miércoles, noviembre 30, 2016

Vintage Italian string instruments admirably played

            The Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco has had during about two decades the luck of being directed by Jorge Cometti and having Leila Makarius in charge of musical activities. Together they are responsible for hundreds of worthwhile concerts  both in the mother house (Suipacha half a block from Libertador) and in the Hernán Vigo Suárez  at Hipólito Yrigoyen. To boot the Fernández Blanco has a lovely main hall of warm acoustics.
            But two special projects stand out; one has been going on for many years: La Capilla del Sol, a vocal and instrumental group led by Ramiro Albino (collaborator of the Herald during a long time) specialized in Baroque Latinamerican music. The other, after exhaustive preparation, was born last year and should be a staple of our musical life: Fernández Blanco was a great collector of string instruments of the master Italian luthiers of the Eighteenth-Century and eventually it became the best collection of its kind in South America.
            The Colón had it in loan  from the Fifties to 2007, when the Museum recuperated it and started a curatorial team featuring Horacio Piñeiro (restoration) and Pablo Saraví (violinist and connoisseur of the great schools of North Italy, particularly that of Cremona: Stradivarius, Amati, Guarnerius). Last year two things happened: a room adjoining the main hall was dedicated to show the collection under the best possible conditions; and a cycle of four concerts was organized so that the audience could hear them played by outstanding artists. This season a similar series was given and I caught the last one: it proved a memorable evening of exquisite Mozart.
            Both Cometti (giving a general survey) and Saraví (explaining each instrument) added greatly to the enjoyment: they were models of useful information. And we had the best local quartet, the Petrus, playing at their highest level, plus a guest of star quality: oboist Néstor Garrote, first desk of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic. The Petrus is made up of Saraví and Hernán Briático, violins; Adrián Felizia, viola; and Gloria Pankáeva, cello. It would be churlish to make any distinction: all were inspired.
            The Divertimento K. 137 is generally played by a string ensemble but the option for quartet was sanctioned by the composer. Then, Quartet Nº 16, K.458, "The hunt", one of the mature six dedicated to Franz Joseph Haydn, and they are a wonder of perfection: chamber music at its best. The sole Quartet for oboe and strings is so beautiful that one can only be sorry that Mozart didn´t write another.
            The outstanding instrument was a Guarneri del Gesù, but the others were also specimens of wonderful tone, round and true: from Guadagnini, Storioni, Cappa, Grancino, Steffani, Mantegazza, and Piñeiro on a model by A. Guarneri (the cello).
For Buenos Aires Herald

