miércoles, abril 14, 2010

Our main orchestras and their programming: an evaluation

            A week ago I gave a wish list of symphonic works I would like our orchestras to programme. Now I will offer a synthesis of what is promised for this season. The main orchestras have already played pre-season concerts; I wrote a month ago about one of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic´s sessions at the Parque Centenario; and the National Symphony has played two concerts at the Bolsa de Comercio.
            Both orchestras operate under very different conditions; I will start with the Phil. The decision to give their subscription series at the reopened Colón means  that the big season starts only in June, quite late in the game. On the preceding months they have little to do, just the four Parque Centenario concerts; so the Colón will be paying salaries during five months (January to May) for only four concerts. Recently their Executive Director Eduardo Ihidoype was named Director at the Colón Institute of Art; no replacement has been announced. Arturo Diemecke remains as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, and again has by far the lion´s part. This year the subscription series has l8 concerts on Thursdays at the Colón, and with an innovation: they start at 8 p.m. Prices are high.
            I have no space to list each concert, so I will mention some highlights. As the bad policy is to leave first performances unannounced, I tread on unsteady ground, but here is a list of unfamiliar scores that may be heard here for the first time: the most important, Suk´s Symphony "Asrael", strong and uncompromising; and Enesco´s Second Symphony, diffuse but imaginative. From Mexican Ezequiel Viñao: "El sueño de Cristóbal". From Unsuk Chin: "Santka Ekatala", presented by lady conductor Shi-Yeon Sung. The unnecessary transcription for flute by Rampal of Khachaturian´s Concerto for violin (with Sharon Bezaly). Rossen Milanov conducts not only Enescu´s symphony but also Vladigerov´s Improvisation and toccata and Messiaen´s "Concerto à quatre", in what is surely the most enterprising programme of the season. The minimalist Steve Reich´s "Desert music". Argentine scores: Jorge Calandrelli´s "Concerto for jazz clarinet" (with Eddie Daniels); the much promoted Osvaldo Golijov´s "ZZ´s dream"; Gerardo Gandini´s "Three pieces for orchestra-Diary VI";  Luis Mucillo´s "Corpus Christi", a creator with a deep metaphysical strain. And the German Bernd Alois Zimmermann´s interesting Trumpet Concerto "Nobody knows the trouble I see", with Reinhold Friedrich .
            Welcome big works: Mahler´s Second, Third, Fifth and Tenth (only the finished Adagio) Symphonies, probably the start of an integral Mahler series spread over more than one season; Holst´s "The Planets", Strauss´ "Thus spake Zarathustra", Nielsen´s Fourth Symphony (conductor Ilan Volkov), Bernstein Second Symphony and Bartók´s Concert for orchestra (conducted by the talented Brazilian Isaac Karabatchevsky).  Some small attractive scores: Sibelius´ "The Oceanides", Bax´s "Tintagel", Bartók´s "Two Pictures". Other conductors: Giancarlo Guerrero, Eiji Oue, Günther Neuhold, Alejo Pérez. Other soloists: nine-year-old Natasha Binder (daughter of Karin Lechner) in Beethoven´s Concerto Nº 1; Thibaudet in Gershwin, Pogorelich in Chopin´s Nº2; cellist Natalie Clein in Schumann; Freire in Brahms Nº 1; Buchbinder in Grieg; the great András Schiff in Beethoven´s "Emperor"; pianist Wilhelm Latchoumia in Bernstein´s Second Symphony, "The Age of Anxiety"; violinist Ilya Kaler in Paganini´s Nº 2, "La Campanella"; Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta in Elgar; violinist Nemanka Radulovic in Tchaikovsky; and guitarist Pepe Romero in Rodrigo´s "Concierto de Aranjuez".
            The National Symphony has often been roughly handled by the authorities, but this year there are some good news. José Luis Castiñeira de Dios has taken over from Rolando Goldman as Director of Arts, and has decided to give the NS a push, planning two basic points: a return of the orchestra after three years to the Auditorio de Belgrano, the second best acoustics after the Colón; and several tours of the provinces. Bureaucratic problems intervened and the first session at the Auditorio (April 16) was cancelled (or postponed) but from May 7 and until November 26, twenty sessions are programmed there. Difficulties of infrastructure on both sides apparently will preclude that the concerts should be given on a paid basis, which seems to me essential to recuperate image. Concerts will be in their great majority conducted by the Principal Conductor, Pedro Calderón, and the Associte Conductor, Andrés Spiller. There doesn´t seem to be either money or advanced planning to hire foreign conductors (with one exception) or soloists. As to the programming, Calderón is repeating several big works that he offered in recent years in bad acoustics. A vague Latin-American Festival has up to now no specifics at all; it would take three concerts, which could be interesting if scores and interpreters are well-chosen. And in the year of the Bicentenary, the National Symphony will play many works of our composers of different generations, which seems to me right.  A bad mark: deplorably few first performances.
            Some highlights: Mahler´s Sixth and Ninth Symphonies, Shostakovich´s Nº 12, Cherubini´s Requiem in C minor, Bernstein´s "Chichester Psalms" (conductor, the Colombian Hadrián Ávila Arzuza, currently Principal Conductor of the Córdoba Symphony), Bruckner´s Fifth, Strauss´ "A Hero´s Life". First performances: "Kaleidoscope" by Cecilia Gros; "Argentina", Concerto for guitar, by Saúl Cosentino and Mario Andreola; Concerto for harpsichord, by Gorecki; "Talampaya" by Federico Llach. Soloists: Xavier Inchausti and Luis Roggero, violin; Elsa Puppulo, Horacio Lavandera, Antonio Formaro, Marcelo Balat, Bruno Gelber and Tomás Alegre, piano; Diana Lopszyc, harpsichord; Roberto Aussel, guitar; Paula Almerares, soprano. Several singers and choirs will collaborate.

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