Nelson Goerner is the best Argentine pianist of his generation (early forties); he lives in Europe, but he visits us yearly and his presentations are always an event. This time his recital for Nuova Harmonia at the Coliseo was again admirable. He presented a solid repertoire of essential composers with the qualities of a great artist: an almost infallible technique, a perfect equilibrium between orthodoxy and innovative interpretation, a beautiful touch, a sense of style that vitalizes all he plays.
Two well-chosen pieces by Chopin: the varied and enigmatic Fantasy Op.49 and the lyrical Third Ballad. Then, two splendid Debussy versions: the first book of "Images" (inexplicably not applauded!) and a mercurial "L´isle joyeuse" ("The happy island"). Finally, the enormous last Schubert Sonata Nº 21, where he observed the repeat of the exposition in the first movement (theoretically right, it does make for an excessive 20 minutes); but the composer´s heavenly lengths have rarely been done with such sensitivity. More exquisite Debussy as an encore: "La soirée dans Grenade", Nº2 from "Estampes".
Horacio Lavandera is both the most successful and regularly seen of the Argentine pianists that are in their twenties. However, although I admire his dexterity and easy command, I always feel a barrier of communication when he plays the classics and I find him much more appealing in Twentieth-century music. This was the case when he played with impeccable mechanism Mozart´s Concerto Nº23 and Beethoven´s Nº 5, "Emperor", for Festivales Musicales at the Colón.
Crystalline touch and meticulous articulation for Mozart but very unyielding rhythm and no ornamentation in the slow movement. In Beethoven he was quite a pro in remaining unfazed to the consequences of a lighting failure that affected the stage; everyone played with the full lighting of the hall. It was a clean and firm "Emperor" but a bit too percussive and lacking in poetry.
Michael Seal, a British conductor currently Associate Conductor of the Birmingham Symphony, has been before at the helm of the Orquesta Académica del Instituto Superior de Arte del teatreo Colón. He had them well in hand and his accompaniments were quite helpful. Before the Concerti he led them in a very agreeable traversal of Beethoven´s First Symphony, where it was evident that the Académica (38-strong) is in pretty good shape for this kind of music.
I recently wrote about two concerts of the series Chopiniana; now I will refer to another couple of sessions. I´m glad that the decision was made not to return to the over-reverberant Oval Room of the Palacio Paz in the Ground Floor; now they are using regularly the good rectangular hall of the First Floor, with much better acoustics. The quality and condition of the piano also matters, and after several concerts in which the piano sounded harsh and overloud, on the night of Ingolf Wunder´s "rentrée" the piano was transformed, and not only because the pianist is a superior talent, but due to the instrument´s re-tuning.
Before him, Polish pianist Wojciech Waleczek had his return engagement but without the benefit of this re-tunement. However, the artist tends to massive sound and over-vehement phrasing, facts that didn´t help. As this is a series, he shouldn´t have repeated Chopin´s three Waltzes Op.34, for they had been played by Raphael Lutchevsky, but there was an improvement: the third waltz was at the right speed. Before, he played the rarely done "Brilliant variations" Op.12 also by Chopin; they follow the trend of taking a famous bit from a current opera as the subject of virtuoso variations. In this case, "on the favorite rondeau ´Je vends des scapulaires´ from ´Ludovic´ by Halévy and Hérold".
Liszt made hundreds of arrangements on music by other composers; among his better ones are his choice of "Six Polish songs" by Chopin, quite beautiful and played with conviction by Waleczek. The pianist was at his best on two works by Witold Lutoslawski: "Twelve folk melodies" (1952) and "Bucolics" (1945); in both cases the Polish composer followed Bartók´s methods to give us folk-inspired miniatures of great charm and character.
Unfortunately –though they were rather well-played- I don´t enjoy the heavy transpositions made by Liszt from Wagner ("Isolde´s Love-death" from "Tristan and Isolde" and the "Peregrine Chorus" from "Tannhäuser") and Gounod (the Waltz from "Faust"). The encores came from Schumann (Nº 1 of "Kinderscenen") and unexpectedly from Mancini ("Moonriver" from the film "Breakfast at Tiffany´s").
To play with words, Wunder is a wonder. Born in 1985, he is certainly a bright light among young pianists: impressive command of dynamics from ppp to fff, extremely agile and fast fingers, good taste and stylistic sense. He played an almost perfect Sonata Nº14, "Moonlight", by Beethoven, and followed with beautiful Chopin performances: Nocturne Op.9 Nº 3 and two Ballads (Nos. 1 and 3).
In the Second Part, a precise and sensitive Impromptu Op.142 Nº4 by Schubert and an agreeable transcription by Liszt of Schubert´s "Serenade". Finally, Liszt´s mighty Sonata, done in the grand manner with a few smudges, and two encores: Chopin´s "Fantasia impromptu" and Moszkowski´s aptly named "Étincelles" ("Sparks"). Wunder seems to me an artist in the great Viennese tradition.For Buenos Aires Herald