Ana María Alonso Plays Modern Spanish Music

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WP 2019 - 2ALTO MYSTIC / CARRO: Luna de abajo. CANO: Sonata for Solo Viola. VERDU: Quasid. BUSTAMANTE: Quasi una cadenza. ERKOREKA: Ilargi. DEL PUERTO: Bluescape. TORRES: Plezas misticas. TURINA: Viola Joke. MARINÉ: Fábulas: I. El avestruz.* LANCHARES: Espera, luz, espera / Ana María Alonso, vla; *Alejandra Alonso, narr / IBS Classical 5192018

Thirty-seven-year-old violist Ana María Alonso gives us here a program of works written by Spanish composers between 1995 (the Mariné Fabulas) and 2017 (Carlos Peron Cano’s sonata for solo viola), some of it leaning towards a tonal and somewhat Romantic style and some not. In the opener, Mario Carro’s Luna de abajo, we start out with just such a melody but by a minute in the tempo doubles and the music becomes very rhythmic, with double-time passages of an edgy nature which add interest. The music then moves into swirling figures as part of the development and becomes even more complex. This piece is exceptionally well-written and fascinating from start to finish.

Interestingly, Cano’s Sonata for Solo Viola starts out in the same key in which the Carro piece ends, at first sounding like an extension of it, but this is an altogether wilder, bolder piece of music, pushing the boundaries of the instrument with heavy downbow and edge-of-the-string effects that manage not to sound contrived. In the second movement, Cano plays with sliding tonality in an interesting manner. Incidentally, this work was composed for and dedicated to Alonso. The fourth and last movement, a “Moto perpetuo,” is played with incredible fire and verve.

But if you think the sonata was an odd piece, wait until you hear Jose Ma Sanchez Verdu’s Quasid, much of which seems to be played high up on the bridge in what I would call “whistle tone.” Miguel Bustamante’s Quasi una cadenza was originally written for the composer’s son to play on violin; it’s an interesting piece in which themes are juxtaposed, some lyrical, some fast passages, and a great many played pizzicato or with rough downbow strokes.

Gabriel Erkoreka’s Ilargi is named after the word for the moon in Euskera, part of the ancestral mythology of Euskal Herria. This piece alternates between edgy bowed passages and pizzicato, and again juxtaposes themes. David Del Puerto’s Bluescape is more lyrical in style but still modern in its melodic and harmonic construction, while Jesús Torres’ tripartite Piezas misticas uses edge-of-the-string effects to create an unusual mood while still intriguing the listener with occasional rhythmic interludes.

Turina’s Viola Joke is full of difficult, edgy passages as well as some intentionally clumsy ones that make the attentive listener chuckle including, at the very end, a brief quote from Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. Yet I felt it was a joke that went on a bit too long for what it was, 11 ½ minutes in fact…a rare miscalculation by this acknowledged great composer. The first part of Sebastián Mariné’s Fábulas, a fable about an ostrich which includes Alonso’s daughter Alejandro as the occasional narrator, was, I felt, the one piece on this disc that was more edgy, flashy passages than really solid musical development.

This recital closes with Santiago Lanchares’ Espera, luz, espera, inspired by a nostalgic poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez. Originally written for solo cello, it was adapted for the viola in this transcription dedicated to Alonso, who plays it with her customary fire and energy.

Quite aside from the interesting qualities of these pieces, what impressed me most about this CD was Ana María Alonso herself. She is an absolute wizard on her instrument, capable not only of playing these challenging pieces well but of completely holding your attention for the full 79 minutes of this CD with her emotional commitment and intensity. She is quite an artist in the truest sense of the word. Would that we had more like her out there with her daring, explorative nature and high commitment to modern music!

—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook @Artmusiclounge

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