Fortunately our city is still offering a varied and gratifying concert life, both with our best artists and with welcome and necessary visitors. A good place to start is the season of Festivales Musicales. The concert by the Orquesta de Cámara de Chile at the Colón was dedicated to Beethoven. Nothing new in the programme: Overture to "The Creatures of Prometheus", the Fifth Piano Concerto ("Emperor") and the Third Symphony ("Heroic"). The conductor was the veteran Chilean Maestro Juan Pablo Izquierdo, well-known here through the decades. The pianist, our Horacio Lavandera.
One point of interest was that although this repertoire is habitually presented with a rather full symphony orchestra, in this case there were only 36 players, so that such a big piece as the "Heroic" was seen from a chamber perspective. Be it said that the artists played with concentration and adrenaline, so every member accounted for himself, and as they are technically proficient and respond well to the rather strange gestuality of Izquierdo, the results were good. The conductor´s tempi were a bit fast but coherent and his phrasing was precise and clipped.
As to Lavandera, of course his mechanism is admirable and his easy command is always a pleasure to watch and hear. However, his tone lacks weight and his articulation wasn´t always as expressive as the music dictates (especially in the piano accompaniment to the orchestral melody in the slow movement).
Café Zimmermann is a Baroque ensemble currently based in Aix-en-Provence (it used to be in Lyon) and it is made up of Argentine and European players, as well as the French mezzosoprano Claire Brua. It takes its name from a famous Leipzig eighteenth-century establishment. Their roster is flexible according to the needs, and it goes from five to twenty-five members. The venue was the Avenida, perfect for this repertoire.
They chose a very enlightening programme of French Baroque, with surely several local premieres. As textures varied, this was an additional valuable element. They started with the splendid "Troisième Concert Royal" by François Couperin, nicely played by the whole instrumental group: Pablo Valetti, violin and direction; Emmanuel Laporte, oboe; Diana Baroni, flute; Étienne Mangot, viola da gamba; Eduardo Egüez, theorbo; and Céline Frisch, harpsichord. Then, a lovely cantata, "Pan et Syrinx", by Michel Pignolet de Montéclair, where the singer did her part with good style but a slightly harsh timbre.
The Second Part started with a concise and pleasant "Suite III en Trio (Premier oeuvre)" by composer and chess player Pierre Danican Philidor. Then followed a very original piece by Marin Marais, "Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneviève du Mont", quite well done. The programme ended with another cantata, André Campra´s "Didon" (1708), intense and dramatic as it recounts the sad story of the Queen of Carthage. Here Brua sang with involvement and knowledge of the right inflexions; the voice isn´t beautiful but she handles it with skill. The players were well up to the requirements of all three scores, especially Mangot.
One of the best concerts of the season was the one offered by La Barroca del Suquía and soprano Soledad de la Rosa for the Academia Bach at the Museo de Arte Decorativo, with its warm ambience. The group from our Córdoba is simply superb and can compete with the best in Europe, and you will have to look hard to find a European soprano with the beautiful timbre and consumate ability of De la Rosa.
The programming idea was engrossing: pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach´s musical library, all in local premieres. Although an Overture in G minor was attributed to Johann Sebastian and bears the BWV 1070, it seems to be by his son Wilhelm Friedemann; it is certainly a worthy and original score, but it certainly doesn´t sound like Johann Sebastian. The virtuoso players were Manfredo Kraemer and Pablo López, violins; Alberto Lepage, viola; Nina Diehl, cello; Hernán Cuadrado, bass; and Manuel de Olaso, harpsichord, with Kraemer leading with Dionysiac verve.
Handel´s "Armida abbandonata" is a magnificent cantata from his Italian period, and here De la Rosa was marvelous, one of the very best things I´ve heard from her. Then Kraemer showed his astounding expertise in the imaginative and special Sonata VI (1681) by Heinrich Biber, one of the great composers of the Early Baroque. And finally, a motet wrongly attributed to Johann Sebastian (BWV deest 1.006), "Languet anima mea", who turns out to be by the rarely heard Francesco Conti (1682-1732) and proved the high level of Baroque composers, even the second rank ones. Another top job by De la Rosa, finely accompanied. Their encore was welcome: a fragment of the J.S.Bach arrangement of Pergolesi´s Stabat Mater.
I was stunned by the all-Liszt recital presented by Bruno Campanella at the Coliseo for Nuova Harmonia. The artist, who looks nearing sixty, has come before, leaving a good image, but this time he showed himself a specialist in the diabolically intricate writing of Franz Liszt. With an astonishing mechanism that only faltered in some almost impossible passages of the Dante Sonata, plus an intelligent and scrupulous phrasing, he gave us authentic readings. In the First Part, the whole of "Years of Peregrination, Italy" (without the appendix). In the second, the magnificent Mephisto Waltz Nº 1, the paraphrase on the quartet from Verdi´s "Rigoletto" and two Hungarian Rhapsodies, Nos. 12 and 15. All with robust, dramatic sound alternating with delicate traceries.
For Buenos Aires Herald