When you don’t know how to start, a quarter of an hour Bolero can be overpowering. Fortunately, the Metz National Orchestra, led by David Reiland, kept only the last few laps of Ravel’s saw to introduce the 27th Victories of classical music which took place on Friday at the Arsenal in Metz. An edition “Youth and renewal”, “at a prime time”, “but also under the sign of the transmission between young shoots and renowned artists”, said the presenters Judith Chaine (France Musique) and Leïla Kaddour (France Télévisions), just to make it clear that we were not going to be left in the lurch with the mummified ghost of Karajan who appears in the television unconscious whenever we pronounce the words “classical music”. There was even talk of “Hard rock, yes you heard right”, to evoke the tastes of tenor Kevin Amiel, precision that launched the evening on the rails of daring, but which no music lover of the room thought of being offended, Bach being the oldest of the brave in history.
On the stage bathed in an orange light, the guests therefore argued fierceness and youth, whether it is the Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili in green dress and Stradivarius Engleman in Tchaikovsky, the Belgian soprano Jodie Devos spent enchanting Offenbach or Anna Netrebko, all dressed in white, come to spread the clarity of his fleshy tone in Carpenter. The voice of countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, “Entered the Grévin museum and it’s not nothing” – which we can doubt anyway – flew to the wooded vaults of the Arsenal on the Stabat Mater of Vivaldi then on a Dance of Death launched by violinist Julien Chauvin before the artist left with a reward (his 5th), which allows him to cover the entire panel, from Revelation to Victory of Honor.
The official monster of the year, pianist Alexandre Kantorow, winner of the unmissable Tchaikovsky Competition last June, performed the final of Egyptian of Saint-Saëns with his usual relaxation, white shirt put on like out of the shower, on a fast tempo which was pleasant. He took the opportunity to grab the best recording as well as the victory of the best soloist of the year and gave an elegant speech, always brilliant and cool, cool because brilliant, brilliant because cool. And the evening continued like a great recreation where everyone spent performing a tour de force with relaxation and varnished shoes. The voices soaped a little but the spirit was there and a certain casualness resisted the hectic flow of passages of numbers, with for example a Marie Perbost who placed Céline Dion in an air of Rameau’s madness before winning the lyric revelation and to release a superb anti-speech.
Read also Alexandre Kantorow: “When one day, one is in a time that one does not live”
The staging of the event, rather nimble, with in particular overhead cameras that allowed to see all the brands with yellow and red tape in front of which the chamber musicians had to stand, had to exhaust a good dozen editors. Who must have woken up when oboist Gabriel Pidoux received the instrumental solo revelation and launched in his speech “The surprise is real”. Then, when Alex Vizorek strangled Beethoven, a deaf masturbator virgin in his Bonn room, in a beautiful way and in several languages, the room was hilarious.
We will also have learned that we could not organize a classic evening without being interpreted the Moonlight Debussy – Bertrand Chamayou stuck to it. Then, as in theaters this season, a representative of musicians (or technicians, often) came to question the public about the condition of artists threatened by the pension reform, which is why he was applauded. Finally, to highlight a conductor, the two presenters asked Alondra de la Parra to direct Danzon, multiplayer neotonal Mexican tube.
The evening reserved a big surprise in the lyric artist of the year category: not the third victory of the mezzo Karine Deshayes, but the third victory of the mezzo Karine Dehayes tied with the tenor Benjamin Bernheim, rising vocal star, who could not come because retained in Paris to repeat Manon – role which he interpreted in Bordeaux last year. This is devilishly welcome voice parity.
“I feel stupid, I go last, I have no pressure at all”, finally ironicized Camille Pépin, the victorious composer, 29, whose creation The Sound of Trees for clarinet, solo cello and orchestra (released March 6) was acclaimed. Pépin embodies the new ambitious wave of a generation of composers who free themselves from the linguistic territories between the different schools to bring forward the singularities of gestures, timbres or sounds, which we had already heard in a first album , Chamber Music.
Youth, renewal, enthusiasm, yes of course, there was all that for these Victories, despite a certain torpor as the slow pieces were unfolded at the corner of the third hour of the program, and it there was especially Alexandre Kantorow, the big winner of the day, to slip fastoche at the conclusion of his last speech: “Let’s continue to love music, good evening.” We will do that.
Best recording: Alexandre Kantorow, concertos for piano 3, 4 and 5 by Saint-Saëns (Bis)
Revelation opera artist: Marie Perbost (soprano)
Instrumental soloist revelation: Gabriel Pidoux (oboe)
Instrumental soloist: Alexandre Kantorow (piano)
Lyric artist of the year: Karine Deshayes (mezzo) and Benjamin Bernheim (tenor)
Composer: Camille Pépin (The Sound of Trees, for clarinet, solo cello and orchestra – in this case the one from Picardy)
Honorary victory for Anna Netrebko and Philippe Jaroussky
Tribute to Jessye Norman and Mirella Freni