As happened this year, in 2015 the high point will be the Daniel Barenboim marathon, again with the WEDO (West Eastern Divan Orchestra) and Martha Argerich. But other aspects of concert life are open to considerable criticism: the Philharmonic season, the Sunday morning concerts with Argentine artists, and particularly the so-called Fifth anniversary Cycle. Of course, there´s always the reflected glory of the concerts programmed by the Mozarteum Argentino and Nuova Harmonia, of which I wrote weeks ago. But they simple hire the Colón, it´s no merit of the institution.
The Barenboim concerts are billed as "Stellar subscription series: Festival of music and reflexion" (this last word refers to yet another dialogue between Barenboim and Felipe González; why not someone else?). A good thing: some of the events will be repeated in non-subscription concerts. (Remember also that the Mozarteum includes the WEDO in two concerts, though that specific programming hasn´t been informed).
The WEDO plays a fantastic programme on July 24-25: Wagner´s "Siegfried Idyl", Schönberg´s First Chamber Symphony and the première of "Incises" by Boulez. Unfortunately the Bareboim-Argerich concert on July 26 won´t be repeated; it will feature Bartók´s Sonata for two pianos and percussion. July 29-30 will let us hear two Tchaikovsky hits, the First Concerto and the Fourth Symphony (Argerich should be dazzling). Another golden programme will happen on August 7 and 8: Wagner´s "Tannhäuser" Overture; Beethoven´s Triple Concerto (soloists unannounced) and that enormous chromatic tone poem by Schönberg, "Pelleas and Melisande".
Then, an intriguing curiosity: on August 4, Iranian and Arabic music! And an interesting initiative, quite typical of Barenboim: a chamber concert with Bruckner´s Quintet will be offered at three symbolic buildings of different creeds: the Islamic Center, the Libertad Temple (Jewish) and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
But standards will fall crucially in the Fifth anniversary cycle (of the Colón´s reopening), for Pedro Pablo García Caffi has concocted an umpalatable mixture of popular and academic music: out of seven concerts, just two are what one expects from the Colón: good classical fare with valuable interpreters. The other five offer jazz, tango (twice), folklore, and vulgarised arrangements of famous pieces. Several will use amplification.
The two that are welcome at the Colón, to my mind, are the recital by the great pianist Evgeny Kissin (June 2) and a worthwhile collaboration of soprano Paula Almerares and pianist Karin Lechner (August 12). I much appreciate Wynton Marsalis´ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (March 27) but jazz shouldn´t be at the Colón. Folklore will surely be well represented by Jaime Torres´ Ensemble, but again this isn´t the venue. Ditto for the tango: a virtuoso trio (Binelli-Isaac-Ferman) on September 1 and the Saluzzi Family on October 2. But all this at least has a reasonable musical quality. I´m afraid that won´t happen with the arrangements of Lito Vitali with numerous guests that shouldn´t have accepted this particular artistic date (September 4).
Of course, I have objected such things as the recitals called "Las elegidas" and "Los elegidos", or Charly García: they were simply out of place. But they weren´t part of a concert series neck to neck with academic music, and that makes it much worse.
I am disappointed to a lesser degree by the B.A.Phil´s season, reduced to only 14 concerts; even with repetitions at the Usina del Arte (commendable for they are free) it´s too few. And fully ten will be conducted by Enrique Arturo Diemecke. To boot, there will be a pre-season series of the Beethoven complete symphonies conducted by him (March 3 to 6). Only a few of the soloists are established names. The repertoire is thin, with not one of the long-expected premières or revivals, and –this is unforgivable and contrary to a recent interview with Diemecke- not even one choral-symphonic work.
I don´t have the space to give full details, so I will just cite what seems to me worthwhile. April 23: Polish conductor Antoni Wit in Gorecki and Lutoslawski. June 4: Chinese conductor Tan Li Hua in a session featuring the Concerto for pipa (Chinese lute) by Zhao Jiping played by Wu Man. June 18: Diemecke will give his own revision of the Deryck Cooke performing version of Mahler´s originally incomplete Tenth Symphony. June 25: Richard Stoltzman will play the Corigliano Clarinet Concerto.
A combination of two rarely played scores on July 23: Scriabin´s Piano Concerto (with Alexander Markovich) and Bruckner´s Sixth Symphony, Diemecke on the podium. August 13: an attractive combination of Sibelius ("Karelia Suite"), Rachmaninov ("Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini" with Sergio Tiempo) and Nielsen´s fascinating Fourth Symphony. September 3 features the almost unknown Concert Fantasy by Tchaikovsky with pianist Rusten Hayrudinov. October 1: Víctor Hugo Toro gives us a Baltic overview: Grieg ("Norwegian Dances"), Nielsen (the Clarinet Concerto with Mariano Rey) and Sibelius (First Symphony).
The Argentine interpreters free series on Sunday morninga presents some good stuff but is overweighed with choirs: eight out of sixteen concerts. I especially look forward to the Coro de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, the Conjunto Pro Musica Antiqua de Rosario and the Estudio Coral de Buenos Aires.
The Colón Contemporáneo offers Ligeti by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard (May 3), the spectral music by Gérard Grisey (August 14), "Trans" by Stockhausen (November 12) and the famous Kubrick film "2001" with live music.
Finally, I find the Centro de Experimentación in full decline, and am only attracted by the series of Integrals (Xenakis quartets, chamber music by Kröpfl and Lambertini).
For Buenos Aires Herald