miércoles, abril 14, 2010

Our main orchestras and their programming: an evaluation

            A week ago I gave a wish list of symphonic works I would like our orchestras to programme. Now I will offer a synthesis of what is promised for this season. The main orchestras have already played pre-season concerts; I wrote a month ago about one of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic´s sessions at the Parque Centenario; and the National Symphony has played two concerts at the Bolsa de Comercio.
            Both orchestras operate under very different conditions; I will start with the Phil. The decision to give their subscription series at the reopened Colón means  that the big season starts only in June, quite late in the game. On the preceding months they have little to do, just the four Parque Centenario concerts; so the Colón will be paying salaries during five months (January to May) for only four concerts. Recently their Executive Director Eduardo Ihidoype was named Director at the Colón Institute of Art; no replacement has been announced. Arturo Diemecke remains as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, and again has by far the lion´s part. This year the subscription series has l8 concerts on Thursdays at the Colón, and with an innovation: they start at 8 p.m. Prices are high.
            I have no space to list each concert, so I will mention some highlights. As the bad policy is to leave first performances unannounced, I tread on unsteady ground, but here is a list of unfamiliar scores that may be heard here for the first time: the most important, Suk´s Symphony "Asrael", strong and uncompromising; and Enesco´s Second Symphony, diffuse but imaginative. From Mexican Ezequiel Viñao: "El sueño de Cristóbal". From Unsuk Chin: "Santka Ekatala", presented by lady conductor Shi-Yeon Sung. The unnecessary transcription for flute by Rampal of Khachaturian´s Concerto for violin (with Sharon Bezaly). Rossen Milanov conducts not only Enescu´s symphony but also Vladigerov´s Improvisation and toccata and Messiaen´s "Concerto à quatre", in what is surely the most enterprising programme of the season. The minimalist Steve Reich´s "Desert music". Argentine scores: Jorge Calandrelli´s "Concerto for jazz clarinet" (with Eddie Daniels); the much promoted Osvaldo Golijov´s "ZZ´s dream"; Gerardo Gandini´s "Three pieces for orchestra-Diary VI";  Luis Mucillo´s "Corpus Christi", a creator with a deep metaphysical strain. And the German Bernd Alois Zimmermann´s interesting Trumpet Concerto "Nobody knows the trouble I see", with Reinhold Friedrich .
            Welcome big works: Mahler´s Second, Third, Fifth and Tenth (only the finished Adagio) Symphonies, probably the start of an integral Mahler series spread over more than one season; Holst´s "The Planets", Strauss´ "Thus spake Zarathustra", Nielsen´s Fourth Symphony (conductor Ilan Volkov), Bernstein Second Symphony and Bartók´s Concert for orchestra (conducted by the talented Brazilian Isaac Karabatchevsky).  Some small attractive scores: Sibelius´ "The Oceanides", Bax´s "Tintagel", Bartók´s "Two Pictures". Other conductors: Giancarlo Guerrero, Eiji Oue, Günther Neuhold, Alejo Pérez. Other soloists: nine-year-old Natasha Binder (daughter of Karin Lechner) in Beethoven´s Concerto Nº 1; Thibaudet in Gershwin, Pogorelich in Chopin´s Nº2; cellist Natalie Clein in Schumann; Freire in Brahms Nº 1; Buchbinder in Grieg; the great András Schiff in Beethoven´s "Emperor"; pianist Wilhelm Latchoumia in Bernstein´s Second Symphony, "The Age of Anxiety"; violinist Ilya Kaler in Paganini´s Nº 2, "La Campanella"; Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta in Elgar; violinist Nemanka Radulovic in Tchaikovsky; and guitarist Pepe Romero in Rodrigo´s "Concierto de Aranjuez".
