‘Solo Piano’ reviewed in MainlyPiano.com

I’m delighted to announce that ‘Solo Piano’ has just received a wonderful review from Mainlypiano.com! 😍

The review has been written by Kathy Parsons. I think she has made a very perceptive and sensitive analysis of the album’s emotional nuances. For anyone interested, I definitely encourage you to read it, and for those who like piano music, to visit mainlypiano.com regularly.

MainlyPiano.com is the home site of Kathy Parsons, Michael Debbage, and Steve Yip.
It features 3,300+ album reviews of more than 1,180 artists, in addition to 385+ songbook reviews and more than 270 interviews.

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Review in Gothic Paradise – En Directo 2015

Review published in Gothic Paradise on March, 28, 2016, about our latest album “En Directo 2015”. Thank you very much!!

After silence for a couple of years from this project it was a great pleasure to receive word of this new release. I’m not usually a fan of “live” albums where the band just captures a bunch of tracks from one or two given live performances. Once in a while you get a gem out of these like The Cure’s live version of “A Forest” and other similar treats. However, I was very pleased to see that while you still get the applause from the audience mixed in with the tracks, the actual songs themselves are clear and pure with no added background nosie, echo, muffling or distortion from the live recording or venue. It is simply a clear and pure acoustic set of beautiful music performed to perfection and absolutely magical that will have true classical musicians and fans swooning as you listen. In fact, the other added bonus is that you can watch this entire performance on a companion DVD that is well recorded, capturing the artists in all their splendor and the music as clear as ever, mixed perfectly for a really nice touch.

On this new classical masterpiece we have a great selection of tracks, spanning thirteen pieces and lasting about an hour. As you watch the video and / or listen to the music, you can get the feeling of being there in the intimate venue as the stunning music permeates the soul. We have a selection of all new music not appearing on previous releases as well as those we’ve enjoyed before, some with a slightly different twist to them in this live venue. “Viajes” starts off the album and if you’re watching the video you get the information that this nine-minute track is actually three different movements, each beautiful and moving as the sweet piano remains the anchor while the caressing cello and weeping oboe come together and are moved along by the subtle and somber percussion. This provides a great introduction to the album and opens and sets the stage for the magical hour that is to follow.

The album is comprised of one dreamy neo-classical piece after another with some standing out as favorites as with previous releases. For those looking for a familiar sound on this live album, we’re treated with “Omnia” and “Progresiva” a few tracks in as their familiar melody rings out in captivating style. “El Cantar de las Hojas” is one of those familiar, yet presented slightly different than we’ve heard before with spoken word at the beginning before the lilting vocals pick up and hold the listener entranced throughout the rest of the song. The final piece that rings familiar is “Inner Chaos” with it’s appropriate name as the intensity picks up with this piece across driving soundscapes.

Favorites among the newly introduced pieces are hard to single out as the entire album is full of one great masterpiece after another. We have the inclusion of vocal pieces like before with the inclusion of a definite favorite in “Furor Et Luctus” as Beatriz’s siren-like vocals come out enchanting and beautiful as a perfect mix with the spellbinding music. After a few familiar tunes we’re presented with the hauntingly simplistic “Drops”. This sweet tune is a pure piano solo showcasing Olga’s talent and flawless technique for a hypnotic journey through a minimal yet spellbinding soundscape. “Trisology” quickly stood out as a favorite from the first time listening to the album with all of the captivating attributes of soft and dreamy cello and oboe underpinning the sweet piano melodies. “Sola Dryas” stands out as a sweet little celtic inspired tune with the addition of the flute / recorder as well as the oboe and cello with the inclusion of Beatriz’s haunting vocals. The album ebbs and flows over more masterpieces and finally comes to a close with “Hidden Faces” serving as a sort of finale with dark and ominous broken piano chords providing the backdrop for the somber cello and oboe, all building to a dynamic climax with the percussion adding the final punctuation to it all.

There you have it, another neo-classical masterpiece created in a way that is memorable and a new classic for our collection. Be sure to check it out, this is definitely something for fans to really enjoy.

Rating: 5/5

Review in Dark-World.ru

Review published in Dark-World.ru in March, 26, 2014. Language: Russian.

