Fall 2021 Highlights: Orchestra, chamber and solo

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Every concert can be deemed a highlight after a season like 2020-21. While the 2021-22 schedule is not quite as packed as it was in pre-pandemic days – and the crowds, by provincial decree, can be only partial – there are plenty of options for the long-suffering Montreal music fan.

Orchestre symphonique 
de Montréal

Raphael Payare. Photo: Antoine Saito

Interest is obviously keen in Rafael Payare, the incoming OSM music director. He starts the Maison symphonique season on Sept. 14 (repeats on Sept. 16 and 18) with Shostakovich’s foolproof Fifth Symphony and Ravel’s La Valse, which some of the musicians could probably play by heart. Nor is Pierre Mercure’s Kaléidoscope likely to fail. On Sept. 22, 23 and 26 the main work is Brahms’s Second Symphony; Hilary Hahn plays Dvořák’s too-seldom-heard Violin Concerto in the first two dates. Payare returns Dec. 8 and 11 in Sibelius’s First and Tchaikovsky’s indestructible Piano Concerto No. 1 with Inon Barnatan doing the honours. Notable among guest conductors is Vasily Petrenko, who on Oct. 13 and 14 leads Sibelius’s Fifth and the premiere performances of Précipice, a work by the UBC professor Dorothy Chang that deals with climate change. Old pro Yefim Bronfman is heard in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. www.osm.ca

Orchestre Métropolitain

Yannick is in a progressive mood. The OM opener on Sept. 30 in the Maison symphonique includes Symphony No. 1 of Florence Price, 1887-1953, and Eko-Bmijwang, an evocation of a river by the Anishinaabekwe composer Barbara Assiginaak. Standard rep comes in the form of Ravel’s Concerto in G as played by the French pianist Hélène Grimaud. The second concert, on Oct. 29, likewise led by YNS, features the Third Symphony of Louise Farrenc (1804-1875), who has lately attracted renewed attention. The first of five female guest conductors, on Nov. 30, is Erina Yashima, leading Jessie Montgomery’s Strum, Dvořák’s Fifth Symphony and the Brahms Double Concerto with the compelling local pairing of violinist Kerson Leong and cellist Stéphane Tétreault. www.orchestremetropolitain.com

Les Violons du Roy

The first Montreal appearance of this Quebec City group, on Sept. 19 in Bourgie Hall, is in a compare-and-contrast program given jointly with a chamber squad from the OSM. Both music directors – Jonathan Cohen and Rafael Payare. Bach and Handel (Cohen) mingle with Dvořák and Strauss (Payare). Cohen and Les Violons are in the Maison symphonique on Sept. 24 with symphonies by Mozart (No. 31) and Haydn (No. 85) and Mozart arias as delivered by the French soprano Sandrine Piau. Back in Bourgie on Nov. 25, the orchestra under its founder Bernard Labadie offer Bach’s Art of Fugue in Labadie’s own transcription. www.violonsduroy.com

Orchestre classique 
de Montréal

This ensemble under Boris Brott occupies Salle Pierre Mercure this season. Notable on Nov. 23 is a program highlighted by the premiere of Gwekaanmat, a 20-minute concerto for pipigwan (Anishinaabe wooden flute) and string orchestra by Barbara Croall, an acclaimed Odawa First Nation composer, who will function as soloist. Also heard is an arrangement of Ravel’s rapturous cycle Shéhérazade with no less a mezzo-soprano than Julie Boulianne as soloist. www.orchestre.ca

Bourgie Hall

The enterprising 10-year-old facility offers a rich array of concerts. Of particular interest is the inauguration by the German pianist Andreas Staier of a new Viennese-style fortepiano by Rodney Regier. Haydn, Mozart and Schubert are the appropriately Austrian composers heard on Oct. 24. The potent Dover Quartet on Nov. 16 plays music by Brahms, Zemlinsky and the Cuban American Tania Léon. On Dec. 18 and 19 the Arion Baroque Orchestra, a Bourgie anchor tenant, submits BWV 60, 83, 86 and 148 as a contribution to the hall’s traversal of Bach cantatas. www.mbam.qc.ca

Ladies’ Morning Musical Club

Blake Pouliot. Photo: Analekta

The venerable society returns with a solid lineup presented to as many loyal listeners as the province and McGill University will allow in Pollack Hall. Violinist Blake Pouliot (Sept. 12) is followed by the Doric String Quartet (Oct. 3), cellist Matt Haimovitz (Oct. 24), the Quartetto di Cremona (Nov. 14) and pianist Stewart Goodyear (Dec. 5). Note the quick reappearance of Haimovitz after a big success last season. www.lmmc.ca

Montreal Bach Festival

The annual celebration of the great J.S. opens on Nov. 21 in the Maison symphonique with the Christmas Oratorio (cantatas 1-3 and 6) as led by the Czech baroque specialist Václav Luks. The closing concert on Dec. 5 features Nicolas Ellis and the Orchestre Métropolitain in the Symphony No. 1 of that noted Bach enthusiast, Felix Mendelssohn. Chamber performances include an evening of transcriptions given on Nov. 24 in the Montreal Conservatoire by the wind quintet Pentaèdre. The program includes the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565. Even more offbeat is a reduction of the St. John Passion, Nov. 26 at the Église Saint-Édouard, for a trio of tenor, harpsichord and percussion. Something for the fan who has heard everything. www.festivalbachmontreal.com

Musica Camerata Montreal

This chamber ensemble was giving no-intermisssion concerts at the Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur before the pandemic made them fashionable. The schedule starts on Oct. 2 with a program of Bach (Sonata in D Major BWV 1028), Beethoven (Piano Quartet Op. 16) and Fauré (Second Piano Quartet Op 45). Cellist Leo Grinhauz and his mother Berta Rosenohl will be the artists in the opening item. www.cameratamontreal.com

Canadian International 
Organ Competition

The CIOC is back. The contest runs from Oct. 14 to 22 at two churches – Immaculée-Conception and Saint-Jean-Baptiste – and the Maison symphonique. There are also recitals and a gala on Oct. 24 in the Église Saints-Anges de Lachine in honour of the late Noël Spinelli. www.ciocm.org

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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About Author

Arthur Kaptainis has been a classical music critic since 1986. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Musical Toronto. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto. Since 2019, Arthur is co-editor of La Scena Musicale.

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