SEPTEMBER 2012, 'Roberto Sierra: Souvenirs', Albany TROY1078SEPTEMBER 2012, 'Roberto Sierra: Souvenirs', Albany TROY1078
Reviewed by Ray Picot
I’ll admit straight off that Roberto Sierra is for me one of the most interesting Latin American composers alive today. He was born in Puerto Rico and now lives and works in the USA. His music is quite unmistakeable stylistically, remaining true to his roots and tonal but spiced with a distinctive contemporary edge. His concertos, symphonies and orchestral works are a testament to his vivid musical imagination and brilliant orchestral technique. Souvenirs represents Sierra’s continued exploration of iconic pieces from the Spanish Baroque, placed in a more contemporary setting. It opens with Fandangos, the brilliant successor to Folías, for guitar and orchestra, based on the well-known Folias D’Espagne and the Concierto Barocco, both recorded for Koch by Manuel Barrueco. Sierra’s orchestral fantasy is broadly based on Soler’s famous Fandango for solo harpsichord, interspersed cleverly with elements of the fandangos by Scarlatti and Boccherini. It is a superbly-crafted orchestral tour de force that carries the oft-repeated theme before it with its sheer brio and inventiveness. Apart from a virtuoso Toccata that ends the CD, the main course is a fascinating exploration of the Louis Moreau Gottschalk characteristic solo piano piece, Souvenir de Porto Rico. Ian Hobson introduces the original and Sierra’s initial solo piano reflections, before embarking on the large-scale concertante work, Souvenirs for piano and orchestra. Sierra recreates the charming original and then takes the music through an expansive quasi-romantic set of variations, full of invention and pianistic rhetoric. It is superbly performed throughout and sets the seal on a fascinating and rewarding disc.
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