City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Concert Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 17 August 2011

Kent Negano
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The Usher Hall
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Running time: 
Debussy, La Mer; Tan Dun, Water Concerto; Beethoven, Symphony No 6 Pastoral.
Kent Nagano (conductor), Wang Beibei (percussion), Serge Desgagnés (percussion), Andrew Dunsmore (percussion).

When we arrived there were, at the very front of the stage, four very large clear glass bowls filled with water. Behind them the large orchestra from Montréal making their first appearance at an Edinburgh International Festival.

The three symphonic sketches of Debussy’s La mer put us in the mood for what was to come.

Wang Beibei moved down the central aisle playing what one could describe as a small bird cage, and up on to the stage she went. Before long she and her two colleagues were at their water bowls very skillfully splashing, caressing and simply playing with the water - and it was all picked up by the microphones nearby.

Kent Nagano, Montréal’s conductor for the past five years, knew exactly when to bring the other players in to add substance to Tan Dun’s Water Concerto. With considerable aplomb and Chinese style Wang Beibei enthralled us throughout the Concerto.

The second desk of first violins had to cope with the splashing water that came their way. Someone in the front row of the stalls put up an umbrella, but in fun, and after the Concerto was over.

Disappointingly, not everybody around me clapped at the end of the Water Concerto; they had come for Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. The Leader of the Orchestra had swapped places with his colleague and Kent Nagano made sure we were given a fine performance of the well loved Symphony.

Somehow you could tell that the conductor knew his players and his smiles of encouragement at appropriate moments were part of their team spirit.

The delight of the capacity audience at the end encouraged not one, but two encores.

Event: Tuesday 16 August 2011, 8pm

Read Iain Gilmour's review of Orchestra Symphonique de Montréal