Vasily Petrenko, the pleasure of directing

Photo: Mark McNulty IMG Artists
The conductor, Vasily Petrenko

The title of the concert of the week does not lack a certain irony, given that the star was, of course, the conductor Vasily Petrenko, which some were already in the successor to Kent Nagano scarcely had he set foot in Montreal for the first time, in 2012.


This concert will be particularly scrutinized, and it is little to say that the artistic administration, as embodying a singular premonition, took place in the aspirant a red carpet off-standard, two of the works on the programme being well-known, as learned from the program the last two rounds.


On the menu, the ideal son in law lines up four pieces of resistance, like a Big Mac with extra bacon and extra cheese ! The directory makes one think of Charles Dutoit : the franco-Russian, after testing semi-successful in the German repertoire.


What is striking in Petrenko, it is the pleasure of directing, the instinct of the chef, the sharpness of the gesture. It is also the sense of color, entering at the beginning of the 3rd movement of The sea. There are also some very commendable things in The poem of ecstasy and, in particular, a high standard of integrity vis-à-vis a partition as the largest Russian (Svetlanov) have tripatouillée. Vasily is more respectful of Scriabin as its namesake Kirill Petrenko, who copied in fresh ideas of Svetlanov to impress the Berlin Philharmonic (it worked !).


From the point of view of management, The poem of ecstasy with its exaltation and its multiple twists and turns was the apex of the evening. Vasily Petrenko is known on the fingertips, since it was recorded, which is also the case of the 3rd Concerto of Prokofiev, in which Charles Richard-Hamelin has made a very strong impression by adopting a tempo very quick in movements 1 and 3, while keeping a razor-sharp line.

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Quebec pianist has preserved also a high aesthetic unlike Lang Lang, who vautrait here even in the digressions énamourées. And compared to Trifonov, who had played this concerto on tour with Nagano, the star of Charles Richard-Hamelin pâlissait barely. There is really matters that Yannick Nézet-Séguin is interested very closely to this young soloist quebec and starts to promote it internationally with the same zeal that he does for the cellist Stéphane Tétreault.


The issue of “evaluation” of Vasily Petrenko, the concert has to do obviously with the French music. For this test, I come out convinced to 50 %. In regards to color, yes. For flexibility, breath, of freedom and of the relationship between the tempos, for example in the 2nd movement of The sea, I think it is still a lot of things to mature.


Vasily Petrenko is going to have an orchestra in North America : I have no fear for him. Much more upscale that the OSM love it. Is there a match between Montreal and the head ? People are paid to to say it…

Charles Richard-Hamelin, and the Russian music

Ravel : Ma mère l’oye (suite). Scriabin : The poem of ecstasy. Prokofiev : piano Concerto no. 3. Debussy : La mer. Charles Richard-Hamelin (piano), Montreal symphony Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko. Maison symphonique de Montreal, Wednesday, 11 October 2017. Times Saturday and Sunday.