One of the remedies to offset the heat of August is the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s month-long festival of concerts SUMMERMUSIK 2022, which opened its four-week season in the Corbett Theatre of Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts with Tales of Two Countries, an all-Latin American program.
The evening began with Gabriela Lena Frank’s Elegía Andina. Scored for chamber orchestra, Frank’s work is a heartfelt homage to the composer’s Peruvian, Chinese, and Jewish heritage. With her flute, the CCO’s Rebecca Tryon Andres beautifully evoked the haunting sounds of the Peruvian zampoña, which Frank uses in her composition in a now melodic, now rhythmic way. Eckart Preu brilliantly conducted this vibrant prelude to the orchestra’s South American evening.
Next, three terrific tangos by Astor Piazzolla devilishly titled Tango del Diablo, Romance del Diablo, and Vayamos al Diablo featured once the CCO, and twice the elegant, earthy, and sensual dancing of Fernanda Ghi and Silvio Grand.
Argentine-born Osvaldo Golijov came of age in a society in which the old tangos sung by the legendary Carlos Gardel and the New Tango compositions of fellow Argentinian Astor Piazzolla coexisted, with their music played, listened to, and danced everywhere throughout Argentina, from the bordellos and dives on the shores of the River Plate, to the homes of the Argentine well to do. Golijov’s Last Round, a work with a catchy boxing title, splits the orchestra in two, with all the fiddlers on their feet, as in an Argentine tango dance band, while the conductor remains in the middle of the musical battle about to take place. Golijov’s composition, written by its Argentine composer as a tribute to his friend Astor Piazzolla, who died four years before this work was composed, is an emotional work, boldly dissonant, and intensely rhythmic. It was given a knockout performance by the strings of the CCO, led by Eckart Preu at his fighting best.
The bandoneon, a type of 19th-century concertina, brought to South America by European immigrants was Astor Piazzolla’s primary instrument, and the focus of the second half of the evening. Piazzolla’s Bandoneon Concerto “Aconcagua” gave center stage to the virtuosic bandoneon player Hector del Curto. With a summit elevation of 22,838 ft., the Aconcagua is the highest peak of the Western Hemisphere, and a fitting name for a fiercely rhythmic work that is driven by the syncopated beat of the Argentine tango. It takes a soloist with supreme energy to climb to the summit of this musical Aconcagua – a feat of technique and musicality that the gifted Hector del Curto accomplished, his playing ranging from solo cadenzas infused with melancholy to unrelentingly hard-driving rhythmic passages.
del Curto returned for an encore: Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, with Fernanda Ghi and Silvio Grand joining him and the orchestra for a wonderful finale.
Among the two dozen-plus members of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, its String Section did sterling work throughout the concert. Special kudos go to concert mistress Celeste Golden Boyer and cellist Patrick Binford for their marvelous playing throughout the first of the CCO’s four mainstage concerts. Thanks to the imaginative programming and excellent conducting of Eckart Preu we were again reminded of this maestro’s leadership and of his superb orchestra’s uniquely important contribution to our music scene.
And do check out those weekday evening Chamber Crawls!
Tickets and information: 513.723.1182 x2 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rafael de Acha © 2022