We´ve been lucky recently. Music lovers have heard lots of great chamber music played by sterling artists. Pride of place goes predictably to the Zukerman Chamber Players, in a very welcome return visit at AMIJAI. They are led of course by the great violinist Pinchas Zukerman, who in recent years does more chamber music than recitals or orchestra dates. And he has the right way with it. He has chosen admirable players to form a string quintet of very high rank formed by Jessica Linnebach (violin), Jethro Marks and Ashan Pillai (violas) and the extraordinary cellist Amanda Forsyth, who is Zukerman´s match.
The programme was very attractive, with fine works from Dvorák (the Terzetto por two violins and viola), Mozart (the wonderful Quintet op.516, one of his most advanced scores) and Brahms (his second Quintet, op.111, strong and purposeful music). The mutual understanding, the refined style and instrumental perfection of these players were sheer pleasure all the way. I have only one caveat: the advance programming gave us the Bruckner Quintet instead of Brahms, and I would have much preferred that they stuck to Bruckner as announced, for this is a 50-minute creation of much interest, his only chamber piece.
The Zukerman Chamber Players gave another extraordinary concert at the Coliseo for Nuova Harmonia. And again the programme gave us lovely nineteenth century scores rarely heard and from great composers: Dvorák´s Quintet op. 97, full of Slavic character; Schubert´s one-movement Trio No.1; and Mendelssohn´s energetic and imaginative Second Quintet op.87. The encore was Mozart´s Menuet from the op.516 Quintet. Again the players worked wonders, led by the very sober playing and stance of Zukerman, who needs no carnival gestures to impress.
AMIJAi was also the venue for a major discovery, the Bernini Quartet, who started with their concert the series called Latina 2008 sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Culture. Their programme was uncommon but it proved very interesting: quartets from Haydn (No. 78, op.76 No. 4) and Mozart (No.17, K.458, "
The piano duet made up of Laure Favre-Kahn (French) and Marcela Roggeri (Argentine) gave a fine recital for Festivales Musicales at the Avenida. There are reasons to believe that J.S.Bach´s Concerto for two pianos BWV 1061 was conceived without the orchestra. Indeed the orchestral parts are merely supportive and at times they disappear completely. So it was acceptable for the players to do it as a piano duet, and they played with good mechanism. I dislike changes, especially unannounced (I was told the organizers weren´t advised). As it was they mixed things up. After Messiaen´s short Prelude No.7, "Plainte calme",nicely played by Favre-Kahn, came Satie´s "Gnossiennes", a clean performance, but they weren´t played all together as announced, rather one at a time, alternating with a stunning performance of Debussy´s Prelude "Feux d´artifice" by the French pianist and of Rachmaninov´s Prelude op. 32 No.l2 by Favre-Kahn substituting for Debussy´s "La puerta del vino".
In the Second Part we heard two brilliant piano duet works, Rachmaninov´s Suite No.1, "Fantaisie-Tableaux", with its colourful , rich writing, and Milhaud´s witty and sparkling "Scaramouche". I liked the playing a lot, combining as it did accuracy, good integration and style. Good encores: the four-hand Menuet from Debussy´s "Petite suite" and Brahms´ Hungarian dance No.2, for piano duet.
Chopiniana is a series of piano recitals organized by Martha Noguera. This year the venue is the Teatro Santa María, of adequate acoustics although rather unattractive. The start was the debut of the 22-year-old Ingolf Wunder, Austrian, and he proved indeed a wonder. In the First Part he gave evidence of a big technique but there were some stylistic matters that seemed wrong to me: although the first movement of Beethoven´s "Moonlight Sonata" was beautifully quiet and controlled, the rhythm of the second seemed rather excentric and the third was brilliant but had exaggerated fortissimi. I disliked the phrasing and violence of his rendering of Chopin´s Mazurkas (op.7 Nº3, op.30 Nº4, op.33 Nº 4). He added (unannounced) Chopin´s "Raindrop" Prelude, and played nicely Chopin´s "Andante spianato"; the following virtuosic "Grande Polonaise" was stunningly played, and from then on all was, well, wonderful. He has the big guns but also the subtlety to play Rachmaninov´s Preludes op.32 Nº5, op.30 Nº 4 and I especially enjoyed a thundering performance of the march-like op. 33 Nº 4. But Liszt proved even better: lovely phrasing and attention to detail in "Sposalizio" and "Petrarch´s Sonnet No.
For Buenos Aires Herald