            The National Symphony has often been roughly handled by the authorities, but this year there are some good news. José Luis Castiñeira de Dios has taken over from Rolando Goldman as Director of Arts, and has decided to give the NS a push, planning two basic points: a return of the orchestra after three years to the Auditorio de Belgrano, the second best acoustics after the Colón; and several tours of the provinces. Bureaucratic problems intervened and the first session at the Auditorio (April 16) was cancelled (or postponed) but from May 7 and until November 26, twenty sessions are programmed there. Difficulties of infrastructure on both sides apparently will preclude that the concerts should be given on a paid basis, which seems to me essential to recuperate image. Concerts will be in their great majority conducted by the Principal Conductor, Pedro Calderón, and the Associte Conductor, Andrés Spiller. There doesn´t seem to be either money or advanced planning to hire foreign conductors (with one exception) or soloists. As to the programming, Calderón is repeating several big works that he offered in recent years in bad acoustics. A vague Latin-American Festival has up to now no specifics at all; it would take three concerts, which could be interesting if scores and interpreters are well-chosen. And in the year of the Bicentenary, the National Symphony will play many works of our composers of different generations, which seems to me right.  A bad mark: deplorably few first performances.
            Some highlights: Mahler´s Sixth and Ninth Symphonies, Shostakovich´s Nº 12, Cherubini´s Requiem in C minor, Bernstein´s "Chichester Psalms" (conductor, the Colombian Hadrián Ávila Arzuza, currently Principal Conductor of the Córdoba Symphony), Bruckner´s Fifth, Strauss´ "A Hero´s Life". First performances: "Kaleidoscope" by Cecilia Gros; "Argentina", Concerto for guitar, by Saúl Cosentino and Mario Andreola; Concerto for harpsichord, by Gorecki; "Talampaya" by Federico Llach. Soloists: Xavier Inchausti and Luis Roggero, violin; Elsa Puppulo, Horacio Lavandera, Antonio Formaro, Marcelo Balat, Bruno Gelber and Tomás Alegre, piano; Diana Lopszyc, harpsichord; Roberto Aussel, guitar; Paula Almerares, soprano. Several singers and choirs will collaborate.

martes, abril 06, 2010

The necessary transformation of symphonic repertoire

            Buenos Aires boasts two professional orchestras dedicated basically to giving concerts: the National Symphony and the B.A. Philharmonic. The Colón Orchestra also contributes sporadically, along with many second-string organisms. All this, plus an already long tradition, make it imperative that the menu offered music lovers be ample and eclectic; it often isn´t. Add to it that most of the visiting orchestras play the tried and true, and we get a low level of renovation, where aberrations happen such as not having premiered certain symphonies by Prokofiev, Nielsen or Ives, or totally ignoring a great symphonist like Berwald. Routine, lack of money, low attendance by a guilty public to important symphonic events, mediocrity of vision in functionaries and artists, all contribute.
            I will leave out of this survey Baroque music, which to my mind should be played by smaller historicist ensembles (notwithstanding some interesting Bach transcriptions make during the Twentieth Century). So I start with Classicism. The early stages need small orchestras of not more than thirty players (Sammartini or the Mannheim School), but as we go from Early to Middle to Mature Classicism, orchestras are gradually bigger. I believe we need a steady diet of Joseph Haydn and Mozart, going beyond the usual symphonies; so many treasures are never played. And we certainly should get to know selectively the other symphonists of that age: Cannabich, Abel, Beck, Kraus, Myslivecek, to name a few. And not just symphonies but also concerts, overtures, symphonic masses, etc.
            Beethoven tends to obliterate everything around him, but it certainly  pays to hear the four Clementi symphonies, and others by Méhul, Gossec, Boccherini, Weber. Plus piano concerti by Hummel and Field, and so many attractive opera  overtures. Even in Beethoven we should hear such things as the incidental music for "King Stephan" or "The Ruins of Athens". And such Schubert scores as the opera "Fierrabras" (concert version) or the oratorio "Lazarus".
