miércoles, mayo 02, 2007

Our varied musical life

BA and its area of influence are rich in classical musical life. There are many more concerts than those who get to be reviewed, for reasons of space and ubiquity. Hereby a personal selection from recent weeks.

Pilar Golf has entered its third year of subscription concerts and it will probably be quite successful both in artistic and in social terms. The spectacular clubhouse has a good hall of reasonable capacity and pleasant acoustics and it was quite full on opening night celebrating the Camerata Bariloche's fortieth anniversary. Being so, I disagree with the unilateral approach to programming: I'm quite ready to accept the merits of Astor Piazzolla and Néstor Marconi in the field of stylized tango but I do think that the Camerata means much more than that, and the repertoire should have reflected their versatility; a First Part with Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart and a Second with fewer Piazzolla pieces, leaving of course Marconi's world premiere for the grand finale, would have been right. But in fact we heard no less than seven Piazzolla pieces, where I enjoyed particularly "Oblivion" with its fine oboe solo by Andrés Spiller, the sole remaining member of the original Camerata team. Fernando Hasaj played correctly many solos, and there was fine work from cellist Viktor Aepli.

Marconi is perhaps the best bandoneon player we have; his true virtuosity blends with a very sensitive approach to phrasing; he can be moving in slow, melancholy phrases, or dazzling in fast passages. As a composer he has a good technique and an uneven inspiration. His "Cameratangos", of course dedicated to the Camerata, is in fact a bandoneon concerto in the three habitual parts; I especially liked the poetic touches of the slow movement. His encore was an impressive variation on Piazzolla's "Adiós Nonino".

This initial session was followed by an ample buffet under a giant tent followed by short but brilliant fireworks and dancing; when I left at about 0,30 a.m. the party was in full swing. So it was as much a social as a musical occasion. The Camerata got a colossal anniversary cake.

The AMIJAI hall is both a Jewish temple and a splendid new concert venue in Belgrano, with the possibility of two sizes by opening an enclosure . This year it will have plenty of activity, some of it international, and no less than three subscription series have opened; they are being complemented by other musical events. I was sorry to miss (I was on vacation) the Kremerata Baltica under Gidon Kremer, not only for their undoubted quality but also for the adventurous programming including an arrangement of the Violin Sonata by Shostakovich. But I caught the Omnibus Wind Ensemble, a splendid group from Sweden; they played with stunning precision a lightish but innovative programme featuring arrangements of Mozart and Rossini operas but also true Mozart (Serenade No. 11), an agreeable piece by the Swedish composer Eje Thelin ("Circo della vita"), a fine score by the Alsatian Florent Schmitt ("Lied and Scherzo"), and four crossover works: an "Omnibus tango" by Víctor Scavuzzo , "Spain" by Chick Corea (with reminiscences of Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez") and two pieces by that unclassifiable artist, Frank Zappa.

At AMIJAI I also heard the Israel Piano Trio, presented by the Tel Aviv University. The group played two standard Trios (Mendelssohn's No. 1, op.49, and Beethoven's mighty "Archduke", No. 6, op.97) preceded by an arrangement of Bruch's "Kol Nidrei", originally for cello and strings. Apart from some organizational glitches, the concert was enjoyable. The artists: veteran violinist Menahem Breuer, Austrian, ex concertino of the Israel Philharmonic; cellist Hillel Zori, in his forties; and pianist Tomer Lev, 37. Apart from some sliding from the violinist, the technical level was throughout quite high, with very sure playing by the pianist and beautiful tone from the cellist; as interpretations they were eminently sane and orthodox.

The Museo Fernández Blanco year after year keeps a very solid and extensive musical activity. Rare circumstances provoked that on a Monday they offered two concerts by foreign artists. As a result of that rather astonishing musical meeting, the Ushuaia Festival, we got to know the Porin Quartet (from Croatia). Although with a substitute viola (Trvtko Pavlin; the change should have been announced), the Quartet sounded well integrated, with an especially expressive lady cellist (Neva Begovic); correct work from the violinists Ivan Novinc and Tamara Petir; Pavlin seemed a bit abashed but was quite acceptable. After a rather dully played Mozart (Quartet No. 21, K.575) we had the premiere of an interesting score by Croat Stjepan Sulek (1914-86), his Fifth Quartet, vivid and apposite writing; this was very well played. But the greatest pleasure came from the splendid Dvorák Quintet op.77, where the Quartet was joined by a very able bass player, Niksa Bobetko. This is inspired and intense music and was played to the hilt by the Croat visitors.

The Swiss ensemble Musica Fiorita led by Daniela Dolci offered that same evening a fine Italian Baroque panorama, with rarely heard pieces by Tarquinio Merula and probable premieres from two women composers, Barbara Strozzi and Camilla de Rossi (her oratorio "Santa Beatrice d'Este"), quite attractive, and surefire Vivaldi after the interval (two Concerti from "The Four Seasons" and the Cello Concerto Rv 401). Fine chamber playing from all concerned following historicist trends, and a valuable contribution from soprano Graciela Oddone.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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