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Salsa Nueva
Cancion y Danza (Mompou). Worcestershire (Lorenz).Ancestro I. Ancestro 2 ( Estevez). La Salsa del Sr Ligeti (Riu). Fur Elena (Arismendi). Su-Muy-Key (Ortiz). One hand in. Solo-Clave (Perrin).Congabite (Toro). Conclave (lzarra). Tumbao (Leon). Toccatta Montuna (Finch). La Fiesta (Corea). Canto de Bemba (Leon). Recordando a Celia (Paredes). Sal-Cita (Rugeles). I wouldn't normally say (Wallen). Celtica o Salsa (Gribbin). Triple Enclave (Alvarez). Barnyard Song (Pritchard). Pan con Timba (Lopez-Gavilan).
Elena Riu (piano); Wilmer Sifontes (Latin percussion)
Recorded: St Philips, Norbury, London, August 2004
SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD 237 [74:57]

 

"Vibrant salsa beats meet contemporary classical piano music". So says the cover of this recent release. Indeed, the majority of the short pieces recorded here were commissioned by Elena Riu from composers of widely different origins, e.g. from Belize, Mexico, Canada, Britain and Ireland, to name but a few, and each of them exploits some Latin-American rhythms. These pieces (actually 16 of them) are also published as a collection by Boosey & Hawkes under the collective title of Salsa nueva. Some other composers, however, have also been included such as Antonio Estevez from Venezuela, Federico Mompou and Chick Corea, whereas the present performers contribute with a short work too : Elena Riu with her short homage to Ligeti La salsita del Sr Ligeti, and Wilmer Sifontes with a miniature for percussion Clave. I must confess straightaway that a number of the composers represented here are new to me; but I was really delighted to be able to make acquaintance with some of them and to hear two short piano pieces (Ancestro I and II) by Antonio Estevez, a much neglected Venezuela-born composer whose magnificent Cantata criolla has been – and may still be –available on Dorian DIS-80101 (a splendid disc well worth looking for) as well as a short excerpt from Mompou’s Cançons i Danses (available on Naxos 8.554332).

Records such as the one under review are as difficult to review as enjoyable to listen to. Twenty-two short pieces (the longest one Sal-cita by Alfredo Rugeles plays for 6’ 13""!), all of them exploring some Latin-American dance rhythms such as clave, tumbáo or montuno (a list of these rhythms is given in the booklet) provide for a most varied and attractive programme. Moreover, some of these pieces are for piano and Latin percussion, so that the whole thing is quite contrasted indeed, the more so that each composer approaches his/her task with his/her musical personality, sometimes with some light humour too. This may at times yield rather unexpected results, as in Deirdre Gribbin’s Celtic o salsa for piano in which Celtic musical features rub shoulders with salsa rhythms.

I will not list all the pieces, but here are the composers involved : Ricardo Lorenz, Antonio Estevez, Diana Arismendi, Roland Perrin, Alonso Toro, Tania León, Alfredo Rugeles, Deirdre Gribbin, Alwynne Pritchard, Elena Riu, Gabriela Ortiz, Wilmer Sifontes, Adina Izarra, Federico Mompou, Chick Corea, Hilda Paredes, Errollyn Wallen, Javier Alvarez and Aldo Lopez-Gavilan.

Again, it is rather difficult to go through each of these twenty-two pieces in detail. Suffice it to say that all of them are superbly crafted, often very entertaining and always tuneful and colourful. Needless to say that Elena Riu plays all these pieces with considerable aplomb and obvious enjoyment, also with the wholehearted support of Wilmer Sifontes, which makes this delightful release a joy from first to last. The best thing to do with a disc such as this is to sit down, relax and enjoy.

Hubert Culot

 



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