Buenos Aires Herald - "Death and birth seen by Verdi and Berlioz" por Pablo Bardin - 13-12-2007 (extracto)
There has been quite a number of choral-symphonic concerts this year, but in the final weeks two stand out: Verdi's Requiem conducted by Stefan Lano, ending the Colón lyric season at the Coliseo; and sharing the same theatre, "L'enfance du Christ" ("The birth of Christ") by Berlioz, conducted by Carlos Vieu and produced by Patricia Pouchulu for her institution La Bella Música.
"L'enfance du Christ" is late Berlioz, from 1854. It was offered here late in the day; the premiere was conducted by Serge Baudo in 1980 for the Wagneriana, and the score was revived in 1999 under the octogenarian Jean Fournet. It was a good idea of La Bella Música to offer it, and in December, so close to Christmas. I was sorry that a silly polemic over whether or not it was a premiere (due to very ambiguous announcements from the institution) took some luster from the real merit of this endeavor. On the other hand, although the piece is certainly worth knowing, it isn't quite a masterpiece of the order of "La Damnation de Faust" or "Roméo et Juliette". The text, by Berlioz himself, is very weak, often mawkish. And the music, often very beautiful, does have ininteresting passages. Berlioz, who was so good in fantastic stuff, here lacks contrast and sometimes imagination. I write as a true Berliozian, for I asked Baudo to premiere "Roméo..." in 1973.
Although I was surprised that La Bella Música's admirable habitual conductor, Antonio Russo, wasn't summoned, I of course have great respect for Maestro Vieu, probably the best of his generation. The ad-hoc orchestra was integrated by excellent musicians mostly from the B.A. Phil and the National Symphony, and the generally professional response to Vieu's sensitive phrasing allowed the music to make its effect. The instrumental chamber interlude was accurate and charming: Claudio Barile and Stella Maris Marrello were the flutists and Lucrecia Jancsa the harpist. The Choir Lagun Onak under Miguel Angel Pesce wasn't in top form; the voices seemed muffled, lacking true dynamic range, although some parts were admirable, particularly in the last a capella chorus.
The soloists were a fine lot. I especially liked Lucas Debevec Mayer and Daniela Tabernig (Joseph and Mary), but there was very good work from Carlos Ullán and Oreste Chlopecki; only Leonardo Estévez (Herod) seemed tired, though acceptable.