On Friday evening, Salle Bourgie welcomed Les Violons du Roy and violinist Kerson Leong for a memorable and ambitious concert that probably left a deep impression on the audience’s musical soul.
Kerson Leong simply stole the show with his breathtaking playing. Clear and powerful, we could see him live through his music. His impressive stage presence and incredible technique make him one of our most memorable soloists. When he played, the orchestra behind him seemed to reach a new dimension. Even though all eyes were on him, he was infallible, and few strange notes were the result of the score, often unusual, and not an error in his virtuoso interpretations.
It has to be said that the pieces lent themselves well to this virtuosity. The two leading works on the program, Guiseppe Tartini’s Violin Sonata in G minor and Pietro Locatelli’s Violin Concerto in D major, especially the latter, give a great deal of space to the solo parts. Whereas the Locatelli, the “labyrinth”, approaches excess with its cascades of notes that force the soloist to play almost with his feet and teeth, the Tartini, with its “devil’s trills”, demonstrates all the sensitivity and transcendent emotion of Leong’s playing.
The rest of the program and orchestra were excellent, a little more conventional in both style and playing, but one can’t help seeing the orchestral pieces as interludes between the solo pieces. The interest of these works, however, is to demonstrate the evolution of the language of the baroque violin towards the classical violin, one of the objectives of the concert according to the conductor, Nicolas Ellis.
The audience thoroughly enjoyed the concert, rising to their feet several times during the evening to salute the performers. Leong rewarded the audience with an encore, an excerpt from Bach’s Second Symphony.
After a somewhat mixed start to the Montreal season, Les Violons du Roy have pulled off a coup. Salle Bourgie management must be delighted to have had such a full house for one of the best concerts of the season!