About us / Contact

The Classical Music Network


Europe : Paris, Londn, Zurich, Geneva, Strasbourg, Bruxelles, Gent
America : New York, San Francisco, Montreal                       WORLD

Your email :



Payare Continues His Mahler Cycle in Montreal

Maison symphonique de Montréal, Place des Arts
09/21/2023 -  & September 23, 2023
Lera Auerbach: Icarus
Sergey Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, op. 26
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D major, “Titan”

Alexander Malofeev (Piano)
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Raphael Payare (Conductor)

R. Payare, A. Malofeev (© Antoine Saito)

Conductor Raphael Payare and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) are pulling out all the stops for the inauguration of their second season together. After last week’s Glagolitic Mass and The Rite of Spring they returned this week with three more powerful works. Next week it’s The Planets!

The Mahler First heard Thursday evening was not quite up to par with last season’s sensational Second, Fifth and Third. There were wonderful moments. Most sections of the orchestra (except the augmented horns) performed superbly and solo work was outstanding.

The most felicitous moments came from the strings, especially when all sections performed together. They were consistently tight and played with depth and a shimmering sheen. The second movement dance in the style of a rustic Ländler was lovingly handled as were transitional moments throughout the symphony. (Concertmaster Andrew Wan, a phenomenon, never gives less than 100 per cent.) Kudos to principal flautist Timothy Hutchins, who superbly recalled the forest birds, principal trumpet Paul Merkelo, who performed with smooth intonation, and principal horn Catherine Turner, who was consistently elegant in her playing.

Conductor Payare and the orchestra gave their all in the explosive moments, and Payare controlled the softer ones with nuance and restraint. (But the climax for me was ruined by the patron in front of my seat recording it with her smart phone.) At times, however, especially in the slower sections, the underlying tension was not maintained. Maybe the work hadn’t been given enough rehearsal time.

The young Russian sensation, Alexander Malofeev (who 18 months ago was forced to cancel an appearance with the OSM due to pressure from the local Ukrainian community), finally had his debut with a blistering performance of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. A technical wizard, he tossed off runs, trills and arpeggios with mind‑warping speed and aplomb. The soft passages were played with fine articulation and nuance. He and the orchestra, which performs in this piece as an equal partner, blended effortlessly and seamlessly. With experience, Malofeev should develop more warmth and depth in his playing.

The concert opened with a riveting performance of Lera Auerbach’s symphonic poem, Icarus. Composed in 2006 and based on the last two movements of her first symphony, the work received its premier in 2011 at the Verbier Festival by former OSM conductor, Charles Dutoit. According to the program notes, Auerbach’s fascination with Greek myths inspired her to use evocative titles to “invite the listener to feel free to imagine, to assess his own memories, associations” so that “the music disturbs you, moves you, soars with you, stays with you”. Auerbach succeeded with Icarus. The 12‑minute work alternated between menacing, catastrophic, orchestral forces, and soft, dreamlike sequences. One could imagine Icarus’s upward journey to the sun, being burnt to a crisp, falling back to earth, hitting the ground, then tenderly being absorbed by the earth. Payare maintained a taut, rhythmic pulse throughout, and concluded with a gentle, sustained, triple pianissimo. Equally impressive were Concertmaster Wan’s evocative solos in the softer passages.

It is probably a coincidence, but it was interesting to note that all major works being performed this month were composed around the turn of the pervious century—go figure!

Earl Arthur Love



Copyright ©ConcertoNet.com