What was the challenge of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra at the Colón, with three premieres in a row in a single night

What was the challenge of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra at the Colón, with three premieres in a row in a single night
What was the challenge of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra at the Colón, with three premieres in a row in a single night

The Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestraunder the direction of Pablo Druker, offered three premieres at the Teatro Colón for the Ciclo Colón Contemporáneo and emerged victorious from the challenge. The concert was dedicated to Guillermo Opitz, teacher at the Higher Institute of Art of the Teatro Colón, recently deceased.

Although the languages ​​of the works that were heard from Unsuk Chin, Thomas Adès and John Adams are very differentall share a dialogue with the past.

Harmoniehre (1984-1985/rev, 2024), by Adams, which was heard in the second part of the program, It was the central work of the night. The first reference to tradition appears in the title with its allusion to Arnold Schönberg’s Treatise on Harmony published in 1911. And, toAlthough the word symphony does not appear in the title, it is very close to a minimalist symphony..

In his three movements, Adams not only found his distinctive voice within the minimalism proposed by Steve Reich and Philip Glass, but He tried out an innovative symphonic thought between saturated minimalist sonority and a kind of expressive and rhetorical maximalism. of late romanticism, particularly Wagner and Sibelius.

Minimalist works, in general, are heard with the sound of ensembles in various formats. Maybe this was the first experience in which a traditional orchestra brought a minimalist symphonic sound to the publicthrough an emblematic work that represents a significant form of symphonic thought at the end of the 20th century.

Pablo Druker directed this Saturday in the Contemporary Columbus Cycle. Photo: Arnaldo Colombaroli

Adams’ emotionality

The American composer’s mix of tradition and innovation sounded convincing, although in some ways it maintains the quality of a period document. The work opens with intense repetitive chords until the strings launch a series of very expressive melodies. and then closes with a variant of the initial chords.

Adams’s emotional fiber unfolds more widely in the second movement (The Anfortas Wound) with clear references to Wagner, the Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony and the Adagio from Mahler’s Tenth Symphony. On the somber harmonies, riding in a minimalist rhythm, the trumpeter soloist Fernando Ciancio gave an outstanding performance.

The ethereal music that opens the third movement – with the intriguing title Meister Eckhardt and Quackie – is inspired by a dream that Adams’ daughter had when she was little and she saw herself running through the cosmos on the back of Meister Eckhardt, a flying medieval theologian. From a sweet lullaby, the composer moves on to an apotheosis of colossal sound energy..

Brazilian violinist Alejandro Aldana. Photo: Arnaldo Colombaroli

The orchestra managed, with Druker’s direction, bringing Adams’ emotional quest to the surface under the relentless rhythmic repetition. The conductor skillfully emphasized the wide dynamic ranges throughout the work and also the rhythmic vitality with pulsating phrases in the opening and closing movements.

The trip to the past proposed by Adès

The highlight of the first part was the Concerto for violin and orchestra, subtitled “Concentric Path.” (2005), by Thomas Adès. The focus on the British composer’s past is on the concertante, which covers the broader history of the concerto, from baroque forms to György Ligeti’s violin concerto.

The materials of the work dialogue with that past, although the soloist has little to do with the role he had in the tradition: his participation is guided by the idea of ​​an interaction that advances in circles, spiraling and volatile. The violin navigates in the work between the weightless and the corporeal.

There is something unpleasant about the writing for the soloist in the first movement (Rings), It is one voice among many in the texture of several parts. The Brazilian violinist Alejandro Aldana He demonstrated great skill and technical mastery, but in the opening movement the sound of his laborious movements could not be projected, as if the orchestra had literally swallowed him in a whirlpool of sound. The soloist’s sound emerged from time to time exploring the extremes of the instrument’s register.

The point of gravity of the piece is the central movement, Path, the most extensive. It is a great structure of repeated patterns, structured under a chaconne, where the violinist is another participant, with his pizzicato notes and then cutting into deep orchestral sounds. When the orchestral sound subsided, a captivating theme was heard on the violinand attractive textures emerged in the soloist’s voice.

In Roundsthe spiraling final movement that opens with timpani, percussion, strings and brass, Aldana had the opportunity to deploy a more conventional cantabile sound with a melody that floats above the rhythmic energy of the orchestra.. Adès’ tireless intensity closed the first part of the concert that had begun with Frontispiece (2019), by Unsuk Chin, from the same generation as the British composer.

From South Korea to Columbus

The work of the South Korean composer is a kind of gestural modulation through a series of symphonic works key from different periods, from the baroque to the 20th century.

In the brevity of its duration -almost eight minutes- aromas of Strauss, Scriabin, Stravinsky are perceived colliding with each other. In his historical journey through music, Chin takes one more turn that avoids the mere quote or allusion: the gesture of one composer passes through the prism of another. The sound result of the operation is fascinating: Anton Bruckner chord sequences in the manner of Webern, or Brahmsian harmony via Charles Ives.

The particular gestural modulation is driven by the personal tone used by the composer and gives organicity to the work. Druker’s approach on this occasion was more in favor of a general interpretation than in detail. Maybe more tests were needed and, on the other hand, the greater prominence of the strings in the work made it clear that the great turnover in the ranks of violins produced in recent years in the orchestra requires extra work to find a more solid identity in their ranks.


Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra, concert 07

Contemporary Columbus Cycle

Guest conductor Pablo Druker

Plays: Frontispiece for orchestra (Unsuk Chin); Concerto for violin and orchestra, Op. 24 (Thomas Adès); Harmoniehre (John Adams).

Performance Saturday 22nd. Colon Theater

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