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Nuevas Músicas: Itineris I review

Review published in March, 24, 2014, about Itineris I, in musicforambients.blogspot.com.
Language: Spanish.

Proyecto de neoclásico/darwave de lo mejorcito que podemos encontrar en el panorama actual en este pais, lo acabo de descubrir recientemente y la verdad es que me ha sorprendido la calidad de sus composiciones y arreglos. Vienen de Madrid y la fundadora del grupo se llama Olga B. (piano, voces, composición, arreglos) y a ella se une Pilar Molina (violonchelo, voces).

Si eres fan de los catalanes Narsilion, Arcana (tienes varios discos en este blog), Qntal, Dark Sanctuary, Artesia… te va a gustar este trabajo.

En este álbum colaboran Zeulagh (percusión, flautas) y Blanca (voces y asesoramiento con el latín). Once temas donde encontraremos desde bandas sonoras imaginarias, solos de piano que nos ponen melancólicos y hasta temas vocales que despiertan nuestra fantasía. Las melodías que se consiguen fusionando piano, cuerdas y voces angelicales están muy logradas y nos transportan a bosques encantados.

El disco ha sido editado entre el sello nacional dedicado a este tipo de sonidos oscuros, GH Records y el sello argentino Twilight Records. Os pongo un par de temas que son de los que más me gustan.

En el 2012 se unen al dúo Fernando (percusión) y Carmen (oboe, flautas), y publican un nuevo disco Vitae Proelium que a mi modesto entender es todavía mejor que éste. Comprobadlo vosotros mismos.

Wolfhall: Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Wolfhall, in December, 2013. Languages: German & English.

Wolfhall: Aura Noctis – Vitae Proelium (English)

Album Rezension, Jan. 2013 | Album review, Jan. 2013

After ‘Itineris I’ dating from 2011, now the second album by the female Spanish duo is out, noticeably matured and more clearly focused. Expect an excellent blend of ‘Ethereal’, Medieval and ‘Neoclassical’. The skilled use of acoustic instruments is obvious, only towards the end spheric synthie-sounds are incorporated. That is the main difference regarding the first album, where keyboards have dominated. The vocal parts are particularly charming. Solos, duets or pieces with a Gregorian touch sung by the two. In addition they play the piano and cello. Guest musicians were signed on for flute, oboe and percussion, all deliver a fabulous job. The title song of the album, ‘Vitae Proelium’ (lat.): ‘Battle of Life’ is the most prolific.

About half of the tracks are instrumental, supposedly they were meant for loosing up, or just to round off the CD. But this remains the only thing to complain. Enchanting highlights are undoubtedly the pieces featuring vocals, I demand more of those on the upcoming release.
The mastering was done by the boss of the French label Prikosnovénie, which was a pretty good deal for them.

Fenris W.

Wolfhall: Aura Noctis – Vitae Proelium (German)

Album Rezension, Jan. 2013 | Album review, Jan. 2013

Nach ‚Itineris I‘ aus dem Jahr 2011 kommt nun ein deutlich augereifteres, akzentuierteres zweites Album des weiblichen spanischen Duos. Den Hörer erwartet eine exzellente Mischung aus Ethereal, Mittelalterlichem und Neoclassical. Der Umgang mit den akustischen Instrumenten ist gekonnt, lediglich gegen Ende erklingen noch Synthie-Flächen im Hintergrund. Das macht den Hauptunterschied zum ersten Werk aus, wo Keyboards dominierten. Insbesondere die Gesangsstücke sind sehr reizvoll angelegt. Solos, Duette oder gregorianisch angehauchte Partien von beiden Sängerinnen. Außerdem spielen sie Klavier und Cello. Für Flöte, Oboe und Schlagwerk wurden Gastmusiker gewonnen, die ausnahmslos eine versierte Arbeit abliefern. Der Titelsong des Albums, ‚Vitae Proelium‘ (lat.):‚Kampf des Lebens‘ ist wohl das gelungenste Stück.

Ungefähr die Hälfte der CD sind instrumentale Titel, vermutlich waren sie zur Auflockerung gedacht, oder damit die CD voll wird. Ansonsten kann man den Künstlern wenig ankreiden. Bezaubernde Höhepunkte sind zweifelsohne die Stücke mit Gesang, davon wünsche ich mir noch mehr wenn die nächste Veröffentlichung ansteht.
Das Mastering der Produktion wurde vom Chef des französischen Prikosnovénie Labels übernommen, bei dem sie sichtlich in guten Händen waren.

