Review: Alondra de la Parra and María Dueñas in Murcia with The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen

José Antonio Cantón

The Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra leads the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen at the Auditorio Víctor Villegas in Murcia.


Murcia, 8-III-2022. Auditorium and Congress Centre, ‘Víctor Villegas’. Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Soloist: María Dueñas (violin). Conductor: Alondra de la Parra. Works by Dvořák, Ginastera and Sibelius.


A work of great orchestral virtuosity such as Alberto Ginastera’s Variations concertantes was chosen by The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen for its performance in the auditorium of Murcia under the baton of the Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra, who knows it very well and has performed it on several occasions throughout her outstanding career. Following with manifest tension the heartfelt exposition of the main theme by harp and cello, she introduced the first string interlude with great delicacy, finding that balance between the voices of the string section which makes for the beauty of this passage.


Of the seven variations themselves, the one featuring the viola was particularly noteworthy, given the heartfelt elegiac sense it gave to the exposition of the motifs enhanced by its double-string modal accords, making it the work’s main focus of attention. The subsequent duet between oboe and bassoon also stood out, leaving aesthetic substance from a careful canonic treatment, the energetic temperament of the conductor’s musical personality appearing in the perpetual movement led by the concertmaster and later contrasted with the tranquillity of the horn’s pastoral, the sense of which was reaffirmed by the second interlude of the winds and the evocative thematic re-exposition of the double bass. His impulsive character was definitely captured in the malambo pampeño with which these variations conclude, giving it that characteristic rhythm of quebrado zapateado gaucho.


The concert continued with two well-defined delights; the intervention of María Dueñas, a real wonder with her violin, in this case an amazing Stradivarius on loan for two years from the British collector Jonathan Moulds as she was the winner of the last Jehudi Menuhin Competition, and her eagerly awaited performance of one of the most precious concertante works ever composed for this instrument, the Concerto in D minor, op. 47 by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The first thing that was striking in his magical opening was the clarity of sound from a precise tuning, which led her to always be perceived with absolute clarity above the orchestral mass. Dueñas drove her discourse with such determination that it became a constant spur and stimulus to the musicality of Alondra de la Parra, who, at all times, knew how to administer the mysterious message of the first movement with a high degree of restraint until the moment of the cadenza, which Dueñas treated as a logical consequence of the whole movement, demonstrating a high virtuosity in the exposition and development of the condensed technique it requires. Soloist and conductor reached their most transcendent understanding in the central Adagio, making its musical character, situated outside space and time, take over the stage and the auditorium from the irresistible breath of their inspiration. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening.


With great excitement, soloist and conductor entered the turbulent final allegro, each alternating in their decision to prevail and thus control the concertante dialogue, even when the orchestra was only in perpetual motion, a fact which further enhanced the violinistic prestidigitation of the soloist from Granada. The enthusiastic audience responded by rising from their seats in rapturous applause, to which both performers responded with a version for violin and orchestra of the First Spanish Dance from Manuel de Falla’s ‘La vida breve’, which only made the audience more passionate about the impulsive musical femininity that both protagonists wanted to imprint on this piece, coinciding with such an important date as the International Women’s Day.


Alondra de la Parra’s kinetic performance in her conducting of the Seventh Symphony in D minor, op. 70 Antonin Dvořák was always marked by a balletic gesture that recalled the formal liberation of dance that came with the mythical Isadora Duncan. The pacing of her body was one of the most decisive expressive means of her indications, which compensated for the rigidity of her arms in the progressive confluence of forces and dynamics that occur in the initial movement. She calmed her bodily plasticity in the restraint with which she conducted the adagio, only to return to her natural impulsiveness in the last two movements, reaching a climax in the tiers de picardie (Picardy third) that distinguishes the conclusion to the final tempo in which Dvořák changes the key from minor to major, with the dazzling effect that this signified.