[Les Grandes Dames] - Musica Camerata season 52 concert review

Updated: Jun 16



On June 4th, one of Canada's foremost chamber music ensembles: Musica Camerata gave a beautiful performance of two women composers at the beautiful hall of La Chapelle de Bon Pasteur on Sherbrooke Street, in front of a good number of loyal audiences.


  • About Musica Camerata

Since its debut in 1971, Musica Camerata Montréal offers programs of rare originality, and has devoted much of its energy to promoting the music of Canadian composers. Musica Camerata's repertoire includes more than 350 works from the 18th to the 21st centuries. The current ensemble consists of Berta Rosenohl on piano, Luis Grinhauz and Violaine Melançon on violins,

Sofia Gentile on viola, and Bruno Tobon on cello. Only pianist Berta Rosenohl and her husband, Luis Grinhauz, who is the also the music director of the ensemble, are the remaining founding members since 1971.




  • The 52nd season of Musica Camerata

This is the 52nd season of their concert, the piano quintet presented to us [Les Grandes Dames] two women composers: the renowned American composer Amy Beach, and the less well-known Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz.


The style of Amy Beach could be better defined as romantic than classical. This lovely Op.67 for piano and string quartet in F sharp minor, is characterized by chromaticism and frequent modulation, it carries traces of Boston composers whom Amy frequented in her youth, notably Mr. Arthur Foote. Although one hears the violins are predominant in the composition, their colleagues contribute significantly to the dialogue. The exquisite second movement Adagio espressivo is rich in harmonic modulations, and the lyrical thematic material is not uncommon in the romantic era. A few measures of the solo piano chordal section in the middle brought the movement to a climax. The last movement Allegro Agitato opened with fierce energy on the piano, those chromatic scales were executed with effortlessness and smoothness. Piano then reinforced the violin line and underpinned the texture, offering airy arpeggio and occasional weighty chordal accompaniments at significant structural points.





The second piece: piano Quintet No.1 by Grazyna Bacewicz consists of four movements. The opening Moderato molto espressivo - Allegro is written in the sonata form and begins with an introduction. The main theme, feisty and vigorous, brings to mind the music of Bartok and Stravinsky. The string players demonstrated exceptional control of dynamics and color. The short phrases contain unpredictable harmonic progressions as if someone is considering a course of action on which something vital hinges. The second theme dissolves into colorful phantasmagorias. In the second movement, Presto, we can hear oberek-Bacewicz’s favorite Polish folk dance, which we can find in many of her compositions (including piano sonata, piano concerto and violin works). The ensemble’s tempos are remarkably unified and its realization is evident. The subsequent Grave is indeed heavy - like a funeral march (piano) against a solemn ode of strings. Only now we understand where such poignant phrases came from in the introduction of the Quintet. Tragic tones do not prevail - the tonal center is a dignified B flat major chord. After a dramatic climax, the music, ever quieter, is stretched between the poles - an earthy piano and a heavenly pair of violins. Just like the first movement, the final Con passione is written in the sonata form. The most specific feature here is the polyrhythmic richness, which builds a clearly different narrative, despite taking over the formal principles and motivational ideas already used in the work.


In an interview after the concert, pianist Berta mentioned that their reputated ensemble gave talks in universities, and over the years, it built a loyal audience in Montreal. As Goethe said, music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music. The ensemble performed in many different venues across Montreal, so loyal audiences also gets to explore different venues with the musicians. Regarding repertoire choices, one member of the ensemble (often the artistic director) makes a repertoire suggestion, and the other members would simply follow. In today’s society, we tend to hail young prodigies who perform famous composers’ famous works. Sometimes, too young too talented, it almost feels cruel to witness their competition with time. In comparison, having the opportunity to listen and to watch one of the country's most respected ensemble’s senior performers perform less well known works was such a refreshing experience!


For the moment, the public is only able to purchase concert to concert ticket by email or by phone. Season subscriptions might return depending on other factors as well.


For more detail about Musica Camerata:

- Website: https://cameratamontreal.com/

- For ticket purchases/enquiry: 514-489-8713

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