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February 23, 2017
Le Devoir- Blake Pouliot steals the "show" from the orchestra tamer

By: Christophe Huss

Too bad for the spectators of the covers of this concert, Thursday and Saturday: they will miss the substantive marrow of the event, that is to say the performance of 22-year-old Ontario violinist Blake Pouliot, winner, in November 2016, of the OSM-Manulife CompetitionThere is no reason to reproach the OSM for programming an international soloist for these rehearsals, because no one can know at the outset , at the time of the programming, that the winner of the OSM Competition will be of such a caliber that a potential dolphin in the making of James Ehnes.

Several questions arise about Blake Pouliot and in particular this one: where was it in June 2016 when the International Musical Competition of Montreal took place, for which no Canadian candidate had qualified? In view of the concert on Wednesday, Pouliot could have finished on the podium, probably second behind the radiant Japanese Ayana Tsuji.

Blake Pouliot spoke about Korngold's formidable and magnificent Violin Concerto . He did it much better than the well-known Daniel Hope, who I saw in trouble in Ottawa. What is great with Pouliot is this ease and apparent relaxation, much like the harpsichordist Jean Rondeau. Pouliot puts the listener at ease and makes him receptive to what he wants to tell him, crossing the concerto with superb sounds and a well placed sweetness.

To pass from the admirable to the stunning, it still lacks in my ears a little something that I am hard to define, a kind of brilliant, sharp harmonics to the chanterelle, or power in the treble that would equal that of the medium. In short, various elements of sound richness possessed by the great Kavakos when he played this concerto here last season. Pouliot has benefited from a superb accompaniment. Coup de chapeau to the glorious sound of the horns in their intervention of the 3rd movement.

Before Korngold, Vasily Petrenko directed an orchestral work by Serge Garant in honor of the 50th anniversary of the SMCQ. Beaches is quite forgettable, but the gesture will please the seraglio without much offending listeners. My favorite moment is the 2nd of the five sections, where the interventions of wood are reminiscent of a hybrid of Bartók and Messiaen.

The First Brahms showed that after the 10 th Shostakovich and 1 re Mahler, Vasily Petrenko has many fans in Montreal. The Russian is really a born chef, a very talented trainer. He also has the ability to make the listener feel, like Yannick Nézet-Séguin, that he is having a symphonic adventure.

That said, it is necessary to keep it, because there is no way in Petrenko's perception or vision of Brahms of what to do. Petrenko effectively structures things, but does not seem to me to have an elective cultural affinity with this repertoire. What is the breathing of sentences? What is the intensity of the dynamic bellows? What is the relationship between A poco sostenuto and Allegro in the first movement?

To all these questions, Petrenko brings solutions "piecemeal" more than fed by aesthetics and the sense of great breath. The result is a Brahms cleverly "orchestral", crippled with slag tradition (eg the great slowdown - which is not factually based on anything - the last chorale of brass). A respectable Brahms, but old bearded before the hour, while everything in the score is much more energetic.

This is not too serious, as long as Petrenko remains a guest conductor who is given the right things to lead. Just a tip for the OSM: Try the 4 th symphony by Tchaikovsky. It will change the disastrous Oleg Caetani in 2016.


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