Fabien Gabel excels in works evoking Spain by de Falla and Ravel

Fabien Gabel

By Richard Turp

According to another dictum, comparisons may be odious but obviously the OSQ’s French musical director, Fabien Gabel is not afraid of any comparisons as he had chosen to showcase his orchestra in repertoire closely associated with the OSM and more specifically the former music director, Charles Dutoit. There are several similarities between Gabel and his esteemed senior colleague, Dutoit. They both have an elegant and tensile physical presence and posture. With Gabel, arching arm gestures are incorporated into a bouncy, buoyant body language, somewhat reminiscent of a coiled spring of compressed energy. Gabel, who had made an auspicious Opéra de Montréal debut last season conducting Massenet’s Manon, had decided on works composed in the two decades between 1908 and 1928 and began with an OSM favourite, the second suite from de Falla’s Diaghilev ballet, El sombrero de tres picos. The suite’s three short excerpts demonstrated not only the orchestra’s generally fine ensemble playing and balance but featured outstanding solo contributions from Philippe Magnan, oboist, and English horn player, Hélene Déry. Expansive of gesture and unambiguous in the fluidity of his conducting, Gabel caught the Spanish flavour and French school’s orchestral mastery of form inherent in de Falla’s writing to a tee.

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