May 30, 2024
Interviews / Whats new

Cello suite with Stéphane Tétreault

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Richard Burnett, Fugues Magazine

Internationally-acclaimed Montreal cellist Stéphane Tétreault first picked up the cello at the FACE School when he was seven-years-old. By the time Tétreault was nine he was studying with Yuli Turovsky, the legendary Moscow-born cellist and conductor who founded the I Musici de Montréal Chamber Orchestra. Turovsky was the musical prodigy’s mentor for more than a decade, until Turovsky’s death in 2013.

Today, Tétreault holds a master’s degree in Music Performance from the Université de Montréal, has won countless prestigious international music awards, was the first-ever Soloist-in-Residence at the Orchestre Métropolitain where he performed alongside Grammy-winning Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin during the 2014-2015 season, made his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Finnish conductor John Storgård in 2018, and has recorded several albums, including the just-released Claude Dubussy: Images retrouvées (ATMA Classique) with acclaimed pianist Olivier Hébert-Bouchard, their second volume of works by Debussy transcribed for cello and piano.

The out cellist, now 31, has also found happiness off the stage and found a gay role model in Nézet-Séguin. Stéphane and I recently sat down for a candid Q&A which has been edited for length and clarity.

Congratulations on your new album Claude Dubussy: Images retrouvées. How did you and Olivier Hébert-Bouchard get together for this project?
Stéphane Tétreault : We’ve been playing together for over 10 years. The Debussy cello and piano sonata was a huge piece of our repertoire, one of our favourite works in the cello and piano repertoire. So Olivier had the idea of making arrangements of some of Debussy’s lesser-known piano works, as well as some of his more famous works, and asked me if I would go on the adventure with him. Given that Debussy has always been one of my all-time favorite composers, I instantly said yes. It was a wonderful pre-pandemic project. But then COVID happened and we had fewer occasions to present the concert to an audience. So we went into the recording studio. We also began playing live again when venues reopened. It’s been a really great adventure.

You are incredibly prolific. Are you a work-a-holic?
Stéphane Tétreault : (Laughs) I definitely tend to work a little too much. The thing is I usually have a lot of different projects on the go at the same time. But I only choose projects that inspire me. So yes, I do work long hours!

You studied with Yuli Turovsky for more than 10 years and earned a master’s degree in Music Performance from the Université de Montréal. How did your studies shape you as a musician and person?
Stéphane Tétreault : I started to work with Yuli when I was nine-years-old after my music teacher at FACE organized an audition. Yuli took me on as a full-time student and was instrumental in my cello upbringing and career. But I would go even further than that and say he was an incredible human being to be around. He was very inspiring and incredibly hard-working. What was really special was a lesson never finished within an hour or two, because even when we finished talking about a particular piece, or finished playing the cello, what was really amazing were our conversations about life and the various composers that he knew from the Soviet Union. Yuli had a major impact on who I am as a person today, as well as who I am as a cellist. It was a privilege to be his student.

Read the full interview on Fugues Magazine