sábado, diciembre 15, 2007

Last stitches on the operatic and symphonic fabric

Two last operatic stitches. One, Donizetti's "L'elisir d'amore" as offered by Buenos Aires Lírica. Quite unnecessary, for the piece has been staged often in recent years, but pleasant in its own terms. Producer Claudio Gallardou, as is his particular mania, once again put "commedia dell'arte" characters where they don't fit, but otherwise the acting was mostly adequately imagined The best artist was Fernando Santiago as Dulcamara, sung with ample means and acted with genuine comic vein. Two Chileans made their debuts and were good enough but hardly worth importation: soprano Patricia Cifuentes and tenor Luis Olivares. Suffering from the producer's exaggeration, Leonardo Estévez wasn't in his best voice as Belcore. Stylish conducting from Dante Ranieri and agreeable stage (Gastón Joubert) and costume designs (María Clara Beitía).

I found merit in the concert performance of Verdi's "Nabucco" at the Auditorio de Belgrano. This opera was the composer's first success and is impressive in its dramatic discourse, as well as containing that evergreen chorus, "Va pensiero". It hasn't been done for quite a while. Mario Perusso conducted with firm hand and authentic phrasing responsive players, members of the Colón Orchestra, and the Regina Coeli Choir was nicely handled by Santiago Pusso. Four of the cast members were strong : Haydée Dabusti managed to solve most of the difficulties of Abigaille, a killer part; Enrique Gibert Mella was intense and accurate as King Nebuchadnezar; and both tenor Carlos Vittori and mezzo María Luján Mirabelli were in fine fettle. Octogenarian Nino Meneghetti came out of retirement to sing an insufficient Zaccaria.

Now to symphonic concerts. Nuova Harmonia at the Coliseo gave us two valuable sessions. In one we met the Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss am Rhein under Lavard Skou Larsen doing historicist and heavily accented Haydn (Symphony No. 52 in C minor), a very interesting Johann Christian Bach Symphony (op.6 No.6, in a minor tonality, G, which is unusual in this sunny author), a beautiful performance of Mozart's Concertante Symphony K. 364 with Lena Neudauer (violin) and Skou Larsen (viola), and in a wrong change of programme, the weak humor of Schnittke's "Mozart a la Haydn" instead of Stravinsky's fine Neoclassical Concerto for strings. But the group is remarkably proficient.

A luminous occasion joined the augmented Camerata Bariloche under Peter Bellino and pianist Nelson Goerner. The programme started with the charming "Soirées Musicales" by Britten, an arrangement of piano pieces by Rossini, in a perfect performance. Then, Goerner tackled Beethoven's Concerto No. 3 and again showed he is the most magisterial of our pianists; sovereign command and beautiful style in a truly memorable reading, very well accompanied. A wonderful performance of Mendelssohn's "Scottish Symphony" (No.3) showed Bellino's mettle and the high concentration and enjoyment of the players.

The final weeks of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic were troubled: the last three concerts were cancelled, according to reliable sources because money had run out to pay fees of conductors and soloists. Prior to this, I heard some general rehearsals of other concerts. The best was conducted by Arturo Diemecke and had a fine programme: the inimitably sarcastic suite "Lieutenant Kije" by Prokofiev, the Korngold Violin Concerto with the fine debut of the conductor's brother, Paul Diemecke; and Mahler's Fourth Symphony, with a Mónica Philibert in good voice. The concert conducted by Mario Perusso offered a good version of Sibelius' First Symphony (unfortunately not the announced Sixth). A splendid young violinist made her debut: Jennifer Koh in Tchaikovsky's Concerto. In another session Luis Gorelik offered a solid version of Sibelius' Second Symphony. Finally, Nir Kabaretti discarded R. Strauss' "Macbeth" and Tchaikovsky's "Hamlet", replacing them with the overplayed Brahms First. I didn't stay for that but I heard a nice First Part: the lovely Overture from Nicolai's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and five fragments from Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (the original idea was to have an all-Shakespeare programme). Now the season has ended and many of the intelligently chosen woks chosen by Julio Palacio have been heard, but others fell by the wayside. The new Director of the Colón, Horacio Sanguinetti, has chosen clarinettist Eduardo Ihidoype as Director of the Philharmonic.

The National Symphony has had to work from week to week since the labor conflict ended, and very few works were interesting, for they were further limited by a ridiculous incompatibility rule that left us without many scores that require tuba or contrabassoon. Also, the venues were acoustically bad. Nevertheless, I went to hear them three times. , also in general rehearsals. And I got some pleasure. The debut of Román Revueltas Retes showed a thorough professional. Unfortunately he was deprived of conducting his relative's (Silvestre Revueltas) "Sensemayá". He was orthodox and clean in Beethoven's "Leonore No. 3 " and Schubert's Ninth Symphony. And one of our best pianists, Antonio Formaro, did a notable interpretation of Liszt's Concerto No. 1, with all the necessary virtuoso skills but privileging its musical substance. Talented American conductor David Handel (Principal Conductor of Cuyo University Orchestra) did an excellent interpretation of Bernstein's admirable "Chichester Psalms" with fine work from the Coro Polifónico Nacional (Darío Marchese) and good vocal soloists. And Roberto Rutkauskas did a rarity: the original and considerably different score of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, quite well played. Finally, Alejo Pérez gave us Elgar's Cello Concerto, with good work by Myriam Santucci, and Dvorák's Symphony No. 9, "New World", in a well-considered interpretation.

Para el Buenos Aires Herald