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MUSIC REVIEW : Serious Recorder Program From Abreu

March 09, 1994|TIMOTHY MANGAN

A player of the friendly, gentle and ancient recorder would seem to have his work cut out in grabbing and holding the distracted attention of the late 20th-Century listener.

Prize-winning Venezuelan recorder player Aldo Abreu attempted the feat with an uncompromisingly serious, no-frills program in a Gold Medal concert at Ambassador Auditorium Monday night and didn't quite bring it off.

As it was, the two works on the agenda written in the 20th Century proved most engaging and trenchant. Mexican avant-gardist Mario Lavista's 1986 "Ofrenda" haunted and wailed and slithered in an evocative 10 minutes, making integrated use (for once) of rich multiphonics.

Luciano Berio's 1966 "Gesti" turned the instrument into a frantic, nervous sound-maker in an exercise almost exclusively in extended techniques, including a startling, unpitched flutter-tongue effect. Abreu brought both works off with considerable enthusiasm and confidence.

Elsewhere, the young musician seemed more a highly skilled than a compelling artist. But certainly the program had something to do with it. He opened with a meandering set of Renaissance pieces by Bassano, Rore, Selma and others and continued with a sturdily made but unremarkable Telemann Sonata in C.

He closed dourly and spun his wheels with Jacob van Eyck's "Pavaen lachrymae," two G-minor preludes and a G-minor chaconne by Vitali and then, as an encore, another G-minor chaconne by Anon.

The only old work to make much of an impact on this occasion was Bach's unaccompanied Partita, BWV 1030, which Abreu played fluently and lyrically, with vivacious virtuosity where required. Arthur Haas was on hand throughout the evening for the minimal harpsichord duties.

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