Friday, June 02, 2023

#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalMexico Week 5

The Classics a Day team decided to turn a holiday -- Cinco de Mayo -- into a month-long celebration. Mexico has a rich classical music tradition. It dates back to the early 1600s when Spanish -- and very soon native-born -- composers began writing music for church services. And today Mexico has a thriving classical music community. Even if we're not aware of it here in the States.


Mexico has four centuries of classical music to choose from. Here are my selections for the fifth and final week of #ClassicalMexico.

05/29/23 Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940): Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 2 "Magueyes" 1931

The second of Revueltas' four string quartets was composed in the late 1920s. It wasn't published until 1953. Discrepencies between the published version and the original manuscript suggest the publisher used a later revised version of the work, now lost.




05/30/23 Eduardo Hernández Moncada (1899–1995): Sinfonia No. 2

1942 Moncada was part of the Nationalist Movement of the 1920s. He wanted his music to embrace and celebrate the traditional folk music of Mexico.




05/31/23 Alfonso de Elias (1902-1984): Concertino para violín y orquesta

de Elias is considered to be the last Mexican composer to compose in the Romantic Style. His Concertino for Violin and Orchestra was written in 1967 and is based on a well-known folk tune.


Next month:



Friday, May 26, 2023

#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalMexico Week 4

The Classics a Day team decided to turn a holiday -- Cinco de Mayo -- into a month-long celebration. Mexico has a rich classical music tradition. It dates back to the early 1600s when Spanish -- and very soon native-born -- composers began writing music for church services. And today Mexico has a thriving classical music community. Even if we're not aware of it here in the States.


Mexico has four centuries of classical music to choose from. Here are my selections for the fourth week of #ClassicalMexico.

05/22/23 Julián Carrillo Trujillo (1875–1965): Symphony No. 2 in C major

In the 1920s Trujillo developed a microtonal system he called the "Thirteenth Sound." This symphony from 1905 reflects his skill with traditional key systems.




05/23/23 Manuel María Ponce (1882–1948): Ropsodia Mexicana No. 1

Ponce a child prodigy, who began his career as a concert pianist while still young. He spent several years in Europe studying composition. His style incorporates popular Mexican music within classical forms.




0/5/24/23 Candelario Huízar (1883–1970): Pueblerinas

Huízar composed four symphonies that were well-received. But his greatest successes were his tone poems. "Pueblerians" is the second of his three tone poems, written in 1931.




05/25/23 José Pablo Moncayo (1912-1958): Huapango

Moncayo was a major force in 20th C. Mexican music. He was a composer, teacher, pianist, percussionist, and conductor. His works celebrate Mexico's cultural heritage in the framework of classical music.




05/26/23 Carlos Chávez (1899–1978): Valses Intimos

Chavez was one of the most important Mexican composers of the 20th Century. His early pieces (like this one) were for piano. He soon expanded into other forms, writing symphonies, chamber and choral music, and an opera.

Friday, May 19, 2023

#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalMexico Week 3

The Classics a Day team decided to turn a holiday -- Cinco de Mayo -- into a month-long celebration. Mexico has a rich classical music tradition. It dates back to the early 1600s when Spanish -- and very soon native-born -- composers began writing music for church services. And today Mexico has a thriving classical music community. Even if we're not aware of it here in the States.


Mexico has four centuries of classical music to choose from. Here are my selections for the third week of #ClassicalMexico.

05/15/23 Felipe Villanueva (1862–1893): Amar (Nocturno)

Villanueva was a gifted pianist and violinist, as well as a composer. Although he died at 31, he's still considered one of the major figures of Mexican music during the Romantic Era.




05/16/23 Gustavo Campa (1863-1934):Tios Minatures for string quartet

When Campa attended the Conservatorio Nacional, the Italian style of composition prevailed. Campa led a group of students who embraced the French style. He would join the Conservatorio as a professor, and eventually become its director.




05/17/23 Ricardo Castro (1864–1907): Piano concerto in A minor, Op. 22

Castro was a concert pianist as well as a composer. He wrote his first symphony at 19, and his first opera at 32. His piano concerto dates from 1904.




