Puzzling afternoon with the OSM at the Olympic Stadium

Puzzling afternoon with the OSM at the Olympic Stadium

Montrealers had flocked to the Olympic Stadium for the Aux couleurs des Amériques concert invented by Rafael Payare and the OSM, intended to “celebrate the richness of the musical repertoire present on American soil for centuries, from Canada to Venezuela.” In the end, the evening was disconcerting, rather dull and lacking in momentum or fervor, despite a few outbursts.

If I’m not mistaken, it was 9me Free OSM concert on the esplanade of the Olympic Stadium. A less good vintage is necessary in the lot. Well that was the one! Not necessarily in terms of support. It was full in 2014 and 2015 with 40,000 spectators. The years 2016 and 2017 had seen 30,000 people come to the stadium, an attendance that fell to 25,400 in 2019 due to threatening weather. It was certainly better on Wednesday, possibly between 25,000 and 30,000, with the WSO content to say through the voice of Pascale Ouimet, head of media relations, to have “no figure other than being full”. A comparison with lapse of time of 2015 published on the Stadium’s Facebook site and which can still be found on the Internet, would allow this fullness to be quantified.

A challenging evening

We owe it to the flagship music institution to have set up this great free mass gathering here. It is interesting to see him start the Virée. Except this start is still very conceptual, the Spree starts 48 hours later. We were delighted to expect a fervor, a spirit, a joy on this night. But the concert did not lift. It has remained a kind of “concept on paper”, flameless, unable to generate popular momentum, unable to touch the heart in a simple and easy way, except during the recitation of a poem and the presentation of an indigenous song. by Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Jeremy Dutcher. Given the ambition of the program, a work by a Quebecois composer would not have been unwelcome.

The challenge of this evening is enormous: it is the only time of the year in which the institution can have an audience of tens of thousands of people and try to convince them that it is worth being interested in classical music in general and in it. In particular. So, of course, we understood that our new chef is Venezuelan. However, he will have to deploy a titanic work and treasures of imagination to convince us of the merits of programming certain works.

the Concerto for several trumpets by Cuban Paquito D’Rivera and the symphonic poem by Evencio Castellanos work on a model tested in other places and that can be outlined as follows: the last 3 minutes are brilliant, colorful, catchy, even irresistible. The big problem is: first you have to stuff yourself with a quarter of an hour more or less painful to have the right to it. But all this is so minor, so laborious: why do we waste the annual opportunity to gather tens of thousands of people to promote these musical anecdotes?

Nothing against the South American repertoire of course: there are little (shorter) gems on the CD Inca Trail Connections by Miguel Harth-Bedoya in Naxos, this season we will listen to the fabulous Creole Cantata d’Estevez, there are wonders in Camargo Guarnieri and perhaps one day, Payare will program the piano concerto of the Brazilian Hekel Tavares.

Different log, same error. Having the miraculous soprano Jeanine De Bique in Montreal is certainly wonderful. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, because 5 minutes of Jeanine De Bique are worth the entire discography of Barbara Hendricks! But “The town lights up” of the cycle honey and Street by Previn, it’s a program for American music specialists! In such a context, the essential harmony was Summer timeand pity if it is a boat.

Thus, Rafael Payare, who at the beginning of the concert conducted a Final of New World Symphony quite sequential and lackluster, tried and partially succeeded in elevating the soufflé with West Side Story, which was linked to the happy little song of trumpeter Pancho Valdés and his friend Héctor Molina, encasing the end of Paquito D’Rivera’s concert. But all this was quite insufficient.

Perhaps a poll of the public will refine the general sentiment. In any case, first improvement project, it is clear that, for music, the sound system of the Stadium is not worth the one installed in Mount Royal last week: strident level, bulging basses, harsh and summary string bells. For this, Rafael Payare could be a perfect adviser, because the amplification of Rady Shell in San Diego, where he also works, is perfection itself.

Great free concert of OSM

In the colors of the Americas. Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” (4th movement). Reading of a text by Natasha Kanapé Fontaine. Voice performed by Jeremy Dutcher. Paquito D’Rivera: Venezuelan Concerto, for trumpet and orchestra. Bernstein: West Side Story, symphonic dances. Previn: Honey and Rue: The city is illuminated. Evencio Castellanos: Santa Cruz de Pacairigua. Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Jeremy Dutcher, Jeanine De Bique (soprano), Pancho Flores (trumpet), Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Payare. Esplanade of the Olympic Stadium, Wednesday, August 10, 2022.

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