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Dancing in the Air

a concert of music from Latin America


I was lucky to be at Bolivar Hall, London, UK on Tuesday 24 November 2009.

I can not stop thinking of this excellent -- and charming -- string Quartet, performing a programme described as 'From The Top To The Bottom of Latin America', due to the variety of composers from various countries in Latin America.

The unique expressiveness of this ensemble, as well as of the music performed, seems to be characteristic of the region. The programme contained masterpieces such as Heitor Villa-Lobos's Quartet No 5, and Yiddishbbuk, by the Argentinean Osvaldo Golijov. Here the music really touched my heart. I felt very spiritual, by the way the music was performed, but also by the very haunting mode of these 'Babylonic Lamentations'.

The first half of the concert continued the Presto No 2 by Miguel Del Aguila (Uruguay/USA), Musica de Feria by Silvestre Revueltas (Mexico), and Metro Chabacano, by another Mexican composer, Javier Alvarez.

The performers were in such warm and united harmony that one could not only hear it, but also see it in their faces. Saul, Aron and Alvaro Bitrán, respectively playing first and second violin and cello, are complemented by violist Javier Montiel. I admired the way each player took over from another in a beautifully connected way with their silky rich sound, producing non-stop energy and emotion.

Speaking of 'sound', although the unity and balance of Cuarteto Latinoamericano is excellent, I sometimes wished for more prominence of the instrument in charge of the leading voice, with more piano/pianissimos coming from the other three instruments.

The Cuarteto Latinoamericano showed all possible string techniques, in such a way that they seemed to be telling us a happy story with their instruments and vital rhythms. One could feel the energy emanating from them and reaching the audience. It kept me attentive and I couldn't take my eyes off them.

In the second half of the programme, for Alberto Ginastera's Piano Quintet, with his gentle steps, guest pianist Alberto Portugheis, concert pianist and well known piano teacher, arrived to join Cuarteto Latinoamericano. As soon as the first movement started, we could hear we were listening to a masterwork, full of expressive and serious sound combinations. The textures of this Piano Quintet are highly imaginative, with its rapid piano passages running from one end to the other of the keyboard; it made me think of light and graceful spirits dancing in the air. Alberto Portugheis, with his eloquent interpretation, and the ensemble he created with his musical partners, made a lasting impression on the audience.

I would very much like to hear these performers again. Soon!

Copyright © 17 December 2009 Mary Isaac,
London UK









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