sábado, agosto 30, 2008
miércoles, agosto 13, 2008
Apart from the big cycles, there´s a myriad of concerts. Not all are valuable, but many are and no critic can cover them all, but I try to be selective. Herewith a personal sample.
The Midday Concerts of the Mozarteum are free and have been going on for more than forty years, in recent seasons at the Gran Rex. Many of them are interesting. I will comment three of them.
Johannes Moser is a splendid German cellist who has been before at the Midday Concerts. He has an ample and secure technique and a sensitive way of phrasing. He was partnered by the talented Argentine pianist Paula Peluso, who has recently added to her fine mechanism a deeper sound quality and a more forceful attack, which are very welcome. Both showed to best advantage in two important sonatas: Mendelssohn´s op.58 and Shostakovich´s op.40. The encore was the "Moto perpetuo" from Britten´s Third Suite.
Capilla del Sol is a very commendable endeavor of the Museo Fernández Blanco, where Ramiro Albino formed a vocal-instrumental group dedicated basically to the music of the Jesuit Bolivian missions (Chiquitos and Moxos). But on this occasion they changed tack and gave us a premiere of a different repertoire: the "Dances of the Most Holy Corpus Christi" by the notable Valencian composer Juan Bautista Comes (1568-1643); it was a rare occasion to hear these sacral dances, sometimes vocal, alternating with songs not danceable. The numerous dances and songs were distributed according to their places of execution: beginning of the dances, at the altar; first stage, at the cloisters; second station, also at the cloisters; and conclusion, at the main altar. These were interspersed with organ pieces played by the excellent Cristina García Banegas, from Uruguay: "Si bona suscepimus" by Philippe Verdelot with variations ("glosas") by Francisco Fernández Palero; an Anonymous, "Mundo, ¿qué me puedes dar?"; a "Tiento" (theme with variations) by the great Antonio de Cabezón; a "Pange Lingua" by Joseph de Urreda with variations by Cabezón; finally, another "Pange lingua" but by Cabezón, this time by organ and choir. The level of execution was very good and the whole was an instructive experience.
Ukrainian pianist Vitaly Samoshko was born in 1973 and made his local debut. He displayed an admirable pianism in different styles: Beethoven´s Sonata No. 14 , "Moonlight", had a sensitive coloring in the first movement and muscular dexterity of the first order in the third. Another moonlight was included in the second score, Debussy´s "Suite Bergamasque", along with three other pieces, all played with true Impressionist hues. The tremendous war Sonata No. 7 by Prokofiev was most impressive, especially its turbulent "moto perpetuo" finale. The pianist announced the encore as Rachmaninov´s Etude-tableau in E flat, but there are two, op.33 No.6 and op.39 No.5; unfortunately I don´t have a recording to sort this out.
Pilar Golf offered a concert where Ramiro Albino (our writer of Critic´s Choice) was again involved. This time with the duet called Mr. Banister where Albino plays recorders and a period Renaissance harp and Evar Cativiela , lutes. They invited several artists and called the programme "British Orpheus, English music from Dowland to Purcell": it was a nice traversal of beautiful seventeenth century music. I dislike programme changes and there were several, which I sorted out talking with Albino (his announcement wasn´t quite clear); but some of the audience must have been confused. Both parts were started by improvisations on the Bergamask and the Chaconne. From John Dowland we heard several pieces: "Now oh now I needs must part", with Víctor Torres (baritone), Silvina Sadoly (soprano) and Pablo Travaglino (tenor); an instrumental Fancy; "Weep ye not more, sad fountains", with Torres; and "Come again sweet love doth invite", with Travaglino. From Henry Purcell, "A dialogue between Thyrsis and Iris", with the three singers; "As soon as the chaos was made into form" with Travaglino (this time as countertenor) and Torres; and "´Tis wine was made to rule the day" with all three singers; all these pieces from "Orpheus Britannicus", Second Book. But we also heard from Purcell: "Ah, how sweet is to love" from "Tyrannic love, or the Royal martyr", with Travaglino; "Hark, my daridear" from the First Book of "Orpheus Britannicus", with Torres and Sadoly; and from "Dioclesian", "Sound fame thy brazen trumpet", with Sadoly. We also heard Thomas Simpson´s "A division for the practice of learners", an Anonymous piece, "Mr. Reddins Ground"; "A Division" for recorder by "Mr. Hills" and "A division to a ground" by Solomon Eccles ("division" meaning "variation"). As you see, a varied programme with rarely heard music, most of it quite interesting. Both players were good, and the singers more variable, Torres the best, Sadoly following and Travaglino hampered by poor vocal means.
