ERNEST CORDERO: Caribbean Concertos for Guitar and for Violin = Concierto Festivo; Ínsula; Concertino Tropical – Pepe Romero, guitar/ Guillermo Figueroa, violin /I Solisti di Zagreb – Naxos 8.572707 (12/13/11) 51:33 ****½:
This CD is a really nice surprise. It’s a collection of music by Puerto Rican composer Ernesto Cordero (b.1946), and I found the Caribbean themes music engaging and worth multiple listens.
The disc begins with the Concierto Festivo (2003), which is dedicated to and performed by Pepe Romero and I Solisti di Zagreb. Once can hear the Spanish influences as well as the Caribbean sound reflected in each of the three movements. It’s a dynamic composition, and isn’t easily compared to other genres. With some thrilling syncopation, and some contrasting reflective moments, the Concierto is a musical trip well worth taking.
Ínsula (2009) is another treasure. This piece is a violin concerto inspired by the sights and sounds of Puerto Rico, and has been dedicated to Guillermo Figueroa, violinist and conductor of the Puerto Rico Symphony; he also serves as the soloist. The piece highlights some of the geographic features of Puerto Rico. It’s a minimalist but charming work, very colorful and at times contemplative. Figueroa gives a striking and emotional performance of a work he is emotionally bound to.
The final selection is Concertino Tropical (1998) which has boundless energy and some remarkable playing by Figueroa that is clearly technically difficult but sounds flawless in this performance.
The Naxos recording is excellent, capturing every detail and nuance of this collection of Cordero’s works. It’s an up close recording, with a touch of ambiance. It sounded great in two channel, and opened up nicely in a 5.1 system with pseudo-surround.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this CD, but it is highly recommended and something that will find its way to your CD player over and over again. None of these pieces will ever become part of the ‘standard’ classical repertoire, but they are highly individualistic and worthy musical journeys.