            Romanticism still holds many surprises, especially the four Berwald symphonies (and his tone poems), some of Liszt´s tone poems and his big oratorios, the Gade and Raff symphonies, some Berlioz overtures (and we need the complete "Romeo and Juliet", absent since 1973), Mendelssohn´s "Athalia", even operas of great musical quality but not easily viable on the stage, from Weber, Schumann, Berlioz, Glinka, Marschner, Méhul, Spontini (concert opera is quite common in Europe).
            The second half of the Nineteenth Century (Postromanticism) also needs further exploration. Bruckner´s masses, his symphonies 0, 1 and 2 and his cantata "Helgoland", Brahms´ cantata "Rinaldo" and "Nänie", piano concertos by Paderewski and Scharwenka, Franck´s oratorio "Les Béatitudes", the Parry, Sullivan and Stanford symphonies, Grieg´s complete "Peer Gynt", the revival of Smetana´s cycle "Má Vlast" and some other symphonic poems of his , the insistence on Dvorák´s first five symphonies and on his late tone poems, the Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Balakirev and Taneiev symphonies, works by Novak and Fibich, tone poems by Duparc and Chausson, the piano concertos and the suites by MacDowell, the suites by Tchaikovsky, the Gounod and Lalo symphonies…
            The Twentieth Century is enormously productive in symphonic music. For the sake of clarity, I will consider it in two parts: the first half and the second (roughly). And by zones. FIRST HALF. Germany and Austria: Schönberg´s "Five pieces", "Pelleas and Melisande", the enormous "Gurrelieder", the Variations, the Concerti for piano and for violin; any Webern; Berg´s "Three Pieces" (essential and ignored); many Hindemith works (symphonies, concerti, the Requiem on Whitman texts, the Symphonic dances); symphonies and concerti by Hartmann, Schmidt, Korngold; some Schreker and Zemlinsky. France: works by D´Indy, Roussel, Schmitt, Milhaud, Honegger, Poulenc. Italy: scandalously forgotten apart from Respighi; we need Malipiero, Casella, Ghedini, Pizzetti, Petrassi. Russia: Some Prokofiev and Stravinsky pieces are neglected; of the first, the Portraits from "The Gambler", the Second and Fourth symphonies, the Piano Concerto Nº 4 (for the left hand); of the second, the early Symphony, the Neoclassic pieces of the Thirties and Forties. Myaskovsky, Kabalevsky, some Shostakovich (the Third Symphony, "The execution of Stepan Razin"). The Nordic countries: Finland: some Sibelius symphonies need better acquaintance (the Third, the Fourth, the Sixth), the big choral-symphonic "Kullervo" should be premiered, and there are sorely needed tone poems  ("Pohjola´s Daughter", "En Saga"). Denmark: Nielsen´s First and Sixth Symphonies must be premiered, and we should know some Langgaard and Holmboe. Sweden: Stenhammar, Alfven, Rosenberg, Blomdahl, all are unknown and valuable. Spain: Falla´s "La Atlántida" (finished by Ernesto Halffter) should be revived; some grateful pieces by Turina need remembering; and also Ernesto Halffter´s own Symphonietta. Great Britain: Elgar´s Second Symphony, "Falstaff", "The Dream of Gerontius" should come back; practically all  Bax is unknown except for "Tintagel"; there´s more Holst apart from "The Planets"; we certainly need Walton´s symphonies and concerti, and his Partita; enormous amounts of Delius are missing, especially "Appalachia", "Eventyr", "A Mass of Life"; Vaughan Williams is also neglected, the Sixth Symphony is a masterpiece unplayed for 50 years and there´s plenty more; nice music by Lambert or Berners is  absent. The American School is practically ignored apart from the occasional Copland and Bernstein: there are dozens of worthwhile composers. And the great Mexicans Chávez and Revueltas also have much to offer.
            SECOND HALF. Apart from the Polish School and some minimalists, very little has been played. We need Henze, Rihm, Reimann, Fortner, Blacher, Egk, Von Einem, Rautawaara, Sallinen, Messiaen, Boulez, Tippett, Tavener, Davies, and younger names like Adès.