Fenris W.

Heathen Harvest: Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Heathen Harvest in June, 16, 2013, about our album Vitae Proelium. Language: English.

Aura Noctis is a band that has somehow eluded me throughout my musical journeys above and beyond. Twice before have they been reviewed on The Harvest, and both times I was brooding away on some black metal barbarism or introverted space ambient, but this third time is a charm and now I finally have the chance to review their latest album, Vitae Proelium. Aura Noctis is a neoclassical act that started out with Olga on piano and Pilar on cello while both added vocals into the mix. In Vitae Proelium, the ranks have been bolstered by Rubén on flutes, drums and vocals, Fernando on drums and Carmen on oboe. Plenty of neoclassical bands have a tendency to use way too many synthetic instruments in their music ending up with songs that sound partially monotonous and lifeless. Sometimes the use of synthetics might be charming, and I admit that my own opinion on black metal bands such asSummoning have gone from adoration to mediocrity due to the synthetic sounds becoming too clean, but here the purity of sound works on a whole different level and really brings forth the life of the songs.

The album starts slowly with “Windtro” being a slow and serene story filled to the brim with both melancholy and beauty. The album quickly gains some pace however and really starts to bloom in the title track “Vitae Proelium” with its slow but steady drumming and ominous voices that bloom out in solemn voices over a sweet melody of flutes. The album continues to evolve with the minimal and heavenly “El Cantar de las Hojas” which masterfully manages to blend vocals, flute and piano together in an effortlessly exquisite way. “Inner Chaos”, on the other hand, is more of a hefty and rigorous composition with a harder, more distinct sound — the complete opposite to the rather serene introduction. The album continues this journey between the blissful and the rough within a balance that is uncanny in many ways. This is an album bristling with diverse and varied content that spans from the enchanted “Arevaci”, which conjures imagery of faery feasts in forlorn parts of the woods, to the sad and melancholic atmosphere of “Un Lugar” with its sweet Spanish vocals that truly lift it above and beyond.

Vitae Proelium is truly a strong album and the combination of fine artistry and marvelous compositions really nails this album down as one of the best neoclassical albums of the later years. Not only does it manage to feel fresh and exciting in a scene that has, for some time now, not really done much to reinvent itself. The instruments really breathe life into each and every song of the album, and the production is excellent. This is truly a musical hydra with many different heads, each singing its own song from the depths of a shared soul. In the end, this album has been a pleasure to encounter and I give it my deepest recommendation. Vitae Proelium is a dream distilled into music and it will surely linger in my soul for many years to come.

_Track List:_

01) Windtro
02) Vitae Proelium
03) El Cantar de las Hojas
04) Inner Chaos
05) Dances of the Soul
06) Amissi
07) Frater Mortis
08) Lautir
09) Arevaci
10) Verna
11) Un Lugar
12) Quimera
13) Omnia in Anima Manent

Rating: 5/5
Written by: Skarsnik
Label: In the Morningside Records (Spain) / MORNING019 / CD

Mentenebre: Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Mentenebre in February, 25, 2013. Language: Spanish

Pocas cosas recuerdo de mis clases de Latín en bachillerato, y eso que fue una de las asignaturas en las que destacaba, aunque yo era lo que se podía decir entonces “un chico de ciencias”. No sabía que el futuro me iba a deparar mis estudios en Historia del Arte y que aquel Latín podría haberme ayudado, y mucho. Bien es verdad que algo he ido refrescando en todo este tiempo desde que llevo haciendo crítica musical de grupos de corte Neoclásico como es el caso que nos ocupa.

Aura Noctis – “Vitae Proelium”. “Vitae Proelium” se podría traducir algo así como “la batalla de la vida”, esa lucha continua a la que nos enfrentamos todos quizá sobre todo desde el momento que despertamos a la madurez. De alguna manera, el pasar nuestro particular rito de iniciación, sea cual fuere, nos enfrenta a una vida por la que hemos de luchar. Y quizá es esto lo que nos propone Aura Noctis en este trabajo.

