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

“Carmen”, an evergreen staged too often

            It happens not only with opera, also with concert music: some masterpieces are so insistently staged or played that habitués can only have one reaction: yet another! And they become easy-way-out for organisations that want to have full theatres, for unfortunately curiosity isn´t the strong point of audiences and there´s always a majority willing to seat through the umpteenth "Traviata", Vivaldi´s "The Four Seasons" or Beethoven´s "Moonlight Sonata".

            Well, of course Bizet´s "Carmen" falls into that category, and all opera concerns have presented "their"  "Carmen" in the last five years now that Juventus Lyrica ended its season with it. 

            I won´t rehearse again my views on "Carmen", so often stated at the Herald in preceding articles. So I will go on straight to this new presentation. It´s a mother/daughter collaboration in the by now longstanding style of Juventus: Ana D´Anna and María Jaunarena   know how to infuse enthusiasm and freshness in the crowd scenes and to give an adequate account of diverse psychologies.

            However, there are finer points that escape them. E.g., to simply respect the libretto: a) at the very start after the prelude, the curtain rises on a group of soldiers, and what do they say?  "On the square people come and go", but here that didn´t happen, making nonsense of the scene; b) In the final seconds of the opera, Don Jose says: "you can arrest me, I killed her", but there´s no one else on stage...

            There´s also the complication of the unit set, the plague of current stagings: obviously it responds to economic reasons, not aesthetic, and in operas that change ambience drastically from act to act it leads to absurdities. Here a big wooden structure, rather attractive in itself (the work of mother/daughter plus Constanza Pérez Maurice) covers the whole farther side of the stage. The problem is that, according to the libretto, you need two opposing buildings, that of the cigar factory and that of the guard post. So the action becomes confusing.

            The set works acceptably for the tavern of Lillas Pastia (Second Act) with some added chairs and tables. Of course it has to be dismantled for the mountain pass of the Third Act, so you see the pieces of wood in a pile at the left, but there´s little suggestion of the Sierra Nevada. And the Fourth Act is botched, for the rebuilt stucture doesn´t look at all like a bullfight ring.

             Of course, "Carmen" is a big opera with an ample mixed choir plus a children´s choir plus the vocal soloists plus a whole lot of actors, and the Avenida´s stage is rather small and has almost no flies, so it´s quite a problem to accommodate all these people, especially when the choir is supposed to sing offstage. So the wooden structure has to be moved halfway upfront  to be able to place the choir behind it whilst Don Jose and Carmen sing the dramatic dialogue that will lead to her death. But before that  you will have all the varied parade that involves the common people, the quadrille of toreros and entourage, the mayor and so on. And so the producers have to resort to something very habitual at the Avenida: they use the corridors that lead to the restricted stage.

            The producers manage to stage a very animated fight between the cigar workers for and against Carmen (First Act) and the Second Act "Dance bohème" is soberly handled by a good Flamenco dancer (Claudio Arias). But they  abuse a favorite Juventus ploy: the violent throwing to the ground of men and women. The  smugglers´movements in the mountains are quite contrived. And Zúñiga (the officer) is badly manhandled contrary to what the libretto says (it even looks like they killed him).

            Jaunarena´s costumes were functional rather than attractive. The lighting by Gonzalo Córdova was uneven: good enough in the first two acts and the fourth but unhelpful in the Third.

            One important fact before I go further: they chose the opéra-comique version: that is, a lot of spoken words between sung parts; I much prefer the adaptation for the Paris Opera with the effective recitatives by Ernest Guiraud; they complement Bizet very well, and you avoid the horrid spoken French  which Argentine casts always provide.     

            The cast was no more tan acceptable. The best was Florencia Machado as Carmen; the voice sounds well and she sings with reasonable style; however, the dramatic communication was rather cool. Nazareth Aufe, on the other hand, has the temperament for Don Jose and negotiates acceptably the vocal hurdles, but the voice in itself lacks power and roundness. I was a bit disappointed by bass-baritone Juan Salvador Trupia y Rodríguez as Escamillo; after singing well his Toreador Song, he was much less convincing in the remaining acts.  María Goso as Micaela was strained in the highs, and she doesn´t have the "physique du rôle".

            Alberto Jáuregui Lorda is by now too veteran in voice and appearance for Zúñiga. Carmen´s friends were nicely done by Ana Sofía Romagnoli and Verónica Canaves. The smugglers were well taken by the seasoned Sebastián Sorarrain and the humoristic Pablo Urban. And Morales was a sprightly Mariano Gladic.

            Hernán Sánchez Arteaga did a brilliant job both as conductor of a very professional orchestra and as director of the Chorus (the Children´s Chorus under Federico Neimark was charming and accurate): he has an unfailing feeling for proper speeds and phrases very musically.

For Buenos Aires Herald 

jueves, noviembre 12, 2015

Tannhäuser, Nosferatu, Thatcher and Pinochet: what a mixture!

      Yes, indeed, what a mixture. In just eight days I revisited Murnau´s "Nosferatu", the greatest horor film in history; I wallowed in the rich Romantic music of Wagner´s "Tannhäuser" in the Met´s admirable directly transmitted presentation at the theatre El Nacional; and I suffered through an unpalatable opera, "Aliados".

            I will start with Wagner. I don´t go to every HD Live performance of the 2015-16 season of New York´s Metropolitan Opera, but I very much looked forward to "Tannhäuser", the third title, a necessary choice for "porteños" considering that the Colón last offered it in 1994 and that it´s a marvelous opera, even if I dislike its manicheistic aspects. 

            Back in 2010 I had the very special experience of seeing "Tannhäuser" in Berlin, and a few days later of visiting the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach and there I was, in the famous room of the contest between the Minnesänger (knights who sang about chaste love): the Second Act of this opera.

