Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Where Two Distant Voices Meet



The title of this concert sponsored by the Argentinean consulate general serves as a reminder of the different directions taken by composers in North and Latin America over the years. In the U.S. the Austro-Germanic tradition long held sway, intermingling with muted homegrown strains from New England hymns and Mississippi Delta jazz. In the Latin countries the more suave and sentimental styles of France and Italy dominated, at times intriguingly blended with the folk idioms of the indigenous Indians and transplanted Africans. The program for this chamber concert, unfortunately, doesn't explore the why and how of the divergent paths; instead, it rather arbitrarily showcases two Buenos Aires masters, one Chicago electronic-music maven, and a composer educated in both places. The more famous of the Argentineans is, of course, Alberto Ginastera; he's represented by Cantos del Tucuman for soprano and chamber group, which dates from 1938, the heyday of his nationalist zeal. His near contemporary Astor Piazzolla (1921-1991) was a virtuoso on the bandoneon, a close relative of the accordion that has buttons and no keyboard. Piazzolla is credited with having created a new style of jazz-influenced tango (Argentina's national dance, believed to have been imported by African slaves). His pieces on the program--Milongo del angel, Verano porteno, and Suite for Two Guitars--are recent explorations in that vein. The lone American voice belongs to Howard Sandroff, whose 1990 Tephillah, inspired by the Hebraic liturgical music of Eastern Europe, has the clarinet in a duet with its computer-synthesized echoes. Then there's Gustavo Leone, a young Argentine who studied with Ralph Shapey, John Eaton, and Shulamit Ran while earning a PhD from the University of Chicago. The cross-fertilization can be detected in his emerging style and presumably in his latest work, Preludes for Solo Harp. Soloists -include Jeffrey Kust on guitar, Richard Hawkins on clarinet, soprano Diane Ragains, and Elizabeth Cifani on harp. Tuesday, 7.30 PM, Arts Club of Chicago, 109 E. Ontario; 819-2620.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Vaughn.

Add a comment