OSM: Heroic Sibelius, Radiant Beethoven | The rock and the storyteller

The Orchester symphonique de Montréal performed on Wednesday evening, and for the first time it was possible to fill the Maison symphonique thanks to the new sanitary rules (no distancing to respect, but wearing a mask at all times). Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård, who replaced Vasily Petrenko, did not sell out, but he stood out with a sovereign mastery of the three scores on the program.

Because the musician is decidedly not the type to be satisfied with the approximate. Even in Precipice, the work of British Columbian composer Dorothy Chang, whose creation it was, Søndergård stands out for his dedication and knowledge of the score, which he probably had in hand not too long ago.

Inspired, according to the composer, by the various threats (climatic, sanitary, etc.) which hover over humanity, the work plays on the gradual accumulations of sounds, with a large place given to the winds, which follow short melodies. taking advantage in particular of the un-stamping games. The important presence of the percussions is not without giving a certain Asian color to the score. It’s intense and intellectually stimulating.

About ten minutes, Precipice sets the table for the Symphony nO 5 in E flat major by Sibelius. And this is where the guest conductor appears in his best light, notably through the quality of his communication with the orchestra. He manages to guide each desk – one would almost be tempted to say each musician – in the meanders of this abundant score.

Consequently, everything is logical, coherent, which is far, in his case, from being synonymous with “cerebral”. We have the impression that Søndergård is holding our hand to lead us on a fascinating journey punctuated by a thousand adventures. He is also a born singer, as evidenced by the lyrical breath of the central movement.

Coitus, however, was abruptly interrupted in the very last measures by an electronic device that began to emit the continuous sound of a voice. With the final agreements very strong (fff) interspersed with wide silences, it was quite embarrassing. It’s not as if the spectators weren’t warned before each concert, in both official languages ​​on top of that …

At the start of the concert, Israeli pianist Yefim Bronfman, a regular at the OSM, came to play the Concerto nO 3 in C minor by Beethoven. We cannot say that he was the life of the party, as the other would say. He almost seems to apologize for being applauded when he arrives on stage. Once at the keyboard, it remains erect as a rock, sweeping the keyboard with disconcerting ease, but deploying a fairly limited color palette. Apart from rare piano, especially in slow movement, we are often in a strong quite aggressive. A very “great Russian pianist” style, by its faults rather than its qualities.

Rhythmic flexibility is not really there either, with a very corseted, even mechanical playing. The complicity with the conductor is also difficult to perceive: “Who loves me follows me”, seems to say the pianist. Fortunately, the chef made the evening.

The concert will resume this Thursday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

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