At the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the triumph of cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason


Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the Paris Chamber Orchestra, September 22, 2022, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, in Paris.

The Paris Chamber Orchestra has settled in silence on the stage of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Then a screen unfolded, on which appeared the beautiful face of their musical director, the German pianist and conductor Lars Vogt (1970-2022), who died on Monday September 5 from liver cancer at the 51 years old. The voice of the missing musician filled the room: the extract from an interview at the microphone of France Musique a year earlier, where it was about music, friends and consolation.

Finally, Maestro Maxim Emelyanychev, who conducts the orchestra's season-opening concert, announced Schubert and the incidental music of Rosamundeanticipating the tribute paid to Lars Vogt on Tuesday October 4 at the Philharmonie de Paris, broadcast live on France Musique and Arte Concert.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The death of German pianist and conductor Lars Vogt

The program then started with the four dance pieces of the Tomb of Couperin, by Ravel, whose wild beat of Maxim Emelyanychev flatters the slightly sarcastic volubility, pulling this music towards a slightly raw colorist dynamic, in the acidulous way of a Stravinsky. Of Prelude in Minuetof Forlane in RigaudonRavel's pointillism particularly exposes the winds (magnificent oboe by Ilyes Boufadden-Adloff), drypoint music, where the premonition of the tragic emerges under the gallant reverence in the 18the French century, a mirror of the despair and the sense of urgency that gripped the composer, torn between patriotism and the horror of war.

The cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason still rarely happened in France. But the 23-year-old Briton (born of a mother from Sierra Leone and a Caribbean father on April 4, 1999 in Nottingham), after participating with his six brothers and sisters, all classical musicians, in the program "Britain's Got Talent" in 2015 and winning the BBC Young Musician competition the following year, has truly become an international figure since playing Fauré and Schubert at Windsor Castle in May 2018 for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding (several billion spectators in front of television screens). A dazzling career, the dubbing of conductor Simon Rattle and three albums followed, recorded for the Decca label, the last of which, song, an eclectic anthology mixing classical, pop, jazz and folk tunes (some arranged by the musician), has just been released.

Flawless technique

Soberly dressed in a black shirt with traditional white embroidery (Sheku Kanneh-Mason is committed to the defense of ethnic minorities and black musicians in classical music), the cellist settled down quietly on the set. The fever immediately took hold of the Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major, by Haydn, under the fiery beat of Maxim Emelyanychev, who conducts the harpsichord. Then the cellist's supple bow landed on his beautiful 1610 Amati, developing elegant and distinguished phrasing, flawless technique and confusingly natural musicality, leaving the show to the harpsichordist in red socks, in turn stamping or crossing their legs.

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