Aparentemente, su música, que podemos encuadrar dentro de la escena Neoclásica, podría parecer dulce ante una primera escucha, por sus tempos, por su armonía, por esas voces celestiales, pero nada más allá de la realidad. Sus temas están cargados de dramatismo, de dolor, de nostalgia, aunque siempre queda un hueco para la esperanza. Aparece, de este modo, un goticismo que se traduce tanto en letras como en las composiciones a la manera del réquiem.

Hay algunas referencias que bien conocemos los seguidores de estas corrientes misicales, como lo es el otoño, tema que protagoniza uno de los temas más bellos del CD: ‘El Cantar de las Hojas’, profundo y desgarrador, con el piano cadencioso de Olga, una flauta profunda y llena de dolor contenido a cargo de Rubén, que acompañan a las profundas voces de Pilar. Los mundos oscuros, donde danzan las almas que despiertan del sueño eterno, quizá en los reinos del diablo, como reza la canción ‘Dances of the Soul’ se muestra como una de las canciones más ricas del álbum en cuanto a composición y ejecución.

Seguimos la senda de la tiniebla hacia ‘Frater Mortis’, la “hermana Muerte”, donde el apartado vocal, compartido por Olga, Pilar y Rubén, compone una coral oscura, medievalista y profundamente gótica, en una suerte de revisión de un réquiem. La más oscura del disco. Un tema que me llena de inquietud es ‘Un lugar’, cantado en castellano, una especie de oda a los desheredados, a las ánimas que viven la tragedia de no haber conseguido en vida los tesoros que ésta nos ofrece: la última oportunidad, el último perdón o el último “te quiero”. Está cargada de dolor y sentimiento. Profunda.

Aura Noctis – “Vitae Proelium”Mención especial merecen las canciones instrumentales como ‘Inner Chaos’, ‘Verna’ o ‘Quimera’. Las primeras son mis favoritas, con una composición brillante que de la quietud nos traslada a la vibración, a la elevación, pero que vira hacia el dramatismo final, de nuevo cadencioso. La terceraa no sabemos si invoca a ese animal mitológico de tres cabezas que echaban llamas o quizá a ese anhelo utópico, ese creer que un sueño se puede hacer realidad. Quizá las dos acepciones valgan para esta pieza protagonizada únicamente por el piano de Olga. Setrata también de una pieza magistral.

Cierro este periplo volviendo al comienzo. Me he reservado el comentario de ‘Vitae Proelium’ para el final. Es un tema soberbio donde todas las habilidades de los componentes de Aura Noctis alcanzan el climax: Pilar, Olga y Rubén entonan los cánticos de bravura, las percusiones de Fernando nos conducen al fragor de la batalla, donde los únicos elementos de esperanza los aportan el oboe de Carmen y la flauta de Rubén. Es la lucha de la que hablábamos al principio, la vida como camino en el que no enfrentamos a diario con nosotros mismos. Es muy fiel representante del conjunto de un álbum magnífico del que sin duda los amantes del género vais a disfrutar.

Hay que señalar a un personaje importante en este álbum, se trata de Frederic Chaplain del sello Prikosnovenie, que se ha encargado de la producción. Sin duda su mano magistral hace que sea magnífico el sonido del disco.

Como última referencia, la portada del disco, que reconocí nada mas verla, se trata de “Esperanza” de Watts, pintor británico a caballo entre la Academia y el Prerrafaelismo. Un cuadro que pudimos ver hace poco en Madrid en la exposición que sobre William Blake organizó Caixa Forum. En este lienzo una joven con los ojos vendados toca el arpa. La música como único consuelo a los ojos que no pueden ver, un anhelo que nunca sabemos si llegará y cuyo dolor solo se apacigua con las notas del arpa.

Quizá lo que Aura Noctis nos propone sea eso: una maravillosa música que cure nuestra alma que tiene la esperanza de un anhelo quizá imposible de cumplir. Cerrad los ojos y disfrutad.

Trabajo Comentado por: Pedro Ortega {MN}

Gothic Paradise Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Gothic Paradise, about our album “Vitae Proelium”.

Vitae Proelium – Review

To say I was excited when I heard of a new album from this project would be an understatement. So many tracks from Itineris I have created a longing for more great music from these artists and so it’s great to finally have that longing satisfied. With thirteen captivating tracks, this album is yet another great masterpiece for the neo-classical music fan.

