martes, enero 06, 2009

A varied musical roundup (I)

In tight synthesis I will try in two final articles to bring to an end the classical music reviewing of last season.

Ending the Cycle of Contemporary Music prepared by the Teatro San Martín, and after a delay of a week caused by a blackout, there was a homage to Stravinsky with a 1917 work (hardly contemporary) that defies classification: "L´histoire du soldat" ("The soldier´s tale"), a Russian folk tale adapted in French by Charles Ramuz but offered in Spanish translation by Marcelo Lombardero at the Teatro de la Ribera. The composer wanted a stage piece that could travel easily from city to city in Switzerland and be cheap, due to the straitened economic circumstances of World War I (that country was neutral). The music is concise, rhythmic, polytonal, whilst the tale of a soldier duped by the Devil seems rather weak by now. The seven players under Santiago Santero were correct but too manicured for the score´s raw power. Lombardero both produced and played a cynical, sarcastic Devil; Claudio Gallardou was an agreeable Soldier and Héctor Calori a good Narrator; Laura Aguerreberry (Princess) was given too little to dance or mime. The production used projections in excess, some of them incongruous.

In 1934 Claudia Muzio had a great success at the Colón when she premiered Licinio Refice´s "Cecilia". We had to wait until late in 2008 to see a revival of this sacred opera based on Saint Cecilia´s martyrdom (called the Patroness of musicians, in fact her story has little to do with music). On a poor libretto by Emidio Mucci, the composer wrote a post-verista opera that is impersonal though pleasant enough to hear. Adelaida Negri´s Casa de la Ópera put it on at the Avenida with the soprano as the protagonist, a part that suits her better than others at this stage of her career. The Brazilian tenor Miguel Geraldi made a fine debut as her husband, Valeriano. Roberto Falcone was forceful as Amachio, María Laura Martorell fragile but appealing as the Angel, Mariela Barzola rather shaky as the Old Blind Woman and Sebastián Sorarrain a good Tiburzio. The production and stage designs by Alejandro Atías were too kitschy for my taste, I preferred the costumes by Mariela Daga. Giorgio Paganini led a convincing performance and the choirs were good enough.

"¡Oh, el amor, el amor…!", music and libretto by Valdo Sciammarella, was premiered by the Colón Chamber Opera at the Teatro SHA. It lasts just half an hour, so it was rather absurd to offer it alone. The work is certainly inferior to the same author´s charming Peruvian Colonial story "Marianita limeña" but is well written in a moderate language. It tells an amoral true story: in 1909 a man who had made love to a widow and her two daughters was absolved because he maintained them! The subject is treated with light sarcasm and touches of grotesque. Well conducted by Bruno D´Astoli and produced by a good team that provided fun and clear narration (Ximena Belgrano Rawson, producer; Víctor de Pilla, production design; Alicia Gumá, dress design; Mauricio Rinaldi, lighting), it also had a good cast: Vanesa Tomas, Laura Penchi, Silvina Martino, Mirko Tomas, Rocío Arbizu, Fermín Prieto, Juan Barrile and Alejandro Di Nardo.

The CETC (the Colón´s Center for Experimentation) had a very poor season apart from the premiere of Marta Lambertini´s "¡Cenicientaaa!" (about which I wrote some months ago). A rather strange venue, the Sala Villa Villa of the Centro Cultural Recoleta, was the ambience chosen for a programme of music by Martín Matalón, an Argentine who lives in Europe and wrote the music for the restored version of Fritz Lang´s film "Metropolis". His music is long in timbric resources and short in substance. First we heard three pieces called "Traces": No. I for cello (Martín Devoto), No. VI for flute (Patricia Da Dalt, excellent), No. 4 for marimba (Angel Frette, very good), all with added electronics. The main piece was "Monedas de hierro", for ten players and electronics, in eight parts totalling 14 minutes; its succinctness was telling, for the material was interesting enough as sonorities but wouldn´t have sustained a longer span.

The Czech Center organised an agreeable concert at the "Microcine" of the Centro Cultural Recoleta, rather dry in acoustics but bigger than "micro". Two scores were original for wind quintet: Antonín Rejcha´s Quintet op. 88 Nº 2, a good exponent of early Romanticism, and the Small Serenade by Jaroslav Zich (1912-2001), a pleasant Neoclassical score. The others were arrangements for the same combination of flute (Raúl Becerra), oboe (David Bortolus), clarinet (Luis Slabý), bassoon (María Marta Ferreyra) and horn (Carlos Hussain): two fragments from "Along an overgrown path" (original for piano) by Janácek and a curious transcription by David Walter of the famous Dvorák String Quartet op. 96, "American". Very proficient playing.

"Music in singular" is a cycle of modern music structured by Gerardo Gandini. I heard only one of the five concerts offered at the Auditorio Borges of the National Library and it proved very worthwhile. Pianist Haydée Schvartz and violinist David Núñez played with high quality a difficult and rewarding programme: two scores by György Kurtág ("Eight duos op.4" and "Three pieces op.14e"), the fascinating "Musica ricercata" by György Ligeti (11 pieces), the adventurous "Sequenza VIII" for solo violin by Luciano Berio, the five subtle "Studies" (1990) by Gandini and Ravel´s 1927 Sonata.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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