Bilingual site shared with Nancy Snipper, acclaimed author and cultural affairs journalist. July 2016 ushers in her new site: SN Travel and Arts without Borders. Check it out!
Site bilingue partagé avec Nancy Snipper, auteur acclameé et journaliste des affaires culturelles. Juillet 2016 inaugure sa nouvelle site: SN Travel and Arts without Borders. Vérifiez-le!
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Sunday, 24 November 2013
Mass in B
minor concert doesn’t quite arrive
reviewed by Nancy Snipper
could focus on the messy parts and moments where things fell flat during the
performance of the Telemann ensemble’s magisterial Mass in B minor by Bach, and
as a critic I shall point out the flawed concert, but right now I will give
high praise to the 20-member choir and instrumental musicians (I spotted two
members from Arion Quartet) who brought forth some glorious sounds for the
audience to savour as the eager
listeners sat poised in the pews of Montreal’s noble Christ-Church Cathedral,
Saturday November 23 2013.
27 songs that comprise this Mass featured moments of great solemnity, such as
in the Patrem omnipotentem (song #14)
and the Confiter (#20) – both
magnificently rendered by the choir. Greatest effects happened during the
Mass’s vivace creations. The six
songs preceding the final Doman nobis
pacem – itself a rather sombre song that had its final flash in the last
few measures – were outstanding. Indeed the choir led by the ensemble’s
full-time conductor, Rafik Matta – a brilliant scholar who is also a jazz
specialist and violinist – frequently kept things together – but not all the
despite the stunning singing of the choir and those high spirited moments of
playing, the overall concert was lacklustre. There did not seem to be an
exciting connection between the musicians and conductor – who himself appeared
tired. Moreover, the Quoniam tu solas
sanctus – sung by bass-baritone Pierre-Étienne Bergeron was an
embarrassment for the French horn player. Wrong notes introduced the opening,
and all throughout, there were messy notes that left Mr. Bergeron out on a limb
with this song. Still, he did a fine job, and his voice is one to remember. The
following Cum Sancto spiritu made up
for this sonic snag as it was inspirational. In fact, all those songs that
featured the choir were heaven-sent.
two soloists, soprano, Pascale Beaudin and mezzo-soprano, Claudine Ledoux were
positioned off to the side for their vocal delivery -as were the males (tenor
Philippe Gagné overcame that with his sweet voice). Such an arrangement did not
make then stand out at all; worse still, it did not bring a collective
cohesion. Ms. Ledouz has a fine voice, but Beaudin who never once looked up
from her libretto to connect with the audience was not inspiring. Her voice has
too much vibrato, but her high notes were lovely and clear.
major fault of the entire production was the lack of accented phrasal openings
in voice and instrument. Too many missed occasions created dullness and that
dampened the more dazzling moments that suddenly popped up.
have heard this work and it is an exultant musical masterpiece. Albeit, several
moments during the performance strived for this, but clearly, not everyone was
on the same page – so to speak. Not enough commitment to this prodigious
production was given in order to make the Mass entirely magnificent, and it
should be just that – gloriously moving every step of the way.