string quartets of Aurelio Tello, Javier Alvarez, Roberto Sierra and Celso Garrido-Lecca
Readers with a care from white-hot to tepid for that most elevated of chamber ensembles, the string quartet, and more particularly in its recent repertoire out of the European mainstream, will likely love Memorias Tropicales.
The string quartet has been the vehicle by which the classical and romantic composers of western music have consistently expressed their deepest and most profound musical thoughts. This is no less true in the twentieth century, and modern instrumental techniques have given contemporary composers a more colorful palette from which to draw their musical landscapes.
While the roots and early flowering of the string quartet are clearly the pride of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European community, the contributions of Latin American composers to this genre in the twentieth century are astonishing. In the last generation Alberto Ginastera, Silvestre Revueltas, and Heitor Villa-Lobos were among those who made significant additions to the string quartet literature. The composers on the present disc are among the major contributors of the present day.
As diverse as the works on this disc are, there is the common thread among the composers of an awareness of the folk and traditional (native) music of their respective Latin American countries. In education they share an eclectic background which includes the study of music indigenous to their own country and an awareness of contemporary international currents in musical expression.
The variety and richness of musical style and depth of emotion is convincingly illustrated in this collection of four works from Latin American composers -- one from Mexico (Alvarez), one from Puerto Rico (Sierra), and two from Peru (Tello and Garrido-Lecca).
Available here: iTunes
A la Memoire d’ un Ami
realized on an IBM 3081 at Princeton University, and at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University
Death is the title piece's subject, and the sense of space and loneliness is astounding. Mowitz's rich, booming, unidentifiable tones weep in some vast acoustic of the imagination.
A la Memoire d'un Ami is about memory and, in particular, memories of my close friend and first composition teacher, Norman Dinerstein, who died suddenly at age 45, while I was in the middle of making this piece. The entire piece is synthetic -- the sounds were all made on a large, very UNmusical mainframe computer. That the sounds, gestures and general cast of the work bear such a close resemblance to sounds we know in the natural world was willful on my part - for me, computers are not machines programmed to yield unimaginable precision, but rather just a means of searching for imagined sounds and musics. That the results of sound generation instructions I give to computers are often quite unexpected, I take as a wonderful irony, and it's precisely this quality of unexpectedness that I find most stimulating and instructive in fashioning a work of art.
--Ira J. Mowitz
Available here: iTunes HDtracks
New Albion Records, Inc.