miércoles, enero 02, 2013

A final concert roundup brings some renovation

             This final roundup of last year´s concert life is quite heterogeneous although with the accent put on choral music. However, I start with the first session of a cycle called "¡Vivan Debussy y Ravel!", in continuity of similar cycles of previous ¡Viva! Cycles of preceding years (Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schumann, et al.), a way to pay homage to great composers in carefully devised programmes always organised by Haydée Francia and Barbara Civita at AMIJAI. I could only hear the first out of three and it was very pleasant.
                Debussy´s marvelous late Sonata for flute, viola and harp was the reason for the formation of the Trio Luminar years ago and it remains the basic score of their repertoire. This wasn´t quite their best performance, especially from violist Marcela Magin, but the players know it inside out and give a true reading of this magical music; flutist Patricia Da Dalt and harpist Lucrecia Jancsa have lovely tone and phrasing.
                Ravel´s "Histoires naturelles" are five picturesque songs on texts by Jules Renard describing five different birds (a fox –"renard"- writing on birds!). Alejandra Malvino did a a professional job, though there´s more point to the text than she offered. Fernando Pérez at the piano was his usual admirable self. The concert ended with a splendid performance of Ravel´s tricky and wonderful Trio, played by Freddy Varela (violin), Stanimir Todorov (a steadfast cellist indeed) and pianist Paula Peluso showing impressive command.
                To offer an all-Stravinsky concert is certainly enticing and meritorious, especially if the pieces chosen are uncompromising. Such was the case with the session offered at the Auditorio de Belgrano by the Agrupación Sinfónica Municipal de Morón (why not "Orquesta"?) and the Coro Polifónico Nacional, under the leadership of Roberto Luvini.
                Certainly the "Ebony Concerto" is audacious, for it was written for the progressive jazz orchestra of Woody Herman; as usual with Stravinsky, he can write for the most varied textures and his music is immediately recognisable; somehow his imagination integrates jazz sounds seamlessly into his style.  Very rarely done, the composer recorded it with the Herman band  and that interpretation remains the basic reference; I´m sorry to say that the Morón group fared mediocrely in this work.
                Things perked up in the strange Mass, often Medieval-sounding, written for choir and double wind quintet, the work of a deep believer. And the level was satisfactory in that acknowledged masterpiece, the Symphony of Psalms, bleak but exciting, with an orchestration that leaves out violins, violas and clarinets; the work of the choir and orchestra was correct and Luvini showed understanding and command.
                For me one of the most productive and fascinating concerts of the year was given to a small audience by the Conjunto Musica Prohibita conducted by Pablo Banchi at the Crypt of the Santísimo Sacramento Church, for it helped fill –albeit minimally- one of the most grievous gaps of our concert life: that of the marvelous Renaissance polyphonic masses. It may come as a surprise, but the following statement is right: the Mass was the most important musical genre of the period 1450-1600. And the most abundant was the motet. But our musical medium, although it teems with choirs, ignores the Rennaissance mass almost totally although it does include some motets. This is irresponsable and wrong. And that is why I applaud Banchi´s enterprise ; he and his noble group try to diminish the distance between the public and this music, and they do it with fine voices and the right style imparted by Banchi, certainly one of the most talented choir directors of his generation.
                The programme was entitled "Josquin Des Prez and the Flemish Polyphony". It gave us at the start the magnificent "Missa Hercules Dux Ferrarie", by Josquin (1440-1521), a half hour of intricate polyphony, followed by a long psalm by Josquin, "Miserere mei, Deus" (Psalm L). And then, other great names: Adriaen Willaert (1490-1562), "De Profundis" (for eight voices); Cipriano de Rore (1515-65), "O altitudo"; and Roland de Lassus (1532-94), "De profundis" (Psalm CXXIX). It is a moot point whether instrumental support is necessary (there were recorder, chamber organ, archlute and viola da gamba), although it helps intonation (it merely doubles), but some feel that it impairs the appreciation of the pure vocal lines. Any way, this concert was pure gold and left me desiring much more.
                A very different choral concert was given at the church San Miguel Arcángel, with premieres of Italian tonal composers. Two years ago Adelaida Negri sang Licinio Refice´s "Cecilia" for the first time since Claudia Muzio. Now she intervened in two scores: the "Stabat Mater" by the young Giovani Panella (born 1985) and another Stabat Mater but by Refice. The concert also included "Neve non tocca" by Domenico Bartolucci (born 1917!). All this music fell gratefully on the ear and showed that good tonal music can be written even in these times; paradoxically Panella sounded more traditional than Refice, who has some more advanced moments.
                The good Ensemble Vocal Cámara XXI prepared by Miguel Ángel Pesce was conducted by Panella quite vividly. Pianist Giovanni Valle was very useful in the difficult Refice accompaniment. I didn´t enjoy the wavering voice of Negri, at the end of her important career, nor the bleat in tenor Pablo Selci. The others did well: Bibiana Fischy (mezzosoprano), David Basualdo (tenor), Alejandro Schijman (bass-baritone) and Marta Rossi (soprano).
For Buenos Aires Herald

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