Should one risk attending a concert featuring "emerging" talents during pandemic times? For many, the answer would be a resounding no. However, attendees at the Orchestre Métropolitain's performance that showcased young talents in Brahms' Double Concerto had no regrets. Three rising stars brought their talents to the fore.

Kerson Leong, Stéphane Tétreault, Erina Yashima and Orchestre Métropolitain
© François Goupil

Two Canadian soloists, violinist Kerson Leong and cellist Stéphane Tétreault stole the show. The former has won junior first prize at the Menuhin Competition and the latter has been featured soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Suffice it to say that their fame is not limited to their country of origin. Most impressive was the musicality they exuded in their respective cadenza-like solo passages in the Double Concerto. Both players were on fire. Their technical mastery was beyond reproach, their sounds easily filling the large hall. Both Leong and Tétreault were sensitive to one another's phrasing, thereby fostering an interpretative synergy that resulted in stellar music making.

In the Brahms, the overall performance would have benefited from heightened communication and sensitivity on the part of conductor Erina Yahima and the members of the Orchestre Métropolitain. At times, their volume was inappropriately loud. The tuning in the winds, particularly evident in the slow movement, was not up to this orchestra's usual high standard. There was an unfortunate rhythmic mishap in the final measures of the last movement that tarnished the ending.

The concert opened with an enjoyable rendering of Jessie Montgomery's Strum for string orchestra. Montgomery's music fuses classical, folk and jazz elements. Strum is a first-rate composition which oozes exuberance. Through a variety of effects, she is able to expand the palette of sonorities elicited from the string players. Both Yahima and the OM strings displayed total mastery of the mixed metre demands of this work. The conductor's verve lifted the score off the page. The solo violin, viola and cello lines were handled with aplomb. Had the entire string section brought the same commitment as their front desk colleagues to this rendering, it would have been all the better. That said, this composition came off exceedingly well and it was, on the whole, the best played piece in this concert.

Dvořák's rarely performed Fifth Symphony rounded out the program. This work reveals nascent glimpses of the greatness that characterizes the composer's final three symphonies. The first movement, at times reminiscent of Mendelssohn, featured some well handled solo flute and clarinet work. Particularly in this opening movement, more attention to tutti orchestra balance and tone quality when playing loudly was needed. The OM's playing of the second movement laudably created a Bohemian character while the third movement was affably jubilant. In the final movement, Yahima and the OM, to their credit, brought out the contrasting haunting and festive moods. The trumpets afforded themselves well in the fanfare passages that brought the symphony to a rousing conclusion. Brava to Yashima and kudos to the OM who collectively created many exquisite musical moments during the evening.

***11