The world of symphony orchestras now expands to China

            Of course, it was only a matter of time before Chinese orchestras started arriving to our city, although they existed even during Mao tse Tung´s regime: I certify that Beijing had an orchestra in 1962 that played such Occidental authors like Sibelius, along with Chinese composers. But the ironically called Cultural Revolution wiped them out for a long period. However, the almost miraculous reversal engineered by Deng Hsiao Ping gradually opened the immense country; musically this is recounted in that indispensable film with Isaac Stern, "From Mao to Mozart". Orchestras re-formed and others were created; and in 1999 Hong Kong became part of China, including its notable Philharmonic that has left so many fine recordings (they would be welcome visitors to BA).
            Changes take time, and it was only last year that a Shanghai Orchestra came here (a promised Beijing one didn´t materialize). And now we had the visit of the Qingdao Symphony. How many Argentines know something about this city? I didn´t, and I went to Google, for the programme gave me no information, except biographies of the interpreters and the listing of the players. They gave two concerts at the CCK¨s Blue Whale, the first combining China with the Occident, the second almost purely Chinese; I attended the first, missing two initial pieces due to a traffic jam (sounds familiar?).
            It turns out that Qingdao is a big port in the Province of Shandong with a population of around 6 million; German colony from 1891 to 1904, twice invaded by Japan and recuperated in 1949; it now has five universities. The Orchestra was re-established in 2005; its current Director is Zhang Guoyong (Herald readers may recall my review of his debut concert with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic this year, praising him in a difficult programme of Zimmermann and Prokofiev). Eighty players came in this tour, all with purely Chinese surnames.
            This people is gregarious and disciplined; on the evidence of this concert, the players have been carefully selected and are fully professional, and thoroughly trained by such a proficient conductor they gave first-rate performances of all the programmed pieces. As I wrote concerning other Chinese composers´ works played in BA (not many) I believe that the Occidental orchestra isn´t the right instrument for what remains a profoundly different culture. You do hear some pleasant pentatonic tunes but the orchestrations are showy and bombastic and the structures are haphazard.
            The pieces I heard both concerned concubines as they are depicted in Beijing Opera, as far from the European conception of the genre as possible in voice and instrumentation: voices are supposed to be used with extreme nasality and artifice, and there are very few players. The long symphonic fantasy "Goodbye, my concubine", by Guan Xia, suddenly includes a song; and then we heard a symphonic arrangement of a melody from Beijing Opera´s "The inebriated concubine".  Zhang Ying, attired in colorful traditional clothes, sang both, in a way that decidedly for Occidentals is an acquired taste (if you do acquire it).
            But it is a matter of training: soprano Song Yuanming studied at Vienna and sang our opera and operetta with an agreeable voice of clean highs: the Waltz from Gounod´s "Roméo et Juliette" and the Csardas from Johann Strauss II´s "Die Fledermaus"; when she finished the First Part with a Chinese melody, "I love you, China", by Zheng Quiufeng and Qu Zong, she sang like an European.
            The Second Part was occupied by the most famous cantata of the Twentieth Century, Carl Orff´s "Carmina Burana", with the Coro Polifónico Nacional led by Darío Marchese, soprano Song Wuanming, baritone Alejandro Meerapfel and countertenor  Pehuén Díaz Bruno. The rhythmic vitality and melodic  charm of this celebration of Medieval love and wine dressed in modern clothes has seldom sounded so full and precise. The Choir was in fine shape, potent, in tune and exact; the Orchestra responded brilliantly to Guoyong´s commanding baton; and the soloists were well chosen, from the firmness of Wuanming´s highest register to the intelligent interpretation of Meerapfel and the adequacy of the countertenor singing the strange predicament of the roasting goose.
            How would this orchestra and conductor fare in, say, Beethoven and Brahms symphonies, is anyone´s guess, for all I heard from them was lavishly colorful; anyway, they certainly have the right technical tools. The style? Maybe.

For Buenos Aires Herald  

Bach´s marvelous Mass in Argentine interpretation of high quality

            Johann Sebastian Bach´s Mass in B minor is a marvel paradoxically born of earthly needs and made up mostly of remodelled earlier music of the composer. But it sounds absolutely unitary! Moreover, it is so long that it can´t be used liturgically. It stands with the two Passions as the greatest monuments of the German Baroque. Now two Argentine groups have given us a great night at the Auditorio de Belgrano. First, some necessary background.
            There are four short protestant masses of his (only Kyrie and Gloria) quite beautiful but rarely done. The big Mass is the result of Bach´s tensions with his Leipzig employers and the desire to be named court composer to the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland; he wanted to be recognised by the Catholic court in Dresden, and therefore, write a mass that also included the Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. Although in 1736 he was officially promoted to the appointment he seeked, "Hofkapellmeister",  he remained at Leipzig! And the Mass was never played during his lifetime.
            In 1733 he had already written the Kyrie and Gloria, both much longer than in the four masses mentioned above; they last almost an hour! And they use a five-voice choir and ample orchestration. But as he wrote the remaining parts in the last decade of his life, he got the appointment without having done  the Catholic fragments...It would seem that he created the whole vast structure as a legacy of his mature genius in sacred music, much as happens with his Art of Fugue in that particular field.
            Gradually this Mass was discovered and admired; probably Beethoven felt its challenge when he composed his monumental Missa Solemnis, arguably the other peak of the genre. Bach´s Mass has such immense variety in both the choral and the soloists´  music that the hearer is constantly surprised: consumate mastery  and vivid inspiration never flag.
            In the Twentieth Century the Baroque began to be understood only in the Thirties with artists such as Günther Ramin and Adolf Busch leading the way. After WWII and with the coming of LP recording,  style began to change, shedding some of the Romantic distortions; but at first the phrasing was too square. Karl Richter gave impetus and intensity to his readings, and was almost worshipped in our city during the Sixties (Amigos de la Música). Then came the historicist movement in which we currently are: the use of Baroque instruments, faster speeds, impacting rhythms. Some were moderate, like Rilling; others too extreme, like Parrott; the main trend was imposed by such great artists as Harnoncourt, Leonhardt, Gardiner.
            Here Mario Videla evolved from his Richter influence to that of Rilling, and he has done splendid work with his Bach Academy. Many times he had the collaboration of the Grupo de Canto Coral (GCC) led by Néstor Andrenacci. On the other hand, the Baroque violin virtuoso Manfred Krämer founded in his native Córdoba La Barroca del Suquía, certainly our best instrumental group for that period. And last year Andrenacci and Krämer joined forces for an admirable concert in which they gave us Bach´s six Motets.
            Now they tackled an even bigger challenge, the great Mass, and have emerged from the test with flying colors. For this occasion La Barroca was 24-strong and incorporated great instrumentalists, such as Gabriel Pérsico (flute), Diego Nadra (oboe and oboe d´amore), the splendid trumpet solo player Cristian Muñoz from Chile, bassoonist Franco Bonino (Chile) and Emmanel Frankenberg  from Holland in natural horn. As to the GCC, it added to its 23 singers four more and they all were fresh beautiful voices, honed to perfection by the  talent of Andrenacci: disciplined, vivid music making by all players and choristers.
            The soloists were uneven: the best were baritone Federico Finocchiaro, always steady and clean; Soledad de la Rosa as Second Soprano ( a mezzo register) showed her musicality and powerful lows. Cecilia Arroyo was correct though a bit white; countertenor Martín Oro started poorly but then found his form; tenor Agustín Novillo´s timbre is too unsettled for Bach.
            We´ve had in recent years two visits by the wonderful Gächinger Kantorei (with Rilling and Rademann) plus Videla´s very honorable version closing the trajectory of Festivales Musicales. Audiences greeted them enthusiastically and so it was now: the battle for Bach´s Mass has long been won.

