Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Roberto Sierra has 'a constant preoccupation with the intersection of a modern musical language and the vernacular'

[Roberto Sierra; Roberto Sierra Piano Trios; Trío Arbós; Naxos 8.559611 (2011)]

On April 21, 2011 AfriClassical posted: “'Roberto Sierra Piano Trios' on Naxos is 'Record of the Month' of MusicWeb-International.com.” The Puerto Rican composer was born in 1953. His new disc is Naxos American Classics 8.559611 (2011). The liner notes of the recording are by Roberto Sierra. They begin:

“The three piano trios in this recording span seventeen years (1991-2008) of my creative life. Each reflects a different creative impulse and the ideas that were in my mind at the time I wrote them. There are nevertheless common threads that link these works: a constant preoccupation with the intersection of a modern musical language and the vernacular that come out of my ethnic background, and also timbral explorations often linked to instrumental virtuosity.

“My first trio is titled Trio Tropical (1991), implying from the outset my intention of tropicalizing a genre that has a long tradition. The four movements reflect the rhythmic gestures, timbres and melodic gestures of the music I heard growing up in Puerto Rico.” “Each of the four movements of Trio No. 2 (2002) treats the same material, namely a twelve-tone row/motive that is used without transpositions or inversions, but in very different ways. Out of this restricted material a first movement emerges written in clave, the underlying rhythmic backbone of salsa, hence the title Clave de mediodia (Midday Clave).”

Piano Trio No. 3 (2008) incorporates extended tonal idioms infused by non tonal chromatic sonorities in many ways similar to Trio Tropical. Here too Afro-Caribbean musical gestures are present. I subtitled this trio Romántico to evoke the expansive and broad musical gestures evocative of late nineteenth-century chamber music.” “The opening sounds of Fanfarria, aria y movimiento perpetuo (2000) are based on the kind of open intervals and triads reminiscent of sonorities that Aaron Copland favored in his music (the work was commissioned by the Library of Congress as part of the Copland centennial celebrations).”

The Naxos American Classics series also includes Roberto Sierra: New Music with a Caribbean Accent, Naxos 8.559623, and Roberto Sierra: Missa Latina 'Pro Pace,' Naxos 8.559624. The namesake of Trio Arbós is Enrique Fernández Arbós (1863-1939), a Spanish composer, violinist and conductor, the liner notes tell us.

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