viernes, diciembre 14, 2007

A miscellany of musical events

This is summing-up time. I will start with some of the sessions of the habitual Cycle of Contemporary Music organized by the Theatre San Martín by Martín Bauer.
One thing stood out: the collaboration of the Colón Chamber Opera with the Festival brought to the audiences the premiere of Bruno Maderna's "Satyricon" (1972), on the Petronius bawdy classic. Maderna (1920-73) was an important member of the Italian avantgarde along with Berio and Nono, and BA appreciated him as a valuable conductor of twentieth-century music. In the chamber "opera buffa" we heard, pastiche prevails and aleatory practices allow the conductor some adjustments. Quotes from famous operas, songs "a la Weill", a sarcastic musical language, all tend to soften the rigors of the '70s avantgarde. Synthetic and to the point, the scenes are a portrait of a decadent and hedonistic society.

Producer Marcelo Lombardero gave us a sophisticated updating of the original Roman scenes, with the collaboration of Pablo Maritano (stage design and video) and Stella Maris Mueller (costumes), and the musical side was quite well handled by conductor Alejo Pérez. Although announced, Laura Rizzo didn't sing (some colleagues thought she did...), her part substituted by instruments (allowed by the composer). The 17 players were very good, and Pablo Pollitzer, Hernán Iturralde and Santiago Burgi etched well their characters, the ladies less so (Virginia Correa Dupuy, Graciela Oddone).

Satyricon. (Foto: Victoria Conci)

The concert by KNM (Kammerensemble Neuer Musik) was disheartening. The ten players plus a sound designer are certainly proficient, but the programme of very recent pieces by European composers was exceeedingly barren (Helmut Lachenmann, Aldo Clementi, Bernhard Lang, Stefan Bartling, Georges Aperghis, Marc André, Marc and Peter Sabat).

The idea behind "Correspondences" was good and it worked: three Argentine composers took as a model a masterpiece from a dead European composer and tried to create in a similar spirit. Anton Webern's "Concert", op.24, found its foil in Julio Viera's Quintet XXX; Edgar Varese's "Octandre", in Graciela Paraskevaídis "Paths" ("Sendas"); and Gyorgy Ligeti's Chamber Concerto in Marcos Franciosi's "...que colma tu aire y vuela". Excellent players from the Compañía Oblicua under Marcelo Delgado and the stimulating music made this a worthwhile occasion.

Finally, the playing of cellist Rohan de Saram and pianist Aki Takahashi were of such high quality that they gave added value to music that is mostly overrated, with the exception of the interesting Luciano Berio "Sequenza" for cello. Morton Feldman's morosity exasperates me and sends others into Nirvana; Marc Sabat, the violinist of the groip, composed a piece in Feldman's style that I disliked even more; and Iannis Xenakis' abrupt and harsh pieces certainly have more variety but are often ugly rather than intense.

The Midday Concerts at the Gran Rex offered some agreeable chamber fare. The French team of Thomas Dolié (baritone) and Henri Bonamy (piano) gave us some Duparc, Ravel's "Histoires naturelles" and Schumann's "Liederkreis" op.24. Although the singer had some trouble in certain notes, the voice is pleasant and he sings tastefully; the pianist was quite professional. The Trío Ayo showed the artistic longevity of violinist Félix Ayo, still a good player at about 75, well abetted by Ricardo Sciammarella (cello) and Eva Pereda (piano). It was quite enjoyable to hear them in Mozart (Divertimento K. 254) and Mendelssohn (Trio No. 1). The Tartini Quartet comes from Slovenia and played with careful consideration the Smetana Quartet "From my life", a bit short on intensity; and gave us a Neoclassic encore: Glazunov's "Interludio in modo antico".

Two "Soirées Musicales" at the Sofitel had some good points. Trios by Haydn ("Gypsy"), Beethoven ("Ghost") and Mendelssohn (No. 1) were played by an ad-hoc ensemble: the Catalan violinist Edgar Pujol, accurate but not very ingratiating in tone; and two satisfying Argentine players: cellist Marcelo Bru and pianist Orlando Millaá. The song recital I now comment had considerable ups and downs. The ups were in the beautiful voice of bass-baritone Lucas Debevec Mayer singing in the First Part an eclectic group of songs ranging from Schubert to Guastavino, and some operatic arias and duos, as well as Haydn's oratorio "The Creation", in the Second Part. On the other hand, soprano Silvina Martino and pianist Diego Licciardi couldn't cope with their assignments.

Two valuable debuts of foreign players: a young and talented violinist, Malwina Sosnowski, who plays a Guarnerius, tackled with admirable technique and fortitude a solo violin programme: Bach, Alphonse Roy, Kreisler, Grazyna Bacewicz and the impressive Ysaye Sonata No. 2, with as encore Salonen's "Laughing unlearnt". The venue was the Museum Fernández Blanco. A sturdy Ukrainian pianist, Eugeni Skovorodnikov, played with thunderous firmness a difficult Russian programme (apart from some Chopin Mazurkas): four works by Tchaikovsky, Miaskovsky's Sonata No. 2, six Shostakovich Preludes and two "Moments musicaux" by Rachmaninov. Interesting and illuminating, this was in the Chopiniana series at the Panamericano Hotel.

Finally, two AMIJAI concerts. Xavier Inchausti, an Argentine violinist, still a teenager, took on the mighty challenge of Paganini's 24 Caprices for solo violin and came out unscathed of the ordeal; a great talent. And Inca Rose Duo, made up of Annelise Skovmand (singing) and Pablo González Jazey (guitar) did a very special recital of refined vocal music by Guastavino (the cycle "Flores Argentinas", texts by León Benarós) and Ginastera, including the "Cantos del Tucumán" with guest players. Charming material done with high professionalism and taste. The guitar arrangements are by González Jazey.

Pablo González Jazey (Foto: Geraldine Bardin)

Para el Buenos Aires Herald

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