lunes, abril 29, 2013

The Renaissance, Bach and Dresden are alive and well

            With a hiatus of four days the Academia Bach (the Daughter) and Festivales Musicales (the Mother) started their seasons. There was an anxious time last year when it was a moot point whether they would continue their existence. Happily, a vigorous campaign attracting paying music-lovers to a new Circle of Friends made possible a normal season for the Academy and a rather modest one for Festivales. For years, and quite unfairly, sponsors diminished, demonstrating it seems to me, two things: a) a weaker number of true maecenas; b) an impending sense of economic and financial slump. For the first item I  believe that cultured society has been steadily veering for the worse  in information, sensibility and broadness; for the second, all indicators are bad for the immediate and perhaps mediate future. When, e.g., has there been so much ill-timed applause between movements in all our institutions? And those selected deafs that don´t hear the admonition "turn off your mobile phones"?

            A general consequence is  a lack of enterprise in programming. A cursory perusal of concert programmes of the Fifties, Sixties and  Seventies proves that they were then much more disposed to renovation in our orchestras and concert associations (even the very consevative Wagneriana at least had a choral-symphonic season). And Festivales in particular did some wonderful things, like the Purcell-Britten Festival. A number of years ago it lost artistic focus and began to injure its identity by programming pell-mell instead of choosing a theme for the year. To my mind this should be a transition year and in 2014 there should be signs of recouping their adventureness, as true successors of that marvelous organism of the Fifties and Sixties, Amigos de la Música.

             There is a new President of Festivales this year, Horacio Fischbarg; my good friend David Martin remains in the Board of Directors but having relinquished his Directorship will now be their Treasurer. Another excellent friend, Architect Alberto Bellucci, has entered the Board as a Member. Mario Videla, of course, remains as Artistic Director. I wish them all well.

            Yoy may think me contradictory if I say that the first concert of Festivales was a true contribution with a beautiful selection of Renaissance vocal and instrumental music, unfortunately rarely heard here. However , out of their ten concerts only two  have great programming quality: this one and that of the Estudio Coral de Buenos Aires under Carlos López Puccio. Otherwise, it´s routine: the umpteenth "Carmina Burana", "Waldstein Sonata", "The Four Seasons", the "Emperor" Concerto, the "Kreutzer Sonata", "Messiah". This should not be Festivales´ orientation.

            A great round of applause for the belated but most welcome return of  the Pro Musica Antiqua de Rosario led by its founder (in 1962) by Cristián Hernández Larguía, still incredibly spry and communicative at 92. A pity they didn´t come last year for their 50th anniversary. The leader of the group has always trod a middle ground as an interpreter, avoiding extreme historicism and opting for lively, sensitive phrasing. The big group he brought now (26 singers, 15 players) contains youngsters and such faithful veterans as the subtle contralto Susana Imbern. The assistant director, Néstor Mozzoni, has been with CHL for ages.

            As usual, CHL talks to the public in an easy, humorous way, but sometimes he overdoes it, and in what was the only serious blot of the evening, he eliminated no less than eight Di Lasso pieces because, he admitted, he had lost awareness of time speaking of instruments and other matters. We heard the whole family of recorders, the nasal Krummhorns, the sackbut (antecedent of the trombone), a small table organ, a dulcian (it will become  the bassoon), two shawms (a strident oboe), three viole da gamba, a lute, a guitar and assorted percussion.

            The well-chosen pìeces came from the great Franco-Flemish composers between 1440 and 1594: Josquin des Prés, Heinrich Isaac, Adrian Willaert, Nikolaus Gombert and Orlando Di Lasso, lovely sacred and profane vocal scores. Plus two series of dances  compiled by Pierre Phalèse and Tielman Susato. Encores: Di Lasso´s "Matona mia cara" and Arcadelt´s "Il bianco e dolce cigno". A beautiful night at the Auditorio de Belgrano.

            The Bach Academy started out very nicely. Its subject this year is quite interesting: Bach and the Dresden Court. In this initial concert, in its  usual venue ( the Iglesia Metodista Central), there were two segments. At first, Francesco Maria Veracini´s Overture VI in G minor (premiere); the composer played in the Dresden Court Opera Orchestra from 1717 to 1723. Fresh, energetic Baroque, finely played by the Soloists of the Academy. Then, the same chorale melody  in three versions: curiously it first appeared in the chanson "Il me suffit" by Claudin de Sermisy, who wrote it in 1529; afterwards adapted by Sethus Calvisius, who was Kantor at Leipzig´s Saint Thomas Church, as "Was mein Gott will, das g´scheh allzeit" ("What my God wants always happens"), later magnificently developed polyphonically by Heinrich Schütz in 1648, and finally by Johann Sebastian Bach in his Cantata Nº 111, premiered on this occasion. 

            The cantata is made of a splendid initial chorus, a baritone aria, a contralto recitative, a duet for contralto and tenor, a soprano recitative and the final Chorale. The soloist were middling (tenor Matías Tomasetto) and good (baritone Walter Uranga, countertenor Damián Ramírez and soprano Natalia Salardino), the instrumentalists excellent, and the Grupo de Canto Coral under Néstor Andrenacci first-rate, all under the expertise of Mario Videla, who also gave an erudite explanation on the scores.
For Buenos Aires Herald

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