La Nacion (Martín Liut), 1999
To What Extent Can a Conductor Influence the Sound of an Orchestra...?
Orquésta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires,
To what extent can a conductor influence the performance of an orchestra? To judge by the concert which the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra offered this past Friday under the baton of the noted conductor, Stefan Lano, very much indeed. One week after the Colon was filled to capacity to hear Martha Argerich in a solo program, the Philharmonic was the main protagonist in its thirteenth concert of the season led by the American conductor. Lano renewed, once again, the on-going 'idyll' which he enjoys with the orchestras of the Colon, both of which, as was apparent on Friday with the philharmonic, notably increase their levels of concentration and musical performance in the presence of conductors of Lano's caliber. Already with Debussy's Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune, it was evident that all sections of the orchestra had adjusted their manner of playing with the strings showing particular attentiveness to the signals of the conductor. Then came the turn of the Uruguayan violinist, Fernando Hasach, as soloist in the second Violin Concerto of Bela Bartok. The soloist, also Concertmaster of the Camerata Bariloche, offered a powerful and cohesive performance, which, with its inherent difficulties, also requires very strong concentration from the orchestra. The ensemble functioned very well thanks to the clear conducting of Lano and the evident 'good feeling' on-stage.
After this very fine first part, came the 'main work' of the evening: Shostakovich's Symphony Nr. 5. Most successful in this extended work were the Woodwinds and Strings who maintained the niveau they had demonstrated in the first part of the evening, while the brass, the horns, in particular, showed some signs of stain in extreme passages. It was, however, in the Allegretto and Largo where Lano and the orchestra truly showed their mettle: calling, alternately upon humor and pathos, thereby clarifying this multi-leveled work. Of particular note were the lucid pianissimos in the third movement. The symbolism of the Finale could not, in the rendition of Lano and our Philharmonic, be misunderstood: a masterpiece of precision and refinement. The final fanfares provided an opportunity for the brass to vindicate themselves, which they utilized to good measure. After the 'hurricane' of Argerich, the Philharmonic performed with a refinement and clarity, audible throughout the theater in this wonderful concert which, ultimately, forced the conclusion that the orchestra deserves to have more conductors of the caliber of Stefan Lano; for, when they do, they can fly very high indeed.