Back To Basics: Musica Camerata’s Romantic Weekendby 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
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.