We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Amaya Arberas and Laurine Celeste Fox

We love Spanish music (y'all know that already) and we love soprano Amaya Arberas (past reviews archived and available through use of the Search Bar).  We had a transcendent moment yesterday during her performance of excerpts from Manuel de Falla's Siete Canciones Populares Españolas. Although originally composed for voice and piano in 1914, conductor Laurine Celeste Fox had orchestrated the work to be performed by the Symphony of the City of New York.

At this moment, Ms. Arberas was putting her entire heart and soul into "Asturianas", with support from double bassist Richard Ostrovsky.  Ms. Arberas and Ms. Fox made eye contact, apparently both feeling the depth of sorrow of this folk song and communicating it so intensely that we broke into tears.  Now THAT'S music-making!

Having changed the order of the songs, they followed with an equally intense "Polo" which sang of a different type of grief, one layered with anger toward the disappointing beloved.

The other selections were also excellently sung in true Castilian Spanish and the orchestration was nothing short of brilliant. The lullaby "Nana" was particularly lovely.

The remainder of the afternoon program held our interest and amounted to a most worthwhile way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Maestra Fox has a balletic conducting style which she uses to get the most out of the string orchestra. There was an appreciable clarity of line and differentiation of voicing.

The program opener was the "Preludio" from Heitor Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4, played with mucho sabor. We have a preference for the early works of most composers, filled as they are with gusto. Edward Elgar's Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20 falls into that category. We enjoyed the memorable theme of the first movement in 6/8 rhythm.

Joaquin Turina's  Rapsodia Sinfónica in E-flat Major, Op. 66 was performed by the excellent pianist Martin Söderberg whose crisp attack and lyrical arpeggios were equally impressive and were accompanied by descending sighing figures in the violins.

The final work on the program comprised the world premiere performance of Anna Cazurra's Gran Tango, Op. 73.  The compelling rhythms of the introduction made us want to get up and dance but the Broadway Presbyterian Church seemed to be lacking a dance floor! The danceable theme yielded to a more abstract section and the remainder was enlivened by some pizzicato playing in the violins.  It was altogether enjoyable and thankfully not like most contemporary compositions.

We were most pleased to discover a new (new to us) conductor whose presence on the podium was as close to electrifying as one could imagine.  We hope to hear more from her and the Symphony of the City of New York, whose mission is to attract new audiences with unrepresented repertoire.

(c) meche kroop

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