            And that brings me to the great protagonist of this Met revival: the wonderful production by Otto Schenk, decades old and liberated from the current pest that´s ruining opera, the "concept productions".  He keeps to Wagner´s indications and gives us beauty and truth, abetted by Günther Schneider-Siemssen´s nonpareil stage designs and the perfect period costumes by Patricia Zipprodt. Even the choreography (Norbert Vesak ) manages to be insinuating but not gross.

            There are two versions of this opera: Dresden (1845) and Paris (1861); the Met wisely chose the second, which expands the Venusberg bacchanale and is more advanced harmonically. The Pagan world (Venus) contrasts with the severely Christian court of Hermann, Count of Thuringia. Sin (free love), honor, the faith of the peregrines to Rome, the rejection of the courtiers, Elisabeth´s pure love, are the elements of this drama that ends with her sacrifice redeeming Tannhäuser after he was rejected by the Pope (not even he can pardon the Minnesänger for being Venus´ lover).

            The music has great arias for Elisabeth, Tannhäuser and Wolfram,  magnificent choirs, big duets for Tannhäuser with the Goddess and Elisabeth and the sumptuous pageant of the Second Act. At the helm after 45 years at the Met and 2500 performances (!)  was the ailing but enthusiastic James Levine, grimacing from his wheelchair but still a first-rate Wagnerian and leading what is the best opera orchestra in the world. The excellent Chorus under Palumbo was stalwart throughout.

            Johan Botha is overweight but he has the stamina and good musicality to be a good Tannhäuser, one of the most trying parts in all Wagner along with Siegfried and Tristan. Eva-Maria Westbroek was an intense Elisabeth of sensitive acting; Peter Mattei sang admirably his compassionate Wolfram; Michelle DeYoung was a Rubensian Venus singing with ample voice; Günther Groissböck was a noble Hermann (bass); and the young soprano Ying Fang showed  fresh timbre and fine line as the Shepherd.     

            The images had fine resolution and the sound was quite clean although the orchestra was a bit relegated.

            I have seen "Nosferatu" four times counting this one, and I remain convinced that along with "Faust" it is Murnau´s most imaginative work. Nosferatu means The Bird of Death, and Murnau called his picture thus although it is clearly based on Bram Stoker´s Dracula. Klaus Kinski was Nosferatu in Herzog´s film, and Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee were Dracula later; all very good, but the only one that has impressed me as much as Murnau´s Max Schreck (what a name! Schrecken means horror) was Willem Dafoe as Schreck in Merhige´s "Shadow of the Vampire", based on the idea that he was a real vampire!

            Both Schreck and Alexander Granach as his acolyte are great Expressionist actors, but what matters most is the  filming , such as those scenes in that fascinating city, Lübeck. But why am I writing about a film in a musical column? Because the 1922 masterpiece was offered at the Colón, with live music composed and conducted by the Spanish José María Sánchez-Verdú with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Montevideo and the unnecessary import of accordeonist Iñaki Alberdi .  All made their local debut.

            The Colón has done similar combinations with Fritz Lang´s "Metropolis" and "The Nibelungs", and both were better than this one, for I found Sánchez-Verdú´s music repetitive and obvious, with little ambience save certain passages. It was apparently played well, and I wish the Montevideans a return visit so that we can hear them in symphonic repertoire. The bad hand programme gave no information on the film!

            I will be brief  about "Aliados, una ópera en tiempo real", music by Sebastián Rivas and text by Esteban Buch, both Argentines resident in Paris. It is a grotesque pamphlet about the meeting in London of the exiled Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet (ailing and soft-brained) and the ex Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, both in wheelchairs. Although the staging by Marcelo Lombardero was imaginative, I disliked the videos of poor quality and biased thinking. And what we heard was a sorry beginning for the 19th Cycle of Contemporary Music curated by Martín Bauer.

            I admired the fine work of Eugenia Fuente, well abetted by Leonardo Estévez, Alejandro Spies, Patricia De Leo and Mateo De Urquiza, and the instrumental group played well under the sure hands of Pablo Druker. I don´t admire the originators of the project in Paris, the group called Manifest.

For Buenos Aires Herald 

Sesquicentennial of the Welsh arrival to Chubut

Musical ambassadors:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales and National Youth Choir of Wales.


            About 50 years ago  I traveled with my father to Chubut  and in successive days

we visited Trevelin near Esquel and then, across the immense Patagonia, Gaiman, Dolavon, Trelew and Rawson. It was a wonderful experience.

            And in 1995 I visited for just one day the Welsh North, with stops at the fascinating castles of Caernaerfon and Conwy and the visit of the gorgeous Snowdonia area. Unfortunately I couldn´t go to the South and so I missed Cardiff and Swansea. But what I saw made me  nostalgic of a longer visit which alas never came.

             I have a natural empathy for the Celts: Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Cornish, and in the continent, Brittany (France) and Galicia (Spain). They have a refreshing frankness. imagination and charm and I respond to it. So I was very glad that the sequicentennial of the Chubut arrival of the Welsh people was beautifully commemorated with the visit of a first-rate orchestra and a charming choir.

            The Mozarteum Argentino ended its season at the Colón with the first visit of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Grant Llewellyn (debut); they did two different programmes. An unforeseen illness of harpist Catrin Finch forced the last minute replacement in the initial concert of Ginastera´s Harp Concerto with  Mozart´s Fourth Concerto for horn with the first desk of the orchestra, Tim Thorpe. But she recovered for the second session and then she played the Ginastera replacing the announced Glière Harp Concerto, a comprehensible decision considering that they wanted to pay homage to an Argentinian composer and commemorate in advance the centenary of his birth (2016).

