Friday, May 03, 2013

CCC - 070 Federico Ibarra

This time the Consonant Classical Challenge features a composer from Mexico. Federico Ibarra. Ibarra is a well-respected composer in Central and South America, most noted for his operas. His lyrical gift, coupled with the rich heritage of Latino music help Ibarra create works that are exciting, engaging, and accessible.

Ibarra uses tonality as a basic framework for his compositions, but harmonic motion doesn't necessarily follow along traditional paths of resolution. And Ibarra isn't exclusively a tonal composer -- some of his works are quite adventuresome and challenging. And yet even at his most experimental, there's a thread of music logic that runs through his compositions that keeps the listener oriented, and all the notes in context.

"Las Antesalas del Sueno," Sinfonia No. 2 shows Ibarra's skill at orchestration. The musical influences of his native Mexico can be heard, but they're not as apparent as they are in the music of Cesar Chavez (in my opinion).



Some of Ibarra's most challenging music is written for solo piano. His Piano Sonata No. 2 is one of his more traditional works for the instrument. Although the harmonies are constructed differently, the overall effect of the chords can remind one of Liszt. This is work full of big, dramatic gestures ready to sweep the listener into its heady mix.


Ibarra's Cello Concerto No. 1 is a more modernist work, with angular melodies and spiky orchestral parts. Nevertheless, it's still a work with a loose tonal framework, and one that the listener can discern even on first hearing.


Federico Ibarra has a much more full and varied catalog of works than I can showcase in this post. While his music has a hint of his national origin, its not the central focus of it. Ibarra writes works that can win over audiences, even while challenging them. I'm glad that a complete traversal of his piano sonatas are available -- these are important works. But I'm dismayed that more of his orchestral works haven't been recorded (or programmed by orchestras here). Hopefully that will change in the future.

Recommended Recordings

Federico Ibarra Music for Piano

Conciertos y Chôro

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