Lynn René Bayley,Fanfare, May 2012 (edited)
This highly impressive CD features the music of Puerto Rican composer Ernesto Cordero (b.1946), which strikes me like a ton of bricks. The Concierto Festivo, written in 2003 and dedicated to the wonderful guitarist Pepe Romero, is here played by the dedicatee, and a spectacular piece it is. The first movement almost sounds, like the first movement of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, as if it starts in the middle, so vibrant and febrile is its musical material, so charged and syncopated are its rhythms. The second movement begins with dazzling string tremolos, perfectly executed by I Solisti di Zagreb, which then move into an alternation of solo guitar figures with the strings.
ĺnsula, a violin concerto inspired by aspects of Puerto Rico, was dedicated to Guillermo Figueroa, violinist and conductor of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. He is the soloist here along with I Solisti di Zagreb. Each movement has a pictorial title as well as a tempo indication. The first, “Paisajes” (Andante con anima), is an imaginary trip looking at different portions of the island’s geography using a modal and Minimalist style. From the outset Figueroa shows himself to be a fine violinist with a sweet yet bright tone and fluid technique. The second movement, “Jájome” (Andante affabile), is named after a mountain ridge that apparently fills Cordero with serene peace. The music certainly reflects that, as I Solisti play with their strings muted as Figueroa weaves a simple yet charming melody around their rhythmic figures.
Concertino Tropical is the earliest piece on this disc (1998), and in some ways it is more energetic and uninhibited than the preceding two works. Figueroa plays a remarkable, virtuosic cadenza at the end of the first movement.
This disc is very highly recommended! © 2012 Fanfare