The Mozarteum Argentino ended its season with the debut of a very young organism: the Philharmonic of Minas Gerais, founded in 2008 with Fabio Mechetti as conductor (also debut). It is not very big, 80-strong, enough for the Postromantic music chosen on this occasion, but would be a bit short for Richard Strauss or Mahler. The orchestra is very cosmopolitan in its integration, and it was soon apparent that Maestro Mechetti has built a very commendable body of players, brilliant and accurate. There were minimal faults and plenty of very professional playing in readings that were orthodox, vigorous and stylish. Presumably they have their home at Belo Horizonte, a fine, big city which I visited with pleasure years go (it is the perfect place to start a visit to those wonderful colonial cities, Ouro Preto and Congonhas).
The programme started with an emblematic piece from Imperial Brazil: the colorful and melodic Overture to "Il Guarany", the 1870 opera by Antonio Carlos Gomes. Curiously, the Brazilian name for the Overture form is "protofonia". Then, the splendid Brazilian cellist Antonio Meneses, well-known here from previous visits, gave us a mature, beautiful reading of what is certainly the greatest Cello Concerto ever griten, Op.104 by Antonin Dvorák. The Orchestra gave proper relief to its own admirable music and fit like a glove with Meneses´ phrasing. The cellist gave us as encore a perfect version of the Courante from Bach´s First Suite.
Tchaikovsky´s Fourth Symphony has some very extrovert passages but also intense, dramatic material (especially in the first movement). The orchestra showed fine discipline and offered plenty of decibels, sounding a lot like Russian organisms do (particularly the trumpets). Mechetti was in full command. The encores were excellent: the final Rondo from Ginastera´s "Variaciones concertantes" (for me his best score) and the melancholy Prelude to Villalobos´ Bachianas Brasileiras Nº4.
The Buenos Aires Philharmonic featured Nielsen´s marvelous Fifth Symphony, maybe his greatest, in a concert that was originally assigned to veteran Finnish conductor Jorma Panula; his place was taken (no explanation given) by our Carlos Vieu, and I must say he did very well in this difficult score, where the composer´s typical battle of tonalities attains rare peaks. The dense, closely knit music flowed logically and was generally quite well played.
In the First Part we had yet another piece from Alberto Williams, profusely feted by the Phil in the 150th anniversary of his birth; his Third Argentine Suite for strings is very pleasant, especially a tuneful Milonga and a long "Arrorró con variaciones". Then, following the scheme of the previous concert, space was given to two Phil wind first desks. Bassoonist Gabriel La Rocca played with fine technique and panache Weber´s Concerto for the instrument, and then trumpeter Fernando Ciancio dealt with Alexander Arutiunian´s Concerto (very much in the Khachaturian mold) with distinguished precision and sound. Vieu was flexible and exact.
Hungarian pianist Zoltan Féjervári is a real find. Quite young (26), disciple of Andras Schiff, he visited us last season for the first time (I couldn´t hear him then) and now was back for two recitals: one at the Biblioteca Nacional, and the other –which I was glad to catch- at the small auditorium of Musicarte in Belgrano, a joint presentation with Ars Hungarica. The programme, without interval, was quite challenging: Liszt´s brooding, epic Second Ballad; Bartók´s tough, rhythmic Sonata; Debussy´s First Book of "Images", of quintessential impressionism; and Stravinsky´s skillful and fantastically difficult Three movements from "Petrushka", concocted for Rubinstein.
The playing of Fejervári was nothing short of amazing. He had a pretty good small piano, and the restricted hall didn´t give enough space for his enormous sound. His purely technical attainments are admirable; however, mere accuracy is certainly important but doesn´t transcend without a strong personality and faithfulness to the spirit of the scores. Here we had the tremendous Romantic side in Liszt, a motoric rhythm coupled with perfect dissonant chords in Bartók and Stravinsky, and also ethereal textures when required in Debussy. A lovely fragment by Janácek (from "On the overgrown path") was the encore which ended this memorable recital.
The Trio Williams is of recent formation. One of our best pianists, Antonio Formaro, has teamed up with two string players from La Plata´s Teatro Argentino: Nicolás Favero, violín, and Siro Bellisomi, cello. They call themselves Williams as the composer I have already mentioned, and they played his huge Trio at the Colón in the useful series of 11 a.m. Sunday free concerts, certainly one of the better ideas of the current administration. That Trio lasts 30 minutes and is full of expansive ideas, one of the earliest chamber works by an argentine composer. Both in this and in the other well-chosen scores (Haydn´s Trio Nº 25, "all´ongarese", and Mendelssohn´s rich Second Trio) the artists were well-integrated and professional, although Formaro stands out as a very special player.
The Trio Williams also provided a pleasant night at the Sofitel Soirée Musicale series presented by La Bella Música. There they played one standard piece (Beethoven´s Trio Op.70 Nº 1, "Ghost") but also two rarely heard scores: the one-movement "Elegiac Trio Nº 1" by Rachmaninov, and the 25-minute, 4-movement Granados Second Trio, Op.50, not very Spanish but quite agreeable. . Again Formaro was a tower of strength; the others are quite correct but need to improve their sound projection and timbre.
For Buenos Aires Herald