A full-house of music lovers enjoyed a brilliant performance by Korean-born Violinist Chee-Yun with the Grant Park Orchestra under conductor Carlos Kalmar’s baton of Astor Piazzolla’s electrifying blend of the fire and passion in The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires at the Harris Theatre of Music and Dance on August 3. This selection followed Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia: Four Dances and concluded with Manuel de Falla’s music for the ballet Three-Cornered Hat featuring American Mezzo-soprano Sarah Ponder.
Carlos Kalmar virtually danced on the podium during the orchestra’s vigorous rendition of Estansia, a ballet which portrays aspects of activities of an ‘estancia’ (Argentine ranch) amid the bare beauty, richness, and natural strength of the land. Except for the gentle second dance, Danza del trigo (“Dance of the Wheat”), the symphonic suite, comprising Los trabajadores agricolas (“The Workers of the Land”), Los peones de hacienda (“The Cattle Men”) and Danza final:Malambo (“Final Dance: Malambo”), surges with energetic recurring rhythmic and melodic patterns.
The petite Chee-Yun clad in a glamourous red gown with a sparkling white sequined bodice entranced the audience with the powerful, sensual, intimate, and melancholic elements of Piazzola’s electrifying blend of fire and passion in The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. She sliced the violin with her bow during intense, powerful segments and then tenderly rendered gentle passages, perfectly capturing the dynamic elements of this remarkably expressive work which evokes the changing seasons in Argentina. Natives of Buenos Aries in the Harris audience lauded the superb tango performance, which enhances anticipation of a thought-provoking full production of Piazzolla’s lone opera, Maria de Buenos Aires by Chicago Opera Theatre opening April 20, 2013.
Before producing a musical setting for the tale of a miller and his wife who cleverly outwitted a corregidor (governor) and celebrated their love for one another with fellow villagers, da Falla studied the folk traditions of Spain. The Grant Park orchestra’s performance of The Three-Cornered Hat vividly suggested scenes of the ballet. American mezzo-soprano Sarah Pondor’s melodious off-stage rendering of “The Song of the Miller’s Wife” perfectly complimented the orchestra’s evocative percussive dance segments.
Grant Park Musical Festival continues with concerts conducted by Maestro Carlos Kalmar at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff is joined by his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, for Brahms' Double Concerto at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, August 8 Beethoven's Coriolan Overture and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 1 are also on the program. In addition there is soprano Layla Claire, tenor Benjamin Butterfield, and bass Ben Wage the Grant Park Chorus directed by Christopher Bell performs Haydn's The Seasons 6:30 pm Friday, August 10 and 7:30 pm Saturday, August 11.
At 6:30 pm Wednesday, August 15, Ryan Opera Center Soloists John Irvin, Joseph Lim, Evan Boyer, Tracy Cantin, J’nai Bridges, and Emily Birsan sing Act I of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Kiri Deonarine, Cecelia Hall, Tracy Cantin, and Will Liverman present Act III final scene of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier.
Aleksandra Kursak, Soprano, Brendan Tuohy, Tenor, and Stephen Hegedus, Bass are soloists in the season finale: DvoĹ™ák's The Spectre's Bride, at 6:30 pm Friday, August 17, and Saturday 7:30 pm August 18.
Check http://grantparkmusicfestival.com/2012-season for open rehearsals of these concerts.