05/18/23 Juventino Rosas (1868–1894): Sobre la Olas

Rosas was a violinist who also wrote salon music. He began as a street musician, and his music had immediate appeal. Though he died at age 26, Rosas is one of Mexico's most popular composers. His melodies have been used in jazz, bluegrass, country, old-time, and Tejano music.




05/19/23 Alfredo Carrasco (1875-1945): Romanza sin palabras

Carrasco was a composer who spent most of his career in Mexico City. Some of his music was recorded by Victor in 1918.

Friday, May 12, 2023

#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalMexico Week 2

The Classics a Day team decided to turn a holiday -- Cinco de Mayo -- into a month-long celebration. Mexico has a rich classical music tradition. It dates back to the early 1600s when Spanish -- and very soon native-born -- composers began writing music for church services. And today Mexico has a thriving classical music community. Even if we're not aware of it here in the States.


Mexico has four centuries of classical music to choose from. Here are my selections for the second week of #ClassicalMexico.

05/08/23 José Mariano Elízaga (1786–1842): Ultimas variaciones

Elizage is considered the most important Mexican composer of the early Romantic period. The bulk of his music was considered lost until a cache was discovered in 1994.




05/09/23 Cenobio Paniagua (1821-1882): String Quartet No. 1

Paniagua was a violinist as well as a composer. He was second conductor of the Cathedral Orchestra in Mexico city. Paniagua wrote several operas as well as 70 masses.




05/10/23 Aniceto Ortega (1825–1875): Vals Jarabe

Ortega was a physician, as well as a pianist and composer. He founded Mexico's first hopsital for women and children in the 1840s. Ortega helped found the Sociedad Filarmónica Mexicana. And he wrote the first opera based on a native Mexican story --Guatimotzin.




05/11/23 Macedonio Alcalá (1831–1869): Dios nunca muere

Alcalá was a Mexican composer, violinist, and pianist. He spent most of his life in Oaxaca. Indigenous villagers from Tiacolula asked Alcalá for a waltz in honor of the Virgin Mary. "Dios nunca muere" was an instant hit, and remains the unofficial state anthem of Oaxaca.




05/12/23 Melesio Morales (1839–1908): Moraels Vals Netzhualcoyotl

Morales was born and died in Mexico City. But he traveled to Europe in the 1860s, where his opera "Ildegonda" made his reputation.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Kevin Puts - Dynamic City and Concerto

Kevin Puts is a composer who seems to go from strength to strength. His opera "Silent Night" won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. His composition "Contact" won a Grammy this year. This release features three fairly recent works, all receiving their world recording premiers. 

Puts revised his Marimba Concerto in 2021, which is the version recorded here. The revision was at the behest of Ji Su Jung, who performs it here. 

The concerto has an elegiac quality to it. Puts' harmonic language resembles the wide-open "Western" sound of Aaron Copland. Jung's taken ownership of this concerto. The music seems to just flow from her. 

Most percussion concertos focus on rhythm. This one is more about poignant simplicity. It's my favorite work on the album (but then, I'm a percussionist).  

If you're looking for a work with rhythm, "The City" delivers. Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony co-commissioned this piece. So of course their performance is assured and insightful. Puts' sound kaleidoscope represents the various ethnic groups that make up any city. A driving pulse holds it all together, much like the inherent energy of a city. 

Classical music, whether directly or indirectly, embodies the zeitgeist of its time. Puts writes that he created this work shortly after the 2016 presidential election. The polarization and fears it raised found expression in "Moonlight, Oboe Concerto No. 2."

The first movement is unsettled and anxious. The second movement ratchets up the tension. Think Bernard Hermann's "Psycho." The final movement resolves that tension. Its lush harmonies suggest a peace that has yet to come. 

Puts consulted Katherine Needleman as he crafted the oboe part. She's playing music that was created for her, and it shows. A beautiful and impressive performance.  

Kevin Puts: The City
Marimba Concerto; Moonlight
Katherine Needleman, oboe; Ji Su Jung, marimba
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Marin Alsop, conductor
Naxos 8.55926