OSIAS WILENSKI: “La Leyenda del Kakuy” = Soloists/Tapestry East – Navona Records

by | Dec 31, 2012 | Classical CD Reviews

OSIAS WILENSKI: “La Leyenda del Kakuy” = La Leyenda del Kakuy; Sonata for solo violin; Hommage to B.B. for solo clarinet; Solo for solo bassoon; Improvviso for solo piano –Tapestry East/Ovidia Marinescu, cond./Vit Muzik, violin/Juame Sanchis Carretero, clarinet/ Bernardo Verde, bassoon/ Osias Wilenski, p. – Navona Records NV5882, 51:10 [Distr. by Naxos]***:
Osias Wilenski is a new name for me. The Argentinian composer studied at Juilliard with some more familiar and pretty impressive people, such as William Schuman and William Bergsma. He also achieved a deserved reputation as a pianist and even as an opera coach with the Teatro de Buenes Aires. He has spent the last twenty plus years living in Barcelona and working in a similar role with the theater at Liceu.
His music, just based on this one recording, seems systematic and well organized but very “academic” and abstract; almost written in a style from times past. Webern and Krenek come to mind.
The five-movement chamber work after which the album is titled, La Leyenda del Kakuy, is the most interesting piece in the program, to me. Written for a group of seven instruments (flute, bass clarinet, trombone, piano, viola and cello), this piece is inspired by an ancient legend from Argentinian folklore. The work earned Wilenski first prize at the “Asociación Wagneriana” competition in 1983.  The legend of Kakuy is actually a fascinating story. Originating from the mountains in Santiagueño there are apparently several versions of the Legend of the Kakuy. The kakuy (or urutaú) is a nocturnal solitary bird that camouflages into the foliage of the forest during the day. At dusk, it usually sends a loud and somewhat unpleasant (so it is said) call that sounds like “kak-wee” (kakuy/cacui); a word that in the Quechua language means “brother.” The legend holds that in a remote region of Mount Santiagueño two orphan brothers lived: Kakuy and Turay. One day Kakuy lost patience with his sister Turay, because she was very mean, and left her tied to a tree. Turay went mad and became a feathered monster. For the inhabitants of the region, the bird is considered of bad omen or wrong premonition. In this region it is believed that when somebody gets lost it is the fault of the bird.
I thought this was pretty interesting. Although the music does not feel programmatic in any way the movement titles hold direct reference to the story.
The rest of this CD is comprised of four of Wilenski’s solo works; The Sonata for solo violin; the Hommage to B.B. for solo clarinet (the title refers to its use if themes from Bartok), Solo for bassoon and the “Improvisations” for solo piano (which was based on a prior chamber orchestra work by the composer).
I liked each of these works but I especially appreciated the Violin Sonata. As a clarinetist, I appreciate what seems like the difficulty of the Hommage to B.B. and I did find each of these works interesting.
I applaud Osias Wilenski for having a very informative website where you can actually print or email many of his works. Kudos to the production team at Navona for again providing an interactive CD with similar features. Apparently, Wilenski has written operas as well. I would welcome hearing those. I find his music well written and definitely interesting but I think many listeners may find it very complex and requiring more than one listening to get behind.
—Daniel Coombs

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