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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tomas Marco, Symphonies Nos. 2, 8 and 9, Jose Serebrier

There's nothing quite like a new discovery to reassure one that the intensive work of listening to new music and writing these blogs is worthwhile. Today I cover the symphonies of contemporary Spanish composer Tomas Marco, more specifically Jose Serebrier and the Malaga Philharmonic's recording of Marco's Symphonies Nos. 2, 8 and 9 (Naxos 8.572684). Nos. 8 & 9 are world premier recordings.

Marco writes dense scores that have national elements as well as multipart structures that sometimes remind one of Ives's poly-thematic complexities, only working with original and Spanish grassroots musical idioms as building blocks to a very personal symphonic vocabulary.

Marco's No. 2 is perhaps the densest and most dramatic. No. 9 combines medieval motifs, the liner notes tell us, with a kind of portrait of the sea spirit "Thalassa." There is a recurring theme that recalls Stravinsky's "Rites" and it weaves its way throughout the work. No. 8 Gaia's Dance has rhythmic and melodic motives that suggest folk dance forms but are treated by Marco as raw material to his larger end of creating multistranded polysemantic orchestral significances.

This is a composer going his own way. There are complex dissonances and simple folk melodies conjoined in labyrinthian matrices, all bearing the stamp of originality. With Jose Serebrier at the helm the complexities of Marco's music are articulated with expressive heft and drive. Tomas Marcos and these symphonies should be heard by anyone with an interest in the modern symphony and contemporary Spanish music. A provocative recording that is not to be missed.

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