Review: Orchestre de la Francophonie (July 28)

0

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

For their 15th anniversary season, the Orchestre de la Francophonie participated in Les Concerts Populaires for a celebration of French music that placed foundational Quebec composers in a lineage extending from Ravel to Claude Champagne, Saint-Saëns to Pierre Mercure. The evening of July 28 marked the first Thursday of the season that was not interrupted by the Jeux du Québec, which increased competition for venues at the Parc Olympique from July 17 to 25.

Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Orchestre de la Francophonie

Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Photo: Michel Pinault

The concert, a veritable kaleidoscope – even with its French roots – began with a piece of the same name by Mercure, a constantly-shifting ternary form filled with sparkling orchestral colours and splashy rhythms. This was followed later in the first half by the sprightly Danse villageoise by Claude Champagne, Mercure’s teacher.

Advertisement / Publicité

Entitled “L’OF et Tremblay : C’est la fête,” the evening showcased Assistant Conductor Simon Rivard equally as much as maestro Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Rivard led the young academy orchestra diligently through several pieces, including “Intermezzo et Barcarolle” from Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman, Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte, and his own orchestral arrangement of Honegger’s Hommage à Ravel.

Marie-Pier Simard Gagnon, Orchestre de la Francophonie

Marie-Pier Simard Gagnon, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Photo: Michel Pinault

Two soloists also graced the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau stage, charismatic 17-year-old Marie-Pier Simard Gagnon, who was featured on ICI Radio-Canada’s Virtuose young musician competition earlier this year, gave a rendition of Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1 that was equal parts breathless and breathtaking in execution. Simard Gagnon shows maturity beyond her years in many respects, but the piece was ultimately too big for the occasion. In the second half, flautist Lindsay Bryden masterfully executed Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino for Flute in D Major, bringing a dynamic range and rare sensitivity to the piece, which is often written off as breezy and frivolous.

Russian-Canadian clarinettist and composer Airat Ichmouratov penned an overture for the Orchestre de la Francophonie in celebration of their anniversary. Rhapsodic as well as bombastic, the piece began with a chromatic flourish in the clarinet that lost its idiomatic roots as it travelled throughout the other sections in the orchestra. With a bit more woodshedding, the piece could become a standout part of their concert repertoire.

Lindsay Bryden, Orchestre de la Francophonie

Lindsay Bryden, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Photo: Michel Pinault

Unfortunately, the evening was somewhat marred by microphone issues, which were burdensome additions to an already crowded stage. Yet there is no other work-around for the acoustics of Centre Pierre-Charbonneau. Typifying this problem, Boléro – which closed out the show – was given a fair treatment by the orchestra, but the crescendo that forms the basis of the process-like work lost some of its power due to artificial issues of balance.

Simon Rivard, Orchestre de la Francophonie

Simon Rivard, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Photo: Michel Pinault

Two concerts remain in the season of Les Concerts Populaires, a Carte Blanche with Marc Hervieux and and La Sinfonia de Lanaudière on August 2, and the Orchestre Métropolitain under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin on August 4, both 7:30PM at Centre Pierre-Charbonneau.

 

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

Share:

About Author

Kiersten van Vliet was the Web Editor and an Editorial Assistant for La Scena Musicale from 2015–17.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.