For Buenos Aires Herald  

Mozarteum closes season with choral-symphonic Berlin artists

            The Herald inaugurates today a new era of weekly Friday appearance and it will continue to cover the relevant news in classical music: opera, ballet and concerts. This first review concerns (paradoxically) the last concerts of the Mozarteum Argentino´s season. As it has done in some earlier years, it said goodbye with masterpieces of the choral-symphonic repertoire, in this case presented by two Berlin visitors: the Rundfunkchor (Radio Choir) and  -curiously with an Italian appellation- the Orchestra L´Arte del Mondo.
            It is a pity that this review only covers the first of the two different programmes, but as will be apparent to readers, this is due to the clash of the second (Tuesday) concert with no less than the Bach great Mass at another venue. On Monday the Colón heard Brahms´ "A German Requiem" ; on Tuesday the "pièce de résistance" was Mozart´s Requiem, and as it lasts one hour, it was heard preceded by a Brahms motet, "Warum ist das Licht gegeben" ("Why is light given") and a curious a cappella arrangement of Mahler´s Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony.
            The Rundfunkchor was founded in 1925 and has had an important trajectory; its current Director (since last year) is Gijs Leenaars, born 1978 in Nijmegen, Holland, succeeding a famous choral specialist, Simon Halsey. L´Arte del Mondo is much younger; it was founded by Werner Ehrhardt in 2004. As they came in this tour, the choir lists 51 singers, among them the two soloists we heard, soprano Anne Bretschneider (a native Berliner) and baritone Artem Nesterenko (born 1989, Novosibirsk), whose surname is the same as that of a famous bass  heard at the Colón in 1982. And the orchestra came with 53 players (among them Ehrhardt as violinist, he is generally conductor) plus two invited BA musicians (tuba, harp).  Leenaars conducted.
            Brahms´ very particular Requiem lasts about seventy minutes and discards the habitual text used by Mozart or Verdi, for it uses versicles from the Old and the New Testaments in the Luther translation; "German" simply because Brahms uses  that language. Brahms was incited by both Robert Schumann and his wife Clara Wieck to write a requiem, though they didn´t imagine it would be so original. Also, its progress wasn´t linear; e.g., the second of its seven parts was the reelaboration of a movement from a two-piano sonata that was never finished; other five parts were written later, and the work had a first première in three parts in Vienna (1867) and in six  in Bremen (1868); later he added the lovely part with soprano, and it was only in 1869 that the whole score was heard at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
            It was soon recognised as a masterpiece and both in length and quality his most valuable contribution to the choral-symphonic repertoire. In 1869 he was 35 and had already written such major works as the First Piano Concerto and the First Sextet. In modern times there has been a plethora of marvelous recordings (Karajan, Klemperer, Sinopoli, et al) and the work has been done quite often in our city; sample: between 1955 and 1968 the Asociación Wagneriana, then a basic institution, presented it three times with its own choir and orchestra. Since that already remote time, it has lost none of its attraction. This year it was offered in BA at the Auditorio de Belgrano (conductor Domínguez) and at La Plata´s Argentino (Vieu).
            It is a work that shows Brahms´ best qualities: sustained melodic inspiration, sensitivity to the meaning of the words (from the Psalms, epistles of Paul and Peter, Revelation, Isaiah, Matthew, St.James, Proverbs), total counterpoint mastery, an unerring sense of contrast. There´s not a banal or weak moment  though it requires total concentration from artists and audience, for it is tryingly dense. 
            The music goes from consoling and serene to stark and granitic, and requires very firm intonation both orchestral and choral. The version we heard  was honorable and at times more than that, but it had flaws at various points. I found the choir more even in their performance than the orchestra, who had some maladjustments and doubtful attacks. The speeds were correct but at times the necessary tension wasn´t achieved.  The solo singers were musical and pleasant, though the parts can be sung with more personality. And Leenaars, although well-schooled, isn´t yet commanding enough for such powerful music.

