Camerata Aberta Americas Society New York, NY November 12, 2010
Modern contemporary music of Brazil was on the menu for the New York debut of Camerata Aberta's at Manhattan's Americas Society. In the words of music director and composer Sergio Kafejian, the ensemble dedicates itself to the "research of the intensity, fluidity and exuberance of Brazil" through the music of its collaborators and full-time musicians, who all reside in the city of Sao Paulo.
The program opened with Flo Menezes' "Transformantes I," a short interlude played by vibraphonist Charles Braga. The instrument was placed on the side of the room, surprising the audience, who wondered where the melody was coming from. Within a minute, violinist Martin Tuksa and cellist Dimos Goudarollis took their places in front, performing Villa-Lobos' intensely complex "Dois Choro-Bis," a piece in 6/8 tempo that included lots of fingerpicking and chords in addition to the bow. Menezes' "Tranformantes II and III" followed, and then violinist Elissa Cassini came on to perform "Gestures," a three-part piece by Artur Kampela, who was in attendance.
Cassini came on and played the first part, which included mouth clicks in addition to the flurry of notes that is characteristic of Kampela's writing. Suddenly, the lights went off and she moved to center stage to play the short second movement. In the program, Kampela described the piece is a "virtuosic attempt to challenge the interpreter's abilities within the instrument's constraints," and that was made evident as the audience followed Cassini as she went behind three different music stands for each part.
The music was challenging both to the musicians and audience, who reacted differently to each tune that was presented. One of the highlights was Giacinto Scelsi's Middle Eastern-inspired "Ka-lho," one of the most straightforward and melodic pieces in the evening. Also impressive was the interpretation of Pierre Boulez's "Derive I," the sole piece. not written by a Brazilian composer. It featured pianist Lidia Bazarian, flutist Cassia Carrascoza, clarinetist Luis Afonso Montanha in addition to Goudaroulis and Tuksa. Written as a homage to Paul Sacher, it featured a blend of different themes within a single formatwhich was a great closing for the evening.
Camerata Aberta is one of the few full-time contemporary ensembles in the Americas to be fully funded by a state government (of the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil). In their short existence, they have brought together a wonderful group of musicians. One can only hope that larger audiences get the chance to hear them again stateside in a larger room. Their musicality deserves to be more widely heard.