The big amateur Grupo Coral Divertimento always ends its season with a choral-symphonic concert led by its long-time conductor, the talented Néstor Zadoff. This time they presented a nice combination of Nineteenth-century French music: the short, beautiful "Pavane" by Gabriel Fauré, and the best of Gounod´s many masses, the "Solemn Saint Cecilia Mass". The venue was AMIJAI.
I thought the Pavane overloud, but the Mass went along swimmingly, its 40 minutes propelled by a strong conductor, sung with enthusiasm and reasonable accuracy by the big choir; the 34-player
ad-hoc orchestra collaborated correctly. The solo parts were in the safe vocal chords of three good artists: the Chilean soprano Andrea Aguilar, the tenor Ricardo González Dorrego and the bass Sergio Carlevaris.
Also at AMIJAI, one of the best acoustics we have, I was glad to appreciate the young pianists of the Martha Argerich Presents Project; they will have scholarships to study with the world famous personality. They all have the big guns to solve very difficult pieces. The youngest (19) was Tomás Alegre, who played sensitively three Chopin scores . Then, Ana Cho dealt with the fantastic and extremely difficult first and last movements of Ravel´s "Gaspard de
la Nuit" with ample dynamic range. Javier Villegas played Rachmaninov and Ginastera accurately though rather impersonally. I was impressed by the mettle of Joaquín Bordaçahar Dufau in Liszt´s almost unplayable "Dante Sonata". Finally, Elio Coria met most of the hurdles of Stravinsky´s Three movements from "Petrushka".
Third and last AMIJAI date: the second of three concerts by a valuable new group (founded 2010), the Ensamble Instrumental de Buenos Aires, combining strings, winds and piano. The players are all outstanding, among the very best we have, and they all know how to adapt themselves to the give-and-take of chamber music. And at the piano was no less than Fernando Pérez. They try to program unknown or rarely played scores,as on this occasion, for the audience had the pleasure of meeting the premiere of the Romantic Josef Rheinberger´s Nonet Op.139, as well as an acknowledged masterpiece, Brahms´ Quartet Nº 3 for piano and strings.
I´m sorry to say that the last concerts of the generally good Chopiniana sessions were disappointing. This apart from the drawback of the whole year, the deplorable resonant acoustics of the beautiful but inadequate Oval Room of the Palacio Paz. I heard the Austrian Mathias Soucek in 2006 and got a favourable impression; alas, now he calls himself just Mattheus and his artistic outlook has changed for the worse. In the standard repertoire he is arbitrary (Schubert and Chopin Impromptus, Beethoven´s "Tempest Sonata"); most of the recital was dedicated to his own wild improvisations on Schubert and Mahler, with very difficult but sham figurations. Martha Noguera, organizer of these concerts since their inception years ago, has a vast trajectory (the complete Beethoven Sonatas and the integral Chopin with opus numbers are among her feats) but the closing concert didn´t find her in a good day: lapses of memory (Beethoven´s Op.27 Nº 2), uncontrolled dynamics in Brahms´Variations on a theme of Händel, again lapses in Chopin´s Rondo Op.16. Only in Chopin´s Fantasy Polonaise Op.61 did I find the Noguera of other concerts, stylish and firm.
The Festival Internacional Encuentros has reached the imposing number 43, always led by Alicia Terzian. Throughout the years she has presented an immense amount of premieres of Twentieth and Twentyfirst century scores, and although there was music from very good to very bad, it always is a colossal effort. I could only see two full concerts and fragments of a third out of a total of ten, and in particular I would have liked to hear pianist Yehan Gil and two Quartets, the Bozzini and the Aron. At the hall of the Consejo Profesional de Ciencias Económicas I heard the Mondrian Ensemble (piano and three strings). Two of the works were known here: Ives´ Trio and Kagel´s Second Trio. They also did a curiosity, Wyshnegradsky´s Trio Op.53, for it uses quarter-tones instead of the habitual semitones. The rest were Swiss composers using the trendy catalogue of effects (M. Jaggi, D. Ammann, F.Profos). The players are certainly proficient (although the violinist should moderate her gesticulations). The second concert was at the Centro Cultural de
la Cooperación and presented the Crash Cuarteto of Santa Fe, prone to the most extreme experimentations; not my cup of tea. But at least as information, there was some interest in getting to know Brian Ferneyhough´s "Adagissimo" and S. Sciarrino´s First and Third Brief Quartets. I disliked the pieces by composers, except for Claudio Ferrari´s "Salvo el crepúsculo". Finally, the excellent percussionist Arauco Yepes played at the Biblioteca Nacional pieces that didn´t impress me (Klaus Ager´s "In the Fine Night" and María Luisa De Caro´s Fantasy for marimba), but Xenakis´ "Psappha" is true avant-garde with content. Santa Fe
I have not space to cover them, but at least I want to mention the following: Schumann´s "Der Rose Pilgerfahrt" (Formaro, Coro Concepto Coral); Formaro-Cuarteto de
la Universidad de La Plata (Colón); Primer Festival Nacional Música del pasado de América (Gabriel Garrido); Argentina Danzante (Lucio Bruno-Videla); Orquesta de Ouro Preto and four vocal soloists in Lobo de Mesquita´s "Matins of Holy Saturday"; Schubert´s Octet in the cycle Música en Plural (Centro Nacional de la Música); pianist Valentina Díaz-Frénot (AMIA); and Aquitanian Liturgical Chant of Xth and XIth centuries (Claudio Morla-IUNA).