Alondra de la Parra, the artist who whispered to orchestras., 15. Feb. 2022

The Mexican conductor made her debut in Barcelona at the helm of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (OBC) with two demanding pieces in which she showed both her sensitivity and energy.

The New York-born, Berlin-based Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra could not have had a better first appearance before the Barcelona public. Her first concert included two great monuments of the orchestral repertoire, just as contrasting as decisive in the 20th century music history: Debussy’s ethereal ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’ and Stravinsky’s fierce ‘Rite of Spring’. Two demanding pieces in which she showed both her sensitivity and energy, always with precision and elegance of gesture.

The conductor praised the OBC and especially its soloists in the days leading up to the concert, and rightly so. We know that we have an orchestra that responds excellently to excellent conductors, so for the local audience this is nothing new.

You just need to make sure you put the instrument in good hands. As for the soloists, De la Parra especially highlighted the work of Francisco López, the orchestra’s principal flute, who enjoyed and made us enjoy Debussy’s ‘Prelude’, alongside his colleagues, wisely guided by the conductor.

‘The Rite of Spring’ was full of contrasts between the sublime and the brutal. A narrative perfectly carried from climax to climax, in which the amazing ‘tutti’ were as overwhelming as the quieter passages, where – just as with Debussy – she extracted a beautifull and subtle sound from the OBC.

The evening was completed with Schumann’s Piano Concerto, performed by a young and multi-awarded international talent, Eric Lu. His presence had also generated expectation, although the final result was far from what had been expected. Perhaps due to lack of rehearsals, mismatches with the orchestra were too frequent, despite the fact that the soloist played with the score – something that would not have been a problem if the performance had been flawless, which it was not. De la Parra did, however, show her mettle and her ability to listen to the soloist in order to mitigate the damage.

We would ask the maestra to return soon, if she wasn’t rejecting to be considered either a “conductor” or a “maestra”, which are too narrow terms. She says she is an artist who knows how to conduct orchestras, so we will respect her will and, considering how subtle her music can be, we will take the liberty of saying that she whispers to them rather than she conducts them. So, artist who whispers to the orchestras, come back soon. If possible, with Boulanger’s works such as the one that was originally scheduled, ‘D’un soir triste’, which was cancelled on the road to make way for the Faun.