Fiesta Criolla - Latin-American - Orchestral Works
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Milongón festivo [5:59]
Manuel Gómez CARRILLO (1883-1968) Fiesta criolla [7:11]; Rapsodia santiagueña [11:49]
Theodoro Valcárcel CABALLERO (1896-1942) Concierto Indio [18:47]
Francisco MIGNONE (1897-1986) Congada [4:53]
Guillermo Uribe HOLGUIN (1880-1971) Tres Danzas [8:05]
Alberto WILLIAMS (1862-1952) Primera obertura de concierto [10:15]
Nora Chastain (violin)
Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen/Gabriel Castagna
rec. 19, 29 March 2010, location not specified
CHANDOS CHAN 10675 [77:10]
The programme was selected from the opus of seven South American composers active during the early to mid- twentieth century, and representing their respective countries of Argentina, Columbia, Brazil and Peru. While the music embodies creative elements borrowed from or inspired by native folk music, it also reflects the Italian and French influence absorbed during the periods of study and inculcation at prestigious conservatories in such places as Paris and Milan (see composer notes at the end of review).
Gabriel Castagna writes and conducts with missionary zeal. He laments the large number of Latin-American orchestral compositions that have suffered neglect and are awaiting rediscovery. Considering Indian themes, and subjects of the Andean region alone, more than 250 works can be identified: operas, ballets, cantatas, overtures, symphonic poems, rhapsodies, concertos and symphonies. Almost none is recorded or played regularly. In many cases scores have been lost or abandoned.
During many years of research, Castagna has amassed hundreds of scores by over 250 different Latin American composers, active during the last one and a half centuries. Collectively the symphonic literature of Latin-America over that period is surprisingly large. Quality may vary, but much is unquestionably of artistic value. Castagna describes the music presented as a fusion of ethnicities, religions, traditions, styles and legends and all kinds of other conflicting centrifugal forces that render its biggest virtue uniqueness, and at the same time its biggest artistic challenge. Also noted is the influence that the spirit of the dance has in a large number of Latin-American compositions of academic tradition.
Castagna highlights the role of misleadingly bad reviews of bad performance in undermining the genre’s reputation. These are often a result of application of fixed parameters, suitable for analysis of standard European repertory. Further exacerbating this is insufficient interest on the part of official institutions to support the culture of their own nations.
Argentinean conductor and musicologist Gabriel Castagna began his studies in Buenos Aires. He then studied in the USA and took master-classes with Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache and Max Rudolf. It is evident from his performance on this CD and contributions to the liner-notes, that Castagna is a man with a mission. This is not his only premier recording of Latin American composers. In 2008 his book and CD entitled Argentina Sinfonica was also published. He is well qualified to construct a programme of superior Latin American symphonic music by its premier composers. Despite lack of familiarity with much of the work, these qualities are quickly identifiable by the astute listener.
This CD implies that a treasure trove of undiscovered, quality symphonic music resides in the opus of Latin-American composers of the past one and fifty years. It explores only a minuscule part, albeit it in a highly musical and well-recorded way.
Obscure symphonic treasures from South America.
Notes on composers
Piazzolla was a bandoneon virtuoso/composer who had the opportunity to study with the famed Nadia Boulanger at the Fontainebleau American Conservatoire. Even though Piazzolla won the Sevitzky Prize in 1953 for his Sinfonia Buenos Aires, she dissuaded him from further large-scale works, sensing that his unique talent lay in an astonishingly fertile, creative response to the tango idiom.
Gomez was important as an ethnomusicologist who in 1823 presented two books of arrangements of folk melodies collected in N. Argentina. As well as a composer and educationist, in later life he was the leading light of a vocal ensemble formed from his large musical family.
Theodre Valcárcel Caballero
Caballero was part of the Nationalist musicians in Peru who, during the 1920s, were keen to explore the country’s pre-Hispanic indigenous traditions. His highly tuneful violin concerto is based largely on modal melodies and was completed in 1949, shortly before his early death.
Mognone’s flautist father was an Italian immigrant to Brazil. Mignone’s Congada was influenced by African and Cuban styles common to Brazilian music of the time. It was also written during a period garnished by strong Italianate flavour, apropos his spell in Milan.
Guillermo Uribe Holguin
A prolific composer, Holguin was born in Bogotá, Columbia. Between 1914and 1961 he composed eleven symphonies. The three dance forms represented by Tres Danzas were also featured in the large-scale collection of 300 piano pieces that he composed between 1927 and 1939, published under the title ‘ Trozos en el sentimiento popular’
Williams returned to his native Buenos Aires in 1889 after a seven year period in Paris. In this same year he composed Primera obertura de concierto. While in Paris he studied composition with César Franck and harmony with Emile Durand.
Juan José Castro
Aside from his composing, Castro also enjoyed a distinguished career as a conductor. He became the director of the revered Teatro Colon in his native Buenos Aires. His international career as a conductor began in the 1940s. In 1947 he conducted the Havana Philharmonic and the Sodre Orchestra of Uruguay in 1949. During 1952-53 he was conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Australia).