            Llewellyn is Welsh; currently he is Principal Conductor of the North Carolina Symphony and of the Flemish Royal Philharmonic, Principal Invited Conductor of the Stavanger Symphony (Sweden) and Invited Associate Conductor of the Welsh BBC Orchestra. You will remember thatb the English BBC Orchestra came some years ago and gave splendid concerts with Andrew Davis; the Welsh BBC is almost in the same rank, which is saying that it is a very good organism. Its Principal Conductor is Thomas Sondergard since 2011. They do a lot of radio work and concerts in Cardiff and Swansea, plus their annual presentation in the Summer Proms at London´s Albert Hall. The Orchestra isn´t big (73 players) but as they play with great intensity their sound seems larger, even overbrilliant at times.

            In the first concert they included two Welsh composers: William Mathias (1934-92) wrote a very agreeable Dance Overture (première)  in 1962, alert music with a touch of Malcolm Arnold and Walton.  And Huw Watkins (born 1976) wrote intelligent and rather quirky arrangements of Three Welsh Songs (also première). But both pale in comparison with a Britten masterpiece, the "Four Sea Interludes" from his opera "Peter Grimes". In all this music both conductor and orchestra showed a high degree of professionalism.

            Tim Thorpe was wholly admirable as soloist in the Mozart Fourth Horn Concerto: beautiful timbre, perfect intonation and stylish phrasing provided sheer listening pleasure; he was well accompanied.

            Dvorák´s Seventh Symphony was the "pièce de résistance":  marvelously wrought symphonism in a large scale and with a very personal language, even if Brahms is an influence. Conductor and orchestra showed here that they are strong, tasteful and knowledgeable.

            But as the encores went by, the aesthetics of the concert took several steps down, and I don´t commend Llewellyn´s choices, except the first, a truly symphonic arrangement of that excellent tango by Gardel, "Por una cabeza". But Schifrin´s "Mission: Impossible" main theme is crossover stuff, and a bad semi-mambo sent me away rather disgruntled.

            The second concert was to be all-Russian, but as I mentioned Ginastera replaced Glière. Catrin Finch is a splendid harpist; she plays a magnificent instrument complementing her virtuoso technique and phrases with uncanny refinement. The work is complicated and I find the orchestra pretty heavy for such a delicate-sounding instrument; there´s too much malambo in it, but there are interesting moments.

            I enjoyed the Russian side very much, for we had robust and well-played, orthodox readings of Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov´s "A Night in Bald Mountain", phantasmagory at its best, and of Tchaikovsky´s mighty Fifth Symphony, done with fortitude in the big moments but much beauty in the lyric melodies, such as the famous horn solo of the Second movement.

            Encores: again Gardel and Schifrin, but this time preceded by a good version of Piazzolla´s "Libertango", with Finch as soloist.

            The National Youth Choir of Wales had two directors: Nia Llewellyn Jones and as a guest the Argentine Camilo Santostefano. It was the last Concierto de Mediodía of the season at the Gran Rex, organised by the Mozarteum. The choir is disciplined and musical, though the voices are somewhat light. There were two valuable Argentine scores led by Santostefano: Ginastera´s "Lamentaciones de Jeremías" and Fernando Moruja´s "Lux Aeterna".  And an odd-man-out: Hernán Crespo playing two chamamés in a Welsh Patagonian context! Incomprehensible.

            It was interesting and useful to hear Welsh material:  Mathias, Mervyn Burtch, Mansel Thomas, Paul Mealor, Hilary Tann and an Argentine of Celtic extraction, Hector MacDonald. All this was nicely sung.  

            It´s worth mentioning that before the BA concerts there was a week-long seminar in Chubut with members of the orchestra and the choir training Argentines of Welsh extraction. Back to their roots!

For Buenos Aires Herald

“The Fiery Angel”, Prokofiev´s disruptive opera about possession

            Strange destiny that of Sergei Prokofiev. He was fascinated with opera since his tender age:  "The Giant" at ten, and then "On Desert Island" (twelve), "A  Banquet during the Plague" after Pushkin (thirteen) and "Undina" (sixteen): none are extant, unfortunately. But "Maddalena", created as a Conservatory student at twenty (1911), was rescued by the great conductor Edward Downes, who orchestrated the final three tableaux and premièred it in 1979.

            Then came "The Gambler" (1916), on Dostoyevski, an intense portrait unstaged at the Colón; "The Love for Three Oranges" (1919), that wonderful musicalization of a Gozzi fable,  fortunately seen at our theatre in several seasons; and then, "The Fiery Angel" ("Ognennyj angel"), eight years in the making, finished in 1927.  Then came the Soviet period, with four operas, including  "War and Peace" (1952), the only one done at the Colón.  In all of these, success never came or took a long while in arriving, but the composer persisted. Yes, strange destiny.

            Back to the troubled "Fiery Angel". Bruno Walter in Berlin, Albert Wolff in Paris, tried to bring it to the stage but to no avail; Serge Koussevitsky conducted parts of the Second Act to stimulate interest, again with no success. After WWII the score was unearthed by Hans Swarsenski of Boosey and Hawkes, the firm that had bought the Koussevitzky catalogue, Éditions Russes de Musique. The first complete concert performance was in November 1954 in Paris under Charles Bruck, who did the first recording (in French). But the staged premiere was in Italian, Venice, september 1955, under Nino Sanzogno. Prokofiev had died in 1953, precisely on the day of Stalin´s demise...

            After that the opera started traveling to many cities, including Buenos Aires in 1966 and 1971. Here it had a great impact; it was offered in Italian, conducted admirably by Bruno Bartoletti, and its 1966 protagonist was the stunning Marie Collier. The second production, in 1971, boasted the talents of Ernst Pöttgen and Roberto Oswald. So the current revival arrives after 44 years, two generations.

