Latin American Composers Raise the Temperature

United StatesUnited States Piazzolla, Ginastera, Golijov, Falla: Concert:nova, Flamenco Louisville, Company on Eastern, Cincinnati, Ohio. 6.6. 2014. (RDA)


Astor Piazzolla: Tres Tangos
Alberto Ginastera: String Quartet No. 1
Osvaldo Golijov: Last Round
Manuel de Falla: El Amor Brujo
Concert:nova: Ixi Chen, artistic director; Kelly Kuo, conductor; Kate Tombaugh, vocalist.
Anna Reider, violin; Allan Rafferty , cello; Boris Astafiev, bass; Margaret Dyer, cello; Heidi Yenney, viola; Minyoung Baik, violin; Mauricio Aguiar,violin; Rebe Barnes, viola; Ted Nelson, cello; Randolph Bowman, flute; Lon Bussell, oboe; Lisa Conway, French horn; Douglas Lindsay, trumpet; Julie Spangler, piano; Jeff Luft, percussion
 Flamenco Louisville: Diana Dinicola, Paula Collins, Larissa Guy (dancers); Duane Corn (guitar); Shannon Fitzgerald (vocalist)

Concert:nova has a terrific name and a strong brand, so that not only its name, but the titles of its concerts often sport a colon separating syllables. Such was the case with FI:RE, a musical conflagration that happily mixed Astor Piazzolla, Alberto Ginastera, Osvaldo Golijov and Manuel de Falla in the warehouse space of Company on Eastern, boasting a large group of Cincinnati’s finest musicians.

Tres Tangos by Astor Piazzolla at once raised the temperature of the bare-bones industrial space, due to the playing of Anna Reider, a formidable violinist. Her sultry fiddle-playing could easily be at home in one of the River Plate or Seine bordellos that the Argentinian’s “Nuevo Tango” master evokes in the languid melodies of “J’attends,” “Vivace” and “Bonsoir.” Boris Astafiev supplied a solid accompaniment on the bass.

Ginastera fully embraced atonal writing in his mature and later works, notably in his operas. But here, in his earlier String Quartet No. 1, his music inhabits an ambiguous tonal territory, in which both the composer’s Argentine roots and Stravinsky-influenced ostinato rhythmic patterns co-exist. Ms. Reider was joined by Mauricio Aguiar, Rebe Barnes and Ted Nelson, all four giving a fierce performance of two of the work’s movements.

The first half ended with Golijov’s Last Round, for double string quartet and bass, with Allan Rafferty , Margaret Dyer, Heidi Yenney and Minyoung Baik joining their onstage colleagues for a brilliant musical mano-a-mano in two movements. The first is a triplet-filled hard-driving one marked “with movement, urgent” that eventually settles into “macho cool and dangerous,” followed by a lentissimo that unpredictably ends the previous tonal and rhythmic agitations with a straight-ahead coda.

Shannon Fitzgerald, a singer whose Irish name and looks made her absolutely authentic singing of Cante Jondo all the more surprising was accompanied by the very fine guitarist Duane Corn and joined by a superb trio of dancers: Diana Dinicola, Paula Collins, and Larissa Guy. The precise choreography of Alegrias, the spirited twists and turns of Seguidillas and the impassioned foot work of Bulerias were pure pleasure for eye and ear. The group goes by the name of Flamenco Louisville and deserves close attention: its dancers are stately, with the Spanish duende—the poetic term for charm, attitude, and passion—in plentiful supply.

In Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo, Kelly Kuo led a vibrant performance with the full ensemble from the first half, augmented by flutist Randolph Bowman, oboist Lon Bussell, French hornist Lisa Conway, trumpeter Douglas Lindsay, pianist Julie Spangler, and percussionist Jeff Luft.

The young mezzo-soprano Kate Tombaugh sang the part of the haunted gypsy girl, Candelas: her lyric voice rang clearly, her chest tones were impressive, and her handling of the Spanish text and Gitano accent were authentic. The Flamenco Louisville artists danced and acted the parts of a silent group of women who accompany Candelas on her journey from abandonment and despair to liberation in the course of the work’s all-too-brief two acts.

Rafael de Acha

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