Montserrat Torrent was born in Barcelona in 1926. He has, therefore, 92 years and still plays the organ as he has been doing since what seemed a promising career as a pianist was suddenly cut short by the Civil War. When the contest was over – "providentially", as she says -, she began to study the organ as a simple amateur, but the experience of the first Bach choir she played was a revelation that won her for life for the instrument. A life that, many decades later, still does not conceive apart from music, especially because -confiesa- helps you feel closer to all the loved ones you have been losing. Few of their peers will be able to move to the National Auditorium to listen to a concert. She, however, has just starred on Saturday morning in her double role of interpreter and teacher of the rest of the organists called by the National Center for Musical Diffusion for this tribute to the dean of the instrument not only in our country, but probably around the world.
It was to her, in fact, who was granted the privilege of playing the concert with which the organ of the Symphony Hall of the National Auditorium (built by Gerhard Grenzing, present on Saturday in the hall) was inaugurated on January 3, 1991. It was then, seen the seen, a 64-year-old girl. Now he has touched it again, preceded by several of the countless disciples who have benefited from his teaching, direct or indirect: Andrés Cea, David Malet, Luis Dalda, Juan de la Rubia, José Luis Echechipía and Roberto Fresco. This is not the occasion to enter into personal evaluations of each of his interpretations, since the important thing is not what they played, not even how they played it, but that they were there, leaving evidence of their admiration and gratitude. If it should, perhaps, let it be a little bit of a record of the excellent climate created at the beginning of the concert by Andrés Cea thanks to a loaded version of rhetoric (in a good baroque sense) of the Fantasy in G minor of Bach and the expansive musicality and the overwhelming dominance of the instrument shown by Juan de la Rubia in two movements of the Sonata op. 65 no. 4 of Mendelssohn. The repertoire of the six organists had been wisely chosen and hid obvious links with the honoree herself, who listened carefully to all sitting discreetly on the side of the organ gallery. His students before are the concert artists and teachers of new generations now.
Works by Bach, Buxtehude, Mendelssohn, Torres, Sagaseta and Guridi. Montserrat Torrent, Andrés Cea, David Malet. Luis Dalda, Juan de la Rubia, José Luis Echechipía and Roberto Fresco (organ). National Auditorium, October 20.
The intervention of Montserrat Torrent was reserved to close the concert. In the first place, a choir of the culprit of his vocation, Johann Sebastian Bach, Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, the Lutheran version of the hymn of Pentecost Veni creator Spiritus, a piece that Arnold Schönberg would orchestrate for a large orchestra. In case there was an unbeliever in the room, the first notes were enough to confirm that the creative spirit continues to strongly encourage the Barcelona organist, whose agility of hands and feet can only produce amazement. Then he played the Passacaglia in C minor and the contrast between this very old woman confronted with one of the great organ colossuses of counterpoint and invention unleashed the box of emotions in the room. She affirms herself in the program of hand that from now on she already renounces "to the interpretation of the great organística works", although she will continue touching works less ambitious formally.
However, nothing in his way of playing showed any decline: his pulsation continues to carry the unmistakable stamp of the greatest and his architectural conception of the work, its rhythmic sense or the clarity with which the main theme could always be heard (as ostinato first, as a vanishing subject afterwards), both on the keyboard and on the pedals, are virtues that remain intact and with the same brightness as always. Coordinating two hands and two feet in music of enormous complexity is not an easy task at any age: at 92, playing as it continues to do Montserrat Torrent is an almost incomprehensible prodigy. The only explanation is that, as it happened when another illustrious nonagenarian was active, the pianist Menahem Pressler, a few months ago in Madrid, the organ has become, for decades, your home, your refuge. That, and the joy of having or feeling closer to his people while he touches, is the only thing that can work the miracle.
This tribute, deserved and necessary as few, has served to start a new season of Bach Vermouth, the cycle that has done so much to resurrect the great organ of the Auditorium, previously half-silent for years. Let us raise, then, the glasses dazzled and toast by this unrepeatable organist, glory of the Spanish music, past, present and future: long life – even longer – to Montserrat Torrent!