Bilingual site shared with Nancy Snipper, acclaimed author and cultural affairs journalist. July 2016 ushers in her new site: SN Travel and Arts without Borders. Check it out!
Site bilingue partagé avec Nancy Snipper, auteur acclameé et journaliste des affaires culturelles. Juillet 2016 inaugure sa nouvelle site: SN Travel and Arts without Borders. Vérifiez-le!
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Friday, 18 January 2013
Alain Lefèvre Performs Olympian Feat
reviewed by Nancy Snipper
On Tuesday evening
January 15th, pianist Alain Lefèvre performed the astonishing Concerto “l’Asile (Création Mondiale)
with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal under the baton of Ludovic Morlot. It
was composed by Walter Boudreau. The unforgettable concert took place inside
the gloriously new Maison Symphonique de Montréal.
Geniuses – mad
geniuses – that is what this concert was about. It took Mr. Boudreau about
three years to compose the work whose three movements embody the tortuous life
of the late Claude Gavreau, a visionary who inspired the creation of Mr.
Boudreau’s concerto. Collaborating intensively with Mr. Lefèvre on the superhuman
endeavour, Mr. Boudreau knew that it would take one of the world’s greatest
pianists - also a world-class composer - to achieve the final rendering and
performance of his massively difficult masterpiece. He knew he wanted to create
alongside Alain Lefèvre.
Mr. Boudreau wrote the
work in four years “in and out” as a tribute to the avant-garde Quebec poet and
author Claude Gauvreau (1925-1971). During his short life the poet experimented
heavily with LSD, modified the French language turning into a new form of incomprehensible
poetic communication. He never achieved the recognition or the support which he
so wished for. This tragic figure may have ended his life, but his ideas lived
on - championed by another mad genius, Mr. Boudreau who is very much alive; he
is also the director and conductor of the SMCQ.
composition he composed demanded the most prolific piano playing through the 45
minute-long work. Mr. Lefèvre’s herculean technique combined with his
immeasurable passion was breathtaking. Hands crossing over hands, non-stop
lightning speed cadenzas up and down the keys, octaves, and trills and
syncopated lines whose first beats had to join up with the percussive section, then the flutes, sometimes
the horns and strings. Nothing seemed or was written to magically connect
together, and yet it all did, in a way that was more fantastic than one could
believe possible. In fact, Mr.Boudreau explained that he created this work so
that the piano – represented the poet Gauvreau who was off on its own trying to
connect to the orchestra which more or less represented the indifference of
society. Rhythmically unpredictable is the composition; both protagonists
(piano and orchestra symbolizing Gauvreau and society respectively) seemed to
embody the pain and punishment endured by Gauvreau himself. Orchestra and piano
had a challenging task keeping up with the other. In fact, six minutes into the
work, Maestro Morlot stopped it all, and started the
performance again – having left out an entire page! Was it any wonder Mr. Lefèvre
kept a handkerchief atop the piano.
I felt Mr.Lefèvre
carried the lion’s share of élan for the entire performance. His extraordinary
understanding of the concerto combined with his earth-shattering technique marvellously
communicated the dramatic intensity in this exciting work.
I began to feel that
he knew the night had to lie with him. At times, the percussion was a
nano-second off the timing of the piano punctuating entrances and final notes,
but it was explained to me, that orchestra and pianist had four hours of
rehearsal to pull it all together.
As for the composition
itself, the first movement burst into our ears like a tsunami. It rarely let
up. The second movement resembled a slow macabre dance. There were
heart-breaking moments of utter beauty in melody line but that did not last for
long. A sudden interjection of horn would break it all and then the intentional
chaos would once again commence. Prokofiev, Schoenberg and Rachmaninov rolled
into one is what I could hear; Scriabin, Stravinsky and Liszt as well. Now take
the hardest most prodigiously taxing bars to play in all these composers and
know that such rigorous demands constitute the entire concerto. Rarely was Mr. Lefèvre
allowed to rest. Like the tormented soul of Mr. Gauvreau himself, this great
pianist – a world treasure - personified this poet’s genius. He did so with
relentless passion and pianistic perfection. This trio of mad geniuses
This concert was
recorded by Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique and will be broadcast coast to coast next
January 22nd at the “Soirees Classiques” hosted by Mario Paquet.
Alain will present the Concerto de l’Asile again this Season with the Orchestre
Symphonique de Québec and its conductor Fabien Gabel on May 29th and
30th . It will be recorded on a CD for the Anelekta Label.