lunes, noviembre 24, 2014

The Big Two announce their concert seasons

            In recent years I used to refer to the Big Three: Mozarteum Argentino, Nuova Harmonia and Festivales Musicales de Buenos Aires. Unfortunately,  Festivales has called it quits, as an evidence of deep crisis, so now we have left the Big Two. There are signs of difficulties, but they have announced their seasons, and they will be good.

            Mind you, don´t expect much intellectual stimulus: the programmes will be largely based on standards, and few bright ideas will be found. But the artists are of  quality, whilst it is evident that certain markets aren´t being easy, perhaps due to political reasons: grade-A orchestras from  the USA will be absent (we don´t even have an ambassador from that country).

            The Mozarteum maintains its two cycles at the Colón, but in the provinces their net of filials has had some casualties: Rosario and now, it seems, Salta. What a pity for it is the only private federal concert-giving net, and this reveals local financing problems as a consequence of the deep economic crisis.

            I deeply admire the constancy and hard work behind these important cycles: they require sometimes years of communications and when something doesn´t work out it often is because there was a problem in Europe.

            They will start on April 13 and 15 with the Choir and Orchestra of the Bachakademie Stuttgart under Hans-Christoph Rademann, offering respectively Bach´s Mass and Händel´s "Messiah"; hardly innovative but probably satisfactory in its results. Also from Germany, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, led by violinist Pekka Kuusisto (April 20 and 27). Both these groups make their debut here.

            Pianist Jan Lisiecki (debut) will play Bach and Chopin on May 11 and 13. The Atos Trio comes back on May 18 and 19. The fourth visit of the Budapest Festival Orchestra under its founder Ivan Fischer is most welcome; their two programmes are attractive: Brahms´ Fourth Symphony and Ravel´s Piano Concerto (with the excellent Alexander Toradze) on June 26, and soprano Miah Persson (debut) as soloist in both Strauss´ Four Last Songs and Mahler´s Fourth on June 27.

            In early August -dates to be confirmed- we´ll have again the visit of the West Eastern Divan Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. Then, on August 17 and 18, a recital by Dutch mezzosoprano Christianne Stotijn (debut) with pianist Maciej Pikulski; they will offer songs by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Mahler and Brahms.

            The return of Hesperion XXI with Jordi Savall is the most interesting item of the whole season. They will do two fascinating programmes: on September 7, one on the Folías of the Old and New Worlds; and on September 8, a "Dialogue between the Ottoman, Armenian, Greek and Sephardic musical traditions of old Istanbul".

            The Italian pianist Alessio Bax will play Beethoven, Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky (October 5 and 6). Finally, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Grant Llewellyn with harpist Catrin Finch on November 2 and 4 (debut of all concerned) is an intriguing presence.

            Since an early press conference in April telling us at the Coliseo their plans for 2014 (some renovation of the theatre and a new team led by two young women) the Nuova Harmonia authorities have already changed and now only Elisabetta Riva is left. The presentation of the new season took place at the Italian Embassy and there the Ambassadress and Ms Riva (among others) gave us the evidence of support by Italy and details for 2015. For the Coliseo is the only theatre owned by Italy in a foreign country. And even in the middle of a strong crisis, Italian artists will be here in three out of ten international programmes, though with groups already known.

            With a couple of exceptions, the music will be very standard repertoire, and following the trend of recent decades, orchestras will dominate. And there will be no vocal music whatsoever.They start on April 16 (all concerts at the Coliseo unless specified otherwise) with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra under Mikhail Jurowski, featuring cellist Alexander Buzlov (debut) in Dvorák´s Concerto; main score, Tchaikovsky´s Fourth.

            An enjoyable classical concert will be offered with the debut of the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Philharmonic with Alexander Lonquich (debut) as conductor and pianist (Colón, May 15): Schubert´s Fifth, Mozart´s Concerto Nº 25 and Haydn´s "Oxford" Symphony. The Interpreti Veneziani will do a Baroque Italian night on June 4. The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de España will pay us a new visit on July 14, this time under Juanjo Mena (debut): Ravel, Falla´s "Noches en los jardines de España" with pianist Javier Peiranes and Tchaikovsky´s Fifth.

            The Quarteto della Scala di Milano will give us Schubert, Beethoven (the "Harp" Quartet) and Verdi on August 11. Pianist Horacio Lavandera will be the sole Argentine presence playing Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt (August 25). I Solisti di Pavia under the cellist Enrico Dindo will do Italian composers and Piazzolla´s "Las Cuatro Estaciones".

            In what is perhaps the most innovative programme,  a very attractive duo (Viktoria Mullova, violin; Katia Labèque, piano) will play sonatas by Mozart, Schumann and Ravel but add pieces by recent composers, Pärt and Takemitsu; September 28, Colón. The Camerata Ireland under Barry Douglas (conductor and pianist) will offer Mozart and Beethoven, plus a novelty: "Irish Folk Songs and Jigs" (Eimear McGeown, Irish flute); October 21. Finally, Il Gardellino (Dutch Baroque Ensemble) will play G. Benda, C.P.E. and J.S.Bach on November 6.

For Buenos Aires Herald 

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