Buenos Aires Herald - "Meditative Piazzolla and two great Austrians" por Pablo Bardin - 2-5-2016

Armonías programme offers splendid evening with the Cuarteto Gianneo, bandoneonist Mederos

The second concert of the Armonías programme organized by Patricia Pouchulu′s La Bella Música at the Brick Hotel was splendid. We have two admirable quartets in our city, the Gianneo and the Petrus, and both are programmed in the season. Although chamber music generally isn′t demagogic, it can be relatively light. Not this time: masterpieces in minor tonalities by Franz Schubert and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart surrounded the very last work of Astor Piazzolla: Five Tango Sensations (the title is in English) for bandoneón and string quartet.

Although the programmed music lasted only an hour, it seemed longer; not because it outstayed its welcome; rather, it demanded empathy with its concentrated, intense, melancholy or forceful moods: not an easy thing for the general public. However, the artists conveyed the scores with fierce conviction and the audience responded with sincere enthusiasm. Not just for Piazzolla, a creator with a crossover appeal, and played by such a well-known talent as Rodolfo Mederos, but also for the dramatic intimacy of the two great Austrians.

Three factors added more than an hour: 10-minute delay plus 20-minute interval, comments on the works by Sebastián Masci (useful because the hand programme only gives the list of the pieces and brief biographies of the interpreters) and two welcome encores.

Schubert′s Quartettsatz is the first movement of Quartet No. 12, a strong piece closely argued with two main elements, a sombre, angry outburst, and one of those heavenly melodies so unmistakeable of this composer. We have a fragment of a second, andante movement, but that′s as far as Schubert went in this 1820 score that seems to announce the tragic Quartet No. 14, Death and the Maiden.

Mozart′s Quartet No. 15, K.421, is the only one in a minor tonality (D) out of the 23 he wrote, and as happens in the Piano Concertos 20 and 24 and the Symphonies 25 and 40, also in the minor, they seem to be prophetic of Romanticism′s dark adventures of the soul. The work is wholly admirable, though the first movement gives us not only a sustained tragic mood but also a constant richness of invention. The encore at the end gave us the only light-hearted moment of the night: the impish presto of the teenager Mozart′s Quartet No. 4, K.157, an excellent choice to send us home happy after strong emotions.

And now to Piazzolla. Months after these Tango sensations, he died. The combination of bandoneón and string quartet is rare but lovely. Four of the five titles are in English; the first three are Asleep, Loving and Anxiety, but curiously the fourth is Despertar (“Awakening”) and the last, Fear. After the slow and very lyrical first two, we get some harshness in the third: as so often happens, in sleep we have contradictory feelings. To be awakened by a nightmare sometimes leads to real fear, and maybe Astor had a premonition that his life was near the end.

The interpreters have recorded these Sensations, so this was a reunion for them, and they obviously feel confortable playing together. (Piazzolla also recorded it, with the Kronos Quartet; curiously the author and the string players made their contributions separately.) Mederos is a great tango musician and the quartet comes from another world, but both understood the give-and-take of this music which participates of both sensibilities. The beautiful, nostalgic mellowness of the bandoneón blended both with the lyricism and, when so required, the incisive impact of the strings. The encore was a nice Mederos melody, Serena, inspired by a Juan Gelman poem.

Pablo Bardin

Cortesía diario Buenos Aires Herald
Website de Pablo Bardin: Tribuna musical