Salon Mexicano – CASTRO: Caprice Vals, Op. 1; Vals careesante; Vals amoroso; Mazurca melancolica; Barcarola; Vals sentimental; Vals bluette; Vals melancolico; VILLANUEVA: Sueno Dorado: Mazurka; Causerie: Vals lento; Tercera Mazurka; Ebelia: Mazurka de Salon; Amor: Vals de Salon; Vals Poetico: Vals de Salon para piano; PONCE: 8 Mazurca de Salon; Marchita el Alma; Todo paso; Mazurca de Salon; Canciones Mexicanes: “Por ti mi Corazon”; ROLON: Vals Capricho – Jorge Federico Osorio, piano – Cedille CDR 90000 132, 74:10 [Distr. By Naxos] ****:
Piano virtuoso Jorge Federico Osorio, whom I had the pleasure of hearing in recital some years ago in San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Center, pays tribute to the Mexican classical salon composers. who other than Manuel Ponce (1882-1948) did not achieve international celebrity. With his usual intense clarity and suave panache, Osorio illuminates these composers’ contributions, which derive their style from Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky, while wedding their melodic gifts to the Spanish and Mexican rhythms endemic to their native region.
Ricardo Castro (1864-1907) eventually directed the musical conservatory in Mexico City, having written a number of color vehicles in bravura style, like his Op. 1 Caprice-Vals, which reminds us of the Saint-Saens Etude Op. 52, No. 6. The Vals caressante swells with ballroom conceits. Vals amoroso suggests Faure welded to Chabrier. Mazurca melancolica is pure Chopin, just as flexible regarding where the accents fall. Barcarola combines lilting Chopin phrases with Offenbach’s sweetness. Castro’s three remaining waltzes merely confirm his love for octaves and lilted phrases flowered by rippling fioritura.
Felipe Villanueva (1862-1893) introduces himself with his Sueno Dorado, a “golden dream” mazurka in affected Chopin style. Causerie hesitates in broken-melodic style. The Tercera Mazurka emphasizes the second beat of a work that at first resembles Chopin’s Op. 51 Impromptu. His Ebelia presents an ambitious mazurka rife with rhetorical gestures in triplets. Amor: Valse de Salon reminds us of the slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s E Minor Symphony. His Valse Poetica achieves some intensity of expression but ends quietly in the keyboard’s high register.
Ponce himself appears first in the guise of his Eighth Mazurca de Salon, rather a heavy-footed affair with a lilting central section. Marchita el Alma demonstrates Osorio’s sweet legato. Todo paso speaks in a sentimental parlando style, recalling Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons. Mazurca de Salon utilizes pearly scales that gain some momentum in the middle section. The Por ti mi Corazon offers a lament for unrequited love.
The final piece on the program proves the most ambitious: Vals Capricho by Jose Rolon (1876-1945), a piece dedicated to Artur Rubinstein, himself a constant champion of Spanish music. Here, the model is Liszt and his ability to transform a tune (“Sobre las Olas” by Juventino Rosas) that we all know from our circus days. Virtually every bravura trick of the keyboard comes to the fore, and Osorio makes it clear that chromatic harmonies, long glissandi, and syncopated octaves pose no obstacle to his realization of these daunting variations. The “Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” may well be Osorio himself, who keeps the keyboard acrobatics poetically virile at every moment.
An excellent survey of a favorite Chopin genre…