The Metropolitan Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin experiment with Beethoven’s therapeutic virtues

Since last Monday, the Orchester Métropolitain has taken over the Bourgie hall to play and record the symphonies nbone 1 to 8 by Beethoven under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. We were able to observe them working on the symphonies nbone 2 and 4, Wednesday afternoon.

“It feels good, it’s really happiness”! For the past two months, Luc Chaput, production and touring director of the Orchester Métropolitain, who lets go of this cry from the heart, has been in regular contact with Isolde Lagacé, director of Salle Bourgie so that something can happen when the weather is fine. came. He had no real idea that the project in which Yannick Nézet-Séguin would launch his troops would not be one of those musical half-measures born of health constraints and the necessary scenic distancing, but a slightly crazy bet: to put on an orchestra in a room and record Beethoven’s symphonies.

“We have never played like this. We don’t hear it the same way, but it’s up to us to see what we can gain and even what can benefit us when we play again under normal conditions, “said solo violinist Yukari Cousineau. “We take the lead, we take the risks,” admits Martin Hudon, director of marketing, the one who knocks on the doors to negotiate a broadcast “in Quebec or internationally” of the video and audio recordings made during these four blocks of three days, two symphonies per block. “We don’t know what will happen in September. By then we will have a product and we now have an idea that it will be a great product. “

A resonant Beethoven

Arrival in the Bourgie room. Arrows indicate the staircase that allows you to go up and the one that goes down. Above all, do not venture to the floor: only musicians are admitted. On the balcony, the first notes cool the enthusiasm. The very reverberating sound turns and colors a little. It will take a technical and post-production artist like François Goupil, familiar with OM, to tame it all. The 2e Symphony, after the break, shows that there is a very good thing to play: the development of the winds by acoustics brings out the revolutionary, “French” dimension of Beethoven. In addition, the reverberation rooms are generally good recording studios: the Japanese label Denon has established its reputation by making its recordings in this type of place.

Despite the space between the musicians, the orchestra does play as we know it: as a team. “The reverberant acoustics do not make our job easier, but will make the sound even more beautiful” says the first cello player Christopher Best who underlines that the exercise “changes the dynamics between colleagues, because it increases individual responsibility”. “We quickly adapted,” said Best, like his fellow bassoonist Michel Boulez who was a little lost at first when he heard the strings “in a certain blur”.

“Yannick was right to say: We have to do it, we’ll see after” analyzes production director Luc Chaput who, since Monday, has been broadcasting his experience to his counterparts in the Orchester symphonique de Québec and elsewhere in Canada: be vigilant. We are proud of it and share information that can be useful. “

Mr. Chaput, who was in contact with the CNESST doctors who wrote the guide to good practices in the field, published on Monday, was above all surprised at the ability and speed of adaptation of the musicians to all health measures and musically. “We are outside our comfort zone, but the desire was really strong. “

Do and see then… This great epic, including the video, is entirely produced and financed by the Metropolitan. In the mind of the chef, we had to act first and let the competent teams tie up funding from eligible aid, the support of sponsors and broadcasters attracted to this first post-COVID in North America. Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Beethoven is a reflection of this breakthrough in forceps: he never lets go. In other words, it didn’t bend acoustically to slow down or soften. “I decided that on the podium,” said the chef. “It’s very interesting, the sound here. Everyone has their own space, takes responsibility for larger branches. “

As for putting the cart before the horse, Yannick Nézet-Séguin stresses that “in classical music there has always been this struggle between the need for planning and this desire to play the music that inspires us at the moment”. He therefore takes his side of the constraints and is not afraid of having been too ambitious: “Board of directors, team, musicians: we are all on the same line of thought. This responsiveness has always been our strength. We have fewer certainties and an ease of adaptation. ” We can judge the results of this musical makeover over the summer.

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