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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sergio Cervetti, Nazca and Other Works

When a composer doesn't sound much like others there is cause for delight. But it is harder to write about the music. Sergio Cervetti is such a composer. His Nazca and Other Works (Navona 5872) provides four different takes, four different orchestral works by the composer.

They are something new under the sun. Maestro Cervetti has taken the orchestral color soundscaping advances of the experimental years of new music and put them into an expanded tonality and the syntactic discourse of the symphonists, if that makes any sense. This can especially be heard in the six movement work "Nazca".

"Madrigal III" has ravishing string harmonies that manage to suggest both Ives and Respighi, Ruggles and Sibelius, Messiaen and Arvo Part, Hovhannes and Berio. The piece suggests, but as a reverent revery that puts forward momentum to the forefront. It is beauty in the capital /B/ sense.

"Leyenda" brings in soprano Alena Hellerova for an evocative, atmospheric piece, where the beauty of the orchestration and the vocal part dazzles the listener. The text is based on the Uruguayan epic Tabare by Juan Zorrilla de San Martin. The mystically vibrant qualities of the large orchestra and the soprano's ornate and partially folk-oriented inflection evoke both Villa-Lobos and Crumb without sounding the least bit derivative.

Finally the second movement from Cervetti's "Concerto for Harpsichord" brings in a lively South American dance flavor with some brilliant multi-part writing that makes me smile very broadly.

Cervetti hails from Urugway and taught for many years at one of my alma maters, New York University. Somehow the world is in his music: his native world and the world-as-planet.

This is some extraordinarily interesting, exciting and beautiful orchestral music. It makes me want to hear more of him. Highly recommended.

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