The concert in the series “Great season” of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday May 29 was to take place at the Grimaldi Forum and present the Carmina Burana by Carl Orff with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and the Concerto n°3 from Bartók with pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja. Due to the current impossibility of bringing a choir from the UK, the program was changed and took place at Auditorium Rainier III.
Marie-Nicole Lemieux was the Artist in Residence for the 2019-2020 season. We know her well in Belgium where she won 1st prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2000 and she is a regular guest in concert halls. She could not give all the concerts planned last year. She agreed to perform for this concert the splendid Summer nights, the masterpiece of Hector Berlioz.
We admired Marie-Nicole Lemieux last season in September 2019 in the Sea Pictures by Edwar Elgar and in January 2020 in the Wesendonck songs by Richard Wagner.
With her superb warm contralto voice, she now delights us in these six melodies chosen by Berlioz from Théophile Gauthier’s collection of poems. Marie-Nicole Lemieux has a perfect and nuanced diction. His sense of phrasing and legato are of rare beauty. She interprets the cycle with intensity, integrity and a lot of expressions, going from sweetness to a resounding climax. Images, atmospheres, lights, vibrations are aroused as successions of perceptions as sensitive as dreamlike. A complete immersion in the text, a perfect dialogue between the voice and the orchestra under the direction of Kazuki Yamada make it an exceptional performance.
The concert begins with the opening of the Corsair also by Berlioz, which he composed in Nice. It is a repertoire that suits Kazuki Yamada very well: he offers us with the OPMC an interpretation full of energy, color and enthusiasm.
Elisabeth Leonskaja is nicknamed “The last great Lady of the piano of the Soviet School” or “The lioness of the keyboard”. Since her participation in the Queen Elisabeth Competition of Belgium in 1968, where she was surprisingly poorly ranked, she has collaborated with the greatest conductors and musical ensembles in the world. At 75, the great Russian pianist has lost none of her energy, of her inner fire which infuses each of her performances with an intensity that captivates her audience. She plunges into German romanticism with the concerto n°2 de Johannes Brahms where she gives birth to the flame with nerve and flexibility. His touch and his phrasing are unique. Intense, lyrical, passionate, Elisabeth Leonskaja is an immense artist. Kazuki Yamada is less inspired and the ear is not flattered as it would like to be, there is an impression of heaviness throughout the concerto. It is only in the slow movement that we have achieved exceptional fullness, carried by Thierry Amadi’s dream cello.
Monte-Carlo, Auditorium Rainier III, 29 mai 2021
Photo credits: JL Neveu