domingo, octubre 06, 2013

A feast of talented violinists

 

          Either in recital or accompanied by an orchestra, recent weeks have provided a lot of violinistic talent. Vadim Gluzman, Sami Merdinian, Marianna Vasilieva, Jeremías Sergiani, Erzhan Kulibaev: all artists that deserve close attention and confirm the great moment of violin playing in the world.

            The concert conducted by Enrique Arturo Diemecke with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic on September 26 had two points of interest: the splendid rendition of Prokofiev´s Second Violin Concerto by Gluzman and the revival after aeons of time of Richard Strauss´ first tone poem, "Aus Italien" ("From Italy").

            Born in the Ukraine (USSR) in 1973, Gluzman studied in Russia, Israel and the New York Juilliard School and his career was promoted by Isaac Stern. He plays a wonderful Stradivarius once owned by Leopold Auer  and now lent by the Stradivari Society of Chicago. I believe this was his local debut, and very welcome indeed, for he is a true representative of the best tradition.

            Prokofiev´s Concerto alternates between spikiness and singability, in typical style. Gluzman showed an admirably warm, beautiful tone, along with a polished mechanism that solved the tough problems without harshness. Diemecke´s accompaniment wasn´t as fluid as the music required and there were several moot areas. Gluzman provided as encore some slow Bach done with great purity.

            I welcome the opportunity of hearing live "Aus Italien", for although the 45 minutes of impressions rather than descriptions of Italy do have some longueurs, they are already admirably orchestrated, and at 22 (written in 1886) many traits unmistakably Straussian are already there. "In the Campagna", "At the ruins of Rome", "On Sorrento´s beaches" and "Popular Neapolitan life" give us many beautiful moments, and I wasn´t bothered by the incidental appearance of "Funiculì funiculà" (Denza´s song on the Vesuvian funicular). I have long enjoyed the recording of Kempe with the Dresden Staatskapelle, but hearing it in concert I appreciated many more details.

            Diemecke was very comfortable in this exuberant material and the Phil played well. He is surely one of the few conductors that have committed to memory this ample score.

            Again those functionaries that run the National Symphony didn´t even manage to provide a miserable flyer as hand programme of the concert conducted by Christian Baldini, a young (35) Argentine conductor working nowadays in California; so it was left for the artist to tell us (I was in better shape than others, for I had received a mail). The night started at the Auditorio de Belgrano with an expressive première, the "Elegy for Juana Ponce of Lavapiés" (a Madrilene borough) by Argentine composer Alejandro Civilotti, who lives in Cataluña but was present. The performance sounded convincing.

            Then we had the pleasure of hearing Saint-Saëns´ attractive Third Violin Concerto with Sami Merdinian, an Argentine from Córdoba who is living in the USA. This was distinguished playing, clean and musical, with accomplished technique and good taste in the phrasing, and he was very well accompanied. Merdinian interpreted Bach´s Sarabande from the Second Partita as an encore.

            A brilliant performance of Strauss´ "Don Juan" showed Baldini´s mettle, and the concert ended with a light piece, Shostakovich´s "Festive Overture" (I would have preferred something denser for better evaluation of Baldini´s considerable capacity).

            Although I couldn´t stay for the Second Part of a concert by the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Nacional José de San Martín conducted by Mario Benzecry at the Facultad de Derecho UBA, I attended the First Part so as to hear the winners of the Competition Fundación Hebraica 2013. I was very favorably  impressed by Jeremías Sergiani, First Prize, who played beautifully Mendelssohn´s Violin Concerto; only 21, this Cordobés is studying with Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory and is already very accomplished in mechanism and style.

            Soprano Jaquelina Livieri won First Mention in that competition and sang accurately but too incisively "Martern aller Arten" from Mozart´s "Die Entführung aus dem Serail". The programme had started with Esteban Benzecry´s agreeable "Obertura tanguera", well conducted by Mariano Fidanza. The hall´s reverberation wasn´t kind to the orchestra, sounding too loud and not very precise. In the more chamber-like passages the results were better.

            The Orquesta Académica del Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón had as guest conductor Jorge Lhez, an Argentine that is currently Principal Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Salta.  He did a progressively fine job, after a rather erratic reading of "El tarco en flor" by Luis Gianneo. He accompanied correctly Beethoven´s Violin Concerto, where Marianna Vasilieva played with subtlety and taste though lacking some impact; she won Second Prize at the Second Buenos Aires International Violin Competition (July 2012). Born in Saint Petersburg and formed by Dora Schwarzberg and Zakhar Bron, she has a fresh talent and showed her technique in a long encore, a Paganiniana whose author I ignore.

            Lhez was quite good, and so was the Orchestra, in a clear and stylish reading of Mozart´s Symphony Nº38, "Prague".

            I have to be too brief about Kulibaiev´s recital for the Mozarteum Midday Concerts at the Gran Rex. He hails from Kazakhstan, won First Prize in the above-mentioned competition and showed an amazing technique of millimetric precision. Finely accompanied by Paula Peluso, he gave us Debussy´s Sonata and four virtuoso pieces: Sarasate´s Habanera, Saint-Saëns´ "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso", Paganini/Kreisler´s "La Campanella" and Waxman´s "Fantasy on themes from Bizet´s ´Carmen´ ". Encores: Kreisler´s "Chinese tambourin" and Ponce´s "Estrellita".  Simply splendid.

For Buenos Aires Herald