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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    

Maria de ALVEAR (b. 1960)
Fuerzas for solo viola
Christina Fong (viola)
rec. no details given
OGREOGRESS OG 006 [66.54]
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Maria de Alvear was born in Madrid of Spanish and German parents. She now lives in Berlin. Her works are rarely of less than an hour's duration. Her style is brooding, introspective, serious, content to follow tonal trackways. She offers choices of rhythm to the executant. This leaves the door open to the performer for spontaneous expression of the spiritual element.

Kyle Gann's scene-setting note tells us of her piano concerto WORLD written for a colossal orchestra and with a second piano doubling the primo a quarter-tone distant. There is also a two hour piece for trombone and piano. De Alvear is much taken with the human voice. Her pieces VAGINA, SEXO and LIBERTAD deploy her own voice easily shifting from scream, to wail, to speech, to song. Gann describes these works as 'continuous passionate monologues'.

Much the same can be said of Fuerzas except that the viola is not asked to deny its singing soul. For more than an hour the viola gives lyrical voice: priestly, hymnal, pensive, lachrymose, soulful, poignant, caressing, consoling, as if unable to control its song once set in motion. This is not music of episode and incident. Rather it is an undulating continuum and, contrary to any expectation raised by the purely vocal works, there are no avant-garde somersaults, assaults on the instrument or ear.

Fong is well adjusted to long solo pilgrimages as we know from her Cage epics also on OgreOgress. De Alvear however is quite different from Cage whose minimalism in the later 'number and power' works is bare and where the ears are starved of a myriad moving landmarks. Fuerza flows prayer-like across a gentle landscape of the soul. One prominent landmark falls at 30.28 where Fong tenderly probes the wound of the viola's pure higher realms. There is loneliness in the 'voice' and sorrowing too but also forward motion albeit at andante speed throughout. The thematic germs seem to be a fracturing and passionate melting of Britten's Serenade (This Ae Night and the natural horn calls that frame the songs). The treatment lies somewhere between Bach's suites for solo cello (but only the slower parts), Arvo Pärt and the quieter moments from Giya Kancheli's symphonies and concertos.

Rob Barnett


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