Appassionata Chamber Orchestra
Appassionata Chamber OrchestraAppassionata Chamber Orchestra
From February 21 to March 3, Montreal is once again hosting the amazing Highlights Festival: an impressive assembly of hundreds of cultural, gastronomic and musical events right here in the heart of the city.
Yesterday evening, I was fortunate to attend a magnificent performance of the Appassionata Chamber Orchestra. Presented as part of the Montréal en Lumière festival, they featured three young and virtuosic 2012 Canadian Music Competition (CMC) laureates in its concert entitled: Spotlight on the Future.
Having excelled during the 2012 CMC and Stepping Stone, Florie Valiquette (soprano, 3rd prize of the Stepping Stone), Jean-Michel Dubé (pianist, Grand Prize 19-30 years, CMC) and Joshua Zung (clarinetist, 1st prize Winds 15 years category, CMC) were invited to perform with the Appassionata ensemble, under the baton of Daniel Myssyk.
Taking place in the majestic Bourgie Concert Hall, the evening’s program consisted of a selection of pieces from some of Appasionata’s traditional repertoire: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. However, the chamber orchestra also ventured into Stravinski , Rossini and included an original composition penned specially for the concert by respected composer, conductor, oboist and pedagogue, Stewart Grant.
The concert started with a brilliant rendition of Igor Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks. This joyful piece was created especially for the former American ambassador to Argentina ( Mr Bliss’s) 30 wedding anniversary. The first movement has a repeating three note motif that reoccurred under the form of a canon and fugue among others. The orchestra delivered this piece by slowly building up momentum with some velvety flute and horn solos until finally culminating in a tribal like final third movement making a subtle homage to tango.
Joshua Zung, the first soloist of the evening, performed Rossini’s andante and variations for clarinet and orchestra. With his glasses and large smile, this talented young man won the hearts of the audience by giving an emotionally filled rendition of the piece. It is apparent that Joshua has a natural penchant for singing tone and lyrical phrasing.
Twenty one year old Jean-Michel Dubé was the second soloist of the evening. His interpretation of Beethoven’s concerto for piano and orchestra in E flat Major was sublime: Mastering technique, he played with rhythmic brio and impeccable clarity. At times, his fingers appeared to float effortlessly across the keys and kept the audience in thrall as they continued to listen as he played with a lot of visible enthusiasm and emotion.
After a short intermission, the audience had the pleasure of listening to Stewart Grant’s (1948 -) Lux, opus 64, for chamber orchestra (creation for the concert). A veritable “hymn to light” this modern piece started off as soft and lyrical in the beginning, but then gradually changed into becoming a full scale tour de force, complete with interesting textures and dynamics between the string section and winds. Since there is no light without shadows, the piece also included more solemn moments that were intermittently pierced by bursts of bright notes, as if announcing the coming of warmer days…
French Canadian Soprano Florie Valiquette delivered a beautiful, unpretentious version of Mozart’s Exsultate jubilate (1756-1791), 1- Allegro 2 - Andante 3 - Molto Allegro. A current member of the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opera de Montreal, Florie possesses a solid tone and she hits her high notes with ease and command. By use of subtle movements and great poise, she made this piece a real treat to listen to for choral music lovers.
Daniel Myssek closed the concert with Franz Joseph Haydn's Symphony in C major « le Midi » (1732-1809) 1-Adagio – Allegro 2 - Recitativo – Adagio 3- Minuet 4 - Finale Allegro. He led the orchestra with great energy and it was apparent that this conductor has much lyrical sensibility and accords a lot of attention to stylistic precision. As for the piece, I really loved the dialogue between the cello and principal violinist that had great onstage synergy. A light minuet served as a transition until the dynamic finale that highlighted almost every section leader with a solo. A very jubilant way to end a concert.
It is always marvelous to hear and discover new young talents on the music scene. It is thanks to the collaboration of the Appassionata Chamber Orchestra and the Arte Musica Foundation that this incredible performance in Bourgie Hall came into being. Of course, I would have to give my heartfelt congratulations to Joshua, Jean-Michel and Florie for all giving splendid performances and I hope that in the near future they will have many more opportunities to share their talents with others.
As for up-coming recitals, on May 22, Appassionata will close its Haydn cycle with the “Evening” Symphony and will host the premiere of nationally recognized American choir, the Commonwealth Singers (Virginia Commonwealth University), when they interpret the “Lord Nelson Mass.” On the program: works with impressionist accents and a magnificent finale! Soloists: Nathalie Paulin, soprano; Michelle Sutton, mezzo-soprano; David Menzies, tenor; Cairan Ryan, baritone.
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