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Friday, May 12, 2017

Intersections, Cross-Cultural Collaborations in Sound

The resumption of relations between the US and Cuba has begun to give rise to fruitful collaborative musical results. One of them, a very good one, is on the docket today: Intersections: Cross-Cultural Collaborations in Sound (Ansonica AR0002). The premise is simple. Bring a number of US New Music compositions into Cuba and engage some of the best local performance groups and individuals in realizing the works.

Both the music and its interpretation give us an exciting program, very well performed.

The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba under conductor Enrique Perez Mesa brings to us a measured, beautiful reading of "Awakening for Piano and Orchestra" with composer Jeffrey Jacob at the piano. It is an atmospherically charged modern lyricism at work--mildly melancholy and ambiently stunning.

From there, a cornucopia of chamber works. Heidi Jacob signs in with "Untouched By Morning and Untouched By Noon." Brian Church as baritone leads the way with a mix of Cuban and US musicians on bass clarinet, trumpet, and piano. It is some decidedly memorable expressive modernity at play. Performances are just right.

The realm of avant jazz-new music intersections comes forward on Steven Block's "Putting it Together." The all-Cuban chamber combo distinguishes itself wonderfully well. It reminds us that there is a vibrant music scene in Cuba today, with more depth than we might have anticipated. Kudos to Abiel Guerra on drums, Prieto on alto sax, Carlos Guerra on tenor and soprano sax, plus Lopez and Benitez on double basses, Mesa conducting.

Mesa also conducts Cervetti's "And the Huddled Masses," for clarinet and string quartet. It is evocative and filled with typical Cervetti vibrancy.

Finally, Ensemble Vocal Luna steps forward under the direction of Sandra Santos Gonzalez for the twin works of Christina Rusnak, "Dearly Beloved" and "Dearly Departed." It is haunting music. Vocal Luna is exceptional. And so ends a most worthy program.

The complex logistics of the US-Cuba nexus and this sort of project have been adroitly handled, and music-makers have triumphed, The works are vital, performances excellent. I look forward to more! Do not miss this one, you who follow the new music.

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