“The Messiah”, lovingly

Photo: François Goupil
Yannick Nézet-Séguin was probably eager to plunge us quickly into this web that it weaves together lovingly, with tenderness, from the opening, and where all the corners are rounded.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin waited 17 years before directing his first Messiah at the head of the Orchestre Métropolitain. He has done things in a big way, at the Maison symphonique. An additional had to be programmed, on Friday night, as the show planned this Saturday in 14 hours is filled quickly. This concert additional had also sold out.


For once, the chef has not spoken. No one has talked about. It was a celebration. An intimate gathering ; more. Funny prerogative, yet. Thirty instrumentalists and a hundred choristers. Imbalance, necessarily. And yet ! Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who has obviously not wanted to select in its choir and exclude singers for such an occasion (kudos and thank you !), request to his flock to sing in moderation, in doing the hemming phrases. In fact, almost every chorus is based on an idea, a concept : the detached notes of All we like sheep, the quasi-rage of He trusted in God, the absolute lightness of the For us unto a Child is born.


We will not pretend, no one will claim that the finish of what one hears on the stage approach to what we deliver here Violons du Roy and la Chapelle de Québec in similar circumstances. The genus is new to the Metropolitan, who gropes in the orchestral introduction to the 2nd part, and proves, in the Pastoral of the 1st, that the game without vibrato demands a technique of the bow and trained to sound less uncomfortable. In the choir also, including the keyboard bass, the good will prevail sometimes on the perfect mastery of vocalization.


But there is a sense. And the meaning is there, everywhere. The spectators see it, sculpted live by the chef.


The angel Carolyn


If there is no speech before The Messiah of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, it is probably because the musician is eager to plunge us quickly into this web that it weaves together lovingly, with tenderness, from the opening, and where all the corners are rounded.


You can hear it in the chorus He shall purify. As during the concert of four Bach cantatas with Bernard Labadie, last Sunday, this chorus is not sung, or stated, as it was in the habit of doing : it is carved smooth. In this universe, after a certain time an angel falls from the sky : the soprano Carolyn Sampson. As Lydia Teuscher, as Joelle Harvey, his voice will remain trapped in these walls like a miracle, a gift from heaven. Carolyn Sampson is fascinating in all his records since its inception. True, she is stunning.


Needless to say that she is necessarily over-shadow the other soloists, even if there is no complaint to make to the counter-tenor, Christophe Dumaux, and almost no bass Stephen Hegedus, called in the last hour. In this context, the tenor Pascal Charbonneau is applied. Its timbre was not the brilliance with the other, but Frédéric Antoun was taken in by a Messiah in Toronto…


A last word for we delight that the Metropolitan, with its own values, drains also a public sharing. Never seen in Montreal : from what I could see of the trash, only a handful of spectators, a quarantine may be, to the floors, has been obediently allegiance to the queen of England, rising in colonized during the Alleluia. This is good fun : you can present a Handel’s Messiah in Québec by listening to it as Quebec ! For that alone, it was worth it to wait.

Handel’s Messiah

Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Christophe Dumaux (counter-tenor), Pascal Charbonneau (tenor), Stephen Hegedus (bass-baritone), Chorus and Orchestre Métropolitain, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Maison symphonique de Montréal, Friday, 22 December 2017. Takeover this Saturday at 14 h.

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