miércoles, diciembre 26, 2012

End-of-season musical highlights

            The final concert of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic underwent a series of unwelcome changes, but it became a personal triumph for Nelson Goerner. The session was originally scheduled for November 1;  for some reason it was eventually offered on December 13. As the Phil, apart from a half concert at the Teatro 25 de Mayo, was completely free of engagements, its inactivity became an indictment of Colón Director Pedro Pablo García Caffi´s planning. Consider: he had at his disposal the second orchestra for the Colón "Ring"; instead, more than 80 musicians were hired for that event. So, the Colón paid for those but also for the Phil: an immense waste of money and an absurd underuse of a human resource.

            Another matter irked me deeply: the programme initially included the splendid and arduous Second Piano Concerto by Bartók; with no explanation it was replaced by Rachmaninov´s Third Concerto. And the much awaited full performance of Debussy´s "Images" was reduced to only "Iberia": the rarely played and fascinating "Gigues" and "Rondes du Printemps" were eliminated, presumably (bad thinking) because the concert would have been a bit long (Bartók lasts 25' , Rachmaninov 40'). Well, no: the programme as such ended at 10:15 p.m.

            The night started with a welcome novelty: the third part, "Transformation" (11' ) of a huge tone poem written by Pascual de Rogatis: "Zupay". (Weak joke: García Caffi sang in the Cuarteto Zupay for a long period;  Zupay was the quechua devil). It wasn´t technically a premiere, for the whole score had been played on September 29, 1910, but  it amounted to one. The music was never published, and the instrumental parts were found in the FENDOMA Archive of the National Institute of Musicology Carlos Vega, photographed by Julián Mosca and digitalized by Diana Fernández Calvo, who is head of the other Vega Institute, that of the Catholic University. Well, it was worth reviving: this shows (as do the "Huemac Dances" of the same composer) that even in 1910 there was a considerable amount of sophistication, technique and taste. The music flows beautifully combining impressionism with indigenist features.

            "Iberia" is a masterpiece, and it was quite well played and conducted (as was the preceding piece). Rachmnaninov´s Third is a favorite item in competitions and nowadays is more often played than the Second. Accompanied with care by the players and the conductor, Goerner showed a magisterial command of the intricate music, with his amazing technical control blended with  an unerring sense of form and tonal sensitivity. The pleasure was prolonged in three well-chosen encores: a lovely Debussy Prelude with a long title: "Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l´air du soir" ("Sounds and perfumes whirl in the evening´s air"); Rachmaninov´s Prelude Op.23 Nº 2; and a "trouvaille", Paderewski´s Nocturne, Nº 4 of "Miscellanea" Op.16,  refined music that Goerner played with a true singing tone.

            One of the positive aspects of the García Caffi period is the series of Sunday morning free concerts with local artists. The final two were among the best. By now it is commonplace to call the Estudio Coral de Buenos Aires directed by Carlos López Puccio our best chamber choir, but it happens to be true. Apart from the high quality of the voices (many are soloists) they have great discipline, and their director shows that he is a connoisseur of many styles. Also, he has a knack for programming interesting stuff. This concert was such a case. Called "Choral music of folk inspiration, 1870-1970", we heard music in no less than nine languages (good diction in all), mostly little-known and quite attractive.

            The list of authors is eloquent enough: Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (Sweden), Brahms, Vaughan Williams and Britten, Einojuhani Rautawaara (Finland), Veljo Tormis (Estonia), Schönberg, Poulenc, Georges Auric (France), Rafael Suárez (Venezuela), Chango Rodríguez (Argentina), Villa-Lobos, Robert Shaw-Alice Parker (USA), Ligeti (Hungary). The session was intensely enjoyable throughout.

            Pablo Saraví had a fine idea back in 2009: to form the Ensemble Instrumental de Buenos Aires, a group of first-rate (international quality) players dedicated to chamber music rarely played, emphasizing those for more than five artists and less than ten. As, except pianist Fernando Pérez (listed, but not present  in this programme), they are all from the Phil, they have a fluid, close relationship and a sense of mutual collaboration. Relaxed and fully professional, the Ensemble fulfils a real need of our medium.

            There was a very pleasant premiere: the Septet for strings and winds (1860) by Adolphe Blanc (1828-85), an obscure French composer of considerable charm and technique. The concise four movements showed a fine ear for timbre and melody. Mozart wrote four quartets for flute and strings; we heard Nº1, K.285, in a refined interpretation by Claudio Barile and Saraví (violin), Silvina Álvarez (viola) and Myriam Santucci (cello). The concert ended with the splendid Martinu "Nonet", a late example of his eclectic imagination. As in Blanc, it permitted  other players to show their command: Néstor Garrote (oboe), Mariano Rey (clarinet), Gabriel La Rocca (bassoon) and Fernando Chiappero (horn).

            A brief reference to a recital by Polish pianist Joanna Trzeciak for Amigos de Bellas Artes´ cycle. Unsure of herself in Chopin (a Polonaise and the four Impromptus), she was convincing in the following valuable and unhackneyed works : the intricate "Masks" by Szymanowski, ten of the twenty "Visions fugitives" by Prokofiev, and the one-movement Third Sonata by Miaskovsky.

For Buenos Aires Herald


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