4 September 2017
The large audience that came to enjoy the 7th symphony concert was welcomed with Liszt’s attractive “Mephisto Waltz”, which is no mere dance, but an elaborate tone poem. Led by USA conductor Brian Cole, the Concepción Symphony Orchestra tackled the complex score with assuredness, revealing all its brilliance and sensuality, qualities masterfully blended in the short but impressive final solo by harpist Patricia Reyes.
The main piece in the program was Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez”. The soloist was José Antonio Escobar, a world acclaimed Chilean guitarist now based in Barcelona. The performance was memorable, particularly in the famed “Adagio”—it became obvious that we were listening to a musician of extraordinary sensibility, who could express himself at ease thanks to the careful accompaniment provided by the orchestra and maestro Cole’s baton, with María Cristina San Martín in the famous English horn solo. In response to the thunderous applause for the “Concierto de Aranjuez”, the guitarist returned to the stage and joined the centennial tributes to Violeta Parra playing her song “Gracias a la vida” in an arrangement by Chilean composer Javier Contreras.
Earlier in the program, the same performers had played “Fantasía para un gentilhombre”, also by Rodrigo, but without reaching the same level of excellence as in the “Aranjuez”, a score that soloist and orchestra were obviously more familiar with. Between both works, a piece was included that, in a certain way, represented the relationship between Spanish music and Latin American popular music: a well-known arrangement of three “tonadas” by Donato Román orchestrated by Vicente Bianchi, which the Concepción Symphony played with an impressive ease and tone, and maestro Cole sweetened with a lyricism unusual in orchestral performances of this music, usually seen as “light” in comparison to the (wrongly) called “erudite music”.