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Grossmann, Cordero, Zyman, León, Moya: Da Capo Chamber Players, Merkin Concert Hall, New York City. 7.10.2010 (BH)

Da Capo Chamber Players

Patricia Spencer, flute

Meighan Stoops, clarinet

Curtis Macomber, violin

André Emelianoff, cello

Blair McMillen, piano

Guest artists:

Gregory Hesselink, cello

Matthew Gold, percussion

Alex Lipowski, percussion

Matthew Ward, conductor

Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann: Mecanismos (2001)

Roque Cordero: Quinteto (1949)
Samuel Zyman: Musica para Cinco (2009, US Premiere)

Tania León: Alma (2007)
Reinaldo Moya: Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada (2007)

Under the umbrella of Música con Sabor Latino, the Da Capo Chamber Players began their 40th anniversary season with works from the early 21st century, dipping briefly back to the mid-20th for Roque Cordero’s 1949 Quinteto. Cordero, an American composer born in Panama, studied with Ernst Krenek, then taught composition at Indiana and Illinois State Universities. Cordero’s four movements include a madly careening Vivace, a Lento showcasing the cello, a scurrying Allegro that feels like a fugue, and a charging finale—all sounding (pleasantly) like a sort of Latin-influenced Hindemith.

Prefacing the Cordero was Mecanismos by Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann, a young Lima-born composer who studied in São Paulo, eventually finding his current spot teaching at Ithaca College. The work’s four sections refer to mechanical parts—watches, carillons, gears, pulleys, counterweights—translated instrumentally into crisp, sprightly palette of sound droplets evoking the physical motion of machinery. Long, angular lines swerve unexpectedly, sometimes slowing down to a frozen crawl.

Born in Mexico City, composer Samuel Zyman now teaches at Juilliard. In his remarks about Música para Cinco, he said, “I hope you love jazz,” and indeed, the spirit of that genre is everywhere. The propulsive first movement gives way to a more leisurely second, in a style more tonal than not. Thanks to Da Capo’s energetic reading, the audience erupted in cheers and bravos.

The second half opened with Tania León’s Alma, a lilting valentine for flute and piano, inspired by wind chimes outside the Cuban-born composer’s window. It gradually slows to a succession of sighs near the end, before concluding with a tiny gesture as if to say, “goodbye.”

The program ended with a startlingly effective recent work from the young Reinaldo Moya (b. 1984), Crónica de una Merte Anunciada, based on the Gabriel García Márquez novel about a young woman who loses her virginity to a man who is then killed by her brothers. Moya is originally from Venezuela and studied at Juilliard, and has created a striking evocation of Márquez’s tragic subject, filled with jittery motifs and underlying dread. As in most of the works on this program, the Da Capo Chamber Players lit up the room with a nuanced, yet ferocious performance.

Bruce Hodges


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