It is with success that Yoav Talmi has taken up the challenge to conduct - by heart - the complete cycle of Beethoven Symphonies in less than 10 days, a challenge that he himself designed. Impressive! The conductor’s objective was clear: to immerse as deeply as possible in the heart of the works. In fact, we frequently saw the conductor literally embrace the music, the 9th even more than the other eight symphonies.
Last Friday in the Grand Théâtre, the well-nourished applauds as well as the warm and sincere “bravos” reserved to Yoav Talmi following the last concert of the “Beethoven Spring”, were fully deserved. How many times did he come back on stage alone and with the soloists to take a bow? We simply lost count. One thing is sure, an ovation of no less that 8 minutes followed the OSQ (Québec Symphony) and the Choeur symphonique’s eloquent and vivid execution of the “9th”.
Each of the movement of the work left us with good impressions. The opening Allegro was well-balanced and brought out the work of the woodwinds. Showing good communication among themselves and with their conductor, the musicians delivered a well-shaped Scherzo, full of contrast. Glorious bursts coming from the horns and timpani gave the movement the brightness of fire.
In the Andante, the first violins displayed a perfect taste. With its high quality and grace, this movement probably represents one of the artistic climaxes of the whole cycle. What an admirable performance we were presented! (Let us also mention the carefully-prepared, expressive, elegant and sustained work of Darren Lowe and his colleagues during these 4 concerts devoted to the full cycle.)
Yoav Talmi launched the last movement with his well-known assurance and determination. It sure was full of virility. The Cellos and Basses began the melody of the “Ode to Joy” with a lot of delicacy and even ingenuousness.
In the first half of the concert, the orchestra performed the delightful and spirited 8th symphony with the appropriate character, that is, with all the needed joy and pleasure. This is what we felt in the hall and it is also what revealed Yoav Talmi’s facial expression most of the time.
Finally, we can say that the orchestra as a whole - with its discipline and high quality - contributed to the success of the “Beethoven Spring”. With its high level of interpretation through these two weeks, the OSQ has not only paid tribute to Beethoven, but has also revealed its strength and artistic depth.