sábado, octubre 21, 2006

Splendid visitors from Europe

Recent weeks have provided some admirable concerts from European visitors. Some were pleasant surprises, others gave further proof of their recognized quality, a few were not completely satisfactory. Among the surprises were a string orchestra and a quartet from Italy, both in Nuova Harmonia’s cycle. Cellist Enrico Dindo had made a stunning impression last year in recital; now he came as both player and leader of a string ensemble he founded, I Solisti di Pavia. The programme was well contrasted: Classicism in the First Part (Mozart, Divertimento K.138, and Haydn, Concerto for cello Hob.VII No.1) and Tchaikovsky in the Second (the Serenade and the Andante Cantabile from Quartet op. 11 in the arrangement the composer made for cello and strings). The ensemble seemed to me quite first-rate in its intonation , articulation and attack, young players with professionalism and passion led with style by Dindo, who prepared them very well and played beautifully his own parts. Further pleasure in this Coliseo date was provided by the encores: Tchaikovsky’s Notturno op.l9 No.4 for cello and strings and the Sarabande from J.S.Bach’s Suite No. 1 for solo cello. The Quartetto Cremona was an even greater surprise: I don’t hesitate to consider it one of the best young groups in the world both for its sterling technical qualities and for its astonishingly mature interpretations. It was unfair that the hand programme didn’t list the names of the artists. Also at the Coliseo, they offered music of the highest quality and with no concessions. Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 8 is desolate and autobiographic; its intensity was given with searing truth by the players. For the other two scores the Cremona was joined by violist Giuseppe Russo Rossi. They played masterpieces: the Quintet in G minor K.516 by Mozart, surely his best and most prophetic; and the Quintet No.2 op.111 by Brahms, a dense work of astonishing craftsmanship. In both these young artists gave us playing to remember, references for any future interpretation. Intelligence, skill, taste and drama. The Camerata Bariloche played for Nuova Harmonia at the Colón conducted by the New Zealander Ross Pople, whom our city met a long time ago as cellist and conductor of the London Festival Orchestra. He is a good, solid musician, and gave more than adequate interpretations of standards: Mozart’s Overture to “Cosí fan tutte”, Grieg’s “Elegiac Melodies”, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto op.64 and the Beethoven Fifth Symphony. The soloist was the Italian Domenico Nordio (debut), who played rather timidly with a small sound and a lack of adrenaline, but not badly; he does have a correct technique. His encore was an interesting choice: the Allemande from the Fourth Sonata for solo violin by Eugene Ysaye. Pople’s was routine: the Dance of the flutes from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”. I believe the Virtuosi di Praga (under its founder and concertino Oldrich Vlcek) made their local debut in a concert at the Colón of Festivales Musicales. Considering the strong tradition of excellence of Czech string players, I was rather taken aback with some instances of bad intonation in Mozart’s Divertimento K.138. The illness of Zofie Srámková, in the other hand, forced the replacement of the same composer’s Flute Concerto K.313 by another score of his, the Horn Concerto No.2, K.417. Unfortunately the soloist, Jan Karas, didn’t pass muster, and with a small though agreeable sound he played the piece with many irritating mistakes. Fortunately the Second Part was muh better: it was very pleasurable to hear Salieri’s Symphony “La Veneziana”, unpretentious but full of charm, in an easy, fluid performance. And Mozart’s Symphony No.29, one of the best of his early scores in this form, was cleanly and expertly put forward. Fine encores: the Andantino from Mozart’s Divertimento No. 11; the Dvorák Humoresque No.7; and a “Pizzicato” from Gluck’s “Don Juan”. The hallowed Berg Quartet has come here several times invited by the Mozarteum Argentino. They visited us again, with an important change in their personnel: due to the death of violist Thomas Kakuska, his post is now occupied by a disciple, Isabel Charisius. She proved equal to the great responsibility and I found her fully integrated with violinists Guenther :Pichler and Gerhard Schulz and cellist Valentin Erben. The group was founded 35 years ago . I’m afraid I find Pichler a bit weaker in the purely technical side compared to what he used to be; the other veterans hold their own very well, and Charisius is a find. Their two concerts at the Colón had the same scheme but different works: in each two quartets by Mozart and one by Bartók. In the session I heard it worked splendidly. From Mozart, No.15 K.421, a dark work in D minor, and his last, No.23, K.590, one of the “Prussian” Quartets , with some astonishingly modern bits. The Berg were on their toes, always fresh and inventive. And then, the superbly imaginative Fourth Quartet by Bartók (1928) in a reference rendering. A beautiful slow Haydn movement was the lovely encore. The Trio Mediterrain is Berlin-based (!) with a Spanish clarinettist (Laura Ruiz Ferreres), a Portuguese cellist (Bruno Borralhinho) and a German pianist (Florian von Radowitz). In the intimate Sofitel hall, and after a long wait (one of the piano’s strings had snapped) , we heard very nice and accomplished versions of Beethoven (Trio op.11), the Schumann “Fairy tales” op. 132 and Brahms’ Trio op. 114. 18/07/06 para el Buenos Aires Herald

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