Yuriy Bekker and colleagues performed Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla’s colorful “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” alongside Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” at St. Philip’s Church on Thursday.
Astor Piazzolla invented the genre of music known as nuevo tango, a fusion of classical, jazz and tango. He infuses tango into his score through the incorporation of extended techniques. Bekker had one of his fellow violinists demonstrate these techniques, which included the latigo, chicharra, and tambor. The latigo is the zipping, whip-like sound of a quick ascending finger slide or glissando. The chicharra (Spanish for cicada) sounds like crickets, and is created by striking the strings close to the bridge. The tambor is a percussive sound created by forcefully plucking the strings.
Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons” quotes Vivaldi’s work, and the two pieces dovetail nicely when played side-by-side. Spoleto hasn’t been the first to combine the two works in one program. Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer made a CD titled “Eight Seasons” in 2000, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performed the two works last June. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Colour of Music Festival also have programmed these works in recent years.
Thursday’s concert was originally set to be at the Huguenot Church, but St. Philip’s proved a fitting alternative. In addition to quoting Vivaldi, Piazzolla’s work also quotes Pachelbel’s Canon, and Pachelbel’s son was once the organist for St. Philip’s Church.
Bekker had performed beautifully at a chamber concert with Natalia Khoma and Ran Dank last Sunday, but for whatever reason he was off today. He rushed most of the runs, which resulted in a lot of missed notes, and used so much rubato that the ensemble failed to settle into steady tempos.
A delightful pairing of repertoire, but more preparation was needed for this performance.
Natalie Piontek is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.