For Buenos Aires Herald  

Impressive Dallapiccola double-bill suffers from distortive production

            Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-75) was the leader of the Italian musical avantgarde and had enormous influence on people like Nono and Berio. The Colón, wrongly, hasn´t seen fit not to offer us operas from the latter, but it has given us three of Dallapiccola: "Volo di notte" in 1959 and 1969, "Il prigioniero" in 1954 and 2000, and "Job" in 1964. Now we were presented with the double-bill of "Volo di notte" and "Il prigioniero" in three non-subscription performances. Excellent idea, although with more performances it should have been included in the subscription cycle, which only had seven titles.
            "Volo di notte" is based on the Saint-Exupéry nouvelle "Vol de nuit", about the nocturnal flights of the pioneer Aéropostale based at an airport near our city; both he and Jean Mermoz were among the pilots that did those dangerous flights of the early 1930s, so the fiction is partly autobiographical. The libretto of this 1940  opera is by the composer and is centered on the opposition of Rivière,  a man dedicated to his ideal of imposing nocturnal postal flights at a time when the post was essential in communications, and Madame Fabien, whose love for her husband pilot is paramount.
            The pilot Pellerin comes from the Andes and tells of a great storm; Robineau, in charge of operations, is scolded by Rivière: no sentiments can be on the way of their task; and the Wireless operator tells us the messages, including the final anguished minutes of Fabien, who perishes when his plane is thrown by a cyclone into the Atlantic.   And the choir reacts emotionally to events whilst Rivière remains adamant.
            The music has twelve-tone elements but is expressive and strong; the orchestra is huge and alternates between chamber passages and others of tremendous tension and high decibels. I was much impressed by the dramatic projection and splendid voice of soprano Daniela Tabernig. Víctor Torres gave Rivière the adequate coldness but at times was swamped by the orchestra. Both tenor Carlos Ullán as Pellerin and bass Carlos Esquivel as Robineau did very well; Sergio Spina was too shouty as the Wireless operator but  communicated the stress of the situation. Carolina Gómes showed  fine timbre and line as the Internal Voice.
            The Orchestra responded convincingly to Christian Baldini´s clear understanding of the complex music. The young Argentine conductor showed again his affinity with Twentieth Century idioms. And the choral work was powerful  under the guidance of Miguel Martínez.
            Initially the production seemed acceptable. The stage design of Luigi Scoglio is based on a three-storey tower at the right (the wireless in the third floor), a nondescript mass at the left, and joining both, a huge division between the chorus and the protagonists. Correct costumes by Ana Ramos Aguayo, inventive lighting by Bogumil Palewica and uncredited projections of planes and the sea.
            But in the final minutes things start to fall apart in Michal Znaniecki´s production, for he absurdly mixes with the action the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, and during the interval the stage isn´t renovated.   Fact is, there´s no relationship between "Volo di notte" and "Il prigioniero", a stark tale by Villiers de l´Isle-Adam, "The torture by hope", adapted by the composer. The prisoner is tortured by the Inquisition  at the time of Philip II of Spain; he is given hope by the jailer, who turns out to be the Grand Inquisitor in the final minutes: the prisoner will be burned.
            A completely uncalled-for choreography for dancers and acrobats by Diana Theocharidis runs counter to Dallapiccola´s own indications for the Mother´s monologue at the beginning: "a black curtain; only her white face, strongly lighted, becomes visible to the audience".  The laterals remain as in "Volo di notte" but the center is occupied by a big cube that changes position in different scenes: in it is the jail.
After many other tergiversations, in the final minutes the Prisoner is supposed to embrace a cedar,  for he believes he is free; from it emerge the arms of the Inquisitor; but not here, the Inquisitor is in the lateral tower with the same artifacts of the previous opera... 
            The intense music was admirably expressed and acted by baritone Leonardo Estévez and mezzo Adriana Mastrángelo, and tenor Fernando Chalabe was in fine form as Jailer/Inquisitor. Again Baldini was in full command and choir and orchestra responded in kind.

