ARTISTIC Director Roland Peelman appropriately recognised all participating artists in the 2016 Festival before introducing the very popular Tambuco Percussion to kick off the finale. Their playing was precise, dramatic and in perfect synchronicity but was too much of a good thing. A concert of over 2 hours with no interval was to follow, so, overall, whilst Viva Brasil had wonderful moments it seemed at times indulgent and certainly an attempt to cram in too much simply for the sake of it.
For example Tambuco Percussion may have been better served with just the Gonzalez “Bulerias” then the most entertaining “Music for Mixing Bowls”. Their three movement Chavez “Toccata” just didn’t fit a festive finale party mood.
In order to ‘fit in’ everything into the concert, the demands placed upon the stage crew were enormous but handled most efficiently by a well drilled and practiced team. The compete strike of an extensive range of percussion instruments to a setting for trio, Continuum Sax and Young Artist winds was completed in record time. The ensuing “Saudades do Brasil” was less satisfying. The 6 movement work seemed under rehearsed with resultant balance issues (harp completely overwhelmed) and player hesitation resulting in a lack of the fire and excitement expected of South American music. It was all a bit pedestrian rather than vibrant.
Louise Page was the highlight of the evening with wonderfully controlled, and pitch perfect singing, in her two pieces by Villa-Lobos. Sandwiched in between was a long ‘Three Preludes for Guitar”.
Playing by Andrey Lebedev was technically excellent but 15 minutes was just too much in a celebratory finale concert.
Whilst it was wild and most inventive in its orchestration the Gerard Brophy “Ru B Fogo” finale work did not evoke a steamy image of passionate Brasil. It was overly repetitive and not the exciting ‘undiscovered gem’ that the introduction portrayed.
Overall the 2016 Festival has been a fascinating journey of musical discovery but, sadly for me, the final concert did not achieve the dizzy heights of programming and performing excellence achieved by many of the other concerts in the season so was not the anticipated brilliant climax to the Festival.