Nagano Nails Mozart’s Requiem
Maison symphonique de Montréal, Place des Arts
02/22/2012 - & 23*, 25 (two performances) February, 2012
Pierre Boulez: Le Soleil des eaux
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183 – Requiem, K. 626
Rayanne Dupuis (Soprano), Kimy McLaren (Soprano), Anita Krause (Mezzo-soprano), Colin Ainsworth (Tenor), Tyler Duncan (Bass)
Chœur de L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Andrew Megill (Chorus Director), Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Kent Nagano (Conductor)
K. Nagano (© Felix Broede)
Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) delivered an electrifying performance of Mozart’s Requiem (Süssmayr version) on Thursday evening. There was such a clamour for tickets to the three scheduled subscription concerts that the OSM added a fourth performance on February 25. This apparently sold out in two hours! Kent Nagano as rock star? Some of the excitement of Thursday’s performance was generated by its sheer speed, which I clocked at 49 minutes. (I have an old, lumbering Karajan version which comes in at 64 minutes and what I had thought was a fast rendition of the Levin version with Bernard Labadie and the Violons du Roy at 53 minutes.)
Orchestra and chorus were in excellent form. The finely tuned choir of 24 men and 24 women was coached by Nagano’s latest chorus director, Andrew Mcgill, who has prepared choruses for the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Dresden Philharmonic. The men sang with rare confidence and power, although they tended to shout during some of their entries, particularly in measure 24 of the “Lacrimosa dies illa”. The silken sheen of the women’s voices was heavenly.
The reduced orchestra provided bedrock support. The playing was well focussed, nuanced and exuberant. Principal oboist Theodore Baskin was at his lyrical best; however, the famous obbligato passage for trombone in the “tuba mirum” lacked tonality and assurance. The quartet of young Canadian singers blended seamlessly with each other and the other participants. Soprano Kimy McLaren sang with a pure line and faultless intonation. Mezzo Anita Krause performed with warmth and conviction and just a hint of vibrato. Tenor Colin Ainsworth shone with well-rounded tone and vigour. Bass-barritone Tyler Duncan exhibited authority and finesse.
The Requiem was preceded by a less-than-successful performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25. The horns were downright embarrassing in the two outer movements. And although Nagano inspired an exhilarating rhythmic swing in the first movement (used as a major theme in Milos Forman’s 1984 film Amadeus), the subsequent ones were uninspiring.
The concert opened with Pierre Boulez’ ten-minute cantata Le Soleil des eaux (the definitive 1965version) for soprano, chorus and full orchestra, based on two poems by the French poet René Char. The orchestra captured exquisitely the lyrical, impressionistic atmosphere of the first half, as well as the urgency and violence of the second. Rayanne Dupuis’ radiant soprano had just enough gravitas to evoke the poem’s themes of the lizard in love and the imminent ecological disaster. As Nagano explained, this work can also be seem as a requiem.
Earl Arthur Love