Ballet renovation, a hopeful proposal

            Three weeks ago I gave my enormous wish list for opera renovation. Now I´m tackling the ballet repertoire, to my mind much more hackneyed in recent decades in our city and crying out for deep delving into the international treasure of ballets. There´s so much that is valuable and unknown here!
            I am taking into consideration not only the Colón Ballet but also that of the La Plata Argentino, for both have enough people to handle the big pieces and  a considerable trajectory, even if there has been too much routine.  The group of the Teatro San Martín can be adequate for some smaller ballets with modern techniques.  I will give priority not only to the choreographies but especially to the quality of the music, so often  put into a distant second plane by the directors of ballet groups. And I will privilege music specifically written to be danced, for nowadays any music seems fair game for choreographers and I don´t agree.
            There is a basic difficulty: the lack of a universally understood and sufficiently clear notation of dance steps has made it very problematic to revive old ballets. Those that have come down to us have relied heavily on oral transmission from teacher to disciple, but in every case we see them in revisions that try to be as faithful as possible to the original, approximations with some degrees of inexactitude. After 1930 films acquired sound, but unfortunately very few testimonies remain of the great ballets of succeeding decades, probably because of the cost and the belief that they wouldn´t be commercially viable. It is only when we enter the era of videos and later of DVDs that we finally have reasonable facsimiles of new ballets as they are created.
            Baroque ballet has been acceptably revived in Europe on the basis of iconography and treatises, and about two decades ago a specialized company visited us, Ris et Danceries; one member, Ana Yepes, taught the technique to some Argentine dancers at the Colón Institute, but this wasn´t followed up, and if we would like to see a Rameau opéra-ballet in authentic form, we would have to import the dancers.
            In 1761 Gluck composed "Don Juan", considered the first real ballet in the modern sense; its original choreography is lost but it is certainly worth a revival with very pure Neoclassic steps (here we saw Erich Walter´s version three decades ago; the matter is whether there are people who can revive it, or those by Milloss, Massine, Neumeier). Mozart´s "Les Petits Riens" (1778) might be offered in Milloss´ version (Noverre was a famous choreographer but his creations haven´t come down to us). Beethoven´s "The Creatures of Prometheus" (1801) is a long and beautiful ballet;  we don´t have Salvatore Viganò´s important original but again Milloss comes to the rescue.
            I only mention "La fille mal gardée" with Hérold´s music because it is the oldest (1832) ballet still in the repertoire, albeit in revised versions. Buenos Aires has also seen "La Sylphide" and umpteen times "Giselle" (1841). By then techniques have changed, dancing on points and dressing with tutus; we are in the Romantic era. Here Pierre Lacotte has revived "La fille du Danube", and some of Bournonville´s ballets imagined for the Copenhagen court have been done; it would be nice to see "Napoli" (1842). I would find it interesting to have stylistic new choreographies for "La Source" (Delibes and Minkus) or "Le papillon" (Offenbach). "Coppélia" is well-known here, but more than sixty years have passed since we saw the other Delibes masterpiece, "Sylvia" (1876); Frederick Ashton did an admirable choreography in 1952; I believe Neumeier also did it. Lalo´s "Namouna" has lovely music, it has been seen here as Lifar´s "Suite en blanc". "Raymonda" (1898) by Glazunov  was only seen here when the Bolshoi Ballet visited us decades ago, it should be back in Petipa/Ivanov´s version.
