Territorios. Buenos Aires.
The walls spoke for themselves. Even without knowing that the building at 564 Mexico Street was at one time the National Library, everything indicates that at some time these walls were decorated from floor to ceiling with hundreds of bound pages. And although in the past a deadly silence was the undeniable owner of the hall, on Saturday 11th it was defeated in an invisible battle between Literature and music. Or perhaps both disciplines won?
Juan Angel Navarro is an Argentinean composer and cellist who has resided in Hamburg since 1999.
Together with the ensemble "Libertas", a group of musicians originating from Germany, Russia, Armenia, Ecuador and Argentina, he presented the ODE FOR MARTIN FIERRO, a cantata based on the emblematic text of Jose Hernandez.
This young man with meticulously gathered long hair, on reading this bucolic work far from home, his head was filled with music as he went through the pages of the text and for days and nights he was obsessed with shaping those paragraphs into music.
Definitely, then, both disciplines won. People filled the chairs set out in the Williams Hall for what was unusually and fortunately a free event. The soprano and mezzo-soprano, together with Victor Torres as the guest soloist, the guitars and cellos, the piano and the double bass, all took their places, and before beginning they requested absolute silence. “It is a complete work”, explained the pianist. The doors were closed with the order given not to open them during the concert, although they were opened on more than one occasion between one fragment and another, at the request of those who arrived late. While the music played, not even the buzzing of a fly could be heard. To the point that anyone who wanted to uncross his legs and cross them the other way waited for a short gap so as not to distract the performers. There was an absolute respect throughout the hall and not even the sound of a cell phone to interrupt the masterpiece. The acoustics of the hall would have exposed anyone who forgot to switch off his phone and had received even a text message.
Yes, there were the sounds of fireworks planned for the closing of the concert of bells which had rung some minutes before in the historical centre of the city, but these did not cause a disturbance for very long. It will have been easier for Navarro to put Martin Fierro to music, than for this reporter to describe in words what she heard on that night.
Three singers who sounded like a mass choir, with vocal cords that made sounds as if from other bodies which were not theirs. Indescribable sounds that caused goose-bumps from emotion and surprise, like a chemical reaction on breaking free from the inner depths of those who produced them.
All enjoyed themselves, those that made the music and those that listened to it, Navarro and the ladies with white hair perfectly arranged in buns.
In the seconds of silence between one fragment and another, the public seemed to have to struggle not to applaud; this request made at the beginning had to be respected, but as the last note sounded emotion broke out and more than one held back tears in their eyes. The ode was composed with the intention of "recreating the roughness of the atmosphere and of the events narrated in the text, as well as alluding, at times, to aspects typical of Argentine folk music".
The mission was accomplished. For an hour, those present were carried away by the story of Fierro and the gauchos of the 19th century, and as if they had springs in their legs they jumped out of their seats to burst into a final round of applause.
Navarro, notably moved, did not hide his surprise on seeing the warmth of the welcome with which his native Argentina received his Martin Fierro.
MULTICULTURAL. An ensemble formed by musicians of different countries.
The roughness of the language of the Argentine gaucho mixes with lyrical vocalization in a fine musical composition, with the name of Ode for Martin Fierro which will be presented tonight at 9 p.m. in the San Martin Theatre (601 Sarmiento Avenue).
This cantata, based on the texts of Jose Hernandez, boasts the musical direction of Juan Angel Navarro and the performance of the outstanding baritone Victor Torres. The piece will be performed by the Ensemble Libertas, formed by Navarro in 2004, and comprising musicians from Germany, Armenia, Russia, Ecuador and Argentina. The work was premiered in Hamburg and then presented in Berlin.
"Re-reading the work of Hernandez I could hear, like a distant echo, the colossal music which the verses of Martin Fierro contain, and from then on I became obsessed with the idea of creating a composition with that epic dimension", indicated Navarro.
The conductor is both a cellist and a composer. In 2007 he conducted the recording of his first CD with some of his works under the title of "Ewige Elemente Unserer Existenz" (Eternal Elements of Our Existence) published in 2008. The piece will appear in the 50th Musical September under the auspices of the Minister of Culture of the Nation.
La Gaceta. Tucumán. Argentina
The Martin Fierro is perhaps - as Lugones said - the national book of the Argentineans, because it describes a good part of our identity.
Juan Angel Navarro, an Argentine composer and cellist resident in Germany, composed a cantata for baritone, soprano, mezzo, three cellos, two guitars, piano and double bass with texts from the poem by Jose Hernandez. The cast boasts the participation of Victor Torres, one of the outstanding voices in the country.
It is difficult to imagine that the coarse language of our gauchos can be combined with so-called erudite music. Nevertheless, Navarro envelops the verses with a sound which hints at rhythms characteristic of folklore native to the Pampas, creating the appropriate atmosphere for each situation that is narrated. Examples of this symbiosis are the Malambo Fugado and the Milonga del Moreno.
The author has achieved a work of strange beauty, with content of epic strength.
Victor Torres. Bariton.
"The musical language of Navarro and his ability to express his thoughts musically are truly admirable.
Ode for Martin Fierro is a crucial work for these times… For its musical relevance, for its social importance, and above all for its aesthetic value."