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.