            The Twentieth Century has been very rich in splendid ballets, but many are forgotten.  Diaghilev´s troupe renovated choreography and inspired wonderful music. And such essential figures as Balanchine or Margaret Graham brought whole new aesthetics. "The Seasons" (Glazunov). "La Péri" (Dukas/Ashton). "Jeux" (Debussy/Taras or Milloss). "La tragédie de Salomé" (Schmitt/Romanov). "Joseph´s Legend" (R. Strauss/Tudor). "The Women of Good Humour" (D.Scarlatti-Tommasini/Massine). "Parade"(Satie/Massine). "La Boutique Fantasque" (Rossini-Respighi/Massine). "Le chant du rossignol" (Stravinsky/Balanchine). "Chout" (Prokofiev/Milloss). "La création du monde" (Milhaud/MacMillan). "Les biches" (Poulenc/Nijinska)."Salade" (Milhaud/Massine). "Le train bleu" (Milhaud/Nijinska). "La giara" (Casella/Nijinska). "Pas d´acier" (Prokofiev/Massine). "Checkmate" (Bliss/De Valois). "Nobilissima visione" (Hindemith/Massine). "Danses Concertantes" (Stravinsky/Balanchine or Blaska). "Appalachian spring" (Copland/Graham). "Les forains" (Sauguet/Petit). "Facsimile" (Bernstein/Robbins). "Ritratto di Don Chisciotte" (Petrassi/Milloss). "Les Mirages" (Sauguet/Lifar). "Marsyas" (Dallapiccola/Milloss). "The Age of Anxiety" (Bernstein/Robbins). "Miss Julie" (Rangström/Cullberg). "Phèdre" (Auric/Lifar). "Piège de lumière" (Damase/Taras). "Le loup" (Dutilleux/Petit). "The stone flower" (Prokofiev/Grigorovich). "The Prince of the Pagodas" (Britten/Cranko). "Agon" (Stravinsky/Balanchine). "The River" (Ellington/Ailey). "Anna Karenina" (Shchedrin/Plisetskaya and others). "Dybbuk Variations" (Bernstein/Robbins). "Pli selon pli" (Boulez/Béjart). "Ivan the Terrible" (Prokofiev/Grigorovich). "Fall River Legend" (Gould/De Mille). "Fancy Free" (Bernstein/Robbins). "Undine" (Henze/Neumeier). "Abraxas" and "John of Zarissa" (Egk/T.Gsovsky). "Pineapple Poll" (Sullivan-Mackerras/Cranko), "The Lady and the Fool" (Verdi-Mackerras/Cranko).
 Works I like musically, choreographies to be searched: "Sebastian" (Menotti),  "Icarus" (Slonimsky), "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo" (Copland), "Job" (Vaughan Williams), "Hamlet" (Blacher), "Emperor Jones" (Villa-Lobos), "The Wooden Prince" (Bartók), "The Age of Gold" (Shostakovich), "La hija de Cólquide" (Chávez), "Panambí" (Ginastera). As you see, plenty to choose from.

Lady Macbeth starts the Argentino´s season with a bang


     Probably La Plata´s Teatro Argentino has never started a season with such a bang. The local premiere of Shostakovich´s "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" is the first time ever that a Russian opera is given there, and in Russian. To boot, excepting the protagonist, who is Lettish, the whole cast was Argentine or in one case Chilean, and they all sang with very reasonable phonetics and authenticity.  And the opera is a raging, roaring masterpiece written by a 26-year-old genius on one of the most sordid plots ever attempted.
      The trajectory of this opera has been fraught with drama. Shostakovich, born in 1906, began his career when Lenin was in power; both him and his Minister of Culture Anatoly Lunacharsky supported renovation in art and it was in this stimulating atmosphere that the young composer developed. But after 1930 Stalin took over and a couple of years later Lunacharsky was relieved of his post; things changed drastically, as Stalin promoted Socialist realism and clamped down on innovation, wanting a simple and direct art for the masses.
        When he was only 24 (1930) Shostakovich wrote that hilarious satire, "The Nose", based on a tale by Gogol; the Colón saw splendid performances of it in 1994 and 1996 by the Moscow Chamber Opera. "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" had its first performance on January 22, 1934, at the Maly Theatre in Leningrad, with a rousing success; during the two following years it was even premiered in New York. But in January 1936 Stalin saw it and stalked indignantly out, angry at the strong eroticism and apparently some very dissonant musical passages. A period of ostracism came about; the composer decided not to publish his radical Fourth Symphony, and was vindicated for a while by his Fifth Symphony (1938). It was only upon Stalin´s death that Shostakovich revised "Lady Macbeth", softening it and calling the opera "Katerina Ismailova"; the premiere met with great approval on January 8, 1963, at the Stanislavsky Theatre in Moscow.  This version, though in Italian, was presented by the Colón in 1968. Later on the original version was revived, especially by Mstislav Rostropovich, and eventually it was given at the Colón with his conducting on March-April 2001.