            And what is "The Fiery Angel"? It is the adaptation of a novel by the most important Russian symbolist, Valery Bryusov; the text is Prokofiev´s own and the opera, lasting two hours, is divided into five acts and seven tableaux. As described by Richard Taruskin, "it is a 16th. Century romance set in Renaissance Germany, where burgeoning humanism coexisted uneasily with a highly rationalized, scholastically elaborated occult lore". Based by Bryusov on his real life triangle with his lover Nina  Petrovskaya and  her poet husband Andrey Bely, it is the story of a strident hysteric named Renata, enamoured of the Devil "appearing in the image of a Spirit of Light   and seducing her to many sinful deeds and  ungodly practices" (Bryusov).

            Cologne, 1534. Ruprecht, a soldier of fortune, falls in love with Renata and helps to find Count Heinrich, for Renata the incarnation of her Angel, really an aristocrat that had lived with her in a castle and left her , bothered by her delusions. In a fantastic scene, Ruprecht seeks the advice of the magician Agrippa Von Nettesheim, but he refuses to help the soldier and purports to be a practitioner of science; but three skeletons call him "liar!"  Later on Renate and Ruprecht find Heinrich; she wants Ruprecht to kill his rival, they duel but the soldier is gravely hurt; afterwards he recovers. She vows to love him but later decides to confine herself in a convent; before that there´s a grotesque scene with Mephistopheles and Faust. The final tableau is a terrifying climax, as the Angel of Fire enters the convent and infects all the nuns, who even attack the Inquisitor; he declares Renate a witch and she will be burned.

            The music is based on Leitmotivs depicting Renate, Ruprecht and Madiel (the Angel) in a predominant arioso of wide range. Apart from the two great monologues of Renate, the most surprising moments of this Expressionist and wild music are the Agrippa scene  and the Interlude accompanying the duel, both in orchestral fortissimo, and the special masterpiece of the final Possession tableau, of almost unbearable tension. This Colón version was in the original Russian.

            Renata is an enormous role (she is on stage during 90 minutes); it needs not only stamina and a big voice, but also the ability to sustain the hysteria that has overcome her soul. Although Elena Popovskaya did a commendable job, she was far from the electricity that sustain the role, but she sang well. In his long and thankless part (Ruprecht) bass-baritone Vladimir Baykov was stalwart and clear. The stunning voice of tenor  Roman Sadnik and his acting ability gave full relief to his Agrippa (amplified as Prokofiev wanted to give an otherwordly feeling) and Faust. And although one hardly expects a black man to sing a German Renaissance Inquisitor, Iván García was very firm as the Inquisitor. (The first three principals I mentioned made their local debut).

            The roster of first-rate Argentine singers was impressive in the many smaller parts: Cecilia Díaz, Hernán Iturralde, Alejandra Malvino, Guadalupe Barrientos, Duilio Smiriglia and many others, including the comely Novices and Nuns.  And the Chorus under Miguel Martínez made a good contribution in the final scene.

            The orchestra under Ira Levin was the great center of interest: if the tension was sometimes lacking on the stage, it was surely present in the strong work of the conductor with his responsive players: the music came out colorful, rhythmic, always interesting and alive.

            Unfortunately the debut as producer of Florencia Sanguinetti, a veteran of 24 years at the Colón, wasn´t a success: the typically spooky Sixteenth Century story was transposed to our times, where the whole thing becomes absurd. The symbols generally fell flat (the merry-go-round evoking Renata´s infancy), the duel and Mephistopheles´ antropophagy were botched, the doubles for the principals were confusing, there were many missed opportunities for creating phantasmagories. The final scene, however, was much better and even its audacities (the bare-breasted nuns) made sense; but it wasn´t enough.

            The vaguely church-like stage designs of Enrique Bordolini had some suggestive power, as had his lighting, but not the dull costumes of Imme Möller.

For Buenos Aires Herald

Britten´s War Requiem, moving plead for peace

            July 1995. I contemplate the two Coventry Cathedrals: the ruins of the old one, ravaged by Nazi bombs, and the new, Saint Michael´s, built between 1955 and 1962 by Sir Basil Spence.  The remnants of the Gothic original (Fourteenth Century) are still beautiful, especially the Tower. The Porch leads to the vast and luminous great cathedral dominated by a gigantic modern Aubusson tapestry showing Christ surrounded by the four Beasts of the Apocalypse.

            It was inaugurated by the most moving post-WWII choral-symphonic work, Benjamin Britten´s War Requiem. The author imagined two orchestras: a full symphony and a chamber one; he led the latter and Meredith Davies the former; plus a full mixed choir and a children choir. And the three soloists: a British tenor (Peter Pears), a German baritone (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau) and in the original intention of the composer, a Russian soprano, Galina Vishnevskaya (for during the War the Russians were allies). But she wasn´t allowed to leave the USSR, and her place was taken by British soprano Heather Harper.  A year later, however, the Soviets allowed their soprano to intervene in the marvelous recording conducted by the author.

            As I was visiting, that music came to my mind constantly: ever since I bought that recording and after hearing its BA première in 1966 (conductor, Alexander Gibson) the extraordinary combination of war poems by Wilfred Owen (who died in battle durring WWI) and the Requiem text has remained for me the most stirring memorial to the dead and the greatest homage that a pacifist creator could give us (Britten was a consciencious objector during WWII and had already written an admirable Sinfonia da Requiem in 1941).

            The War Requiem was splendidly offered again in BA during 1979 as part of that astonishing Festival Purcell-Britten.  It was conducted by Antonio Russo and three great artists intervened: Harper, Gerald English and John Shirley-Quirk. After the Malvinas War a long time elapsed before Steuart Bedford presented it, and another extended period passed before Guillermo Scarabino led it at the Colón in September 2013.

            And now the National Symphony tackled the mighty score at the Blue Whale conducted by Facundo Agudín, an Argentine living in  Switzerland. Two admirable choirs gave their full collaboration: the Coro Polifónico Nacional prepared by Darío Marchese, and the Coro Nacional de Niños (María Isabel Sanz). And three carefully chosen soloists: Mónica Ferracani (soprano), Philip Salmon (tenor) and Víctor Torres (baritone).  It was a triumphant success; so this towering work has again been done with the utmost respect and quality, as happened in  the antecedents I mentioned.