Ars Nobilis presented a free concert at the Jockey Club. Guitarist Carlos Groisman and the young Cuarteto Akos presented a mixed programme. An off-form Groisman played Granados, de Falla and Ponce´s "Sonatina meridional", where he got better results. Then the Quartet gave acceptable versions of Mozart´s Divertimento K.138 (adapted, for the original includes a bass line) and Piazzolla´s "Four for tango" (the title is originally in English). The best results were obtained when Groisman and the Quartet played the beautiful Castelnuovo-Tedesco Quintet op.143, certainly one of the most accomplished scores for that combination.
For Buenos Aires Herald
For Buenos Aires Herald
jueves, agosto 07, 2008
There's something very attractive about the adrenaline and stamina of youth orchestras. These young minds and bodies have the freshness of discovery: music flows from them without routine. There are notorious examples of superlative quality, such as the European Youth Orchestra , The National Youth Orchestra from
They visited us under Carlos Miguel Prieto, a good Mexican conductor who comes to this city for the second time. There was an added pleasure, the presence of the great Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire, a frequent visitor here. This was a Nuova Harmonia concert at the Coliseo.
The hand programme says: "Each year YOA assembles a hundred exceptional and talented young musicians from more than twenty countries of the occidental hemisphere. They are selected in auditions and their age goes from 18 to 26-years-old. All musicians have
Prieto is with them since the YOA's inception. He holds the post of Principal Conductor of
The programme started with the suite Robert Russell Bennett concocted from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" (a fact absent from the programme page, which just said Gershwin). There's a better suite done by Gershwin himself called "Catfish Row"; I find Bennett's work too Broadway and he doesn't respect the original sequence of pieces. But the work is brilliant and allowed the youngsters to shine. The First Part also included Schumann's Piano Concerto in the magisterial performance by Freire, certainly one of the best heard in recent decades; in full maturity his technical means are magnificent and he phrases with taste and wisdom. He was carefully accompanied. His encore was a lovely rendering of Villalobos' tender "A lenda do caboclo".
The Rachmaninov score, in three parts, went swimmingly, its lush orchestration well reflected in Prieto's smooth conducting and the players's commitment. Finally, Ravel's "
Orff's "Carmina Burana" is a very well-known score, a profane cantata exalting wine and love based on the old Goliardic poems and songs. (The Goliards were ex monks that ran a dissolute life in Medieval times). The work is full of tunes and brilliant orchestration and is the sole success of the composer. It was written in 1936.
As you know, the Colón is is parlous condition; not only the closed building, but the activity of its resident orchestras, chorus and ballet has had many mishaps. One of the worst affected Festivales Musicales, who undertook with some temerity a co-production with the Colón. The bad rehearsal facilities at Unione e Benevolenza (an old centric hall) moved an already disgruntled Orquesta Estable to effect assemblies during rehearsals, a veiled strike in fact. Horacio Sanguinetti, the Colón's Director General, decided to suspend all activities of Orchestra and Choir for an indeterminate period. The intervention of authorities of Festivales managed an arrangement and the concerts were on (there were two performances at the Auditorio de Belgrano) but changing dates (Thursday and Saturday became Saturday and Sunday) and eliminating a valuable first score in the programme, Villalobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras No.
But concerts were good. Carlos Vieu conducted with stamina, brilliancy and good tempi, and both Orchestra and Choruses (the mixed one and the children under Valdo Sciammarella) were quite satisfactory. A strange fact: Salvatore Caputo was billed as the conductor of the Choir, but he was vacationing in Italy and the unannounced conductor was really Gabriel Ayub. The baritone Luciano Garay was ill and was replaced by young Gustavo Feulien, talented and with a beautiful voice in the center and upper reaches, but weak in the lows. Eduardo Ayas mistook the way and sang the Swan Song in a shrill fortissimo instead of the required falsetto. The queen of the evening was Laura Rizzo, singing with lovely timbre and effortless high florid phrases.
Para el Buenos Aires Herald
Para el Buenos Aires Herald
lunes, agosto 04, 2008
In recent weeks chamber opera has predominated in the Colón plans (of course, you know that "big" opera is excluded this year). The presentation of Marta Lambertini's "Cenicientaaaa...!" was an initiative of the CETC (Center for Experimentation) but, in a move that Lambertini condemned in an interview, it wasn't offered at the CETC's own space but at the Teatro del Globo. Nevertheless, I have it from good source that the CETC was available and usable , for the exhibition installed there only takes over a corridor, but not the premises of hall and stage. Anyway, it's true that the Teatro del Globo is bigger, thus allowing better sales, and it has nice acoustics. And the piece was prepared for the winter holidays and for kids, not only for adults.