I think I could sum up this review and this album in about a single sentence, or maybe even just a couple of words: simply beautiful. Well, it really is so much more than that and the compositions are much more complex as well. However I have a soft spot for a great mix of piano, cello, oboe and subtle layered ambient synths all serving as a back-drop to beautifully, haunting vocals. As a musician, particularly a pianist, having performed alongside the cello and oboe on occasion, hearing each of these instruments come out so well on these compositions is really captivating. It’s nice to just sit back and listen, soaking it all in as note after note and wave after wave of emotionally spellbinding music wafts over you, as a warm mist or fresh breath of air, revitalizing the soul through the grandeur and beauty of it all.

For those that enjoyed the dynamic, neo-classical tracks from the first album, there’s plenty here as they build on their solid foundation. The album starts with a slightly new twist on “Windtro” which is a sort of play on the word with the wind instruments of the flute and oboe taking center stage for this introductory track. The dynamic nature of this album shines forther across the entire span as piece by piece we’re presented with varying degrees of intensity and various styles. It all comes together in the powerful title track “Vitae Proelium” with a heavy, processional percussion setting the rhythm while a duo of vocals and synthesized chorus form the web of layers as the organic flute, oboe and cello bring it all together. This slightly heavier, more intense style comes alive on a few pieces, the most intense of which is appropriately named “Inner Chaos”. This instrumental piece showcases Olga’s excellent talent on the piano while the instruments create a nice backdrop adding more breadth and depth to it all. Other pieces come together in like manner such as “Amissi” in a slightly slower and somber mood as well as the more intense piece “Lautir” which comes out as something more of a soundtrack to an epic fantasy adventure movie.

While these are all great pieces and enjoyable, my heart and sould remain captivated by the softer, more classically oriented pieces from these artists. The angelic vocals over the softer, dreamier music is spellbending and mesmerizing. The first of these on the album appears in the form of “El Cantar de las Hojas”. On their debut album “Encontrarte” was the dreamiest of pieces and it seems they’ve realized this and capitalized on the beauty of that structure and we’re presented with a number of excellent selections on this album of similar style. “Dances of the Soul” finds itself somewhere in between the two worlds, haunting and intense, yet beautiful and alluring with the piano making the heart race while the background ambient soundscapes hold the listener entranced. Also breaking the mold slightly is the wilting fairy tune “Arevaci” that inspires a lighthearted, elf or fairy dance from some other fantasy world. The lilting waltz is bolstered and anchored by heavy percussion and deep cello while the dreamy flute and oboe keep it moving along in that buoyant, lively nature. As the album comes to a close we’re treated with “Un Lugar” with more of the soft haunting vocals in spanish and with that madrile�o accent that is like sugar to the ears to someone accustomed to it, yet not around it much when living on the west coast of the United States. The album wraps up with two more beautiful pieces, “Quimera” which is another intense, yet beautiful instrumental that gives way to “Omnis in Anima Manent”. This finale to the album presents us with soft, somber piano and beautiful, soft soprano operatic vocals, a truly spellbinding combination and great way to wrap up the album.

These talented artists have truly out-done themselves and shown they have a solid foundation to build on and plenty of creativity and talent to grow with. As I began this review, it can easily be summed up as simply beautiful. Enjoy!

Rating: 5/5

Darkitalia: Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Darkitalia.it in January, 26, 2013. Language: italian

Notevole gruppo spagnolo, questi Aura Noctis con Vitae Proelium propogono un Gothic di stampo Neo-classico.

Non mancano pezzi di intensa suntuosità quasi operistica e da “requiem” (Vitae Proelium, Inner Chaos, Amissi, interamente strumentale) che piaceranno a chi già ama Stoa e Die Verbanntenn Kinder Evas, alternati a pezzi più intimisti e minimalisti, (Omnia in anima manent, Un Lugar, e El cantar de las hojas, sorte di ninnananne, la pallida e fragile Dances of the soul, uno dei pezzi migliori dell’album, insieme alla cupissima e drammatica Frater Mortis, arricchita da vocals maschili); a una voce leggermente lirica, se ne contrappone una vibrante tonalità più piene e passionali, dolenti, in cori “quasi gregoriani” al femminile. Ricordano anche gli Elend, nei passaggi più ombrosi (la già citata Frater Mortis o Lautir), ma rispetto a loro sono meno appesantiti e le canzoni sono impostate a derive più dinamiche e soffuse. Arevaci vede l’influsso dei Dargaard/Artesia, con quel suono sospeso in una Terra di Mezzo di secoli ormai lontani; altro pezzo notevole.

