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Choir of Pamplona: Improvement Continues

ENGLISH

In the business world it is very common to use the concept of continuous improvement to highlight the need not to stay static. As much as the logistical operations of a company seem to work with the precision of a Swiss watch, there will always remain some aspect that it can operate more efficiently. If this applies to such an organized and studied field as in economics, the more it will be in an area such as the arts, where the absolute perfection is by definition, unattainable.

As is well known, the Pamplona Choir is going through a period of splendor but there is repertoire that usually does not demonstrate their best: the a cappella works or with reduced instrumental accompaniment. This occurrence is natural in a chorus whose actions focus on symphonic music, but with good reason, it was decided to prepare a program in commemoration of the foundations Centennial Anniversary, an entire concert conducted by one of the great choral directors of this day, Douglas Sheldon. This gave the Pamplona Orfeón an opportunity to enrich their repertoire and to train in a set of indispensable works as every major choral group does.

The centerpiece of the beginning of the concert was Faure's Requiem, a work very frequently done by the Choir of Pamplona but on this day, it presented some problems. The group did a great job in the most expansive sections, as in the climax of the Sanctus, and reached some very lyrical deserving moments, as in the beginning of the Domine Jesu Christe. But in the initial Requiem or the finale of In Paradisum, among others, there was tuning issues. The direction of Douglas Sheldon was very successful, since he was able to interpret the work with the pause due. Raul del Toro performed an admirable accompaniment. Andrea Jimenez sang Pie Jesu very well, although without the desirable childlike purity, and Jose Antonio Lopez had a good performance, however excessively melodramatic in the Libera me.

The performance of the Choir of Pamplona improved with the arrival of the motets without instrumental accompaniment. With the singers now at the head of the church and not in the choir, they faced with assertiveness and delivery a repertoire that the group had just frequented. In particular, highlighted in Bruckner’s Inveni David, in which the male sections showed why they are so highly valued, and the entire end of the concert, which counted on the participation of the Choir, extraordinary as always. The level of the conductor was more. If in the Locus iste and the Virga Jesse there was a missed pause and recollection that the trombonists of the Sinfonica de Navarra did realize in the two Acquale, Douglas Sheldon showed more affinity with the fragment of Mendelssohn's Elias and was able to understand the extraordinary riches of the Casals and Gorriti motets. Finally, it was noted that in the Negro spirituals Sheldon was in his territory. Fueled by the evident enthusiasm of the Choir, all surrendered to their highest standards, and as a result, the Choir of Pamplona was much more convincing in this repertoire than in their last attempts.

Overall, we were happy to see that also without orchestral accompaniment, the Choir Pamplona is continuing a process of continuous improvement. This concert with Douglas Sheldon is a good demonstration.


SPANISH

En el mundo empresarial es muy frecuente utilizar el concepto de mejora continua para destacar la necesidad de no quedarse estancado. Por mucho que las operaciones logisticas de una firma parezcan funcionar con la precision de un reloj suizo, siempre quedara algun aspecto que pueda funcionar de manera mas eficiente. Si esto es aplicable a un ambito tan organizado y estudiado como el economico, tanto mas lo sera en un ambito como el artistico, en donde la perfeccion absoluta es, por definicion, inalcanzable.

Como es bien sabido, el Orfeon Pamplones esta atracesando un periodo de esplendor pero hay un repertoiro en el que habitualmente no suele dar su mejor nivel: las obras a capella o con acompnamiento instrumental reducido. Esta carencia es natural en un coro cuyas actuaciones se centran en las muscia sinfonica, pero con buen criterio, se ha optado por preparar entre los actos de conmemoracion de los ciento cincuenta anos de la fundacion del conjunto un concierto conducido por uno de los grandes directores corales de la actualidead, Douglas Sheldon. Esto daba ocasion a que el Orfeon Pamplones enriqueciera su repertoiro y se entrenara en un conjunto de obras indispensables para toda agrupacion coral importante.

El eje central del comienzo del concierto era el Requiem de Faure, una obra muy frecuentada por el Orfeon Pamplones pero que, el dia de hoy, le presenta algunos problemas. La agrupacion realizo un gran trabajo en las secciones mas expansivas, como en el climax del Sanctus, y alcanzo algunos momentios liricos muy meritorios, como el comienzo del Domine Jesu Christe. Pero en el Requiem inicial o el In Paradisum final, entre otros, hubo dudas de afinacion. La direccion de Douglas Sheldon resulto muy acertada, puesto que supo interpretar la obra con la pausa debida. Raul del toro realizo un acompanamiento admirable. Andrea Jimenez canto muy bien el Pie Jesu, aunque sin la pureza infantil deseable, y Jose Antonio Lopez realizo una buena prestacion, aunque excesivamente melodramatica en el Libera me.

La actuacion del Orfeon Pamplones mejoro con la llegada de los motetes sin acompanamiento instrumental. Con los cantantes ya en la cabecera de la iglesia y no en el coro, afronto con decision y entrega un repertorio que la agrupacion apenas habia frecuentado. En particular, destaco el Inveni David de Bruckner, en el que seccion masculina demostro por que esta tan altamente valorada, y toda la parte final del concierto, que conto con la participacion de la escolania, extraordinaria como siempre. El nivel directorial fue a mas. Si al Locus iste y al Virga Jesse les falto la pausa y el recogimiento que los trombonistas de la Sinfonica de Navarra si consiguieron en los dos Acquale, Douglas Sheldon mostro mas afinidad con el fragmento del Elias de Mendelssohn y supo entender las extraordinaria riquezas de los motetes de Casals y Gorriti. Finalmente, se noto que en los espirituales negros Sheldon estaba en su terreno. Alimentados por el entusiasmo evidente de la escolania, todos rindieron a su mejor nivel y, como resultado, el Orfeon Pamplones se mostro mucho mas convincente en este repertorio que en sus ultimas incursiones.

En conjunto, nos alegramos de percibir que, tambien sin acompanamiento orquestal, el Orfeon Pamplones sigue en proceso de mejora continua. Este concierto con Douglas Sheldon es Buena demostracion.

Xabier Armendáriz, Music Review
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