DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Retourner au début
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

SCRUTINY | Molinari, OM and Moussa: a successful collaboration

Par Arthur Kaptainis le 22 avril, 2018

Le Quatuor Molinari en concert avec l'Orchestre Métropolitain, le 20 avril 2018. (Crédit: François Goupil)
Quatuor Molinari and Orchestre Métropolitain (Credit: François Goupil)

The repertoire for string quartet and orchestra is larger than one might suppose, even if Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro is the only such work we hear with any regularity. Now Samy Moussa has made a valuable contribution, called simply Concerto pour quatuor à cordes et orchestre, which had its world premiere Friday night under auspices of the Orchestre Métropolitain.

That was not a typo. A Montrealer by birth who lives in Europe, Moussa is known to be a favourite of the music director of another orchestra in town, which shall go nameless, but its initials are OSM. Somehow this allegiance (which less than a year ago produced the Symphonie montréalaise) proved no obstacle to a joint commission by the OM and the Quatuor Molinari with the help of the Munich-based Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

Back to the music, which is as firmly tonal as anything from the pen of Honegger, Ibert or Mercure, at least most of the time, and has traces of the minimalist aesthetic, notably in the repetition of a rapid four-note motif. Yet I hesitate to use the “M” word in connection with Moussa because his vocabulary is too wide for such a limited designation and his inherent sense of drama is more allied to pre-minimalist models.

At the beginning we had open tones from the orchestra with punctuation by the Molinaris, who were assembled in a crescent in front of the guest conductor, Nicholas Carter. This was music of the dawn. Off-kilter metre kept the busy second movement alive. Led by first violin Olga Ranzenhofer, the quartet had a cadenza of sorts before the finale, where the tonal language disintegrated in some artful ways and the soloists (who elsewhere mostly spoke with one voice) combined pizzicato and arco playing.

A “sunset” conclusion seemed imminent, but then the music accelerated and got louder. Was Moussa’s “pow” conclusion appropriate? This was a subject of expert debate during intermission, but the listeners in the Maison symphonique (including a substantial cohort of students) found it entirely to their liking. Anyway, there could be no controversy over the expertise of Moussa’s writing for a mid-size classical orchestra that never overwhelmed the quartet. As for the foursome, they were sometimes prickly, sometimes soaring, but always assured and audible. The length of 22 minutes seemed about right. Good piece.

 

Nicholas Carter (left) in conversation with composer Samy Moussa during rehearsal. (Credit: François Goupil)
Nicholas Carter (left) in conversation with composer Samy Moussa during rehearsal. (Credit: François Goupil)

 

A slim Australian in his early 30s with an open collar and a changeable podium style, Carter led this smoothly, with no baton. He was armed with a stick for L’Étoile noire: Tombeau de Borduas, by the late François Morel. This seven-minute piece of 1962, inspired by a 1957 abstract canvas by Paul-Émile Borduas, spoke a tough 12-tone dialect, but with remarkable integrity. The performance was clear and committed. Carter seemed to get it all. There was a notable flute solo.

Solos are so abundant in the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition that to name individuals would create a phone book. The saxophone in The Old Castle was as mellow as could be. While ensemble was not perfect in the early going, the monumental chords of Catacombs made me wonder where one could find a better brass section. Strings were full-bodied (and the trumpet appropriately penetrating) in Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle, even if the tempo was too slow. As much a collaborator as a leader, Carter nonetheless oversaw an exciting Baba Yaga and a triumphant Great Gate of Kiev.

This conductor, who commutes between the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the opera house of Klagenfurt in Austria, kept a close eye on his scores throughout the evening, sometimes wearing glasses. Score-reading is an underrated art, but his head seemed pretty much buried in Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, which I suspect got short shrift in rehearsal.

After introducing himself in perfectly adequate French, Carter briefed the audience about the works in English. Mario Paquet was on hand to translate. The OM is rightly committed to audience communication, but the back-and-forth was a little tedious. The Azrieli Foundation was a sponsor of the concert, and the RBC Emerging Artists Project also got a credit.

 

ALSO READ:

LISZT | Seven Books by Musicians for Music Lovers

 

Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis has been the classical music critic of the Montreal Gazette since 1986 and wrote for the National Post 2010-2016. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Ludwig Van. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto.
Arthur Kaptainis
Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis has been the classical music critic of the Montreal Gazette since 1986 and wrote for the National Post 2010-2016. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Ludwig Van. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto.
Arthur Kaptainis
Partager cet article
lv_montreal_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Montreal

CHOIX DE LA RÉDACTION | 12 concerts à Montréal et à Québec cette semaine : frais, pas frais, j'y vais!

Par Béatrice Cadrin le 18 novembre, 2018

La première neige nous jette sous le charme anticipé de Noël et au loin les hautbois et les musettes commencent à résonner! Mais plutôt que de se plonger dans des écoutes répétées de « Noël blanc », tirons profit des substantielles programmations élaborées par nos valeureux ensembles musicaux, dont les charmes, eux, ne sont pas saisonniers.
Lire tout l'article Commentaires
Partager cet article
lv_montreal_banner_high_590x300

ACTUALITÉS | Un documentaire sur Joseph Rouleau en sociofinancement - et autres nouvelles en musique classique

Par Caroline Rodgers le 26 novembre, 2018

Le merveilleux monde de la musique classique bourdonne d'activités en cette fin novembre. Alors que les fêtes approchent, la générosité du public est sollicitée et plusieurs bonnes causes font partie de notre bulletin d'actualités.
Lire tout l'article Commentaires
Partager cet article

ACTUALITÉS | Dix bonnes nouvelles en musique classique pour se donner du courage avant l'hiver

Par Caroline Rodgers le 20 novembre, 2018

Honneurs, médailles, tournées: la communauté musicale travaille fort pour réussir, et ses efforts sont souvent couronnés de succès. Voici dix bonnes nouvelles pour la musique classique.
Lire tout l'article Commentaires
Partager cet article
lv_montreal_banner_low_590x300
lv_montreal_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_montreal_ssb_high_300x300
lv_montreal_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_montreal_ssb_low_300x300
lv_montreal_tsb_high_300x700
lv_montreal_tsb_low_300x700
lv_montreal_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_montreal_ssb_high_300x300
lv_montreal_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_montreal_ssb_low_300x300
lv_montreal_tsb_high_300x700
lv_montreal_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.