FEBRUARY 2021 | Chiara D’Odorico | Purahéi Che Retãgua | Acqua Records

FEBRUARY 2021 | Chiara D’Odorico | Purahéi Che Retãgua | Acqua Records

BY RAY PICOT
 
The young Paraguayan pianist Chiara D’Odorico steps onto the international stage as a recording artist with her outstanding debut album, Purahéi Che Retãgua (Music of My Land), presenting a cross-section of music by established and contemporary composers from her country. The recording has been very well received critically, and was nominated for Best Classical Music Album at the 2020 Gardel Awards.
 
Paraguayan art music has been in the shadow of its larger neighbours, not helped by the lack of attention given to it by authors covering music from the Latin American republics, and by record companies. The few recordings that have been made tend to have limited international reach so this album represents an ideal opportunity to sample one of Latin America’s best-kept secrets. 
 
The album opens with the delightfully folkloric Juego de Niños (Children’s Game) by the pianist and composer Jorge “Lobito” Martínez, born in 1952, and who died tragically in 2003. His talents took him into the genres of jazz, popular and classical music, which are attractively reflected in this piece. 
 
At the same time of the 20th century when the classical musicians of the major Latin American republics were flexing their musical muscles, in Paraguay the composer Juan Carlos Moreno González came to the fore. Infact he settled in Buenos Aires where he wrote music in popular and classical styles, and is particularly known for inventing the the musical genre "Paraguayan zarzuela”. However, the music we hear are the two main collections of piano music he published, Tres aires paraguayos and Tres piezas para piano alongside and his two delightful Danzas. As Ms D’Odorio points out in her website notes, the music explores both themes of indigenous music and Paraguayan folklore as well as European academic influence with neoclassical structures. This is the second recording I’ve heard of these pieces, and the one which I find really gets to their richly melodic heart.
 
Acuarelas Paraguayas (Paraguayan Watercolours) by Carlos Lara Bareiro (1914-87) represents the sole piece the composer wrote for piano, though it remained unpublished in his lifetime. This premiere recording was made through the work of the composer’s niece Norma Lee and the pianist. Bareiro had a major impact on his country’s musical life, though his music was censored during the time of the dictatorship. It is a substantial and characteristic folkloric suite, with impressionist harmonies; the music is very evocative iand I found it quite memorable, in this very nuanced interpretation. 
 
Diego Sánchez Haase is a contemporary composer of note, and his Camino al Akati (Road to Akati), is a compact set of variations, written in 2017 and dedicated to the pianist.The piece is a homage to the seven guardians of the Yvytyruzú, in the form of seven variations which describe a journey from Villarrica to the top of Akati Hill, one of the highest peaks in the Yvytyruzú Mountain Range. Each variation bears a descriptive subtitle, though I found this complex piece enjoyable for its sheer inventiveness and virtuosity, which is carried off with aplomb by Ms D'Odorico. Though in a more contemporary style, the work is very approachable and deserves to be better known.
 
Nancy Luzko has a considerable reputation as a pianist and composer in the United States, where she now lives and works. The Sonatina has been recorded previously but this recording really captures the intensity of the piece to perfection, and stylistically is redolent of the later music of Ginastera. This is followed by the first recording of Luzko’s En el Paraná, a dance inspired folk and jazz inflected piece, which perfectly ends this excellent programme.
 
The piano sound throughout this recording is very natural and not too reverberant. An easy way to explore this album of delights is through Youtube and for more information check out the pianist’s website www.chiaradodorico.com The recording is available on most digital platforms. 
 

 

 

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