DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Concert review: A taut Rite of Spring from Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano

By John Terauds on November 21, 2012

Kent Nagano (Wilfried Hösl photo).

Some conductors find sensuality buried in Igor Stravinsky’s now nearly 100-year-old score to the ballet The Rite of Spring. Others, like Kent Nagano, see it as a spiky, motoric succession of patterns. Both can make for interesting listening.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

The capacity audience at Roy Thomson Hall on Wednesday night roared their approval of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and its music director’s taut, mechanical view of Stravinsky’s music.

There are so many repeated musical figures and jagged rhythms that it makes sense to emphasize that aspect of the score, even if there are ways to soften its contours and get the springtime hormones flowing with more sensual sounds.

From a technical point of view, it really was an impressive performance by the Montrealers, one that began earlier in the evening with a neatly creased reading of Joseph Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony, more than a century the Rite of Spring’s senior.

With 44 players on the stage, more or less half the forces needed for the Stravinsky, Haydn’s tidy, witty piece sounded muscular, nicely nuanced and, above all, crisp.

Placed in between these two works was An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, a 1984 creation by British composer Peter Maxwell Davies for the Boston Pops orchestra.

Given its origins, it’s no surprise that the wedding is depicted with folk tunes and dances, cleverly varied as the imaginary alcohol begins to flow through the orchestra. It was fun to listen to Davies’ colourful writing, which culminated in a bagpiper marching up on stage.

I can’t figure out how these three pieces fit together on a concert programme, aside from showing off Nagano’s preference to meticulously sculpt every phrase and texture as if from granite.

The result was impressive and worthy of respect and admiration, if not actual love.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

CRITIC'S PICKS | 8 Concerts You Absolutely Need To See In Toronto This Week (April 15 – 21)

By Joseph So on April 15, 2019

Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of April 15 – 21.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

Classical Music 101: The Birth And Evolution Of The Modern Orchestra

By John Terauds on April 10, 2019

An evolutionary sketch of how the orchestra came to be, from 16th-century consorts to the modern orchestra we know today.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | National Ballet's Erik Bruhn Prize Crowns Winners On The Mark

By Paula Citron on March 24, 2019

The Erik Bruhn competition is always a great evening of dance because you get to see the ballet stars of tomorrow. It’s also fun second-guessing the judges.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_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.