The necessary and gigantic accomplishment of Fred Pellerin and Kent Nagano

Fred Pellerin and Kent Nagano shared the stage on Wednesday with the OSM for a fifth Christmas story since 2011 at the Maison symphonique. This 2021 edition, resumed four more times until Saturday and broadcast on Radio-Canada for the Holidays, surpasses, in relevance and sensitivity, everything the tandem had proposed so far.

What a state of grace! Three years after the “fourth part of a trilogy”, The days of the sole, Paradise post is, finally, the ideal accomplishment of the marriage of the universes of Fred Pellerin and Kent Nagano. This appears as a gift for the recent 70th birthday of the Maestro, but especially for the public.

Major developments

In 2018 we wrote: “In the fourth edition, is it not obvious and confirmed that the object is a tale by Fred Pellerin, musically illustrated by the OSM? “. We regretted that “there was not more work on the interweaving of story and music”, certain music breaking the rhythm of the tale and killing the atmosphere, to the point “of wondering what this Pellerin alliance really means. -Nagano ”.

No one, in 2021, would imagine raising this question, so much the music relays the tale and reinforces his emotions, as when reading the letter of the little girl missing on the slow movement of the Clarinet Concerto by Mozart, beautifully performed by Todd Cope. The music supports the narration, when letters seem to fly over the Finale from Classical symphony of Prokofiev or when the Cantus d’Arvo Pärt accompanies the last breaths of the postwoman.

This true symbiosis of universes has always been the challenge to be met: it is here, in a tale of great finesse and emotion. In our interviews in the spring, Kent Nagano seemed to have been very touched by the idea of ​​mourning that has entered almost everyone’s life. Fred Pellerin may have heard that. How to speak to our dead? Why not write to them? What if they answered?

Pellerin turns this substrate into a jewel, which begins in an even more supercharged manner, in the post office scene “with the lady embedded in it in the starter kit”, which he will then tickle our sensitive cords.

Goal achieved

The form has also been grafted to the bottom. René Richard Cyr’s staging formula remains: the storyteller is installed on the left and a large central ball carries projections. What has been refined, with the collaboration of Normal Studio, visual designers noticed in Alexander Shelley’s projects at the National Arts Center, is the richness of the projections and the efficiency of the lighting. At the same time as the alliance of the Word and the music, the visual aspect is also enhanced.

At this level, Fred Pellerin and Kent Nagano’s Christmas story idea really ticks all the boxes. It’s a wonderful Christmas spectacle, sure, but it’s much more than that. It is a unique artistic project, typically Quebecois, which bears our brand and our identity and can only be done here. It’s also a perfect way to bring classical music to TV this holiday season. Now the music is no longer an artificial subterfuge: it is a logical integral part of the story. And even, a cause dear to Kent Nagano, the conductor manages to slip in contemporary works (Dutilleux, Pärt).

Why have the stars finally all aligned for the 2021 vintage? Kent Nagano had already managed to Radio France a great “atmospheric staging” of the music during the first post-confinement concert. He took over the Cantus departure. This experience perhaps fed him in terms of musical dramaturgy. Perhaps, too, being detached from the day-to-day affairs of the orchestra makes it possible to prepare things differently.

The period and its challenges in any case inspired Fred Pellerin and Kent Nagano. Now that the cogs are oiled, we hope to see them again, because this breath of fresh air is much needed.

Paradise post

Fred Pellerin (storyteller), Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Kent Nagano. René Richard Cyr (stage director). Works by Debussy, Prokofiev, Dutilleux, Mozart, Bartók, Pärt and Bellemare. Maison symphonique de Montréal, Wednesday, December 15. Resumes Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Broadcast on ICI Télé on December 26 at 8 p.m. and ICI ARTV on December 27 at 8 p.m.

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