sábado, octubre 21, 2006

Welcome visitors from the North (II)

There has been such a profusion of visitors that I will be very synthetic in this second instalment. Ralph Votapek and our city have been in love for over forty years. The splendid American artist has always personified a combination of admirable mechanic ability with sensitive style and eclecticism. Now sixtyish, his qualities remain unaltered. As part of the celebrations of the Collegium Musicum’s 60 years, he played at the Avenida an interesting concert. He had the First Part to himself, offering Debussy’s “Dance”, the so-called, curiously enough, “Styrian taratella”; and a long traversal by Earl Wild (that well-remembered virtuoso) of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”, of transcendental difficulties, tossed off with stunning naturalness by Votapek. And then he showed himself a perfect chamber music pianist, collaborating with the excellent Quinteto Filarmónico in Mozart’s Quintet for piano and winds and the lovely Poulenc Sextet for a similar combination. The Festival Chopiniana 2006 is proving to be full of worthwhile discoveries. The venue is the Avenida, with its warm acoustics. It started with bad luck when Ewa Poblocka couldn’t come for family reasons; the situation was saved by the mentor and soul of Chopiniana, Martha Noguera, which unfortunately I couldn’t hear. The debut of the 28-year-old Matthias Soucek was a triumphant vindication of the Viennese school and it doesn’t surprise me that he is a disciple of Paul Badura-Skoda . He is full of prizes and he deserves them. His programe was sheer pleasure all through the evening. Mozart (Sonata K.570, with discreet ornamentation added), Chopin (a liquid Barcarolle), Liszt (a nonchalantly brilliant “Concert paraphrase on Verdi’s Quartet from ‘Rigoletto’ “) and very specially the best Schubert heard in a long time (Impromptu D.935/3 and the marvelous Three pieces D.946). And Soucek’s own paraphrase on Viennese waltzes and Gulda pieces, light and imaginative. Martin Kasik (debut) is 30 and he too is a disciple of Badura-Skoda, though leavened with such diverse other teachers as the Czech Ivan Klansky and the (now deceased ) Lazar Berman. He is different from Soucek: certainly very solid and professional, he lacks his colleague’s charisma and charm; his interpretations are seriously considered and admirable but you also sense a lot of hard work behind it; with Soucek everything flows. Kasik chose a quality programme: Chopin dominated, with the op.27 Nocturnes, the op.24 Mazurkas and Ballad No. l ( the latter had “in fine” some blemishes). Schumann’s arduous and vast “Kreisleriana” was very competent but had no magic. I particularly liked his introspective view of Brahms’ late Six pieces op.118. An interesting encore: Klement Slavicky’s Toccata. Philippe Giusiano (debut) is French and 33; he comes from another tradition, as a Frenchman with Italian ascendance. Of course, prizes. But his teachers are French (Pierre Barbizet, Jacques Rouvier). As I heard him play, it became apparent that he has the best Gallic qualities of precision, clearness and taste. He is a very controlled player able to vanquish any hurdle. One might want a bit more passion but that’s nitpicking. The programme erred stating that he was to play Mozart’s Sonata K.457; it was in fact the unnumbered Sonata K.547, including in this version a strange median movement which I don’t find in the Bartok and Casella editions. After a fluid Sonata No. 11, op.22, by Beethoven, Chopin had the field: Fantasia Impromptu, Scherzo No. 4 and Etudes op.25 Nos. 6 to 12. And the encores: Nocturne No.4 and Prelude No.24. For some reason this year we have plenty of visiting trios. The Guarneri of Prague came back and offered two concerts: one for Festivales and the other for AMIJAI’s ssubscription series; that’s the one I heard. They played two wonderful and basic works: Beethoven’s Trio No.6, “Archduke”; and Dvorak’s “sui generis” Trio No.4, “Dumky”. There was strong unity in the interpretative concept, but it was again apparent that the dominant figure is pianist Ivan Klansky, magisterial in his firmness and articulation. Violinist Cenik Pavlik is quite uneven, with good passages along ungrateful ones. Marek Jerie (cello) is very clean but has a small sound and a retiring deportment. I could only hear the Vienna Piano Trio in Shostakovich’s Trio No.2, but they seemed very professional and smooth; too much so maybe, for this work needs some ferocity as well. They played at the Gran Rex for the Midday Concerts. Stefan Mendl, piano; Wolfgang Redik, violin; Matthias Gredler, cello. The intimate venue of the Museo Fernández Blanco allowed me to hear in warm acoustics a Trio with no collective name; it is known by the surnames of its members: Karvay (Dalibor, violin, Slovak); Karanovic (Milan, cello, Serbia); Stroissnig (Stefan, piano, Austria). All quite young and talented. I could only hear the First Part: Mozart’s Trio K.548 and Schubert’s Trio No. 1. They impressed me very favorably and were quite homogeneous in approach and technique. The catalan LOM Piano Trio is called thus due to the initials of its members: L(igorio), Daniel, piano; O(rpella), Joan, violin; M(or), José, cello. It made a fine debut at the ornate Salón Dorado de la Casa de la Cultura playing a very interesting programme: Beethoven’s Trio No.5, “of the Spirits”; Turina’s “Círculo”, three atmospheric pieces; Shostakovich’s one-movement Trio No.1; and Granados’ considerable Trio op.50, a good example of admirable Spanish chamber music. The players are again young and talented and it was a pleasure to hear them. 05/10/06 para el Buenos Aires Herald

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