            I was again amazed by the constant creativity of the composer, his consumate mastery of orchestration, transition, harmony, never losing sight of his purpose, imbricating the two orchestras and the alternating texts, and giving the soloists fragments that are challenging but also meaningful and expressive. There´s only one bit that irks me in the otherwise astonishing Owen poems (how can one forget that encounter of the two dead soldiers, with the German one saying: "I am the enemy you killed, my friend"): the change in the Biblical account of Abraham and Isaac, for in Owen the boy is killed! Probably a metaphor of war, but I dislike it.

            Agudín is a very precise technician and obtains more communication than his gaunt, rather semaphoric persona suggests; he studied the score deeply and obtained fine results. Ferracani was her steady, musical self; Torres had an excellent night, his pliant lyric baritone giving all the inflexions needed; and Salmon´s very British timbre is quite what his part needs. It certainly helped that both tenor and baritone sing in convincing English.

            The penultimate concert of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic´s subscription series, in the sure hands of Enrique Arturo Diemecke, lost some of its interest for those that like myself saw the Prokofiev ballet "Romeo and Juliet", replacement for "Eugen Onegin". Although it isn´t the fault of the conductor, for he had programmed music from the two suites many months ago, I was disappointed that with his huge repertoire he didn´t change the programme. Of course, to hear this wonderful music on the stage and not in the pit certainly heightens the attention of the audience, and as the Phil knew it thoroughly and Diemecke is much more intense than Emanuel Siffert (the workmanlike conductor in the ballet) the reading was worth hearing anyway.

            So the main interest was in the First Part, when the married couple Lucille Chung and Alessio Bax played with virtuoso dexterity the Two-Piano Concerto by Mozart.  The composer played it with his sister Nannerl, who was a talented pianist in her own right. Written in Salzburg in 1779, it was his last Concerto (numbered 10) before he went to Vienna. Brilliant rather than deep, this is enjoyable music throughout.

            We knew the talents of Bax through his recitals for the Mozarteum earlier this season and as accompanist for violinist Joshua Bell, but this was the debut of Chung here, and she proved to be a seasoned professional although she looks quite young. Indeed her training and curriculum are impressive, and this Montreal-born girl was a pleasure to listen to, for she plays with elegance, charm and accuracy.  Of course the two understand each other impeccably. They had fine support from the Phil, and Diemecke told us that they were using a wider orchestration than the manuscript; it sounded well.

For Buenos Aires Herald

Avellaneda´s Roma was the star, not “La Traviata”

            Verdi´s "La Traviata" is of course a masterpiece and of course so are "La Boheme", "Tosca" or "Carmen". But my God, give me some variety! The insistence with which they are put on stage grates on my nerves. There´s so much interesting stuff that we don´t see. Nevertheless, I went to Avellaneda´s Teatro Roma with high expectations. About "La Traviata"? No, about the Roma! For after a year and a half of restoration, it reopened.

            It is older than the Colón, it was born in 1904. From then on it was the cultural center of the area beyond the Riachuelo that encompasses not only Avellaneda but also areas South and West of it. It is a typical horseshoe theatre and a small one (about 540 places) such as you can see in many towns of Italy. During its long history it presented famous people such as Sarah Bernhardt,  Carlos Gardel and a long roster of famous Argentine actors.

             But it also has a long history of presenting opera and I often went to the Roma, for it often gave us operatic scores not easily encountered, such as Puccini´s "Edgar" or Verdi´s "Alzira"; of course I won´t compare them to "Tosca" and "La Traviata", but the true opera lover wants to fill in what he doesn´t know of the great opera creators.

            However, I understand the choice of "La Traviata" for a reinauguration: it´s a surefire success and you need a full theatre in a relaunching. And there was one, although the audience looked rather old and unsophisticated.

            Some words about the refurbishing. In fact, it was more than that: on the one hand, the theatre was indeed cleaned up, so that everything looked bright but respectful: the white-and-gold ornamentation, the upholstered seats, the refreshed foyer; you can´t ameliorate the mediocrity of the many portraits of composers close to the roof but I feel that they were right in preserving them. On the other hand, an adjacent building was torn down and a new modern one was built, with a big dance hall and plenty of dressing-rooms; they should make life more comfortable for the artists.

            So the theatre is ready for a new era, which I hope will have enough budget to give us a true operatic season; these isolated three performances of "La traviata" were called "season", which is obviously a misnomer.

            The theatre has original limitations which can´t be bettered: the stage is quite small, the flies insufficient. One thing has changed and I welcome it: the orchestral pit has been enlarged and now can hold about  46 players; if you add about six more in the lateral loges on the same line, you get to 52. You can´t do the big Verdis or Wagner, but there´s plenty left.

            Two matters: a)  the Roma upheld its bad reputation for punctuality; it started half an hour late . b) Add 10 minutes for a filmed blurb about the Roma´s trajectory which only mentioned Tito Schipa but otherwise overlooked its opera record; however there was plenty of praise for  Avellaneda´s Mayor.

            And how was this "Traviata"? Fair. The minimalist stage design by Hugo Ciciro has been seen elsewhere; it isn´t beautiful but it serves. The costumes were chosen from the vast reservoir of La Plata´s Argentino Theatre by María Vucetich, not always rightly: e.g., Germont´s attire was unbecoming but Violetta´s black gown in Act III was marvelous, and there were many choristers dressed parodistically.

            The Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Avellaneda leaves considerable room for improvement, especially in the violins´ tuning, though they were led in good style by Dante Ranieri. The IMNA Choir prepared by Armando Garrido should be restructured: it has plenty of old people and it is too big for the tiny stage; they are enthusiastic but it isn´t enough. The version was complete, including the often cut cabalettas for tenor and baritone (I could do without the latter).

