lunes, julio 21, 2008

The variegated panorama of our concerts

Fortunately concert activity is strong and goes beyond the Big Three plus AMIJAI. Although I will start with a "big" concert, others mentioned represent other institutions.

Horacio Lavandera did for Festivales Musicales at the Auditorio de Belgrano a very difficult programme following their motto for the year, "Bach and the Twentieth Century". He started with Nos. 1 to 3 from Bach's Book 1 of "The Well-Tempered Clavier", cleanly played with fine digital independence but over-pedaled. Then a very interesting trio of French pieces commissioned by the magazine Revue Musicale and written from 1932 to 1934: Honegger's "Prelude, arioso and fughetta on B.A.C.H." (rather uneven but valid), Roussel's "Prelude and fugue, Homage to Bach, op.46" (particularly taut and well argued) and Poulenc's "Waltz-Improvisation on B.A.C.H.", charming and light. May I remind readers that in German nomenclature BACH means B flat- A- C- B . All this was brilliantly played by Lavandera.

Maybe Ginastera's Sonata No. 1 wasn't the best choice, for many piano lovers had heard it in Lavandera's all-Argentine recitals at the Maipo this year, but he is certainly impressive in the fast extreme movements, less in the others. It was most valuable , on the other hand, to hear a selection of Shostakovich's inventive and fresh Preludes and fugues (1951) . I liked Lavandera's deftly executed interpretations, even if I prefer Keith Jarrett's. The pianist was stunning in the very difficult "Incises" (1993-2001) by Boulez, tough and virtuosic avantgarde music, a field that our artist finds very attractive. Finally he tackled the fascinating "Three numbers from 'Petrushka' " written in 1921 by Stravinsky at the behest of Rubinstein and almost insanely virtuosic at times . Lavandera was certainly admirable but even he wasn't note-perfect in some extremely hard jumps; on the other hand his rhythm was strong and dynamic. The very short encore was a curious Stockhausen composition, an evanescent "Leo" from "The Signs of the Zodiac".

The Bach Academy, Festivales' "daughter", is having a fine season at (mostly) the Methodist Central Church. We had valuable visitors when the Tuebingen Chamber Choir (debut) under Rolf Maier-Karius offered a variegated menu comprising J.S.Bach (his motets "Komm, Jesu, komm" and "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied"), Hugo Distler (1908-42), Brahms (five Lieder, three of them from 0p.62) and Reger ("Night Song"). The full name of this choir is the Chamber Choir of the Southwest of Germany , Tuebingen. It is a good, honest institution with voices that aren't quite homogeneous but sing with fine discipline under the knowledgeable direction of Maier-Karius. Not the exalted quality of the Gaechinger Kantorei, but very pleasant and stylish.

Distler was a rare thing in the German twentieth-century context, a severe, Regerish composer with a special bent for sacred music. The centenary of his birth was the pretext for the uncommon inclusion of his music, which is certainly worth knowing, both a motet and five Lieder, especially "Feuerreiter", an imaginative Moerike text on which Wolf wrote a wonderful setting. The encore was beautiful and novel: "Benediction" by Urmas Sisask..

La Barroca del Suquía came from Córdoba, this time as a chamber group. Their programme accorded with the Academy's motto for this season: Fasch and Bach. Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) was a pretty good composer and was appreciated by Bach. The two scores included showed his limpid inspiration and fine technique: Trio in G por two violins and thorough bass and Sonata "a 4" in D minor for strings and thorough bass ("a 4" means for four parts). The excellent players were Manfredo Kraemer and Graciela Chamale (violins), Alberto Lepage (viola), Nina Diehl (cello) and Federico Ciancio (harpsichord). The Bach work was Cantata No.202, "Weichet nur, betruebte Schatten" ("Withdraw, sad shadows"), one of two wedding cantatas and the first time that the Academy tackles a profane cantata (I would certainly welcome "Phoebus und Pan" in the future). It's a charming work that has been heard from time to time here (in this season there was also a performance by the Fundación Música de Cámara). Here Horacio Laria (oboe) joined the ensemble and wasn't at his best (I was told he was ill). Soledad de la Rosa sang with crystalline tone and fine style. A caveat: in two hours there were 35 minutes of music, 55 of commentary by Mario Videla and 30 minutes of interval; it isn't the right proportion.

Pilar Golf has given in recent seasons the best concerts of the BA suburbs. Due to illness I couldn't hear the first (April 26), when The Virtuosi of the National Symphony under Pedro Calderón played Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Shostakovich's First Piano Concero with Fernanda Morello. But I did attend the second, a good recital by Ophélie Gaillard (cello, debut) and Marcela Roggeri (piano) dedicated to French and Belgian music. Gaillard is an accomplished French player of pleasant timbre, fine mechanism and very musical phrasing; it helps visually that she's very elegant . Roggeri is Argentine but lives in Europe; she played here with regularity and I especially remember a refined Satie recital. She has an affinity with Impressionism, evident in this recital, especially in Debussy's fine Sonata for these instruments. I also enjoyed several Fauré pieces. Franck's Violin Sonata transcribed for cello didn't fare so well; the cellist was generally accurate though her sound wasn't big enough, but Roggeri stumbled considerably in the dense writing of the second and fourth movements.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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