They started with early Beethoven, the Trio op.1 Nº2, played with crystalline clarity. Then, curiously enough (for it had been premiered a week earlier by another group), Mauricio Kagel´s Trio Nº 2 (2001), a rather accessible mosaic of partially tonal contrasting fragments lasting 21 minutes in only one movement. Finally, the very attractive Dvorák Trio Nº 3, op. 65, vast, 38-minute score of Brahmsian influence but still unmistakeable, full of melody and sweeping inspirations. As an encore, the lovely slow movement from Schubert´s First Trio.
It was really interesting to meet an all-French ensemble in Gallic music, even if I have one reservation about the programme: it was too short and to my mind wrongly combined. But the interpretations of the Accentus Choir (debut) and the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris under a talented lady, Laurence Équilbey (debut) couldn´t be faulted. In fact, she founded the Choir in 1991 (34 singers in their visit to BA); choir conductors that have originated their group tend to have long tenures, thus developing a personal style identified with their singers, even if these change over the years. As to the instrumental orchestra, it is a full-blown chamber concern of no less than fifty players (in this tour).
The idea of a First Part dedicated to Berlioz and a second to Fauré´s Requiem was certainly good, but the total duration was of only 61 minutes. Even adding two encores, it amounted to 70 minutes. There were three solo singers. Soprano Mireille Delunsch (debut) is quite well-known in France, and I have seen her doing very accomplished jobs as Mélisande in Opéra Bastille and as Charpentier´s Louise in a DVD. However, she had a cold and couldn´t give her full measure in "La mort de Cléopâtre", an intense youthful work by that great Romantic, Hector Berlioz; anyway, her professionalism was always evident. Then, the Choir sang admirably a brief piece by the same composer, the "Méditation religieuse" on a text by the Irish poet Thomas Moore translated to French, this brooding music is the first part of "Tristia", completed by two scores based on "Hamlet".
The serene Fauré Requiem was beautifully done by all concerned, including the two soloists: a very good baritone, Matthew Brook (debut), and a surprise, Tobías Campos (child soprano of the Colón), who displayed a beautiful voice and sang with taste and accuracy. The encores: the young Fauré´s charming "Cantique de Jean Racine", and the welcome adrenaline in an evening with little fast music of Bizet´s "Farandole" from "L´Arlésienne" in what may be the premiere of this particular version which includes a few choral measures. It gave the orchestra a chance to shine. Throughout Équilbey showed a remarkable grasp of style and clear command.
The perspective of yet another interpretation of Vivaldi´s "The Four Seasons" wasn´t enticing in principle. But Interpreti Veneziani (debut) stunned me with their immense energy when they played at the Auditorio de Belgrano for Festivales Musicales. They are only nine: five violins (all first-rate soloists), an extremely vehement cellist (Davide Amadio), plus viol, bass and harpsichord. On their showing in the whole programme, they must be one of the best Italian ensembles. They play with fine intonation at extreme speeds and phrase with great expression in the slow bits. They are also audacious: they invent rich ornamentation on the slow melodic lines; and apply "rubati" (flexible rhythms) with astonishing profusion and a sense of imagery according to each movement´s story line. The Venetians play with modern instruments and bows but manage to sound Baroque through their free imagination and unbridled dynamism. Four violinists for four seasons: in order, we heard the exciting playing of Federico Braga, Sebastiano Maria Vianello, Paolo Ciociola and Guglielmo De Stasio. They were arguably too fast at times, but frankly I´ve never been so impacted by "The Four Seasons".
Marin Marais wrote a fine set of variations on the famous tune of "Folies d´Espagne"; originally for viola da gamba, they were played by cellist Amadio as if possessed. Then, a finely balanced and beautifully played version of Händel´s Concerto grosso op.6 Nº 10, with soloists Ciociola, Di Stasio and Amadio. Finally, "La Campanella" by Paganini, the third movement of his Second Vioilin Concerto arranged for violin, strings and triangle (the little bell), in brilliant and humoristic pyrotechnical playing by Nicola Granillo. Encores: the Händel Halvorsen "Passacaglia" in an arrangement for violin, cello and strings (the original is for violin and viola); and the third movement of a Vivaldi Concerto for two violins and strings.
For Buenos Aires Herald