Wednesday 11 November 2020

Espiral: new music from Spain and Latin-America from Camerata Gala and Alejandro Muñoz

Espiral - Igmar Alderete, Ruben Jordan, Juan de Dios Garcia Aguilera, Raquel Rodriguez, Monica Cardenas, Jose Javier Delgado; Camerata Gala, Alejandro Munoz; LBS Classical

- Igmar Alderete, Ruben Jordan, Juan de Dios Garcia Aguilera, Raquel Rodriguez, Monica Cardenas, Jose Javier Delgado; Camerata Gala, Alejandro Muñoz; LBS Classical

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 10 November 2020 Star rating: 3.5 (★★★½)
An engaging disc of new music from a Spanish ensemble exploring the links between the music of Spain and of Latin America

This recent disc from the Spanish label LBS Classical, Espiral features an exploration of contemporary music from the Spanish ensemble, Camerata Gala under their conductor Alejandro Munoz, exploring not only contemporary Spanish music but the bonds between Spanish and Latin-American music, and featuring Spanish-Cuban composer Igmar Alderete, Spanish composers Ruben Jordan, Juan de Dios Garcia Aguilera, Raquel Rodriguez, Jose Javier Delgado, and Peruvian-Spanish composer Monica Cardenas.

The disc features Igmar Alderete's Bailando con Arcos, Ruben Jordan's Alzheimer (with soprano Auxi Belmonte), Juan de Dios Garcia Aguilera's Abisal, Raquel Rodriguez's Espiral, Monica Cardenas's Influence and Jose Javier Delgado's No Questions.

We begin with Bailando con Arcos (Dancing with Bows) by the Spanish-Cuban composer Igmar Alderete which was written in June 2019 for Camerata Gala. A work which uses both rhythmic and harmonic material from Spanish and Cuban folk-music. It is full of complex rhythms and harmonic colour, yet seems to fit into the tradition of writing for string orchestra from the mid-20th century. Despite the apparent technical difficulty of the music, notably its rhythms, the result is undeniably catchy and has tremendous forward energy meaning that it does not seem to last its duration of almost eleven minutes.

Ruben Jordan's Alzheimer begins with a strong string texture which combines rhythmic vigour with sustained material. The way Jordan repeats motifs might hark back to minimalism in terms of structure, but the sound world is pure Spanish/Latin-American. Over the top of these textures Jordan spins long vocal lines for soprano Auxi Belmonte, setting Spanish poet Manuel Garcia's poem Alzheimer about a man suffering from Alzheimers. Belmonte sings with a vibrant, at times almost edgy tone, and the result is a very distinctive sound-world, which gets more intense as the poem progresses.

Works from Hisae Yanase Sudo's Abisal (from
Works from Hisae Yanase Sudo's Abisal (from

Abisal (Deep-Sea)
by Juan de Dios Garcia Aguilera was written in memory of the late Cordoba-based Japanese artist Hisae Yanase Sudo, who used her work to explore the links between East and West. The piece was named after one of Sudo's works, a set of sea-themed ceramic pieces. This piece, written for 15 string instruments, brings a real change of mood to the disc, as the composer uses the instruments to create a study in timbres and textures rather than pitch. There is a sense of the music gradually unwinding, intensity giving way to atmospheric passages and finally spare fragments.

The title work of the disc, Raquel Rodriguez's Espiral, starts off in a relatively unassuming manner with long sustained notes over repeated rhythms and textures, again evoking some mid-century European writing for string orchestra, then as the work develops the repeated rhythms start to dominate and at one point becoming positively romantic.

Peruvian-Spanish composer Monica Cardenas' Influence starts with a strong violin solo (Jose Luis Morano) against an ensemble, which seems to be going to evoke Korngold with a Spanish accent, but rhapsodic moments for solo violin and solo cello (Nora Prat) lead to an attractive string piece full of catchy melodies and rhythms. Multi-sectional, and very engaging, the work is influenced by Spanish, Cuban and African melodies and rhythms, so we can pick up a habanera at one point, as well as (the notes tell us) the yambu, a Cuban-American dance. The title refers to the centuries of cultural cross-breeding, the influence of Spanish and African music in South-American folk-rhythms.

For the final work we have Jose Javier Delgado's No Questions, which starts with a soulful cello solo which develops into an engaging string piece, full of attractive melodies and rhythms. Delgado often uses the technique of repeating rhythmic motifs with a melody over, to provide variety in this multi-sectional work.

Camerata Gala (20-strong on this disc) was founded in by Alejandro Munoz in 2006 and owes its name to the Spanish playwright, novelist and writer Antonio Gala (born 1936), and is linked to the Fundacion Antonio Gala. Conductor Alejandro Munoz is principal conductor of Camerata Gala, of Sinfonietta Cordoba and of the Youth Orchestra of Cordoba. He studied in Madrid at the Katarina Gurska Centre, and in Paris at the Conservatoire national superieur de musique et de danse de Paris.

The booklet includes an admirable article by Alejandro Munoz about the music, but I would have liked a bit of biographical information about the composers.

I was unfamiliar with the works of all the composers on the disc, so this engaging programme forms not only an introduction to a number of strands of Spanish and Latin-American contemporary music, but also provides a fascinating exploration of the various links between the two

Igmar Alderete - Bailando con Arcos [10:48]
Ruben Jordan - Alzheimer (with soprano) [8:18]
Juan de Dios Garcia Aguilera - Abisal [6:34]
Raquel Rodriguez - Espiral [9:50]
Monica Cardenas - Influence [8:00]
Jose Javier Delgado - No Questions [9:47]
Auxi Belmonte (soprano)
Camerata Gala
Alejandro Munoz (conductor)
Recorded at Auditorio Conservatorio Superior, Cordoba, Spain, 7-9 September 2019
IBS classical  IBS112020 1CD [53:30]
Available from

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