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Enrique SORO (1884-1954)
Orchestral Works
Danza fantástica (1916) [4:29]
Tres aires chilenos (1942) [10:18]
Andante appassionato (version for orchestra) (1916)* [4:32]
Sinfonía romántica (1921)* [36:59]
*world première recording
Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile (Chile Symphony Orchestra)/José Luis Domínguez
rec. Teatro CEAC Universidad de Chile, Santiago de Chile, 22-25 September 2015. DDD
NAXOS 8.573505 [56:17]

The family roots of Chilean composer Enrique Soro were vibrantly musical and cultured. The household echoed with music-making. The young Enrique was soon making rapid progress with his music studies. He went on to study music at the Milan Conservatory where his father had studied some four decades earlier. Having graduated with great distinction he heard his String Quartet in A premiered in Paris. Works poured forth during his early twenties: Melodia for string quintet (1902), Suite per piccola orchestra (1902), Sonata in D minor for violin and piano (1903) and the Variaciones sinfónicas (1904). This productivity - which continued - was combined with a life in the academic institutions of Chile. There were also visits to the USA where in 1916 he established a connection with New York-based publisher G. Schirmer. His final work the Suite en estilo antiguo (1943) was followed by the early death of his wife in 1944. The helpful and concise notes by Roberto Doniez Soro of the Enrique Soro Archive and Álvaro Gallegos - in English and Spanish - set the context and point out that the Sinfonía romántica was the first symphony to be composed in Chile.

The Danza fantástica is a vivacious blend of Tchaikovsky, de Falla and Rimsky-Korsakov. The scoring is sumptuous. Also from 1916 comes the Andante appassionato which is a honeyed, slow-tempo confection standing between Massenet and the balletic Tchaikovsky. It would have worked well in one of those 'These You Have loved' collections: smoochy and a small step away from a sentimental Ave Maria. Tres aires chilenos is the latest piece here. Written in Puerto Montt, we are assured that it is one the few Soro works to have been influenced by Chilean folk music. The three movements flow with the most affluent romance and the folk element is deeply subsumed in luxury treatment: one part Ravel to three parts Rimsky. The last movement flashes with energy rather like the Danza fantástica but here the latino traces are more prominent.

The four-movement Symphony pitches in with an Allegro moderato at first troubled with Franckian disquiet and flecked with dark shadows. This gives way to sweet romantic writing that recalls RVW's overture The Wasps and some Glazunov-like vigour. The woodwind lines are especially charming. After a glum and then strenuously earnest and aspiring Adagio comes a flickering Scherzo. A Finale, marked allegro con brio, constantly on the boil, rounds things out buffeted with rough seas that link Soro with Saint-Saëns and d'Indy, two composers with whom he was at various times associated. I see that there is also a piano concerto in D major (1918), some Symphonic Preludes (1936), chamber music and two prize-winning patriotic pieces: 1910: Centenary Anthem of Chile and 1917, Hymn to the Chilean flag.

Soro's music as rendered here is entertaining, colourful and attractive. The idiom is familiar. The recording is good and the playing of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile is creditable if not a full luxury item. All credit to everyone for bringing to grateful listeners this otherwise unheard-of music. If you like it then try to track down the Columna Musica 2-CD set (1CM0264) of the complete orchestral music of the Galician composer Andrés Gaos and the now rapidly disappearing Basque composer series from Claves.

Rob Barnett



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