JSO performs with a South American flavor

As a change of pace, an all-Brazilian program was presented by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

As a change of pace, an all-Brazilian program was presented by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra last week. Not only was the music Brazilian, but it also was of 20th-21st century vintage, providing a fair sampling of contemporary Brazilian creation, which is not very well known on our shores, except for the inevitable Villa-Lobos.
It was all fairly listener-friendly music – by Edino Krieger, Camargo Guarnieri and Marisa Rezende – remaining rather faithful to classic conventions, though spiced here and there with traditional Brazilian elements and occasional strokes of personal inventiveness. These characteristics made this music noticeably different from European music of the same period, particularly Rezende’s Vereda (2003).
Soloist Luiz Filipe Cuelho, in Guarnieri’s Violin Concerto No. 1, persuasively expressed the work’s energetic South American rhythms in its first movement. Sometimes, though, he had a hard time holding his own against the overpowering brass. In the Romantically inclined slow movement, he sensitively conveyed its lyrical mood and dashed off the sparkling final movement with brilliant virtuosity.
In Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, Sivan Rotem displayed a well-cultured soprano, concluding the Cantilena on a delicately soft high note.
All this was largely well-behaved music. That is, until the encore, a piece based on folkloric Brazilian rhythms, brought the concert to an electrifying conclusion.
Conductor Ligia Amadio held the orchestra firmly in her grip, inspiring it to more enthusiasm and cohesion than usual.