miércoles, agosto 03, 2016

Chamber music in beautiful small places

            Chamber music sounds best in small places, even if it is played in huge venues but with fine acoustics like the Colón. And if the hall is truly beautiful with, yes, fine acoustics, then conditions are ideal.

            The CCK is enormous and among many other things it contains three concert halls. One is of course the Blue Whale, called formally Symphonic Hall. The others are the Sala Argentina (Argentine Hall) and the Salón de Honor (Honors Salon). I met the latter for the first time.

            It´s in the same floor as the CCK but completely opposite for its windows look upon Alem Avenue; between both there is a big space. The Salon is rectangular and woody, beautiful and sober in its decoration. There were a hundred chairs but it can hold about 130. And the acoustics proved to be warm and intimate.

            In it the CCK has programmed a cycle called "Midday Music" (Música al Mediodía) and it occurs on Thursdays at 1 pm. Short concerts with well-chosen artists. In this case I was attracted not only by the venue, for the interpreters were consumate players of great talent: cellist Stanimir Todorov and pianist Marcelo Balat. And they offered an impeccable combination: the Franck Sonata for cello and piano and Debussy´s very late Sonata for the same combination.

            In fact the Franck is originally for violin and piano, but if you are new to the score and didn´t know that fact, you would believe that there´s no other version, for it sounds so singable and expressive on the cello that it doesn´t seem a transcription. Especially if played with Todorov´s impressive command and lovely timbre. He was perfectly abetted by the pianist, whose clean technique and musical phrasing was the right complement. An observation, however: he had no page-turner and there should be one, for some turnings were  dicey and it was unfair for the artist to have this additional problem in very difficult music.

            Franck was preceded by Debussy´s imaginative, fresh and rather short opus, one of the three he created for different combinations before cancer put an end to his life (he had planned six). The playing was admirable, as it was in the encore, the famous "Swan" ("Le cygne")from Saint-Saëns´ "Carnival of the Animals".

            The Museo Fernández Blanco´s main hall can hold 120 people and is certainly one of the most beautiful in our city; whilst you hear the music you are looking at some wonderful "cuzqueño" pictures, and the whole architecture and decoration is refined in the extreme.

            I had great pleasure in listening to Analía Crubellier and Fanny Suárez play a four-hand repertoire of French and East European music. They were born in San Juan and have had European experience, the former in France and the latter in Spain. Still young, they have a very complete preparation and understand each other well, a crucial matter in four-hand scores. And they have a very agreeable "toucher".

            I have only one complaint: the programme was too short, about 42 minutes. They started with Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944), her "Six Romantic Pieces" Op.55. I quite agree with Grove´s Dictionary: her music  has "real charm and clever writing", though it doesn´t rise "above the level of agreeable drawing-room music".

            Rachmaninov´s "Thème russe", Op.11 Nº5, sounds massive and strong. It would have been nice to hear some more of this 1894 work.  W heard Dvorák´s Slavonic Dance Op.72 Nº 10; both series (the other is Op.42) of 12 are masterpieces of its kind and are better known in their orchestral transcriptions.

            Back to French music, with Debussy´s early "Petite Suite", later orchestrated by Henri Büsser; four pleasant pieces not yet Impressionistic. And the Fauré encore, "le jardin de Dolly", from "Dolly", evoking childhood with taste. The players showed their affinity with both authors in fine performances.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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