11 symphonic episodes: the story of Cerati’s most turbulent and criticized project (and which originated in Chile)

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They heard some screams. The always composed musicians of the symphony orchestra thought that the rehearsal day at the Teatro Avenida, in Buenos Aires, had been lost and everything had ended there. However, 15 minutes later, Gustavo Cerati appeared and sang as if nothing had happened. The stress of what had happened a short time before didn’t seem to have affected him.

In that 2001, Argentina was falling apart with an unparalleled economic, social and political crisis. Those were the days of the “Corralito” and the financial collapse, but in the life of the former leader of Soda Stereo, there was also a collapse: that of his marriage to the Chilean Cecilia Amenábar.

After marrying in 1993, the routine of family life (which included two children, Benito and Lisa) had rightly weighed on her, and leaving that behind was significant. “Separating from Cecilia was the end of many things: the end of the most important relationship of her life, the end of her family project, the end of daily coexistence with Benito and Lisa, the end of that private paradise that she had built for herself. for himself, the end of a utopian life model for a rock star”, says Juan Morris in Cerati, the biography (South American, 2015).

The model Deborah del Corral had come into his life, who had been a partner of former Soda Stereo drummer, Charly Alberti. With her he began the journey to the future, always convinced that – as her idol, Luis Alberto Spinetta, said – tomorrow is better.

But every transition leaves shards, and these rocked the very rehearsals of the 11 Symphonic Episodes, which would be his new album. “One day of rehearsals at the theater, she [Cecilia] he went to look for Benito and Lisa, who were in the dressing rooms with him, and everything ended with screams when he saw Deborah, ”says Morris in the aforementioned biography. That’s when the musicians thought they would lose the day, but no.

Gustavo Cerati left life in Chile behind with Cecilia Amenábar, although strictly speaking he had already returned to Buenos Aires for a few years. But it was precisely in our country where the project of the 11 Symphonic Episodes.

The idea came to producer Diego Sáenzand he commented on it to the recording engineer Eduardo Bergallo, who was with Cerati: “When we were mixing in Chile the Comfort and music to fly (1996) by Soda Stereo, Diego called me to tell me about the idea. I told him to travel to Chile, since it would be a good time to show it to him,” Bergallo explained at a recent press conference.

Sáenz traveled and prepared a sample-level demo to show the idea to Cerati, always more practical than theoretical. Along with a Canadian conductor, he made a symphonic version of the theme Stepsincluded in the disk stereo dream (1995), the trio’s last studio album.

Although Cerati liked the idea, it was stored as an earring. And it was after the hectic days of the end of Soda Stereo, including a farewell tour, and the double album The last concert; and the publication of his second solo album, Puff (1999), when the opportunity arose to make the mix with the symphony.

Originally, 11 Symphonic Episodes It wouldn’t just be a record. It was “a television special that consisted of the recording of a live album at the Teatro Avenida with orchestral versions of eleven songs from his career”; Morris points out.

Like Michael Kamen doing the orchestral arrangements for the YE of Metallica, on this occasion that work was carried out by the director Alexander Teran. His first meeting with the always meticulous Cerati was in a car speeding down Libertador Avenue.

“A car stopped me near River, it was Gustavo and he asked me what I was doing. I told him that he was playing a lot at my house imitating the music of B-class horror movies from the ’60s. He told me to do that with his songs and I got off. The next meeting was the first rehearsal. There was no meeting other than the one in the car, which lasted four minutes! ”, He asserted in a conference.

The recording was on August 6, 2001 at the Avenida Theaterwith Gustavo Cerati wearing a suit reminiscent of The little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. On the occasion, the public should have been instructed. “Before we start, we ask everyone to please not clap at the beginning or sing upstairs. They just clap on American blindsbecause we added it later and it wasn’t in the playbill, so it was a surprise because at the beginning there were 10 symphonic episodes”, recalls Sáenz.

Since he only had two solo albums, seven of the eleven tracks are covers of Soda Stereo hits: Animal song, Tell-tale heart, The rite, Sweet incense, American blind, A million light years Y signs. The rest were solo songs: Puff, At Mercy, Root Y verb meat, the only one that already from its origin included orchestral arrangements, recorded at Abbey Road.

Shortly after, the album 11 Symphonic Episodes reached the drawers. “The CD came out the day before President De la Rúa left by helicopter,” recalls Sáenz, that is, on December 19, 2001. But shortly after, the phone of Cerati’s manager, Nando Travi, began to ring. with an interesting proposal that was not in anyone’s calculations.

“Nando received a call from Mexico to do a show there, even though we weren’t supposed to go on tour,” recalls Sáenz. But in the musician’s circle, no one thought much about it, and he accepted himself. “This concert in Mexico is two months after the release of the album, at a time when there was no Spotify, social networks or anything,” adds Sáenz.

The presentation would be on February 9, 2002 at the National Auditorium, the colossus of Mexico City made to host shows, and which has a capacity of 10,000 spectators. In addition, it served as the starting point for a tour of the album that had few dates (by that time, Cerati had abandoned the idea of ​​extensive tours) and that brought it to Chile, on June 21, 2002, when it was presented at the San Carlos de Apoquindo Events Center. On the occasion, he was accompanied by the then Lucybell drummer, Francisco González.

Diego Sáenz adds what he remembers about the presentation in the country of North America. As the album had just come out, and it had only been a show for TV in Argentina, nobody was very clear about the concept. “We arrived in Mexico and people didn’t know much about the album. What was impressive was that people bought tickets for the National Auditorium without having any idea of ​​what they were going to see. They just went to see Cerati.”

Unlike what happened at the Teatro Avenida, this time the public took it as a recital. “In Mexico the people sang higher than the orchestra -recalls Sáenz-. It was like a competition between the musicians. As the fans asked for more songs we had to do an encore with The rite”.

Though Just as it happened in Buenos Aires, the show was also recorded. “Unlike the original concert, listening to the recording, we found that the orchestra played faster, as the musicians were not used to hearing the audience sing. This can be heard on Man to water. It was impressive. The most beautiful”, recalled the producer.

That presentation in Mexico has just been released on an album called 14 Symphonic Episodesas it adds three bonus songs that weren’t on the original album: Lisa (which was the first preview) Man to water Y It was, the last two, from his time at Soda Stereo. This record came about almost by chance. Rummaging through his old archives, Sáenz found the digital recording of the recital, and to the surprise of the entire Cerati circle, the quality was remarkable. There it was thought that it could be a new album.

“It was recorded in 16 channels and it was pretty good to work with, because generally when you work with old digital tapes there are usually quite a few problems, but when I did the transfer everything went perfectly, without any errors or tape bite, which was a good a sign that it had to be done”, explains Beragallo.

At the time, the album 11 Symphonic Episodes received harsh comments from fans of Soda Stereo, disappointed by the material. At the press conference in our country, before the presentation in San Carlos de Apoquindo, Cerati commented: “I cannot have a true notion of what happens with an Orthodox follower, I am very sorry for them if they are very Orthodox (… .) The public is not such a thing as a kind of confluence of cows. I think that this album doesn’t try to compete with the original versions either, that is, it’s a reading of them”. Perhaps it had to be rooted out.

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