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Celso GARRIDO-LECCA (b. 1926)
Danzas populares andinas (Andean Folk Dances) (1983) [13:08]
Retablos sinfónicos (Symphonic Tableaux) (1980) [19:02]
Suite peruana (Peruvian Suite) (1986) [8:21]
Laudes II (1994) [13:43]
Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Miguel Harth-Bedoya
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra/Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Retablos sinfónicos)
rec. NRK Store Studio, Oslo, Norway, 4 December 2015 (Danzas); 30 April, 4 September 2015 (Peruvian Suite); 11 March 2016 (Laudes II); live, Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 29-31 October 2010 (Retablos). DDD
NAXOS 8.573759 [54:14]

Celso Garrido-Lecca is a Peruvian composer. He was born in Lima and had his musical studies there. In 1964 a scholarship took him to Tanglewood where he worked with Copland. Returning to Peru in 1973 he taught composition at Peru's National Conservatory. We are told that his most notable works include Antaras for double string quartet and double bass, Laudes I and II, and Elegía a Macchu Pichu.

This disc, not particularly long-playing it must be said, opens the door on the music of Garrido-Lecca with première recordings. Danzas populares andinas in five movements instantly declares a composer whose gifts include truly transparent orchestration skills, inventive use of dynamics and a light and welcoming hand when it come to musical ideas. Without sounding at all like Malcolm Arnold these crisp and clean atmospheric dances are winners every one. All this is achieved without leaning on cliché; well, a touch of that in the final dance.

Retablos sinfónicos is in four movements and is the only work here to be played by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra; same conductor throughout. Again the composer's limpid ideas and airy orchestrational skills are on display. The work has a light touch similar to the Danzas populares andinas. The composer refers to the music's material derived from: “… dances of Peru, such as the dansak and the tondero, and … the traditional Peruvian yaraví, an elegiac Andean melody." The latter can perhaps be heard in the drifting expressionistic delight of the Triste movement which rises to a consummately symphonic climax then fades back. The final movement - Tondero - adds the cajón to the orchestra: "a wooden boxdrum played with the hands". Other ethnic percussion instruments are also used. It's punchy and catchy yet with a contrasting broad melody for strings deployed as Vaughan Williams did in the overture to The Wasps. Its effect is comparable with Copland's Latino works and with the finale of Walter Piston's Second Symphony. The Retablos sinfónicos is dedicated to Garrido-Lecca's children, Gonzalo and Ximena.

The Suite peruana is in six miniature movements. These include a sweetly lulling Negrito de Malambo, a quietly chattery Holstian Sicuri, a flightily buzzing, mildly dissonant Quena y antara and a sturdily stepped-out Torito de Pucará. The suite finishes with another Tondero which is a traditional dance from the region in which the composer was born. We are told that it is danced "to the accompaniment of singing and clapping, the guitar and the cajón."

Laudes II comes as a sharp jolt after all this instantly accessible folk-originated impressionism. For a start it makes free use of dissonance but does so amid the composer's trademark clarity of texture and utterance. As the title suggests it expresses praise across three movements and is inspired by the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu. This is a subtle and statuesque work that speaks of determination as well as celebration. It would be interesting to pair this work and its 1963 predecessor in concert with William Mathias's Laudi (1973). Laudes II stands in relation to this composer's folk-based works as Copland's Tender Land does to that composer's Symphonic Ode and Orchestral Variations.

Mike Hermann's database reminds us that this composer's first two numbered symphonies have been recorded: Symphony No. 1 (1960) originally released on LP on Ediciones Concurso CRAV LMX-9 reissued on a private CD in 2006 and Symphony No. 2 for soprano and orchestra Introspecciones (1999-2000) on Fundación Autor SA01455 in 2008.

The indispensable liner-note in English and Spanish is by Marino Martínez. The performances and recording quality are a supportive and enjoyable match for the music.

Rob Barnett



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