            The cast had a proficient lyric baritone, Fernando Grassi, who sang with fine line though his acting was limited. Sebastián Russo lacks an essential quality for Alfredo: he has to have charm. In the First Act the tenor was only intent in singing the notes; later on he acted with his voice, which is reasonably good, but he was at his best when Alfredo was angry and insulting (end of the Second Act and all his scenes in the Third).

            Rocío Cereceda tackled valiantly  her enormous role, Violetta. She started weakly but found gradually her voice, which is no more than serviceable. However, she communicated the anguish of the fallen woman deeply in love but condemned by phtisis to an early death.

            In the smaller parts the best were Nora Balanda as Flora, Cristian Karim Taleb as Gastone and Stephanie Rivas as Annina. Alfredo González Reig (Douphol), Juan Feico (D´Obigny) and Claudio Rotella (Grenvil) were in the picture.

            The production by Boris had good and bad in it. Good: it respects time and place; it has some well-observed details (e.g., Germont picks up Violetta´s message to Alfredo, thus knowing that his son will be at Flora´s party). Bad: the absurd intervention  of the Police in Flora´s party manhandling the women and distracting from the stasis needed by the great concertante; Germont and Violetta taking off clothes unnecessarily; people spying the main action voyeuristically.

            Good luck, Roma; be part of the scene again.

For Buenos Aires Herald

All in a week: four rewarding orchestral concerts


            All in a week, indeed, I attended four interesting orchestral concerts, data that confirms our strong musical life. Two were visitors from the Province of Buenos Aires and Ireland, and one (the latter) is a chamber orchestra. For reasons of space, the B.A. Philharmonic will have to wait.

            This time I will follow the chronology. On Friday 16, at the Bolsa (Stock Exchange),  the Orquesta Estudiantil de Buenos Aires led by Guillermo Zalcman offered a splendid programme which included two choral-symphonic scores and, as usual with this orchestra, two premières.

            I have written this before but it´s worth repeating: Zalcman holds the record of orchestral premières during the last two decades. An enthusiastic man, he founded this Student Orchestra back in 1982 on the basis of the school where he was professor, the Mariano Acosta, and has conducted it since then, which makes this organism the most long-lived of youth orchestras in our midst.  True, the orchestra is rather special for it includes six saxophones, which can only happen if there´s a degree of arrangement of the original scores (I don´t agree).

            Consider this programme, and be sure that you won´t find anything like it in the seasons of the B.A.Phil and the National Symphony: Gustav Holst´s "A Somerset Rhapsody" (1907); the première of Sergei Taneiev´s "John of Damascus" (1884), cantata on poems by Alexei Tolstoi; "The Muse and the Poet", 1910, concertante poem for violin, cello and orchestra by Saint-Saëns, première; and Tchaikovsky´s cantata "Moscow", 1883, on texts by Apolo Maikov, for the Coronation of Czar Alexander III. What´s more, all are worth knowing, especially the cantatas.

            The playing and conducting were mostly right, except the opaque soloists in Saint-Saëns, and the big Choir En Voz Alta (Hernán Sánchez Arteaga) was sonorous and adequate (it has the curious characteristic of being made up by choristers and professors attached to schools of the city). Good contributions in Tchaikovsky from mezzosoprano Rocío Arbizu and baritone Alfredo Martínez.

            About a dozen years ago, I heard the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Ciudad de Mar del Plata at that city´s Teatro Colón in a positive concert conducted by Carlos Vieu, so I was intrigued by their current level as they visited La Ballena Azul with their current leader since 2011, Emir  Saúl, an Argentine that has had a long career in Italy. The roster in the hand programme lists 53 players, though I counted 55, which makes it a small orchestra, unless some members were left home.

            The programme was changed: instead of the "Rapsodia en tiempo de tango" by Washington Castro, which would have been a proper homage to a distinguished artist that was their longtime Principal Conductor, they offered beginning the Second Part a badly chosen Piazzolla, for the "Balada para un loco" is very special and doesn´t accommodate an arrangement for symphony orchestra, and Debussy-Büsser´s "Petite suite" (arranged by the latter –not informed in the programme- from the original for  piano duet), charming early score.

            After a correct version of Mozart´s Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro", we had a  disappointing reading of Schumann´s Cello Concerto with the debut of Anna Banas, a young Pole of acceptable technique but little sound, and this score needs all the help it can get. A rather harsh orchestra didn´t  add. As to the "Balada....", it was done in good style by Karina Levine but with microphone, proof that it was for a different sort of concert; when she spoke she was hard to hear. The "Petite Suite" and the First Suite from Grieg´s "Peer Gynt" showed that the orchestra plays agreeably and Saúl knows his business. The encores were more Piazzolla,"because he is marplatense": a noisy piece I didn´t recognize, and "Libertango": of course, big success for this crossover music.

            Barry Douglas has often visited us as a talented pianist, but this is the first time he comes with his Camerata Ireland, founded by him in 1999. It is a flexible ensemble: it came to us as a string group 19-strong plus a featured soloist, Eimear McGeown in orchestral flute and Irish flute, plus a lady tympani player; but the "biography" of the group in the hand programme indicates that they have recorded the Beethoven Piano Concerti and that needs more players.

            McGeown is a personable and efficient player, and she knows the Irish inflexions,  so she was equally convincing in Johann Quantz´s Concerto in G, QV (Quantz Verzeichnis) 5:174 (yes, he wrote more than 200 flute concerti for Frederick the Great of Prussia!)  and in the Celtic Folk Songs that closed the programme. The Camerata accompanied in fine style the Quantz, with Douglas doing the harpsichord continuo. But Douglas´ own "Chant for Columbanus" , a Sixth Century Irish Saint, and the five-part Folk Songs (in fact, folk inspired in some cases) had rather pat arrangements, nowhere near the imagination of, say, Percy Grainger (the encores were more of the same).

