Rafael Montrealer takes the pulse of his city

The Orchester Symphonic de Montréal and its conductor Raphael Payre launched Classical Spree 2023 with their big free concert on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park on Wednesday evening. Unlike the lackluster 2022 vintage, this evening was a resounding success.

It is incredibly eloquent to see how the contents of such concerts speak to the spirit that animates these events. With OM at Mount Royal, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, wearing a pink shirt over his shorts, gave a great speech about tolerance and the colors of love before inviting Ariane Moffat to sing. La vie en rose. To hear the decibel explosion last night, the harmonic tension Ride of the Valkyries, despite a proliferation that is hard to describe as “musical,” no one would have imagined Raphael in the shorts. OSM was exuding a kind of sonic intoxication.

To define oneself

If we call him Raphael, it’s because he wants to be called that (not specifically “maestro”), as violinist Marianne Dugal explained to the audience. In a short exchange with the musician, Raphael told how he stayed with his family in Montreal. He became a Montrealer within a year and his daughter goes to school here. Some never make the move for 15 years, but there isn’t even an apartment here!

First, and during a concert at the same venue in 2022, Rafael, or his ill-advised advisers, saw fit to play the Venezuelan fiber. But the question is “Who are we?” », addressed to both OSM and its president, invites responses other than reductive postcards.

So the formula for 2023 is an interesting form of response: broadcast to the public, a singer (Isabel Leonard) who is wonderful from all perspectives, pieces of bravery (The. Imagination by Waxman) and an easily accessible great symphonic work (Pictures at the exhibition), and a stylish encore. Never mind that everything isn’t perfect, like the opening Barber of Seville Or the first minutes Schedule. The public was enthralled, delighted, appalled and impressed.

Looking back

One thing to think about: how to add music from here without breaking the rhythm of the evening. Basically, finding a middle ground between OM’s “luxurious diversity” and “traditional” projects of this kind.

On the right other side: the visual production, which is not very inventive, often focuses too much on the instrumentalists and lacks a little way (As Baba For example, without shaping the bass drum). We see that the work done at Lanaudière allows us to follow the concert better. It was also necessary to find a way to place the titles of the sketches unfolded in Mussorgsky’s score: there were technical means as the words of the tunes were programmed.

As we said, amplification is nothing but music. Can this place sound any more authentic? It’s colorful and loud. There is no problem with OM doing even better in 2022. In 2023, something went wrong with the sound system of Mount Royal, but the park case sounds hopeless and has musical implications, not only in timbres, but, for example, Waxman, where we do not hear the countermelody of the strings, crushed behind the “excessive” solo violin.

Finally, there is the question of location. Michael Labrecque, president and CEO of the Olympic Installation Board, was ecstatic at the microphone before the concert in an article. Pres For him, it is said to deal with “the importance of bringing the orchestra to the people” (his reading of Catherine Perrin’s text, not ours, does not actually address this theme).

On Wednesday, the CEO would have done well to emphasize the importance of easy access to bring people to the orchestra and its facilities, along with responsible city officials. Thousands of spectators were herded into the enclosure in two rows like cute, well-behaved school children and the entry queue stretched almost a kilometer half an hour before the event. The crowd – OSM no longer gives statistics because at maximum capacity (which it was on Wednesday), the site did not deliver the capacity of Mount Royal – was very polite and patient.

However, seeing OSM covered in this way (about 35,000 to 40,000) and the site’s accessibility becoming a hoax or benzom would lead to a rethinking of the event’s configuration? This is the question that may arise now.

OSM at the Olympic Park Esplanade

Rossini: The Barber of Seville, Overture and Aria “Una voce poco fa”. Waxman: Carmen Fantasy. Bisset: Portions of Habanera and Segutille Carmen. Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (Arch. Ravel). Isabelle Leonard (mezzo), Pomsori (violin), Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Raphael Bayare. Wednesday, August 16, 2023.

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