Lambertini has written several chamber operas for the CETC during the Gandini era, including her hit, "Alicia en el país de las maravillas", a very imaginative take on Carroll's wonderful tale. But also "Hildegard", an evocation of the famous Medieval mystic composer Hildegard von Bingen. She has always had a very keen sense of humor as well as a knowledge of historic styles. In opera the Cinderella we all know is Rossini's "
Lamertini also wrote the very peculiar libretto, in which she invents a language based on contorted Spanish with numerous Russian-sounding words, plus some phrases in French from the Herald and some in English. It's very imaginative but comports a constant effort to "translate" it into Spanish on the part of the audience; some adults probably had trouble doing it, and any kids below twelve probably found it impossible, so I rather doubt that this an adequate opera for kids. But it is funny and fresh, though the humor is sometimes too obvious, as in the names of the characters and in the quotes of famous brands.
The music is very ingenious, beginning with the instrumentation: not an orchestra but a Baroque ensemble (flute and piccolo, violin, cello and harpsichord) complemented by four percussionists in some places; it transports us to an eighteenth-century court ambience, though the harmonies are of course of our time . As Lambertini says, her music "has a strong gestual charge", as corresponds to a farce, albeit a sophisticated one.
The names of the characters are grotesque: the stepsisters are called Malaria and Difteria; Cinderella's stepmother, Matroshka; the fairy, Adalgisa (as in Bellini's "Norma") and the Prince, Tirifilo. There's a small chorus with few interventions and also two girl puppeteers. The work is edited by Melos (ex Ricordi Americana). It lasts an hour. It had full houses and real success.
The CETC had done a proper job. Carlos Calleja led a very clean performance where the members of the Ensemble Musica Poetica and the percussionists responded very well. Musica Poetica is mad up of Gabriel Pérsico ( Baroque flute and piccolo), Joelle Perdaens ( Baroque violin), María de Jesús Olóndriz (Baroque cello) and María de Lourdes Cútolo (harpsichord). The production was well conceived by Jorge de Lassaletta, with the right fairy-tale stage and costume design by Noelia González and Fernando Martínez Ferrari jointly, with adequate lighting from Eli Sirlin.
Graciela Oddone was brilliant as a positive Cinderella that won't be humiliated, singing with ample and agreeable voice. Cintia Velásquez, looking like the stepmother in Disney's "Cinderella", did the part with good voice and perfect acting. Cecilia Aguirre Paz was a trifle pale as the fairy Adalgisa. Laura San Giorgio and Cecilia Jakubowicz were effective as the stepsisters, though the makeup should have been more grotesque. Pablo Pollitzer was a pleasant and well sung Prince, and Matía Tomasetto did a correct Herald.
In the same week, the Colón Chamber Opera showed its second production at the auditorium of the Sociedad Hebraica Argentina, which isn't adequate, but it became the refuge when the Theatre 25 de Mayo, originally scheduled, was denied to them by Pablo Batalla, the Secretary for Cultural Administration. It combined two very dissimilar pieces: Cimarosa's "intermezzo giocoso" for "basso buffo" and orchestra "Il maestro di cappella"
(1791, revised by Maffeo Zanon in 1949) and Manuel de Falla's "El retablo de Maese Pedro", a scene from Cervantes' "Don Quixote". Both pieces together last 55 minutes and are well-known here.
The common denominator was a good orchestra conducted with style by Bernardo Teruggi and excentric and unconvincing production by José Darío Innella. The basis of Cimarosa's piece is the live interaction of an orchestra on stage and the "maestro di cappella", but here the orchestra was in the pit and seven actors moved like puppets in the stage as "the orchestra", and with wildly incoherent gestures. Oscar Grassi is an old hand at this style (it shows in the frayed voice) but couldn't compensate for the erroneous concept.
There were two saving graces in "El Retablo...", de Falla's fine evocation of old Spain: the honed orchestra work under Teruggi and the splendid voice and style of Fernando Grassi (Oscar's son). But Innella had obnoxious ideas, like the dumb show in silence of the puppeteers at the start, or not having an audience for Maese Pedro's show excelt Don Quixote and Sancho. The poor stage design (Sergio Massa) didn't help. The puppeteers' work was pretty good, though. The "boy" Trujamán, who tells the story of Don Gayferos and Melisendra, was a girl, María Candelaria Castro, wih a rather nice timbre but shortness of breath and rhytmic problems. Fermín Prieto was an acceptable Maese Pedro.
Para el Buenos Aires Herald