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No Seasons
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) arr. Leonid Desyatnikov (b.1955)
Four Seasons in Buenos Aires for Violin and String Orchestra [25:17]
Joan VALENT (b.1964)
Quatre Estacions A Mallorca for Violin, Piano, String Orchestra and Percussion [26:52]
Jorge GRUNDMAN (b.1961)
Four Sad Seasons Over Madrid for Soprano, Violin, Piano and String Orchestra [16:20]
Ara Malikian (violin)
Susana Cordón (soprano); Daniel del Pino (piano)
Non Profit Music Chamber Orchestra/Ara Malikian
rec. no details given
SACD Hybrid, stereo and multichannel 5.1
Experience Classicsonline


This CD is issued by the Non Profit Music Foundation of Argentina. The violinist Ara Malikian is its guiding angel and is the violin soloist on the NPM discs I have heard.

The disc is an SACD hybrid and sounds utterly stunning even on my modest Walkman. The sound is plump, full of vivid detail and rich in spatial differentiation. The 36 page booklet is an integral part of the CD casing. Basically the booklet comprises a very sturdy spine and dimple card case. The CD slips into a pocket at the back of the booklet. As if to emphasise the rejection of crass commercialism there is no catalogue number and the name of the label I have guessed at. Regardless the product is handsome.

Piazzolla's Cuatro estaciones Porteñas were written not as a cycle but gradually and then grouped. Verano came in 1964 in a version for bandoneon and quintet. Autumn followed in 1969 and the other two in 1970. They are heard here as a satisfying group in the arrangement made by Desyatnikov for Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica. It's highly coloured dynamic stuff, tracking Vivaldi at times and at others picking up on jazz and tango. It also echoes the Kremer-inspired works written by Alfred Schnittke. The piece ends in a gentle chivalric doffing of the hat.

Joan Valent's Quatre Estacions a Mallorca is in four movements. He was a student of Guinjoan in Barcelona but also studied in Los Angeles. The poem on which the piece is based is by Macu Sunyer and is reproduced in full in the book. The music at first has the insistent fast-trudging air of the Glass Violin Concerto and even in the slower episodes makes play with iteration and gradual transformation. Much the same applies - but in quietly subdued apparel - in the penultimate quietly murmuring Tardor. The final Hivern is also unassertive and ends as if winter's cold has entered the bones.

Jorge Grundman’s Four Sad Seasons over Madrid is intensely lyrical and fairly sentimental with the soprano vocalising in a line joined by the solo violin. This is not difficult music. It's in a single movement of 16 minutes duration and the style is not at all avant-garde. You might liken this to a tone poem by some extremely able film composer - rather like John Barry. The piece was written in memory of someone who had died and who the composer and other friends had not been able to say goodbye to. The Spring section has stronger rhythmic spine and a more sharply adumbrated pulse. We can hear this in the unleashed athletic and joyously bejewelled writing at 12:10 onwards. It’s sincere, I have no doubt but this does have something of a Hollywood scena about it – and I immediately wanted to play it again.

The recording is stunning - you might need sun-glasses.
Rob Barnett


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