sábado, noviembre 29, 2008

The special aura of recitals

There is a special aura of anticipation in instrumental recitals: concerts for one or two artists. The player stands either alone or accompanied by one other player, and in most cases, the accompanist is really a full-time partner for his music is just as exacting. There´s nothing to occult their mistakes or to minimize their perfection: they are exposed all the time. This is a survey of piano recitals in recent weeks.

The piano dominates this repertory area. A Vietnamese, Dang Thai Son, offered the recital for Chopiniana that had been suspended last year due to an intoxication. I was deeply impressed by his artistry. He won in 1980 First Prize in the Tenth Chopin Competition at Warsaw. He alternates concert giving with recordings and professorships in Montreal and Tokyo. Dang Thai Son is an exemplar of the astonishing adaptability of Orientals to a completely alien culture, such as Occidental classical music. Urbane and contained, he showed an admirably clean technique up to any challenges and an exquisite taste, being particularly stylish in Impressionist music. His version of Ravel´s marvellous and rarely played "Miroirs" ("Mirrors") was outstanding in every way. So were Fauré´s Nocturnes 1 and 2, on the road to Debussy parting from Romantic bases. His Chopin was very solid and with no mannerisms: Ballads Nº.3 op. 47 and Nº.1 op. 23, 4 Mazurkas op. 24 and Scherzo Nº2 op.31, and as an encore, the Waltz op.9/2. The witty "Golliwogg´s cakewalk" from Debussy´s "Children´s corner" was the other brilliant encore.

Veteran Argentine pianist Aquiles Delle Vigne, who lives in Europe, made a poor "rentrée" in Chopiniana after many years. A very fallible mechanism and a marked eccentricity in phrasing were evident in Chopin´s Mazurkas op.6/2, 24/1 and 68/2, and in his Second Sonata. The pianist´s work was better in Mozart´s Fantasia K.475. The Gershwin "Rhapsody in blue" was billed as arranged by Delle Vigne but it sounded pretty much like straight Gershwin and was erratically played. The encores were Liszt´s "Consolation No.3 "(we needed to be consoled…) and some Piazzolla. By the way, the originally announced program was tougher, for it included Beethoven´s Sonata No. 12 and Rachmaninov´s Second Sonata.

Elsa Púppulo has for long decades been one of our most accomplished pianists. However, in recent years she has been disconcertingly uneven for an artist of such impressive mechanism. In her recital for Chopiniana, moreover, she seemed ill. I know she can play to perfection the terribly difficult Chopin Etudes, but this didn´t happen this time ; also, she changed the order without reason and it wasn´t announced. After the initial Franck "Prelude, chorale and fugue", played with acumen, an unconscionable amount of time passed before she appeared for the Chopin pieces, and she looked out of sorts. The Second Part started quite well with strong performances of Liszt´s Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 13 and 11. She then played a selection of Rachmaninov´s Preludes, mostly very well, but it was inconsiderate to the public to do a different selection than the printed one in the hand programme. Such matters must be taken care of by Martha Noguera, the enterprising pianist who is at the helm of Chopiniana. Two short pieces by Grieg and Chopin were the encores. The venue for this and the preceding concerts was the Teatro Santa María, a rather mournful hall who tends to put a pall on the proceedings.

A small but attractive venue is the Museo Fernández Blanco, who gives an intensive amount of concerts a year, some of them quite good. The Israelite pianist Immanuela Grunberg, also a Doctor in Music and active in the USA, presented a commented Schubert recital. She played one of the three admirable "Pieces for keyboard" ("Klavierstücke")-Nº 2-, the Four Impromptus op.90 and the great Sonata Nº 20. She wasn´t note-perfect but showed herself a good stylist, lyrical and dramatic. In the Sonata she chose her tempi well, though she was a bit hesitant in transitions and had some memory problems. But in all it was an interesting traversal of fine music.

Volker Ziemendorff is another pianist who may have some missteps but shows intellectual comprehension of the finer points of style and is always thoughtful in his interpretations. The venue was again the Fernández Blanco. A First Part dedicated to the

Classic Era with fine sonatas by Haydn (Hob. XVI/49) and Mozart (Nº 14, K.457) was presented with understanding and sense of form but also with mistakes and memory failures. In the Schubert "Moments musicaux" the contrast was even greater between the stylistic and the executional sides. Schubert´s Impromptu op.142/1 went better. Followed a good selection of our senior composers: Gianneo´s difficult "Bailecito" (the pianist had a false start), Guastavino´s simpler one, the charming Tango from "Aquel Buenos Aires" by Pedro Sáenz and Ginastera´s sweet "Danza de la moza donosa" from "Tres danzas argentinas". Finally, Chopin´s Scherzo No. 2 was rather satisfying until the final dishevelled pages.

At an unexpected but interesting venue, the Aguaribay in Mendoza 3821, occurred a special event: the complete performance of "…aus Märchenzeit" ("…from fairy-tale times") by one of our best composers, Luis Mucillo. It is a vast, 75-minute, seven-part suite of immense intellectual accomplishment and often fascinating sounds, and was admirably played by three pianists, Aldo Antognazzi, Alexander Panizza and Mucillo himself. The biggest and most complex was "Hoffmannesque tale: the sounding glass". All showed a transcendent imagination.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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