Disturbing evening with the OSM in the Olympic Stadium

For the concert Aux couleurs des Amériques, put together by Rafael Payare and the OSM, Montrealers flocked to the Olympic Stadium in great numbers to “celebrate the richness of the musical repertoire present for centuries on American territory from Canada to Venezuela”. In the end, despite a few outbursts, the evening was unsettling, fairly dull and lacking in zest or fervor.

If I’m not mistaken, it was 9e free OSM concert on the Esplanade of the Olympic Stadium. A less good vintage is required in the batch. Well that was it! Not necessarily in terms of support. It was packed with 40,000 spectators in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 and 2017, 30,000 came to the stadium, a attendance that fell to 25,400 in 2019 due to the threatening weather. It was certainly better on Wednesday, possibly between 25,000 and 30,000, with the OSM being content to say, through the voice of Pascale Ouimet, director of media relations, that “it had no other figures than that it was full”. A comparison with the time lapse from 2015, which was published on the stadium’s Facebook page and can still be found on the internet, would allow this abundance to be quantified.

A challenging evening

We owe it to the musical model institution that we have established this large free mass meeting here. It is interesting to see how he founds the Virée. Only this beginning remains very conceptual, the Spree starts 48 hours later. We looked forward to hoping for a fervor, a spirit, a joy that evening. But the concert didn’t take off. It has remained a kind of “concept on paper”, flameless, unable to generate popular impetus, unfit to simply and easily touch the heart except during the recitation of a poem and the performance of an indigenous song by Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Jeremy Holländer . Given the ambitions of the program, a work by a Quebec composer would not have been unwelcome.

The challenge of this evening is great: it is the only time of the year when the institution can have tens of thousands of listeners and try to convince them that music, classical music in general and in the special. Of course we understood that our new chef is Venezuelan. However, he must muster a titanic body of work and treasures of imagination to convince us of the merits of programming certain works.

the Concerto for various trumpets by the Cuban Paquito D’Rivera and the symphonic poem by Evencio Castellanos work according to a model that has proven itself elsewhere, which can be schematized as follows: The last 3 minutes are brilliant, colourful, catchy, even irresistible. The big problem is that you first have to stuff yourself for a more or less painful quarter of an hour in order to be entitled to it. But all of this is so insignificant, so tedious: why waste the annual chance to bring tens of thousands of people together to spread these musical anecdotes?

Nothing against the South American repertoire, of course: there are small (shorter) gems on the CD Inca Trail Connections by Miguel Harth-Bedoya on Naxos, this season we will hear the fabulous Cantata Criolla d’Estevez, there are miracles at Camargo Guarnieri and maybe one day Payare will program that piano concert by Brazilian Hekel Tavares.

Different register, same error. Having the wondrous soprano Jeanine De Bique in Montreal is certainly wonderful. If only for 5 minutes, because 5 minutes of Jeanine De Bique is worth the entire discography of Barbara Hendricks! But “The city shines” from the cycle honey and Street by Previn, it’s a program for hard-nosed American music specialists! In such a context, the essential was melody Summerand pity if it is boat.

So, Rafael Payare, who conducted at the beginning of the concert final from New World Symphony fairly sequential and lackluster, trying and partially succeeding in lifting the soufflé with it Westside Story, which was associated with the merry little group of trumpeter Pancho Valdes and his friend Hector Molina, who wrapped the end of Paquito D’Rivera’s concert. But all this was completely insufficient.

Perhaps a public poll will refine the overall sentiment. Anyway, first improvement project, it’s clear that the sound reinforcement of the stadium for the music is not worth what was set up at Mount Royal last week: garish levels, swollen bass, harsh and summary string sounds. Rafael Payare could be the perfect advisor for that, as strengthening Rady Shell in San Diego, where he also works, is perfection in itself.

Big free OSM concert

In the colors of America. Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” (4th movement). Reading of a text by Natasha Kanapé Fontaine. Vocals by Jeremy Dutcher. Paquito D’Rivera: Concerto Venezolano, for trumpet and orchestra. Bernstein: West Side Story, Symphonic Dances. Previn: Honey and Rue: The city is lit. 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 10 August 2022.

To see in the video

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