            Nikolai Leskov (1831-95) was a prolific writer who stressed rural life in a wide variety of themes; his "Lady Macbeth of the District of Mtsensk" dates from 1865 and according to Shostakovich "there is probably no other work that describes with such accuracy the position of Russian women in the prerevolutionary period". The story happens in a small rural town in 1840.  Both Katerina and her lover Sergei murder her father-in-law and her husband, and eventually get their comeuppance.  
            The libretto is by Shostakovich and Preis. The music, though tonal, is frequently quite dissonant and shocking, but there are also episodes of tragic Mussorgskian cantilena, of deep sarcasm, of mass frenzy, of purple eroticism. The imagination of the orchestral writing is enormous, and vocally there are many moments of strong lyricism.
            Although I have some reservations, I´m full of admiration for the overall level of the Argentino´s performances. A cast without a weak link (allowing for some differences in quality), a fantastic choir, a much improved orchestra under a brilliant conductor, and a staging that, notwithstanding some conceptual bad decisions, was executed with first-rate professionalism, all were quite beyond common standards. True, the production had already been presented last year at Santiago de Chile with the same three principals, which certainly helped.
             The protagonist was simply stunning: Natalia Kreslina (debut) is a beautiful woman with feline agility and a lithe body, an involved and convincing actress and a dramatic soprano of sustained power and stamina. Enrique Folger as Sergei has done nothing better: he has the "physique du rôle" and he sang with very firm and often attractive tones in a  strong assumption of the cad. Hernán Iturralde, looking a bit young for the part, doesn´t have the deep sound of a Russian bass but he sang and acted with presence and character. I found Chilean tenor Pedro Espinoza very effective as the husband, sounding out with clean projection of the frequent high notes. Carlos Bengolea was adequate as the Drunken worker, Gustavo Gibert perfect as the corrupt Chief of Police, Ariel Cazes acceptable though light as the tipsy pope and the Old Convict, Alejandra Malvino professional as Sonyetka, Sonia Schiller stalwart in the ungrateful part of Aksinia, and the others in the picture.
            The Chorus under Miguel Martínez was simply splendid, and the Orchestra responded to the talented conducting of Alejo Pérez with astonishing punch and precision, apart from very minor slips. The production by Marcelo Lombardero was well supported by functional stage designs by Diego Siliano and costume designs by Luciana Gutman and by intelligent lighting by José Luis Fiorruccio. But he changed the setting from a farm to a slaughterhouse and the timing to about 1950, and I disliked this. He used projections in some scenes, evoking well the preparations for the wedding but choosing badly in the final scene which needs the vital presence of the river where Katerina and Sonyetka drown…but there was no river. A botched moment was putting the husband´s body in what looked like a safety box. Otherwise Lombardero veered from well-observed satire to unconvincing erotic gropings. But the adjustment and professionalism were always there.


The mixed charms of Summer music

      I feel that culture has no seasons and that we should have always good classical music available, even in Summer. Europe has solved the problem: year after year, a rash of Festivals caters to the hungry; but here, January is an unrelieved desert, and only late in February some timid growths begin to appear, so that "Summer music" is generally limited to Christmas week , the last  days of February and the three initial weeks of March. In better times, although the Colón´s yearly vacations mandated a late start, we had a complete Summer lyric season of three titles  The old Amphitheatre at Parque Centenario burned down decades ago, and  makeshift installations there had to suffice for many years. But in  very recent times, the City Government built a new Amphitheatre at Centenario, and this is the place where the current pre-season of the Colón is held. The Colón was in fact the guest of the Dirección de Música, for the Anfiteatro Eva Perón is in their sphere.             