            Both the Camerata and Douglas were on congenial ground -save one exception- playing Mozart. Concerto Nº 14, played legitimately in the version orchestrated for just strings (the other adds oboes and horns), was beautifully phrased by the pianist with his habitual strong technique. In the Serenade Nº6, "Nocturnal", the gimmick is the separation into two small ensembles, one of them feauturing tympani. What I disliked was the very unstylistic short cadenzas intercalated in the third movement. Otherwise, all was well.

For Buenos Aires Herald 

Humor in opera: Rossini´s farcical views and Lambertini´s Alice


            Humor in opera has been present almost from the beginning; not yet in Monteverdi´s "Orfeo" but quite present in his later "L´incoronazione di Poppea" or in Cavalli´s "L´Ormindo". In the Eighteenth Century Pergolesi saw fit to intercalate his intermezzo "La Serva Padrona" in an "opera seria" of his own. And shortly after the genre of "opera buffa" in several acts was born. Paisiello, Galuppi and Cimarosa will produce reams of funny operas.

            In Italy one author will epitomize the very best of the opera buffa: Gioacchino Rossini (who by the way also wrote many dramatic operas) and he will write them both as one-acters or long two-acters.  The latter are too well-known to abound about them, but the short ones aren´t often presented, although some are first-rate. He only wrote them in the early years of his career: "La cambiale di matrimonio", "L´equivoco stravagante", "L´inganno felice", "La scala di seta", "L´occasione fa il ladro" and "Il Signor Bruschino", all from 1810 to 1813. In other words, from his eighteenth to his twenty-first year! And still we find Rossini whole and unmistakeable.

            "Il Signor Bruschino" or "Il figlio per azzardo" ("The son by happenstance") was characterised by the librettist Giuseppe Foppa as "farsa giocosa" and as so often, it is based on a funny play of French origin, by Chazet and Maurice Ourry. It was premièred at Venice in 1813, months before the now famous "L´Italiana in Algeri".  It has been recorded at least five times (I have the first, conducted by Ennio Gerelli) and here in Buenos Aires I have seen it twice though in far-off dates: in 1957 by the Opera di Camera di Milano led by Gerelli, and around 1970 by the admirable Colón Chamber Opera. So I was quite glad to meet this charming opera again.

             An enthusiastic young group, Sol Lírica, presented it at the cozy old Teatro Empire and did a good job. There were two casts and I saw the second; it was the last of four performances. There was a 28-strong chamber orchestra, sufficient for this theatre, with the musical direction of Ulises Maino and the production of Julián Ignacio Garcés. They were helped financially by Mecenazgo Cultrural of the City and they deserve it.

            In this complete presentation it lasts a little over 80 minutes (my recording is incomplete, barely an hour) as I suppose happened with the mentioned performances of so long ago. Apart from the famous overture with its "special effect" ("violins tapping their bows rhythmically against their music stands", says Philip Gossett) there are many arias and ensembles of natural inspiration, dynamic and pleasant.

            The plot briefly told, according to the hand programme: "Sofia and Florville are in love but their aristocratic tutor, Gaudenzio, is opposed to their marriage because Florville´s father and Gaudenzio are political enemies. Gaudenzio wants to marry her with the son of Mr. Bruschino, of robust financial situation but precarious health.  Florville impersonates Bruschino´s son, for Gaudenzio doesn´t know either of them. Now all resides in convincing Bruschino that his "son" is his son..."  Things of course fall into place and the "innamorati" will marry.

            A rather absurd farce but it is "giocosa" and we accept the suspension of disbelief. Although the production by Garcés exaggerates certain aspects (the shrieks of Signora Filiberto, the excessive sexuality of Sofia) the comedy works, enthusiastically acted by the singers. A simple but sufficient stage design by María Noel Dourron, costumes by Mariana Seropian that went a bit overboard, correct lighting by Verónica Alcoba. The young Ulises Maino conducted well, though the "special effect" was too weak.

            Signor Bruschino was toweringly sung and acted by Juan Salvador Trupia y Rodríguez, a big voice managed with intelligence. Sofia was the very disinvolt Ana Sampedro, a fresh timbre handled with taste. Mauro Di Bert (Florville) has a thin tenor but compensates with good style and expressive acting. Alfredo Martínez Torrez was an expansive Gaudenzio sung with an ample baritone, though rather too broad in his phrasing. Marianna, the duenna, was well acted and projected by the safe throat of mezzosoprano Cecilia Pérez San Martín. Augusto Nureña Santi was an impressive bass Filiberto, and Ramiro Pérez did well in two parts, a truculent Commissario and Bruschino Figlio.

            Years  ago Marta Lambertini presented "Alice in Wonderland" and both in it and in a number of chamber pieces presented at the CETC showed her complete empathy with the world of Lewis Carroll. It was only a matter of time, I felt, that she would complete the aural image with "Alice through the Looking-Glass" and fortunately it materialised at the Chamber Hall of the Usina del Arte.

            It was a world première of this lyrical fantasy for which she also wrote the libretto. And the choice of artists gave us the musical textures: Nonsense (Vocal Ensemble of Soloists), eight singers including the outstanding soprano Virginia Majorel and baritone Alejandro Spies, and the Dúo Eterno Retorno (Sebastián Tellado, flute; Manuel Moreno, guitar). With an agreeable production by Jorge de Lassaletta and imaginative stage props and lighting by Betina Robles, we followed the adventures of Alice with Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and the Queen.

            Lambertini´s refinement and offbeat humor had a field day: the varied vocal lines and the discreet but always apposite instrumental support, plus her carrollian distortions of language, were the right formula for this inspired foolery.

