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Candlelight’s ‘Tribute to Adele’ emanates warm musicality

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Rumour has it candles filled the Gladstone Theatre’s vintage stage on Thursday June 29, creating a luxurious atmosphere for Adele fans.

Most guests entered in pairs, drinks in hand, eager for an evening of instrumental Adele covers.

The variation of blazing candles onstage and elegant chandeliers along the walls created a cozy ambiance. The candles at centre stage encircled four black folding chairs and music stands for members of the Despax Quartet.

Since 2014, Fever  has hosted Candlelight Concerts in over 100 cities worldwide to create multi-sensory experiences featuring local artists.

After their introduction, a long, awkward silence ensued as Gatineau’s Despax Quartet rearranged their chairs and music stands.

Fittingly, their first tune of the night was “Hello.” Though there were a few pitch errors from the violins, the group’s stunning harmonies reassured the audience of their musical prowess.

Cello player Valerie Despax then introduced her siblings’ quartet, who established their ensemble in 2003.

Valerie plays the cello, bass and sings. Duo Cendrine and Jean are violin powerhouses. Family-friend Olivier Philippe-Auguste brilliantly filled in on the viola for their brother Maxime.

Valerie’s smile was contagious. Her captivating voice, in tandem with her hand gestures, excited the audience.

She enumerated their setlist, giving additional details about each song. For example, “Hello,” was written about Adele’s relationship with her fans rather than an ex-lover.

The additional cello and viola melodies in “Rumour Has It” showcased the Despax Quartet’s creativity. Each musician tapped their legs and swayed with the rhythms, clearly entranced by their craft.

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Olivier’s masterful viola-playing led the group into a beautiful harmony during the chorus of “Water Under the Bridge.”

However, the verses leading up to the “Oh My God” chorus were disappointing. Despite the cohesion demonstrated in the previous songs, the Despax Quartet’s clashing rhythms rendered an amateur sound.

They somewhat recovered themselves in the hit “Someone Like You” during the cello and viola solos. However, the violin duo stumbled through Adele’s infamous high notes and decrescendos.

After that, the stunning call and response between the violins and viola fully redeemed the Despax Quartet, giving each musician time to shine and compliment the others.

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Allowing a pause, Valerie returned to the mic, enthusiastically presenting the second half of the setlist.

She set the bar high by noting that “Chasing Pavements” was Adele’s first Grammy-winning song. It was not only a hit for the singer but for the quartet too.

Their profound harmonies filled the theatre while the progression from cello to viola to violins captured Adele’s immense range.

Gladstone quickly became a James Bond movie during the quartet’s intense “Skyfall” performance. Their ability to conquer the tricky decrescendos and crescendos resulted in roaring applause.

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Followed by a feel-good retelling of “When We Were Young.” Jean and Cendrine spat out high notes, animating the audience.

They concluded the concert with precise, magical renditions of “Easy on Me” and “Rolling in the Deep.”

One particular highlight of the performance was Jean and Olivier’s duet because Jean’s passion shone through as he grooved along. The performers took a bow amongst the candles as the audience applauded.

While the Despax Quartet provided a lovely tribute to Adele, the significant addition of candles onstage completed the intimate soiree. They softened the often-rigid atmosphere, providing a soulful, multi-sensory experience.

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