Home     Content     Articles      La Scena Musicale     Search   

La Scena Musicale - Vol. 13, No. 8 May 2008

Back To Basics: Musica Camerata’s Romantic Weekend

by Graham Lord / May 11, 2008

Now in its 38th season, Musica Camerata continues to be a leading player in Montreal’s remarkably busy chamber music scene. With a penchant for more unusual fare, its mandate is to program lesser known works and composers for the city’s concertgoers, with a particular emphasis on Canadian compositions as well as Canadian premieres of unknown musical gems, be they homegrown or from abroad. A look at its season thus far confirms this mission: a January concert was dedicated entirely to chamber music from Québec, featuring more venerable composers such as Jacques Hétu and Claude Vivier and opening the door to works by younger composers like Robert Rival and Blair Thomson. Meanwhile, other concerts this season boasted Canadian premieres of works by Frank Bridge and Édouard Lalo, a testament to the ensemble’s ability to find hidden gems throughout history.

Born in Argentina, Musica Camerata artistic director and violinist Luis Grinhauz founded the ensemble when he first came to Montreal, shortly after completing his studies at Indiana University with renowned violin pedagogue Josef Gingold, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship. He won a position with l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, where he is now assistant concertmaster. While Grinhauz is proud of Camerata’s mandate to highlight the more neglected works of chamber music, the ensemble will switch things around for a weekend in May and get back to the basics: a three-concert mini-festival (May 16-18) dedicated to the core Romantic chamber music repertoire for strings. The Romantic Weekend, explains Grinhauz,
aims to attract some new people to the series, concertgoers who may not necessarily be seeking out the obscure or the novel, but would rather see the tried and true musical warhorses. Each of the concerts focuses on a German Romantic-era composer: May 16th features Schumann (String Quartet No. 1 in A minor and Piano Quintet in Eb), while May 17th puts Brahms in the spotlight (Horn Trio in Eb and String Quintet No. 2 in G). Rounding off the weekend on the 18th are works by Mendelssohn (Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor and String Quintet No. 2 in Bb).

Each program will also feature selected songs by Franz Schubert, which will be interpreted by local rising star soprano Leticia Brewer. A prizewinner in the 2007 edition of the highly prestigious Montreal International Music Competition, Brewer is currently a member of the Atelier Lyrique program at L'Opéra de Montréal. While well-established artists such as Grinhauz or Orchestre symphonique de Montréal principal horn John Zirbel (who will perform the Brahms trio on the 17th) make up the core of Musica Camerata’s roster of performers, Grinhauz insists that a vital component of the series is to give exposure to young, talented artists such as Brewer. As such, two remarkably talented young string players will also be joining the ensemble for the festival: violist Rémi Pelletier and cellist Sylvain Murray.

All three concerts will be given at McGill University’s Redpath Hall (3461 MacTavish St.). Concerts on the 16th and 17th start at 8:00 PM, and the concert on the 18th starts at 3:00 PM; tickets range from $20-$30; for more info, call 514-489-8713.

(c) La Scena Musicale