“Terrific Brass at Las Condes” by Gilberto Ponce Vera @visionescriticas.cl

Published on December 8, 2015 by Gilberto Ponce Vera

One of the most amazing ensembles we have encountered this year performed at the Teatro Municipal de Las Condes, presenting a brief run of 6 concerts; we’re speaking of M5 Mexican Brass, a brass quintet, whose members are Alexander Freund and Oscar Villegas Miranda, on trumpet; Juan Carlos Quiterio Miguel, French horn; Roberto Carlos Cruz, trombone and José López Juárez, tuba, directed by Alexander Freund.

We say this mostly because of their extraordinary musical quality, which is simply astonishing. We have only heard such perfection in a wind ensemble just a few times. The horn, tuba and trombone really amaze because of the beauty of the sound, but also the exceptional speed and perfection playing sixteenth notes. Saying this, we don’t intend to undermine the great quality of the two trumpet players (one being the director). Their background is regular work with Mexican Symphony Orchestras, where they read scores. But they play completely by memory in their program From Baroque to Bernstein, including Mexican Folksongs.

Their staging is designed with great efficiency, affection, and humor. They use precise lighting design, which enhances the audience’s pleasure from the very start with the overture Vuelta de Fuego by Kevin McKee, where they appear in silhouette, simulating an illuminated sculpture. They played the Hornpipe, from Handel’s Watermusic in the aisles out among the audience, working baroque bows to the audience into their exquisite interpretation. Already delighted with Handel, the third movement of Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto left the audience stunned by the precision, phrasing and articulation, knowing the original was written for strings.

The complex overture to La Boda de Luis Alonso by Gerónimo Jiménez, festive, with a Spanish touch, contrasted with the expressivity and subtle beauty of the Evening Prayer from the opera Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck. Latin charm returned with a powerful version of Libertango by Piazzolla.

The second half brought us more popular tunes, mixed with music of Leonard Bernstein, concluding with brilliant traditional Mexican pieces, which made the audience rave.

We cannot leave unmentioned the only piece of the night they played from sheet music: a beautiful arrangement of Si vas para Chile by Chito Faró.

This visit, which will be remembered for a long time, is without doubt one of the best surprises of this musical year in Santiago.

Gilberto Ponce: VisionesCriticas.CL – December 8, 2015

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