     About two blocks separate it from the Avenida Marechal and street noise is thus much attenuated; what can´t be avoided is the crickets giving their own uninterrupted concert.  The seats are made of plastic and have no back, so spines and necks suffer, but at least you don´t sit on raw stone.  The amphitheatre is very wide and has reasonable sightlines; a big stalls section is supplemented by a smaller pullman; I understand it holds about 1600 people.  It has no pit, so opera is out (a big failing indeed). The Colón is offering free concerts and ballet (with recorded music or a lone percussionist on stage). I don´t know what his natural acoustics are like, for everything was amplified, and in a rather gross way (one clarinet sounded gigantic, the full orchestra was unremittingly too loud and with little transparence).
     I chose a concert of Viennese music and  a ballet session whose programming escaped routine. The Buenos Aires Philharmonic  had already presented a French night under Carlos Bertazza which I discarded because it took too many bits from different pieces instead of presenting them complete. The "Night in Viena" was certainly hackneyed: the most obvious pieces by Johann Strauss II along with overtures by Von Suppé and Nicolai and of course Johann Strauss I´s Radetzky March. Curiously a mistake in the printed programme was the only relative rarity: they didn´t play the habitual "Pizzicato Polka" by Johann II and Josef Strauss, but the "New Pizzicato Polka". But the music is all likeable and lilting, and some people who were standing at the back of the stalls even danced!  Christian Baldini is a young Argentine who is having a good career in the United States; he conducted from memory and showed himself in possession of a clear orthodox technique. As the music is impaired by the amplification, it is of course immaterial to complain about a lack of subtlety. The orchestra seemed in good shape. Even under such conditions, the big audience had a good time and so did I. The series will be completed with "A night in Russia" on April 23 (Autumn), conducted by the Brazilian Carlos Prazere.
      The Coro and Orquesta Estable of the Colón will be offering Beethoven´s "Choral Symphony" on March 27 and 28. As to the Colón Ballet, it gave Acts I and III of Minkus´"Don Quichotte" in Prebil´s well-known version on March 5, 6 and 7 , and after the programme I´m commenting on, will present a combination of both programmes on March 20 and 21 with one substitution (instead of "Diane et Actéon", a "Pas d´esclaves" by Drigo/Petipa/Gusev).  The programme I saw started with "Vivaldi in concert", combining nine movements from Bassoon Concerti (six fast and three slow) in classic-oriented choreographies by Lidia Segni, who is the Ballet´s Director: half-an-hour of beautiful and little-known Vivaldi in pleasant dancing figurations, not particularly creative but knowledgeable. Four couples were supported by another six in a succession of pas de deux and other combinations, as well as a full-fledged Finale.
     Then, "Diane et Acteón", a pas de deux by the legendary Agrippina Vaganova as revised by Segni, on standard late-nineteenth-century music by Cesare Pugni. The young Carla Vincelli and Juan Pablo Ledo (substituting Dalmiro Astesiano) gave a good account of themselves in some very difficult steps. Ending the First Part, a really attractive choreography by Julio López on one of the more innovative tangos by Piazzolla: "Kicho", made up of two bass recitatives followed by fast and furious ensembles; it was danced with enthusiasm by Gabriela Alberti and Alejandro Parente.
      Vittorio Biagi had been in Buenos Aires last year to revive his interesting "Pulsations", first seen about 25 years ago. The idea is arresting: a percussionist, high on stage, establishes the pulsations that will be danced; although the pretended effect is of improvisation, of course the result needs a lot of rehearsal to work well; and it did. It is made up of a General Dance, three male variations, a female Pas de trois , an Adagio pas de deux, and "Palms" by a female soloist and the full ensemble. It lasts 40 minutes and gave a chance to show their paces to many valuable dancers, especially the young Federico Fernández and the girls of the humoristic Pas de trois (Silvina Perillo, Nadia Muzyca and Vincelli). It was fun, original and invigorating.