sábado, octubre 21, 2006

Diemecke brings new life to the Philharmonic

As you may remember, Arturo Diemecke took charge of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic last year after the resignation of Theo Alcántara, closely identified with former Colón Director Tito Capobianco. Diemecke had conducted here before and with success. The members of the Phil were consulted as to Alcántara’s replacement and gave out a short list of three conductors that had done good work with them in recent seasons; Diemecke won. Now, as two thirds of the current season have passed, it is apparent that he has brought new life to the Phil with a combination of dynamism, fantastic memory, big and worthwhile scores done with high quality, intensive and productive rehearsing and a thorough knowledge of the music and his profession. On the negative side, he is too histrionic by half, almost clownish at times in his saluting ritual, and musically sometimes tends to overfast tempi and a tendency to overaccentuate climaxes. Not inspirational nor metaphysical in the sense Decker was, extrovert and sanguine, this Mexican in his fifties with steady jobs in his country and in the USA proves to be a good option for the Phil. In an earlier review I referred to various subscription concerts of the Phil season, including the first of two concerts conducted by Ronald Zollman; I will take it now from there. His second concert showed again that he is an intelligent and sensitive artist. He programmed only Classicism, which was refreshing and kept the orchestra on its toes. It was a pleasure to hear the chamber sounds of Haydn’s early Symphony No.6, “Morning”, with nice solos from several Phil first desks (it is in fact a “Concertante Symphony”).The Hummel Trumpet Concerto was sandwiched between two Mozart pieces, the Overture to “Don Giovanni” and Symphony No. 38, “Prague”, all done with good results and generally accurate playing by the orchestra and its trumpet first desk Fernando Ciancio, mostly brilliant . On the other hand I was disappointed by conductor Lior Shambadal (debut), a burly Israelite in his fifties currently Principal Conductor of the Berlin Symphony. In an all-Mozart programme he lacked finesse ; streamlined and rather thick playing in the Overture to “The Impresario”, the welcome Symphony No. 28 and Symphony No. 4l, “Jupiter”, sometimes unclear. It was left to another first dek, oboist Néstor Garrote, to bring the necessary Mozartian charm and taste to Concerto K. 314 . Two concerts I heard in final rehearsal, so this is no proper review but an impression. Chinese American conductor Kenneth Jean made his debut with Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and seemed to me a well-routined professional, no more (I couldn’t hear Britten’s Serenade with tenor Carlos Bengolea). The other was conducted by Pedro Calderón as part of the series given at the Coliseo as compensation for the concerts that were lost last year through strikes, which seems to me a decent thing to do. I was attracted to go by Kodály’s rarely played but splendid Variations on the song “The Royal Peacock”, where the conductor’s savvy won the day. I found Elsa Púppulo in rather good shape in Saint-Saens’ difficult Piano Concerto No.2. There was also some Dvorák and Aguirre/Ansermet. And then came Diemecke’s winning streak, a whole series of concerts all of them valid and important. Apart from the unnecessary “Festive Overture” by Shostakovich, the ninth session of the subscription series presented a well-rehearsed and honorable version of Mahler’s enormous and oh so arduous Symphony No. 6, a true test of stamina and concentration passed with at least a B plus, even if it lacked the tragic inexorability of the best interpretations. The next concert offered a curious combination of Mauricio Kagel (as part of the festival dedicated to this composer) and Claude Debussy. Of the latter, wonderfully subtle versions of the “Prelude to the afternoon of a faun” with Claudio Barile (flute) and “Sacred and profane dance” with harpist Baltazar Juárez Dávila (debut, Mexican). The two Kagel premieres were interesting. “Das Konzert”, although it lists as other soloists a harp and two percussionists, is completely dominated by the flute (in the virtuoso hands of Barile) and is certainly a considerable demonstration of technique and imagination. The “Quodlibet” is based on fifteenth-century French songs but sounds fully twentieth-century; I found it uneven though with some valid bits and it was valiantly “sung” (if such is the word with such a sampler of different vocal emissions) by the Hungarian mezzo Klara Csordas. Diemecke seemed to have the measure of both scores. The following concert was orchestrally excellent and it held a surprise, very badly explained in the programme. It said: “The Ring of the Nibelungs”, fragments. But there was a clue: in the programme page there is an acknowledgment of the score’s editor; it says: “Der Ring ohne Worte”, compilation by Lorin Maazel. Well, it turned out to be a powerful 52-minute symphonic scenario with fragments from all four operas. A further complication:Adriana Mastrangelo was supposed to sing but was taken ill (what would she have sung? a mystery). But no matter : Diemecke and the Phil gave us white-hot intensity and high technical quality. The conductor also paid full homage to Ginastera with an admirable traversal of his difficult “Variaciones concertantes”. The only weak point was a disjointed version of Liszt’s Concerto No.2, where Luis Ascot barely coped with the virtuosic music. 26/09/06 para el Buenos Aires Herald

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