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Monday, June 28, 2021

Sonidos Cubanos 2, New Music from the Cuban Diaspora


When I think of Cuba I think of great music and some great baseball players among other things. Oh, yes and great food! One of those three things came in the mail to me recently and I am very happy for it. It is an anthology of New Music by Cuban composers, entitled Sonidos Cubanos 2 (Neuma 133), Each of the composers featured in this second volume is a recipient of the Cintas Foundation Fellowship for composers of Cuban descent. Each currently holds sway somewhere in the Cuban Diaspora.

What is remarkable, one of the things that is remarkable about this anthology is not so much the Modern conceptual rigor of it all so much as that the music all sounds wonderfully well. Each work excels in its own melodic-harmonic-timbral ingeniousness. It is something one of course generally hopes for in New Music but cannot of course always get.

There is a wide variety of expressive possibilities and musical grouping in this five work set.

Flores Chaviano opens the program with an orchestra work that pays homage to the victims of a 1995 mining disaster in Spain. The music has a gradual build up to searing sadness in a tone poem that rings out with clangorous impact and brilliance.

From there we go to heartbreak and a sad beauty in Ivette Herryman Rodriguez's setting of Christina Rossetti's "When I am Dead, My Dearest." Soprano, cello and piano express a tender despair. Kudus especially to Lindsay Kesselman and her wondrous soprano reading.

Odeline de la Martinez extends the mood with a deeply reflective chamber work about the composer's Cuban childhood in "Litanies." It is haunting and just plain beautiful. If there was nothing else but this work it would be enough, at least as far as inspired fare goes. Happily all of these works are worthy and as a whole make for an experience that will ring in your head for a very long time once you get situated to the sequence.

Sabrina Pena Young follows with the five song except from the "Libertorio Song Cycle." It too calls out to us musically in special ways. The final movement-song features some impressive additions of metal guitar and bass. It works wonderfully well!

Finally there is Eduardo Morales-Caso's "Evolving Spheres" for bass clarinet and piano. It is called a "fantasy" and indeed it does have a open kind of narrative impact musically.

Taken altogether this is a program of valuable, memorable music. It does not attempt to knock over the boundaries of the Modern but instead follows the personal muse of each composer for an awesome sonic sensibility and brilliance. High recommended for all who seek something new and of course something good. It is all that, very much so.

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