway and the playing unstressed. The summit is the second movement, which is made to sound both ceremonial and devout, a private contemplation of all the things we will never get to know: a valediction, of sorts.

—Norman Lebrecht


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