The XII Inter-American Music Festival brought a new name to Washington last night with the local premiere of Maximo Flugelman's "Symphonic Variants." It is a handsome work, unafraid of short romantic echoes while maintaining a lively contemporary sound. The Festival Orchestra strings were articulate if not bright, and the winds and brass had an air of virtuosity in this work which, incredibly, is the young Argentinian's first venture into the orchestral repertory.
An opening Fanfare, Prelude and Fugue gave rhythmic thrills while initiating the musical dialogue. After impressive brass and percussion writing, with the added dimension of discreet piano scoring, a brief Pastorale brought lovely descending figures on the violas. A frenzied Toccata drove the work to a loud, lighthearted finale.
Flugelman's score was particularly attractive when heard in such close proximity to the far less interesting Violin Concerto by William Schuman, which followed. Schuman's is a silly, ponderous work, described by the composer as "two large chunks of music," and one for which it is hard to drum up affection. Soloist Ruben Gonzalez played impeccably and did his best to stay away from the score's trashy ramblings, and Jorge Mester's control was admirable. But it was a tough battle.