For Buenos Aires Herald 

Next year at the Colón in ballet and concerts

Less renovation than hoped for


 Next season will be the first planned by Maximiliano Guerra at the Colón. With one exception, it will be quite conservative. Mind you: as I see it, renovation for the Colón Ballet goes far beyond doing some contemporary choreographers; it also means that whoever plans must try to bring back great ballets that were in the repertoire decades ago and had a great following. Some examples: "Don Juan de Zarissa" and "Abraxas" by Tatiana Gsovsky; Balanchine´s "Apollon Musagètes"; David Tudor´s "Pillar of Fire"; Leonid Massine´s El Sombrero de tres picos, Gaîté Parisienne, La Boutique Fantasque and Symphonie Fantastique...and so on.  And of course great ballets of the Twentieth Century that were never done at the Colón and have excellent music; examples: Prokofiev´s "Chout", Milhaud´s "Protée", Britten´s "The Prince of the Pagodes", Henze´s "Undine".

 The start will be with the most famous of all ballets, "Swan Lake", and at the Luna Park in March-April. Then, at their home, the Colón Ballet will dance Guerra´s own vision of "Don Quixote", probably the second ballet in popularity; he calls it "The Dreamer of La Mancha"; April 26 to 30. Then comes the "Contemporary night", with choreographies conceived for the Colón by Constanza Macras and Walter Cammertoni; also,  "Por vos muero" by Nacho Duato (music, Jordi Savall); and "In the middle somewhat elevated",  imagined by William Forsythe on music by Thom Willems. June 21 to 25.

The yearly International Gala will take place on September 4th and will include artists from Paris, Stuttgart, London, Milan, Hamburg and the Colón.  The postponed "Onieguin" (Cranko on arranged music of Tchaikovsky) was to provide Paloma Herrera the parting shot of her career at the Colón, but as you know it was substituted by Guerra´s "Romeo and Juliet" "for reasons of property rights". Well, in 2016 we shall see this splendid ballet (premièred here decades ago by Marcia Haydée) with the very talented Marianela Núñez, Argentine star of London´s Royal Ballet.  September 11 to 16.

The final production will revive Makarova´s fine version of Minkus´ "La Bayadère", with two important Argentine dancers whose career takes place abroad: Herman Cornejo (American Ballet Theatre) and Ludmila Pagliero (Paris Opera). November 13 to 18.



Enrique Arturo Diemecke continues as Chief conductor. And again I´m disappointed by the fact that I don´t find the  premières and revivals that I have longed for many years. Just a few examples. Premières: Sibelius, Kullervo; Nielsen: Symphonies 1 and 6; Vaughan Williams: Symphonies 1 and 7. Revivals: Smetana, Má Vlast; Berlioz, Romeo and Juliet. Works never played by the Phil: Berg, Three Pieces; D´Indy, Symphony Nº 2; Prokofiev, Symphony Nº 6; Sibelius, Symphony Nº 6.

        You will remember that in March we heard all 9 symphonies by Beethoven. A similar tour de force will happen when Diemecke will conduct all six Tchaikovsky symphonies (though not Manfred) plus four other scores by this composer. March 1 to 5.

The Subscription  Series (Abono) will again have only 15 concerts, although there will be no less than 11 others at the Usina del Arte. I will cite some highlights. Diemecke keeps 9 concerts for himself, featuring the three Roman tone poems by Respighi, an all-Ginastera programme (centenary of his birth), an interesting British night, the Mahler 9th and Bruckner´s 4th

The guest conductors aren´t starry: Zhan Guoyong (B.A. Zimmermann´s Oboe Concerto); Roberto Minczuk (Bruch´s Scottish Fantasy with Joshua Bell, Rachmaninov´s Symphony Nº 1); Keri Lynn; Carl St.Clair (with Goerner); and Leonid Grin (Glazunov´s 5th Symphony). A special case is Emilio Pomarico, for his programme is part of the Phil season but has all the characteristics of Colón Contemporáneo (about which more below). In fact, as I peruse the booklet I was given in the press conference, I find that it coincides exactly with the CC concert! (how to they manage that, I wonder?). The programme, quite interesting, sandwiches Busoni between Castiglioni and Feldman.

Other soloists worth mentioning: pianist Philippe Entremont (Beethoven 1); violinist Ilya Kaler (Elgar); violinist Ray Chen (Sibelius); Natasha Binder, her mother Karin Lechner, Karin´s brother Sergio Tiempo,  respectively playing Beethoven 2, 3 and 5; Marcela Roggeri and Jean Philippe Collard in Poulenc´s Two Piano Concerto, cellist Anssi Karttunen in Pascal Dusapin´s Concerto; harpist Ann Hobson in Ginastera.

        I have no space for detail about the Usina´s concerts; I will  mention that Roberto Pasternostro is the only foreign conductor, that Ralph Votapek will play Prokofiev 3, and that Mario Perusso will do Chausson´s Symphony.

        One valuable point: the Orquesta Estable will offer 11 concerts: 1 at the Plaza del Vaticano, 7 at the Usina del Arte and 3 at the Colón. I would single out conductors Francisco Rettig, David Rosenmeyer, Stefano Ranzani and Julian Kuerti; and Fabrizio Danei´s programme, with Bizet´s Second Symphony, "Rome", and Honegger´s Christmas Cantata.

        Two special concerts will pay homage to Erik Satie (150th anniversary of his birth) and Ginastera (his centenary). May 18 and November 25.

        As I have little space left, I will only say that I find the CETC (Center for Experimentation) will be quite active but often not substantial; that Colón Contemporáneo brings again the Arditti Quartet and the Ensemble Modern (Germany); that the Sunday cycle Intérpretes Argentinos puts too much emphasis on crossover music; and that the Orquesta Académica will play on 9 Thursdays at 5 pm and will include some foreign conductors.

For Buenos Aires Herald