lunes, noviembre 16, 2015

The richness of the Baroque in two splendid concerts

            This is an article about two admirable concerts of the Baroque, but first, an intruder I couldn´t include for lack of space in an earlier issue: the penultimate concert of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic´s season. It was conducted by Enrique Arturo Diemecke and had as a special attraction the presence of two gifted artists who are a married couple: pianists Lucille Chung (Canadian, debut) and Alessio Bax (heard recently in Mozarteum recitals). They were supposed to play Bartók´s Two-Piano Concerto, based on his Sonata for two pianos and percussion, but -perhaps because the latter has been played  this season by Argerich and Barenboim-  they programmed instead Mozart´s Two-Piano Concerto. I didn´t mind, for I prefer Bartók´s original.

            In a well-conducted version with beefed-up orchestration  (Diemecke explained that he found an edition that adds clarinet, trumpet and tympani and he thinks –I agree- that it doesn´t harm the music) the pianists showed that they are not only virtuosi but also stylists of the first rank; it was a pleasure to hear them. Their encore was a difficult arrangement with crossed hands of Piazzolla´s "Libertango", which went like quicksilver in their hands.

            The second part gave us a ten-number selection from Suites 1 and 2 of Prokofiev´s wonderful ballet "Romeo and Juliet", which showed conductor and ortchestra at their best. Well, as you may remember this ballet substituted "Eugen Onegin" for Paloma Herrera´s goodbye performances, but Diemecke couldn´t know it . 

            And now to the Baroque and the first period of Classicism (after 1750). Nuova Harmonia ended its season with the presentation at the Coliseo of Il Gardellino (local debut). The name comes from a Vivaldi Flute Concerto and is the Venetian form of Il Cardellino (The Linnet). It was founded in 1988 by Marcel Ponseele (oboe) and Jan De Winne (flute), and they are still with the Ensemble.  The short biography in the hand programme doesn´t state whether they are Dutch or Flemish Belgian.

            Apart from those mentioned, the main members in this tour were the first violin, Julien Chauvin; and the harpsichordist, Shalev Ad-El (Israeli). As this is quite a small group (no instrument is doubled), the others were Joanna Huszcza (second violin), Kaat De Cock (viola), Ira Givol (cello) and Benoit Van den Bemden (bass).

             They chose a varied programme of six authors, avoiding the hackneyed and providing different textures. Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-95) is the least known of Johann Sebastian´s composer sons. His Symphony for strings in D minor , Wf I:3, is one of seven that have come down to us and dates from 1768; Wf is the catalog compiled by Hansdieter Wohlfarth.  The score is quite interesting, although I was surprised by the abrupt ending of the initial Allegro.

            Georg Anton  (or Jirí Antonin) Benda, though Bohemian, worked in Prussia. He wrote about ten harpsichord concerti, such as the one in F minor we heard, a typical transitional piece with some Baroque in it but also with inklings of Classic writing. I believe Il Gardellino misjudged the vastness of the Coliseo; although I managed to hear Ad-El, his harpsichord should have been moved upfront and have had a discreet amplification.

            The Concerto for oboe d´amore, strings and continuo in A by Telemann was sheer pleasure and Ponseele showed himself an exquisite player. De Winne was also a complete professional in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach´s Concerto for flute in D Wq.13.

            And then came the surprise: the dramatic, dissonant five-minute Sinfonia "al Santo Sepolcro" for strings by Vivaldi, surely one of his most radical creations. The session ended with the almost contemporary of J.S.Bach, Johann Friedrich Fasch, who in fact rejected the post at Leipzig that was then offered to Bach.  His Concerto for flute, oboe, strings and continuo in B was good solid Baroque, beautifully played by all concerned. In fact, the whole ensemble is first-rate and plays with consistent high level. The encore was from another Benda Harpsichord Concerto (in G), a vertiginous final Allegro deftly solved by Ad-El.

            The Bach-Händel concert offered at the Blue Whale by the Camerata Bariloche under Mario Videla with the very special participation of Bernarda Fink will remain a high point of the season. She is our most talented mezzosoprano and in this advanced period of her career she keeps her vocal means admirably. She has  natural poise, perfect style and taste.

            Videla, of course, is our foremost Bachian. His natural affinity with this music plus his talent as an organ  player were evident once again. Händel´s pomp and brio are also within his sympathetic interpretations. The Camerata Bariloche collaborated with fine discipline.

            The first half was all-Händel: the three-part Overture to the oratorio "Solomon" (including the Queen of Sheba´s music); then Fink sang little-known pieces: a recitative and aria from the Cantata Mariana; a slow dramatic aria, "Pena tiranna", from the opera"Amadigi"; and the aria from the oratorio "Theodora" "Lord thee, each night and day", noble music indeed. Then a chorus from "Theodora" sung agreeably by the Grupo de Canto Coral (Néstor Andrenacci).

            The Bach section started with a good interpretation by Andrés Spiller of the Oboe Concerto, BWV 1056R, and then, the lovely Cantata Nº 169, "Gott soll allein mein Herze haben" ("Only God will have my heart"), with sterling  work from Fink and a difficult organ obbligato part played by Videla. The final chorale was sung by the chorus and the audience!

For Buenos Aires Herald

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