Monday, 2 October 2017.

The 8th concert of the symphony season turned out to be an absolutely extraordinary evening. Chilean conductor Paolo Bortolameolli clearly showed why he has earned a place among the world’s most outstanding young batons, leading the Concepción Symphony Orchestra to its highest level in all its ranks throughout an intense program.

The first part included two works by Beethoven. In his usual way, Bortolameolli briefly talked to the audience, highlighting the contrast between these two works, which would display two very different sides of the composer. The overture written for Goethe’s ‘Egmont’, which would represent Beethoven in his most revolutionary vein—committed to the political conflicts of his own time—received a very correct performance, its introduction fluid enough to clearly recognize the rhythm of Spanish ‘zarabanda’ (the invader’s theme in this drama), while the closing ‘victory symphony’ burst in with a particular enthusiasm, underlined by the explosive timpani of Pablo Soza.

But it was the Fourth Symphony which sounded truly revolutionary as performed by Bortolameolli and the Concepción Symphony Orchestra. According to the conductor, it represents Beethoven in his most humorous vein, which would place him as heir of his teacher Haydn. But this humor reaches the point of openly challenging the expectations of the status quo, just as this extremely vital performance showed. To this effect, the influence of the historically informed performance movement was crucial, evidenced in the attentive and sparkling articulation and transparent textures, and the timpanist’s role as incisive and alert protagonist of the sometimes-unexpected events. The final movement, with its rock-like raucousness, was dispatched at a breathtaking tempo, in a successful test of collective virtuosity.

The same enthusiasm continued during the second part of the program. It started with a specially energic performance of the ‘Danza fantástica’ by Concepción’s composer Enrique Soro, and ended with Sergei Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on the theme of Paganini. This homage from one virtuoso to another found an ideal performer in the world-famous pianist Eldar Nebolsin. The astonishing easiness of his playing, even in the most devilishly challenging ones, was supplemented by an absolutely assured baton, and an orchestra which was completely empowered in its coprotagonist role, imposed by the richness of Rachmaninov’s instrumentation. The audience that almost crowded the UdeC Theater burst into applause with an unprecedented power. Two Rachmaninov Preludes offered by the soloist ended this unforgettable evening: without question, one the best concerts in recent seasons of the Concepción Symphony Orchestra.

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