Argentina has sent us the Camerata Bariloche, which performed Thursday night at the Organization of American States. It is one of the best presents we ever received. The 15 strings play without conductor, getting appropriate signs from their concertmaster. The result is an ensemble that puts others to shame.
This is a string sound that glows, made by silken bows that seem endless. The tone is warm, lively and marvelously satisfying. Most of all, there is a spirit among these players that shows intimate musical connections, instrument to instrument. They are subtle without being fussy, dynamic without being overwrought, and stylistic without being mannered.
The soloist of the evening was Guelfo Nalli, on French horn, who played the Cherubini Second Sonata, which is a whole Italian opera in itself. Nalli has a deftness and a compelling rhythm that reminds one of the great Denis Brain, and that's a pretty fair comparison.
The Camerata program presented an early Mozart divertimento, the very attractive Greek Dances of Skalkottas, a fine mood piece, "Adagio Elegiaco," by the Argentine composer-conductor Juan Zorzi, and closed with the String Serenade of Josef Suk (Op. 6), who leaned more to Tchaikovsky than to his father-in-law, Dvorak. In each work, the playing had panache and pizazz. It was perfect.
The Camerata wisely played at the rear of the platform, which made for better sound in that difficult hall. One did not have to battle with the echoes, save for those of memory, which hopes that our Argentine friends bring the Camerata back to play again and again.