martes, octubre 27, 2009

Mozarteum and Festivales end their seasons

For me this is a melancholy time, the end-of-season time. It wavers according to institutions and circumstances but it tends to be between October 15 and November 15. As I don´t believe in seasonal culture, I can hardly tolerate the barren months of Summer; in Europe it´s different, there are plenty of musical festivals to assuage my thirst; but here… So it´s a time for DVDs and CDs, old and new, but my anxiety for live music becomes pretty unbearable as March approaches with its timid pre-season efforts.

The Mozarteum Argentino ended their year with less than glory, for the final balance of an Austrian musical embassy was too uneven for satisfaction. On paper it looked good: Haydn and Schubert by the Wiener Akademie Orchestra, the Chorus sine nomine, four imported soloists and the conductor Martin Haselböck. But doubts began to creep in soon after the beginning. In fact the arrogant statements of Haselböck in a BA newspaper didn´t bode well, with his claims of giving us entirely new views of those great classics or his affirmation that Schubert´s Mass Nº 2 and Haydn´s Stabat Mater are masterpieces; those few early minutes confirmed that this is still rather immature Schubert (he was eighteen), only picking up from the Benedictus (a lovely trio). But it also proved that the choir is a really poor one, both in the quality of their voices and in their accuracy, apart from being too few (eight women, six men). There was a positive side: the Orchestra (14 strings, one bassoon, harpsichord –not organ as stated in the hand programme) sounded quite well, Haselböck´s phrasing was musical (and traditional) and two soloists were worth knowing: Polish soprano Aleksandra Zamojska and Austrian tenor Bernhard Berchtold, quite mellifluous. Through the microphone it was announced that baritone Christian Hilz was affected by our climate, so it was logical that he sounded under the weather…

The big Haydn Stabat Mater dates from 1767, early for this composer; it is certainly fluid and accomplished, but rarely comes to greater things. Here two oboes were added to the orchestra, which again sounded quite nice. The Choir, however, was even shallower. The soloists as before, with some rather brilliant moments for soprano and for tenor; here we also heard the local debut of the young Austrian mezzosoprano Ida Aldrian, promising but still a bit green. Haselböck has the measure of this music, but no revelations came from him.

Although it wasn´t the end of Conciertos de Mediodía (there are still two concerts to come), the presentation of Marcela Roggeri and Elena Tasisto at the Gran Rex was of special quality and a good occasion to mention here that these concerts celebrate their fiftieth anniversary, quite an admirable feat: 50 years providing good music for free at the lunch break (1 to 2 p.m.). It was courageous to present such an innovative and profound combination of music by Sofia Gubaidulina and texts by Marina Tsvietaieva. Both are independent Russian voices of great value, clear-minded, intense and uncompromising. Roggeri´s immensely assured pianism and Tasisto´s moving diction complemented themselves perfectly..

I was fascinated by the debut of Les Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse ending the season of Festivales; the venue was the Avenida. These artists are dedicated to the noble art of playing wind instruments used in the Late Renaissance and the Early Baroque and three of them are wonderful players: Jean-Pierre Canihac in cornetto ( a wooden trumpet of sweet sound), Daniel Lassalle in tenor sackbut and Fabian Dornic in bass sackbut (being the antecessors of the trombone). I found Jean Imbert marginally insecure playing natural trumpet (although I agree it´s the devil to play). With the fine support of two local players (Manfredo Kraemer, violin; Federico Ciancio, harpsichord and chamber organ) and with the Argentine soprano Adriana Fernández, who lives in Europe, showing her admirable sense of style in several pieces, this concert was sheer delight and demonstrated how to be both entertaining and instructive.

The programme, concocted by Canihac, gave us the music of Kromeriz, where the bishop of Olomouc had formed a splendid capella; thus in this Moravian town worked admirable composers such as Pavel Vejvanovsky (Serenada; Sonata "Tribus Quadrantibus") and Johann Schmelzer (Sonata a 3 in C, Sonata in G "La Carolietta"). German masters such as Johann Theile from Hamburg (Sonata "Sublationis") were also heard. But there was also the Venetian influence: Claudio Monteverdi ("Laudate Dominum"; "Confitebor"; "Lettera amorosa") or Ignatio Donati (O gloriosa Domina) or Tarquinio Merula ("Su la cetra amorosa"), plus the Italian influence on Händel ("Occhi miei, che faceste") and the great master Heinrich Schütz who brought the technique of the Gabrielis to Germany (Buccinate in Neomenia Tuba). A truly exquisite night, one of the very best of the year.

There are plenty of Bach cantatas still unknown here, but Mario Videla with his Bach Academy keeps unveiling new ones at the Central Methodist Church. With nine admirable players (Soloists of the Academy) and two fine singers (soprano Mónica Capra, baritone Norberto Marcos) plus the Grupo de Canto Coral (Néstor Andrenacci) he gave us Cantata Nº 96, "Herr Christ, der ein´ge Gottessohn" ("Lord Christ, the only Son of God"), a splendid work with a very fine initial chorus and a demanding soprano aria. Claudio Barile played at the beginning Carl Heinrich Graun´s interesting Concerto in E minor for flute, two violins and continuo.

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