For Buenos Aires Herald  

Diemecke and the Phil: strong and weak points in two concerts

            Enrique Arturo Diemecke has been at the helm of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic for twelve years, a long period, and maybe it´s time to evaluate globally  his good and bad points. For some people feel –and I agree- that it would be fruitful to change Principal Conductor.
            On the plus side: fantastic memory; technical capacity; affinity with the Postromantic repertoire, particularly Mahler. On the minus side: a clownish personality aggravated each year by irritating and often mediocre and unnecessary comments; programming that isn´t inclusive enough ( some examples: almost no Schönberg-Berg-Webern; few good after WWII choices; neglect of composers such as Hindemith, Martinu or Milhaud; almost no relevant USA music, although he has worked there for decades); less subscription concerts than we should have (not 15 but at least 18);  too much hogging: this year nine out of fifteen concerts are conducted by him; and too little presence of important colleagues, Argentine and foreign.
            In this visual and light society, many like  the showman aspects that trivialize concertgoing; but such recent visits as the mature Nagano and the young Bringuier demonstrate that you can be vital, perceptive and communicative without lowering standards of behavior. I believe we need another sort of Principal Conductor: one with Diemecke´s strong points but one that corrects the weak ones. There are a lot of fine conductors nowadays and a hunt should be on to find somebody that accepts the experience of working here.           
            Diemecke has led the Flint, Mich, Orchestra for 27 years; doesn´t anyone wonder why a man of such technical capacity hasn´t moved to a higher-rank USA orchestra? Or to a good European one? I do, and think that his personality is the problem. Let him come as guest, for he has quite a following, and his better concerts are quite enjoyable.
            The tenth subscription concert was rather good, though it started with a crossover Mexican piece too often played here, the Danzón Nº 2 by Arturo Márquez, "danced" by Diemecke on the podium (he premièred it here fifteen years ago).
            Then, an homage to Ginastera by one of his historic interpreters, the veteran pianist Luis Ascot: the Concerto Nº1, Op.28, a tough score of his Neo-expressionist period, premièred in 1961 both in Washington and BA by Joao Carlos Martins and conductor Howard Mitchell. Ascot has always been a Ginastera champion and has played this concerto often in his international career. Now there´s a sense of strain and intent concentration, but by and large his was a true voice, and was well supported by the conductor.  Feted by the audience, he played two quiet encores: Liszt´s Consolation Nº3 and Ginastera´s "Canción al árbol del olvido" ("Song to the tree of oblivion").
            The concert ended with a very good reading of Mussorgsky´s "Pictures from an exhibition" in Ravel´s unparalleled orchestration. Here Diemecke was at his best, giving its true character to every fragment of this extraordinary score, and there were brilliant solos (saxophone, trumpet) as well as powerful brass ensembles.
            I wasn´t  happy with the following concert, too short and strangely made up of two concerti and a famous Ravel piece, "La Valse".  I love Poulenc´s Two-Piano Concerto, one of his best scores, particularly as they are played by the Labèque sisters;  the artists brought over on this occasion are first-rate: Jean-Philippe Collard, a masterful French pianist whose white mane tells of a long career documented by splendid records, such as the two Ravel Concertos; and our Marcela Roggeri, who lives in Paris and visits us regularly. The concerto hardly lasts twenty minutes; in what was an exciting interpretation, I question some harshness from the orchestra and an excessively brusque rhythmic accent, almost machinistic at times, though played with stamina and clarity, apart from minor misadjustments. The charming encore was Poulenc´s waltz-musette "L´embarquement pour Cythère" ("The embarkation for Cytherea"), vaguely based on Watteau´s lovely painting.
            I didn´t enjoy the South-American première of Pascal Dusapin´s Cello Concerto, of course well played by the Finnish specialist Anssi Karttunen, who was the first to execute 135 contemporary pieces!  I found the music arid, though in some moments there are interesting sonic effects. There was an encore which I couldn´t place.
             Finally, "La Valse" was played grossly, without the refinement that most of it needs; this was Diemecke in poor form.

