This is wrapping-up time for the musical season prior to the January desert, so herewith a selective panorama of recitals and chamber music.
Due to a trip to France, I could only hear two of the almost always interesting concerts of the International Festival Chopiniana led by Martha Noguera. The chosen venue is however a dicey proposition, for the oval room of the Círculo Militar is both very beautiful and extremely resonant.
Jorge Naquit is a strange case. “Revelation 2010 of the Academia Chopiniana”, this Platense pharmacist who has worked successfully at his trade in Montreal and Sao Paulo is also a disciple of Elizabeth Westerkamp and Elsa Puppulo. Now fortyish, he is finally giving recitals. It´s hard to be completely fluent with this biography, but Naquit´s uneven playing seems to show that with steady concert-giving he could be one of our notable pianists, for he is certainly very musical and intense. His all-Chopin programme included the Impromptus, the op.28 Preludes and the “Heroic” Polonaise. The encore was Rachmaninov´s Prelude Nº 5, op.23 Nº5. He did stumble in some tough passages, sometimes notoriously, but at many other points we felt the phrasing of a true artist.
It´s worth mentioning the pianists I couldn´t hear: the Argentines Emiliano Turchetta, Tomás Alegre and Noguera herself, plus Martin Kasik (Czech), Slawomir Dobrzynski (Polish) and Miceal O´Rourke (Irish). The Siberian Konstantin Scherbakov (1963) gave an immensely assured and professional recital. After three immaculate D. Scarlatti sonatas he changed the announced Sonata Hob XVI/49 by Haydn with Chopin´s “Andante spianato and Grand Brilliant Polonaise”, played with true panache. I dislike Busoni´s bombastic arrangement of Bach´s Chaconne but in its own terms it was well executed.
The Second Part was wholly enjoyable: three paraphrases and one transcription by Liszt of operatic works by Tchaikovsky (the Polonaise form “Evgeni Onegin”), Wagner (Isolde´s Love-Death), Verdi (the Quartet from “Rigoletto”) and Gounod (the Waltz from “Faust”). The attractive encores were a dreamy Prelude by Liadov and an absolutely vertiginous Rondo-Presto from Weber´s First Sonata. Scherbakov is indeeed a redoubtable virtuoso.
Ars Hungarica brought us a talented Hungarian pianist, Katalin Csillagh. She played at the small hall of Musicarte in Belgrano, nice but overhot, which took its toll on the player. In her varied programme I was very favorably impressed by Beethoven´s Fantasy and the two initial movements of Schubert´s Sonata Nº 14, but she had a bad memory error in the third. Splendid in Liszt (“Gnomes´ Round Dance” and “Un sospiro”), pleasant in two pieces from Debussy´s Suite Bergamasque, for some reason she was completely uncertain in Dohnányi´s interesting “Rhapsody Nº 3, op.11”. She made up for it with two encores: the very agreeable “Three popular Hungarian dances” by Leo Weiner, and an improvisation of her own skillfully done on a popular Hungarian song.
A difficult specialty is two-piano playing. Half-brothers Karin Lechner and Sergio Tiempo have always done it alongside their solo career. They are technically stunning, and although Sergio´s scintillating style is rather different from Karin´s more classical approach, they jell beautifully. They played at the Colón in the subscription Bicentenary series. Their interpretations aren´t always ideal; the charm and cadence of Milhaud´s “Scaramouche” eluded them, and there´s more sinister expressionism in Ravel´s “La Valse” than their brilliant glib view. The “Three Andalousian dances” by Manuel Infante I liked a lot, and their mercurial facility certainly allows them to do well the terribly difficult “Paganini Variations” by Lutoslawski (but Argerich/Freire were even more exciting). I think Lucien Garban attacked an impossible job with his transcription of Ravel´s Second Suite from “Daphnis and Chloe”, and although acceptably done by arranger and players, I kept hearing the fantastic variety of the orchestral version in my head. And even done by Ravel, I prefer the two Debussy Nocturnes (apparently the third wasn´t transcribed) in their original sumptuous orchestral colors. Nice encores: in four-hand piano, a fragment from Fauré´s “Dolly”. Back in two pianos, the arrangement by Federico Jusid of Piazzolla´s “Tango Michelangelo”; and the Joropo by Moisés Moleiro.
The Soirées Musicales Premium at the Sofitel, Mermoz Hall, led by Patricia Pouchulu, generally offer a fine combination of good artists and fine food. A first-rate duo gave us a conspectus of music for violin and guitar. Pablo Saraví and Víctor Villadangos are references of quality in our medium. Paganini´s Sonata concertata in A and Giuliani´s Grand Sonata op.85 gave us two Italian Romantic staples. Arrangements by Roberto Lara of two Guastavino songs started the predominant Argentine repertoire, followed by Máximo Pujol´s Suite Buenos Aires and three Piazzolla pieces arranged by Villadangos. The sparkling “Entr´acte” by Ibert was the French contribution. There was an expressive encore, Paganini´s “Cantabile”.
The Cuarteto Argentum gave us at the same place an excellent repertoire. Formed by two Ukrainians (the couple formed by Oleg Pishenin and Natalia Shishmonina), a Lettish violist (Kristine Bara) and a Rosarino cellist (Carlos Nozzi), it is a cohesive group of high technical and interpretative standard. “Rispetti e strambotti”, on folk types of song, is the best Gian Francesco Malipiero ever wrote. I was sorry they played only one movement (why?) of Kodály´s admirable Second Quartet. That marvel of Russian music, Borodin´s Quartet Nº 2, completed the programme. A fine encore: Turina´s “La oración del torero”.
Luis Slabý has long done yeoman work promoting Czech music. I enjoyed this clarinettist´s concert at the Museo Fernández Blanco with his excellent colleagues Oleg Pishenin (violin), Alexander Iacovlev (viola), Stanislav Poloudine (cello) and Griselda Giannini (clarinet). They played Rudolf Kubin´s very pleasant “Humoresque” (1961) and the fascinating premiere of Martinu´s 1951 Serenade, 26 minutes of fresh creativity.
After her Colón roles, our international soprano Virginia Tola gave a nice recital at Pilar Golf well accompanied by Jorge Ugartamendía. It was certainly no “Liederabend”, for she sang fragments from opera, zarzuela and musical comedy, except De Falla´s “Seven popular Spanish songs”. The level of interpretation was reasonably good but I expected more from her.
La Barroca del Suquía led by violinist Manfredo Kraemer and countertenor Martín Oro offered a wonderful recital to close the cycle of the Bach Academy at the Central Methodist Church. Magnificent music by Antonio Caldara (two symphonies and a cantata) and one of the best Vivaldis (“Nisi Dominus”, Psalm 126) and a Biber Sonata from the Rosary series were all of them pure joy both as music and interpretation.
Finally, a trio of admirable artists closed in the best way the Sofitel cycle. Soprano Carla Filipcic Holm, baritone Víctor Torres and pianist Marcelo Ayub gave first-rate renderings of music by Purcell, Von Arnim, Wolf, Schumann, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Debussy, Ibert, Ravel, Tosti, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Barber, Ness Beck, Britten, Friml and Rodrigo, in six languages.
For Buenos Aires Herald