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Chavez: Piano Concerto

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Audio CD, April 30, 2013
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Editorial Reviews


Rarely heard in concert or on disc, 20th-century Mexican composer Carlos Chávez's spectacular Piano Concerto, completed in 1940, receives an insightful and compelling performance from Mexican-born pianist Jorge Federico Osorio. He's joined by his native country's flagship orchestra, the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional de México and its music director, the dynamic young conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. --WFMT Radio, Lisa Flynn

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional De Mexico
  • Conductor: Prieto
  • Composer: Chavez
  • Audio CD (April 30, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cedille Records
  • ASIN: B00BK6HPL0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,700 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Digital Chips on August 8, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Cedille presents pianist Jorge Federico Osorio in an exciting program of Mexican composers. The centerpiece is Carlos Chavez's sole piano concerto. This massive work presents serious challenges to both soloist and ensemble, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

The work fairly crackles with energy, with mercurial changes in moods and timbres. Chavez had a unique compositional voice, one that doesn't neatly fit into the pigeonholes of 20th Century schools. So there are some spiky, atonal sections as well as some modernist tonality -- and running throughout (very subtly) the rhythm and pulse of Mexican traditional music.

This is a live performance by Osorio and the Sinfonica National de Mexico, and an extraordinarily clean one at that. The ensemble plays with pin-point accuracy, a must given the sudden changes and the percussive nature of the score. Osorio is in full command of the material. His phrasing gives logic and shape to the sea of notes before him, Osorio's restrained but heartfelt expressiveness in the slow movement is particularly moving.

The albums is filled out with solo piano works. Meditacion, an early work by Chavez, shows surprising maturity for such a young composer. Jose Pablo Moncayo's Muros Verdes is a spacious-sounding work that blends Mexican musical traditions with a Hindemith-like neo-classicism. Samuel Zyman's 16-minute Variations on an Original Theme is most contemporary work on the album -- both by creation date and sound.
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Format: Audio CD
You may find it as complex and scintillating as critics did at the premiere or as cacophonous as audiences did, which may explain why the piece has gotten so little attention since. Nevertheless, as a modernist, Chavez used cacophony as a part of his technique, so you live with it.

I can't imagine another pianist surpassing Osorio's way with it. His playing is full of intense, nervous energy, which no doubt the Chavez work requires. There is nothing Romantic or sentimental, either, not in Chavez's music and not in Osorio's performance.

What we get here is an abundance of sharp contrasts and vibrant rhythms, with a good deal of percussion and flute backing up Osorio's piano. But it's always Osorio's piano that is front and center in the music, with Osorio mining a seemingly inexhaustible fund of accents, textures, nuances, and brief flurries of melody.

Chavez follows the momentous first movement with a rather outgoing slow one, largely scored for piano, harp, and reeds. Again, it's Osorio who rightly dominates, his playing always keeping the listener intently aware that this is music of an original kind, strongly characterful, but, again, never romanticized or nostalgic. Then, with the finale, we're back to the cacophony of the first movement, where Osorio dazzles with his gymnastic finger work. It's quite a bravura piece of music with a performance by Osorio, Maestro Miguel Prieto, and the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico to match.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
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