The final concert roundup of an intense season (Buenos Aires Herald, 29-12-15)

Foto Chiacchiarini

Mariano Chiacchiarini

This year has been incredibly intense in the field of classical music. Although Festivales Musicales is no more, the inauguration of the Centro Cultural Kirchner and in particular of its main hall, the Blue Whale, is certainly the main news of the season. Its functioning can be ameliorated (there was far too much popular music, babies cry and ticket policy is uncomfortable) but from now on the Blue Whale must be reckoned with. And as the Usina del Arte has also maintained an important amount of valuable concerts, the parallel activity of these two transformed buildings will be essential in years to come.

The Mozarteum, Nuova Harmonia, the Coliseo, the Avenida and the Colón have been normally active, and a host of other institutions have gone on, such as the Museo Fernández Blanco, La Scala de San Telmo, AMIJAI, the Biblioteca Nacional, La Bella Música, the Bach Academy, Chopiniana, AMIA, the Facultad de Derecho, a new series at the Payró, the Sociedad Científica Argentina, the concerts of contemporary music in many venues, plus a good deal of activity in churches…


The National Symphony (Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional) offered its final concert at the Blue Whale with a valuable concert of Argentine music conducted by the young and very able Mariano Chiacchiarini. It started with the welcome revival of Guillermo Graetzer´s Second Sinfonietta for strings, a firmly wrought Hindemithian score (our composer´s teacher). Graetzer (1914-92) was a prolific Viennese creator who became an Argentine citizen in 1939. In 1946 he founded the Collegium Musicum of Buenos Aires, an admirable educational institution.

Then, a typical Gerardo Gandini work, «E sarà». The title alludes to the Verdian phrase «Torniamo all´antico e sarà un progresso» and the five parts evoke creators of yore in the subtle timbric and harmonic way of Gandini, one of our best composers: Frescobaldi, Rameau, a Medieval Anonimous («Planh», a complaint), Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti.

Ending the First Part, a world première by one of our most personal artists: Luis Mucillo. Long interested in Medieval times and mysticism, «La quête de Bronwyn» («Bronwyn´s quest»), on poems by Juan Eduardo Cirlot, probably follows that line of action, but I must confess my frustration by the complete lack of information on the hand programme, as well as no texts either on papaer or on supertitles. And concertgoers know that without that help it is very difficult to decipher vocal song music. I want to hear it again with the proper background material, for I´m sure I understood it partially, but as always happened when listening to Mucillo´s music, I was interested all the way in the music. The four songs, in Spanish although the title is in  French (!) were dramatic and sometimes harsh; they were well sung by Susana Caligaris.

I found the Concerto for bandoneon and orchestra by Pablo Ortiz (who lives in California) quite pleasant, with worthwhile material that avoided excesive Piazzollisms, and the soloist, Juan Pablo Jofre Romarion (a new name to me) seemed very professional. Finally,  an effective and exciting piece by Osvaldo Golijov, almost crossover: «Last Round», unabashedly Piazzollian, was played by the strings standing up and finished in a frenzy. The encore was a Capricho (I didn´t understand if it was by Golijov), an homage to the recently deceased Leopoldo Federico.

A Telemann-J.S.Bach session at the Sociedad Científica Argentina with the ensemble Phil d´Or and soprano Cecilia Arroyo proved satisfying in its alternation of cantatas and instrumental pieces of these two great names of German Baroque. The three initial pieces were by the long-lived and enormously prolific Georg Philipp Telemann: an attractive Sonata in G minor , TWV anh 42:g (Telemann catalogue addenda) for two recorders and continuo  in the «da chiesa» disposition (slow-fast-slow-fast), admirably played by Gonzalo Juan and José Luis Etcheverry (recorders)  and the continuo (Ignacio Caamaño, Baroque cello, and Matías Targhetta, harpsichord); an l1-minute cantata, «Hemmet den Eifer» («Control your zeal»), correctly sung though the voice is incisive in the highs, informative  because the Telemann cantatas are rarely programmed and on the basis of this one are certainly worth knowing; and a charming Duetto TWV 40:107 for two recorders.

Targhetta offered a fine performance of Bach´s Toccata in E minor, BWV 914; and the soprano sang nicely the only aria from Cantata Nº 51 that doesn´t feature a trumpet: «Höchster mache deine Güte» («Lord, give us Your kindness»). Then, another fine Telemann Sonata, in F, TWV 42:F7, beautifully done. And  three delectable fragments from one of Bach´s profane cantatas, Nº 208, «Hunt». More Bach in the encores: a cantata fragment, and the famous «Bist du bei mir» (now thought to be by Stölzel!) from the Anna Magdalena Music Book.

Brief references concerning different events: 1) a rather disappointing Bach occasion at the Usina del Arte that included  mediocre performances of the Trio Sonata BWV 1038 and of the  Cantata Nº 199, which has seven parts but sounded much shorter in this version, probably fragmentary. Things went better in the scores where the choir Musica Quantica intervened, led by Camilo Santostefano, but they were less good than I hoped in the motet «Komm Jesu Komm» and in the great Magnificat, though the chief culprits there were the lamentable trumpeters; the female soloists were rather poor, and only tenor Agustín Gómez and bass-baritone Alejandro Spies were up to par.

2) A very light crossover concert at the Coliseo basically dedicated to Italian film music: the best, Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota, plus Vivaldi, Benedetto Marcello and Offenbach. Quite  beyond the frame of the night to include Charly García and John Williams. A good small orchestra (22-strong) and an amateurish female vocal trio (Erlebnis) were well led by Roberto Flores, Santiago Chotsourian playing the piano and the accordion and explaining the programme.

Pablo Bardin
For Buenos Aires Herald