sábado, julio 18, 2015

The enormous diversity of classical music

            Several recent concerts showed yet again the enormous diversity of classical music, perusing surprisingly varied repertoires.

            I will start with the major challenge taken up by Mario Benzecry, founder and current main conductor of the Sinfónica Juvenil Nacional San Martín. After twenty years of steady and unfunded labor, three seasons ago two national ministeries , Culture and Federal Planification and Public Finances, joined in the "Programa Igualdad Cultural" and included in it the pioneer Argentine orchestra who took as a model  the Venezuelan Abreu system.

            The Juvenil San Martín has made great leaps in these three years: it sounds big, strong and committed.  Although Benzecry and his Orchestra were instrumental in reviving the Facultad de Derecho UBA Saturday afternoon free concerts and still occupy the first Saturday of each month, I have always felt that its acoustics are mediocre, far too resonant. So I was glad when I saw that the mighty Mahler Fifth Symphony would be played not only there, but also at the far more reliable Auditorio de Belgrano.  And of course that is the one I chose.

            I was very sorry that the announced two marvelous Mahler Rückert Lieder were cancelled because our foremost lyric baritone, Víctor Torres, had just suffered the loss of his father. Sorry empathetically with him, and also because we all missed what was going to be a perfect complement to the Fifth. What seems to me "odd music out" is the inclusion of Arturo Luzzatti´s "Himno al Libertador San Martín" in  an arrangement by Oscar Gullace, apparently on the thin reason that the Orchestra is called thus. It just can´t be a prelude to Mahler.

            The huge Symphony is very difficult  and has perilous solos and ensembles; the two first movements elicit from the hearer deep emotions: an extended funeral march plus a terrible, vehement display of anguish. The third is a sardonic Scherzo; the fourth, the famous, sublime Adagietto; the last, a brilliant Rondo that ends joyously a score that had begun in sadness.

            Now in his seventies, Benzecry showed firm command and intelligent phrasing in this music of constant changes of mood and speed. He got from the orchestra very convincing results, especially from the strings, but the first horn committed some  pronounced  mistakes. However, the general result was quite commendable, and I enjoyed it even if this Fifth wasn´t as cleanly executed as those by our major orchestras.

            Week after week the Usina del Arte presents a variegated mix of events, some of them quite interesting. Such as the matinée provided by that distinguished ensemble, Capilla del Sol, the house group of the Museo Fernández Blanco, dedicated to the Latinamerican Baroque. Ramiro Albino, well-known to the Herald as a collaborator, is a specialist on the subject and knows how to investigate and mold varied and attractive programmes such as the one presented on this case.

            He called it "¡Vengan a la fiesta!" , Songs and dances of the Latinamerican Baroque celebrations. In the first section a beautiful and succinct "Misa a duo y bajo de la Escoleta de Bethlehem" by the Mexican composer Mariano Soberanis; before and after, organ verses by Marcos Vega and Anonymous.

            All the rest was profane "cantos y bailes": anonymous dances from the manuscript "Huerto ameno de varias flores de música", 1709; "Toca la flauta" by the Colombian Alonso Torices; several "villancicos" by José de Cascante, Antonio de Salazar and Francisco de Vidales; from the mentioned "Huerto ameno...", a joyful "Gayta" with great display of instruments and an organ Pavane; the Peruvian Eustaquio Franco Rebollo, in a piece written in Lima in 1775, still in Baroque style; and finally three scores by the best Peruvian composer of the time, Juan de Araujo, the last a famous "villancico de negros", "Los coflades de la estleya": all of it a true cornucopia of fine music, presented with an ample variety of textures and instruments.

            Five fine singers fully understand the style: sopranos Silvana Sadoly, Adriana Sansone and Flora Gril; Verónica Cánaves, contralto; and Matías Tomasetto, tenor. And five equally proficient players gave much pleasure: Albino himself in flutes, Gustavo Gargiulo in that difficult instrument, the cornetto, Evar Cativiela in vihuela, Eduardo Rodríguez in bajón (the antecedent of the bassoon) and Federico Ciancio in organ. The singers also played percussion. The whole thing was led with masterful precision by Albino, and coordinated by Leila Makarius and the Museum´s Director Jorge Cometti.  

            Finally, a lovely Schubert concert with an array of talented players on the Midday Concerts of the Mozarteum at the Gran Rex. The Trio Williams is made up of Antonio Formaro, piano; Nicolás Favero, violin; and Siro Bellisomi, cello. In this instance they were joined by Pablo Saraví in a rare and fully successful appearance as a violist and by  Oscar Carnero, bass.

             It isn´t everyday that I get to know a Schubert score after fifty years doing criticism: I had never met the Adagio and Rondo concertante for piano and strings in F major, D.487, a very pleasant work written at 19; not major Schubert, but certainly it bears the marks of his personality. Formaro added a bass part to the original, enriching the harmony.

            And then, the delectable and evergreen "Trout Quintet". Both scores were beautifully played, although I was especially impressed by Formaro and felt Favero was a bit undernourished in tone. However,  they jelled together admirably.

For Buenos Aires Herald 

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