I am, as everyone else, incapable of ubiquity, but still my weekly catch of concerts is pretty high and I always have a backlog in this intense season. Here´s a batch of rather interesting nights.
The Mozarteum Argentino brought us the Israel Chamber Orchestra under Yoav Talmi at the Colón; I saw the second and last concert. The rather short programme was compensated by no less than three encores from the soloist, Alon Goldstein (piano, debut) and three from the orchestra. I disagree about the programme as such: after three splendid fragments from Gluck´s "Orphée et Eurydice", two scores by Mendelssohn are one too much; either go the whole hog and give us a mini-festival of the same composer, or find a third one for variety.
Quibbles apart, this was a magnificent session: the 37-member ICO is really excellent, perfect for the repertoire in size. The strings are of unusual quality; beautiful sound, complete unanimity, pliant phrasing; the flute soloist in Gluck was lovely; and the ensemble bears the marks of long acquaintance in their mutual empathy. Of course, veteran conductor Talmi is an essential part of the high level obtained: he has a sense of style and a complete command clearly seen in his always apposite gestures.
Goldstein played mercurially Mendelssohn´s First Concerto, but the glittering music can take this speed in stride, and when the time came to relax and sing, that is what we got, with beautifully liquid sound. The encores were two Ginastera pieces (that of the "gaucho matrero" not quite idiomatic) and –a pleasant surprise- Talmi joined him in the four-hand version of Dvorák´s Slavonic Dance Op.46 Nº12.
Then we had the freshest and most precisely executed version of Mendelssohn´s "Italian Symphony" (Nº 4) I´ve heard in many years. And the encores were very good: the "Hoedown" from Copland´s "Rodeo" (an exhilarating choice), the four last Romanian Dances by Bartók (accomplished concertino!) and a very stylish last movement from Mozart´s Fortieth Symphony.
I heard two quite agreeable chamber concerts from Festivales Musicales, both at the Auditorio de Belgrano. In the first, the Quinteto Filarmónico de Buenos Aires (first wind desks of the Philharmonic Orchestra) gave us a very well-played panorama of rather light twentieth-century music. The delightful suite by Milhaud, "La cheminée du Roi René" (in this case "cheminée" is "walk", not "chimney", and the good 15th century King of Provence ambles along with invigorating charm) was followed by Barber´s mellow "Summer music". The "Three Moods" by Andrey Rubtsov were a premiere from a young composer born in 1982 and was the only piece from our century, for it dates from 2002; the music expressed well "Void", "Sadness" and "Frivolity".
The Second Part was Latin-American: the very Brazilian Suite Op.37 by Oscar Lorenzo Fernández and "Aires tropicales" by the Cuban Paquito D´Rivera. Both scores are skillful amd well-varied. As encores, two tangos. The special sound of a wind quintet is certainly nice to hear from time to time, and all the players are expert.
I have good memories of preceding visits paid us by the Ensemble Stanislas, who hails from Nancy (France). Though I never understood why they call themselves "ensemble" when they are a straight string quartet. Paradoxically, the quartet had guests in this programme and so they formed an ad-hoc group. They played two scores by Debussy in the First Part, and in this case it was justified to contrast this very French music with Schubert´s "Trout" Quintet in the Second Part, for there are no other Debussy pieces compatible with a members of a quartet. The Trio in G minor is a youthful work rarely played; it shows promise but there´s little innovation yet. The Quartet on the other hand is a masterpiece of his early maturity. The players, not quite virtuosi, are good, and they know the style inside out, very essential in this case. In the Trio Argentine pianist Hilda Herrera made a professional contribution. As to the "Trout", it went well without being outstanding. Herrera had an accident in one passage, but was otherwise very competent, and Luis Tauriello (bass) was correct. I was sorry to miss (clash with another event) L´armée des Romantiques, a trio made up of soprano,
flute and piano, in a fine programme of french music, not all "romantique".
There was a splendid night at the Auditorio when the National Symphony was conducted by Francisco Rettig, a talented Chilean well-known here. After the anodyne start with "...de tango" by Vicente Moncho, there was a stunning execution of Prokofiev´s ultra-difficult Concerto Nº2 with our Marcelo Balat (who is now the orchestra´s pianist) a tremendously accurate and sensitive soloist, who even vanquished the redoubtable very long cadenza. And then, one of the best readings of Stravinsky´s seminal "Rite of Spring", where the fantastically complex rhythms were solved to a remarkable degree. Two scores almost centenary and still vibrantly modern.
A final mention for a concert by the Swiss Galatea Quartet at the Museo Fernández Blanco. They were truly admirable in a valuable programme with music by Swiss composers and Schubert. The former: from Bloch a bunch of beautiful atmospheric pieces and then Rudolf Kelterborn´s Sixth Quartet (2001), new proof of the reliable quality of this composer. Finally, an intense and romantic view of Schubert´s Quartet Nº 14, "Death and the Maiden". The MFB continues to offer intelligent programmes week after week.
For Buenos Aires Herald