Montreal Gazette


Celebrated violinist is at her peak at age 55 but says she’ll be careful not to overdue it


One Last Time: This is the valedictor­y title of the tour by Angèle Dubeau and La Pietà that concludes Dec. 1 and 2 in the Maison symphoniqu­e.

It is something of a misnomer. After all, the violinist and her orchestra will be visiting South America, China and Europe in 2018.

Dubeau’s 2019 calendar, however, is concert-free, at least for January and February.

“Mario is trying to put something there,” she said, referring to François Mario Labbé, her husband and manager.

“But I say no, no, leave them white.”

If this does not quite signify the formal dissolutio­n of La Pietà after a run of more than 20 years, it will transform the all-female orchestra into a special-occasion ensemble rather than a road band.

“I am a little scared, because I am not used to this,” Dubeau said during a three-day pause — between Shawinigan and Victoriavi­lle — on her 33-concert traversal of Quebec. “But I want to put down the suitcases.”

No way will she put down her 1733 Stradivari­us.

“I would not be able,” she said. “And there is so much repertoire I want to discover.”

A few considerat­ions contribute­d to the suitcase decision.

At 55, Dubeau feels she is still at her peak. But all that neck-craning and repetitive arm action can create issues.

“I don’t have any problem now,” she clarified.

“But I want to play for years. So I have to be careful.”

As for live performanc­e, it remains, in her view, the most immediate and gratifying way to reach an audience. But the internet has expanded audiences exponentia­lly.

“When I started playing so many years ago, never did I think I would reach as many people as I am reaching now, with Spotify, streaming and downloadin­g,” Dubeau said.

Analekta, the label founded in 1988 by Labbé with Dubeau as a signature artist, has laid claim to a remarkable 15 million streams of Ludovico Einaudi: Portrait, the 2015 album dedicated to this Italian crossover icon.

“This does not come like magic,” Dubeau pointed out. “This comes because I have been playing and touring and people know me for many years.”

The latest Dubeau/La Pietà outing, Max Richter: Portrait,

was declared No. 1 on the Canadian SoundScan classical chart less than two weeks after its release on Oct. 6.

Of course, there is room for debate as to whether Richter, a German-born British composer of minimalist sympathies, writes music that is “classical” as the genre is generally understood. But neither is it commercial pop.

While she is no foe of classical classical music, Dubeau became attached to minimalism during her convalesce­nce in 2013 from a battle with breast cancer.

She has made Portrait discs dedicated to Philip Glass, John Adams and Arvo Pärt.

“I thought, if this soothing music does this for me,” Dubeau recalled, “it will be the same for other people.”

There is a future beyond those blank calendar pages. Dubeau is thinking about an initiative to restore the waning presence of music in public schools. Youth is not a new interest: Dubeau is still remembered for Faites vos gammes, a television show dedicated to young artists.

Young listeners — Dubeau cites her own 25-year-old daughter as an example — are prepared to include classical cuts on their smartphone­s. But not many young people have a profession­al violinist for a mother and a recording executive for a father.

“That’s a bit of a commitment for me,” Dubeau said of the getthem-young project.

“I’ll try to find a way to reach them. I don’t know the way now, but I’m going to find it.”

Quatuor Molinari, which is dedicated to a tougher brand of contempora­ry repertoire, has also been at it for 20 years. An apt time for the ensemble founded by first violin Olga Ranzenhofe­r to win an Echo Klassik award for its ATMA recording of music for string quartet by György Kurtág.

Echo Klassik is essentiall­y the German classical Grammy.

The Molinaris won in the chamber music/20th-21st century/strings category.

The ceremony took place last month in the waterfront Elbphilhar­monie complex in Hamburg. Kent Nagano won as conductor of the year.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin was the conductor of the winning entry (Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on Deutsche Grammophon) in an opera category.

YNS was Echo Klassik conductor of the year in 2014.

It is hard to cherry-pick highlights from the reliably comprehens­ive Montreal Bach Festival. Take note, however, that Nick van Bloss, the British pianist playing the Partita No. 2 and Goldberg Variations Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Bourgie Hall, is one of the few pianists in the world with a diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome and probably the only one who considers the condition a source of musical energy. Oliver Sacks wrote about his case.

Those seeking alternativ­es to good ol’ J.S. might consider the appearance on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Bourgie Hall by Vox Luminis, a choir made up mostly of graduates of the Royal Conservato­ry of The Hague, under Lionel Meunier, a French conductor. The program, intended to commemorat­e the 500th anniversar­y of the Reformatio­n, begins with a chorale by Martin Luther, continues with music by Heinrich Schütz and includes works by Bachs born before the one you know and love.

Protestant­s only will be admitted. Kidding.

Of course, Montreal ensembles are on the festival lineup.

The closing concert on Dec.

3 at 3 p.m. at St-Jean-Baptiste Church brings together Ensemble Caprice (Matthias Maute) with the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (Andrew McAnerney) in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio — and not one of those wimpy edited versions, but all six cantatas performed in order.

The ending time is given as 6 p.m. We shall see.

For more informatio­n, and for tickets, visit festivalba­

The point is to sound good. But it cannot hurt to look good. Which is why Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolit­ain will take custom stage apparel rather than traditiona­l tails to Europe for their six-city tour, starting in Dortmund, Germany, on Nov. 26 and ending Dec. 3 in Paris.

The designed-in-Quebec duds are by Marie Saint Pierre, for the Left Hand) and JeanGuihen Queyras (Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1) led by Nézet-Séguin (who also conducts Debussy’s La Mer).

For concert informatio­n, visit orchestrem­etropolita­

For a video preview of the new look — audibly declared “cool” by YNS during a fitting see

 ?? ANDRÉ CHEVRIER ?? Angèle Dubeau isn’t retiring, but says “I want to put down the suitcases.” founder of Maison Marie Saint Pierre and an alumna of LaSalle College, which is collaborat­ing on the project. Shoes are provided by Montreal-based Aldo.
You can get an eyeful...
ANDRÉ CHEVRIER Angèle Dubeau isn’t retiring, but says “I want to put down the suitcases.” founder of Maison Marie Saint Pierre and an alumna of LaSalle College, which is collaborat­ing on the project. Shoes are provided by Montreal-based Aldo. You can get an eyeful...
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