Overview of events to watch this summer for all classical music lovers.
The opening of the Festival de Lanaudière, on July 7, will not take place this year to the sound of Mahler, as in the last three editions, but rather of Beethoven, with his essential Ninth Symphony. As usual, the Orchester symphonique de Montréal will occupy the large outdoor stage of the Fernand-Lindsay amphitheater, with its conductor Rafael Payare on the podium, who conducted this symphonic-choral monument at the Maison symphonique there one year old. We stay not too far to hear the same protagonists the next afternoon in the dazzling Concerto for orchestra by Bartók, The Moldau by Smetana and the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Rachmaninoff, played by the Russian soloist Denis Kojoukhine, whose will be the Quebec debut.
Since the announcement of its dissolution, the Emerson Quartet, the best string quartet in activity, has multiplied the farewell concerts in Quebec, which is obviously not to displease. After the Club musical de Québec last October, the ensemble, formed in 1976 by students from the Juilliard School, will be the guest of the Montreal Chamber Music Festival on June 6 in a “quintet” format. To hear Emerson “pure juice” one last time, it’s at Domaine Forget in Charlevoix that you’ll have to go on July 14. The four musicians will give an excellent overview of their repertoire by drawing on the side of Haydn, Mendelssohn and Ravel.
A week after the sacred opening weekend in Lanaudière, it is in Estrie that it will be necessary to go for a sacred weekend. The Orford Music Festival invites you first to hear the excellent Old Music Society of Montreal (SMAM) in the legendary acoustics of the abbey church of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac on Saturday, July 15 in the afternoon in a program of Renaissance a cappella choral music. The following afternoon, at the Orford Center, the Montreal company Ballet Opéra Pantomime (BOP) offers another image of the sacred with its new creation, La Nef: ritual for four pianos, which combines the music of Messiaen with dance and creations by two young composers from here.
This is probably the event of the classical musical summer in Quebec: the arrival of Argentinian conductor Leonardo Garcíá Alarcón at the Festival de Lanaudière on July 22 and 24. We have heard him at the OSM and at Les Violons du Roy, as much in Bach as in Piazzolla and Stravinsky, but it is this time around Monteverdi that he will take us on a journey, what is more for the first time here with its Cappella Mediterranea and the renowned Chamber Choir of Namur. They will offer us on the one hand the Orfeo, the first great opera in history (July 22), then the immense Vespers of the Virgin of the Italian composer (July 24), two works of which they have now recorded unavoidable.
After Gounod’s Faust last summer, the Festival d’Opéra de Québec will present another flagship opera from the French Romantic repertoire from July 28 to August 1. Roméo et Juliette, by the same composer, will bring together an entirely French-speaking cast, including, in the two title roles, the young French soprano Hélène Carpentier, winner of numerous competitions, and her compatriot Thomas Bettinger, who dazzled us last year in Faust. It is the director Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau, active on several major European stages, who will bring this immortal drama to life.
Good traditions are made to stay, and that could no longer be the case for the open-air concert of the Orchester Métropolitain, which brought together some 50,000 people last summer. This year, on August 2, the Montreal population is invited, at the foot of Mount Royal, to hear the band under the direction of its conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. On the menu: Dvorak’s invigorating Symphony No. 7, works by Mexican Arturo Márquez and Canadian Jean Coulthard, and the moving Rhapsody for piano and orchestra by André Mathieu (soloist: Alain Lefèvre), which can be heard in particular in the movie The Child Prodigy.