For Buenos Aires Herald  

Chopiniana presented promising Argentine and admirable Polish pianists

            Chopiniana ended its season at the Palacio Paz with the impromptu presentation of the twenty-year-old Gastón Frydman (due to the illness of veteran Spanish pianist Guillermo González) and the Argentine debut of Szymon Nehring, a true revelation in an all-Chopin programme. Although the cancellation of González was a pity for he has a vast trajectory and would have premièred several recently discovered sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, it was worthwhile to meet Frydman´s art at a tender age, for he should have a good career.
            At such short notice, the decisive factor was that he had a varied programme ready for any occasion that might appear. He is a product of the serious training provided by the Beethoven Conservatory and the Colón Institute of Art, among others. He has had some European experience and currently has formed a duo with the accomplished violinist Rafael Gíntoli.
            His programme was eclectic and difficult. The Busoni arrangements of Bach aren´t trendy nowadays, but they are good of its kind, such as the one on the chorale prelude "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" ("I call to you, Lord jesus Christ");  Frydman showed continuity and fine timbre in his interpretation. Beethoven followed, with the wonderful Sonata Nº5, Op.10 Nº1, in C minor,  the first one that leads to his maturity. Frydman had some memory errors but understood the forward-looking elements of the style. He was completely in charge of Ginastera´s First Sonata, with its strong Bartókian influence; I only question that the "Presto misterioso" wasn´t, well, mysterious enough.
            He proved comfortable in Liszt´s  arduous music: expressive in the Petrarch Sonnet Nº 47 (not the most popular, but very beautiful), and up to the hurdles of the heavy "Vision", Transcendental Etude Nº 6. In the contrasting world of Debussy, he chose the last of each Book of Preludes: the humoristic "Minstrels" and the virtuosic "Fireworks", both well-managed. Finally, Chopin´s Scherzo Nº1, with its violent contrast between the opening lightning-fast music and the meditative central section well realized by the pianist, notwithstanding small smudges.
            His encores were interesting: a charming Barcarolle by Anton Liadov (hardly ever played, his abundant piano music should be explored), and one of the splendid arrangements by Earl Wild (the great American pianist who fascinated our city decades ago) of Gershwin songs: "Embraceable you", done with much charm by our young pianist. Wild called them "virtuoso etudes", and so they are.
            Nehring studied in Cracovia and Bydgoszcz, and won a Krystian Zimerman scholarship; also, he has gone through a gamut of competitions, with ever higher prizes. Although he keeps perfecting his studies, I find him not only fully formed, but in his twenties he must be one of the best Chopin interpreters in the world. As time went by, it became quite clear that he has an exquisite sense of style and powerful, practically flawless technical command.
            I  have some complaints but they aren´t about the music or the playing: almost half-an-hour delay, apparently because the Polish Ambassador and other people hadn´t arrived yet; a change of order in a programme that already was felt as short measure.; and the repetition of two scores that were already heard in the subscription series: the Fantasia and the first Ballad. But what was included satisfied even the severest judges.
            I will comment the pieces in the order that they were really played (it was announced by Martha Noguera, the organizer of Chopiniana). The lovely Four Mazurkas Op.33 (curiously played in different order: 1,3,2,4, with the fourth having an internal cut because it´s long) were done with the particular empathy that only Poles can have with this rhythm. Followed the meditative Nocturne Op.37 Nº2, and the inimitable tracery of the Barcarolle, executed with astonishing observance of the tiniest detail.
            The Second Part started with the complex Fantasia Op.49, in which the disparate elements were cunningly integrated by the pianist. Then, the Nocturne Op.32 Nº2, one of the less dreamy and more fluent. A scintillating traversal of the Waltz Op.34 Nº 1, specifically named "Brilliant". And the  challenge of the First Ballad, one of the most important scores in Chopin´s life, an enormously varied "narration" that taxes even the greatest pianists, heard in an astonishingly mature reading.
            The encore was a magisterial rendering of Etude op.25 Nº 11, great waves of sound perfectly controlled.
For Buenos Aires Herald