jueves, agosto 18, 2011

An explosion of virtuoso violinists and pianists

            The Buenos Aires Philharmonic has provided the opportunity of appraising the talents of two artists: our Xavier Inchausti and the Ukrainian Vadim Gluzman (debut). The
 former is still very young but already can show a substantial trajectory and an impressive repertoire.  On this occasion he played Paganini´s Concerto Nº l  both for Festivales Musicales and for the Phil´s cycle. I attended Festivales´ subscription night.
            Of course, Paganini´s writing is fiendish, for they were vehicles for himself and he had particular facility for some configurations that are physically hard for most violinists. Well, Inchausti wasn´t absolutely perfect (who can be?) but he did dazzling things with poise and musical sense. I have a better opinion than  some colleagues about Paganini´s music (e.g., I think he was a good melodist) and I don´t mind saying I enjoyed myself. Enrique Diemecke showed again that he is an efficient accompanist. Inchausti´s encore was more of the same, which seemed to me too much: Paganini´s Variations on Paisiello´s "Nel cor più non mi sento".
            The concert included an agreeable performance of Mozart´s Overture to "La clemenza di Tito" and Mahler´s Fourth Symphony, in a fluid, well-phrased performance, although I found the concertino´s solos (Alfija Gubaidulina) rather too impersonal and the ritornello of the first and fourth movement should have been wilder. Carla Filipcic Holm was the "Angel" singing the funny text from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" in the concluding movement, and although she sang well I found her too reticent.
            Another Diemecke program was enticing, for it combined Bernstein´s "Serenade" (rarely played) with Bruckner´s marvelous Seventh Symphony. The Serenade is a very original piece,  based on  the composer´s particular impressions on Plato´s "Symposium". Its five contrasting movements are written for solo violin, strings and percussion, in an engaging tonal idiom, fresh and imaginative. Written in 1954 and lasting half an hour, it´s certainly one of his best works.
            Gluzman proved to be a magnificent player, with a deep, burnished sound, a total intellectual comprehension (the score was premiered and recorded by no less than Isaac Stern) and  complete technical equipment. It was worth hearing him in an interesting encore, the Prelude from Ysaÿe´s Sonata op.27 Nº2, quoting the "Dies Irae".  The Orchestra wasn´t always as accurate as Bernstein´s music demands and there were lapses of  intonation, but it was conceptually well integrated by the conductor.
            Bruckner´s Seventh is his best known, along with the Fourth; inspired melodic contours are bathed in post Romantic harmonies and chamber passages alternate with massive blocks of sound. This creation attains sublime moments in the slow movement and is never less than  beautiful in its 70 minutes. I admired yet again Diemecke´s portentous memory and command, but I must say I found him far from the inspiration of Eugen Jochum or Franz Paul Decker: this music needs phrasing with mystery and metaphysics and it didn´t get it. Nor was the orchestra fully adequate to the demands, especially in some raucous brass interventions.
            Jinjoo Cho (Korean) and Nigel Armstrong (USA) won last year First and Second Prize in the Buenos Aires First International Violin Competition promoted by Shlomo Mintz and sponsored by YPF.  They are now back playing a series of concerts as a result of the mentioned event, and in their AMIJAI concert they acquitted themselves admirably. The Orquesta Académica de Buenos Aires under Carlos Calleja accompanied with reasonably good results (on their own thay did Elgar´s "Nimrod" from the "Enigma Variations").
            Armstrong played with panache and terse sound Chausson´s heated "Poem" and Saint-Saëns´ display piece "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso"  and gave us a nice encore, Kreisler´s "Scherzo". Cho was admirable in Tchaikovsky´s Concerto, playing with concentration, attention to detail and fine mechanism, as well as juicy and well-tuned sound. Both artists offered other concerts: Cho with pianist Paula Peluso and with the National Symphony under Pedro Calderón (Vaughan Williams and Sarasate), and Armstrong in a mixed programme where he played classical, jazz and tango.
            Our great pianist Nelson Goerner was back for a recital at the Colón in the series incongruously called "Abono del Bicentenario". Prices that were too high had their correlation in a half-empty theatre. The artist started with one of Mozart´s simpler Sonatas, K. 282; nicely played, of course, but not quite as Mozartean as I hoped (too much pedal, an overslow first movement). Then  he tackled Schumann´s enormously difficult "Kreisleriana" , which the composer thought with reason one of his best works. The work of a master pianist, Goerner nevertheless seemed labored in some passages. But all reservations disappeared in a fantastic performance of Liszt´s mighty Sonata: the technical perfection of a true virtuoso blended here with unerring phrasing and the breadth the music calls for. The encores were contrasting: a rather strange performance of Chopin´s Prelude Nº 6 (all chords were splayed) was followed with a dizzying traversal of Schulz-Evler´s "Concert arabesques on Johann Strauss´  ´The Blue Danube´".
            To finish, Bruno Gelber was in great, astonishing form in Rachmaninov´s Third Concerto with the National Symphony under Pedro Calderón at the Auditorio de Belgrano. The transcendental mechanical requirements were solved with massive, beautiful sound and deep, personal phrasing, in the manner of the great Romantic virtuosi. He was accompanied with great skill by Calderón, who also got excellent results from the orchestra in Mahler´s adaptation for orchestra of Schubert´s Quartet Nº 14, "Death and the Maiden".
For Buenos Aires Herald

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