28 November 2017

Every time Russian maestro Vladimir Simkin returns to the Symphony Season at the UdeC Theater, expectations are high among musicians and audience.

The program began with René Silva’s “Y todavía tiene una pena…” [“And their sorrow continues”], a piece selected in the 3rd Call for the Premiere of Works by Chilean Composers (2014), and now reappearing in a performance that highlighted the clarity of the guest conductor’s baton. The work eloquently portraits the tensions involved in the Mapuche conflict, and ends with quotations from the homonymous song composed by Violeta Parra.

Then, the orchestra was joined by the UdeC Choir, an ensemble previously conducted by Simkin in memorable performances of great choral symphonic works such as “Alexander Nevsky” and “Carmina Burana”. Now they performed Bruckner’s “Te Deum”, a work that would have required a much larger choir. However, the short ‘Aeterna fac’ unleashed a thrilling power, while the intimate tones in the meditative “Salvum fac populum tuum” were well crafted next to the inspired contributions by guest concertmaster Dorian Lamotte. The four vocal soloists showed once again that Chile has top-level singers in abundance. Next to the long renowned Patricia Cifuentes (soprano) and Sergio Gallardo (bass-baritone), and rising contralto Gloria Rojas, we had the captivating tenor Luis Rivas, a native from Los Ángeles (Bío Bío Region) who gave his first steps as a soloist on this very same stage (in “Lucia di Lammermoor”, 2008).

The program was completed with an intensely emotional performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Simkin created an extreme tempo contrast between the introductory “Andante” and the following “Allegro”, and he also managed very flexibly the tempo in the famous “Andante cantabile”, achieving a very passionate performance with a particularly shining contribution from the very cohesive and expressive strings.

Following his usual practice, maestro Simkin rewarded the audience with two encores, on this occasion coming from Tchaikovsky’s famous “Nutcracker”, which brought the 2017 Symphony Season to a warm close.