Peter Robb, Arts File
For a music critic, few things are more satisfying than watching a young prodigy bloom into a complete, mature artist. Quebec cellist Stéphane Tétreault has been making the classical music world sit up and take notice since he was a teenager. At 24, he’s fulfilled every prediction for a dazzling international career, while losing none of his passion and expressive charm.
On Monday night, Tétreault played the Samuel Barber Concerto with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra at Southam Hall. The concerto remains an obscure rarity, a work that pushes both technique and emotion to extreme limits. Tétreault’s performance was mature, organic, free of constraints, and utterly convincing. This has every indication it will become his signature piece.
Playing his 1707 Countess of Stainlein Stradivarius — a gift from his patron, the late Jacqueline Desmarais — Tétreault’s sound was penetrating and urgent. His instinctive, varied use of vibrato — from extravagantly broad to whisper-pale — gave his phrasing exceptional plasticity. The musical intent felt thoughtful, never overthought. The first movement cadenza sounded like an impassioned, spontaneously improvised monologue, while Tétreault’s doleful, confiding tone gave the second movement the singing pulse of a deep-sea lullaby….
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