26 October 2017.

Expectations were high when a crowded UdeC Theater once again welcomed Paolo Bortolameolli, new assistant conductor at Los Angeles Philharmonic. Just 3 weeks after an impressive concert with the Concepción Symphony, the young Chilean maestro didn’t disappoint in a generous program with Shostakovich Fifth Symphony as the main piece.

This colossal score was preceded by a kind of extended prelude in three sections. First, Mozart’s short Symphony No. 23, which exemplifies how indistinguishable the symphony and the opera overture were in the early classical era. The piece was presented with a healthy, transparent sound, clear articulation and dynamic phrasing, in line with the historically informed performance practice. Then we had a reencounter with one of the creations selected in Corcudec’s calls for the premiere of Chilean compositions. It was “Clamores” (2012) by Rodrigo Herrera, a score that could attract even those who approach the contemporary creations with some trepidation. The expectant mood of this piece continued in the waving swell that opens Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides” Overture, the third work in the program. Bortolameolli’s version emphasized to great effect the contrast between the faster, more urgent passages and the more lyrical ones, especially the ethereal clarinet duet near the end.

Encouraged by Bortolameolli, the orchestra musicians gave everything of themselves in a crushingly intense performance of Shostakovich’s score. Perhaps the most heart-rending moments were the tearful “choir” of strings and the desolate woodwind solos in the slow movement, as well as the long “accelerando” at the beginning of the last movement. This instruction, usually not respected by conductors, was followed by Bortolameolli to its last consequences–as maddening as the oppressive regime the composer was trying so desperately to please and, at the same time, denounce.