Young and Old Flock to Montréal for the Concours Musical International


Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Hawkins, R. Strauss, Shostakovich, Bartók: Zoltán Fejérvári (piano), Serhiy Salov (piano), Measha Brueggergosman (soprano), Benjamin Beilman (violin), Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal / Claus-Peter Flor (conductor), Symphony Hall, Place des Arts, Montréal, 12.5.2017. (LV)

Brahms – Piano Concerto No.2 Movement 1
Saint-Saëns – Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
R. Walter Hawkins – Goin’ Up Yonder
R. Strauss – Four Last Songs: ‘Im Abendrot’
Shostakovich – Festive Overture
Bartók– Piano Concerto No.3

For 15 years the Concours Musical International de Montréal has been a great place to hang out if you like classical music’s most glorious, cruelest event, the competition.

This year, it was the week of May 8 when six finalists each played a full concerto with the Orchestre Symphonie de Montréal (OSM) conducted by Claus-Peter Flor. The six performances were split over consecutive nights and revealed a range of talents.

On May 9, Albert Cano Smit broke hearts with his poetry but fell under the weight of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No.1. Zoltan Fejérvári completely reversed the situation, playing Bartok’s Third with serene command and dazzling chops. Giuseppe Guarrera took full possession of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 from his opening, thundering chords, and rarely relinquished the spotlight again; it was always breath-taking, never boring.

On May 10, Yejin Noh astonished the audience with her own version of an extravagant Tchaikovsky First with something that was more passionate as if she were the one being possessed, like the woman floating away from the piano in this year’s Concours logo image. She was followed by Jinhyung Park in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, who was poetical, precise, blended well with the orchestra, and charged brilliantly into the ending.

When Stefano Andreatta concluded the night by playing Liszt’s Second Concerto, it was like a return to a far-off, previous century when elegant phrasing and seamless virtuosity blended to create an authentically exasted feel from the composer’s tawdry fabric.

The three winners were excellent choices: Fejérvári took first prize and $30,000, plus $50,000 as recipient of the Joseph Rouleau Career Development Grant. Guarrera took second and $15,000, Andreatta third and $10,000. Except for the Best Canadian Artist Award, given to Teo Gheorghiu, all the other special prizes, including the People’s Choice Award, were awarded to Guarrera.

No matter how gala the Gala, you always leave wishing you could have heard at least the top three prize winners again. But who could complain when the entertainment was supplied by past winners Measha Brueggergosman singing a spiritual and “Im Abendrot” from Strauss’s Four Last Songs, Serhiy Salov in the first movement of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, and violinist Benjamin Beilman playing Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.

After intermission came some serious sounds, with the OSM finally playing like a world-class orchestra in Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, and then Fejérvári reprised the Bartok with more wide-ranging command, and a more brilliant personality – deeply beautiful and profound.

The gala concert was sold out, filled with talent scouts from the world’s major record labels, competitions, and orchestras checking out the young virtuosos – including 70 attendees from the 61st General Assembly of the World Federation of International Music Competitions, and 200 from the International Federation of Musicians’ triennial conference. Not to mention that the city of Montréal is celebrating its 375th birthday, all year long.

But that’s what makes classical music in Montréal so irresistible – young and old at the same time.

Laurence Vittes

Print Friendly


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H