These are world premiere recordings of works by a composer whose name I knew
of but whose music was, until now, a complete unknown. Williams was known
to me from a reference in a battered copy of Slonimskys 1940s book
on South American composers.
The notes for this valuable CD are rather sketchy but they do provide some
detail. They point out that Williams, a native of Buenos Aires, wrote music
falling into three phases: 1862-1890 reflecting the strong influence of European
models; 1890-1910: an approach to more nationalistic language. 1910-1952
back to more cosmopolitan models. The works on this disc fall into the last
period and are provocative for their musical language in a time of world
conflict. Perhaps some of that sorrow and tragedy appears in the flanking
outer movements of the symphony.
The Seventh Symphony, like its disc-mate, is in four movements. The middle
two are dance-lead, betraying the influence of the ballet. The outer movements
are more apocalyptic. The first is clearly striving for great things. The
language has something of Scriabin and even more of Miaskovsky. Its quietly
chanting music in La Piramide seems to suggest an enigmatic smile.
The next is a fantasy dance movement making quite a relaxation after the
first. The spirit is of a grand age ball in a sophisticated Edwardian hotel.
At 3:50 comes a clearly delineated rhythmic theme of Baxian (Symphony No.
5) accent. By contrast, next follows a solo violin serenade in which concert
master Anatoli Romanov takes up the chattering Baxian theme and spins it
into a counterpart of Vaughan Williams Concerto Academico. The
breezily vigorous Joueuses De Crotales (a crotal is a rattle or small
spherical bell) is in much the same spirit as the second movement. The finale
gives the symphony its title. Whether Williams had eternity in mind I do
not know. It has some of the enigmatic dreaminess of the first movement.
Chant-like, the theme conjures up the image of some great pagan cathedral.
The mood is not too far away from Janis Ivanovs impressionistic
Atlantis symphony no. 4. It is also the longest movement at 13:27.
This music tells tales of a world where cold saps the warmth. The spell of
these notes testifies to a composer of concentrated inwardness, of mood and
of imagination. This concentration is interrupted at 8:33 by a disruptive
brass intervention which impacts like a comet-strike on this chaste but vaguely
threatening world. Then a gust of wind blows the curtains followed by another
militaristic miniature fanfare at 9:35. A stern resolute theme emerges with
a remorselessly marching tread. The symphony ends in jubilant uproar. Some
of these mood-shifts are unnervingly jarring but the moods themselves are
The Poema del Iguazu is a picture-suite of the river Iguazu. The first
movement is Las selvas dialogan con las cataratas (The forest converses
with the waterfalls). The movement is low key; rather light-spirited with
snatches of Beethoven, DIndy and Tchaikovsky. It is propelled along
by a patterned rhythmic theme of cheery Brahmsian/Straussian character. The
regally flowing Barcarola sounds decidedly French. It offers a superb
long-breathed tune. Here the strings sound less than luxuriant but, my, what
a lovely theme. Next comes La Luna Ilumina Las Cascadas - a
Nocturno. This has an impressionistic magical feeling paralleling
the enigmatics of the first and last movements of the symphony. The shades
and colours are very gentle - pastel darks and shades. I wonder if his apparently
famous Rancho Abandonado sounds like this. The finale depicts a great
waterfall (The Devils Throat) with vigorous panache. The mood is hunting
and chivalric (like an Argentinian Froissart) with a full bow in the direction
of Tchaikovskys Symphony No. 4.
According to the notes Williams has nine symphonies to his name. His second
dates from 1910. I would like to hear more please. Does anyone have tapes
Good to see Adrian Leaper figuring so strongly in the Arte Nova lists. He
is well known to me from his BBC Radio Three broadcasts. His repertoire in
broadcast is quite breathtaking: Arnell Symphony 6, Holbrooke Ulalume, Bridge,
Krein (symphony 1), Leigh, Moeran, Somervells Thalassa Symphony, Veale
This is an excellently filled disc. The music is never less than interesting
and often more than that. It is definitely worth the very small investment.
I have not seen any reviews of the disc; such is the focus of the magazines
on the great and the good. No doubt Fanfare have covered it?
The notes, which could with advantage have been longer, are in German, French