Sunday, January 12, 2020


Alexis Kossenko

Location: Bourgie Hall, Montreal, January 12, 2 p.m.
Arion Baroque brought passion to the podium with conductor and flautist, Alexis

What an exciting concert – not just because of the magnificent musicians’ performance of a well-knitted program, but because, conductor, Alexis Kossenko understood each work and made it his own  sinew and soul. Wafting hands, bending knees, tilting his head with eyes so expressive with each phrase performed, the French conductor showed how compositions by Gossec, Mozart, Devienne and Haydn are meant to be interpreted.
Mr. Kossenko’s virtuoso flute playing was flabbergasting – as heard in his stunningly sensitive performance of Devienne’s “Concerto no. 7 in E Minor”. At one point, it seemed like he was playing two notes simultaneously as he blew into his flute beautifully matched with superfast finger dexterity  This opening Allegro was played with robust attack by the orchestra, yet not a note went wayward. The timing between flute and orchestra was impeccable.
My favorite work was a new surprise for me and others. A perfect composition, François Joseph Gossec’s “Symphony no. 2 in E-flat Major” is so stirring in contrast with subtlety in the opening Largo, and drama in the final Allegro without overkill, this work reveals why this Mannheim school-influenced composer was a darling among the French aristocratic, and why he was considered the father of the symphony in France. The saintly sonority and godly balance between string and winds flowing into the five uninterrupted movements makes its own epiphany: there is perfection on earth and you can hear it.
And then there was Mozart – specifically heard here in “Symphony Concerto in E-flat major”. The blend of flute, oboe, bassoon and horn was a shew-in for Arion’s Co-artistic, director Matthieu Lussier to arrange. The story on this piece is it was lost but then came to light in contemporary times, but the composer of it remained a mystery. The work though impeccably performed was not a stand-out composition. Mr. Lussier is a brilliant bassoonist and he polished of lightning-speed passages with panache. I must signal the stunning tone and playing of the oboist whose name was not featured in the program notes, and it should have been.
Finally, Haydn’s “Symphony No. 85”, “La Reine”. Dashingly dotted by rhythms both turbulent and tender with rapid scales that embody the traditional French overture also featured the popular French song, “le gentile et jeune Lisette”.  Romance, Minuet and Vivace form a collage of exciting movements where drama, anxiety and sweetness fall perfectly into sequential variation. Perfection!
Contact to get tickets to Arion’s next concerts in February. Bach is the biggie on the program. Call 514-355-1825.

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