Erina Yashima’s Blunders and Promises

The Orchester Métropolitain concert this week was conducted by Erina Yashima, assistant to Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Philadelphia. Music lovers in the metropolis will be able to say that they were among the first to have heard from a conductor whom we will hear about. She will leave a very good memory in Montreal, despite a rare blunder.

Amazing Erina Yashima. Astonishing at the start, moreover: an approach so energetic that it looks like an electric battery, a kind of Jordan de Souza in the feminine.

Surprising also negatively, because one wonders how a German from Heilbronn, 110 kilometers from the French border, is unable to say “Hello” to us and to use three words of French to present her program. Seeking to understand where she is and where she leads will perhaps be one of the qualities that the young woman will have to acquire.

Complaining about the extreme cold at -1 ° C in front of a dumbfounded audience was not much smarter. But we understand from Mario Paquet’s translation that she only brought shoes.

Dreamy cellist

Once transported into the musical world, Yashima was more about her business. Erina Yashima is an energetic conductor who knew in Brahms not to fall into the trap into which Stéphane Tétreault almost pulled her: that of sound contemplation.

The cellist’s first intervention was almost unreal, a sort of fixed cadence, hypervibrous and dreamy. All that was missing were the little birds, cryogenic smoke, red spotlights, incense sticks and an hourglass that we could fix while waiting for it to end. As a reminder, the score reads “ in the manner of a recitative, but always on time »(In short: do not slow down).

Then embraced in the continuum of the work, led by the conductor and her partner, the impeccable violinist Kerson Leong, Stéphane Tétreault went straight ahead and adopted the excellent fluid tempo of the 2nd movement. It seemed to us that its sound was like “rounded”, lacking in bite. Instrumentally, however, we admired the excellent overall performance and the generous orchestral performance. Unfortunately on the last chords of the work, the conductor, distracted, seems to have added a measure or missed a chord. The incident will be seen again on video, but its soloists found themselves exposed on the antepenultimate chord.

Sound choirs

It is very good that Erina Yashima chose the 5th Symphony by Dvorak. She approached it with the necessary tone that recalled the excellent record reference of Witold Rowicki. Excellent idea too: align the horns in front of the back wall, which gave a lot of impact and relief to their playing, very important thing in this score. It is a concert that we will have great interest in following in webcast, because we sometimes felt a very slight inertia in the respondent of the orchestra (3rd movement) without being able to explain it by the gestures as seen from behind.

In any case Erina Yashima is on the way to a great career: she really directs the music and does not stage herself unlike Alondra de la Parra in the 9th Symphony of Dvorak with the same orchestra.

The concert began with a work of the flavor of the year in the chapter “diversity” on the continent: Jessie Montgomery. Work for skilful strings, with many pizzicatos. Could we plan instead to rely on this register, which pleases sponsors and funders when this has at least an infinitesimal link with the program? Indeed, a concert program should remain a priori designed for the audience who comes to listen to it. An opening work is supposed to prepare for listening to the following works. Too conspicuous, the “no report”, just to be too irreproachable politically correct, appears a little ridiculous. A work by Émilie Mayer, for example, would have done the job perfectly in the context while enhancing the value of female creation.

Leong and Tétreault: sparkling strings

Jessie Montgomery: Strum. Brahms: Double Concerto. Dvořák: Symphony No. 5. Kerson Leong (violin), Stéphane Tétreault (cello), Orchester Métropolitain, Erina Yashima. Maison symphonique de Montréal, Tuesday November 30, 2021. Webcast from December 10.

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