In conclusione: gruppo che ha le carte in regola per farsi apprezzare; non saranno famosissimi, forse “penalizzati” dalla provenienza geografica “così distante dalla Mecca tedesca” ma meritano l’ascolto, malgrado non propongano nulla personale o “rivoluzionario”, limitandosi a seguire i canoni del genere.

La letra capital: Vitae Proelium Review

Review published on December, 27, 2012, in La letra capital, about Vitae Proelium. Language: Spanish.

Tras el indiscutible aldabonazo que supuso Itineris I en la escasa escena patria (sí, pese a que un alto porcentaje –tal y como está el patio- se muevan en las mismas aguas que los del aura nocturna, la cantidad y calidad de grupos oscuros en España sigue a años luz de la de otros países), el lanzamiento de Vitae Proelium tenía pinta de caramelo envenenado. Ya sabes, aquello del segundo disco (que se supone el más difícil); aquello de la dificultad de la segunda sorpresa; aquello de la imposibilidad de causar una segunda buena primera impresión… un largo etcétera de lo que los cursis llaman hándicaps. Por fortuna, el abajo firmante no participaba de ninguna de las sospechas. Sabía de las cualidades del ahora (más o menos, Pilar Molina y Olga B. García están bien acompañadas) quinteto. Sabía de la adición de un oboe –la participación de Carmen R. Revuelta es muy destacable- en algunas canciones, sabía del aumento de las percusiones (las manos de largos dedos de Fernando O. Paíno) que sin duda otorgarían mayor riqueza en las texturas, sabía de la capacidad compositiva, del buen gusto… insisto en que no había lugar a sospechas.

Aún así, cuando escucho por vez primera un disco (más si conozco a los autores, más si las expectativas son altas) no puedo evitar los nervios. Y éste no iba a ser excepción. Con la entrada de vientos en el Windtro que abre el CD (gran título) los nervios se van soltando. Ya ese tema instrumental apunta lo que luego será un hecho: que la aportación del oboe y el mayor número de sonidos de flauta (Rubén G. gana peso respecto de los discos anteriores) enriquecen melódicamente lo que ya era rico en sí mismo. Y a partir de ahí, todo es ya hacia arriba, algún toque darkfolero menor por allí (esa percusión en Amissi, los arreglos en Frater Mortis…), algún cello especialmente sublime, el impresionante piano (bastante clásico) de Lautir, las voces tan bellas –un acierto la colaboración de Blanca García en Omnia In Anima Manent-, las flautas tomando protagonismo (Verna o Arevaci –recuperada para la ocasión del del Kaelia de Zevlagh, ha ganado con la recuperación enjundia y peso, aunque la composición ya era más que buena- son muestras de ello). Es difícil para mí quedarme con una canción u otra, es complicado porque no sabría qué hacer, cuál escoger. Me gustan (mucho) las citadas, pero también me gustan (también mucho) las demás. No hay desperdicio, no hay ningún tema que (de ninguna manera) sobre. El trío final (Un Lugar, Quimera y Omnia In Anima Manent) no lo permite “rematando” un segundo disco que supera con creces (y era francamente complicado) lo anterior. Poco importa que te acerques al grupo desde el gusto neoclásico, desde el folk o simplemente desde el gusto puro por la música bien hecha. Da lo mismo, porque estoy seguro de que el estilo es lo de menos. Decía al principio que Itineris I había sido un aldabonazo, Vitae Proelium tira la puerta y demuestra que si decimos que Aura Noctis es –ya, ahora, a día de hoy- una de las más sólidas realidades del género (trascendiendo además cualquiera de los comúnmente citados al referirse a ellos), no podemos estar equivocados. Puedes comprarlo (y ratificar lo leído) en Rara Avis o a través del propio grupo (http://auranoctis.bigcartel.com/).

Por AVATAR a las 19:36 28/12/12