Wrap-up time for the concert season, a roundup of interesting concerts that somehow didn´t find place but deserve mention. To start, four Midday Concerts at the Gran Rex. Twenty-year-old platense" pianist Tomás Nessi won the Shell-Festivales First Prize in 2009; this recital proved his mettle with two masterpieces: Chopin´s Op.25 Etudes and Prokofiev´s Sonata Nº 7. Strong fingers, a clear mind, concentration; perhaps too impersonal but he´s very young. The Heath Quartet (debut, England), formed in 2002, is intense and precise, as shown in a fascinating combination of scores: Janácek´s Quartet Nº 1, on Tolstoi´s "The Kreutzer Sonata", and Schubert´s Quartet Nº 13, called "Rosamunde" because it quotes a famous melody from that incidental music. The flexibility and attention to detail of the Heath gave full value to both admirable pieces. No less convincing was the String Sextet of Milan´s La Scala Academy (debut), whose players offered complete understanding and technical command of dissimilar and lovely musics: the one-movement sextet that opens Richard
Strauss´opera "Capriccio" ( certainly a unique instance in the history of the genre) and Tchaikovsky´s "Souvenir de Florence", a light-hearted homage written with consumate ability. Finally, the very professional Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas (debut) conducted by Rodolfo Saglimbeni (debut) executed a colorful Venezuelan score, "Santa Cruz de Pacairigua", and then accompanied well a master pianist, Peter Donohoe, in Rachmaninov´s virtuosic Third Concerto, played with stunning firmness and musicality.
From time to time comes along a perfect, exquisite recital of unusual repertoire. This was the case of the closing Sofitel-La Bella Música occasion. Four expert, talented people concocted an ideal panorama of Sixteenth-century Italian Baroque: baritone Víctor Torres in his very best form, mezzosoprano Mariana Rewerski showing much progress after a long European stay, and two great players: Juan Manuel Quintana (viola da gamba) and Dolores Costoyas (theorbo). Famous names (Monteverdi, Caccini, Fescobaldi) but also plenty of little-known ones, mostly trouvailles as Barbara Strozzi, Luigi Rossi, Sigismondo D´India, Dario Castello and Biagio Marini (the hilarious "La vecchia vecchia innamorata").
The last concert of the Bach Academy brought yet another premiere of a Bach cantata, Nº 127, "Herr Jesu Christ, wahr´ Mensch und Gott" ("Lord Jesus Christ, true man and God"). Rather short, in five fragments, it has a rich orchestration: trumpet, two recorders, two oboes, strings and continuo. The best parts are the initial Choir, the soprano aria and the dramatic interplay of baritone and trumpet in the recitative and aria Nº 4 with the same text as "The trumpet shall sound" from Händel´s Messiah". Fine singing from Mónica Capra and orberto Norberto Marcos and a distinguished account of his part by trumpeter Fernando Ciancio, also the soloist in the preceding Fasch Concerto in D. Nice work from the conductor, Mario Videla, the other players and the GCC-Grupo de Canto Coral led by Néstoltor Andrenacci.
Ars Nobilis has changed its style in recent years; instead of subscription concerts, now they are free. The quality is variable, but some a good, are good, such as the only one I could attend, at the Jockey Club, featuring the excellent guitarist Isabel Siewers. She chose a Spanish programme of composers who knew inside-out the secrets of the guitar, that intimate and expressive instrument: Fernando Sor (both his Variations on a theme by Mozart and his Grand Solo Op.14), Moreno Torroba´s Sonatina, three pieces by Tárrega, De Falla´s subtle "Homage to Debussy". Then, an Italian specialist of the guitar, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, in a number from the series "Platero y yo", based on uan on Juan Ramón Jiménez. Finally, the charming "Fandango Quintet" by Boccherini, where Siewers was partnered by the Schubert Quartet, a bit green.
The Fundación Música de Cámara has been led artistically for decades by the distinguished Guillermo Opitz. He always programmes and prepares concerts with two qualities: valuable but unjustly neglected material and the promotion of promising young artists. Another characteristic is the special venues selected. Thus, the magnificent Palace Sans Souci was the cadre for "Cancionero argentino", an ample digest of songs from earlier generations, starting with the nineteenth-century Esnaola. Aguirre, De Rogatis, Boero, Gianneo, J.J. Castro, Caamaño, Lasala, Ginastera and Guastavino were witnesses of the richness and quality of our song repertoire. Two works had special scorings: Lasala´s "Serranas", for tenor, flute, piano and "caja"; and Guastavino´s "Indianas", for vocal quartet and piano. Many songs werem new to me and quite welcome. Among the singers I would single out bass Walter Schwarz, soprano Jaquelina Livieri, tenor Santiago Bürgi, mezzosoprano Javiera Paredes and soprano María Goso. The pianists and flutist Da Dalt accompanied well
For the last concert, "Bach and Bachianas", as it included works by Villalobos, the cogent choice was Brazil´s splendid Embassy, although in the in the hall the sightlines were dicey. The night started with Johann Sebastian Bach´s Suite Nº 2 for flute and strings, with an impeccable Patricia Patricia Da Dalt accompanied by just five strings (led by violinist Pablo Saraví) and harpsichord. Then, three scores by Villalobos: Prelude Nº 3 for Nº 3 for guitar, beautifully done by Víctor Villadangos; an arrangement for soprano and guitar of the first movement of Bachianas Brasileiras Nº 5 (I much prefer the original with eight cellos), where Livieri didn´t quite sustain the final high note; and a perfect performance by Da Dalt and Gabriel La Rocca of the Bachianas Brasileiras Nº6. Finally, an agreeable staged (by Lizzie Waisse) Bach "Coffee Cantata", Nº 211, with Livieri, Schwarz and tenor Mauro Di Bert recounting the ingenuous anecdote and singing the deliberately simple music with engaging ardour. The players went along in the proper spirit.