GUANAJUATO.- On Sunday evening, October 16th in the Teatro Juárez, the invited guests of the Forty-Fourth International Cervantino festival appeared in a very fortuitous symphonic concert, entitled “España, Jalisco y Miguel de Cervantes”.
The Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco (OFJ), with its Music Director Marco Parisotto at the baton, executed a “Quixotic” Spanish program that brought the audience to its feet with repeated applause, in an evening that saw three soloists on parade, an unusual accomplishment in Mexico.
The night began with the world premiere of a contemporary musical work, Vencidos, by Italian composer Fabio Vacchi, who was present in the audience. The work was commissioned by the Cervantino Festival in celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de La Mancha.
Vacchi, one of the most recognized living composers, chose to write a symphonic poem based on the poetic work of the same name by León Felipe, which is one of the most acclaimed in the writer´s vast output: “Por la manchega llanura / se vuelve a ver la figura / de don Quijote pasar…” For the Spanish-speaking public, this has been a well-known poem since 1971, when Joan Manuel Serrat set it to music in his popular album Mediterráneo.
In any case, the Italian composer decided in favor of a piece for baritone and orchestra, 18 minutes long, employing a large wind section (three flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets and one bass clarinet, six horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba).
Although the work is not strictly narrative, Vacchi uses the winds to instill a melancholy air in the first of the three easily recognizable parts into which this symphonic poem is divided. In the second part, the baritone (performed yesterday by Carlos Almaguer) sings Leon Felipe´s poem while the orchestra portrays one of Don Quixote´s many battles, one in which he winds up, as usual, beaten and wounded, returning to the original melancholy theme at the work´s conclusion.
The symphonic poem Don Quixote, by Richard Strauss, is perhaps the most celebrated of the more than 400 musical works dedicated to Cervantes´ hero. Strauss brought Cervantes´ tale to music in a particularly direct way, assigning an instrument—the cello—to Quixote. In last night´s performance the Knight of the Woeful Countenance was interpreted by the OFJ´s principal cellist, William Molina-Cestari, who alternated in dialogue with the ensemble´s principal violist, representative of Sancho Panza. However, the squire´s language is so rich that it is also taken up, at times, by the bass clarinet, the tuba, and other members of the wind section.
Lasting more than 40 minutes, the Don Quixote of Richard Strauss takes a narrative tour of several of the best-known episodes in the book: the battle with the windmills and later with the sheep of Alifanfarón, evocations of Dulcinea, the incident of the enchanters (monks in procession) and the hero´s anticlimactic return to reason that finally results in his death, in bed.
Just in case nearly an hour of homage to Cervantes seemed insufficient, the OFJ had two other main courses prepared for the evening repast; the first, the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo, is so frequently performed that the spectator almost has it memorized. However, it is a work of enormous complexity for the guitar, performed last night with grand passion by the young Mérida, Yucatan native, Cecilio Perera.
Quite possibly, however, the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco truly saved the best for last. Without soloists, the OFJ and Parisotto revealed their fondness for Manuel de Falla´s Suite No. 2 from The Three-Cornered Hat, interpreted with just the right mix of depth and precision. One notes that the piece is doubtless a favorite in the ensemble´s repertoire by the way the performers involve themselves in the Spanish composer´s stupendous work, well-chosen to conclude a long and energetic concert. It was amply applauded by the public, which filled this city´s Teatro Juárez to capacity.
Review published in the newspaper POSTA, Monday, October 17, 2016